Polity

  • Deliberative Democracy Nouv.

    Deliberative Democracy

    Ian O''Flynn

    • Polity
    • 27 Septembre 2021

    Today, deliberative democracy is the most widely discussed theory of democracy. Its proponents argue that important decisions of law and policy should ideally turn not on the force of numbers but on the force of the better argument. However, it continues to strike some as little more than wishful thinking. In this new book, Ian O'Flynn examines how the concept has developed over recent decades, the family disagreements which have emerged, and the criticisms that have been levelled at it. Grappling with the familiar charge that ordinary people lack the motivation and capacity for meaningful deliberation, O'Flynn considers the example of deliberative polls and citizens' assemblies and critically assesses how such forums can fit within a broader democratic system. He then considers the implications of deliberative democracy for multicultural and multi-ethnic societies before turning to the prospects for the most ambitious deliberative project of all: global deliberative democracy. This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of democratic theory, as well as anyone who is curious about the prospects for more rational decision-making in an age of populist passion.

  • Making Sense of AI Nouv.

    Making Sense of AI

    Anthony Elliott

    • Polity
    • 23 Septembre 2021

    Industrial robots, self-driving cars, customer-service chatbots and Google's algorithmic predictions have brought the topic of artificial intelligence into public debate. Why is AI the source of such intense controversy and what are its economic, political, social and cultural consequences? Tracing the changing fortunes of artificial intelligence, Elliott develops a systematic account of how automated intelligent machines impact different spheres and aspects of public and private life. Among the issues discussed are the automation of workforces, surveillance capitalism, warfare and lethal autonomous weapons, the spread of racist robots and the automation of social inequalities. Elliott also considers the decisive role of AI in confronting global risks and social futures, including global pandemics such as COVID-19, and how smart algorithms are impacting the search for energy security and combating climate change. Making Sense of AI provides a judiciously comprehensive account of artificial intelligence for those with little or no previous knowledge of the topic. It will be an invaluable book both for students in the social sciences and humanities and for general readers.

  • Structural Anthropology Zero Nouv.

    This volume of Lévi-Strauss's writings from 1941 to 1947 bears witness to a period of his work which is often overlooked but which was the crucible for the structural anthropology that he would go on to develop in the years that followed. Like many European Jewish intellectuals, Lévi-Strauss had sought refuge in New York while the Nazis overran and occupied much of Europe.  He had already been introduced to Jakobson and structural linguistics but he had not yet laid out an agenda for structuralism, which he would do in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, these American years were the time when Lévi-Strauss would learn of some of the world's most devastating historical catastrophes - the genocide of the indigenous American peoples and of European Jews.  From the beginning of the 1950s, Lévi-Strauss's anthropology tacitly bears the heavy weight of the memory and possibility of the Shoah. To speak of 'structural anthropology zero' is therefore to refer to the source of a way of thinking which turned our conception of the human on its head. But this prequel to Structural Anthropology also underlines the sense of a tabula rasa which animated its author at the end of the war as well as the project - shared with others - of a civilizational rebirth on novel grounds. Published here in English for the first time, this volume of Lévi-Strauss's texts from the 1940s will be of great interest to students and scholars in anthropology, sociology and the social sciences generally.

  • Skin Nouv.

    Skin

    Sergio Del Molino

    • Polity
    • 23 Septembre 2021

    Skin is the border of our body and, as such, it is that through which we relate to others but also what separates us from them. Through skin, we speak: when we display it, when we tan it, when we tattoo it, or when we mute it by covering it with clothes. Skin exhibits social relationships, displays power and the effects of power, explains many things about who we are, how others perceive us and how we exist in the world. And when it gets sick, it turns us into monsters. In Skin, Sergio del Molino speaks of these monsters in history and literature, whose lives have been tormented by bad skin: Stalin secretly taking a bath in his dacha, Pablo Escobar getting up late and shutting himself in the shower, Cyndi Lauper performing a commercial for a medicine promising relief from skin disease, John Updike sunburned in the Caribbean, Nabokov writing to his wife from exile, `Everything would be fine, if it weren't for the damned skin.' As a psoriasis sufferer, Sergio del Molino includes himself in this gallery of monsters through whose stories he delves into the mysteries of skin. What is for some a badge of pride and for others a source of anguish and shame, skin speaks of us and for us when we don't speak with words.

