The article begins by examining Durkheim’s editorial role in the creation of Hubert and Mauss’s essay on sacrifice, published in his new journal, the Année sociologique, in 1899. It then brings out how, in Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, Durkheim operated both with an ‘official’ and a more or less ‘hidden’ theory of sacrifice, the first based on the approach in Hubert and Mauss’s essay, the second rooted in Durkheim’s earlier views and critical editorial comments on Hubert and Mauss’s ideas. In the process it brings out, through a detailed analysis of the work’s chapters specifically on sacrifice but also on piacular rites, tensions, ambiguities and cross-purposes in the work as a whole. These especially turn round Durkheim’s approach to violence and to the sacrificial offering or gift, and are also evident in his concern with different types of effervescence, the foundational and commemorative, as well as the ‘joyous’ and piacular. The article concludes by linking these tensions with issues at stake in Durkheim’s interest in the French Revolution and account of the role of effervescence in moments of rupture and fundamental social change.
Ritual, Social Change and Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse
'Luck' and Personal Agency in North Mekeo Social Change
Mark S. Mosko
Notions and practices known by the Tok Pisin term laki ('lucky' or 'luck') have for long been widespread across Melanesia. Previous studies have tended to concentrate on laki as 'probabilistic chance' and on its secular (i.e., economic, political, recreational) expressions, most notably in card gambling. Drawing on the perspective of the New Melanesian Ethnography, I focus instead upon the magico-ritual dimensions of laki in a single Papua New Guinean society, North Mekeo, where laki has been adapted to indigenous notions of 'dividual' personal agency that differ radically from exogenous ideas of success through 'pure chance'. On this evidence, I argue that the different perceptions of laki and 'luck' or 'lucky' by North Mekeo and Westerners are indicative of the divergent sorts of agency and sociality that are culturally compatible, respectively, with dividual and individual personhood.
Mary Jane Kehily
New femininities suggest that young women, no longer content with subordinate status in the bedroom or on the periphery of youth cultures, appear to have found their voice as the 'can do' girls of neo-liberalism. Familiar tropes of new femininities position young women as agentic, goal-oriented, pleasure seeking individuals adept at reading the new world order and finding their place within it. Has femininity finally found a skin that fits or are there cracks in this unparalleled success story? The article examines this question intergenerationally by looking at young women's experience across time, specifically, as documented by feminist scholarship from the 1960s to the present and contrasting this with the experience of being a girl as articulated by three women in the same family—grandmother, mother, daughter. Analyses of these accounts provide an insightful commentary on social change and feminine subjectivity, highlighting continuity and change while pointing to the ever present contradictions of femininity that may be reshaped and reconfigured over generations.
As seen in his enthusiastic praise of John Dos Passos's 1919, Sartre evaluated literary works by how effectively they aim to play a role in fundamental social change. This essay has two goals. One is to show that Sartre's endorsement of committed literature is not undercut if literature fails to play a role in fundamental social change and the other is to show at least some of the ways in which committed literature is successful. Both goals are pursued through a consideration of the literary works of Kurt Vonnegut and Don DeLillo. The former was mentioned briefly but favorably by Sartre in 1971 and the latter, while lacking such direct ties to Sartre, was accused of “sandbox existentialism.” I read both writers as arguments in favor of Sartre's instrumentalist take on literature.
The Rebel Girls Guide to Creating Social Change
Jessica K. Taft. 2011. Rebel Girls: Youth Activism & Social Change Across the Americas. New York: NYU Press.
Belying its conservative and old-fashioned image, Haredi society is constantly changing. Scholars examining these changes debate their direction and scope as well as their future implications. In this article I address the most striking example of these social changes. I argue that not only is Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) society adopting Western social values in addition to certain Israeli characteristics, but that these processes are occurring even within the most extreme sub-group of Haredi society, which I refer to as Extreme Orthodoxy. I then proceed to offer several examples to demonstrate how, in recent decades, Extreme Orthodoxy has appropriated many Western and Israeli social and behavioral traits.
Alison K. Smith
Although histories of migration to Siberia describe the eighteenth century as a period of less movement than either the seventeenth or nineteenth centuries, the regulation of such mobility evolved considerably over the course of the century. This article looks at three foci of legislation: the act of getting to Siberia, the act of fixing oneself in an official status in Siberia, and the legislation of forced and targeted mobility. In all these areas, decrees show a change from viewing Siberia as a distinctly different space with its own rules and exceptions to a space more fully integrated with the larger system of governance in the empire and more fully understood as a part of Russia proper, not simply as a mercantile colony.
Reading twenty-first-century capitalism through the lens of E. P. Thompson
Kathleen M. Millar
E. P. Thompson's social history of capitalism has enduring relevance for anthropological analyses of economic crisis, precarious labor, and class struggle today. This introduction provides a synthesis of the ethnographic cases in this theme section by reflecting on several impulses in Thompson's work that both resonate with and challenge current ethnography of political and economic change. Thompson's focus on moments of transition, his conception of human subjectivity as a process of “making,” and his view of class struggle as arising from tensions between old and new orders bring history and political economy into the study of emergent social formations. Inspired by Thompson's critique of rigid theoretical models, this introduction suggests ways not only to adopt but also to modify the historian's insights for ethnographic work on contemporary capitalism.
Perspectives on U.K. and Mexican Participatory Artists' Processes for Catalysing Change, and Facilitating Health and Flourishing
This article reports new ethnographic research exploring community-based, participatory arts practice in Northern England and Mexico City. Noting the value of an ethnographic approach, the study investigated whether commonalities discovered in practitioners' approaches are significant enough to constitute a generalisable participatory arts methodology, transcending significant contextual differences, and recognisable across national boundaries.
Shared characteristics emerged in practitioners' modes of engagement with groups, and strategies for catalysing change; clear convergences from which a core methodology in community-based participatory arts for change is distilled. It suggests the opening of liminal spaces in which participants can reflect, rehearsing fresh ways of engaging in transformative dialogues in relation to the world in which they live. This article presents the study findings as a grounded characterisation of 'participatory arts practice': a complex but potentially powerful mechanism, in use within numerous community health projects, and evident in diverse settings, despite little or no exchange of ideas between practitioners.
une contribution à la modernisation de la société française dans l'entre-deux-guerres?
The 1930 law creating social insurance was the Third Republic's great achievement in the social arena. However, the historiography of contemporary France contains barely a trace of this achievement. Victim of the regime's discredit as well as of the lack of any reformist political efforts in its favor, social insurance of the 1930s has also suffered by comparison to later achievements, particularly the creation of Social Security in 1945. However, if we study social insurance in its own historical context—and not in reference to the postwar period—, it can constitute an original source for the study of the modernization of French society. This article proposes three approaches: social insurance constitutes a vector for the acculturation of the working class to retirement and to the medicalization of health, contributing to the history of working class uses and representations of consumption and social rights. On a more institutional level, the experience of social insurance reveals the first legal experiments with co-gestion involving employers, workers, and insurance organizations. Finally, a prosopographical study of the militant trajectories linked to social insurance could contribute to the history of the working-class movement between 1930 and the end of the Thirty Glorious Years: is there a "social insurance generation" within French syndicalism?