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Cementing Relations

The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru

Penelope Harvey

This article sets out to analyze how concrete is implicated in the transformation of public space in provincial Peru. While concrete enhances a state's capacity to produce reliable, predictable structures, there are also significant limits in relation to its connective capacity in both the material and social domains. Ethnographic attention to the relational dynamics of concrete reveals how its promise to operate as a generic, homogeneous, and above all predictable material is constantly challenged by the instability and heterogeneity of the terrains to which it is applied. The image of power that concrete affords is thus a compromised one, as the stability and predictability of this substance is secure only insofar as it is surrounded by and embedded in specific relationships of care.

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Andrea Ceron and Luigi Curini

This chapter examines the coalition-bargaining process that took place after the 2013 elections. Using a hand-coding technique, we analyzed the parliamentary speeches released by parties, first in April, during the investiture debate of the Letta I Cabinet, and again in December, during the confidence vote on the Letta II Cabinet. In mapping the policy position of Italian parties along the two most salient dimensions, that is, the economy and institutional reforms, we were able to assess theoretically the stability of the Letta cabinet(s). The lack of a “core party” and the wide policy distance between the two main partners of the coalition suggested the strong instability of the Letta I Cabinet, which ultimately led to the formation of a different government after the split of the PdL. This new Letta cabinet, however, was expected to be characterized by a strong instability as well.

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Vincent Della Sala

The areas of policy and politics that captured the notion that Italy was

“saved by Europe” and “condemned to success” were budgetary politics

and the state of Italy’s public finances. During the dark days of the currency

crisis of September 1992, few would have expected that by the

end of the decade Italy’s public finances would have managed to correct

themselves to settle below the ceilings set by the Maastricht convergence

criteria. Justifiably, political, economic, and social leaders trumpeted

Italy’s entry into the euro economy as a great policy achievement

and as a sign that its commitment to fiscal discipline could never be

questioned again. Moreover, the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) would

guarantee that any relapse would be corrected by a healthy dose of EU

medicine. This narrative of Italy’s spendthrift ways being reformed by

the discipline of Europe was seriously questioned in 2005 when the

European Commission and Council initiated the excessive deficit procedure

in response to Italy’s violation of the terms of the SGP. Had the vincolo

esterno (external constraint) that shaped Italian macro-economic

policy in the 1990s lost its grip? Were Italian policy-makers breaking

free of European constraints, or were they simply adjusting to a more

elastic framework for the control of public finances in the EU?

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Social Quality in China

An Analysis of the Evaluation of Different Classes

Cui Yan and Huang Yongliang


Since the end of the 1990s, when European scholars put forward the social quality theory, related research has been recently and increasingly carried out in China. At present, Chinese society has entered a new stage of development, and the main demands of the population have gradually changed. For theoretical and practical reasons, it is highly attractive to strengthen the research on the social quality of China in order to meet new public demands and expectations and to promote the improvement of social quality through the implementation of effective politics and policies. Based on empirical data, this article comprehensively analyzes the cognition of different layers of China’s population and the change of the four conditional factors of social quality on the overall development of society.

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Italy in the Middle East and the Mediterranean

Evolving Relations with Egypt and Libya

Elisabetta Brighi and Marta Musso

The Mediterranean and the Middle East have long constituted an important “circle” in Italy’s foreign policy, with Egypt and Libya playing a particularly important role. During 2016, two sources of tension emerged in Italy’s relations with these countries. The first reflects a wider European situation. Like the rest of the EU, Italy has followed strategic interests—on migration, energy, and security—that sometimes conflict with the promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which the EU claims to promote in its external relations. The Regeni affair, involving a murdered Italian graduate student, exemplified this tension. The second source results from the role of corporate interests in Italy, especially those of oil and energy companies, in relation to the country’s “national interests.” Italian foreign policy toward both Libya and Egypt seems to have been driven by a combination of somewhat overlapping but also divergent national and corporate interests.

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Framed between change and stability

Syria between people's revolution and regime survival

Gilberto Conde

English abstract: The ideological struggle deployed between the Syrian opposition groups and the government during the first year of the Syrian popular uprising is examined in this paper. Force alone was not enough for the regime to crush the revolt, at least during its first twelve months, while protesters were unable to bring down the government. The battle for cultural hegemony had to be won by one of the two sides. Protesters and the regime alike had to deploy their discourses along frames that resonated with the values, hopes and fears of Syrians. The effectiveness of the regime in securing the support of large sections of urban dwellers and its systematic violent repression led to frustration on the part of demonstrators, who ended up supporting at least morally the armed struggle. A stalemate was reached. This led to divergent framing activity within the opposition, which in turn led to its division.

