Digital witnesses: memory Vs experience.

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Stonehenge at dawn on summer solstice, 2014

I have recently had the double-privilege of going to Stonehenge to witness the sunrise on summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and then onto Glastonbury festival, to witness er… lots of live music and people dancing around in mud. I’ve been to Glastonbury many times before but Stonehenge was my first time. As you can see, I captured some of it on my camera-phone, and naturally I wasn’t the only one. The photo above prompted a friend of mine to comment that it “Looks like more people enjoying it through their phones than their eyes”. At first I felt a bit defensive, because I was guilty of the same thing, but I thought it was ok. What’s wrong with taking a few pictures of a special event in an auspicious setting?

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Re-thinking the Definition of “Public Goods”

The following article By June Sekera gives an extensive account of how the concept of the “public good” has been undermined and redefined as a market failure.

The introductory paragraph is below and the remainder of the article can be found at http://rwer.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/re-thinking-the-definition-of-public-goods/

Introduction

A year ago last May, the Real World Economics Review blog published my post, “Why Aren’t We Talking About Public Goods?” In that article I argued that we need to revive and reframe the concept of public goods. A concept of public goods is immensely important because: 

  • The absence of a widely-held, constructive idea of public goods in public discourse denies citizens the ability to have an informed conversation, or to make informed decisions, about things that matter mightily to the quality of their lives and their communities.
  • Its absence robs public policy makers, leaders and managers of the concept that is most central to the reason for their being. 
  • The current economics definition of public goods feeds and supports the marketization and privatization of government, and the consequent undermining of governments’ ability to operate.         

Since last May I have met with economists and other social scientists across the US and in the UK and have been in discussion with people responding to my post from several other countries. I have also been conducting further research.

In this post I summarize the results of my discussions and findings to date and offer for consideration some criteria for a possible “instrumental” definition of public goods.  Ultimately, an instrumental definition of public goods must be accompanied by a concordant theory of non-market production in the public economy. Both are needed to ground an improved theory and practice of governance.

 

Reflections on Voluntourism

 

Source:  Points of Light

Source: Points of Light

 

After spending five weeks conducting ethnographic research in Nepal, I was ready to return to the United States and many of the luxuries of a developed nation. I knew that it would take time to adjust my sleep schedule. I also figured that it would take some time to return to the fast-paced life of New York. What I did not expect was the overall difficulty I would have returning to a developed country. The air conditioning is so cold. The price of day-to-day life is so high. People’s daily problems are so trivial.

The majority of literature on volunteer abroad programs, voluntourism, and service vacations suggests that volunteers frequently have a relatively small impact on the people and countries where they volunteer. These scholars suggest that volunteers frequently frame their experience in terms of what they got out of the experience rather than what they were able to give to the organizations and people in the nations where they worked.

Obviously, my difficulty readjusting to being back in the U.S. is self-centered, based on my personal experiences and what I realized while I was living in a developing country. And when one of my friends asked me, “Do you think you made a difference,” I had to spend time reflected on the question before I could answer. (more…)

Is England’s World Cup failure symptomatic of Capitalism’s malfunction?

The Premiership Trophy

Football is England’s national sport. It’s played in every city, town and school in the country. The English Premier League is the richest league in the world. For millions of English fans who contribute this wealth, watching football either live or on TV is effectively a costly tax on their devotion to their club. Why then does England lose to smaller nations with fewer players and less money to invest in talent? (more…)

Men’s Room: why space is a feminist issue

I am lucky, (if you can call it that, as I am fairly sure I can claim some credit for its creation) to spend much of my life surrounded by feminist men. I was raised by one, and have friends and colleagues who are very happy identifying as a (male) feminist. They can deconstruct the patriarchy, discuss oppression and understand intersectionality. They constantly and consistently ‘check their privilege’. And maybe this is why a recent article; ‘20 tools for men to further feminist revolution’ struck such a chord with me. It is written from one male feminist to the rest, pointing out that it is not enough simply just to identify as being feminist. Fighting patriarchy, (whatever your sex or gender) cannot be done apathetically or without actually doing anything.

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Football, nostalgia and when heroes become zeroes.

