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Bad Custom

The Meanings and Uses of a Legal Concept in Premodern Europe

Anthony Perron

The place and function of custom as a species of law—distinguished from custom as simply polite manners or cherished cultural traditions—has long been a source of research and debate among legal theorists and historians. One school of thought, reflecting the authority of written statute in modern jurisprudence, has relegated custom in a juridical sense to “primitive” societies, whereas proper law belongs to a world of state sovereignty. Other scholars have revisited the continuing validity of custom, including a trenchant body of work on the use (and manipulation) of custom in modern colonial regimes. At the same time, some have seen benefits in the acknowledgment of custom as a source of norms. A 2006 collection of articles, for instance, explored ways in which customary law might serve as a better foundation for the sustainable development of natural resources. As David Bederman has written, “Custom can be a signal strength for any legal system—preliterate or literate, primitive or modern.”

Open access

Penny Welch

Dave Lochtie, Emily McIntosh, Andrew Stork and Ben W. Walker (2018), Effective Personal Tutoring in Higher Education St. Albans: Critical Publishing, 222 pp., ISBN 978-1-910391-98-3

Open access

Andrew A. Szarejko

Abstract

Many introductory courses in International Relations (IR) dedicate some portion of the class to international history. Such class segments often focus on great-power politics of the twentieth century and related academic debates. In this essay, I argue that these international history segments can better engage students by broadening the histories instructors present and by drawing on especially salient histories such as those of the country in which the course is being taught. To elaborate on how one might do this, I discuss how US-based courses could productively examine the country's rise to great-power status. I outline three reasons to bring this topic into US-based introductory IR courses, and I draw on personal experience to provide a detailed description of the ways one can do so.

Open access

The Case of Australia

Trust During Pandemic Uncertainty—A Qualitative Study of Midlife Women in South Australia

Paul R. Ward, Belinda Lunnay, Kristen Foley, Samantha B. Meyer, Jessica Thomas, Ian Olver, and Emma R. Miller

Government responses to COVID-19 have dramatically altered the social quality of daily circumstances. Consequently, theoretical questions about social cohesion require recalibration as we explore new models of social quality. Central to this article is trust, one of the fundamental tenets of social cohesion. We present data from interviews with 40 women in midlife (45–64 years) regarding their everyday experiences of “life in lockdown” during the pandemic. Key themes focus on women’s (dis)trust in individuals (e.g., politicians, public health experts, family, themselves) and systems (e.g., politics, medicine, the media). This study provides insights into the differential impact of the pandemic in shaping public trust and hence social cohesion—in authority, institutions, and “each other”—with important lessons for how future efforts can rebuild trust in post-pandemic times.

Open access

The Case of Brazil

Coloniality and Pandemic Misgovernance as Necropolitical Tools in the Amazon

Vanessa Boanada Fuchs

This article analyzes the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of the Amazonian populations of Brazil. Following the social quality approach, it inquires into how COVID-19 intertwined with and reinforced underlying trends and inequalities in different life domains expressed in long-term societal complexities, urban–rural dynamics, and environmental transformations. The article finds that the pandemic, following coloniality of power patterns, has been instrumentalized as a necropolitical tool, and has disproportionately impacted certain peoples and territories based on ethnoracial bias. The collapse of the local health system in the State of Amazonas is a systemic burden, not serendipity. A dialogue is proposed between decolonial and social quality approaches to analyze, unveil, and denounce the interplay between the coloniality of power patterns in non-Western contexts.

Open access

The Case of China

The Societal Impact of the “Whole of Government Approach”

Wang Jing and Wang Xue

This article describes, from a sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural perspective, the governance practices of the COVID-19 epidemic control response in China. We describe that, in line with the “whole of government approach,” strong resource mobilization and control of government departments, companies, and citizen communities has worked efficiently to rapidly contain the epidemic. Community participation at the grassroots level has played a decisive part. We assume that the deeply rooted collectivistic Chinese culture has made residents trust the government’s decisions and comply with the prevention and control strategies. We pose some intriguing questions for more analytical comparative research. They concern the normative interpretation of the influences of sociopolitical, economic, and cultural forces, as well as the balance between “collectivism” and “individualism” in societies.

Open access

The Case of Germany

Civil Society and Civic Activism in the Pandemic

Susann Worschech

Has the pandemic weakened civil society and hindered activism and volunteering due to long-lasting restrictions and bans on meetings, protests, and the like? Or have civil society actors been able to respond to these fundamental changes? This is explored here in the case of Germany. Neither weakness nor strength can be deemed a clear outcome of the pandemic for civil society, but different levels of resilience mark opportunities for civil society to overcome the pandemic. Resilience also affects democracy; therefore, the development of civil society during and after the pandemic is investigated in terms of how it has influenced democracy in Germany. This article is based on findings on civic activism resulting from long-term surveys and volunteering conducted prior to the pandemic, together with present and preliminary observations.

Open access

The Case of India

A Moral Foundation for the Impact of COVID-19 on Health and Society in the World’s Largest Democracy

Sony Pellissery, Vijay Paul, Khushi Srivastava, and Drishti Ranjan

A segmented healthcare system evolved in India by 1990s, whereby the rich population depended on private hospitals while the people at the bottom of the economic pyramid went to the poor-quality public hospitals. In a democracy of equals, unequal access to services became political when COVID-19 began to put pressure on the health system. Corruption that was normalized in a segmented healthcare system could no longer be ignored. To advance the framework of social quality, we examine the corruption that unfolded during the pandemic in India from the perspective of moral foundation theory. We study the issues raised by political parties during the pandemic and court directives responding to citizen grievances. The evidence shows there was inequality of access and that courts had to intervene to try to rectify the situation. In the absence of effective governmental intervention during the pandemic, moral norms become a useful explanatory factor for social quality.

Open access

The Case of Italy

The Societal Impact of COVID-19 in a Fragmented Society

Jan Martin Rossi

The present article makes use of aspects of social quality theory and the social quality approach to assess the impact of the Italian government’s efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has a critical role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic; however, the scope and efficacy of its interventions depend on the interplay of processes in four main dimensions: (1) sociopolitical and legal; (2) socioeconomic and financial; (3) sociocultural and welfare; and (4) socioenvironmental and ecological. By analyzing relevant processes in these four dimensions, I aim to understand whether the social quality in Italy has increased or decreased due to the pandemic. The fragmentation in the labor market, in healthcare governance, as well as in societal protection have strongly constrained the government interventions, leaving intact and crystallizing existing societal inequalities.

Open access

The Case of Japan

How COVID-19 Impacted the Procurement and Lives of Migrant Healthcare Workers

Mario Ivan López and Shun Ohno

This article offers an analysis of the impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in Japan with regard to the healthcare sector. With unprecedented pressure from a rapidly aging population, state-sponsored initiatives have created new migration streams from Southeast Asia, diversifying attempts to procure healthcare personnel to address labor shortages. The article analyzes the recent evolution of this supply chain nexus and how it was reconfigured during the pandemic. It also highlights the fragile dependency that Japan now has on an emergent nexus with surrounding countries and the strategies it has taken to ameliorate the vagaries of the ongoing pandemic.