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Werner Krauss, Mike S. Schäfer, and Hans von Storch

This special symposium grew out of a workshop held in Hamburg in 2011 (Krauss and von Storch 2012) and of a long-term interest in climate research as post-normal science. A decade earlier, Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch (1999) stated that the management of uncertainty and its extension into the political and social realm make climate science a case for post-normal science. Interpreting a survey among German and American climate scientists, they suggested that scientific policy advice is the result of both scientific knowledge and normative judgment.

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The Ultimate Argument

Evoking the Affective Powers of ‘Happiness’ in Commercial Surrogacy

Veronika Siegl

This article explores how the notion of happiness is employed in order to obscure the moral ambiguity and intimate uncertainties of commercial surrogacy. My ethnographic data elucidate the ways in which surrogacy agents and other intermediaries operating in Russia and Ukraine evoke happiness. I discuss three forms of their affective labour: a discourse of fear and hope, the attempt to make surrogacy a joyous and happy process and the claim that there is a right to happiness. I contend that ‘happiness’ serves as the ultimate argument, an argument that has the affective power to override moral concerns and delegitimise critique.

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Alessia Donà

Despite a situation of economic crisis and political uncertainty, the year 2013 will be remembered for the highest female parliamentary representation ever reached in Italy, for the adoption of new legislative measures to combat violence against women, and for increased female participation in the labor market. This chapter provides an overview of these three main events. First, by conducting a process-tracing analysis, the chapter reconstructs the steps taken toward new legislative measures against gender-based violence. Second, the chapter explores the Italian labor market, where the harsh crisis put women back into the workforce. Lastly, the possible policy implications of a renewed, younger, and more gender-balanced Parliament are discussed. The main argument is that the events of 2013 may represent a turning point for Italian women's rights, but only if traditional gender roles are challenged.

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Yaron Ezrahi

Is Israeli democracy in danger? The short answer is yes! But which democracy is not in some sense or another fragile and in danger? In some democracies it is the rise of the extreme right and racism in reaction to Muslim minorities, in others the possibility of disastrous economic collapse, and in still others the nearing possibility of a civil war. In the case of Israel it is unreasonable to assess the future of democracy given the deep uncertainties about the prospects of a settlement with the Palestinians and of achieving definable agreed-upon borders in the foreseeable future, and Israel’s permanently grave state of security. In addition, no one can risk predicting the prospect and consequences of a war involving thousands of missiles over Israeli cities if the present deadlock of the peace process persists and eventually leads to an explosion.

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On Anticipatory Accounts

Adjudicating Moral Being and Becoming in the Los Angeles Mental Health Court

Abigail Jane Mack

Engaging an account of a judicial decision made in the Los Angeles Mental Health Court, this article interrogates the role of anticipation in the lived negotiation of moral, social and institutional orders. As Judge Samuel Benton recounts his attempt to let himself ‘emotionally off the hook’ in the wake of a patient’s suicide, anticipation emerges as: 1) an ordered, linear sequencing of events towards logical ends; 2) unsettled, temporally disjunctive engagements with the past in order to make sense of present experience and ambiguous futures; 3) existential negotiations of one’s potential morality and social belonging; and 4) distributed organization of information between people and across objects in order to elaborate present and future experience. These manifestations of anticipation reveal the social and temporal contingency and deep intersubjectivity of our negotiations with uncertainty in the unsettling process of becoming moral.

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Robert Eastwood

This article is a non-technical review of the economics of global policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Quite a lot is known about the likely physical consequences of anthropogenic climate change, but much uncertainty remains. In particular, account needs to be taken of possible catastrophes such as ice sheet melting. How are we to balance the known costs of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the present against the uncertain benefits of such action for future generations? How convincing is the case for substantial measures to be undertaken now? If the case for such action is accepted, should emissions be controlled via Kyoto-style national emissions targets or by the imposition of carbon taxes? How can the challenges of burden sharing between developed and developing countries be addressed?

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Wolfgang Krohn

This article presents a long-term study of German waste management policies and technologies as they developed during the second half of the twentieth century. The postwar "waste avalanche" called for quick and crude political decisions. Unexpected environmental side effects prompted new governance and leads through six different stages of policies based on scientific models and advanced technologies—all of them controversial. The case exemplifies a typical condition of a knowledge society. Politics demands a reliable knowledge base for rational decision making. Science, however, supplies open-ended research and increases uncertainties. Turning the dilemma into an operational perspective, I suggest speaking of processes of real-world experimentation with waste. The transformation of waste from something to be ignored and disregarded into an epistemic object of concern is bound to experimenting with existing and newly designed waste sites as well as with socio-technical management systems. The study focuses on the development in Germany. Its general features, however, are characteristic for comparable industrial societies.

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Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey

This special issue and its following companion issue (Social Analysis 56, no. 2) are concerned with the ways in which fortune, luck, and chance are conceived in a range of different societies and how these concepts are employed to negotiate the contingencies and uncertainties of everyday life. More specifically, the articles included in these special issues show how, by juxtaposing different cultural images and positions, any engagement with these concepts in local cosmologies and systems of thought lead different societies to imaginatively formulate novel worldviews and to creatively rearrange preconceived notions and categories of relatedness and vitality. Taken together, the contributions to these special issues describe societies peopled by agents who seek to (re)connect with the ultimate sources of vitality and potentiality and to appropriate them in order to reconfigure their notions of prosperity and efficacy.

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Uncertain Mobilities

A View from the Past

Colin G. Pooley

Contemporary society assumes high levels of unimpeded mobility, and disruptions to the ability to move quickly and easily can cause considerable concern. This paper examines the notion of mobility uncertainty and disruption from an historical perspective, arguing that interruptions to mobility have long been a characteristic of everyday travel. It is suggested that what has changed is not so much the extent or nature of disruption, but rather the resilience of transport systems and societal norms and expectations about travel. Data are taken from five examples of life writing produced by residents of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The texts are used to illustrate the travel problems encountered and the strategies adopted to deal with them. A concluding discussion examines these themes in the context of twenty-first century mobility.

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Egypt between Two Shakespeare Quadricentennials 1964–2016

Reflective Remarks in Three Snapshots

Hazem Azmy

Abstract

This article reflects critically on Shakespeare’s presence in the Egyptian cultural and national imaginaries between the country’s celebration of two Shakespeare quadricentennials. The 400th anniversary of his birth in 1964 coincided with the euphoric reimagining of Egypt as a decolonizing nationalist utopia, and also with the launch of the highly emblematic al-Masraḥ magazine; that of the Bard’s death in 2016 has occurred as the exhausted ‘post-revolutionary’ nation navigates a welter of blind spots and uncertainties on all levels. Culled from the wider public sphere, mainstream stage practice and my classroom experiences as an instructor of drama and theatre in contemporary Egypt, the article’s three snapshots exhibit compelling evidence of cultural hegemony, entrenched gerontocracy and both the subtle and not so subtle continuing subjugation of feminized voices.