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Editorial

The Evolution of 20 Years of Social Quality Thinking

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The Role of Small-Scale Farming in Familial Care

Reducing Work Risks Stemming from the Market Economy in Northeast Thailand

Shinsuke Tomita, Mario Ivan Lopez, and Yasuyuki Kono

Abstract

At present, Thailand’s market economy is placing pressure on familial care within rural households. An increasing amount of people are making their living in the current market economy and moving to urban areas in search of employment. The provisioning of care has come under greater risk, especially for women and couples of working age who are exposed to the possibilities of losing employment opportunities. While caregiving has been a responsibility of the household, shifts in working patterns have weakened its ability to care for children and the elderly. However, the capacity to care in northeast Thailand is still higher than in other regions of the country. This article discusses the balancing act that takes place between a progressive market economy and familial care as provided within households in northeast Thailand to demonstrate the importance that rice farming plays in familial care even if income from farming is limited.

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Singing with Dignity

Adding Social Quality to Organization Studies on Aging

Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil

Abstract

Scholars of organization studies are right to be concerned with the limited contributions the field has made to public policy despite the societal relevance of the insights it contains. The combination of bulkiness and of insulated pockets of specialization could help explain the relative isolation from policy making that tends to require a combination of speed and multifaceted application. The social quality (SQ) approach is simultaneously an analytical tool and a political project to secure dignity of precarious individuals. The multilevel framework adopted by SQ can effectively channel the wide range of contributions from organization studies in the service of public good. Using an ethnography of music lessons followed by older adults in a cultural institution facing imminent closure because of austerity measures, the article connects SQ work to contributions from organization theory, which can shed light on organizing principles critical to well-being of older persons.

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Ian Mahoney and Tony Kearon

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In this article, we seek to provide a social quality–led analysis of some of the conditions that led to the UK population’s collective decision to leave the European Union in June 2016. We draw on interview data collected between 2010 and 2012 to argue that while not predictable, the seeds of the Brexit vote are well rooted in the conditions experienced by many of the working classes in Britain’s most deprived postindustrial communities. We argue that the ongoing decline in economic security, effective enfranchisement, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all had profound consequences for working-class communities and that the outcome of the Brexit vote was rooted, at least in part, in their subjective experiences and disenchantment forged in this ongoing decline.

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Social Quality in China

An Analysis of the Evaluation of Different Classes

Cui Yan and Huang Yongliang

Abstract

Since the end of the 1990s, when European scholars put forward the social quality theory, related research has been recently and increasingly carried out in China. At present, Chinese society has entered a new stage of development, and the main demands of the population have gradually changed. For theoretical and practical reasons, it is highly attractive to strengthen the research on the social quality of China in order to meet new public demands and expectations and to promote the improvement of social quality through the implementation of effective politics and policies. Based on empirical data, this article comprehensively analyzes the cognition of different layers of China’s population and the change of the four conditional factors of social quality on the overall development of society.

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The Bodily Efficacy of the Categories

Durkheim and Mauss's Intervention into the History of Philosophy

Erhard Schüttpelz and Martin Zillinger

Between 1900 and 1912, Durkheim, Mauss and other contributors of the L’Année Sociologique developed the most ambitious philosophical project of modern anthropology: a comparative and worldwide social history of philosophical categories. This article briefly summarises three phases of the ‘Category Project’ and gives a preliminary characterisation of its Hegelian ambitions. Further, it points out the common denominator in the diverse success stories of the Category Project, namely the reference to the human body as the site of collective consciousness. In a second step, the article traces the intricate genesis and after-life of the most important category of bodily efficacy and epistemological insight provided by Durkheim and Mauss: the elaboration of ‘effervescence’ and its manifestation of ‘totality’.

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Ruy Llera Blanes

In this article I explore the contemporary relevance of Émile Durkheim’s classic theory of anomie with respect to both the discipline of social anthropology and the study of politics in Africa. I take as a case study present-day, post-war Angola, where an activist mobilisation (the Revolutionary Movement) has engaged in what I call ‘anomic diagnostics’ in opposing the country’s current regime. Through a political reading of Durkheim’s theory, I suggest that, while the French author situates anomie and suicide as cause and consequence respectively within a conservative view of society, Angolan activists instead see anomie as the starting point for a progressive political proposition productive of rupture.

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Elisabeth Hsu

What, if not Durkheim’s ‘collective representations’ acquired during exalted states of effervescence, gives rise to society, culture and science? Marcel Mauss provides another answer by pointing to the different rhythms of social relationships and the human effort to synchronise them. The seasonal cycle of the Eskimo [Inuit], Mauss argues, is in accord with their game; hence people disperse in summer to pursue economic activities in small bands, while they congregate in dense house-complexes in winter and engage in ritual. It would appear that Mauss draws heavily on Boas’s contrast between the Kwakiutl winter celebrations and their ‘uninitiated’ livelihood in summer. These insights have traction for medical anthropologists who are interested in finding an anthropological explanation for the efficaciousness of ‘traditional’ medicines or ‘indigenous’ healing techniques.

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Editorial

The Rule of Law—A Heuristic Perspective?

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Sienna R. Craig

We walked the spine of Montparnasse searching for Durkheim’s grave. Winter sun pinned us to sky, illuminating turrets and spires: ornate edges of civility in this city of sensuality and light.