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Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo

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... From theories of pollution/dirt I have been inspired by Douglas (1966) on 'matter out of place' and 'arguing back' from the taboo, supported by Buckley & Gottlieb (1988), on ways in which menstruation is culturally constructed through a range of beliefs about the dangers of menstrual blood. Such beliefs vary in their specific foci (Douglas, 1966;Buckley & Gottlieb, 1988), but not in the charged and visceral manner with which they are held, nor in their effect of successfully enacting patriarchal control. ...
... From theories of pollution/dirt I have been inspired by Douglas (1966) on 'matter out of place' and 'arguing back' from the taboo, supported by Buckley & Gottlieb (1988), on ways in which menstruation is culturally constructed through a range of beliefs about the dangers of menstrual blood. Such beliefs vary in their specific foci (Douglas, 1966;Buckley & Gottlieb, 1988), but not in the charged and visceral manner with which they are held, nor in their effect of successfully enacting patriarchal control. I explore if and how notions of menstrual blood as pollutant are evolving, arguing back from the taboo to ask "who do new methods and conceptualisations of menstrual organization serve?", and identifying ways in which the pollution concept perseverates in relation to contemporary neoliberal capitalism. ...
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This paper develops theory on stigma, capitals, and the female reproductive body, explored through analysis of empirical research on the uptake of menstrual cups, a reusable menstrual technology. Conventional menstrual products are single‐use disposables increasingly made of plastic and often disposed of by flushing, adding a significant load to marine pollution. Uptake of reusable products such as cloth pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups is increasing, but so far little is known about the effects of using such products on menstruators and on menstrual organization more broadly. My empirical research studied menstrual cup use in a small cohort of undergraduates in Melbourne, using a dual diary and interview technique. “Sustainability” as a key value was primary in participants' desire to try the cup, which most then found to be more convenient than other methods. These factors contributed to increased cultural capital surrounding menstruation, to the point where the cup and its use were described as “cool”. This new status facilitated articulation of menstrual experience with partners, peers, and families, rendering users greater agency and community in what has normatively been constructed as a solitary, silenced experience. Using the cup detached users from the menstrual disposability market economy, and therefore to some extent from its stigmatizing narrative and symbolic violence. Yet the cup had a significant paradoxical effect, in that users were able to “forget” they were menstruating during the day and in organizational settings, while encountering menstrual blood more intensely when they got home, differently enclosing the female reproductive body.
... A social and cultural anomaly is something that does not fit into a wider cultural system of shared values. Mary Douglas (1984Douglas ( [1966), discusses several strategies of controlling anomalies. First, a community can choose between cultural interpretations of cultural events and categories, and aberrant forms to reduce or eliminate the anomaly. ...
... A social and cultural anomaly is something that does not fit into a wider cultural system of shared values. Mary Douglas (1984Douglas ( [1966), discusses several strategies of controlling anomalies. First, a community can choose between cultural interpretations of cultural events and categories, and aberrant forms to reduce or eliminate the anomaly. ...
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Once widely spread in the Dinaric Mountains part of the Balkan Peninsula swearing to virginity was a social and cultural custom recorded among all groups inhabiting the area. In the absence of a capable adult man in the household, a daughter would take over his social role by 'becoming' a man. The standard explanation is that the function of this practice is enabling the continuation of the household's economic, social, and religious activities. We argue that this explanation fails. A better explanation is that, because the lack of a particular kind of a man (competent and honourable) was perceived as a shame in these societies, the primary reason for swearing to virginity was saving family honour. Včasih široko razširjena prisega nedolžnosti v Dinarskem gorovju na Balkanskem polotoku je bila družbeni in kulturni ritual, dokumentiran med vsemi skupinami na tem območju. Po tem ritualu naj bi hči, če v družinskem gospodarstvu ni bilo sposobnega odraslega moškega, prevzela njegovo družbeno vlogo, tako da je 'postala' moški. Po standardni razlagi je funkcija te prakse omogočiti nadaljevanje gospodarskih, socialnih in verskih dejavnosti gospodinjstva. Avtorja menita, da ta razlaga ni ustrezna. Po njunih ugotovitvah pa je glavni razlog za prisego nedolžnosti reševanje družinske časti, saj je odsotnost posebne vrste moškega (sposobnega in častnega) v teh skupnostih sprejeta kot sramota.
