The scope, complexity, and interconnectedness of modern society should prompt us to develop dynamic understandings of democratic modes of inclusion and exclusion. In particular, democratic theory is becoming more attentive to the mismatch between those who make decisions and those who are affected by them as well as to the need to account for the voice of the latter. In this article I build on James Bohman’s understanding of democracy as a rule by multiple dêmoi to develop a framework for studying and evaluating modes of democratic inclusion that are based on being affected. To develop this framework I turn to law and public administration and examine the democratic properties of different institutions and procedures that give a voice to those who are affected by a decision.
Learning Japanese Psychiatry
How is the knowledge embedded in a global institution such as psychiatry integrated into taken-for-granted understandings and everyday medical practice in a non-Western setting such as Japan? How can ethnographic research address this question without simplifying institutional complexity and cross-cultural variations? This paper argues that the ethnography of apprenticeship can resolve these tensions between global and local sources of cultural knowledge. Recent work in cognitive anthropology and practice theory has demonstrated the value of examining apprenticeship as a window onto dynamics of institutional production and reproduction. As an ethnographic strategy, the study of apprenticeship makes the processes through which knowledge crosses cultural boundaries accessible to research. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research on the training of Japanese psychiatrists, I describe the institutional structure in which psychiatric knowledge becomes embedded in newly trained psychiatrists. This system, known as the ikyoku system, reproduces many characteristics of Japanese organizational patterns. Examining the details of this system offers additional insight into the particular way in which psychiatric knowledge becomes situated in contemporary Japanese society. The theory of apprenticeship, however, has a much broader potential for informing ethnographic research strategies for studying contemporary global institutions.
Wal-Mart’s failed entry into the German retail market represents a puzzle for theories of globalization, which assert that more efficient producers will drive out poorly performing competitors, producing profits for themselves and gains for consumers. Wal-Mart’s ability to dominate its input network and to provide low-cost leadership through lean production has often been seen as the global example of creating efficiencies in the retail sector. In 2006, however Wal-Mart abandoned an eight-year effort to become a dominant player in Germany’s retail market. I argue that efficiency is not absolute, but rather context-specific and socially constructed. Domestic culture and institutions interact to constrain convergence towards a single business model in the retail sector. In the end, it was not the rigidity of German market conditions—such as high labor costs or union power—that led to failure, but rather the inflexibility of Wal-Mart’s strategy in coping with complex local conditions.
Wolfgang Merkel and Jean-Paul Gagnon
Democracy, says Wolfgang Merkel, is not in as deep of an acute crisis as many today think it to be. An examination, for example, of OECD democracies over the last 50 years does not reveal democracy’s wholesale crisis but rather crises in certain sectors of democracy – ones that change over time as the state institutions affected by crises adapt to them and in some manner resolve them. Take, for instance, the improvements made in Western democracies to civil liberties, women in business and parliaments, gay rights, and the protection of minorities. These improvements happened in the last 50 years. Almost simultaneously, however, almost all established democracies developed a crisis with globalized capital that blackmails its governments with the threat of capital flight and a crisis with economic inequality which has resulted in approximately the poorest 1/3rd of most democratic societies dropping-out of each form of political participation. Merkel’s reconsideration of the crisis of democracy reveals that democracies can decline and improve at the same time because crises are sectoral.
A Question of Authenticity
Based on fieldwork in Danish children's homes, this article examines how the idea of 'home' has emerged and become integrated in institutional practices. The ideal of hominess serves as a positive model for sociality in the institution, but at the same time it also produces dilemmas, paradoxes, and contradictions for both children and social workers. These dilemmas stem from the conflicting values of institution and home. Nevertheless, the two spheres should not be seen as spaces with incompatible logics; rather, they should be viewed as mutually dependent but competing ideas (and practices) that are inherent in the institutional value hierarchy. The article argues that the ideal of authenticity plays a central role in the way that hominess is perceived as a positive value in children's homes—and perhaps in institutions in general.
On the Social Productivity of Ritual Forms
Pentecostal Christianity has in the last several decades demonstrated an ability to globalize with great speed and to flourish in social contexts of poverty and disorganization in which other social institutions have been unable to sustain themselves. This article asks why Pentecostalism should be so successful at institution building in harsh environments. I argue that this question is more fundamental than those scholars more often ask about the kinds of compensations that Pentecostalism provides for its adherents. I then draw on Collins's theory of interaction ritual chains to suggest that it is Pentecostalism's promotion of ritual to the center of social life that grounds its unusual institution-building capacity.
