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The Current Crisis

Initial Reflections

Steven Lukes

This is one of a set of three essays, exploring the current crisis in a Durkheimian perspective, and brought together with the first English translation of Durkheim’s own commentary on a world in upheaval, ‘The Politics of the Future’ (1917). In the opening essay, Steven Lukes suggests that a way to begin to reflect on the nature and long-term repercussions of the crisis is through Durkheim’s account of anomie. In the following essay, Mike Gane is concerned with an underlying paradox in which neo-liberalism is in practice a form of socialism and statism. In general, it reproduces the malaise that Durkheim analysed as a mass of individuals under the management of an overcentralized state, and in the absence of an effective democratic network of intermediate groups. In particular, it relies on a technique of power that involves a corrupted form of what Caillois analysed as the game, and that controls and manipulates the individuals constituting ‘human capital’ through a system of bureaucratically regulated game-like competitions. In the final essay, Edward Tiryakian asks ‘which crisis?’ Beyond the financial and economic upheavals, there is a wider, systemic, moral anomie. This shows up in various ways in trends, throughout western societies, in family life, education and citizenship – key interlinking institutions of the social fabric.

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Temporal Vertigo and Time Vortices on Greece’s Central Plain

Daniel M. Knight

their worries of returning to past eras of hardship while drawing courage that even the worst crises can be overcome, that they will eventually emerge from the current crisis situation. This article explores two ways in which there is a sense of temporal

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The Lives of Girls and Young Women in the Time of COVID-19

Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith

As with Zika, Ebola, HIV and AIDS, and other pandemics in recent history, girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 socially and emotionally if not medically. Some observers have referred to the current crisis as a tale of two

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Fossilized Futures

Topologies and Topographies of Crisis Experience in Central Greece

Daniel M. Knight

-hand (cf. Serres 1995a: 57–59 ; Zerubavel 2003: 3 ). I ask Eleni why certain moments of the past gain special significance during the current crisis. Holding up a large fossil to the sky, she says that time and memories are like a fossil bed. Some layers

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The Future of the Human Sciences

Ivan Jablonka

Translator : Nathan Bracher

fanaticism and populism, it is crucial for a corps of duly recognized researchers to have the possibility not only to produce, but also to share a common good: knowledge. Amid the current crisis, researchers must not remain on the defensive. This is precisely

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The Case of the United States

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Social Connectedness and Isolation in Low-Income Communities

Allison A. Parsons, Danielle Maholtz, Jamaica Gilliam, Haleigh Larson, Dan Li, Sophia J. Zhao, Brita Roy, and Carley Riley

belonging (i.e., make investment more fair through targeted universalism), among others ( Milstein et al. 2020 ). Conclusion As we navigate the current crisis in the United States—recognizing that it has been exacerbated through political

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Scheduling tribes

A view from inside India's ethnographic state

Townsend Middleton

Venturing into an ethnography of government anthropologists themselves, this article interrogates the bureaucratic inner workings and actual agents of today's “ethnographic state." By engaging with the civil servants who verify India's Scheduled Tribes, I explore the politics of “tribal“ recognition from the inside out. This perspective lends timely insight into the logistical, political, and epistemological difficulties integral to the functioning-and current crisis-of India's affirmative action system. Weighing the demands of “tribal“ recognition through those that arguably know them best-government anthropologists themselves- this study examines the human dimension (and dilemmas) of the Indian state and its affirmative action system for Scheduled Tribes.

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The Crisis of Democracy

Which Crisis? Which Democracy?

Selen A. Ercan and Jean-Paul Gagnon

The introductory article to this special issue highlights three fundamental yet often neglected questions related to the current diagnosis of a crisis of democracy: What is meant by the term “crisis”? Which democracy is in crisis? And what, if anything, is “new” about the current crisis of democracy? We answer these questions by considering the multi-vocal contribution of purposefully curated short articles in this special issue. We argue that when engaging with the “crisis of democracy” diagnosis, it is important to unpack not only the normative presumptions one has in relation to what democracy is and should be, but also the recent transformations in the way politics is understood and practiced in contemporary societies.

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Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

Why Politicians Matter

Paul Fawcett

Distrust towards politicians is often identified as a key factor behind the current “crisis of democracy.” If there is a crisis, it only seems natural that at least some responsibility must rest with the political elite. This article locates this distrust in the context of broader debates about “antipolitics” and depoliticization. It examines how these debates have been informed by the putatively new set of challenges presented by the shift to governance and changing notions of legitimacy. The article concludes that politicians remain a necessity, not a choice. Politicians might be part of the problem, but they are certainly not the only problem. It ends by calling for a re-articulation of the relationship between government and citizens and leadership and democracy.

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Deliberative Democracy

Bringing the System Back In

Michael J. Jensen

The current crisis of democracy today is a crisis in the steering capacities of political systems as conventional representative institutions are seen as increasingly unresponsive. This has engendered a crisis of legitimacy as governing processes that affect daily life are seen as increasingly out of reach for citizens who find themselves with little or no influence over government administration, and increasingly globalized flows of markets and communication that belie the control of sovereign borders. The return to deliberative democracy as a response to the crisis has turned toward systems thinking within deliberation. Although this literature has primarily retained its normative language, approaching the crisis of democracy in terms of its empirical steering capacities is necessary to connect deliberation with its democratic aspirations. In addition to the language of steering capacities, these elements include an empirically-grounded account of the operation of power and authority as well the role of rhetoric as central rather than operating in the shadow of deliberation.