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Migration Studies in Bulgaria

Scope, Experiences and Developments

Magdalena Elchinova

The article overviews the current state of migration studies in Bulgaria. It is argued that their deficiencies stem from the fact that they are nationally embedded, contingent on ongoing public and political discourses, almost exclusively limited to the sociological, psychological and cultural dimensions of migration, and largely operating with the concepts of community, ethnicity and identity, despite the increasing share of ethnographic descriptions of good quality in the field. The further development of migration studies in Bulgaria will depend on the elaboration of a more complex and systematic analytical framework. A shift from community and ethnicity to gender, kinship, social networks and other explanatory categories is needed. It is also necessary to see the variety of forms of commonality and interaction between migrants in order to see migration as a dynamic phenomenon. Finally, it is crucial to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that would best fit the complex nature of migration.

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Digital Activism, Physical Activism

Malta’s Front Harsien ODZ

Michael Briguglio

This article analyzes the interaction between the digital (online) and physical (offline) activism of Front Harsien ODZ, a Maltese environmental movement organization. It looks into how Front activists perceive these forms of activism and verifies how important each form is to the organization. Consequently, the research presented herein is operationalized through interviews with Front activists and through participant observation from an insider’s point of view. This article concludes that activists within Front Harsien ODZ feel that they are part of a social network. The organization’s recruitment, mobilization and activism techniques are at once digital and physical. Most Front activists were already part of preexisting social networks before joining the Front, and the new Front network made good use of Malta’s political opportunity structures, including the Zonqor controversy; Malta’s small size; and the country’s vibrant media landscape.

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Humans, Plants, and Networks

A Critical Review

Laura Calvet-Mir and Matthieu Salpeteur

In recent years, Social Network Analysis (SNA) has increasingly been applied to the study of complex human-plant relations. This quantitative approach has ennabled a better understanding of (1) how social networks help explain agrobiodiversity management, and (2) how social relations influence the transmission of local ecological knowledge (LEK) related to plants. In this paper, we critically review the most recent works pertaining to these two lines of research. First, our results show that this fast-developing literature proposes new insights on local agrobiodiversity management mechanisms, as well as on the ways seed exchange systems are articulated around other social relationships, such as kinship. Second, current works show that inter-individual connections affect LEK transmission, the position of individuals in networks being related to the LEK they hold. We conclude by stressing the importance of combining this method with comprehensive approaches and longitudinal data collection to develop deeper insights into human-plant relations.

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Macro-Lessons from Micro-Crime

Understanding Migrant Crime through the Comparative Examination of Local Markets

Harlan Koff

Immigration politics are almost universally characterized by their complexity, their ability to raise public passions, and misinformation, often based on generalizations and stereotypes. Recently, immigration has been intrinsically linked to crime, and public agendas have squarely focused on security issues as nativist political forces have successfully created a prominent image of migrants as threats to public security. This article argues that immigrant participation in criminal markets should be studied at the local level, where micro-criminal economies often dominated by migrants actually develop. By examining criminal activity at its base, the article investigates the nature of power in these markets. Specifically, it examines migrant crime in four cities and compares it to migrant integration in regular labour markets. By doing so, the article studies levels of migrant autonomy in both criminal and regular markets and argues that this autonomy indicates whether migrant crime is entrepreneurial or a sign of social deviance.

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Femininity Out of Control on the Internet

A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and MySpace.com in International News Discourses

Shayla Thiel-Stern

This article raises issues related to the gendered representation in the print media, particularly English-language newspapers, of girls who use MySpace as foolish innocents who invite sexual predation. It examines the ways in which the stereotyped representation of girls and boys promotes the hegemonic discourses that construct girlhood as a time of helplessness and lack of control, and that blame the technology itself, in this case MySpace, for a multitude of cultural problems. Ultimately, these discourses portray MySpace as a dangerous place where adolescent girls flaunt sexuality, where sexual predators lurk, and where boys commit violence, thus creating and reinforcing a moral panic and extending stereotypes about girls and boys, and about technology.

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Modernisation and Social Change

The Impact on Iranian Elderly Social Networks and Care Systems

Mary Elaine Hegland, Zahra Sarraf and Mohammad Shahbazi

Anthropological field research in Iran, mainly in the village of Aliabad and in nearby Shiraz in south-west Iran, has documented radical social, cultural, religious and economic change over the last 28 years. Increasing emphasis on the nuclear rather than the extended family and pressures for geographic and social mobility have profoundly influenced the lives of the elderly. The traditional family system of support for elders - with regard to emotional and social needs, as well as financial assistance and physical care - is breaking down. Social scientists, social workers and health personnel must focus on adequately addressing the needs and concerns of the Iranian elderly in the twenty-first century and on developing alternative systems to deal with key elderly issues of health, well-being and social incorporation.