SOS Children’s Villages and Supportive Housing
This article examines how institutions mobilize the transitive capacity of concepts and categories to articulate and fulfil their professional functions. In my analysis, I draw on the everyday institutional practices of two organizations, SOS Children’s Villages and Supportive Housing, to illustrate how personal and professional domains are intertwined. Through ethnographic vignettes, I argue that organizational capacities to shape the social in the domain of caring work are achieved through the knowledge practices of professionals and experts, as they negotiate the ‘mothering’ and ‘home’. The institutions studied, in fulfilling personal roles for individual clients, ‘step in’ for the absence of other persons. Such person-oriented goals pose challenges to organizational practices and professional values, ultimately straining the capacities of these institutions to sustain themselves.
The Civilizing Project in the Danish Kindergarten
Karen Fog Olwig
The increasing institutionalization of childhood in Western societies has generated concern in the social sciences regarding the disciplinary and regulating regimes of institutions and their presumed constraints on children's social interaction. This article argues that institutions for children can also enable such social interaction. Drawing on Norbert Elias's proposal that child rearing entails a civilizing project, this article contends that being 'not-yet-civilized' enables children to draw on a wide range of emotions and bodily expressions that are unavailable to adults. Through an analysis of life stories narrated by Danish youths, it is shown that common grounds of interaction were established in early childhood, allowing them to turn this adultconstructed institution into a place of their own where they could develop a sense of sociality.
The Mexican portion of the Colorado River
Alfonso Andrés Cortez-Lara, José Luís Castro-Ruíz and Vicente Sánchez-Munguía
English abstract: This study examines the social and institutional factors that determine whether local actors in the region take local and binational actions to manage scarce and highly contested water resources, focusing in the Mexican portion of the Colorado River. Based on the common pool resources and institutional approaches, the research project analyzes qualitative data from individual interviews with local key informants as well as official documents. The results reveal: (1) the variety of institutional behaviors, actions, and strategies implemented at the local and binational level; and (2) how complementary perspectives contribute to sustainable water management. The findings of the study contribute to the common pool resources literature by showing the importance of the actors’ collaboration to address water scarcity in a context of rapidly changing conditions.
Spanish abstract: Este estudio examina los factores sociales e institucionales que determinan si los actores locales realizan acciones locales y binacionales de gestión de un recurso hídrico escaso altamente competido en un contexto de variabilidad climática, enfocándose especialmente en la porción mexicana del río Colorado. Usando los enfoques de Recursos de Uso Común e Institucional, se analizaron documentos oficiales y datos de entrevistas individuales con informantes clave. Los resultados revelan: (1) la variedad de comportamientos institucionales, acciones y estrategias implementadas a nivel local y binacional; y (2) las perspectivas complementarias contribuyen al manejo sostenible del agua. Los hallazgos muestran la importancia de la colaboración entre actores para abordar la escasez de agua en un contexto con condiciones físicas y sociales cambiantes.
French abstract: Cette étude examine les facteurs sociaux et institutionnels qui ont une influence sur les stratégies locales et binationales de gestion et d’adaptation en matière hydrique sur la rive mexicaine du fleuve Colorado. Le travail se concentre sur les facteurs qui déterminent les actions des acteurs locaux dans un contexte de variabilité climatique. Fondée sur les approches des ressources communes et l’institutionnalisme, cette recherche analyse les données qualitatives issues d’entretiens individuels auprès d´informants clés ainsi que des documents officiels. Les résultats révèlent 1) la diversité des comportements, des actions et des stratégies institutionnels mis en oeuvre aux niveaux local et binational, et 2) la contribution de perspectives complémentaires à la gestion durable de l’eau. Les résultats contribuent à la littérature sur les ressources communes en soulignant l’importance de la collaboration entre les acteurs face à la pénurie d’eau.
Defining Politics in the Emerging Global Order
In the wake of globalisation different social science disciplines have found themselves entering into similar terrains of inquiry. However, each discipline tends to draw on different and often contradictory understandings of the political, and of related notions such as power. The lack of a shared notion of politics may prevent social scientists from gaining important insights from other disciplines. In this paper I therefore seek to demonstrate that seemingly contradictory notions of politics are better seen as different forms of political interaction. I define politics as activities through which people and groups articulate, negotiate, implement and enforce competing claims. By distinguishing different types of claims made within different institutional circumstances, I outline three basic forms of political interaction: governance, stalemate and social dilemma, and give examples of how each of these forms of political interaction has emerged in response to the global integration of market in different circumstances and areas of the world.