This article, part of a set of three articles, calls for a critical reexamination of a plethora of phenomena relating to choice and decision making, occasionally addressed by anthropologists, but more regularly studied by economists, political scientists, psychologists, and organization scholars. By means of a bird's-eye research overview, we identify certain weak spots pertaining to a formalistic unicentral view of human rationality, and argue that ethnographic approaches casting light on cultural contexts for thought, reason, and action can explain how choices are framed and constituted from horizons of perceptions and expectations. A positive account of socially and culturally embedded decision making heralds a mode of anthropology with a broad, integrating capacity to address public policy and administration and their interactions with everyday experience and practice.
Åsa Boholm, Annette Henning, and Amanda Krzyworzeka
The agricultural situation in Poland has been changing significantly during the last decades. In 1989, the predictability of the communist centrally planned economy was replaced by the unexpectedness and "invisible hand" of the free market economy. The socialist welfare state has been replaced by new modes of support, introduced by European Union (EU). On the basis of fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2008 in farming communities in eastern Poland, I focus on decision making among small-scale farmers. This article addresses decision-making processes and their sociocultural context, including the reasons for and circumstances behind decisions, and also elements of decision-making processes that tend to hinder the introduction of EU agricultural policy. In the course of adapting to new and changing realities, farmers creatively use customary ways of thinking and acting in the various decisions they have to make while running the farm. Changes of the very mechanisms of decision-making processes seem to be rather slow, however.
Edward J. Woodhouse
Was the Hurricane Katrina disaster an aberration, or did it emerge from decision-making processes similar to those governing other public outcomes? Is it more reasonable to expect post-disaster analyses to lead to systematic learning and improved policy, or not to change very much? Most generally, what can be learned about appropriate expertise and usable knowledge from the Katrina experience? I argue that many of the same processes and institutions are at work to create vulnerable populations, design the built environment carelessly with respect to public values, place barriers in the way of preventive action, and make it difficult for experts to contribute to improved outcomes. No doubt there will be some hurricane-specific learning in Katrina's wake, such as more houses on stilts, but political influentials are unlikely to revamp the systemic norms, practices, and institutions that helped shape the disaster. Implications are discussed for interdisciplinary, problem-focused research and community service by scientists, engineers, and other experts.
Feminist critiques of deliberative democracy have focused on the abstraction, impartiality and rationality of mainstream accounts of deliberation. This paper explores the claim, common to many of these critiques, that these features are problematic because they are gendered, and that a more women-friendly account of democracy would embrace corporeality, contextuality and the affective. While acknowledging the merit of such a claim, the paper nonetheless suggests that the pursuit of social justice and democratic inclusion actually leads many feminists to embrace a modified account of deliberative democracy, albeit in a modified account form. This can be explained by the dialogical conception of impartiality offered by theories of deliberative democracy. The paper suggests that the embrace of deliberative democracy by feminist theorists is a positive move, to be more widely acknowledged. Moreover, once acknowledged, feminists have much to offer deliberative democrats in terms of considering what the pursuit of dialogic impartiality might entail. If conceived as demanding both a 'lack of bias' and 'inclusivity', attention needs to be focused squarely on the issue of inclusion, and the institutional and material conditions for securing inclusion in deliberation.
Allan C. Hutchinson and Joel Colón-Ríos
The relationship between democracy and constitutions is a long and fractious one. Those who lean towards the constitutionalist side have tended to perceive democracy as a threat to political order and the preservation of important values, whereas those who take a more democratist stance tend to treat constitutions as elite hindrances to popular rule as much as anything else. In this paper, we will give the constitutionalist thesis a broader theoretical and political scrutiny. By way of explanation, we will address and recommend the possibilities and problems for putting into practical operation such an anti-constitutionalist stance; the recent experience of the U.S. State of California offers itself as a good forcing-ground for these ideas. In short, from a democratic standpoint, the challenge for the citizenry is not so much about defining the values of constitutions, but constitutions whose change is outside the scope of popular decision making, supposed to exclusively take place through judicial interpretation or through an amendment formula designed precisely to make change difficult and unlikely. Too often, constitutions place checks and limits on democratic participation in the name of some other set of vaunted truths or elite-favouring values. For the strong democrat, it is formal constitutions and their institutional paraphernalia that do more to inhibit and dull democracy's emancipatory potential than to nurture and fulfil it.
Assessing Rigidity and Flexibility in Angela Merkel’s Political Decision Making
This paper investigates levels of rigidity and flexibility in Angela Merkel’s decision making during her first three governments from 2005 to 2017. The study is a contribution to understanding German politics in the era of Merkel who has regularly been criticized for allegedly lacking a transformative agenda and ideological consistency. Methodologically this study draws on Jonathan Keller’s framework that differentiates between internally and externally validated leaders, with the latter seeking to appease and curry favor with stakeholders and the former committed to their personal believes. The study assesses Merkel’s decisions on fiscal and economic policies, zooms in on her u-turn on nuclear energy, touches upon her dithering during the Euro crisis and discusses at some length her protracted coming to terms with the refugee crisis. Findings suggest her flexibility to be predominantly a reflection of political expediencies and intended to preserve her party’s political compatibility with potentially supportive stakeholders. Her approach thus is in line with the agenda to manage coalition governments successfully, moderate and conciliate divergent interests and thus secure their position in power.
In the space of little over a month, between 31 October and 6 December
2005, the proposed Turin-Lyon high-speed train (Treno Alta Velocità, or
TAV) line became a national news story following the dramatic protests
that marked initial attempts to open exploratory survey sites. On 31
October, the “Battle of Rocciamelone” took place between police and
demonstrators who were blocking access to the Seghino site, where
drilling was due to commence. In the ensuing days, protests were held
across the valley, culminating on 16 November in a general strike and
“the march of the 80,000” from Bussoleno to Susa. On 30 November
and 1 December, protestors gathered at Venaus—where another, far
more important construction site for a long exploratory tunnel was
planned—and set up a camp, which was then dismantled by police
during the night of 5–6 December.
Simone Carter, Izzy Scott Moncrieff, Pierre Z. Akilimali, Dieudonné Mwamba Kazadi, and Karen A. Grépin
Whilst men and boys account for more COVID-19 cases and deaths, the secondary impacts of the outbreak on women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are cross-cutting and far-reaching. School closures put girls at increased risk of adolescent pregnancy, sexual violence and early marriage; more women working in the informal sector have lost jobs and been affected by closures of markets and borders; and frequent restrictions on sexual and reproductive healthcare have impacted access to services for women. Lessons learnt from previous health crises can help to highlight the extent of these issues. However, a lack of sex disaggregated data around COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in the DRC means that it is impossible to fully measure and understand the impact of the outbreak on women and girls or develop and implement appropriate interventions. This article presents a metasynthesis of existing and ongoing analyses to highlight the broader impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls in the country.
Democratic Praxis in Te Ao Māori
Kylie Smith, Ksenija Napan, Raewyn Perkinson, and Roberta Hunter
that the essence of democratic politics does not lie in voting and representation but in the common deliberation that underlies collective decision-making” (2012: 2). A key postulation in this research is that in a participative and inclusive democracy
Anna Scolobig, Luigi Pellizzoni, and Chiara Bianchizza
). The involvement of stakeholders in decision-making is generally regarded as key to increasing social capacity at the local level and fostering a learning process in decision-making. This article analyzes implications, potentials, and limitations of