  • Living as a Bird Nouv.

    Living as a Bird

    Vinciane Despret

    • Polity
    • 23 Septembre 2021

    In the first days of spring, birds undergo a spectacular metamorphosis. After a long winter of migration and peaceful coexistence, they suddenly begin to sing with all their might, varying each series of notes as if it were an audiophonic novel. They cannot bear the presence of other birds and begin to threaten and attack them if they cross a border, which might be invisible to human eyes but seems perfectly tangible to birds. Is this display of bird aggression just a pretence, a game that all birds play? Or do birds suddenly become territorial - and, if so, why? By attending carefully to the ways that birds construct their worlds and ornithologists have tried to understand them, Despret sheds fresh light on the activities of both and, at the same time, enables us to become more aware of the multiple worlds and modes of existence that characterize the planet we share in common with birds and other species.

  • Black is the Journey, Africana the Name Nouv.

    In this highly original book, Maboula Soumahoro explores the cultural and political vastness of the Black Atlantic, where Africa, Europe, and the Americas were tied together by the brutal realities of the slave trade and colonialism. Each of these spaces has its own way of reading the Black body and the Black experience, and its own modes of visibility, invisibility, silence, and amplification of Black life. By weaving together her personal history with that of France and its abiding myth of color-blindness, Maboula Soumahoro highlights the banality and persistence of structural racism in France today, and shows that freedom will be found in the journey and movement between the sites of the Atlantic triangle. Africana is the name of that freedom. How can we build and reflect on a collective diasporic identity through a personal journey? What are the limits and possibilities of this endeavor, when the personal journey is that of oft-erased bodies and stories, de-humanized lives, and when Black populations in Africa, the Americas, and Europe identify and misidentify with each other, their sensibilities shaped by the particular locales in which their lives unfold? This book makes an important intellectual contribution to contemporary public conversations and theoretical inquiry into race, racism, blackness, and identity today, as it probes and questions the academic methodologies that have functioned as structures of exclusion.

  • My Secret Brexit Diary Nouv.

    My Secret Brexit Diary

    Michel Barnier

    • Polity
    • 22 Septembre 2021

    In June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As the EU's chief negotiator, for four years Michel Barnier had a seat at the table as the two sides thrashed out what `Brexit' would really mean. The result would change Britain and Europe forever. During the 1600 days of complex and often acrimonious negotiations, Michel Barnier kept a secret diary. He recorded his private hopes and fears, and gave a blow-by-blow account as the negotiations oscillated between consensus and disagreement, transparency and lies. From Brussels to London, from Dublin to Nicosia, Michel Barnier's secret diary lifts the lid on what really happened behind the scenes of one of the most high-stakes negotiations in modern history.  The result is a unique testimony from the ultimate insider on the hidden world of Brexit and those who made it happen.

  • Love Nouv.

    Love

    Barbara H. Rosenwein

    • Polity
    • 21 Septembre 2021

    We make sense of love with fantasies, stories that shape feelings that are otherwise too overwhelming, incoherent, and wayward to be tamed. For love is a complex, bewildering, and ecstatic emotion covering a welter of different feelings and moral judgments. Drawing on poetry, fiction, letters, memoirs, and art, and with the aid of a rich array of illustrations, historian Barbara H. Rosenwein explores five of our most enduring fantasies of love: like-minded union, transcendent rapture, selfless giving, obsessive longing, and insatiable desire. Each has had a long and tangled history with lasting effects on how we in the West think about love today. Yet each leads to a different conclusion about what we should strive for in our relationships. If only we could peel back the layers of love and discover its "true" essence. But love doesn't work like that; it is constructed on the shards of experience, story, and feeling, shared over time, intertwined with other fantasies. By understanding the history of how we have loved, Rosenwein argues, we may better navigate our own tumultuous experiences and perhaps write our own scripts.

