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This Is the Time of Tension

Collective Action and Subjective Power in the Greek Anti-Austerity Movement

Atalanti Evripidou and John Drury

Greece has been one of the countries which most severely suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis during the past two years. It has also been a country with a long tradition of protest. The present paper reports a study in which we examined the ways in which people talk about subjective power and deal with the outcome of collective action in the context of defeat. Subjective power has recently become a prominent field of research and its link to collective action has been studied mainly through the concept of collective efficacy. The current study explored questions based on recent social identity accounts of subjective power in collective action. We examined participants’ experiences of subjective power before and after Mayday 2012, in Greece. Two different collective action events took place: a demonstration against austerity and a demonstration to support steel workers who were on strike. In total, 19 people were interviewed, 9 before the demonstrations and 10 after. Thematic analysis was carried out. Protest participants talked about power in terms of five first-order themes: the necessity of building power, unity, emotional effects, effects of (dis)organization, and support as success. The steel workers we spoke to experienced the events more positively than the other interviewees and had different criteria for success. Theories of collective action need to take account of the fact that subjective power has important emotional as well as cognitive dimensions, and that definitions of success depend on definitions of identity.

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Ben Berkowitz and Jean-Paul Gagnon

SeeClickFix began in 2009 when founder and present CEO Ben Berkowitz spotted a piece of graffiti in his New Haven, Connecticut, neighborhood. After calling numerous departments at city hall in a bid to have the graffiti removed, Berkowitz felt no closer to fixing the problem. Confused and frustrated, his emotions resonated with what many citizens in real-existing democracies feel today (Manning 2015): we see problems in public and want to fix them but can’t. This all too habitual inability for “common people” to fix problems they have to live with on a day-to-day basis is a prelude to the irascible citizen (White 2012), which, according to certain scholars (e.g., Dean 1960; Lee 2009), is itself a prelude to political apathy and a citizen’s alienation from specific political institutions.

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Martin Woodside

The nineteenth-century dime novel was a significant component of adolescent culture. Dime novel Westerns prefigured emerging ideas of adolescence to inform cultural constructions of American boyhood. These texts articulated and responded to prevailing notions of proper and improper boyhood by imagining the frontier as a space of and for youth. Scholars have addressed many subversive elements of the dime novel, while largely ignoring how this literature interrogated hierarchies and categories of age. The present analysis explores that gap, highlighting the Western dime novel as a critical site for negotiating ideas of American boyhood in the late nineteenth century.

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Days in Cairo

Thoughts from the Midan

Hania Sholkamy

On 25 January 2011, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against injustice and oppression. These public demonstrations lasted for three weeks, during which this peaceful tidal wave of people did not abate, culminating in the resignation of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak. These field notes, taken during two days of the protests, register the pendulum swings from hope to fear as recorded by one Egyptian anthropologist.

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Being There

The 2013 Anti-Government Protests in Istanbul, Turkey

Colin W. Leach, Ayşe Betül Çelik, Rezarta Bilali, Atilla Cidam and Andrew L. Stewart

By happenstance, we found ourselves in Istanbul, Turkey in early June 2013 only days after a mass anti-government protest developed in and around Gezi Park. In addition to informal discussions and interviews with academics and others, we visited the protest site and traveled throughout Istanbul to directly experience the atmosphere and events. We also conducted two studies of Turks’ participation in, and views of, the protests. This paper recounts the events in Istanbul that summer and reviews our own, and other, social science research on the protests and the protestors. We focus on who the protestors were and why they protested, as opposed to the less engaged actions of visiting the protests or following them in the media.

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Empowering or impoverishing through credit

Small-scale producers and the Plan Chontalpa in Tabasco, Mexico

Gisela Lanzas and Matthew Whittle

This article examines the evolution of the credit market for small-scale sugarcane producers in the Plan Chontalpa development program in Tabasco, Mexico. The plan promoted neoliberal policies that transformed the existing credit market available to small-scale producers. The availability of credit was supposed to lead to increased efficiency. However, making credit available to low-income farmers can result in unintended outcomes. We found that many households had high discount rates and used the credit to supplement their household income. Thus, farmers are getting caught in a cycle of debt that often culminates in losing their land. We use a life history to consider the strategies the program has adopted to control credit as well as the counterstrategies the families have developed.

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“We Do Not Exist”

Illness, Invisibility, and Empowerment of Communities Struck by the Fracking Boom

Kristen M. Schorpp

Gullion, Jessica Smart. 2015. Fracking the Neighborhood: Reluctant Activists and Natural Gas Drilling. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wylie, Sara Ann. 2018. Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Encompassing Empowerment in Ritual, War, and Assassination

Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities

Michael Roberts

This study highlights the Tantric threads within the transcendental religions of Asia that reveal the commanding role of encirclement as a mystical force. The cyanide capsule (kuppi) around the neck of every Tamil Tiger fighter was not only a tool of instrumental rationality as a binding force, but also a modality similar to a thāli (marriage bond necklace) and to participation in a velvi (religious animal sacrifice). It was thus embedded within Tamil cultural practice. Alongside the LTTE's politics of homage to its māvīrar (dead heroes), the kuppi sits beside numerous incidents in LTTE acts of mobilization or military actions where key functionaries approached deities in thanks or in preparation for the kill. These practices highlight the inventive potential of liminal moments/spaces. We see this as modernized 'war magic'—a hybrid re-enchantment energizing a specific religious worldview.

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Sarah Banet-Weiser

This article analyzes an emergent genre of tween and teen girl confessional videos on YouTube where girls ask their viewers to comment on whether they are pretty or not. While the very existence of this genre is frequently explained away as a symbol of young girls' dwindling self-esteem in the contemporary moment, this article locates them within a self-identificatory gendered neoliberal brand culture so as to examine the ways in which they reproduce an economic model of the successful white middle class girl.

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Introduction

Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe

Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin

This special issue comprises articles by social and environmental scientists, most of whom participated in a working group on governance models and policy contexts of the COST Action TD1106 Urban Agriculture Europe during the period 2012–2016. All have a particular interest in the potentialities of urban agriculture as mediated through civil society actors to contribute to, shape, and transform urban policies in the intersecting fields of land use and access; food and urban ecosystems; education and environment; and history, heritage, and cultural practice. The collaborative, interdisciplinary, and bottom- up character of the contributions broadens and deepens our knowledge of urban agricultural practice across Europe.