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Lloyd Kramer

This article discusses R. R. Palmer's interest in communicating with a broad audience on subjects of transnational political and cultural significance. His approach to historical writing shows the value of synthetic narratives, the importance of a lucid prose style, and the uses of history for the exploration of enduring political issues. Although Palmer's work reflects the preoccupations and scholarship of his own twentieth-century academic context, his interest in democratic institutions remains relevant for contemporary readers. His analysis of "big questions" shows how political ideas can travel across national borders and stresses the relationship between Enlightenment reason and modern political movements. Palmer's commitment to Enlightenment values in books such as The Age of the Democratic Revolution therefore remains a valuable model for the advocates of transnational history, even in the twenty-first century.

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David Hall

Climate action is conventionally framed in terms of overcoming epistemic and practical disagreement. An alternative view is to treat people’s understandings of climate change as fundamentally pluralistic and to conceive of climate action accordingly. This paper explores this latter perspective through a framework of philosophical psychology, in particular Bernard Williams’s distinction between internal and external reasons. This illuminates why the IPCC’s framework of ‘Reasons for Concern’ has an inefficacious relationship to people’s concerns and, hence, why additional reason giving is required. Accordingly, this paper recommends a model of truthful persuasion, which acknowledges the plurality of people’s motivations and sincerely strives to connect the facts of climate change to people’s subjective motivational sets.

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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.

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Learning from a Contested Project in the Netherlands

The Clash over the Amelisweerd Forest, 1957–1982

Odette van de Riet and Bert Toussaint

The Amelisweerd case, a highly debated highway network expansion project from the late 1970s, has been widely portrayed as a symbolic mismatch between government and entrenched stakeholder opposition. The aim of this article is to learn from the case by unraveling the policy process using a multiactor policy analysis model. The result is that the policy process scores poorly on all the three applied criteria, and this has had a discernible negative effect on the level of stakeholder support for the policy proposals. Since then, major changes have taken place in the planning processes of infrastructural projects in the Netherlands. However, the potential for learning from Amelisweerd is much wider, as since the 1960s public projects are increasingly subject to public scrutiny and comment. Careful analysis from iconic cases like Amelisweerd can help current infrastructural policymakers and planning project managers as they develop fresh policies and projects.

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Harry Beck's London Underground Map

A Convex Lens for the Global City

John D. Schwetman

After Harry Beck designed his map of the London Underground, it became an icon of the city and a model for maps in other large transit networks around the world. The map allowed its readers to see themselves as components of the large, organized structure of the metropolis but also confronted them with the possibility of losing themselves to that structure. An analysis of the post-Beck subway map tradition shows it to be a battleground between the zeal for order and the latent chaos at the heart of the urban communities that the map represents and also situates this conflict in a larger context of the emergence of a global societal structure bound together by the control of capital and of the information that enables such control.

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Where Only Wind Was Once Sown

The Tradition of Republicanism and the Agrarian Question in Brazil

Heloisa Maria Murgel Starling

The article traces the reception of different strands of Republicanism in Brazil. French republicanism inspired authors such as Euclides da Cunha in his realization that a true Brazilian republic would only be achieved with the inclusion of its vast interior and its destitute population. But the reception of republicanism in Brazil also drew from Anglo-Saxon sources, which resulted also in an emphasis on the political nature of the community. American republicanism, with its conception of territorial expansion, land possession, and active economic participation added a further dimension to Brazilian republicanism. In particular, Teofilo Otoni's attempt to create a political community in the Mucury Valley was modeled after the ideals of American republicanism. Even if the Brazilian republicanism that emerged from the reception of these strands failed to impose its agenda over the political mainstream, it provided a unifying ideology for the opposition throughout the Second Empire and the First Republic, and still constitutes a source of inspiration for political reform and criticism.

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The Collectivisation of Pleasure

Normative Sexuality in Post-1966 Romania

Erin K. Biebuyck

This article examines several sex manuals from Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania for the ideologically-infused sex norms they contain. These manuals constructed a sexual ideal that located pleasure in the marital couple rather than in the individual, defining ‘normal sexuality’ as heterosexual and privileging its collective significance as an act for reproduction over the experience of pleasure by an individual. This collective model of pleasure was key to the construction of the communist subject as a member of a collective rather than as an autonomous individual. While this collective subject had roots in Romanian pre-communist traditions, communist sex experts rejected conventional gender roles according to which women are subordinate to men. Subsequent comparisons with contemporaneous American sex manuals reveal that the Romanian communist discourse on pleasure differed significantly from that of popular American sex advice of the same period.