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The Mobilization of Appropriation

Comment on the Special Section on Cultural Appropriation

Carsten Schinko

“Appropriation“ is a complex term used in many different realms, and an almost ubiquitous phenomenon. Conceptually linked to questions of mobility, appropriation has both a social and physical dimension. This essay delineates the term's employment in key political and academic discourses, and interrogates its inherent logic with regard to possession, the attribution of purpose and value, and the social reciprocity of the parties involved in the act. Starting off with questions of just distribution in modern nation-states, the argument then traces appropriation in contemporary debates on copyright in a digital age, and provides a sketch of the larger political imaginary informing acts of appropriation.

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Georg Picot and Arianna Tassinari

Reform of the labor market has long been an important and controversial policy area in Italy, and it was one of Matteo Renzi's core concerns when he took up the leadership of the Democratic Party. This chapter recounts the main changes in Italian labor market policy since the 1990s before discussing the Jobs Act, which started as a highly publicized reform project concentrating on changes to public employment services and unemployment benefits, but which the left strongly challenged when dismissal protection was later weakened.

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Forget Forgiveness

On the Benefits of Sympathy for Political Reconciliation

Nir Eisikovits

The work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has generated a great deal of interest in the role of forgiveness in politics. More specifically, it has raised the question of whether forgiveness should be a constitutive part of reconciliation processes between groups. In this paper, I argue that it should not, and that it might be both more useful and more realistic to consider something like Adam Smith’s notion of ‘sympathy’ instead. The first part examines the arguments for and against policies promoting political forgiveness. The second part suggests sympathy as an alternative. The third part considers and rejects some objections to the employment of sympathy in this context.

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The Grammars of 'Power'

Between Contestation and Mediation

Mark Rigstad

In light of the pragmatic aspirations of ordinary language philosophy, this essay critically examines the competing grammatical strictures that are often set forth within the theoretical discourse of 'power'. It repudiates both categorically appraisive employments of 'power' and the antithetical urge to fully operationalize the concept. It offers an attenuated defense of the thesis that 'power' is an essentially contestable concept, but rejects the notion that this linguistic fact stems from conflict between antipodal ideological paradigms. Careful attention to the ordinary pragmatics of power-language evinces the prospects for integrating various context-specific aspects of power and mediating between traditionally divergent theoretical frameworks.

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Italy and the United States

The Politics and Poetics of 'The Southern Problem'

Michael Kreyling

Both nations were ‘made’ in the 1860s. One was proclaimed on March 17, 1861; the other began a doomed civil war for its autonomy on April 12, 1861. The architect of Italian unification, Count Camillo Cavour, did not live to see the national reality; he died a few months after the proclamation. Abraham Lincoln died before national unity was reclaimed. As a policy of unification, the victorious North dissolved monasteries without anticipating negative effects on employment and social services for the poor. The victorious North dissolved the slave labour system in the defeated states without adequately anticipating the effect on employment and social services for the poor and black. In the southern regions of Italy the primary organisation for agricultural land use was a large holding, usually owned by one family, and rented to peasants: latifundia. In the southern regions of the United States the primary organization for agricultural land use was a large holding, usually owned by one family, and worked by slave labour: plantations. Southerners in the new Italy tended to view their civilisation as separate from the new nation, ‘an ancient and glorious nation in its own right’.1 Southerners in the US tended to view their civilisation as separate within the nation as a whole, ‘ancient’ by New World standards, and ‘glorious’ by virtue of its traditions.

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Cris Shore and Miri Davidson

As an early pioneer of market-led institutional reforms and New Public Management policies, New Zealand arguably has one of the most 'neoliberalised' tertiary education sectors in the world. This article reports on a recent academic dispute concerning the attempt by management to introduce a new category of casualised academic employee within one of the country's largest research universities. It is based on a fieldwork study, including document analysis, interviews and the participation of both authors in union and activist activities arising from the dispute. Whilst some academics may collude in the new regimes of governance that these reforms have created, we suggest that 'collusion' and 'resistance' are inadequate terms for explaining how academic behaviour and subjectivities are being reshaped in the modern neoliberal university. We argue for a more theoretically nuanced and situational account that acknowledges the wider legal and systemic constraints that these reforms have created. To do this, we problematise the concept of collusion and reframe it according to three different categories: 'conscious complicity', 'unwitting complicity' and 'coercive complicity'. We ask, what happens when one must 'collude' in order to resist, or when certain forms of opposition are rendered impossible by the terms of one's employment contract? We conclude by reflecting on ways in which academics understand and engage with the policies of university managers in contexts where changes to the framework governing employment relations have rendered conventional forms of resistance increasingly problematic, if not illegal.

