The wide world of sports has had a bad week for public relations. First, the Miami Dolphins hazing fiasco occurred, which was analyzed by my colleague Cliff Leak in “Man up: NFL Hazing and Jonathan Martin’s ‘Man Card’.” Next, the Atlanta Braves announced they would be vacating Turner Field, their stadium of 17 years, to move into a new stadium in 2017. The Braves are leaving downtown Atlanta to move North to the suburbs in Cobb County. The Atlanta Braves move is particularly surprising because they are leaving a relatively new stadium and they are taking baseball to the suburbs, making it difficult for the lower class to enjoy a game. But the real issue with the Braves’ move is associated with their reason to move. The Atlanta Braves organization is moving because the city of Atlanta will not provide taxpayer money to upgrade the current stadium. The Atlanta Braves are the latest team, owned by millionaires or billionaires, to threaten to move or actually move if the taxpayer does not provide them with a new home. (more…)
(If you are interested in this post, please see my earlier post on neoliberalism)
Source: Microsoft Clip Art
Based on recent research, there appears to be a link between the ideals of neoliberalism and increasing rates of inequality. Navarro (1998) argues, for instance, that neoliberal policies have contributed to growing inequalities around the globe and to worsening living conditions for the majority of the world’s people. For her part, George (1999) agrees and blames increasing inequality on the common neoliberal practices of placing public wealth into private hands, approving tax cuts for the wealthy, and pushing wages down for the non-elite. And, unfortunately, evidence suggests that inequality may mediate the relationship between neoliberalism and a third variable: interpersonal violence. In this regard, Krug et al. (2002:1086) write that “economic conditions [i.e., inequality] are both the causes and the effects of violence” with those on the poorer end of the spectrum experiencing the most violence. Other scholars, too, have found that inequality is positively correlated with violent crime rates (see Fajnzylber, Lederman, and Loayza 2002). Considering these findings, it appears that as neoliberalism becomes more prominent in a country, it can be expected that inequality and, as a result, interpersonal violence within that country will increase. In an attempt to demonstrate this argument, I will review these relationships before providing a brief case study to demonstrate how these variables may be interrelated. (more…)
Starting in the second half of the 20th century, neoliberalism became increasingly prominent as a form of governance in countries around the world (Peters 2001). Originally, the roots of neoliberalism were planted by a classical political economy theory which advocated for markets (and thus people) to be completely liberated from any type of governmental interference (Smith 2009). “Free” competition and “free” enterprise were promoted as manners in which economies should be allowed to grow. Martinez and García (2000) contend that this “liberal” type of economic theory began to be adopted in the West throughout the 1800s and into the early part of the 1900s. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the development of Keynesian economics, though, temporarily slowed down the advancement of liberal economics. In recent decades, however, there has been a revival of economic liberalism (or, neoliberalism) on a truly global level as countries around the world now either choose or are forced to engage in neoliberal governance. As a result of the growing hegemonic prominence of neoliberalism, there have been vast changes at the national-level, the international-level, and the individual-level.
At the national-level, neoliberal ideas have drastically changed how states operate. By heavily promoting market-based economies that highly value competition and efficiency, neoliberalism has moved countries closer to adopting social Darwinism. Under Thatcher and Reagan, for instance, Peters (2001) argues that neoliberalism directly led to the economic liberalization/rationalization of the state, the restructuring of state sectors, and the dismantling of the welfare state. As a consequence of these changes, the U.S. and the U.K. have seen things like the abolishment of subsidies and tariffs, the corporatization and privatization of state trading departments, a sustained attack on unions, and the individualization of health, welfare, and education. Although the idea that markets should fully dictate governments would have seemed ludicrous in prior decades (George 1999), Bourdieu (1999b) contends that neoliberalism as a form of national governance has become a doxa, or an unquestioned and simply accepted worldview. Harvey (2005) is thus not surprised that the ideas of capitalism have been infused into political, social, and cultural institutions at the state-level. By placing a mathematical quality on social life (Bourdieu 1999a), neoliberalism has encouraged formerly autonomous states to regress into penal states that value production, competition, and profit above all else, including social issues.
Over a decade since the 1996 welfare reform bill, welfare is in the news again. The latest controversy is over laws that seek to limit what welfare recipients can spend money on. This comes shortly after state legislatures passed laws to require drug testing of welfare recipients. These new laws are not a direct attack on what remains of anti-poverty programs in America. Instead, these initiatives allow for both a deserving and an undeserving poor. A moral evaluation of the poor, however, contributes to the notion that poverty as an individual failing rather than a social problem. (more…)
After the French elected Socialist Francois Hollande in a rebuke of austerity policies gripping Europe, news headlines issued reports of worried markets. The fear, among some, is that the new president would act in such a way, or more precisely that the public was acting in such a way that, would spook markets. Some economists, most notably Princeton professor and Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman, have argued against austerity in favor of government stimulus to push economic demand and growth. Krugman has made frequent reference to the Great Depression-era economic theories of John Maynard Keynes. While Keynes is important here, a less noted theorist – Karl Polanyi, is, in my view, more apt to the particular electoral impulses unfolding across Europe. (more…)
found at http://www.seiu.org/2011/04/immigrant-history-immigrant-future.php
If you asked Americans to pick which political party they considered pro-immigration and which one they considered anti-immigration most would agree that the Republican Party is anti-immigration and the Democratic Party is pro-immigration. Like abortion politics, this does not mean that every Democrat is pro-immigration and every Republican anti-immigration. Still, the divide between the parties appears to be growing starker as voters either sort themselves into parties due to their stance on immigration or solidify their stances on immigration as a result of their party affiliation. While many of us may take this alignment for granted, founders of the anti-immigration movement did not see this party alignment as inevitable and such an institutional arrangement was not deliberate. Instead, the current situation, I believe, points to the outsized role racialized politics play in the American political system. (more…)
A recent article in the New York Times, “Experts Predict 2010 the Year for Social Media ROI” summarizes a Trendspotting.com report entitled “TrendsSpotting’s 2010 Social Media Influencers – Trend Predictions in 140 Characters.” The Trendspotting.com post identifies six trends to look out for in social media over the coming year: “Mobile, Location, Transparency, Measurement, ROI, [and] Privacy.” The Times article focuses, particularly, on return on investment. The articles reports three strategies for garnering profit from user-generated content (i.e., prospecting, stewardship, and advocacy) but fails to provide much analysis. Viewing the proliferation of user-generated content from a sociological perspective, I’d like to consider the prospects for these three strategies.
On June 19th, a groundbreaking ceremony in the town of Upham, New Mexico was held for the world’s first commercial spaceport, “Spaceport America.” British company Virgin Galactic received $200 million in taxpayer incentives to fund the project that will take space tourists on a short flight above the atmosphere for $200,000 dollars. The ceremony included actors dressed as Spanish Conquistadors, who once explored and conquered in the area, symbolic of the link between trailblazers of the past and future. However, this representation may have been more telling than was intended. The Conquistadors, hailed by history as great explorers, were more motivated by financial gain than lofty goals of discovery.
Some citizens have criticized the use of taxpayer money to fund this project. While it may pump some money into the local economy (there will be hangar space for rent and satellite launching capabilities), a Marxist interpretation would call for greater focus on the benefits Virgin Galactic may receive while placing almost half the financial risk upon the people. Peter Dickens writes that the only way for Capitalism to continue expanding is to seek new places to extend its reach; the era of commercialized space may have officially begun.
“The Cosmos as Capitalism’s Outside” by Peter Dickens