As seen in his enthusiastic praise of John Dos Passos's 1919, Sartre evaluated literary works by how effectively they aim to play a role in fundamental social change. This essay has two goals. One is to show that Sartre's endorsement of committed literature is not undercut if literature fails to play a role in fundamental social change and the other is to show at least some of the ways in which committed literature is successful. Both goals are pursued through a consideration of the literary works of Kurt Vonnegut and Don DeLillo. The former was mentioned briefly but favorably by Sartre in 1971 and the latter, while lacking such direct ties to Sartre, was accused of “sandbox existentialism.” I read both writers as arguments in favor of Sartre's instrumentalist take on literature.
Pricking Us into Revolt? Vonnegut, DeLillo and Sartre's Hope for Literature
Modernisation and Social Change
The Impact on Iranian Elderly Social Networks and Care Systems
Mary Elaine Hegland, Zahra Sarraf, and Mohammad Shahbazi
Anthropological field research in Iran, mainly in the village of Aliabad and in nearby Shiraz in south-west Iran, has documented radical social, cultural, religious and economic change over the last 28 years. Increasing emphasis on the nuclear rather than the extended family and pressures for geographic and social mobility have profoundly influenced the lives of the elderly. The traditional family system of support for elders - with regard to emotional and social needs, as well as financial assistance and physical care - is breaking down. Social scientists, social workers and health personnel must focus on adequately addressing the needs and concerns of the Iranian elderly in the twenty-first century and on developing alternative systems to deal with key elderly issues of health, well-being and social incorporation.
Masculinity, Fun, and Social Change
Reflections on The Men and the Boys
Raewyn Connell's theorizing in The Men and the Boys shaped my analysis of young men's engagements with masculinity, and my thinking about gender inequality more generally. The claims about relationships between global inequalities and gender relations in that text shifted my focus away from types of boys—gay boys, straight boys, nerdy boys, popular boys—to a focus on gender relations among boys themselves, processes by which boys both robbed others of precious indicators of masculinity and attempted to claim said indicators for themselves. This shift highlights the centrality of interaction, practice, and institutions to gender inequality among American teenagers. The essay concludes by discussing how Connell's focus on global inequalities provided a foundation from which to argue that many of the same gendered dynamics we see among American teenagers—what I came to call masculinity contests—are also deeply woven into political discourses and practices.
Les Assurances Sociales
une contribution à la modernisation de la société française dans l'entre-deux-guerres?
The 1930 law creating social insurance was the Third Republic's great achievement in the social arena. However, the historiography of contemporary France contains barely a trace of this achievement. Victim of the regime's discredit as well as of the lack of any reformist political efforts in its favor, social insurance of the 1930s has also suffered by comparison to later achievements, particularly the creation of Social Security in 1945. However, if we study social insurance in its own historical context—and not in reference to the postwar period—, it can constitute an original source for the study of the modernization of French society. This article proposes three approaches: social insurance constitutes a vector for the acculturation of the working class to retirement and to the medicalization of health, contributing to the history of working class uses and representations of consumption and social rights. On a more institutional level, the experience of social insurance reveals the first legal experiments with co-gestion involving employers, workers, and insurance organizations. Finally, a prosopographical study of the militant trajectories linked to social insurance could contribute to the history of the working-class movement between 1930 and the end of the Thirty Glorious Years: is there a "social insurance generation" within French syndicalism?
Examining the Dynamics of Energy Demand through a Biographical Lens
Catherine Butler, Karen Anne Parkhill, Fiona Shirani, Karen Henwood, and Nick Pidgeon
It is widely recognized that a major challenge in low carbon transitioning is the reduction of energy consumption. This implies a significant level of transformation in our ways of living, meaning the challenge is one that runs deep into the fabric of our personal lives. In this article we combine biographical research approaches with concepts from Bourdieu's practice theory to develop understanding of processes of change that embed particular patterns of energy consumption. Through an analysis of “case biographies” we show the value of biographical methods for understanding the dynamics of energy demand.
Ethno-national Identity and the New Age World View in Israel
This article focuses on the concept of identity by juxtaposing New Age philosophy and nationalism in the Israeli context. Based on my qualitative research, I deconstruct the Israeli New Age discourse on ethno-national identity and expose two approaches within this discourse. The more common one is the belief held by most Israelis, according to which ethno-national identity is a fundamental component of one's self. A second and much less prevalent view resembles New Age ideology outside Israel and conceives of ethno-national identities as a false social concept that separate people rather than unite them. My findings highlight the limits of New Age ideology as an alternative to the hegemonic culture in Israel. The difficulty that Israeli New Agers find in divorcing hegemonic conceptualizations demonstrates the centrality and power of ethno-national identity in Israel.
How Culture Matters: Culture and Social Change in the Federal Republic of Germany
John S. Brady and Sarah Elise Wiliarty
In December 1995, the Center for German and European Studies at
the University of California at Berkeley hosted the conference, “The
Postwar Transformation of Germany: Prosperity, Democracy, and
Nationhood.” During the proceedings and in the edited volume that
resulted, conference contributors explored the reasons for Germany’s
success in making the transition to a liberal democratic polity
supported by a rationalized national identity and a modern, dynamic
capitalist economy. In charting postwar Germany’s success, the contributors
weighed the relative contribution institutional, cultural, and
international variables made to the country’s transformation.
To Accompany and to Observe: Engaged Scholarship and Social Change Vis-à-Vis Sub-Saharan Transmigration in Morocco
An Interview with Mehdi Alioua
Sabina Barone and Mehdi Alioua
In this interview with Sabina Barone, Mehdi Alioua—Sociology Professor at the Université Internationale de Rabat (International University of Rabat), Morocco—reflects on the transformations that Sub-Saharan African migration has brought to Moroccan society over the last two decades, in particular with reference to identity and the denominations of the foreign others, the internal and regional dynamics of (im)mobility, and the challenges to social coexistence and national migration policies. He proposes conceptual categories such as “transmigrant,” “migration by stages,” and “migratory crossroads” to capture the complexity of the mobile experiences unfolding in Morocco. Based on his trajectory of engaged scholarship in favor of migrants and refugees, he calls for a renewed South-South and North-South academic collaboration and cross-fertilization through small scale, bottom-up research made possible by friendship among scholars.
Teaching and Writing (as) Academic Activism
Hanne Bess Boelsbjerg and Lina Katan
, support, or strive for social change, both as a researcher and a student. Thereby it touches upon a double contention; as academics we are normally not supposed to involve ourselves in the social change that our knowledge-making could facilitate. We are
Giovanni A. Travaglino
The current organization of academic institutions creates a tension between knowledge and social change. Many scholars put inequality at the center of their research agenda. But they may also be subject to logics of exploitation linked to the