  • The Case for a Debt Jubilee Nouv.

    The Case for a Debt Jubilee

    Richard Vague

    • Polity
    • 21 Septembre 2021

    We were drowning in in record levels of debt before the COVID-19 crisis, and we are now deluged in it. U.S. private-sector loans have tripled relative to income since 1950 - and government debt is also at an all-time high. Soaring debt burdens individuals, stifles growth, compounds inequality, and brings falling living standards for millions. Richard Vague's new book argues that, contrary to mainstream assumptions, we cannot simply hope that the trend will correct itself. Mounting debt is a feature of our economic system, not a bug: debts perpetually grow and compound, polarizing and impoverishing economies if not overtly dealt with. He offers a detailed plan for how we can restructure a range of debts - such as student loans, auto loans, medical debt and more - and offer hard-pressed debtors a `jubilee' now, not in some utopian future. Vague's bold polemic contains a wealth of ideas that will free millions from modern-day debt peonage, reduce inequality and bring new vigor to the economy as it struggles to emerge from the pandemic.

  • The Fragile Skin of the World

    Jean-Luc Nancy

    • Polity
    • 16 Septembre 2021

    Certain philosophers of Antiquity compared the world to a large animal; but if the world were an animal, it would have a skin similar to the skin that envelops each living being and gives it unity. The world is neither an animal nor a machine but an interminable jumble whose destination is nothing other than the maelstrom in which the very idea of the world slips away. The world has no skin other than the turbulence that makes histories, customs, moments of grandeur and decadence. Because it is not a skin, this extension of space-time is much more fragile than the skins that are already always fragile, because everything here touches its extremities. The world is everything that passes between us - ourselves and everything that happens to us, everything that becomes of our contacts, our gazes, our movements; and through referrals from skin to skin, from the fleeting to the immemorial, you reach, without even knowing it, the entire actuality of the world: the act of its existence. This act is made up of works and disasters, splendours, horrors, and catastrophes. As long as it is ours, it is the act of an infinite emergence that is all the sense there is: a sense that incessantly goes from skin to skin and is itself never enveloped by anything. The texts in this volume are all oriented by the concern for what is currently happening to us - we, late humanoids - when we arrive at an extremity of our history, whether this extremity should turn out to be a stage, a rupture, or quite simply a last breath.

  • The Summer of Theory

    Philipp Felsch

    • Polity
    • 16 Septembre 2021

    `Theory' - a magical glow has emanated from this word since the sixties.  Theory was more than just a succession of ideas: it was an article of faith, a claim to truth, a lifestyle.  It spread among its adherents in cheap paperbacks and triggered heated debates in seminar rooms and cafés.  The Frankfurt School, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Adorno, Derrida, Foucault: these and others were the exotic schools and thinkers whose ideas were being devoured by young minds.  But where did the fascination for dangerous thoughts come from? In his magnificently written book, Philipp Felsch follows the hopes and dreams of a generation that entered the jungle of difficult texts. His setting is West Germany in the decades from the 1960s to the 1990s: in a world frozen in the Cold War, movement only came from big ideas. It was the time of apocalyptic master thinkers, upsetting reading experiences and glamorous incomprehensibility. As the German publisher Suhrkamp published Adorno's Minima Moralia and other High Theory works of the Frankfurt School, a small publisher in West Berlin, Merve Verlag, provided readers with a steady stream of the subversive new theory coming out of France. By following the adventures of the publishers who provided the books and the reading communities that consumed and debated them, Philipp Felsch tells the remarkable story of an intellectual revolt when the German Left fell in love with Theory.

