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The Abortion Referendum in Portugal

The Influence of Psychosocial Variables in the Voting Intentions and Behavior of Portuguese Youth

Ana Figueiredo and Jorge Silva

February 11th 2007 set the date for what would be an intense and passionate discussion on a gendered health related issue in Portugal: abortion. In the referendum, approximately 44% of the eligible population voted, and from these 59% voted for the legalization of abortion in Portugal. Hence, this referendum brought about changes in the Portuguese law, which now allows legal abortion to occur at the desire of the woman until the 10th week of pregnancy. The present research consists of a study in which 205 university students fully responded to 4 data collection sessions between November 2006 and March 2007. The goal of the study was to understand the most relevant psychosocial variables when trying to explain the voting intentions and voting behavior of Portuguese youth. The variables in the present study included participants’ gender, political orientation, religious affiliation and practice, sexual attitudes and attitudes towards abortion. Our results show that all of the above variables, except for gender, are relevant for the opinion formation about this topic. Approximately 94% of our participants reported they had the intention to vote, although only 64% of these actually voted on the day of the referendum. Finally, we found that participants rely mostly on the strength of their attitudes towards abortion in relation to their voting intention, while relying mostly on the strength of their normative religious beliefs in relation to their voting behavior. Implications of our results for understanding the politics of abortion legislation are discussed.

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The 1956 Strike of Middle-Class Professionals

A Socio-political Alliance with the Right

Avi Bareli and Uri Cohen

This article assumes, first, that during the 1950s the government, the trade union Histadrut, and the political party Mapai situated themselves in an intermediate position between the Ashkenazi public and the recently arrived Mizrahi immigrants. Second, it assumes that the right and center-right public forces, such as the General Zionist and Herut parties, and the influential liberal-oriented newspaper Ha’aretz played key roles in the evolution of ethnic relations during this period and impacted the political orientation of the Ashkenazi middle class. It examines these assumptions by considering the part played by the right, the center-right, and the Mapai government during a prolonged conflict between the Ashkenazi academic middle class and the government during the mid- 1950s. This dispute centered on the appropriate extent of the wage gaps set between the salaries of the new Ashkenazi academic middle class and those of the new Mizrahi proletariat.

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Requiem for a Waria

Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experience

Sylvia Tidey

This article engages recent queries in anthropology regarding where to find openings for reimagining, recreating, or rearticulating a moral and political otherwise. I suggest we can find such openings in the political potentiality of ironic experiences—intensely unnerving confrontations with the discrepancy between accepted norms and cherished ideals, of which these norms fall short. Through a person-centered account of one of Indonesia’s most well-known waria (transgender woman), I demonstrate how an out-of-the-ordinary woman’s pursuit of a pious, ordinary life occasions a profound estrangement from common understandings of what it means to be Muslim. This, then, facilitates the possibility of reimaging religious and political orientations despite a national political context of growing incommensurability between Islam and non-heteronormativity.

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Helga A. Welsh

The Freie Wähler (free voters, FW) offer the rare chance to analyze parties in the making. Their long-time anchoring in local elections, centrist, middle-class political orientation, and bifurcated organizational structure distinguish them from other new political parties that aspire to participate in Land (state), national and European elections. Against the backdrop of FW success in Bavaria, where they received 10.2 percent of the vote in 2008, this article explores the FW expansion to the state level but not their national aspirations. In contrast to most studies that emphasize opportunity structures that work in favor of new political actors, this article highlights their dialectical nature. For example, the FW self-image is based on their difference from political parties, but the rules of the game push them to the status of "almost-party" at the local level and parties at the Land level. Their local roots are a source of legitimacy, but when they reach beyond, divisions among members and voters hold back their electoral fortunes. Independence and issue orientation are appealing to some voters but hamper the establishment of a clear identity and effective campaigning in state elections. Success for FW candidates is linked to the weakness of the dominant parties in the conservative camp. Spatial-temporal conditions are significant in considering the future of the FW at the Land level.

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Introduction

Ends and Beginnings

Ruy Blanes and Simon Coleman

The fact that you are reading these lines indicates that (1) issue number 4 of Advances in Research: Religion and Society has been published; and that (2) the world did not end, as expected by some, in December 2012. The buzz surrounding the Mayan calendar seemed for us as editors to be an appropriate pretext to conjure a debate concerning the intersection of religion and environmental apocalypticism. The four contributions to this debate reflect, in a critical and engaged fashion, on such intersections and their mediatization. Anna Fedele takes the Mayan calendar controversy as a starting point to argue for a history of apocalyptic prophecies in Western New Age and spiritual movements, in which prophetic success or failure have not depended on empirical confirmations. Terry Leahy draws on his research in Newcastle, Australia, to explain that apocalypticism is not exclusive to religious movements, and in fact circulates in different scientific and political spheres. Stefan Skrimshire also pursues this argument, moving beyond the caricature-filled debates between so-called latter-day prophets who campaign on environmental issues and the political orientations of environmental skeptics, and using this approach to decouple apocalypticism and prophecy. Peter Rudiak-Gould, in turn, explores cataclysmic apocalypse narratives in the context of wider expectations of moral and political change, both within and beyond the religious discourse of sin and repentance. All contributions in this section portray logics and contexts of environmental apocalypticism in sketches that overlap but also exceed religious spheres.