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Susan Stedman Jones

Durkheim's account of the categories is re-examined, in a critique of the fundamentally mistaken and philosophically uninformed interpretation put forward in Rawls's Epistemology and Practice (2004). This converts Durkheim into a pragmatist, even a behaviourist, more or less reducing conscience to an epiphenomenon of sounds, movements, and socially generated raw emotions. She bypasses the key role of representations and symbols, while her emphasis on collective 'forces' ignores Durkheim's concern with power as puissance and with the creativity of an effervescent fusion of energies. Thus action is central to his account of the categories, but not in the terms offered by Rawls. For action involves the full range of the functions of conscience. And these come into play through the power of representations and symbols, as an integral part of a whole creative fusion of energies and consciences in the 'dynamogenics' of collective action.

Anthropology in Action

Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice

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Adolescence in Action

Screening Narratives of Girl Killers

Eva Lupold

The term girl heroine is an ambiguous signifier in discourses surrounding action-adventure cinema. Film scholars occasionally refer to adult action heroines as girls, while adolescent warriors remain largely overlooked in the literature. Research on women warriors focuses primarily on “musculinity” films of the 1980s or on more recent “action babe” movies featuring adult women. However, movies like Kick-Ass, Hanna, Violet & Daisy, Hard Candy, True Grit, and The Hunger Games demonstrate that films with adolescent action heroines are increasingly popular. This article argues that contemporary depictions of girl warriors emerge as a result of recent shifts in cultural attitudes towards girlhood sexuality and girlhood aggression. It also argues that the rise of the adolescent action heroine points to anxieties about changes in nuclear family structures, and that contemporary action films imply that young girls should be responsible for maintaining moral order. Ultimately, such films thus contain regressive as well as progressive messages.

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Girlhood in Action

Contemporary U.S. Girls’ Organizations and the Public Sphere

Jessica K. Taft

This article addresses the growing concern with youth civic engagement by asking how contemporary U.S. girls' organizations envision girls' civic identities. Recent years have seen the growth of girls' organizations that aim to involve girls in their communities. Based on extensive document research and two ethnographic case studies, my analysis distinguishes between this emergent transformative approach and a more widespread, normative model. Transformative organizations engage girls in a sociological analysis of the conditions of their lives, believe that girls should have public authority, and encourage girls' involvement in social change projects. Normative organizations rely upon a psychological understanding of girls' problems, imagine the public as a space of threat and as being full of barriers girls that must learn to overcome, and emphasize service over political action. By comparing these two approaches, this article suggests that scholars and practitioners should carefully consider the implications of organizations for girls' relationship to the public sphere.

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Awraham Soetendorp

In the footsteps of Hermann Cohen, 'the idea of humanity in the correlation of the unity of God', Leo Baeck rises out of the experience of the First World War beyond being the Nebenmensch to become the Mitmensch, who lives forever with the Divine Mitleid, compassion. God must love the poor man, since man ought to love his poor Mitmensch, fellow man (p. 15 in Leo Baeck, Teacher of Theresienstadt). In 1922, Leo Baeck expressed this new awareness of correlation in his unique language, the 'twofoldness', in his extraordinary, beautiful essay 'Mystery and Commandment': 'There are two experiences of the human soul in which the meaning of his life takes on for a man a vital significance: the experience of commandment; or as we may also put it, the knowledge of what is real and the knowledge of what is to be realised …' This twofold experience could also be called humility and reverence. Humility is the feeling for that deep and mysterious sphere in which man is rooted, and reverence is man's feeling that something higher confronts him, and whatever is higher is ethically superior and therefore makes demands and directs, speaks to man and requires his reply, his decision. The true expression of this twofoldness is faith and social action, as Leo Baeck expresses at the end of This People Israel: 'What was confused becomes definite; clearly pre-empts what had been confused,' and 'The man of this earth works for something to come into being which this earth itself does not give.' And the great hope, that this is achievable, that tikkun olam is never an illusion beyond our grasp, is given ever again in the birth of a child.

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Daniel Sabbagh

In the United States, the expression “affirmative action” generally refers to a wide array of measures set up at the end of the 1960s by executive agencies and the federal judiciary. These measures grant some (more or less flexible) kind of preferential treatment in the allocation of scarce resources—jobs, university admissions and government contracts—to the members of groups formerly targeted for legal discrimination (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, sometimes Asians).1 In France, by contrast, the main operational criterion for identifying the beneficiaries of affirmative action policies (in French, “discrimination positive”) is not race or gender,2 but geographical location: residents of a socioeconomically disadvantaged area will indirectly benefit from the additional input of financial resources allocated by state agencies to that area as a whole.

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Action Speaks Louder Than Words?

Trust, Trustworthiness and Social Transformation in Slovakia

Davide Torsello

This article argues that trust cannot be easily isolated as a form of social interaction without the risk of overseeing the nuance between practices and ideas. Using a case study of a rural community in post-socialist Slovakia, the author examines how trust and trustworthiness are built and applied under conditions of profound social transformation. Following mainstream anthropological approaches to post-socialism, he shows that this transformation has deeply affected the patterns of local social interaction. Moreover, following Slovakia's recent EU accession, increased social and work mobility have further complicated the picture. If trust remains a crucial idea underpinning individual social choices, cognitive constructions of trustworthiness tend to diverge from practices. This is due, among other factors, to the difficulty of calibrating spatial and temporal mental models of trustworthiness with trust as social action.

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Affirmative action and political economic transformations

Secondary education, indigenous people, and the state in Jharkhand, India

Rob Higham and Alpa Shah

This article proposes an anthropology of affirmative action that is embedded in analysis of the wider political economic transformations in which affirmative action policies emerge. It is argued that this historically situated approach enables analyses of the relative effects of affirmative action on processes of socio economic marginalization. The focus of the article is on the combination of preferential treatment policies and the provision of education as a state-led response to historical marginalization. These policies are explored in the context of adivasis (tribal or indigenous peoples) in Jharkhand, India. The analysis shows how, despite improvement in absolute educational outcomes among adivasis as a result of these policies, inequalities in relative outcomes are being reproduced and are widening. This is explained in part by market-led gains within the private edu cation sector for more advantaged sections of society that outweigh the predom inately state-led improvements for adivasis. The analysis demonstrates the limitations of contemporary affirmative action in affecting the relative position of socioeconomically marginalized groups in contexts where the state is losing some of its universal features and ambition.

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Marie Jaisson

Marine Dhermy-Mairal, Les Sciences sociales et l’action au Bureau international du travail (1920-1939), Paris : Thèse de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Formation doctorale « Sciences de la société EHESSENS », 20151, 493 p.

La recherche doctorale menée par Marine Dhermy-Mairal s’inscrit dans une double approche, sociologique et d’histoire des sciences sociales au vingtième siècle. Elle porte sur les pratiques scientifiques du Bureau international du travail (BIT) entre 1920 et 1939, appréhendées comme un moment de rencontre entre deux types de préoccupation scientifique et politique, visant à établir une morale internationale.

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William R. Caspary

This critical commentary engages Jeff Jackson’s reading of John Dewey’s approach to participatory democracy and direct action—both are fundamental issues in democratic theory today. I probe Dewey’s texts for what I reason to be a more precise reading of his views on social movement action. I go beyond Jackson’s assertion of a role for direct action, to theorize it as an intrinsic element of participatory democracy.