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Living Heritage and Religious Traditions

Reinterpreting Columba/Colmcille in the UK City of Culture

Máiréad Nic Craith

In 2013, Derry~Londonderry became the inaugural UK City of Culture. Given tensions between national and unionist versions of history, the title generated considerable debate on the location of Derry~Londonderry's culture within a UK and/or Irish context. All this had implications for the character of Columba/Colmcille, who had been appropriated by competing secular and religious versions of history in the past and who featured prominently in the year-long celebrations. This essay explores the layering and cultural appropriation of the narrative of Columba/Colmcille over the centuries and the reshaping of this narrative in anticipation of the year of UK City of Culture. It contextualises the emergence of a fresh narrative in the new political context which seeks to redefine the city as a common heritage space for a previously divided people.

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Brendan Bartram and Mayumi Terano

This discussion paper offers a critical examination of the ways in which international students are supported by the variety of systems commonly in place at universities in the U.K. and U.S.A. - two countries that attract large numbers of students from overseas. While acknowledging the difficultly of defining the term 'support', the article describes, compares and critiques the approaches deployed in both nations. Though certain broad, structural similarities are identified, the authors discuss how a shared neoliberal instrumentality guiding student support leads to differently inflected institutional responses in both countries. Consideration is also given to the extent to which differences in 'national' values and beliefs about higher education might be implicated in these diverse approaches and, finally, to what lessons might be learned from these comparisons.

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Hinrich Voss

The purpose of this article is to analyze environmental public participation in the UK from the perspective of the polluting organization. Public participation, or an organization's stakeholder management, describes various channels available for the public to engage with and influence decision-making processes. Over the lifetime of an organization, the public seeks to engage with the organization or with specific goods or services offered. Such concerns and requests are made, and the organization responds to them, according to how salient members of the public are as stakeholders at a given time and place. Using case study examples from the UK, I illustrate the channels of engagement, the public interest groups that do engage and how effective these procedures are. It follows from this that early, inclusive and open engagement with the objective of participation in decision-making processes are the most effective public participation models and have the greatest social quality potential.

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Lionel Blue

This conference sermon delivered to the UK Reform Jewish movement (Reform Synagogues of Great Britain) in 1965 explored the challenges facing this growing religious organisation, ‘a worldly instrument to serve non-worldly purposes’. What are the traps that have to be recognized and avoided? Does God become the rationalization for our prejudices? How do we relate to issues in the Jewish and wider world? Inside the complex bureaucratic system, how do we find place for the freedom of religious experience?

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Lionel Blue

In this article Lionel Blue recalls his introduction to the UK Reform Jewish movement, at the time the ‘Association of Synagogues of Great Britain’. His work with the youth groups coincided with a pioneering engagement with a post-war German generation, something considered problematical at the time, and similarly the beginning of a Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue. The movement at the time increased its support for Israel and joined with the American Reform Jewish movement in the World Union for Progressive Judaism both of which had their influence on its development. But missing were important spiritual questions: Did God still exist for us and how; Where did we locate Him in the horror of the Holocaust? Despite criticisms of some developments of the movement, what remains important is the friendliness, care and concern of the members, its humanity and preferring people as they are to ideological templates.

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Strawberry fields forever?

Bulgarian and Romanian student workers in the UK

Mariya Ivancheva

This article is based on fieldwork conducted among Romanian and Bulgarian students working under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in the UK. It shows how a public discourse on the benefits of and for immigrant seasonal workers silences the voices of these workers. It also discusses how a hidden transcript of the student workers shows they are deeply frustrated about their exploitation in terms of wages, living conditions, and the fact that they have come to the UK on false promises of cultural exchange and learning. The confinement of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants—such as these student workers—to the unskilled and underpaid labor sector in the UK, which continues despite Romania and Bulgaria's recent accession to the EU, not only reproduces the dual labor market in the UK itself but it also reduces Romania and Bulgaria to 'second-hand' EU members states.

