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The Other French Exception

Virtuous Racism and the War of the Sexes in Postcolonial France

Nacira Guénif-Souilamas

Twentieth-century France invented for itself an "exception" that successfully preserved the French culture industry. Postcolonial France is experiencing another "French exception" that renders a "virtuous racism" commonplace and legitimates the discrimination that expresses this racism by identifying the undesirable "new French" as scapegoat figures. Four gender-specific stereotypes strengthen the belief that there is a form of sexism exclusive to the segregated neighborhoods of the suburbs that are inhabited primarily by French people of immigrant and colonial descent. Associated with the central figure of the garçon arabe are the beurette, the veiled Muslim French woman, and the secular Muslim. The article argues that the model of abstract, universalist France has become one of a fundamentalist republicanism that plays diverse expressions of otherness and singular identities off of one another in order to preserve a soft regime of oppression.

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George Ross

The "events" around Dominique de Villepin's abortive promotion of the CPE in spring 2006 were seen by many as a great popular victory in the defense of France's social model and another, albeit modest, version of May 1968. Others, particularly Anglophone neoliberals, saw them as proof that the French were incapable of reform. Both conclusions were wrong. The events and defeat of the CPE may have been enjoyable for many involved, but they resolved none of France's underlying and debilitating economic problems. On the other hand, the neoliberal view that the French are averse to real social policy reform is incorrect. Instead, the unresolved dilemmas surrounding the CPE episode are in large part the product of a particular strategy of reform, the "social management of unemployment," that has nourished and intensified dangerous—unavowed—social dualism in France. The present problem, illustrated indirectly by the events, is that political actors and social partners are unable to cooperate sufficiently to confront this dualism.

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Kyri W. Claflin

In the early twentieth century, French academic veterinarians launched a meat trade reform movement. Their primary objective was the construction of a network of regional industrial abattoirs equipped with refrigeration. These modern, efficient abattoirs-usines would produce and distribute chilled dead meat, rather than livestock, to centers of consumption, particularly Paris. This system was hygienic and economical and intended to replace the insanitary artisanal meat trade centered on the La Villette cattle market and abattoir in Paris. The first abattoirs-usines opened during World War I, but within 10 years the experiment had begun to encounter serious difficulties. For decades afterward, the experiment survived in the collective memory as a complete fiasco, even though some abattoirs-usines in fact persisted by altering their business models. This article examines the roadblocks of the interwar era and the effects of both the problems and their perception on the post-1945 meat trade.

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Rousseau's Turban

Entangled Encounters of Europe and Islam in the Age of Enlightenment

Ian Coller

The relationship of the European Enlightenment to Islam has usually been analyzed by collating “attitudes” toward a religion conceived as constitutively non-European. Enlightenment thinkers made use of Islam and other major revealed religions to relativize and to mock the claims of the Christian church. However, the notion of Islam as irredeemably “other” to Europe is a modern projection. Many eighteenth-century people passed back and forth between Europe and lands dominated by Islam, changing their identity, language, or religion, seeking refuge or a reversal of fortunes. One such figure was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father, Isaac. Rousseau was marked in multiple ways by the mobility between Europe and the Muslim world, and by the new ideas these crossings engendered. This study of Rousseau's treatment of Islam and the Islamic world in his life and work proposes another model for thinking about Europe and Islam in the Age of Enlightenment.

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Astrid Segert

How can one best investigate the mental attitudes and patterns of

behavior of eastern Germans eight years after political unification?

Since 1990, the method dominating this discussion has been based

on measuring the degree to which easterners have “caught up” with

the supposedly more modern western Germans. However, empirical

studies and surveys have shown that this model is an ineffective, even

inappropriate means of describing how unification has impacted the

lives of eastern Germans. In this article, I argue that a more appropriate

approach is to consider the enduring differences in the opportunity

structures among eastern and western Germans, as well as the

differences in their respective behavioral patterns. In this context,

“opportunity structure” refers to the opportunities provided and limitations

imposed by social structures. For the analysis of opportunity

structures, I focus on what I call “contradictory adaptation” and

“problematic normalization.” My analysis of behavioral patterns

emphasizes the logic internal to the subjects themselves (Eigenlogik).