  • The End of Love

    Eva Illouz

    • Polity
    • 15 Septembre 2021

    Western culture has endlessly represented the ways in which love miraculously erupts in people's lives, the mythical moment in which one knows someone is destined for us, the feverish waiting for a phone call or an email, the thrill that runs down our spine at the mere thought of him or her. Yet, a culture that has so much to say about love is virtually silent on the no less mysterious moments when we avoid falling in love, where we fall out of love, when the one who kept us awake at night now leaves us indifferent, or when we hurry away from those who excited us a few months or even a few hours before. In The End of Love, Eva Illouz documents the multifarious ways in which relationships end. She argues that if modern love was once marked by the freedom to enter sexual and emotional bonds according to one's will and choice, contemporary love has now become characterized by practices of non-choice, the freedom to withdraw from relationships. Illouz dubs this process by which relationships fade, evaporate, dissolve, and break down "unloving." While sociology has classically focused on the formation of social bonds, The End of Love makes a powerful case for studying why and how social bonds collapse and dissolve. Particularly striking is the role that capitalism plays in practices of non-choice and "unloving." The unmaking of social bonds, she argues, is connected to contemporary capitalism which is characterized by practices of non-commitment and non-choice, practices that enable the quick withdrawal from a transaction and the quick realignment of prices and the breaking of loyalties. Unloving and non-choice have in turn a profound impact on society and economics as they explain why people may be having fewer children, increasingly living alone, and having less sex. The End of Love presents a profound and original analysis of the effects of capitalism and consumer culture on personal relationships and of what the dissolution of personal relationships means for capitalism.

  • What is Latin American History? surveys the development of this vibrant and dynamic field of study in North America, Latin America, and Europe. After briefly sketching the growth of the topic up to the 1960s, Marshall Eakin focuses on the past half-century, from the dominance of social history to the cultural turn. He surveys innovative work on topics including slavery, indigenous peoples, race, the environment, science, medicine, and gender, and ends with a discussion of the emergence of the concepts of borderlands, the Atlantic world, and transnational history - that both enrich and challenge the very idea of Latin America. This concise volume offers the first broad overview of Latin American history and historiography for students, scholars, and the general reader, outlining the key social, cultural, and political forces that have shaped both Latin America and its study.

  • After Lockdown

    Bruno Latour

    • Polity
    • 9 Septembre 2021

    After the harrowing experience of the pandemic and lockdown, both states and individuals have been searching for ways to exit the crisis, many hoping to return as soon as possible to `the world as it was before the pandemic'.  But there is another way to learn the lessons of this ordeal: as inhabitants of the earth, we may not be able to exit lockdown so easily after all, since the global health crisis is embedded in another larger and more serious crisis - that brought about by the New Climate Regime.  Learning to live in lockdown might be an opportunity to be seized: a dress-rehearsal for the climate mutation, an opportunity to understand at last where we - inhabitants of the earth - live, what kind of place `earth' is and how we will be able to orient ourselves and exist in this world in the years to come.  We might finally be able to explore the land in which we live, together with all other living beings, begin to understand the true nature of the climate mutation we are living through and discover what kind of freedom is possible - a freedom differently situated and differently understood. In this sequel to his bestselling book Down to Earth, Bruno Latour provides a compass for this necessary re-orientation of our lives, outlining the metaphysics of confinement and deconfinement with which we will all be obliged to come to terms by the strange times in which we are living.

  • Geoengineering

    Gernot Wagner

    • Polity
    • 8 Septembre 2021

    Stabilizing the world's climates means cutting carbon dioxide pollution. There's no way around it. But what if that's not enough? What if it's too difficult to accomplish in the time allotted or, worse, what if it's so late in the game that even cutting carbon emissions to zero, tomorrow, wouldn't do? Enter solar geoengineering. The principle is simple: attempt to cool Earth by reflecting more sunlight back into space. The primary mechanism, shooting particles into the upper atmosphere, implies more pollution, not less. If that doesn't sound scary, it should. There are lots of risks, unknowns, and unknowables. In Geoengineering: The Gamble, climate economist Gernot Wagner provides a balanced take on the possible benefits and all-too-real risks, especially the so-called "moral hazard" that researching or even just discussing (solar) geoengineering would undermine the push to cut carbon emissions in the first place. Despite those risks, he argues, solar geoengineering may only be a matter of time. Not if, but when. As the founding executive director of Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program, Wagner explores scenarios of a geoengineered future, offering an inside-view of the research already under way and the actions the world must take to guide it in a productive direction.

