Sociology

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This chapter proposes a model of ecowelfare. It explains that ecowelfare adheres to the principles of attention, principle of sustainability and the alternative version of distributive justice. It outlines various theories needed to make sense of those principles but without closing down any room for manoeuvre on the part of those who may disagree with various aspects of the relevant arguments. This chapter suggests that social theory of ecowelfare consists of an analysis of the links between these three principles of distributive justice, attention and sustainability.

in After the new social democracy
Class polarisation and neo-liberalism in the Irish Republic

Celtic Tiger shows that one can use the rhetoric about 'social solidarity' while actually implementing policies which increase class polarisation. The growing difficulties with the US model cast a new light on the 'Boston or Berlin?' debate which emerged in the last phase of the Celtic Tiger. The dominance of neo-liberalism in Irish economics means that the US boom of the 1990s is accepted simply as given and as implicitly proving the benefits of deregulated markets. Information and communications technologies account for 40 per cent of total exports from the Irish Republic, having grown at an annual average rate of twenty-three per cent between 1993 and 2000. The period of social partnership has coincided with a wider change whereby the ratio of social security spending to gross domestic product (GDP) fell markedly in Ireland.

in The end of Irish history?
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Relational reflexivity in the ‘alternative’ food movement

This chapter examines some contemporary understandings of quality prevalent within alternative food markets and networks. In order to study the aesthetic dimension more closely, the chapter begins by considering the relationship between economic and aesthetic discourses in the food sector. The chapter argues that concerns around food safety are provoked by the emergence of a new food aesthetic based on 'relationalism' and 'embeddedness'. It also argues that the concern for embeddedness brings 'relational reflexivity' to the fore among consumers. The chapter examines the role of new social movements in heightening awareness of the economic, social and environmental relationships that surround food-stuffs. The Soil Association (SA) campaigns to increase the amount of organic food produced and consumed within the UK and acts to certify organic standards on farms and in food-processing enterprises.

in Qualities of food
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This chapter analyses the principles of sustainability and attention of ecowelfare by studying the new genetics. It argues for a multidimensional conception of human nature where the maintenance of diversity through social solutions (rather than technological fixes) should be the priority. It discusses the positions of Charles Murray and Francis Fukayama on eugenics. This concludes that we should only be allowed to improve human well-being through biotechnology if we are also prepared to improve it through the implementation of policies based upon distributive justice and attention.

in After the new social democracy
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A reminder from the present

Social and cultural shifts on the island of Ireland are held to have diluted the authority of nationalisms that were tied to unidimensional and archaic notions of Irishness and Britishness. The Europeanisation of political and financial power, the influx of foreign capital, political morphology in Northern Ireland and the growth in consumption have all been identified as sociopolitical forces that have advanced more heterogeneous senses of identity and belonging. This chapter aims to establish how the ideological divisions between Irishness and Britishness continue to be reproduced, despite the supposed evaporation of the discursive constructions. In pinpointing the divisions that remain and those that may reappear, the chapter argues that the capacity exists for sectarian consciousness to spread throughout the Irish body politic. In a broader sense, the Belfast Agreement (BA) is part of a programme of promoting a postnationalist interpretation of places of identity on the island of Ireland.

in The end of Irish history?
Discourses, contestation and alternative consumption

Anthropology and sociology have been keen to show that consumption is a social and moral field, and that consumer practices are part of an ongoing process of negotiation of social classifications and hierarchies. This chapter contends that the study of the arguments and discourses deployed to criticise or otherwise qualify consumption is important to the political morality of consumption. Moral discourses surrounding consumer practices are crucial to that process and should be studied as an important indicator of what it is to consume. Food consumption in particular has been associated with symbolically mediated notions of order. Alternative consumption may be taken to identify a bunch of heterogeneous practices and discourses, stretching across the developed world. Many forms of alternative consumption share some kind of interest in environmental values.

in Qualities of food
Cultural readings of race, imperialism and transnationalism

This book analyses black Atlantic studies, colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory, providing paradigms for understanding imperial literature, Englishness and black transnationalism. Its concerns range from the metropolitan centre of Conrad's Heart of Darkness to fatherhood in Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk; from the marketing of South African literature to cosmopolitanism in Achebe; and from utopian discourse in Parry to Jameson's theorisation of empire.

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A multidisciplinary perspective

This chapter examines how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development. When only the supply side of growth is looked at in the presence of market satiation, both product and process innovations are complementary preconditions for sustainable economic growth. Without the introduction of new products, an increasing share of resources would remain unemployed. Neoclassical theory finds thinking about the case of consumer goods novelty particularly difficult, because the adoption of only a subset of new commodities can only be reconciled with an assumption of given preferences. Thus a critical question is how preferences for new commodities come into being, how new goods are adopted. This chapter explores the thinking on this topic of a number of writers, from a range of disciplines, including neoclassical economists, psychologists, and socio-biologists. It concludes that biological and psychological perspectives, fitted into frameworks of evolutionary economics, have much to tell us about the formation of preferences, and economists should be open to such diverse approaches if they are to understand the relationship between innovation and demand.

in Innovation by demand
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This chapter discusses the differences between productivism and post-productivism in relation to social democracy. It shows that while post-productivism does not abandon the aims of increases in growth, productivity and well-being, it does recontextualise them in terms of what are called reproductive values. These values refer to the ecological and social conditions of a productive economy or conditions which that economy is increasingly unable to replenish. This chapter highlights the role of ecowelfare in guiding social democracy in the direction of a post-employment society.

in After the new social democracy
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This book explores the new applications of established theories or adapts theoretical approaches in order to illuminate behaviour in the field of food. It focuses on social processes at the downstream end of the food chain, processes of distribution and consumption. The book reviews the existing disciplinary approaches to understanding judgements about food taste. It suggests that the quality 'halal' is the result of a social and economic consensus between the different generations and cultures of migrant Muslims as distinct from the non-Muslim majority. Food quality is to be viewed in terms of emergent cognitive paradigms sustained within food product networks that encompass a wide range of social actors with a wide variety of intermediaries, professional and governmental. The creation of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) occurred at a juncture when perceptions of policy failure were acknowledged at United Kingdom and European Union governmental levels. The book presents a case study of retailer-led food governance in the UK to examine how different 'quality logics' actually collide in the competitive world of food consumption and production. It argues that concerns around food safety were provoked by the emergence of a new food aesthetic based on 'relationalism' and 'embeddedness'. The book also argues that the study of the arguments and discourses deployed to criticise or otherwise qualify consumption is important to the political morality of consumption.