... Namely, I hold a relatively privileged relationship to the adult industry in that I can generally choose whether or not I am 'out'. As mentioned above, I am not generally a well-known or recognizable adult performer so, unlike many performers, I have the luxury of determining when and how I am 'out', thereby avoiding potentially devastating consequences (Lee, 2015 The ethical anxiety researchers feel about their potential for fluidly adopting insider/outsider roles certainly stems from a general distrust and disease with shape-shifters; tropes like the duplicitous bisexual, the passing biracial, the conniving transsexual, all underscore a deep ambivalence around people who cannot be easily categorized (Douglas, 1966). We know, of course, that the slippage is not a trait of certain law-defying persons, but a result of the inadequacy of strict categories to hold human experience. ...
... The body is a key metaphor for the nation, its physical boundary a common stand-in for political borders. Fear of illness broadly, and contagion specifically, is militarized, used symbolically but also very literally to guard national or cultural definitions of 'health', 'strength', and 'purity' (Douglas, 1966;Ferri, 2018;Florêncio, 2018;Martin, 1994;Patton, 1996Patton, , 1999Sontag, 1991). ...
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This dissertation examines occupational health protocols used to prevent the transmission of STIs and HIV in porn production, both those imposed by governmental health agencies and those developed by porn performers themselves. There is much disagreement over what protocols are best for the industry. Using critical interpretive medical anthropology from a sex worker rights perspective, this research asks what is at stake in these disputes over appropriate porn health practice. Qualitative data was collected through 40 interviews with 36 porn workers, in-person and digital fieldwork across several sites, textual analysis of relevant media and documents, and auto-ethnography as a porn performer. I trace how government and lobby groups have routinely discounted porn performers’ testimony about what would make their working conditions safe and comfortable, and the many ways that the porn industry has responded. In doing so, I make three primary arguments: First, porn workers have been ignored in conversations around the management of their occupational health. This is an example of epistemic injustice—the state of being wronged in one’s capacity to know and be known. Second, this marginalization puts pressure on the porn industry to focus on securing legitimacy among mainstream healthcare critics—what I call the Responsibility Defense. When pushed to focus on respectability, the occupational health solutions produced by the porn industry reinforce rather than challenge status quo sexual health practice, which can lead to exclusionary, discriminatory, and ableist occupational health protocols, like the exclusion of HIV+ performers. On the other hand, when porn performers manage health and safety on their own terms, they offer compelling alternatives that trouble and expand key concepts—like autonomy, community, and consent—that form the heart of public and occupational health praxis. Third, this demonstrates how important it is for public health and health policy makers to centre epistemically marginalized subjects—not just to ensure that policies meet the needs of those they are meant to support, but also to ensure that we benefit from the rich and unique contributions of all social members.
... Many recent studies within this subfield are concerned with foods that promise some form of societal and planetary salvation, such as genetically-modified foods (Roe, 2006b), or the latest generations of alternative proteins including edible insects, cellcultured meat and plant-based products (House, 2018;Sexton, 2018;Stephens, 2021). This research builds directly on research of historic food trends and the ways animals have been made edible in diverse times and places (Douglas, 1966;Vialles, 1994). It reveals how edibility is contingent, changeable and 'co-produced by a diverse range of actors' (House, 2018, 83). ...
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Veganism is the subject of an increasingly diverse body of social scientific research, yet it remains relatively understudied in geography. Meanwhile, contemporary cultural commentaries note how veganism has gone mainstream, with critics warning of veganism’s corporate nature – expressed in the rise of what we term ‘Big Veganism’. We argue that food geographers are well placed to examine these trends. We first review vegan studies work beyond geography that examines and critiques the mainstreaming of veganism. We focus on literature that explores multiple contested modes of veganism, veganism as praxis in place and the rise of corporate veganism as useful foundations for geographers to build on, particularly in light of currently unfolding developments in vegan cultures and practice. Taking this work forward, we identify four conceptual traditions from research in food geographies – following foodways, alternative food networks and the cultural and material politics of eating – to develop a ‘vegan food geographies’ programme that aims to advance critical geographic work on veganism and the emerging implications of its contemporary mainstreaming.
