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Sandra Swart

After the collapse of the former Soviet Union two decades ago, Russia’s new capitalists moved the industrial complexes from the city centres to the suburbs. These complexes had once provided lairs for Moscow’s free-ranging dogs, a large and shifting feral population that had excited comment from the mid-nineteenth century. Faced in the 1990s with an abruptly changing socio-economic urban topography, the dogs had to relocate their sleeping areas to the city outskirts— but their best scavenging grounds remained the urban hub. So the new running dogs of capitalism—both human and canine—were faced with the same mobility question: how to negotiate transport from domicile to place of employment and back again with maximum efficiency. Astonishingly, a few dogs learned how to jump on fixed subway routes to get to the centre in the morning. Once within the city, the dogs discovered how to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, crossing not with the colour—which they found hard to judge because of their dichromatic vision—but with the changing outline and position of the signal. Then, in the evenings, they became skilled at leaping onto the correct train home, just like their human counterparts. Observers note that these canine commuters sometimes fall asleep and have to get off at the wrong stop, just like weary human commuters.

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A Good Straight Road

Reflections on the Development of Pre-university Anthropology in the U.K.

Bob Simpson

The articles assembled in this collection provide a timely focus upon a critical issue for the reproduction of anthropology as an institutionalized form of knowledge in the U.K. and more widely. Simply stated, the problem they identify is as follows: anthropology is a relatively small discipline with low visibility beyond the sites in the academy where it is taught and where research is carried out; there are currently significant threats to the future of anthropology as practised within British higher education and in other countries too (e.g. in terms of its funding, sustainability, perceptions of relevance, the current nature of evaluation and audit); one of the main areas of vulnerability, in this regard, is the recruitment of new generations of students into the discipline, which is variable and volatile across the sector; and, finally, a significant factor here is the virtual absence of anthropology in curricula at pre-university level, particularly in the U.K. In addition, the papers show a strong conviction that anthropology has something valuable and engaging to off er at this level and into employment possibilities beyond.

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Social Quality in Hungary

In the Framework of ENIQ

Szilvia Altorjai and Erzsébet Bukodi

In Hungary, the social and economic conditions have dramatically changed after the political and economical transition. The collapse of communism in 1989–90 forced Hungary, as well as other CEE countries, to reconstruct their political, economic and cultural identity. This process has become known as the ‘transition’ and Europeanisation or globalisation (Manning 2004). Within this transition the ability of adjustment to new conditions has become one of the most important factors – if not the most – in the process of diminishing risks and enhancing life chances. The theoretical and methodological elements of the social quality approach were established in the last two to three years. In this article we aim to outline the most important elements of social quality in the conditional factors socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion as well as social empowerment in Hungary. Here, besides a short description of the national context we will emphasise only the key findings according to the four conditional factors. In the third part of the article we outline some aspects of the Hungarian employment policy.

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Karolina S. Follis and Christian R. Rogler

In 2004, Susan Brin Hyatt reported from a roundtable session organised by the American Anthropological Association ‘a dispiriting picture of academic life in the early years of the 21st century’, due to, amongst other things, ‘the casualization of the academic workforce’ (Hyatt 2004: 25–26). Less than a decade later, Joëlle Fanghanel notes that the ‘increased casualization of academic staff [has] significantly affected the evolution of academic work and working patterns’ (2012: 5). Casualisation takes different forms in different academic contexts, from the ‘adjunctification’ of teaching in the U.S.A. to precarious grant-funded postdoc positions common in Europe and the U.K. and the efforts to introduce other forms of temporary academic employment in New Zealand (Shore and Davidson 2014) and Australia (Barcan 2014). Seeking to contribute to these and other current discussions on the future of research and higher education in the era of privatisation and funding cuts, Hana Cervinkova and Karolina Follis convened the panel Anthropology as a Vocation and Occupation, held on 3 August 2014 at the 13th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in Tallinn, Estonia.

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Stephen J. Silvia

This article investigates the progress that the eastern German economy has made since unification in two areas: unemployment and output. It finds that unemployment has remained persistently higher in eastern than in western Germany and output levels have remained extremely uniform across the eastern states. Keynesian and neoclassical economists have proposed differing explanations for the endurance of high unemployment in the East. The latter have the more convincing argument, which blames high initial wages in eastern Germany for producing a labor "trap," but this account is not without flaws. The best explanation for output uniformity is the content and volume of public investment in eastern Germany since unification. Public policy in the years immediately following unification is in large part responsible for both outcomes. Economic modeling indicates that wage subsidies targeted at low-income employment would be the most effective means to break the current high-unemployment equilibrium in eastern Germany, but the political barriers to adopting such a policy are just as formidable as they were a decade ago, when such a policy was briefly considered.

