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Creating the State Locally through Welfare Provision

Two Mayors, Two Welfare Regimes in Rural Hungary

Gyöngyi Schwarcz and Alexandra Szőke

This article examines the ways in which decentralized welfare provision is utilized by local state officials, particularly mayors, to (re)create local belonging along notions of deservingness. Comparing the organization of three forms of benefits in two villages, we demonstrate that local practices of welfare embody different state images that are created and negotiated both through the regulatory power of local state actors and through their various interactions and embeddedness in local social relations. Our empirical material highlights that the specificities of positions held by elected local officials and their accorded responsibilities, in addition to the position of their locality in the broader socio-spatial landscape of the country, are of great importance. All these largely influence the ways in which state images are formed and materialize in redistributive practice.

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Planning as a form of enclosure

The ambiguities of nonproductive accumulation in the West Wales countryside

Elaine Forde

Enclosure, a historic and contemporary accumulation regime, is part of a global conversation about what resources are, who may use them, and for what purpose. Here, it is suggested that spatial planning extends the practice of enclosure in its approach to land use. This article focuses on Wales's strategy for sustainable development (OPD), which theoretically promotes low-impact developments. Ethnographic research explored how OPD applicants navigate different people and organizations with a stake in the character of land, and how OPD applications are rarely approved. The data reveals a tension between the notions of self-provisioning and planned development, but indicates how activists circumvent and adapt the planning system. This article extends the notion of what counts as accumulation by focusing on the nonproductive value of an unspoiled countryside, a notion central to debates about the production of the countryside as leisure space and the enclosure of nature under global sustainable development regimes.

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Sisphyean Struggles

Encounters and Interactions within Two US Public Housing Programs

Erika Gubrium, Sabina Dhakal, Laura Sylvester and Aline Gubrium

We operationalize the concepts of rights, discretion, and negotiation in service provision at two public housing sites, exploring their connections to the generation of shame or dignity building for residents. Using data from in-depth interviews with housing residents and caseworkers, we found that resident rights were limited by a decentralized system that actively prevented them from taking control of their lives. Residents frequently experienced caseworker discretion as personally intrusive, yet there was some, if limited, space for negotiation between caseworkers offering personalized care and residents evaluated as worthy of such focus. These interactions offered the potential for enhanced recognition and dignity.

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Philippe De Lombaerde and Luk Van Langenhove

This article deals with the monitoring and evaluation of the provision of regional public goods in the context of donor intervention. A number of issues will be identified that have to be addressed when designing and implementing such monitoring and evaluation schemes. This will be done in the framework of the so-called fourth-generation project evaluation, of social constructivist inspiration. A er presenting the basic characteristics of fourth-generation evaluation, the article explores how this evaluation framework can be adapted to the needs of the evaluator of the provision of regional public goods.

Spanish Este artículo se ocupa del seguimiento y la evaluación de la provisión de bienes públicos regionales en el contexto de la intervención de los donantes. Se identifican varios temas que hay que tener en cuenta al diseñar e implementar esquemas de seguimiento y evaluación. Esto se hará en el marco de la evaluación de los proyectos denominados de cuarta generación, de inspiración constructivista social. Después de presentar las características básicas de la evaluación de cuarta generación, el artículo explora cómo este esquema de evaluación se puede adaptar a las necesidades del evaluador de la provisión de bienes públicos regionales.

French Cet article traite du suivi et de l'évaluation de la fourniture de biens publics régionaux dans le contexte de l'intervention de donneurs. Plusieurs questions relatives à l'organisation et à la mise en œuvre de tels plans de suivi et d'évaluation seront identifiées. Cela se fera dans le contexte de ce qu'on appelle l'évaluation de projet de quatrième génération, inspiré par le constructivisme social. Après avoir présenté les caractéristiques de base de l'évaluation de quatrième génération, l'article examine comment ce cadre d'évaluation peut être adapté aux besoins de celui qui évalue l'approvisionnement en biens publics régionaux

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Cristina Grasseni

This article presents qualitative and quantitative findings on provisioning activism in Italy, focusing on Solidarity Purchase Groups (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, GAS). By using quantitative data about GAS growth, numerical consistence and economic impact and through ethnographic insights based on prolonged fieldwork, it identifies the GAS movement as an ecological, economic and political counterculture. I discuss the implications for policy efforts at the regional and state level, highlighting both potentials and shortcomings of promoting GAS as means to sustainable development. In particular, I identify the issues of trust, informality and direct democracy as distinctive of GAS practice. However, this positions solidarity economy vis-à-vis policymaking in a potentially oppositional rather than interlocutory stance.

