Here is a great summer book: easy read, well-engaged, and more importantly a humble work that avoids haughty attempts to “explain” the social world. “This book makes no claim to reveal secrets, to unveil what may be strategic goals, and even less to predict the future,” writes Tariq Ramadan at the very beginning of Islam and the Arab Awakening. “(T)o do so would be madness, a combination of presumption and vanity.” Did Ramadan, a leading Muslim thinker and a professor at Oxford University, read debates among the social scientists on (un)predictability of revolutions (see Kuran 1991, 1995; Kurzman 2004a, 2004b; Goodwin 2011)? Although much has been said or written to “explain” the so called “Arab Spring,” important questions about “understanding” these popular uprisings is yet to be analyzed. Continue reading
By Aliza Luft
During World War II, Marshal Pétain’s authoritarian Vichy regime guillotined women for abortion. It passed laws forbidding women from entering the civil service, encouraging women younger than 28 to quit their jobs upon marriage, and requiring women over 50 to retire. Pétain considered women responsible for remaking the state beginning with the family: what he called the “essential cell” of social order. Politically active women were considered a threat to the moral regeneration of France (Muel-Dreyfus 2001; Pollard 1998).
In October 1940, the French Vichy government entered into collaboration with Nazi Germany. Laws were promulgated to restrict the rights of Jews and foreigners, communists and other left-wing activists were declared enemies of the state, and French internment camps were transformed into labor and concentration camps for so-called “undesirables.” Continue reading
In the preface of Goffman Unbound!, Scheff writes, “Goffman’s main focus was what might be called the micro-world of emotions and relationships. We all live in it every day or our lives, yet we have been trained not to notice” (p. viii, emphasis added).
Like many contributors on this blog, I’m currently wrapping up a semester of teaching social movement theory. My students seem genuinely inspired by sociological accounts of the Civil Rights Movement and Occupy Wall Street, among others. Yet I sometimes worry that, by highlighting large-scale, extra-institutional forms of collective action, my course also trains them to gloss over, or even deny their most immediate experiences of jockeying for leverage. I’m thinking here of arguments with their work supervisors, skirmishes with campus officials, and—as one might suspect—negotiating faculty’s proprietary claims on their attention during the closing days of the semester. Continue reading
Students of social movements and contentious politics will surely find Sidney Tarrow’s Strangers at the Gates a valuable academic asset. Always combining knowledge and insights from several social science disciplines and sub-disciplines, and typically managing a remarkable balance between a theoretically informed comparative perspective and an in-depth, nuanced analysis of single cases, Tarrow’s Strangers at the Gates provides readers with the opportunity to learn about a truly rich array of social movements and episodes of contention. This in itself provides more than enough justifications to coin Strangers a “must read” book.
But there are two equally important additional reasons why I have enjoyed reading this book and believe others will enjoy reading it too. Continue reading
After the unfortunate bombings in Boston, the media accounts often highlight increasing religiosity of the terrorists before their attacks. Here is a quote from NY Times, investigating Tamerlan’s path to radicalization:
He flew in to the airport here in Makhachkala, where the plate-glass windows of the arrival hall frame a mosque with twin minarets stretching skyward. He had already given up drinking alcohol, grown a close beard and become more devout, praying five times a day. (full story)
Similar descriptions could be found in many other outlets in these days. Does personal piety correlate with radical views? Continue reading
Art has an inherent history of being revolutionary and revolutions have a history of being artistic. Despite the variations in their end goals, both strategically and creatively express a message that engages and provokes audiences, challenging them to think critically about the world we live in. Recently, on April 5th, 2013 the city of Santurce, Puerto Rico celebrated a weekend of contemporary independent art that included murals, digital art, cinema, theater, installations and performances. “Santurce es Ley 4” (SEL4) is the fourth cultural festival organized by artists, independent galleries, restaurants, and the local community. Although this city is known to be a main exhibitor of emerging art, the purpose of this project was to motivate a tour of innovative programming in the city. Continue reading