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Franco Ruzzenenti and Aleksandra Wagner

The aim of the article is to discuss the unintended consequences of energy efficiency, in the context of defuturization, by addressing the phenomenon of the rebound effect. The energy discourse is presented as ideological discourse protecting the status quo, even if it contemplates alternatives solutions. The interpretation of energy efficiency in the light of the Luhmannian concept of temporal structures in the modern society is proposed, and two types of expert narratives on the rebound effect are outlined: the mechanistic rebound effect and the systemic Jevons paradox. Finally, we explain why none of them are noticeably reflected in public discourse on energy policy and are limited to the scientific milieu.

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El desarrollo sostenible como política pública

Caso Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado de Quito

María del Carmen Zenck Huerta, Puiyen Urrutia Camchong and Ingrid Ríos Rivera

*Full article is in Spanish

English Abstract:

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was chosen by WWF in 2016 as one of the most sustainable cities in Latin America, a distinction it shares with Bogotá, Cali, Monteria, San Isidro, Miraflores, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Belo Horizonte. To reach this recognition, the local governments of these cities implement economic, social and environmental policies that lay the legal foundations for an integrally sustainable and coherent development. This study explores the unique case of Quito, whose decentralized autonomous government implements a local public policy on social responsibility for the promotion of the sustainable development of the territory, based on corporate co-responsibility and citizen participation, incorporating international standards such as the Global Compact Principles, GRI, ISO 26000 and the SDGs

Spanish Abstract:

Quito, capital de Ecuador, fue elegida por WWF en 2016 como una de las ciudades más sostenibles en América Latina, distinción que comparte junto a Bogotá, Cali, Montería, San Isidro, Miraflores, Río de Janeiro, Recife y Belo Horizonte. Para llegar a este reconocimiento, los gobiernos locales de estas ciudades implementan políticas económicas, sociales y medioambientales que sientan las bases legales para un desarrollo sostenible integral y coherente. Este estudio explora el caso único de Quito, cuyo gobierno autónomo descentralizado implementa una política pública local en responsabilidad social para el fomento del desarrollo sostenible del territorio, sustentada en la corresponsabilidad corporativa y la participación ciudadana, incorporando normas internacionales como los Principios del Pacto Global, GRI, ISO 26000 y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible.

French Abstract:

Quito, la capitale de l’Équateur, a été choisie par le WWF en 2016 comme l’une des villes les plus durables d’Amérique latine, une distinction qu’elle partage avec Bogota, Cali, Monteria, San Isidro, Miraflores, Rio de Janeiro, Recife et Belo Horizonte. Pour parvenir à cette reconnaissance, les gouvernements locaux de ces villes mettent en oeuvre des politiques économiques, sociales et environnementales qui jettent les bases juridiques d’un développement durable intégral et cohérent. Cette étude explore le cas unique de Quito, dont le gouvernement autonome décentralisé met en oeuvre une politique publique locale de responsabilité sociale pour la promotion du développement durable du territoire, fondée sur la coresponsabilité des entreprises et la participation des citoyens, intégrant des normes internationales telles que le Pacte Mondial Principes, GRI, ISO 26000 et les ODD.

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Elite ethnography in an insecure place

The methodological implications of “studying up” in Pakistan

Rosita Armytage

Based on ethnographic research conducted with the wealthiest and most powerful business owners and politicians in urban Pakistan from 2013 to 2015, this article examines the particular set of epistemological and interpersonal issues that arise when studying elite actors. In politically unstable contexts like Pakistan, the relationship between the researcher and the elite reveals shifting power dynamics of class, gender, and national background, which are further complicated by the prevalence of rumor and the exceptional ability of elite informants to obscure that which they would prefer remain hidden. Specifically, this article argues that the researcher’s positionality, and the inversion of traditional power dynamics between the researcher and the researched, can ameliorate, as well as exacerbate, the challenges of undertaking participant observation with society’s most powerful.

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Elusive Fungus?

Forms of Attraction in Multispecies World Making

Michael J. Hathaway

This article explores how attraction, a companion term to elusiveness, reveals insights into multispecies worlds by showing how different organisms such as the matsutake mushroom interpret the world and interact with each other, whether or not humans are involved. Building on scholarly interest in the ‘animal turn’ (explorations of the human-animal relationship), this article moves beyond human-centered scholarship by using, but also modifying, the concept of umwelt introduced by the Baltic German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. Employing a critical social scientific reading of the biological literature that analyzes its findings, as well as challenges its animal-centric models of agency and behavior, I argue that this perspective helps us better understand ourselves as humans in a world that is much more than human.