This internal logic differs significantly from outsiders’ interpretations

of easterners’ behavior, as the following example illustrates.

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Wade Jacoby and Martin Behrens

Our purpose in this article is to analyze changes in the German wage

bargaining system, a system that has attracted enormous attention

from scholars of comparative political economy and comparative

industrial relations. We argue that the wage bargaining portion of

the German model is neither frozen in place, headed for deregulation,

nor merely “muddling through.” Rather, we see the institutional

capacities of the key actors—especially the unions and employer

associations—making possible a process we term “experimentalism.”

In briefest form, experimentalism allows organizations that combine

decentralized information-gathering abilities with centralized decision-

making capacity to probe for new possibilities, which, once

found, can be quickly diffused throughout the organization. We will

show that the capacity for such experimentalism varies across actors

and sectors. And, to make things even tougher, neither major German

social actor can sustain innovation in the longer term without

bringing along the other “social partner.”

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Chantal Mouffe

My aim in this presentation is to offer some reflections concerning the kind of public sphere that a vibrant democratic society requires. I want to scrutinize the dominant discourse which announces the “end of the adversarial model of politics” and the need to go beyond left and right towards a consensual politics of the centre. The thesis that I want to put forward is that, contrary to what its defenders argue, this type of discourse has very negative consequences for democratic politics. Indeed it has contributed to the weakening of the “democratic political public sphere”, and it has led to the increasing dominance of juridical and moral discourse, dominance which I take to be inimical to democracy. I submit that the increasing moralization and juridification of politics, far from being seen as progress, a further step in the development of democracy, should be envisaged as a threat for its future.

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Laurence Piper

That democracy has won is common cause. The vast majority of states of the world today are termed ‘democratic’, a fact that stands in some contrast to the global order just some fifty years ago. Even more importantly, there is no competing alternative model of political rule, other than perhaps forms of radical Islam. Yet at the very moment of its triumph, democracy finds itself in trouble. Recent survey evidence from the United States suggests both political disengagement and a growing cynicism towards parties and elites, and similar trends are evident in Europe. Moreover, democracy faces substantial problems in the developing world, whether a tangible fragility among newly democratic states in Africa, or serious discontent at the responsiveness of government in many middle-income countries. Hence, at the very moment of hegemony we have increasing talk of democratic deficit.

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Gijs Mom, Georgine Clarsen, and Cotten Seiler

Last year President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela announced the appearance of what a Dutch national newspaper called an “anticapitalist car.” The two models, named by Chávez himself as the “Orinoco” and the “Arauca,” after rivers that run through Venezuela, are locally assembled under a preferential license agreement with the Chinese automaker Chery. The cars are sold for half the price of other makes and are marketed to the expanding Venezuelan middle class. They are intended as “new attainments of the revolution” that are meant to raise the “standard of life of the people.” This new venture was in a tradition that Chávez’s opponents claim started in 2006, when he came close to making a similar deal with Iranian president Ahmadinejad.

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The Appropriation of Bicycles in West Africa

Pragmatic Approaches to Sustainability

Hans Peter Hahn

Bicycles have a wide range of functions and roles in West Africa. They have vital functions for everyday necessities, but they also constitute prestige objects. The appreciation of bicycles in Africa started very early, almost simultaneously with their diffusion as consumer goods in Europe. However, the adoption of bicycles followed a specific pathway, which is explained in this article within the conceptual framework of appropriation. Cultural appropriation highlights the significant modifications of bicycles in Africa and the abandonment of some functions like braking. In spite of the technical simplifications, modified bicycles are perceived as having higher value, by virtue of their fitness for the tough roads and their increased reliability. Appropriation results in a specific “Africanized“ bicycle, which makes possible a prolonged usage. This essay argues that the “Africanized“ bicycle constitutes a model of sustainability in matters of transport, one which is not sufficiently recognized in current debates about sustainable innovations.