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From New Labour to the Big Society
Author: Hugh Atkinson

There is a widespread view that local democracy in Britain is in deep trouble and that people face a crisis of civic engagement and political participation. This book counterweighs the many negative accounts that seek to dominate the political discourse with talks on political apathy and selfish individualism. It commences with an examination of theoretical debates as to the meaning of local democracy and related concepts. The book looks at the policy agenda around local democracy in the context of the developing nature of central/local relations since 1979. It considers the available evidence on level of political participation and civic engagement by looking at eight themes. These include the state of formal politics, forms of civic engagement, community identity and the emerging world of the internet/world wide web. The book also looks at nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years, including local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; and double devolution. It focuses on the so-called 'crisis of formal democracy' at the local level. The book ascertains the recent developments beyond the realm of elections, political parties and formal political institutions. It then concentrates on local services and policy attempts to widen public participation in the shaping and delivery of such services. Finally, the book discusses the concept of sustainability and regeneration strategies to build sustainable communities, both physical and social.

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Lucy Robinson

. Despite points of unity, like Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, overall we can trace a development along a broad continuum, with a consolidation of the themes that divide the Left from gay activism. This is not meant to suggest stagnation. But this is a partial explanation of the state of protest and politics today, when the traditional institutions of both reform and revolt appear to offer no attraction and personal politics can be misread as political apathy. 186 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain Keep on keepin’ on! The Trotskyite Left is an anachronism

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
Conflict, capital and culture
Author: George Legg

In this book, George Legg provides a new interpretation of the Northern Irish Troubles. From internment to urban planning, the hunger strikes to post-conflict tourism, Legg asserts that concepts of capitalism have been consistently deployed to alleviate and exacerbate violence in the North. Through a detailed analysis of the cultural texts, Legg traces the affective energies produced by capitalism’s persistent attempt to resolve Northern Ireland’s ethnic-national divisions: a process he calls the politics of boredom. Such an approach warrants a reconceptualisation of boredom as much as cultural production. In close readings of Derek Mahon’s poetry, the photography of Willie Doherty and the female experience of incarceration, Legg argues that cultural texts can delineate a more democratic – less philosophical – conception of ennui. Critics of the Northern Irish Peace Process have begun to apprehend some of these tensions. But an analysis of the post-conflict condition cannot account for capitalism’s protracted and enervating impact in Northern Ireland. Consequently, Legg returns to the origins of the Troubles and uses influential theories of capital accumulation to examine how a politicised sense of boredom persists throughout, and after, the years of conflict. Like Left critique, Legg’s attention to the politics of boredom interrogates the depleted sense of humanity capitalism can create. What Legg’s approach proposes is as unsettling as it is radically new. By attending to Northern Ireland’s long-standing experience of ennui, this book ultimately isolates boredom as a source of optimism as well as a means of oppression.

The case of Romania

The post-communist transition in Romania has been a period rife with high hopes and expectations as well as strong disappointments and disillusions. The engagement with these disappointments or disillusions has mainly fallen along the lines of critical editorial comments by dissidents and intellectuals or academic engagements that connect it to different forms of social and political apathy. What seems to be lacking however, is a more head-on engagement with disillusionment as a self-contained process that is not just a side-effect of political corruption or economic failures but rather an intrinsic part of any transition. This book provides the basis for a theory of disillusionment in instances of transition. It also elaborates on how such a theory could be applied to a specific case-study, in this instance, the Romanian transition from communism to capitalism. By defining disillusionment as the loss of particularly strong collective illusions, the book identifies what those illusions were in the context of the Romanian 1989 Revolution. It also seeks to understand the extent to which disillusionment is intrinsic to social change, and more importantly, determine whether it plays an essential role in shaping both the direction and the form of change. The book further inevitably places itself at the intersection of a number of different academic literatures: from regional and comparative studies, political science and "transitology" studies, to sociology, psychology and cultural studies.

Matt Qvortrup

. In chapter 3 I survey basic tendencies for which there is empirical data, including young people’s alleged political apathy. Chapter 4 considers various issues in protest politics, in particular terrorism, and in chapter 5 I look at how citizens might be engaged through means other than voting in elections (e.g. through e-democracy, citizens’ juries and, above all, designer politics). Discussion then turns, in chapter 6, to electoral politics and the various theories of why people vote and why they vote as they do; consideration is also given to class voting and

in The politics of participation
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Twelve policy implications, twenty-one questions and answers
Chris Duke, Michael Osborne, and Bruce Wilson

Q.6 How do regions in different traditions and political systems make policy, and partner with universities? Q.7 How should regions deal with central government instincts to direct and control? Can they avoid being drawn into national politics, political apathy and cynicism, and build on local resources and identity? Q.8 How do regions win trust and get what is needed from central government to allow regional engagement – legislation, funding arrangements? Q.9 How do regions create good ‘joined-up’ culture and arrangements? (a)  between the political and

in A new imperative
Open Access (free)
Inheriting the Task of Creative Democracy
John Narayan

control over democratic government and dispelling the political apathy such a state 130 John Dewey of affairs casts over the masses. Our problem, just like Dewey’s, is how to help reorganize the public towards the democratic way of life and the practice of creative democracy. This requires that we recognize that democracy abroad is only possible with democracy at home and that we re-establish what Dewey called the ‘fighting faith’ of democratic politics. These challenges mark the continuity between Dewey’s Great Society and our own present of neo

in John Dewey
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Hugh Atkinson

Introduction This is a book about local democracy, about community and civic engagement in Britain. It was conceived as a counterweight to the many negative accounts that seek to dominate our political discourse with their talk of political apathy and selfish individualism. Barack Obama made the point effectively in the American context long before his successful bid for the Presidency. In an interview given to the Chicago Reader newspaper on 8 December 1995 he set out his now wellrehearsed argument about the need for change in the way the USA does its politics

in Local democracy, civic engagement and community
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Anca Mihaela Pusca

1 Introduction The post-communist transition in Romania has been a period rife with high hopes and expectations as well as strong disappointments and disillusions. The engagement with these disappointments or disillusions has mainly fallen along the lines of critical editorial comments by dissidents and intellectuals or academic engagements that connect it to different forms of social and political apathy. What seems to be lacking however, is a more head-on engagement with disillusionment as a self-contained process that is not just a side-effect of political

in Revolution, democratic transition and disillusionment
Political apathy and the poetry of Derek Mahon
George Legg

2 ‘Middle-­class shits’: political apathy and the poetry of Derek Mahon ‘Wonders are many and none is more wonderful than man’ Who has tamed the terrier, trimmed the hedge And grasped the principle of the watering can. Clothes pegs litter the window ledge And the long ships lie in clover; washing lines Shake out white linen over the chalk thanes. Now we are safe from monsters, and the giants Who tore up sods twelve miles by six And hurled them out to sea to become islands Can worry us no more. The sticks And stones that once broke bones will not now harm A

in Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom