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Human Connection in the Light of the Writings of Karl Marx and Amartya Sen

An Investigation Using Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Manik Bandyopadhyay's Ekannoborti

Simantini Mukhopadhyay

Abstract

This article uses Karl Marx's notions of alienation and antagonism to understand human connection, defined as the interrelationship between human beings that helps transcend self-interest and fosters the sense of solidarity. The Marxian notions are revisited using the works of Amartya Sen, particularly those on identity and violence. Sen's critique of rationality is discussed, invoking his notions of sympathy, antipathy, and commitment. The article uses two texts, Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Manik Bandyopadhyay's Ekannoborti, as vantage points to understand the key concepts of Marx and Sen. It then discusses the backgrounds of the authors and the political interpretations of their work and shows how the overriding importance ascribed to a particular identity may convolute the literary motivation of an author.

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Peter Herrmann

Abstract

Human rights debates seem to be a little bit in a dead end: on the one hand, taken for granted is defined diffusion of human rights; on the other there seems to be in permanent confrontation two incompatible positions, each of them suggesting the other side is in breach of the rules. One is the position that emphasizes the societal dimension of rights; on the other camp, we find those striving for what may be seen as a civic liberty interpretation This article shows that both positions miss a crucial challenge: both human rights theory and practice must be refocused and consider human rights as part of the process of society building, maintenance, and change.

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The Socio-analytical Approach

Differences in International Scientific Discourses

Rolf-Dieter Hepp

Abstract

The debate on precarization in Germany is, on the one hand, based on the French discussion, it is, on the other hand, oriented toward German models of discourse, which leads to different focuses and objectives. Even if in German contexts the poverty situation and unqualified workers are the main topics of discussion, the French debate on precarization with or following Pierre Bourdieu, Robert Castel, and Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello focuses on precarization as a restructuring of labor relations. In this respect, a change of vectors is taking place here, which sets different priorities. Differences in the classifications result from the different “theoretical localizations,” which are investigated based on the German-French understanding of sociology and are concretized in relation to the problem of precarization.

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The Wall, the Ban, and the Objectification of Women

Has “Uncle Sam” Learned any Lessons from “Typhoid Mary?”

Amani Othman and William W. Darrow

Abstract

Discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups prevailed throughout the twentieth century; it persists today. This historical case study analyzes the life and times of “Typhoid Mary,” an unmarried, Irish Catholic, immigrant woman who was persecuted as an intransigent carrier of a deadly infectious disease. Being a Mexican immigrant, Muslim, or unattractive woman could condemn someone for similar mistreatment today. The failure to overcome prejudice impedes the effectiveness of public health to protect infected patients and susceptible persons from harm and to interrupt disease transmission in communities; it jeopardizes the realization of social quality. Social justice, solidarity, equal valuation, and human dignity will be achieved through resistance to the human rights violations of the Trump administration and the resilience of strong women like Mary Mallon.

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Marco Ricceri

Abstract

This study explores the BRICS platform, composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It discusses its vision and principles, as well as its objectives. I also present a selection of particularly significant and emblematic programs of activities. A core question is how its members will realize their main objective, to contribute to the quality of global development. And how do they relate their objective to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations? Aspects of the current framework of the social quality approach (SQA) will be applied in order to deepen this exploration. In the context of this study, it is relevant to cite the decisions by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to assist the elaboration and dissemination of the SQA.

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Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

This issue is dedicated to two general topics that play a central role in social quality thinking and its policy application. The first is how to sharpen the social quality approach (SQA) as an intellectual instrument to understand the nature and rationale of political/legal, economic, cultural, and environmental processes in societies that aim to cope with their interpretations of mainstream contemporary challenges. The distinction between these processes concerns the main subject of the procedural framework of the SQA (IASQ 2019). The second is how to use social quality indicators for conceiving of the consequences of these processes in communities and cities. This concerns a main subject of the analytical framework of SQA. The connection of these main themes of the SQA is increasingly becoming the crucial challenge for, in particular, the theoretical reflection on thinking and acting for the increase of social quality in communities, cities, and countries. Instead of old and new ideas about individual happiness, the crucial challenge is inspired by ideas about “a good society,” as discussed by antique Greek philosophers.

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Public Evaluation of Society in China

The Social Quality Approach

Ren Liying and Zou Yuchin

Abstract

This study employs the social quality approach to analyze public evaluation of society in China based on the data of the 2017 Chinese Social Survey. It includes both objective and subjective survey indicators of the conditional factors of social quality, namely, socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment, as independent variables. Regression results reveal most of these indicators are significantly related to the overall evaluation of society though with different explanatory power. This study not only helps understand how Chinese people evaluate their society but also calls attention to further improve social quality indicator system.

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Valeriy Heyets

Abstract

Nearly 30 years of transformation of the sociopolitical and legal, socioeconomical and financial, sociocultural and welfare, and socioenvironmental dimensions in both Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, has led to a change of the social quality of daily circumstances. On the one hand, the interconnection and reciprocity of these four relevant dimensions of societal life is the underlying cause of such changes, and on the other, the state as main actor of the sociopolitical and legal dimension is the initiator of those changes. Applying the social quality approach, I will reflect in this article on the consequences of these changes, especially in Ukraine. In comparison, the dominant Western interpretation of the “welfare state” will also be discussed.

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Muhammad Yasir Ali and Ka Lin

Abstract

This study investigates the difference between the maps of social quality and perceived social quality. Using survey data collected from Peshawar, a prominent city in Pakistan, we compare the general and the perceived maps of social quality drawn from survey respondents based on their stands of income, education, age, and gender. With this comparison, the study conducts the regression analysis about the data to reveal the relations between these factors and draw some policy implications. The analysis contrasting objective and subjective visions of the social quality map may support a constructionist view on social quality and, more essentially, bring our view into the diversity of the perceived maps of social quality in reference to the interests of different social groups in society.

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Addressing Marine Plastic Pollution

The Plastic Soup Foundation and the Four-Dimensional Application of the Social Quality Approach

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen

Plastic pollution has become a pressing environmental problem. An increasing mass of plastic products ends up in oceans and landfills. One international grassroots organization—the Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF)—tries to influence politics and policies of governments and businesses that can be held responsible for this pollution. In Michiel Roscam Abbing’s recent book Plastic Soup Atlas of the World, the current problematique of plastic pollution is presented from a broad perspective and in a highly accessible way. This article’s main objective is to investigate, first, what can be learned from the PSF’s history and context and, second, whether this knowledge can deliver points of departure for enhancing the social quality approach to become functional for addressing environmental questions from the perspective of societal changes.