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Indicators of Social Quality

Outcomes for Belgium

Veerle de Maesschalck

In presenting social quality indicators for Belgium, we have confined ourselves to explaining the national situation concerning these indicators without reflecting on the theory of social quality itself or the broader theoretical framework. When considering social quality from a Belgian perspective, it is important to keep the national context in mind and this is covered in Part I of this article. Part II focuses on the outcomes of social quality indicators, with the findings presented by domain, rather than by component (security, cohesion, inclusion, empowerment). An example of good practice in the context of social quality is provided in Part III, illustrating how the Belgian system of individual work time reduction embodies elements of each of the four components. Finally, we conclude this article by illustrating how Belgium performs in terms of social quality.

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Social Quality in Portugal

Reflecting on the Context and the Conditional Factors

Heloísa Perista, Pedro Perista and Isabel Baptista

Emphasising the ‘dialectic of self-realisation and the formation of collective identities’, the social quality theory becomes operative through four distinct, though interrelated, conditional factors: socio-economic security, social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. Needless to say, such a formulation intends to create the grounds for a theory highly sensible to societal change. This article intends to give account of that societal change over the last few years on the grounds of the Portuguese historical context, and focusing on specificity reflected by the national context of social quality in comparison with the European (EU-15) context. This article comprises three main sections. The first one presents the relevant aspects of the Portuguese context regarding social quality. The second section summarises the key findings reflecting the specificity of the national situation regarding the four conditional factors of social quality and its domains. The third and last section reports a good practice and points out possible ways to stimulate social quality in the country.

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On Shock Therapy

Modernist Aesthetics and American Underground Film

William Solomon

This article tracks various twentieth-century figural appropriations— in the realm of artistic theory and practice—of a controversial method of treating the mentally ill. In the first section, I revisit Walter Benjamin’s canonical speculation on the importance of a shock aesthetic, underscoring the functional imperatives informing his model. For him, shock was the aesthetic cornerstone of cultural undertakings designed to enable persons to inhabit urban-industrial modernity in a socially empowered fashion. In the second section, I apply this notion to two products of the American underground: Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go! (1962–1964) and Jonas Mekas’s Walden (1969). Here, my argument is that it was in experimental film that the purposefulness or “mission” that Benjamin detected in Charles Baudelaire’s poetry was realized. I then conclude with some reflections on the pertinence of the model in question to two related avant-garde cinematic endeavors: Stan Vanderbeek’s collage works and Ken Jacobs’s Nervous System performances.

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With or Without Gringos

When Panamanians Talk about the United States and Its Citizens

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

In local and informal contexts, Panamanians talk about the power of the United States and describe its citizens in multifaceted and complex terms. In this article I examine those views as they are articulated in informal urban settings in Panama City and in conversations with middle-class Panamanians. My respondents evaluate the US-Panama relationship and discuss individual North Americans with realism, reflecting a graceful but critical spirit of forgiveness toward their more powerful ally. A broader awareness of US colonialism in the past is combined with a pragmatic acknowledgement of opportunities in the present and the desire for a more equal relationship in the future. I argue that the opportunity to voice unreserved opinions about powerful Others can potentially empower local actors.

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Jules Vallès and Séverine

Romantic Socialism and the Afterlife of a Cross-Sex Friendship in French Political Culture, 1880–1929

Michael Mulvey

French political culture had a postrevolutionary tradition that considered gendered Ciceronian or fraternal friendship crucial to maintaining ideological movements across time inside the nation. The brief cross-sex friendship between Jules Vallès (1832–1885) and Séverine (neé Caroline Rémy, 1855–1929) has served as a biographical footnote to an 1871 Communard and a Dreyfusard journalist. This article frames the Vallès-Séverine social relation as a fraternal friendship that ideally secured Vallès’s political posterity and strategically empowered Séverine to publish opinions as a woman. Vallès self-consciously transferred his legacy of barricade-driven, romantic socialism to Séverine. Séverine, in turn, attempted to invoke Vallès’s heritage in an effort to protect her published opinions as a woman without civic rights. The Vallès-Séverine friendship was a paradoxical social relation that revealed how two historical actors subverted gender norms and the limits of a cross-sex fraternal friendship inside a liberalizing French political culture.