  • Public Sociology

    Michael Burawoy

    • Polity
    • 8 Septembre 2021

    Michael Burawoy has helped to reshape the theory and practice of sociology across the Western world. Public Sociology is his most thoroughgoing attempt to explore what a truly committed, engaged sociology should look like in the twenty-first century. Burawoy looks back on the defining moments of his intellectual journey, exploring his pivotal early experiences as a researcher, such as his fieldwork in a Zambian copper mine and a Chicago factory. He recounts his time as a graduate and professor during the ideological ferment in sociology departments of the 1970s, and explores how his experiences intersected with a changing political and intellectual world up to the present. Recalling Max Weber, Burawoy argues that sociology is much more than just a discipline - it is a vocation, to be practiced everywhere and by everyone.

  • Critical Humanism

    Ken Plummer

    • Polity
    • 3 Septembre 2021

    We live in a mutilated world and our humanity seems irrevocably damaged. Many critics suggest we have reached the end of humanity. In this challenging book, Ken Plummer suggests that such claims may be premature; instead, what we need is a new transformative understanding of humanity. Critical Humanism critically reflects upon and reimagines humanism for the twenty-first century. What is now required is a fresh, wide-ranging imaginary of an open, worldly, plural and caring humanity. It needs to take a critical stance towards older, often divisive ideas of what it means to be human, while reconnecting to a wider understanding of the rich diversity of life in the pluriverse. In an age of post- and transhumanist turns, Plummer provides a personal, political and passionate call for thinkers, researchers and activists to not turn their backs on humanism. We need instead to create a vital new political imaginary of being human in a connected planet. We simply cannot afford to be anti-human or posthuman. Restoring our belief in humanity has never been more important for edging towards a better world for all.

  • Traditional economics is built on the assumption of self-interested individuals seeking to maximize personal gain, but that is far from the whole story. Sharing, caring, and a desire to uphold the collective good are also powerful motives. In a world wracked by inequality, social divisions, and ecological destruction, can we build an alternative economics based on cooperation? In this book Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor invite us to imagine a new sort of solidarity economics - an approach grounded in our instincts for connection and community - and in so doing, actually build a more robust and sustainable economy. They argue that our current economy is already deeply dependent on mutuality, but that the inequality and fragmentation created by the status quo undermine this mutuality and with it our economic well-being. They outline the theoretical framing, policy agenda, and social movements that we need to revive solidarity and apply it to whole societies. Solidarity Economics is an essential read for anyone who longs for a fairer economy that can generate prosperity and preserve the planet.

  • Cedric Robinson

    Joshua Myers

    • Polity
    • 3 Septembre 2021

    Cedric Robinson - political theorist, historian, and activist - was one of the greatest black radical thinkers of the twentieth century. In this powerful work, the first major book to tell his story, Joshua Myers shows how Robinson's work interrogated the foundations of western political thought, modern capitalism, and changing meanings of race. Tracing the course of Robinson's journey from his early days as an agitator in the 1960s to his publication of such seminal works as Black Marxism, Myers frames Robinson's mission as aiming to understand and practice opposition to "the terms of order." In so doing, Robinson excavated the Black Radical tradition as a form of resistance that imagined that life on wholly different terms was possible. In the era of Black Lives Matter, that resistance is as necessary as ever, and Robinson's contribution only gains in importance. This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to learn more about it.

