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The social quality theory developed over a decade has run into new subject areas of discussion in accordance with the changed international climate of academic debates. Ten years ago, the main focus of these debates was located on the themes of welfare state vs. welfare society, social policy vs. economic policy, and the individual concerns vs. “the social”; the continuous work on the foundation of this theory has led to new issues including sustainability, social innovation, and urban development entering the debate. With regard to the sustainability issue, for instance, the Rio conference of 2012 on human sustainability offered a global forum for experts and policymakers to analyze societal trends and related challenges. These developments provide a new driving force for the social quality theory to move into new directions. This issue of IJSQ includes several articles that reflect this development.

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Sylvie and Reina Rutlinger-Reiner

In post-industrial societies, the individualization of the family process, which puts the individual at the center of the family, is changing this institution beyond recognition. As part of this evolution, individuals and their human rights, together with their obligations and responsibilities, become the basis for the family institution and for its legitimization. Consequently, family frameworks, whose roles and legitimate boundaries were established in the past in ways that served the interests of society and ensured its biological and cultural continuity, are becoming frameworks in which the individual is at the center. At the same time, thanks to ethical and political changes and the achievements of medical technology, for the first time in human history an individual can separate marriage, fertility, parenthood, and the establishment of a household to the extent that the socio-cultural climate allows.

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Challenging the Status Quo

The Story of Jcoss – The Jewish Community Secondary School

Helena Miller

As early as the mid-1990s, individuals within the Jewish community in the UK were discussing the potential of setting up a pluralist Jewish secondary school in London. Until 1981, every Jewish school in the UK had operated under Orthodox auspices. By 1999, three pluralist primary schools were thriving, and the political and Jewish communal climate was ready to support the development of a new kind of Jewish secondary school. A feasibility study in 2001 led to the formation of a steering group and the project was born. Nine years later, JCoSS opened its doors in a brand new, state-of-the-art building in North London, and 150 eleven-year-olds began a new kind of Jewish secondary education. This article charts the journey of this project, from idea to reality, navigating political, economic and community challenges, and shows how one group of people changed the landscape of Jewish education in the UK.

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Katharina Seebaß

Ongoing climate change has led to an increase in extreme temperatures, which influence both the environment and human beings. However, not everyone is affected by heat stress to the same degree. This article analyzes who is affected by subjective heat stress. Individual and social indicators of vulnerability and exposure—mediated by conditions of housing and living environments—are considered simultaneously, from the sociological perspective of social inequality influences. Using local data from an empirical survey in Nuremberg, Germany, the article shows that age, individual health, and social contexts all explain variations in how people experience heat stress. It is further hypothesized and confirmed that heat exposure due to disadvantaged housing conditions or distance from green space increases the levels of subjective heat stress. When looking at differences in levels of subjective heat stress, the consideration of heat exposure due to social vulnerability and socioeconomic reasons offers some explanations.

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Stefan Heiland, Silke Spielmans and Bernd Demuth

The article examines the relevance of demographic change for the development of rural landscapes, especially in Germany's shrinking regions. To date, no empirical investigations have undertaken the matter. Thus, the article is mainly based on literature analysis and the findings of expert workshops. The research indicates that demographic change does not have as strong impact on landscapes as other factors such as agricultural policy, climate change, and the promotion of renewable energies. Nonetheless, from the perspective of nature conservation, there might be some indirect effects caused by structural and institutional changes of administrations, which could lead to a decline in importance of landscape-related concerns. In addition, changes in environmental consciousness due to rising cultural diversity could lead to a different societal attitude toward landscapes and their values.

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Bruno Latour

This article reflects on the traditional distinction between scientific laboratories experimenting on theories and phenomena and a political outside where non-experts make do with human values, opinions, and passions. Since today all people are engaged in emerging collective experiments on matters as varied as climate, food, landscape, health, urban design, and technical communication as consumers, militants, and citizens, they can all be considered co-researchers. Co-researching has consequences for our understanding of nature and demands a renewed attention to “multinaturalist” politics. It also questions the division of labor between experts and nonexperts. The article finishes with a call to “dis-invent” modernity so that we “moderns” can finally become ordinary humans again.

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Jozef Keulartz

Over the past decade a shift can be noticed from ecological restoration to ecological design, where ecological design stands for a technocratic approach that courts hubris and mastery rather than humility and self-restraint. Following Eric Higgs, this shift can be seen as a “hyperactive and heedless response“ to global environmental change, especially climate change. The new technocratic approach may be best characterized as enlightened (or prudential) anthropocentrism, where nature is only allowed that degree of agency which is required to deliver the services that are essential for human well-being. It is not only questionable if we have the scientific and technical abilities to purposeful design ecosystems that will serve our needs, but also if the new approach will be sufficient to protect biodiversity in the long run.

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The Postwar Schoolbook as a Material Artifact

Two Greek Reading Textbooks from 1944

Niki Sioki

In contrast to the countries of Western Europe, the end of the Second World War did not bring political restoration, economic recovery, or the emergence of a new social order to Greece. Subscribing to the view that the material form of books and their typography convey meaning, this article presents a comparative study of the design and production of a reading primer and a third-year reading textbook, both of which were published in a climate of political and social disorder. Drawing on surviving copies of the books, educational laws, teachers’ recollections, and archival material, this article examines the ways in which the sociopolitical environment and technological conditions of a publication affect the ways in which texts are shaped into book form.

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Making Multitemporality with Houses

Time Trickery, Ethical Practice and Energy Demand in Postcolonial Britain

Roxana Moroşanu

The qualities of domestic buildings that are aimed for in the energy reduction agenda, such as efficiency and zero-carbon impacts, are often at odds with the aesthetic preferences of home-owners for keeping original features of their houses unaltered. The set of visual traits followed in the maintenance and listing of character houses in the UK, and their corresponding material affordances in relation to energy demand, can be regarded as affecting and delaying the future of carbon-emission reduction promised by the country’s own Climate Change Act. This article interrogates the temporal and ethical considerations enacted in maintaining and admiring character houses with ‘original’ features. It discusses the ways in which domestic buildings emerge as multitemporal assemblages, and the forms of time trickery these processes involve in relation to notions of history, tradition and national and cultural identity.

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Harlan Koff, Miguel Equihua Zamora, Carmen Maganda and Octavio Pérez-Maqueo

If aliens were to look down on planet Earth and observe us, they might be led to believe that the natural state of humanity is crisis. Whether we focus on politics, economics, society or the environment, it seems that crises are perpetuated and possibly even expanded in global affairs. For example, we have recently witnessed war in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, expanded flows of refugees and the resulting nativist fears expressed in those countries where they arrive or could potentially arrive, unprecedented global financial crises, the depletion of natural resources and our alleged contribution to deadly disasters (such as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013) through climate change. Borrowing from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s observation of 19th century French politics, we may argue that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” (http://www.histoire encitations.fr/citations/Karr-plus-ca-change-plus-c-est-la-meme-chose)