Author Archives: jose

Search for a New Journal Editor – Journal of Integrated Social Sciences

The Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (JISS) is searching for a new Political Science editor. The journal is a web-based, peer-reviewed international journal committed to the scholarly investigation of social phenomena.

In particular, JISS aims to predominantly publish work within the following social science disciplines: Psychology, Political Sciences, Sociology, and Gender Studies. A further goal of JISS is to encourage work that unites these disciplines by being either (a) interdisciplinary, (b) holistically oriented, or (c) captive of the transformative (developmental) nature of social phenomena. Aside from the theoretical implications of a particular study, we are also interested in serious reflections upon the specific methodology employed – and its implications on the results. JISS encourages undergraduate and graduate students to submit their best work under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. More details can be found at www.jiss.org.

General responsibilities include:

• The day to day running of the journal political science editorial office, including managing article peer review, liaison with authors, editing of articles, and preparation of editorial copy.
• Contributing to strategic development of the Journal
• Attracting submissions and themed issue proposals to the journal to ensure continued relevance and quality of content
• Promotional activities, including attending conferences

To make an application, you will need to send a statement outlining your reasons for seeking the position, and overall objectives as political science editor of JISS.

To discuss further or submit an application, please contact Dr. Jose Marichal (current Political Science Divisional Editor of JISS) ~ marichal@clunet.edu.

Turning Away from Football

Andrew’s insightful post about the Martin/Incognito issue has prompted me to think more deeply about my personal relationship with football. About three weeks ago, I decided to “quit football.” This is a particularly challenging time to do this since Florida State University, my alma-mater, is having it’s most successful season in recent memory and quite possible might make it to the national championship game.

I haven’t entirely been able to articulate the reasons for my decision. I thought for a time it was the CTE head-injury issues plaguing the league. And while that is a big reason why I’m turning my back on the sport, it’s not the whole reason. To say I can’t live with the cognitive dissonance would flatter me too much. I’m a self-identified feminist that on a regular basis is compelled listen to Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die album (I’m particularly hooked on “The What” and “Unbelievable” at the moment.

In truth, I’ve been distancing myself from football for a while. And it’s not because of the Martin/Incognito issue. I’ve seen lots of condemnation about a “hyper-macho” culture in the NFL. But let’s be real, it’s not like the NFL suddenly became hyper-masculine. It has always been this way. What makes it the 800-lb gorilla of sports and culture is it’s projection of an almost unreachable masculinity. An ideal form of masculinity that we can view from a distance.

What’s more, we use it as a currency. We use it to brandish a form of masculine “street-cred” that matters a lot in some places. I grew up outside of Miami in what would be called a “lower-middle class” suburb. There was a whole lot of projection of masculinity. one way to “feel masculine” or to “be masculine” was to throw myself headlong into a love of the Miami Dolphins. That’s not the main reason I threw things across the room when Dan Marino threw a pick or Andra Franklin fumbled on the three yard line, but the fact that a love of football made me “one of the guys” didn’t hurt.

My struggle with turning my back on the sport I worshiped as a kid is likely informed by my place in life. As a middle-aged husband and father of a nine year old girl, I don’t need to tap into the idealized version of masculinity that football presents.

But low testosterone notwithstanding, I think that my decline in interest comes more from the selling of the game than the game itself. The selling of the game has increasingly mirrored they bluster and hyper-masculinity of the game itself. This wasn’t always the case. As an example, watch this CBS’ NFL pre-game show The NFL Today from September 1981.

The presentation seems remarkably muted. But this muted presentation made the game itself the spectacle. But today’s coverage of the NFL almost dwarfs the game itself. ESPN has daily, if not hourly, programming that covers Sunday’s games. The game itself seems to exist simply to provide fodder for the chatter about the game during the week. Check out any “take” by ESPN analysts Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. These guys might be outliers of feigned passion and intensity, but they are indicative of a media culture that feels it needs to be as newsworthy as the news they cover. In this way, it seems a lot like standard critiques of the news media’s coverage of American politics.

I’ll always love football. What is appealing about football is the necessity to perform demanding intellectual tasks under intense physical and emotional duress. Reading a coverage, knowing when to ‘break a route” or figuring out who to pick up on a blitz are all the equivalent of brain-teasers happening at 100 miles an hour. Although strength and speed are a must, football is a “smart person’s” game.

But the increasing wall-to-wall coverage, the emphasis on the personalities covering the game rather than the game itself and (most importantly) the increasing evidence that playing football for sustained periods of time can lead to irreversible brain injury, has made the sport feel less mythic, less like an idealized notion of masculinity and more a stylized, exploitative version of its former self. It feels more like a simulacra of masculinity rather than an earnest production of it.