... The tradition of baptism to cleanse inner impurity relates to this universal aspect of water as a purifying agent in nature. However, water itself, in the very process of cleansing, becomes polluted (see Douglas 1966;Ricoeur 1967). In this sense, there is the belief that water, especially in a well, becomes polluted through contact with those considered ritually unclean. ...
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As an Indian artist working in the field of cross-cultural visual theology, I have taken the open well as a common feature of the landscape where I live as a motif that I can connect with the biblical story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. This leads to a discussion around the symbolic significance of the water of life. The landscape provides natural elements that are both particular and local but also universal in their cultural significance. The meeting between the thirsty traveler, who is Christ the teacher, and a socially marginalized woman who comes to draw water in the midday heat provides the occasion for a dialogue in the context of asking for water. There is a similar story in the Buddhist tradition where Ananda, the disciple of Buddha, meets with an ‘outcaste’ woman at a well. Water, which is always found at a lowly place, becomes a symbol for the socially depressed. What is below must be lifted if the living water is to renew and transform the searcher. The encounter at the well can become the basis for a dialogue between religions concerning the need for social inclusion.
... Changes in ecosystems and environments can significantly impact cultural identity, social stability, and associated forms of relaxation, such as aesthetic enjoyment, recreation, artistic and spiritual well-being, and intellectual development. As evident in numerous world regions, the rapid loss of culturally significant ecosystems and landscapes leads to social unrest and marginalization (Adger, 2013;Douglas, 2003). ...
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Despite the minority of blueprints for cultural work on climate change, it does not provide an instant answer for public apathy or failed policies, and the role of culture in modern climate change adaptation remains unexplored. Owing to the recent successive climatic changes, the role of culture has increased in deepening our understanding and awareness of how to confront and address the challenges facing us. Institutional cultures are essential in providing practical and appropriate solutions to tackle global climate change by influencing the formation of goals, maximizing success factors, and scientifically evaluating them. This has prompted climate experts to recognize the importance of culture in simplifying, understanding, and addressing the effects of climate change through adaptation or mitigation policies with the development of planning strategies, despite the lack of clear mechanisms for their application, especially in radioactive pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We relied on a survey based on previous studies to examine the role of the cultural theory of risk in reducing the effects of environmental risks, climate change, and the extent of university awareness. The survey was distributed it to a random sample of employees and students of Cairo University and other universities (211 votes) via internet. Adapting climate change requires a holistic approach and will help identify local and regional priorities, the development of new relationships for adaptation research and planning, barriers to climate change adaptation, and the transition from conflict to cooperation among diverse perspectives.
... Everything has to beto certain degreesresistant to the accumulation of dirt and dust, and if they are not, they need to be easily cleaned and maintained [18], [19]. There also has been a newfound need for some sort of a transitional space where people can free themselves of the outside dirt, which is defined as a matter out of place, before entering a clean interior space where dirt is not supposed to exist in [20], [21]. ...
Conference Paper
A memorial serves as a physical tool through which a community shows their stance on a notable incident, such as respect or gratitude towards a fortunate event, or even to move on from a traumatic event. However, it is up for debate whether it is appropriate to dedicate a certain amount of resources and effort to memorialize the latter, especially the ones that have caused many losses in essential aspects of everyday life. This debate has gained an even higher relevance in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic that we are currently facing during the time this paper was written. This paper provides a series of analyses on several examples of post-pandemic memorials, the historical and scientific contexts, as well as the varying attitudes of communities surrounding them. These analyses will refer to prior studies on the very nature of memorials and monuments, the construction of memory and history, as well as the way humans naturally respond to grief and loss based on Freud's 1917 essay Mourning and Melancholia. The emphasis will be on how such knowledge holds its relevance in the current time of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically given the many shifts in lifestyles and the way communities occupy public and domestic spaces, which ultimately triggered a shift in architectural design approaches and where memorials stand in this transformed architectural field.