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Introduction

Indigenous Peoples, Neo-liberal Regimes, and Varieties of Civil Society in Latin America

Edward F. Fischer

Emerging from the convergence of neo-liberal reforms, democratic openings, and an increase of interest in indigenous issues among international organizations, the growth of civil society in recent years has dramatically altered the political-economic landscape of Latin America. For a number of Latin American indigenous causes, civil society's surge in importance has been empowering, allowing access to funds, national and international attention, and in some cases increases in de facto and de jure autonomy. At the same time, the rise in the importance of civil society goes hand in hand with the rise of neo-liberal political and economic reforms that threaten the material bases of indigenous culture and expose populations to the vagaries of private funding. In this way, civil society also serves as an arena for neo-liberal forms of governmentality.

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Bringing Indigenous Kamchatka to Google Earth

Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples

Brian Thom, Benedict J. Colombi and Tatiana Degai

Indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East are engaged in vibrant cultural and linguistic resurgence and revitalization through their community and regional organizations. Through the activities of these organizations, a computer-aided cultural mapping project was initiated in collaboration with indigenous villages along the Kamchatka Peninsula, working with youth and elders to map out the histories of special cultural places. The project utilized innovative participatory methodologies using Google Earth and related Google mapping tools, which are freely accessible and desired for use in the communities, providing an accessible, low-cost, easy to-use computer application for detailed digital cultural mapping. This article elaborates on the use of these technologies to empower a community-based collaborative research project and reflects on critical issues in aligning community, corporate, and scholarly objectives in successful projects.

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Shaped by Shock

Staff on the Emergency Department 'Shop Floor'

Mark Powell, Stephanie Glendinning, Vanesa Castán Broto, Emma Dewberry and Claire Walsh

In this article we consider the impact of shock in hospital emergency departments where people seek urgent medical care and access hospital services. We define shock as an unexpected event or set of circumstances, for although emergency departments plan for uncertainty, shock moments are when protocols and procedures fail to meet operational demands. We reveal how, depending on the professional experience and personality of staff, shocks are experienced and defined in a variety of ways. On some occasions shocks result in critical departmental failure, while at other times they generate new working practices. Shocks can empower individuals through celebrating teamwork and a sense of belonging, to take personal responsibility at a range of 'shop-floor' scales. These emotional and embodied engagements contribute to the operational resilience of the department.

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Trouble in Para-sites

Deference and Influence in the Ethnography of Epistemic Elites

Paul Robert Gilbert

Through his enduring efforts to interrogate the regulative ideals of fieldwork, George Marcus has empowered doctoral students in anthropology to rethink their ethnographic encounters in terms that reflect novel objects and contexts of inquiry. Marcus' work has culminated in a charter for ethnographic research among 'epistemic communities' that requires 'deferral' to these elite modes of knowing. For adherents to this programme of methodological reform, the deliberately staged 'para-site' – an opportunity for ethnographers and their 'epistemic partners' to reflect upon a shared intellectual purpose – is the signature fieldwork encounter. This article draws on doctoral research carried out among the overlapping epistemic communities that comprise London's market for mining finance, and reviews an attempt to carve out a para-site of my own. Troubled by this experience, and by the ascendant style of deferent anthropology, I think through possibilities for more critical ethnographic research among epistemic elites.

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The GIPA Concept ‘Lost in Transition’

The Case of Expert Clients in Swaziland

Thandeka Dlamini-Simelane

Following the call by UNAIDS in 2006 to involve people living with HIV (PLHIV) in treatment programmes, expert clients were recruited to provide services within healthcare settings as volunteers alongside paid health workers. Swazi law requires employment contracts for anyone working in a full-time capacity for three months, complicating the status of expert clients. This article traces the genesis of the volunteer framework used to engage PLHIV in the provision of HIV care in Swaziland and describes how the quest for PLHIV to be involved coupled with donors’ promotion of the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) principle have together resulted in PLHIV serving as low-cost workers, disempowering the very people GIPA was meant to empower. I call for review of GIPA-based policies and a paradigm shift regarding a non-medically trained cadre of workers in an era of acute healthworker shortages in resource-limited countries hard hit by HIV.