Spanish abstract: El artículo examina la lucha ideológica que se dio entre los grupos sirios de oposición y el gobierno durante el primer año del levantamiento popular en Siria. Durante los primeros 12 meses a partir de marzo de 2011, al régimen no le bastó con la fuerza bruta para aplastar la revuelta, aunque los manifestantes tampoco lograron tumbar al gobierno. Se dio un combate por la hegemonía cultural y uno de los bandos necesitaba ganarla. Tanto los opositores como el régimen frasearon sus discursos alrededor de aristas conceptuales (frames) en armonía con los valores, esperanzas y temores de la población siria. La eficacia del régimen en obtener el apoyo de amplios sectores de los habitantes de las principales ciudades y la represión violenta sistemática condujeron a un sentimiento de frustración entre los manifestantes, que terminaron ofreciendo un apoyo al menos moral a la lucha armada. Se llegó a un impasse. Esto a su vez llevó a que diferentes grupos de oposición reconstruyeran su discurso en torno de aristas distintas, lo que generó división.

French abstract: L'article étudie la lu e idéologique menée entre les groupes d'opposition et le gouvernement pendant la première année du soulèvement populaire en Syrie. Pendant les douze premiers mois, à dater du mois de mars de 2011, la force brute n'a pas suffiau régime pour écraser le mouvement, bien que les manifestants à leur tour n'aient pas réussi à faire tomber le gouvernement. Une lu e pour l'hégémonie culturelle s'est développée et un des deux côtés devait la gagner. L'opposition ainsi que le régime ont encadré (frame) leurs discours de sorte à qu'ils parlent aux valeurs, espoirs et peurs des syriens. Le succès du régime à gagner l'appui (ou le recul) de grands secteurs de la population des villes principales et la répression violente systématique ont produit un sentiment de frustration parmi les manifestants, qui ont fini par soutenir la lu e armée au moins moralement. La situation est arrivée à une impasse. Dans cet état, différents groupes d'opposition ont reformulé leurs discours au tour d'encadrements divergents, ce qui a mené à leur division.

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Duncan McDonnell

Five years ago, Gianfranco Baldini and Guido Legnante began their

chapter in Italian Politics with the following summary of the reactions

to the 2002 local election results: “‘Alarm bell’ and ‘wake-up

call’ for the center-right …‘north wind’ and ‘settling of scores’ for the

center-left.”1 If we swap “center-right” and “center-left,” we could

easily be reading a synthesis of the responses to the 2007 local election

results, which saw the same municipalities and provinces voting

as in 2002. The similarity should not perhaps surprise us given that

such dramatic phrases seem to have become a staple of post-election

reactions in Italy, irrespective of which side wins. Thus, the victories

of the center-left candidates Riccardo Illy in Friuli-Venezia Giulia in

2003 and Filippo Penati in the province of Milan in 2004 and the

triumph of the center-left in the 2005 regional elections all sparked

this type of comment. In the Manichaean language of Italian political

competition, election results at every level are framed as being of

far-reaching significance and crucial for the legitimacy and stability

of the national government.

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Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov, Olesya Veredyuk, and Ulvi Aliyev

This article exposes criterial bases of the development of social quality in the USSR and Russia. The causes of the increased volatility of the state-monopoly capitalism emerging in Russia from the 1990s and in the first decade of the twenty-first century are analyzed. Characteristics of social quality such as a high proportion of low-paid employees, a low standard of living and a high economic inequality are considered. The impact of the precarity of employment on these processes is demonstrated. Risk factors of precarity of employment such as type of labor contract, form of employment, working conditions and wages (in particular, volatility and discreteness of payments) are analyzed. The evaluation of scale of the precarity of employment in the formal sector in Russia is made; the distribution of workers in precarity of employment by kinds of economic activity and the deviation of their average wages are introduced. Overcoming the instability of development is linked to the transition to a society of people-humanistic socialism.

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Luca Verzichelli

Although the end of voting on the night of 13 May 2001 was not

accompanied by the same agonising wait that had preceded the

victory of the Ulivo (Olive Tree Coalition) five years earlier, it was

undoubtedly agitated. The margin of advantage that the exit poll

assured the Casa delle Libertà (CDL, House of Freedoms) constituted

a sufficient guarantee to go out on the streets or go to bed

with a reasonable certainty of finding a majoritarian parliament a

few weeks later, this meaning a considerable increase in terms of

seats following the superiority of votes already secured by the centre

right coalition.

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The Ontological Turn

Taking Different Worlds Seriously

Andrew Pickering

—‘islands of stability’—which can serve as a pivot from STS to anthropology. What of different worlds? The point to note is a very simple one: connotations of necessary uniqueness vanish when we move from the representational to the performative idiom