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From Politik als Beruf to Politics as a Vocation

The Translation, Transformation, and Reception of Max Weber's Lecture

Jens Borchert

Max Weber's 1919 lecture Politik als Beruf is still considered a classical text in the social sciences. The reception of the text in the Anglo-Saxon world has been profoundly shaped by the translation provided by Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, first appearing in 1946. Their Politics as a Vocation is more than a vivid transposition of Weber's rather peculiar German rhetoric—it is rendered in a way that suggests a certain interpretation and makes others highly improbable. The present article traces the reception of Weber's text back to certain decisions made by the translators after World War II. It argues that the translation emphasized philosophical and ethical parts of the text at the expense of others that were more geared toward a political sociology of modern politics. Moreover, the adoption of Weber's approach in empirical research was hindered if not foreclosed by a distorted presentation of his key typologies and some central concepts.

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Gianfranco Pasquino and Marco Valbruzzi

This chapter analyzes the processes of candidate selection in Italy for the main political parties facing the 2013 general election. In particular, the authors investigate and evaluate the primary elections organized, in November–December 2012, by the center-left coalition (composed of the Democratic Party, Left Ecology and Freedom, and the Italian Socialist Party) for the selection of the candidate to the office of president of the Council of Ministers. The chapter explores in detail the main issues at the center of the electoral campaign, the candidates involved in the process of selection, the socio-demographic profile of the “selectorate,” the electoral results of the primary elections, and their consequences for the consolidation of the Italian party system.

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Crisis of Democracy?

Recognizing the Democratic Potential of Alternative Forms of Political Participation

Brendan McCaffrie and Sadiya Akram

According to the mainstream literature on political participation, declining rates of voting and party and interest group membership reflect a crisis of democracy in Western democracies. In this article, we challenge this view by highlighting the rise of alternative forms of political participation that operate outside formal arenas. We suggest that the mainstream approach ignores such forms of political participation for two reasons: First, it operates with a narrow arena definition of politics; second, it is based on the assumption that non-participation in arena politics results from political apathy. We suggest that there is not a crisis of political participation, but there is a growing crisis in engagement resulting from an uncoupling between citizens and the state. Halting this form of democratic decline through a recoupling process will require changes on the part of governments and citizens.

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Methods Applied

Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran

Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl

In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.

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Silvia Forni

By looking at the numerous small palace museums founded in the Cameroonian Grassfields since the early 2000s, this article interrogates the meaning and function of displays of objects and narratives in the shifting social, political, and economic landscape of contemporary Cameroon. Museums in postcolonial Africa stem from very specific colonial premises, which are still relevant to the understanding of national narratives and displays. However, palace museums in the Grassfields engage in a different and somewhat contrasting use of objects and collections to present a more nuanced and complicated image of local societies. Through their eclectic and non-canonical display, these museums challenge ethnographic taxonomies and linear narratives, while serving effectively as ways to enhance the visibility and prestige of local kingdoms both nationally and internationally.

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Tom Rockmore

9/11 represents less a tear in the fabric of history, or a break with the past, than an inflection in ongoing historical processes, such as the continued expansion of capitalism that at some recent time has supposedly attained a level of globalization. This paper considers the relation of war and politics with respect to three instances arising in the wake of 9/11, including the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and finally the global war on terror (GWT). I argue that these wars are superficially dissimilar, but that on a deeper level they all relate to a single ideological position that is an important motivation in current US foreign policy, and that this position is further related to capitalism.

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Barbara Thériault

How does one deal with diversity in an organization known to be hostile to it? Drawing on a Weberian perspective I present in this article one case occurring in actual historical practice: that of Inspector Bobkowski, a teacher, chief of the political education unit at the Berlin police academy and training center, and a hobby historian. With an eye to the case at hand as well as other efforts to deal with difference under the Weimar Republic encountered during my fieldwork, I attempt to uncover the motives underlying the action of officers who contributed to the promotion of diversity within the police force in Germany. Inquiring into their motives enables me to construct an ideal type of a “carrier of diversity,” which, I argue, shares affinities with a liberal agenda of civic equality.

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Maria Stehle

Ruff, Mark Edward. The Wayward Flock: Catholic Youth in Postwar West Germany, 1945-1965 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005)

McDougall, Alan. Youth Politics in East Germany: The Free German Youth Movement 1946-1968 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004)

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David Ball

There were probably close to ten thousand tracts, fliers, and leaflets written and distributed in French cities in May-June 1968, part of the sudden explosion of speech (“la parole”) in the public space. Both the quantity of political speech in all walks of life—not just among students—and its subject (transforming society) point to a revolutionary wish, whether openly stated in serious, often Marxist, language or implicitly expressed through satire, play, and derision. Thousands of impassioned leaflets call for the profound transformation of social relations in the workplace and ultimately for the abolition of capitalism; many others use various forms of mockery to subvert established authority, which, in that political context, amounted to the same thing. This remarkable mass of literature suggests that—contrary to revisionist views of “Mai” now widely aired in France—May '68 was revolutionary at heart.

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Francesco Clementi

This chapter describes the main events regarding the election of the president of the Republic and the legacy of Napolitano's presidency. The general elections of February 2013 resulted in political deadlock, with no party being able to form a government. In this context, the re-election of Napolitano was the key to finding a way to form a new government based on a “grand coalition” of opposing parties. This is the main reason why the presidential election stands out in importance in Italian politics in 2013. In his role as president, Napolitano focused on the necessity to achieve constitutional and political reforms through a widespread and solid agreement among disparate political forces, even if it meant breaking ideological taboos and overcoming vast political differences. This central achievement of Napolitano's new presidency adds to the legacy created in his preceding one.