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The Social Consequences of Brexit for the UK and Europe

Euroscepticism, Populism, Nationalism, and Societal Division

Steve Corbett

This article examines the 2016 Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and draws on initial research into the reasons that the UK voted to leave and demographics of the leave vote. This initial analysis suggests that the Brexit (British Exit) vote reveals wider and deeper societal tensions along the lines of age, class, income, and education (Goodwin and Heath 2016). By providing an account of the background and events of the referendum, this article asserts that the vote was a case study in populist right-wing Eurosceptic discourse (Leconte 2010; Taggart 2004), but it also reveals strong elements of English nationalism (including British exceptionalism and social conservatism) in parts of British society (Henderson et al. 2016; Wellings 2010). Given this, the article begins to make sense of Brexit from a social quality perspective and outlines a possible social quality approach to the UK and Europe post-Brexit.

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Social Movements and Social Policies

Political Challenges under Austerity in the UK

Gregory White

The economic crisis of 2007/2008 presented a challenge to the welfare state in the UK, and, more widely, across Europe. It also presented a challenge to many citizens, who were on the receiving end of the austerity agenda, and subsequent tightening of welfare spending. If nothing else, the financial crisis demonstrated the hegemony of economic theories prominent in neoliberal capitalism. As many academics and commentators have identified, however, the current period of instability is indicative of a systemic crisis. In addition to this analysis, the crisis also exposed the intricate and opaque links between western governments and the financial sector. During and after the crisis an eruption of activity in civil society galvanized many that had been directly affected by either the crisis itself—through loss of employment—or by the subsequent austerity measures imposed. This article aims to examine the current crisis affecting the welfare state in the UK, and social policy more broadly, and, begins to suggest how social movements are seeking to challenge the dominant discourses surrounding austerity politics. The article suggests some reasons as to why traditional forms of resistance and organization—such as the mobilizations of the trade union movement—have largely been unsuccessful in challenging such narratives. The article concludes by considering the shift from trade unionism in the UK to post-crisis social movements, and where an anti-austerity movement more broadly might develop further in pursuit of defending the principles of social welfare, and, ultimately, the welfare state.

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A Good Straight Road

Reflections on the Development of Pre-university Anthropology in the U.K.

Bob Simpson

The articles assembled in this collection provide a timely focus upon a critical issue for the reproduction of anthropology as an institutionalized form of knowledge in the U.K. and more widely. Simply stated, the problem they identify is as follows: anthropology is a relatively small discipline with low visibility beyond the sites in the academy where it is taught and where research is carried out; there are currently significant threats to the future of anthropology as practised within British higher education and in other countries too (e.g. in terms of its funding, sustainability, perceptions of relevance, the current nature of evaluation and audit); one of the main areas of vulnerability, in this regard, is the recruitment of new generations of students into the discipline, which is variable and volatile across the sector; and, finally, a significant factor here is the virtual absence of anthropology in curricula at pre-university level, particularly in the U.K. In addition, the papers show a strong conviction that anthropology has something valuable and engaging to off er at this level and into employment possibilities beyond.

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Political engagement of Latin Americans in the UK

Issues, strategies, and the public debate

Davide Però

This article examines the political engagement of Latin Americans in the UK in the context of a mounting neo-assimilationist and anti-multicultural offensive in the public debate on integration. Assuming that migrants should have a say about their own integration in society, the article explores the extent to which the public debate is sensitive to migrants' own collective concerns. It is from this empirically informed perspective that the article criticizes assimilationist and multi-culturalist attitudes for their disregard of the exploitation and lack of social and cultural recognition that afflicts newly arrived migrants. The article helps to rebalance the prevailing trend in policy and academic circles to treat migrants as objects of policies and ignore their political agency and active collective engagement in the improvement of their conditions. It also offers a corrective to emerging alternative approaches that tend to reduce migrants' politics to their role in sustaining long-distance diasporic communities.