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Social Movements and Social Policies

Political Challenges under Austerity in the UK

Gregory White

The economic crisis of 2007/2008 presented a challenge to the welfare state in the UK, and, more widely, across Europe. It also presented a challenge to many citizens, who were on the receiving end of the austerity agenda, and subsequent tightening of welfare spending. If nothing else, the financial crisis demonstrated the hegemony of economic theories prominent in neoliberal capitalism. As many academics and commentators have identified, however, the current period of instability is indicative of a systemic crisis. In addition to this analysis, the crisis also exposed the intricate and opaque links between western governments and the financial sector. During and after the crisis an eruption of activity in civil society galvanized many that had been directly affected by either the crisis itself—through loss of employment—or by the subsequent austerity measures imposed. This article aims to examine the current crisis affecting the welfare state in the UK, and social policy more broadly, and, begins to suggest how social movements are seeking to challenge the dominant discourses surrounding austerity politics. The article suggests some reasons as to why traditional forms of resistance and organization—such as the mobilizations of the trade union movement—have largely been unsuccessful in challenging such narratives. The article concludes by considering the shift from trade unionism in the UK to post-crisis social movements, and where an anti-austerity movement more broadly might develop further in pursuit of defending the principles of social welfare, and, ultimately, the welfare state.

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Regions, borders, and social policy

The limits of welfare in regional cohesion debates

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

This first issue of Volume Four of Regions & Cohesion continues a trend of articles that gained momentum in Volume Three, focusing on the territorial aspects of welfare in social cohesion debates. The Summer 2013 issue of the journal presented a collection of articles that specifically discussed the role of borders and border policies in social cohesion politics. Although this collection was not intended to be presented as a thematically specific issue, the simultaneous arrival of these pieces highlighted the importance of borders in defining the territorial limits of cohesion and the ensuing renegotiation of these limits in political debates. For example, the article by Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O’Donoghue focused on the impacts of the European Union’s social security coordination policy on the welfare of cross-border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg. The article illustrated the limits of this regional policy as cross-border workers do not receive equal treatment compared to domestic workers in the country of employment. Similarly, an article by Franz Clément in the same issue analyzed the “socio-political representation” of cross-border workers and discusses how such workers can mobilize for socioeconomic rights in institutions aimed at worker protection (such as professional associations, trade unions, etc.). Both articles show that despite formal regionalization of legislation concerning social rights and representation, national boundaries clearly present challenges to cross-border workers who have difficulty negotiating rights in both their country of employment and country of residence.

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Mita Marra

In the last two years, a new period of reform has charged the Italian

public administration system with three principal objectives: modernizing

its organizational structure at the national and local levels,

reorganizing public employment, and improving the services rendered

by public institutions. To this end, the year 2009 signaled the initial

intensification of policies promoted by Minister Renato Brunetta—initiatives

that had been in the developmental stages in 2008. The reform

spirit of the government has given life to a first series of measures that

are urgently needed to remedy some of the most evident and critical

weaknesses in the public apparatus, such as absenteeism. At the same

time, these initiatives have been accompanied by the definition of the

principles and boundaries that will guide the process, as provided for

in Law No. 15 of 2009. This law came about in response to Legislative

Decree No. 150/2009, regarding the reorganization of public employment

and collective bargaining in the public sector.

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Sarah Michelle Stohlman, Alice Szczepaniková, Ewa Ignaczak, Oane Visser, Peter Scholliers, Sjaak van der Geest, Hans Vermeulen, Tomasz Płonka, Jaap TImmer, and Oscar Salemink

Sarah Ahmed, Claudia Castañeda, Anne-Marie Fortier, and Mimi Sheller (eds.), Uprootings/regroundings: questions of home and migration

Susanne Binder and Jelena Tošič (eds.), Refugee studies and politics: human dimensions and research perspectives, and Philomena Essed, Georg Frerks, and Joke Schrijvers (eds.), Refugees and the transformation of societies: agency, policies, ethics and politics

Paul John Eakin (ed.), The ethics of life writing

Chris Hann and the ‘Property Relations’ group, The postsocialist agrarian question: property relations and the rural condition

Anne J. Kershen (ed.), Food in the migrant experience

Michael Lambek and Paul Antze (eds.), Illness and irony: on the ambiguity of suffering in culture

Cristóbal Mendoza, Labour immigration in Southern Europe: African employment in Iberian labour markets

Thomas Carl Patterson, Marx’s ghost: conversations with archaeologists

Adam Reed, Papua New Guinea’s last place: experiences of constraint in a postcolonial prison

Shinji Yamashita and J. S. Eades (eds.), Globalization in Southeast Asia: local, national and transnational perspectives