You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Governance Issues’ category.
The open-access, peer-reviewed Journal of the Sociology and Theory of Religion asks for contributions for the first issue in 2014. The call aims at papers dealing with religion, environment, diversity and/or justice based on comparative, empirical research.
The papers can be submitted until October 1, 2013, to the special editor Michael Agliardo, SJ, Ph.D. The journal is published in English, Spanish and Chinese.
In about two weeks I will attend the 63rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association to present a paper on the organizational identity of the hacker collective “Anonymous” (see also “Anonymous’ Boundaries: Expelling by Exposing“), which I have written together with Dennis Schoeneborn. The key the empirical puzzle in this case is how the organizational identity of Anonymous is constructed given the fact that individual membership is largely invisible.
One of our findings is that Anonymous largely relies on the credibility of communication channels as a functional equivalent and substitute to member-based identity formation. Several Twitter accounts, Facebook pages or Tumblr blogs are controlled by members of Anonymous (“Anons”). Some of these accounts such as the YourAnonNews with over 1.1 million followers on Twitter or the OffiziellAnonymous Facebook page with over 1.2 million fans are able to reach large audiences.
The credibility of these communication channels depends on their respective communication history. Those accounts that have accurately announced – if not initiated – Anonymous activities gain credibility and thus the power to speak more or less on behalf of Anonymous.
The centrality of credible communication channels for the identity of Anonymous has recently been underscored by the first Anonymous crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The goal of the initiative: fund a new home for the communication channel YourAnonNews (YAN), which is currently hosted at Tumblr: Read the rest of this entry »
You want to win a prize in a writing contest in social science in which contributions written like an academic paper will not be accepted? Pay attention to the following call for articles: The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) invites young scholars to submit texts on Sustainable Development Goals and their human dimension, be it political, technological, economic, or social.
Prizes are US$ 500, US$ 200, and US$ 100 and the three winning pieces will be published in the in-house magazine Dimensions.
The deadline for submissions has been extended to May 15, 2013.
Another witty animation by the RSA, this time featuring everyone’s favourite misanthrope. Slavoj Žižek’s provocative thesis is that attempts to weave ethics into consumption – for instance with the Fairtrade label – merely serve to make the inbuilt injustices more durable: “The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible, and the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim.”
We can buy exploitative and corporate items, and the anti-exploitative anti-corporate antidote is already included in the product, like ethical coffee at Starbucks. We can increase our wealth while pursuing sustainability or equity, like SRI. We can lend money for profit and promote virtues like entrepreneurship or “financial inclusion”, as in microfinance.
Research on racism has mostly focused on territorial states and its politics, claims a recent call for papers just published by Gerhard Wolf in the forum of H-Soz-Kult. However, the phenomenon itself is clearly not bound to territorial borders.
A two day workshop at the University of Sussex titled “Everyday Racism in Transnational Perspective” attempts to widen the scientific angle of vision on the radical construction of race. Suggested topics of workshop contributions include, inter alia, racism and the marketplace, pop culture, religion, family or education.
The workshop takes place from October 31 to November 1, 2013. Deadline for applications is April 30.
Scholars engaged in this topic may also be interested in an older post about the Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies’ call for papers on fascism as a transnational concern – although the two phenomena are distinct.
Yesterday was the first International Day of Happiness as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in July 2012. The idea to introduce such a day derived from a meeting titled “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. The meeting had been convened by the Government of Bhutan and is one of many initiatives questioning economic growth and the GDP as leading indicator for political success (e.g. summarized in a MPIfG working paper, in German). During the debates on alternatives, Bhutan gained a lot of prominence for its decade-old practice of focusing on citizens’ happiness instead.
The resolution which introduces the Day of Happiness also tells us that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly recognizes
“the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives”
the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples
The new economic paradigm which the world was supposed to reflect on yesterday is still one of economic growth, one might say – but in addition, there is an International Day of Happiness.
The pope is a transnational actor ex officio. He fills the highest position in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church which makes him: head of a state, head of an NGO-like organization, head of a huge religious organization, and spiritual leader of a transnational community.