  • China and Africa

    Daniel Large

    • Polity
    • 25 Août 2021

    China has gone from being a marginal to a leading power in Africa in just over two decades. Its striking ascendancy in the continent is commonly thought to have been primarily driven by economic interests, especially resources like oil. This book argues instead that politics defines the `new era' of China-Africa relations, and examines the importance of politics across a range of areas, from foreign policy to debt, development and the Xi Jinping incarnation of the China model. Going beyond superficial depictions of China's engagement as predatory or benign, this book explores how Africa is - and isn't - integral to China's global ambitions, from the Belt and Road Initiative to strategic competition with the United States. It demonstrates how African actors constrain, shape and use China's engagement for their own purposes. As China seeks to protect its more established interests and Chinese citizens, it also shows how security has become a particularly notable new area of engagement. This innovative book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to contemporary China-Africa relations. It will be essential reading for students and scholars working on global politics, development and international relations.

  • Launched in 2007, tumblr became a safe haven for LGBT youth, social justice movements, and a counseling station for mental health issues. For a decade, this micro-blogging platform had more users than either Twitter or Snapchat, but it remained an obscure subculture for nonusers. Katrin Tiidenberg, Natalie Ann Hendry, and Crystal Abidin offer the first systematic guide to tumblr and its crucial role in shaping internet culture. Drawing on a decade of qualitative data, they trace the prominent social media practices of creativity, curation, and community-making, and reveal tumblr's cultlike appeal and position in the social media ecosystem. The book demonstrates how diverse cultures can - in felt and imagined silos - coexist on a single platform and how destructive recent trends in platform governance are. The concept of "silosociality" is introduced to critically re-think social media, interrogate what kinds of sociality it affords, and what (unintended) consequences arise. This book is an essential resource for students and scholars of media and communication, as well as anyone interested in an influential but overlooked platform.

  • Gender and Social Movements

    Jo Reger

    • Polity
    • 23 Août 2021

    How does gender influence social movements? How do social movements deal with gender? In Gender and Social Movements, Jo Reger takes a comprehensive look at the ways in which people organize around gender issues and how gender shapes social movements. Here gender is more than an individual quality, it is a part of the very foundation of social movements, shaping how they recruit, mobilize and articulate their strategies, tactics and identities. Moving past the gender binary, Reger explores how movements can shift understandings of gender and how backlash and countermovements can often follow gendered movement successes. Adopting both an intersectional and global lens, the book introduces readers to the idea that gender as a form of societal power is integral in all efforts for social change. With a critical overview across different types of movements and gender activism, such as the women's liberation, #Metoo and transgender rights movements, this book offers a solid foundation for those seeking to understand how gender and social movements interact.

  • The digital revolution has not only transformed multiple aspects of social life - it also shakes sociological theory, transforming the most basic assumptions that have underlain it. In this timely book, Ori Schwarz explores the main challenges digitalization poses to different strands of sociological theory and offers paths to adapt them to new social realities. What would symbolic interactionism look like in a world where interaction no longer takes place within bounded situations and is constantly documented as durable digital objects? How should we understand new digitally mediated forms of human association that bind our actions and lives together but have little in common with old-time 'collectives'; and why are they not simply `social networks'? How does social capital transform when it is materialized in a digital form, and how does it remould power structures? What happens to our conceptualization of power when faced with the emergence of new forms of algorithmic power? And what happens when labour departs from work? By posing and answering such fascinating questions, and offering critical tools for both students and scholars of social theory and digital society to engage with them, this thought-provoking book draws the outline of future sociological theory for our digital society.

  • What is Metaphysics?

    John Heil

    • Polity
    • 20 Août 2021

    If we didn't possess certain beliefs about such things as time, appearance and reality, and how effect follows cause, we wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone read a book about metaphysics, which is the study of our experience and those ideas, or presuppositions, which allow us to make sense of it. Drawing on examples from art, science, and daily life, John Heil shows how metaphysics begins in questioning our everyday assumptions about how the world "works" and ends with speculation on the nature of the universe itself. In chapters that cover the major topics in the academic study of metaphysics, from free will and consciousness to time and objectivity, Heil explains how metaphysical questions underpin everything human beings do. This accessible book will show you how professional philosophers try to categorize and make sense of our world of perception and experience and explains why everyone should take metaphysics seriously.

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