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Four Dimensions of Societal Transformation

An Introduction to the Problematique of Ukraine

Zuzana Novakova

Four years after the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian society is passing through multiple parallel transitions. More often than not, the problematique of Ukraine is framed as a discussion of the speed and extent of reforms’ adoption. This article highlights the need to look in a more organic, interrelated manner, with attention to the sociospatial context that embeds all of the potential institutional change targeted by reforms. Using interviews and group discussions with public servants and civil society actors actively involved in the ongoing reform processes, this article zooms out from the rather fragmented reforms discussion to embed it in a broader societal context. It highlights crucial developments in the four quadrants of the social quality debate: the socioeconomic, the sociopolitical, the sociocultural/welfare, and the socioenvironmental dimension of societal life in postrevolution Ukraine.

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Tenure reformed

Planning for redress or progress in South Africa

Deborah James

This article explores the contradictory and contested but closely inter- locking efforts of NGOs and the state in planning for land reform in South Africa. As government policy has come increasingly to favor the better-off who are potential commercial farmers, so NGO efforts have been directed, correspondingly, to safeguarding the interests of those conceptualized as poor and dispossessed. The article explores the claim that planned “tenure reform” is the best way to provide secure land rights, especially for laborers residing on white farms; illustrates the complex disputes over this claim arising between state and NGO sectors; and argues that we need to go beyond the concept of “neoliberal governmentality” to understand the relationship between these sectors.

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Contending with school reform

Neoliberal restructuring, racial politics, and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans

Mathilde Lind Gustavussen

This article presents a study of state-imposed neoliberal education reform and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans. In Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, the city’s school system was dramatically reformed with most of its public schools replaced by privately administered “charter schools.” The article examines the social contradictions created by this reform and characterizes how the city’s education activists articulate their resistance to education privatization. Situating the reform within New Orleans’s post-Katrina neoliberal reconfiguration, it analyzes how simultaneous processes of education privatization and racial dispossession have made the reform lack popular legitimacy. The article concludes by considering how the neoliberal policies implemented after the storm were conditioned by race, arguing that racial politics should be considered fundamental, rather than adjacent, to the study of neoliberalization in US cities.

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Reform and Crisis

Reflexions and Questions on the Condition of the Human and Social Sciences in South Africa and Beyond

Ernst Wolff

This aim of this article is to contribute to the debates regarding the condition and reform of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). First, focussing on South Africa and the Humanities Charter in particular, the tensions and theoretical problems in this road map are explored through an analysis of three important themes: (1) the use of the word 'Africa(n)' in the Charter, (2) the articulation between basic and higher education and (3) the Charter's catalytic projects. The analysis explores the risks posed by precipitate recommendations for intervention in the HSS. Second, taking a step back to reflect on theoretical issues involved in institutional reforms of the HSS, three central issues in the practice of the HSS are highlighted. Clarity on these issues is essential to undertake responsible HSS reform anywhere in the world. These issues are: (1) the nature of academic liberty, (2) the organic link between the HSS and other disciplines and (3) the capability of the HSS to produce crises. The detour via these fundamental questions is an indispensible part of an approach to reforms which would be prepared in continuity with the major theoretical concerns of these disciplines and that would thus remain true to the practice of these disciplines.

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Spatialising university reform

Between a centre and a periphery in contemporary Finland

Sonja Trifuljesko

This article investigates contemporary attempts to reform the institution of the university according to neoliberal ideological influences and oppositions to them. It employs Doreen Massey’s concept of space to focus on relations and separations made in the process. My ethnography of the University of Helsinki’s 375th anniversary celebration, which turned into a public spectacle of various visions of higher education, constitutes the main empirical material. Finland’s ambivalent position in the world renders the spatial work of forging connections and disconnections particularly conspicuous. It enables specific neoliberal aspirations (such as to be among ‘the world’s best universities’ amidst global competition) to become very strong but also allows additional trajectories, like the one about higher education as public goods, to present themselves as legitimate alternatives. The centre-periphery relations are therefore critical sites for analysing the contemporary university transformation, since they appear to be key drivers of the reform but also the primary source of resistance to it.

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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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Patrizia Pederzoli

Reform of the judicial system has been discussed in Italy for a long

time, not least because its many problems are by now well known in

Europe too, showing time and time again that the country is out of step

with the European Community’s institutions. There has been no lack

of initiatives to remedy this situation; indeed, they have followed one

another at regular intervals, though often with disappointing results.

However, since the significant changes in the 1960s and 1970s to the

laws governing the career progression of judicial personnel, there have

been few, and for the most part ineffectual, attempts at reform with

regard to the statutes relating to the ordinary judiciary. The reforms

have affected the administration of justice in different ways, both in

terms of substance and in terms of judicial procedure, but they have

not so far concerned judicial personnel, even though the latter are an

essential element in the smooth operation of the judiciary.

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Prayerbook Reform in Europe, Continued

Bibliography and Developments in Progressive Jewish Liturgy, 1967–2015

Annette M. Boeckler

The classic bibliography of European Progressive prayer books appeared in 1968 (Jakob J. Petuchowski, Prayerbook Reform in Europe). It provided a chronological bibliography of prayer book publications in Europe from the very first in 1816 until ‘The Service of the Heart’, published in 1967. Based on these sources Petuchowski depicted the typical features of Progressive Jewish liturgy and their developments. European Progressive Jewish liturgy has developed a lot since then. During the last forty-eight years several new liturgical issues and themes arose. These will be described in the second part of this article. The first part aims to present a complete chronological bibliography of European Progressive liturgy from 1967 till 2015.

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Reforming universities in the Middle East

Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan

Daniele Cantini

This article addresses the core-periphery nexus by looking at some of the reform packages proposed in the 2000s in these two pivotal countries in the Middle East, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the resistances they generated. These reform packages include internationalisation and privatisation policies, as well as World Bank–sponsored programmes intended to enhance the higher education sector. These programmes are marked by a high degree of isomorphism with global trends: they belong to an unquestioned centre, with peripheries as receiving points of policies elaborated elsewhere. In this article, I examine some of the resistances they were met with in Egypt and Jordan and show how their translations were shaped by the logics of the local contexts so that they were rarely implemented. Looking at post–Arab Spring developments, the article reflects on the continuity of reform packages amidst political turmoil, and the ways in which these reforms are altering or reinforcing processes of peripheralisation.

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Gianfranco Baldini and Alan Renwick

The topic of electoral reform, a recurring feature of the Italian political agenda, resurfaced in 2014. At the start of the year, a ruling by the Constitutional Court returned the country to a proportional system, similar to the one in place during the First Republic. This chapter examines the key political responses to that ruling and how the decision has spurred further electoral reforms, resulting in the most majoritarian system in Italy's democratic history.