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Socialisms in the Tsarist Borderlands

Poland and Finland in a Contrastive Comparison, 1830—1907

Wiktor Marzec and Risto Turunen

There are probably few ism concepts that have influenced European political trajectories at the turn of the twentieth century more profoundly than socialism . This concept was at the vortex of the great transformation of European societies into

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Death Camps and Designer Dresses

The Liberal Agenda and the Appeal to 'Real Existing Socialism'

Lorna Finlayson

Political philosophers tend to notice their differences more than their similarities. I suggest that contemporary analytic political philosophy in fact exhibits a 'dominant paradigm', the main features of which are a commitment to liberal capitalism and a preference for the designing of 'just institutions.' To subscribe to this paradigm involves making a decision about how to manage the philosophical 'agenda.' In order to focus on certain issues within this paradigm, alternatives, most notably socialism, have to be excluded from prolonged consideration. A popular way of supporting this policy is by reference to the perceived failure of 'real existing socialism.' Taking the late political philosopher Brian Barry, among others, as an example, I argue that this argumentative strategy is unconvincing, and furthermore that its deployment tells a worrying story about the practice of political philosophy.

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Constructing the Socialist Worker

Gender, Identity and Work under State Socialism in Braşov, Romania

Jill Massino

Utilising socialist legislation, propaganda and oral history interviews, this article analyses how women’s identities and roles – as well as gender relations – were reformulated as a result of women’s participation in paid labour in socialist Romania. Although some women regarded work as burdensome and unsatisfying, others found it intellectually fulfilling, personally rewarding and, in certain respects, empowering. For example, work improved women’s economic position and offered them an array of social services, which, although inadequate in a number of ways, were welcomed by many women. Moreover, work increased women’s physical and social mobility, which in turn provided them with greater freedom in directing their own lives and in choosing a partner. Finally, the experience of being harassed by male co-workers and of combining work outside the home with domestic responsibilities motivated some women to rethink their status both within the workplace and the family, and to renegotiate their relationships with male colleagues and partners. Although women never achieved full equality in socialist Romania, by creating the conditions for women’s full-time engagement in the workforce, state socialism decisively shaped the course of women’s lives, their self-identities and their conceptions of gender roles, often in positive ways.

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Between Ordinary Pain and Extraordinary Knowledge

The Seer Vanga in the Everyday Life of Bulgarians during Socialism (1960s-1970s)

Galia Valtchinova

This article focuses on a little-known aspect of everyday life in socialist Bulgaria: the act of consulting a clairvoyant for health issues, thereby dealing with the broader process of medicalisation of healing. It is grounded on files from consultations with the renowned Bulgarian seer, prophetess and healer baba Vanga, which were collected between 1966 and 1974. These highly specifi c historical sources allow me to analyse late twentieth-century ideas and notions of health and disease, of pain and suffering, and thus to access social realities, cultural practices and representations of healing under socialism. By scrutinising the categories used in these records, the article delineates the relationship between the seer-healer, her patients, and the state institutions involved in the regulation of this process.

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Paul Nursey-Bray

Within European debates on the left about the future of the socialist project, particularly within the United Kingdom, market socialism has been enjoying a certain vogue over the last decade. It represents one of a number of approaches that have been canvassed in pursuit of a Third Way that would steer a course between the old authoritarian, state-controlled socialism of Soviet and Eastern European practice and the untrammelled excesses of a free market capitalist approach. It has claimed some influential supporters, as well as vehement critics who aver that in surrendering to the market and the law of value market socialism vitiates its socialist credentials. But the issues raised in the European context have specific contextual characteristics. European economies and social structures are what we term developed or advanced. While large disparities of wealth exist between social strata and social classes, there is an absence of the fundamental development problems and crushing poverty that are the all too familiar features of the world of Africa. It may be suggestive therefore to consider the application of market socialism within an African setting, acknowledging that there will be a shift of emphasis. While the concerns for social justice and equality that are central to the evaluation of market socialism in a European setting naturally remain relevant in the case of Africa, there is also the question of development itself. Can market socialism be considered as a prescription for the disease of underdevelopment that continues to undermine the economies, the politics and the very life of African societies? We will begin with a review of the history and nature of market socialism before returning to this central question. In general I subscribe to the view that we should avoid dealing with “Africa” in a general way, since it ignores the need to recognize country by country differences and specifics. However, on occasion, a broad brush is useful. I believe it has utility here in a comparison and contrast between European and African experiences of socialism.

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Susan Zimmermann

This study argues that the changing relationship between paid work, unpaid work and paid care work and social services, and the struggle over this relationship and its implications, constituted key factors in shaping the ‘state socialist’ gender regime in Hungary from 1949 to the 1980s. The study is based on a wealth of recent scholarship, original sources and Hungarian research conducted during the state socialist period. It tries to give a balanced and inclusive analysis of key elements of women’s and gender history in the state socialist project of ‘catching-up development’ in a semi-peripheral patriarchal society, pointing to constraints, challenges and results of this project. Due to the complex interaction of a variety of actors and factors impacting on and shaping the state socialist gender regime not all women were affected in the same way by state socialist politics and gender struggles. Women’s status and opportunities, as well as gender relations, differed according to class, ethnicity and economic sector. As a rule, the gender struggle over state socialist family and gender arrangements in Hungary sought to reduce or temper tensions and conflicts by avoiding substantial or direct attack against the privileges of men both within the home and elsewhere.

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"Maternal Impressions"

Disability Memoirs in Socialist Poland

Natalia Pamula

This article discusses disability memoirs written by mothers of disabled sons during state socialism in Poland. It recovers an often forgotten experience of living socialism as a mother of a disabled child and analyzes disability as a category of difference that, unlike gender or class, was not reordered by the socialist state. It argues that disability reconfigured motherhood as a political institution under state socialism and shows that a child’s disability permitted women to become politically disobedient subjects. Disability allowed women who were responsible for their children’s overcoming disability to make demands on the state and criticize it for the lack of sufficient accommodations and resources. At the same time, the article highlights the violence embedded in the relationship between a disabled son and his mother.

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Searching for a New Way of Thinking about Society

A Noospheric Social Quality Orientation for Development toward Sustainability

Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov and Nikolay Vyacheslavovich Bobkov

socionatural evolution based on the social intellect and educational society embodied in the Manifesto of Noospheric Socialism ( Subetto 2011 ). The second is connected with articulating the organizational and legal bases for regulating the movement of

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The Weight of Absence

Rick Turner and the End of the Durban Moment

Billy Keniston

, while retaining a commitment to both socialism and non-racialism. Within this climate, Rick Turner’s contribution was deeply significant, and had a profound impact on dozens of people’s lives. Nonetheless, at some point, the liberation struggle in South

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“Comrades in Battle”

Women Workers and the 1906 Finnish Suffrage Victory

Eric Blanc

ultimately necessary, political change.” 72 The workers’ movement in Russia and beyond shared Pärssinen’s perspective. For August Bebel, the German Socialist leader and author of the influential work Women and Socialism , the events in Finland represented