Source: http://www.marca.com/2014/06/19/revista_de_prensa/1403156322.html

 

Spain’s defeat this week in the World Cup sees the World and European champions knocked out and booked onto an early flight home, in the biggest upset of the tournament so far. A team of erstwhile heroes and well-known names like Casillas, Alonso and Torres left the pitch last night looking dejected and hollow after their defeat to Chile. Spanish daily ‘Marca’ ran a headline titled, simply ‘The End’, as Spanish fans around the world come to terms with the fact that their glory days which have lasted since 2008, are over.

I am reminded of France’s early exit from the World Cup in 2002 when they were also world champions, having won the title in Paris only four years previously. Similarly, Italy crashed out early in 2010 after lifting the cup in Germany in 2006. How can heroes become zeroes in such a small amount of time? How can the golden days end so abruptly and cruelly? Perhaps the reason is that having created our idols we are then too unwilling to let go of them and allow a new generation to (try and) fill their shoes. Like a relationship which has run its course, we can’t seem to move on. (more…)

In Defense of Trigger Warnings (… as a Practice, not a Policy)

By Iconshock [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past few months, numerous publications have discussed – and mostly: dismissed – the trend to incorporate so-called trigger warnings into the college classroom and syllabus. Trigger warnings have become a standard practice for articles in feminist blogs and other online media that discuss incidences of violence, sexual assault and that may contain other potentially ‘triggering’ material, with the purpose of giving readers a way to opt-out of exposing themselves to said material. As some college professors have started to incorporate this practice into their classrooms in order to warn students of potentially ‘triggering’ material – and some colleges have even discussed adopting trigger warning policies – the public reaction has been mostly negative. However, it is my position that most of these commentators have it backward and misunderstand what trigger warnings are about and can do – granted, there are examples of very poorly-done trigger warnings out there that can easily be taken as evidence for some of the critics’ fears – and I believe they can and should have a place in the sociology classroom and that they can actually play a positive and productive pedagogical role.

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Becoming Respectable in Northwest England and Kathmandu Nepal

Source: SAGE

Source: SAGE

 

In working with survivors of human trafficking over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to have a number of very personal conversations with women who are in the process of becoming empowered and rebuilding their self-esteem.  One topic that continues to emerge in almost every discussion is being respectable.  As I have been reflecting on what it means to be respectable in the context of surviving gender violence, I recalled a remarkable text I read a number of years ago and the similarities in understanding respectability among people of different races, ethnicities, classes, and histories. (more…)

The homeless as the last materialists – an obsession with cash

Money in the hands of a homeless person. Source: erickabennett.myadventures.org/

“Without money, without income, there is no social existence, no existence at all in fact, material or physical. […] The paradox of capitalist societies is that the economy is the main source of exclusion but that this exclusion not only excludes people from the economy, it excludes or threatens ultimately to exclude them from society itself” Godelier, 1998:2[i]

In today’s society, money is the non-plus-ultra. There is no way around it. You use it every day to buy a morning-coffee, pay for a lunch-deal at M&S and the after-work cocktail with your friends. You can’t live without.

But money’s appearance has changed. In the past century, money has increasingly ‘dematerialised’ and ‘virtualised’[ii] – just think about Bitcoins. Money was a tangible commodity when we still had coins; how wonderful to feel the heaviness of a piece of silver! Already in its paper form, representation and sign became more important.[iii] Now, even this ‘fake materiality’ is lost as money appears more and more with a virtual face.[iv]

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Pick-Up Artists and Anti-Pick-Up Artists: Promises of Sexist Gender Ideologies Denied

["White Ribbon". Source: MesserWoland [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

In response to the horrific murders at UC Santa Barbara two weeks ago, many commentators have pointed out the perpetrator’s connection to so-called Anti-Pickup Artist online communities and to the misogynist and racist motivations of the shooting. Whereas the Pick-Up Artist fad has received some media attention and academic study in the past, the so-called Anti-Pick-Up artist scene has received much less attention – with notable exceptions well worth reading – and has probably been completely off the radar even for those of us studying gender. Even though the name suggests an oppositional stance on the idea of PickUp artistry, in reality, these Anti-Pick-Up Artists share in the very same gender ideology as those being drawn to Pick-Up Artist message boards and websites. Add in the frustration with the ineffectiveness of the Pick-Up Artists’ tips and strategies, and the Anti-Pick-Up Artist scene reveals itself as promoting an equally – if note more – toxic gender ideology.

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