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Massimo Florio

During 2006, Telecom Italia—the most important of Italy’s entirely privatized

companies and one of the largest in the country in terms of market

capitalization, profit, employment, and technological wealth—ran into

political controversy. On 11 September, CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera

presented the company’s board with a strategic plan that, breaking with

the course followed the previous year, foresaw the unbundling of three

divisions: Telecom Italia (TI, landline telephone services, Internet, and

media operations), Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM, mobile telephone services),

and Telecom Italia Rete (the network operator). In the days following

the announcement, the government claimed that it had been kept

in the dark about the proposal despite a series of meetings with the TI

board. The press nevertheless revealed that one of Romano Prodi’s advisers

had sent Tronchetti an alternative plan that would have allowed the

purchase of the landline network by the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Deposit

and Loans Fund), a holding group controlled by the Ministry of Finance.

Prodi denied any knowledge of this plan in Parliament (his adviser subsequently

resigned).

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W(h)ither New Age Studies?

The Uses of Ethnography in a Contested Field of Scholarship

Matthew Wood

Since the 1980s, there has existed a field of scholarly inquiry into a range of phenomena termed New Age. The relative lack of ethnographic studies in this field was identified several years ago, in response to research that focused merely on the discourses within alleged key writings. However, the employment of ethnographic methods does not by itself resolve the problems inherent in other modes of research; attention also has to be paid to how ethnography is used in practice. This article examines ethnographies of the New Age in terms of the extent to which they contextualize data within their immediate social frames, by paying attention to actors' practices and interactions, and to the ways in which beliefs and discourses are constructed and contested. The article demonstrates the strong tendency among New Age ethnographic studies to veer from 'the social' and to rest instead on analytically problematic conceptualizations of agency. It argues that epistemological revision is required to form the basis of a more sociologically adequate understanding of the phenomena addressed.

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Katharina Hanel and Stefan Marschall

Facing linkage problems, parties in Germany have started to respond to a changing media environment by reforming their internal structures of opinion forming and decision making, inter alia reacting to the rise of the social web and the successes of the Pirate Party whose party organization is to a large extent “digitalized”. Whether and how established parties implement and adapt Internet tools, i.e., whether these could contribute to more participation of the “party on the ground” or whether they strengthen the “party in central office” is the focus of this article. The case study on the employment of an online platform for drafting a motion for the party convention of the German Social Democrats in December 2011 reveals that the “party in central office” controlled the online procedure as well as the processing of the results to a remarkable extent—thereby constraining the participatory potential of the tool. At the same time, the case study indicates a quality of online collaboration platforms that might limit the instrumentalization of these tools by the party elites in the long run and possibly re-empower the “party on the ground.”

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Manuela Ciotti

This article explores histories of social separation, impermanent encounters, and lasting political alliances between Dalit (“untouchable”) Chamar male youth and members of the upper-caste Brahman community in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh, North India. The entry of young Chamar people into educational institutions followed by political mobilization and, for some, the transition into employment, has led them to appropriate spaces often beyond the purview of previous generations. Against the backdrop of Chamar histories as agricultural laborers, powerless political subjects, and actors of religious marginality, new forms of masculinity, sociality, and class formation have come into being. The article focuses on young Chamar men’s involvement in village politics, particularly during the 2005 local elections. It is argued that village politics—rather than inter-caste friendships, which remain short-lived as a result of caste discrimination—has engendered an arena of sociality where caste-driven interest produce more durable social links between young low-caste men and members of the upper-caste community. As India’s political history illustrates, the episode of electoral politics analyzed in this article brings together differently situated communities within the nation, highlighting how the unresolved question of caste discrimination conflates with the compulsion to political power. If young Chamar men are the new protagonists in this history, their role is the outcome of broader changes in the consciousness around political participation and the opening up of democratic possibilities for minority populations in a postcolonial setting.

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For Women's Rights, Church, and Fatherland

The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation, 1908-1940

Indrė Karčiauskaitė

This article examines the history of the Lietuviu Katalikiu Moteru Draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation) from its foundation in 1908 to its disbandment under Soviet occupation in 1940. Special attention is paid to the LKMD's changing relationship with the Catholic clergy and Lithuanian nationalism. Exploring which type of feminism the LKMD represented, the article focuses on attitudes of the LKMD leadership towards women's rights, participation in society, and paid employment. The beginning of the 1920s is shown to have been a turning point. At that time many educated women became active in order to enshrine women's rights in the statutes of the newly independent Lithuanian State. Several of them joined the LKMD, subsequently succeeding in reducing the clergy's influence on the organisation's central board. The LKMD, it turns out, was a good example of a women's organisation espousing relational feminism (Karen Offen's term), insisting on women's participation in society as being distinct from men's, particularly in relation to women's role as mothers, while taking a stand for equality between men and women, especially with respect to judicial issues.