However, the current discourses on the election of a new pope reveal that the affair has more layers than the universal doctrine of the church suggests. Discussions on ‘papapile’ cardinals included strong national allocations. Furthermore, focusing on internal challenges of the organization belittled the external relevance of the decision and the pope’s role as an advocate. With this blog, I want to shed light on those different dimensions of papacy and the Roman Catholic Church against the backdrop of the recent election of Franciscus I.
What the pope is and what he is not
Of course, the pope is the absolute head of a state. Since the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the Vatican is a sovereign state accepted in the international community. The pope is part of political struggles. However, he is no usual head of state. As a non-member permanent observer state since 1964, the Vatican representative has no right to vote at the United Nations (although all other rights of full membership were granted in 2004).
Analytically, the Roman Catholic Church is maybe best described as a unique hybrid on the world stage with state and non-governmental characteristics.
The Church today regards Vatican City as part of the infrastructure for carrying out its true mission. In the language of international relations, the Church understands itself as an NGO, and it additionally employs the benefits of sovereign status in the service of its advocacy interest. (Ferrari 2006: 40)
I have always found it difficult to understand how nationalists can identify with each other across borders. But of course the oxymoron of “transnational fascism” is not just empty rhetoric, but real. Just recently, for example, German media reported on the Greek party Chrysi Avgi’s contact with German right-wing groups like the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany – for articles in German click here or here.
The open access Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies has issued a call for papers on fascism as a transnational phenomenon. Both theoretical and empirical contributions are welcomed. The editor-in-chief Madelon de Keizer is a historian, but the call explicitly invites social and political scientists to contribute to the volume to be published in October. The deadline is June 1, 2013.
“Rose Monday” parade, Cologne 2013
Photo by courtesy of the author
Carnival, though celebrated in many places around the world, is a deeply local affair, a matter of local civic pride, including jokes about those who are not locals (in Cologne, such jokes are likely to be about the inhabitants of the nearby town of Düsseldorf). This year, however, Cologne, the capital of German carnival, themed its celebrations “Fastelovend em Blot, he un am Zuckerhot“ which in local dialect means „Carnival in our blood, here and at the Sugar Loaf Mountain“ – a reference to Rio de Janeiro, with whom Cologne was twinned in 2011. On the other side of the Atlantic, Unidos da Tijuca, one of the most successful samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, appeared as „Samba da Alemanha“ at the annual samba contest in the Sambodromo.
Samba School Parade at the Sambodromo in Rio di Janeiro in 2012
Photo: Fotos_Gartis, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Is carnival going cosmopolitan? Or has it never been as local as my Cologne experience made be believe? I think neither of the two is the case. From the 18th century onwards, civic localism was an essential part of modern carnival and still is today. What has changed, though, is the reach of the cosmopolitan outlook in which this localism is articulated.
Inspired also by the series on algorithm regulation on this blog, I am currently working together with Claudia Müller-Birn on the issue of algorithmic governance in the case of Wikipedia. In the course of this research project, I stumbled upon the case of flagged revisions/sighted versions, which very nicely illustrates the concept of algorithmic governance.
With Wikipedia Germany taking the lead in 2006, some Wikipedia language versions introduced sighted versions of articles as a measure to secure against vandalism and improve article credibility. The concept is described in the English language Wikipedia as
a system whereby users who are not logged in may be presented with a different version of an article than users who are. Articles are validated that they are presentable and free from vandalism. The approved versions are known as Sighted versions. All logged-in users will continue to see and edit the most recent version of a page. Users who are not logged in will initially see the most recent sighted version, if there is one. If no version is sighted, they see the most recent one, as happens now. Users looking at a sighted version can still choose to view the most recent version and edit it.
Since its introduction in the German Wikipedia, the concept has evolved in a complex set of rules determining how Wikipedia edits are sighted. The core idea is that registered Wikipedia editors automatically receive the status as a passive or active “reviewer” depending on their respective editing history. Edits of a user with the status of a passive reviewer are automatically considered to be sighted; active reviewers have additional rights such as actively marking versions as sighted or removing the respective status.