For me, there’s a legitimate societal role for the brand of “toughness” the NFL markets. To often it gets dismissed as a retrograde and archaic view of the world. The problem is not the toughness itself, is the cultural primacy of the toughness and its attachment to specific genders and sexes. As Andrew rightly points out, Brandon Marshall is making an important sociological point about how we talk to boys and girls. We should want them to both cry and “shake it off,” not either/or. But for me, any lesson the NFL could teach boys and girls about toughness is getting muddled by a lack of concern for player safety and an off-putting presentation of the product.

Donkey Kong with a Female Hero

This makes me want to learn code.

Aside from being a jealous parent of a daughter, I’m struck by how powerful it looks to have a childhood staple re-articulated to reflect more egalitarian norms.

HT: Cory Doctrow

This is How the Internet has Redefined Resistance

A Harlem Shake video reportedly in from of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Egypt.

HT: Andrew Sullivan

The Filibuster is Back!

Pet rocks, drive-in theaters, 8-track players and Senate filibusters. One of these four things made a triumphant return to the Senate yesterday. Rand Paul and friends engaged in an ol’ school debate over the Obama administration’s drone policy — for 13 hours!

YouTube Preview Image

Whether you agree with Paul or not, actual Senators using the filibuster to actually deliberate about actual policy is a beautiful thing. You almost get a glimpse of what representative democracy is supposed to be. I’m not getting to used to the idea of Senators actually stepping up and actually debating ideas through the filibuster. I recognize that few people in the Senate want to be on their feet for hours on end to oppose legislation. But for at least one day, we got a look into how the filibuster could be used as a mechanism to draw out policy distinctions and grab the public’s attention as to the seriousness of the issues at hand.

WPSA Brown Bag and Governmentality from Below

I just took part in the first Western Political Science Association brown bag meeting with Mobilizing Inclusion authors Lisa Garcia Bedolla and Melissa Michelson. Aside from being a wonderful talk, this blog post is a testimonial to how you can actually learn something useful for your own work when you take part in discussions of this nature.

For me, the most intriguing part of the talk was the discussion of Arjun Appadurai’s idea of governmentality from below. Appadurai is inverting Foucalt’s view of governmentality as a process by which citizens are identified and counted and thereby subject to control. While Foucault is wary of this identification process, Appadurai is interested in how, in a world of unmanageable global flows, some people’s become engaged in a process of self-counting or self-identification. His conclusion is that for those without voice, autonomy is less important than becoming voiced and empowered.

To those familiar with Foucault’s ideas, this may seem to be a worrisome form of auto governmentality, a combination of self-surveillance and self-enumeration, truly insidious in its capillary reach. But my own view is that this sort of governmentality from below, in the world of the urban poor, is a kind of counter-governmentality, animated by the social relations of shared poverty, by the excitement of active participation in the politics of knowledge, and by its own openness to correction through other forms of intimate knowledge and spontaneous everyday politics. In short, this is governmentality turned against itself (Appadurai 2001, 37).

While Garcia-bedolla and Michelson use it in referenced to sustained voter mobilization, I find this to be a useful distinction in my own emerging work on civic hacking, or the use of new technologies to gain access to and productively use government data. I think those engaged in advocacy of civic hacking see it as “governmentality from below” while it’s critics are more prone to see it as an extension of self-surveilance. Appadurai’s framing helps reorient our thinking from whether civic hacking is or isn’t governmentality from below to “when is it governmentality from below”? I tend to think that this is the rub on the democratizing effects of technology. Are there instances where elected officials in city governments freely give away information that can be used to eventually reduce their power? or is it always an exercise in managing the perception of openness and solidifying power through the expansion of governmentality.

Here is the talk. Give it a listen :)

http://www.spreecast.com/events/virtual-brown-bag-mobilizing-inclusion/embed-medium

Specialization and Synthesis — More on Adam Smith

I’m only 10 pages into it and I can see the profound influence this idea of a division of labor has, not only on understanding economic development, but understanding social/power relations. For Adam Smith, specialization is the unique characteristic that differentiates the enlightened West from its “savage” neighbors. The “peasant” in places where there is a pronounced division of labor is made better off the by accumulation of “things” he/she is able to acquire through being able to sell the labor that is made valuable through his/her own specialization. He even extends this to philosophers and scientists, but that’s for another day….

