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The Rational Actor Reform Paradigm

Delivering the Goods but Destroying Public Trust?

Peter Taylor-Gooby

This paper discusses the impact of an important trend in service delivery in response to the substantial pressures that now face European welfare states: the New Public Management, combining centrally imposed targets and the promotion of market systems within state services. It traces the logic underlying the reform back to the rational self-regarding actor theories of human behaviour of the Enlightenment. Using the example of the UK NHS, recently reformed in a way that follows the rational actor paradigm, it considers the impact on long-term public trust.

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Guy Lurie

This article unveils a virtually unknown chapter in the history of judicial diversity in Israel. During its first 20 years of existence, between 1948 and 1968, only three Arab judges were appointed. Then, within two years, between 1968 and 1969, Israel appointed three additional Arab judges. Two interconnected changes account for this small increase in judicial diversity. First, in the 1960s, the Arab legal elite began to exert pressure on Israeli officials to appoint Arab judges. Second, perhaps partly due to this pressure, the Judicial Selection Committee made having a diverse judiciary a top priority. This historical example teaches us that without outside pressure, the Judicial Selection Committee does not look on diversity as an important consideration, using the merit system of appointment as an excuse for its failure. Indeed, up to the present day, the Israeli judiciary has relatively few Arab judges.

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Marek Kwiek

Thinking about the ‘identity crisis’ of the modern institution of the university, I was wondering about the following most general questions: does the current passage to late modernity and to the information age, the decline of the role of the nation-state and the increasing power of processes of globalisation mean the inevitability of the radical reformulation of the social mission and tasks of the institution of the university? Does the university (in North America and Central Europe alike) come through the transitory crisis of public trust and of its founding values or through the dramatic crisis of its own identity in a radically new global order? Is it so that in the face of globalisation and its social practices the process of the ‘corporatization’ of the university and the account of its activities in terms of business rather than education are irresistible? Is the response to the decreasing public trust in and decreasing financial support of higher education generally on the part of the state to be found in new ideas (by reformulating once again the philosophical foundations of the modern university) or in its new organisation (by following the explicit recommendations provided by such supranational organisations as the OECD, the World Bank, or UNESCO)? Surprisingly enough, these questions are of equal significance to North America and to a Central and Eastern Europe experiencing vast social and economic transformation. In both parts of the world the most common reflection upon the future functioning of higher education is the following: ‘things will never be the same’.

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Demons into Angels?

Corporate Social Responsibility and Media Organisations

Ágnes Gulyás

This article examines interpretations of the ideal media corporation by analysing corporate social responsibility engagement and communication of the largest media organisations in the world between 2000 and 2009. The study found that CSR engagement and communication are relatively limited and narrow among these firms, hence it is not surprising that public trust about them is low and perceptions of these organisations as 'demons' to society are widespread. Although CSR communication of multinational media companies has increased during the last decade, this was from a very low level of reporting and likely to have been mainly the result of organisations in the sector responding to a general trend in the corporate world towards a greater emphasis on CSR. The article argues that the increase in CSR communication arguably is part of a PR effort to improve the companies' image rather than a genuine transformation of the organisations to try to live up to the expectations of the ideal media corporation.

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The Weatherman

The Making of Prepared Farmers and the Postcolonial Predictive State in Kenya

Martin Skrydstrup

This article explores weather forecasting as an emergent technology of governmentality through a detailed ethnography of the ways in which the relationships between weather and crops are rendered knowable in a two-day “participatory scenario planning” (PSP) workshop in Naromoru in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Farmers were “made into meteorologists” and developed their preparedness for hazards, impacts, opportunities, strategies, and responsibilities within the context of facing El Niño. The ethnography targets seemingly novel ways of preparing farmers for El Niño. I argue that the PSP served two principal functions: (1) to redistribute responsibilities of the farmers themselves by making them into “meteorologists”; and (2) to integrate “scientific expertise” with “local knowledge” to generate public trust in the metrological institutions of the postcolonial predictive state.

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Silke Beck

This article explores how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has dealt with growing public scrutiny of its workings. It reviews recent initiatives set up to respond to the Climategate controversy. An independent review of the IPCC undertaken by an international scientific umbrella body—InterAcademy Council—can be shown to have triggered one of the turning points in the debate, placing the focus of attention on the IPCC's transparency and accountability. However, the council's recommendations have been implemented by the IPCC in such a way that the issue of public trust is treated as one of effective communication. The article then explains how IPCC's responses to Climategate can be traced back to the linear model of expertise. The article concludes with a discussion why the challenge of producing policy-relevant knowledge under conditions of heightened public scrutiny also requires new forms of scientific appraisal aimed at wider publics.