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Joerg Fingerhut

I will argue that the ambition to provide a naturalized aesthetics of film in Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture is not fully matched by the actual explanatory work done. This is because it converges too much on the emotional engagement with character at the expense of other features of film. I will make three related points to back up my claim. I will argue (1) that Smith does not adequately capture in what ways the phenomenon of seeing-in, introduced early in the book, could explain our complex engagement with moving images; (2) that because of this oversight he also misconstrues the role of the mirror neuron system in our engagement with filmic scenes; and (3) that an account of embodied seeing-in could be a remedy for the above. In order to demonstrate the latter point, I will show how such an account could contribute to the analysis of a central sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951) that Smith also discusses.

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The End of Revolution, and Its Means

Processual and Programmatic Approaches to Revolution in the Epoch of Revolution Debate

Benjamin Abrams

In Contention volume 5, issue 2, Benjamin Abrams interviewed the political theorist John Dunn on the topic of modern revolutions. In the interview, Dunn advanced the view that the “Epoch of Revolution” had ended by 1989 and that what many scholars called revolutions today were simply instances of regime collapse. The interview received a lot of attention from scholars and practitioners including Hugo Slim. Slim challenged Dunn’s concept of revolution in this issue, and Dunn responded defending his ideas. This article attempts to tease out the differences underlying the two scholars’ disagreement as to whether the Epoch of Revolution has truly passed. The article proposes that while processual approaches (such as Slim’s) conceive of revolution primarily as a political means, Dunn’s “programmatic” approach to revolution conceives of it as not only a means but also a political end. The article also considers the implications of Dunn’s theory of revolution, and the representative challenges of academic interviewing.

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Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

What is environmental expertise? The background to this question is that many scholars consider environmental expertise crucial for discovering, diagnosing, and solving environmental problems but do not discuss in any depth what constitutes expertise. By investigating the meaning and use of the concept of expertise in three general theories within environmental sociology—the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization— and findings from science and technology studies (STS), this article develops a sociological understanding of environmental expertise: what it is and how it is acquired. Environmental expertise is namely about group belonging and professional socialization around specialized skills; that is, it concerns both substantial competence and social recognition. The implications of this general view on expertise are then used to enrich theories in environmental sociology.

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Epilogue

Mapping the Topography of Oppression

Jenny White

During today’s crisis in Turkey, victimhood authorises oppression, oppressors see themselves as victims and the oppressed are not only the poor, but educated middle classes. Citizen and state are imbricated in the same political and discursive fields where people mobilise against one another, some moving up and others down, creating unexpected landscapes of victimisation and oppression that do not fit comfortably in literature that analyses ‘politics from below’. How do we conceptualise this in a way that respects people’s understanding of their coordinates in a complex landscape of power? This article interrogates some basic assumptions of this literature, including the impact of the observer’s position and the oppression/resistance framework, replacing it with a model of politics as a shared horizontal topography of action across a terrain of values.

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Ben Herzog

The evaluation of citizenship has always been tied to ethical issues, as citizenship laws reflect existing rules and also define the desired ‘good’ citizen. In order to assess whether ethical considerations have affected the legal construction of citizenship in Israel, I compared the two main laws in Israel that regulate newcomers and their citizenship—the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952). I examined the legal texts and used content analysis to address the subjective intentions of the legislators who proposed them, as presented in an explanatory memorandum. Many scholars have argued that these laws were introduced as the foundational laws of the Jewish state. Nevertheless, until the 1980s, the Citizenship Law was explained as a technical measure governing the citizenship of non-Jews. Although both laws are presented as ethical, politicians characterize them as mainly republican, concealing their liberal ethical component.

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Euphoric Anomaly

Matsutake’s Elusive Elusiveness in 2010 Japan

Lieba Faier

Elusiveness can itself be elusive. This article considers why matsutake draw over-the-top excitement as an elusive commodity even in years of prolific harvests. In 2010 Japan, an unexpectedly copious domestic matsutake harvest prompted a precipitous drop in the mushroom’s price and made the mushroom readily accessible. The article traces the sources of consumer excitement that year, showing how matsutake commodity elusiveness is itself produced through contingent coordinations among trees, fungi, weather, pickers, mycology, popular media, and consumers. It suggests that, in 2010, media outlets and consumers resolved the contradictions of this elusiveness—celebrating matsutake’s elite status as an elusive commodity while enjoying its accessibility—by treating the bumper harvest as a euphoric anomaly.