The extent to which specialization is employed to reinforce superiority along cultural lines is startling, but not unexpected for the times. This is a particularly instructive passage:

It may be true perhaps that the accommodation of a European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages (117)

Because the “industrious” and “frugal” peasant trades his specialized labor for “things,” he is better accommodated than the leader of “ten thousand naked savages.” What an dismissal of the synthetic knowledge those “naked savages” had and have about how to organize a meaningful and rewarding life. This is the great crime (and perhaps virtue?) of colonialism — the arrogance to employ a specific frame about how the world should be upon those who did not seek it. Applying this logic to today, you wonder how societies can be integrative (e.g. having the ability to specialize in ways Smith discusses while having the ability to cultivate more integrated ways of knowing necessary for the development of full human beings). Can we specialize and synthesize at the same time?

Virtual Brown Bag Series: Mobilizing Inclusion by Lisa Garcia Bedolla and Melissa Michelson

The following announcement is from my colleague Jessica Feezell:

On Tuesday, March 5th at 1:00 PST, the Western Political Science Association will launch their new bi-monthly “Virtual Brown Bag” series where we will discuss a new book written by authors affiliated with the WPSA. This Virtual Brown Bag will be hosted on a social video platform, Spreecast, where you can submit questions to the authors, “chat” with others in the audience, go on camera to engage “face to face” in the discussion, or simply sit back and watch.
The first Virtual Brown Bag discussion will feature Dr. Lisa Garcia Bedolla & Dr. Melissa R. Michelson, authors of Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-Out-The-Vote Campaigns. You can find out more about their new book here.

On March 5th, please join us! Better yet, if you are one of the first 10 people to RSVP to the Virtual Brown Bag and “follow” the WPSA on Spreecast, the WPSA Social Media Task Force will send you a free copy of their new book compliments of the publisher. To RSVP, simply go to the event page, establish a free account and click “RSVP.”

This initiative has emerged from a task force on social media convened by our regional association in Political Science. For us it is an exciting experiment in the possibilities of creating scholarly conversation using new media tools. We strongly encourage you to be part of the conversation!

Adam Smith thinks I’m Indolent and Lazy

So because I sometime blog from home and sometimes blog from my office, I decided to start a second book while I’m at home. So lucky for me, the first book on the top left corner of my shelf was Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nation (a book I never read in its entirety in grad school). So here I go.

Smith dives right in arguing about the productivity benefits to the division of labor, an argument so worked through in recent history that it almost bears ignoring, but does strike me as interesting the extent to which Smith attaches specialization to progress, claiming that:

in every improved society, the farmer is nothing but a farmer; the manufacturer nothing but a manufacturer.

He goes on to argue that productivity increases come from unique aspects connected to the division of labor:

1) increased skill/dexterity
2) time saving by not having to swtitch tasks (which apparently makes one indolent and lazy)
3) mechanization

I’ll read more, but initially I’m struck by how anachronistic this would seem to most students graduating from American colleges today. The idea that productivity would come from doing one thing for very long periods of time would strike many as drudgery. Most of use who are knowledge workers would probably fall into the category of task switchers. I’m no productivity expert but I wonder what the research literature says about whether actually leads to more productivity. Interestingly, Yahoo has recently mandated that it’s workers work at the office, presumably because the ability to “switch tasks” at home makes their workers “indolent and lazy.” I have to say, I’m apparently a bit of an advocate of indolence since I’d rather fill my day with a range of diverse tasks that need to be completed. I’m a big believer in the “write 20 minutes a day” philosophy.

Preparing for the American Decline?

As promied I’m reading the first book I plucked from my shelf, Toynbee’s Civilization on Trial and The World and the West, published in 1948 by Oxford University Press. In the early pages, the historial offers this proposition regarding how civilizations fail:

Briefly stated, the regular pattern of social disintegration is a schism of the disintegrating society into a recalcitrant proletariat and a less and less effectively dominant minority (23)

This seems almost tautological as it goes and doesn’t seem to offer much. What is more interesting is the presentation of history as inherently progressive towards a divine end. Rather than see civilization decline as inevitable circularity, he sides with the linear-progressive view of history.

When civilizations rise and fall and in falling give rise to others, some purposeful enterprise, higher than theirs, may all the time be making headway and in a divine plan the learning that comes through the suffering caused by the failures of civilizations may be the sovereign means of progress.

Rather than take issue with this assumption, I’d prefer to use it as a thought experiment. What learning can come from the suffering present in US civilization? Perhaps the lesson learned, if the US experiment fails, is to provide enough avenues for the dominated to become the dominant. We may have a system resilient enough to fend off decline. If the proletariat and the dominant minority interchange enough, then maybe you have no need for decline.

It gets me to thinking about race and class. If you can transition formerly marginalized groups into positions of power (e.g. racial and ethnic minorities, GLBTQ, and women) does that serve to fend off inevitable decline. Can you maintain class-based oppression/domination or do they become the recalcitrant proletariat?