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The Mahalle as Margin of the State

Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul

Urszula Woźniak

The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.

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Protest Activity, Social Incentives, and Rejection Sensitivity

Results from a Survey Experiment about Tuition Fees

Emma A. Bäck, Hanna Bäck and Gema Garcia-Albacete

People may engage in protest activity either because of collective incentives or selective incentives, or a combination of them. In this study we focus on the selective incentives part of the calculus of political participation, particularly the impact of the social dimension. We hypothesize that people will participate in demonstrations or other forms of protest, to a higher extent if they are afraid of rejection, but only if they feel that they have high social support for their own position. This hypothesis was supported in an online survey experiment where social support was manipulated. Results also revealed that individuals who were highly rejection sensitive were among the most likely to participate even though they did not believe protest activity to be an efficient way to bring about social change. This supports the notion that some individuals tend to engage in protest activity for purely social reasons. However it is still unclear whether these individuals are driven by an approach motivation to establish new social bonds or an avoidance motivation to escape possible social rejection.

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Sexular practice

Notes on an ethnography of secularism

Oskar Verkaaik and Rachel Spronk

In Europe today, the most heated identity politics revolve around matters of sexuality and religion. In the context of “integration” debates that occur in different forms in various countries, sexuality has gained a new form of normativity, and new sexual sensitivities have replaced former ones. So far, scholarly discussions deal with these sensitivities in a deconstructivist and critical manner, denaturalizing discourses on culture, identity, and religion. However, these debates do not consider the experiences of people implicated in these debates, and their often emotional and political engagement in matters where sexuality and religion intersect. Joan Scott’s coinage of the term “sexularism” denotes a particular form of embodiment that is part of secularism in Europe today. Rather than studying the discourse of secularism, this article focuses on the practice of secularization; how do people fashion their daily lives concerning sexuality, religion and its intimate intersection?

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Richard Bessel

The argument put forward by Steven Pinker that violence has been in decline and that “we have been getting kinder and gentler” rests to a considerable degree upon data concerning violent events, in particular homicide and deaths on the battlefield. In discussing such data for the modern period, this article questions their reliability and, in particular, their comparability over time. Pinker’s argument may be stronger with respect to a growing public sensitivity toward many forms of violence, not least sexual violence, for which there is considerable evidence. However, the relationship between changing public sensibilities and changing levels of actual violent acts remains difficult to determine.

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Mohammad Shahbazi

This article presents an account of a Qashqa'i health worker's upbringing, education and training, noting in particular his transition from life in a traditional nomadic family through completion of a formal education. The health worker, Jamal, describes certain problems of modernity and the personal conflict he faces as someone who loves his culture but also wants to see improvements in the health status of his people. Written by a Qashqa'i author, who brings his own sensitivity and cultural knowledge to the text, the article makes some recommendations about the training and integration of rural health workers in Iran.

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Measuring the Sacred

Research Notes on the Use of Science by Adherents of New Spiritualities in Poland

Dorota Hall

The essay presents exemplary cases for the use of scientific accessories, such as a specialist vocabulary and sophisticated technical tools, in Polish holistic milieus. It analyses editorials published in the esoteric monthly Nieznany Świat, and refers to materials gathered during ethnographic fieldwork among vendors and customers of alternative medicine fairs and esoteric shops in Warsaw, as well as visitors to the Węsiory village, considered to be one of Earth's 'power places'. The work goes on the claim that references to science, and especially to various measurements, besides their legitimating function, appeal to sensitivity related to traditional folk religiosity. Therefore, the Nieznany Świat magazine might be considered a continuer of the folk tradition.

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Didier Maleuvre

This article reflects on the project of creating multicultural inclusive museums. By definition, an inclusive museum honors the cultural constituencies it is paid to serve. Yet in reality, cultural sensitivity is one thing and education another. Blurring the distinction risks sacrificing education, a moral mandate, to the ideal of equality. My article points to examples where, for fear of offending, a museum betrays its educational mission. I trace the affinity between inclusive museum politics and consumerist culture and consider the case of the Creation Museum-a museum that, as per the multicultural ideal, tailors science to the sensibility of its customer base, in this instance the sensibility of American biblical literalists.

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The God Who Hides

Some Jewish Responses to the Book of Esther

Jonathan Magonet

Little controversy appears to surround the canonization of the Book of Esther and it fits in comfortably as one of the Five Megillot. Read at Purim and enjoyed because of the opportunities if offers for 'carnival', nevertheless it raises both classical and modern issues. The former relate to the absence of God in the book, hence the additions in the Targumim and Septuagint to 'correct' this. Modern sensitivities are concerned at the violence it displays; however, Emil Fackenheim notes its renewed significance after the Shoah as a reflection of the realities of diasporic existence.

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Carl Plantinga

Film scholars, critics, filmmakers, and audiences all routinely employ intuitive, untutored "folk psychology" in viewing, interpreting, critiquing, and making films. Yet this folk psychology receives little attention in film scholarship. This article argues that film scholars ought to pay far more attention to the nature and uses of folk psychology. Turning to critical work on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the article demonstrates the diverse and sometimes surprising ways that folk psychology is used in criticism. From an evolutionary perspective, the article defends the critic's and audience's interests in characters as persons. It also defends folk psychology against some of its most vocal detractors, and provides some guidance into how cognitive film theorists might employ folk psychology, arguing that such employment must supplement and correct folk psychology with scientific psychology and philosophical analysis. Finally, the article argues that the application of folk psychology to films is a talent, a skill, and a sensitivity rather than a science.

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William F.S. Miles

Nineteen eighty-two marked a milestone in the history of Martinique and the career of Aimé Césaire. One year had passed since François Mitterrand's election as president and Césaire's declaration of a "moratorium" on challenging the island's status as a French département (state). Pro-independence violence still rocked the French West Indies. In this interview Césaire discusses the burdens of material dependency, dangers of in- and out-migration, centralizing legacies of France, opportunities afforded by Socialist governance, the need for decentralization, and the future of Martinican identity. The interview reveals Césaire's strategic flexibility within inviolate principles, his unique capacity to channel his people's psyche, his keen recognition of the relationship between nationalism and economics, and his sensitivity to micropolitics and intra-island differences.