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Cross-Border Networks

Labour Migration from Iran to the Arab Countries of the Persian Gulf

Shahnaz R. Nadjmabadi

This article examines migration between the Iranian coastal regions of the Persian Gulf and the nearby Arab countries. At the centre of the research are questions about cross-border relationships, the construction of transnational spaces in border migration and strategies for maintaining networks in both the home and host countries. The transnational space connecting the Iranian coastal region and the Arab countries resembles other cases of border migration. However, unlike previous studies on border migration, this analysis situates the development of transnational spaces of migrants' lives within the deep-rooted common and historical perspectives in the countries on both sides of the Persian Gulf.

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Claire Wallace

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) open up the possibility of new forms of relationship and engagement, which form part of the sociality of modern society, leading some to characterize this as a transition to an "information society", a "network society", or a "third industrial revolution". This has implications for Social Quality, especially in terms of social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. Drawing upon recent research we find that ICTs have added new dimensions to social life in ways that go beyond the original formulations of the digital divide. Conversely, Social Quality can also add important insights into our understanding of the relationship between society and technology. The article argues that discussions of Social Quality should take these dimensions into account.

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Olukayode A. Faleye

[Full article is in English]

English: This article examines the phenomenon of town-twinning between Idiroko (Nigeria) and Igolo (Benin). While transboundary town twinning is the integration of settlements across distinct state territories—an emerging pattern of borderland urban evolution—this seems to be a new impact of the colonially determined borders in West Africa. Despite the challenges posed by the partition of West African culture areas, town twinning has more recently turned into an established form of regional integration based on a “bottom-up” rather than “top-down” approach in the region. Using qualitative methodology based on descriptive analysis of oral interviews, government records, geographical data, as well as diverse literature, this paper uncovers the role of “borderlanders” in negotiating borders through increased non-state transnational sociospatial cooperation and networking. Apart from altering the traditional state-centric territoriality, this new development may entail broader economic and socio-political implications in the region.

Spanish: Este artículo examina el hermanamiento de las ciudades de Idiroko (Nigeria) e Igolo (Benin). Mientras que el hermanamiento de ciudades transfronterizas es la integración de asentamientos más allá de los distintos territorios estatales—un patrón emergente en la evolución urbana de las regiones fronterizas—esto parece ser un nuevo impacto en las fronteras colonizadas en África Occidental. A pesar de los retos de la división cultural en África Occidental, el hermanamiento de ciudades se ha convertido recientemente en una forma de integración regional con enfoque “de abajo hacia arriba” más que “de arriba hacia abajo.” Empleando una metodología cualitativa basada en un análisis de entrevistas orales, archivos gubernamentales, datos geográfi cos y una literatura diversa, este artículo revela el rol de las regiones fronterizas en negociaciones transfronterizas de cooperación y de formación de redes socio-espaciales no estatales. Además de alterar la territorialidad tradicional centrada en el estado, este nuevo desarrollo puede generar implicaciones económicas y socio-políticas más amplias en la región.

French: Cet article examine le phénomène des villes jumelles d’Idiroko (Nigéria) et d’Igloo (Bénin). Alors que les villes jumelles transfrontalières sont le résultat de l’intégration d’implantations au-delà de territoires étatiques distincts -un schéma émergeant d’évolution urbaine en région frontalière-, ce cas semble être un nouvel impact des frontières déterminées par la colonisation en Afrique de l’Est. Malgré les défi s posés par la partition des aires culturelles de l’Afrique de l’Est, les villes jumelles se sont converties plus récemment en une forme établie d’intégration régionale fondée sur une approche régionale de bas en haut plutôt que de haut en bas. À partir de l’’usage d’une méthodologie qualitative basée sur une analyse descriptive d’entretiens, d’archives gouvernementales, de données géographiques ainsi que sur une littérature diverse, cet article met à jour le rôle des régions frontalières dans la négociation des frontières à travers la coopération et la formation de réseaux socio-spatiaux trans nationaux non étatiques. En plus de modifier la territorialité traditionnelle centrée sur l’État, ce fait nouveau peut entraîner des implications économiques et socio-politiques plus larges dans la région.

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Ari Engelberg

In Israeli-Jewish society, specific life-cycle scripts bolster boundaries between religious groups. The Religious Zionist (RZ) script calls for marriage in the late teens or early twenties. RZs who remain unmarried after this age often rent apartments in downtown locations where they form social networks. Sociologists who have studied this phenomenon among Western youth associate it with the tendency of individuals in late modernity to carry on certain aspects of adolescence into later years, thus creating a new life stage—'young adulthood'. Although RZ rabbis prefer that singles marry early and avoid this life stage, the singles interviewed in this study do not accept this rabbinical stand. They value various aspects of late-modern youth culture but, nevertheless, continue to believe in RZ family values as well. Their social networks help maintain religious boundaries even while allowing them to inch closer to a Western youth culture lifestyle.