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"Veteran care"

Shifting provision, needs, and meanings of enterprise-centered pensioner care in eastern Germany

Tatjana Thelen

This article examines the ways in which different actors in eastern Germany incorporate socialist veteran care into the new economic and organizational framework of the trade union, the housing cooperative, and the reformed state enterprise itself. The complexities of the different meanings of this care are linked to the rapid socioeconomic changes in eastern Germany, which have challenged both expectations of the future as well as personal identities. The analysis describes the complex shifts in the source of provision and its regulation, which go beyond simple state/nonstate or formal/informal dichotomies. With unification social security practices have lost their previous material significance for former employees, but simultaneously have gained emotional value because they help to assure biographical continuity. These processes (re)create familiarity and community amid the profound economic restructuring after socialism.

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Patrick McEvoy

Studying the socio-ecological systems which produce food highlights the entangled nature of humans, other species and ecosystems near and far. The three texts discussed in this essay have this awareness in the foreground. Participants in the solidarity economy and artisan cheesemakers know this, and the three authors do as well, demonstrating an integration of ecological awareness in their research and the pursuit of new knowledge. Cristina Grasseni, Heather Paxson and Anna Tsing trace connections and describe flows of organisms, food, skills and ideas, from the microbial community on the surface of a maturing cheese to global trade networks shaping mushrooms, mushroom pickers and forests. Each demonstrates the tight synergies of human culture and more-than-human nature that shape ecosystems and produce food beyond increasingly fragile capitalist industrial food production systems.

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Cultivating New Lives

An Ethnographic Pilot Study of Eco-therapy Provision for People with Alcohol-related Problems in Northern Ireland

Amelia-Roisin Seifert

Humankind's relationship to, or place within, the non-human environment is a vast topic both existential and scientific, and is a rising concern in burgeoning subfields of anthropology. This paper offers a report on the findings of a pragmatic, practice-focused and policy-orientated ethnographic pilot study (Seifert et al. 2011). Following the observation of a gap in research in the dual areas of eco-therapy and non-medical alcohol interventions and rehabilitation in Northern Ireland, the pilot, conducted on behalf of Alcohol Research U.K., set out to locate and scope existing provisions of eco-therapy opportunities in Northern Ireland with particular recourse to interventions whose service users include people with a problematic alcohol-use background. Following the recommendations set out by various summary reports by anthropologists engaged in 'alcohology' (Gilbert 1991; Heath and Glasser 2004; Hunt and Barker 2001; Marshall et al. 2001; Weibel-Orlando 1989), public health more widely (for example, Hahn and Inhorn 2009), and eco-therapy in particular (Burls 2007; Milligan et al. 2004; Parr 2007), a multidisciplinary methodological approach was piloted as particularly relevant to a substantial further study reporting on the effectiveness of eco-therapy as a public-health intervention. An introduction to concepts surrounding eco-therapy precedes an illustration of two key eco-therapy project scenarios benefiting those with alcohol problems in Northern Ireland. The results of this brief analysis suggest both research-paradigmatic and practical directions that could advance the understanding and the effectiveness of this intervention in the future.

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The Other Secular Modern

An Empirical Critique of Asad

Steve Bruce

Talal Asad explains the marginalization of religion in liberal democracies by invoking the modern state's desire to control. This paper argues that, in the Anglophone world, self-conscious secularism played little or no part in the secularization of public life. The expansion of the secular sphere was primarily an unintended consequence of actions by religious impositionists. Far from leading the promotion of the secular, the state had to be pressed by the demands of religious minorities to reduce the powers of established religion. The state provision of secular social services was usually a reaction to the inability of competing religious organizations to continue their provision. As this review of church–state relations in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand shows, the reduction in the social power of religion owed more to the failure of Christians to agree than to a deliberately secularizing state.

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Public Policy or Popular Demand?

Why Californians Shifted from Trains to Autos (and Not Buses), 1910-1941

Gregory Thompson

This essay examines the transition from a rail-based intercity transportation system in California in 1910 to a road/private auto-based system thirty years later, with hypotheses that the transition could be explained by either corporate and state decisions for supplying infrastructure or by public demand. The essay examines trends of automobile ownership, road investment, bus organization and service provision, intercity passenger rail service provision, and intercity rail revenues, both within California and to and from California in each of the three decades. It concludes that public preference for private automobility explains most of the transition but that unserved demand remained for fast passenger train service between the state's large metropolitan areas. Failure to serve that demand derived from California's legacy of popular disdain for the private railroad industry.