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Audit failure and corporate corruption

Why Mediterranean patron-client relations are relevant for understanding the work of international accountancy firms

Cris Shore

Patron-clientelism and corruption were traditionally viewed as problems endemic to underdeveloped marginal countries with weak states, powerful self-serving elites, and widespread civic disengagement. However, recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in corruption scandals in the Global North, particularly its more developed banking and financial sectors. Paradoxically, this has occurred despite a massive expansion in auditing by international accountancy firms (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY) who often portray themselves as warriors of integrity, transparency, and ethical conduct. How are these trends connected? Drawing on anthropological studies of Mediterranean patron-clientelism, I illustrate how collusive relations between accountancy firms and their clients create ideal conditions for corruption to flourish. Finally, I ask how can these accountancy scandals help us rethink patron-clientelism in an age of “audit culture”?

Open access

Battlegrounds of dependence

Reconfiguring labor, kinship and relational obligation

Keir Martin, Ståle Wig, and Sylvia Yanagisako

Interdependence is a fundamental characteristic of human existence. The way in which certain dependencies are acknowledged as opposed to those that are hidden, or the ways in which some are validated while others are denigrated, is central to how social inequalities are reproduced and recreated. In this introduction we explore how particular dependencies are categorized, separated, and made visible or invisible as part of their performative effect. In particular, we explore the distinction between wage labor and kinship as two forms of relatedness that are often separated in terms of the (in)dependence that they are seen to embody. Even though they are practically entangled, their conceptual separation remains important. These conceptual separations are central to how gender difference is imagined and constituted globally.

Free access

Jan Ifversen

Abstract

In March 2020, Melvin Richter, one of the founders of international, conceptual history passed away. This sad occasion makes it timely in our journal to reflect on the process that turned national projects within conceptual and intellectual history into an international and transnational enterprise. The text that follows—published in two parts, here and in the next issue—takes a closer look at the intellectual processes that led up to the founding meeting of the association behind our journal, the History of Concepts Group. It follows in the footsteps of Melvin Richter to examine the different encounters, debates and protagonists in the story of international, conceptual history. The text traces the different approaches that were brought to the fore and particularly looks at Melvin Richter's efforts to bridge between an Anglophone tradition of intellectual history and a German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte.

Open access

Marie Paxton and Uğur Aytaç

George Robert Bateman, Jr., The Transformative Potential of Participatory Budgeting: Creating an Ideal Democracy.

Garett Jones, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less.

Open access

Ben Page, Olga R. Gulina, Doğuş Şimşek, Caress Schenk, and Vidya Venkat

MIGRANT HOUSING: Architecture, Dwelling, Migration. Mirjana Lozanovska. 2019. Abingdon: Routledge. 242 pages. ISBN 9781138574090 (Hardback).

THE AGE OF MIGRATION: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th ed. Hein de Haas, Stephen Castles, Mark J. Mille. 2020. London: Red Globe Press. 446 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1352007985.

REFUGEE IMAGINARIES: Research across the Humanities. Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and Agnes Woolley, eds. 2020. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 642 pages. ISBN 9781474443197 (hardback).

MIGRATION AS A (GEO-)POLITICAL CHALLENGE IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas. Olga R. Gulina. 2019. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag. 120 pages. ISBN: 9783838213385.

COMPARATIVE REVIEW: Migration and Development in India: Provincial and Historical Perspectives

INDIA MOVING: A History of Migration. Chinmay Tumbe. 2018. New York: Penguin Viking. 285 pages. ISBN: 9780670089833.

PROVINCIAL GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: Transregional Mobilities and Development Politics. Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, eds. 2020. New York: Routledge. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-06962-6.

Open access

The bystander and the passerby

Reflections on ethnographic writing and response-ability

Nicholas Smith and George Mantzios

Berlant, Lauren and Kathleen Stewart. 2019. The hundreds. Durham: Duke University Press.

Pandian, Anand and Stuart McLean, eds. 2017. Crumpled paper boat: Experiments in ethnographic writing. Durham: Duke University Press.

Open access

Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane's The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

In his latest opus, The New Despotism, John Keane continues to challenge existing wisdom in the field of democratic theory and comparative political studies. One of the key insights of the book is that there is nothing inherently democratic about democratic innovations and procedures, and thus they can be used to prop up despotisms, rather than usher in democracy. While this insight comports with existing misgivings about elections, the book stands out in the way it explains the sustainability of using the democratic procedures in the new despotisms. For democratic procedures to further the aims of the new despotisms, the condition of “voluntary servitude” needs to be met. “Voluntary servitude” means that people willingly give in to political slavery, and become accomplices in maintaining the illusion that democratic procedures are implemented (215–222). Keane's achievement is that he creates an analytical ecosystem of interlinked assumptions, observations, conditions, and other logical connectors, which make his model of the new despotism so robust.

Open access

Spencer McKay

Altman, David. 2018. Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dyck, Joshua, and Edward Lascher. 2019. Initiatives without Engagement: A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy's Secondary Effects. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Hollander, Saskia. 2019. The Politics of Referendum Use in European Democracies. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Matsusaka, John G. 2020. Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Open access

Denunciations of dependence

Race, gender, and the double bind of domestic work in the Eastern Cape

Lotte Danielsen

This article focuses on workers in a South African township who enter into relationships of hierarchical dependence due to a lack of alternatives in the context of high unemployment and neoliberal fiscal restraint. The relationships are characterized by a double bind: workers seek relations of dependence in order to be recognized as persons, yet within these relations they are often denied such recognition, which reproduces experiences of infantilization, paternalism, and dehumanization associated with the past. The article explores how racialized and gendered meanings condition how men and women navigate relationships of hierarchical dependence, what they can expect to get from them and how these bonds can potentially be drawn on in efforts to escape them.

Free access

Brian Callan and Giovanni A. Travaglino

In this first issue of 2021, we find ourselves still in this strange space of a viral pandemic that first emerged in 2019. Yet contentious politics persists in public places, and the present issue reflects Contention’s continued efforts to publish interdisciplinary research-based articles from around the world.