... Second, another fruitful area for further research would be to investigate whether our theory and empirical findings hold when accounting for highly normative categorical boundaries (Arjaliès & Durand, 2019, Douglas, 1966. Combining categories that lack congruence on moral and normative grounds may trigger sanctions (Ody-Brasier & Vermeulen, 2014, Phillips, Turco, & Zuckerman, 2013, but perhaps only from certain audiences' segments. ...
... The relationship between 'politics' and 'religion' is often perceived to be a fraught one, in light of the modern classification that imagines two incommensurate realms-the moral absolutes of 'religion' and its call to a higher power, and the art of compromise seen as being central to 'politics' in the 'secular' world. Intersecting these forbidden boundaries allows entry into a realm of 'in-between', a state of 'impurity' to draw upon the words of Mary Douglas (1966). This paper investigates the Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization of Soka Gakkai (SG), whose members have supported a political party called the Kōmeitō, or the Clean Government Party, in Japan since 1964. ...
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This paper investigates the Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai (SG), whose members have supported the political party known as Kōmeitō, or Clean Government Party, in Japan for over half a century. SG members have often been criticized as ‘impure’ political actors, undergoing frequent public questioning of their motivations for engaging in electoral politics in light of their ‘religious’ status. The paper shows how the SG members’ support for Kōmeitō at a qualitative level indeed transcends the typical demarcations of the ‘secular-religious’ binary system. However, they also simultaneously challenge the term ‘religion’ that has functioned as an ideology in the creation of statecraft and in their competition for legitimacy. The current paper is based on long-term fieldwork, extensive interviews, and doctrinal analyses that highlight how socially productive this discourse on religion has been. It also shows how a counter-episteme, rooted in Nichiren’s theory of the Rissho Ankoku Ron and the idea of kōsen-rufu, sought to bring a ‘Buddha’ consciousness to bear on individual and collective action as a model for alternative ‘politics’. Contrary to many claims, this did not entail contesting the modern institutional separation of ‘church’ and ‘state’, but is rather an attempt to find legitimacy for participating in ‘Japan-making’ in ways that cannot easily be understood or confined to explanations framed within the ‘religious-secular’ binary system.
... The pathologization of this "uprootedness", according to Malkki, can, among other things, illuminate the sociocultural bound aries around medical and moral precept in relation to the new "homes and homelands" (Malkki 1992:2). The anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966) proposed that going through a migratory process can construct refugees and migrants as "matter out of place", seek ing rootedness and belonging (Wernesjö 2014:10). Children of this category can be perceived as a social group whose child hood is out of norm, being outside the realms of the notion of a "normal child hood" in Western society (e.g. ...
... In Purity and Danger , anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966) explains that cultural context determines what is permitted and what is prohibited, following the binary of the sacred/profane or, in secular terms, clean/unclean. Accordingly, contagion and dirt are not inherently dangerous but it is because they are "out of place" that they signal aberration and connote uncleanliness. ...
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I compare insect garums, the Impossible Burger, sourdough baked with vaginal yeasts, and beard beer—and how microbes get enrolled in human machinations like taste innovation and gender discrimination.
... Caste is a system of stratification that originated thousands of years ago and continues to shape social, economic, and political relations in India despite its official prohibition as a basis for discrimination (Ambedkar 2018;Teltumbde 2010). The central idea of caste is a hierarchy based on purity and pollution that works against the principles of equality and liberty (Douglas 1966;Dumont 1970). The caste system has shown the ability to classify or stratify populations and achieve this by making itself natural and taken for granted or through symbolic violence (Vikas, Varman and Belk 2015). ...
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Researching Poverty and Austerity: Theoretical Approaches, Methodologies and Policy Applications, Routledge. Edited by Caroline Moraes, Morven McEachern and Deirdre O’Loughlin
... In this article, by focusing on the everyday practices related to food waste in the retail sector, we aim to contribute to the growing body of research exploring the transition towards the CE as a matter of everyday actions (Hobson, 2016;Lehtokunnas et al., 2020;Mylan et al., 2016;Schulz et al., 2019). Informed and inspired by social scientific waste studies (e. g. Douglas 1966;Thompson 1979;O'Brien 1999;Gregson et al. 2007;Lucas 2002), we pay special attention to ridding as a gradual process (Lucas 2002;Evans 2012) in which the products are framed (Goffman 1974;Callon 1998) in and move between four different categories: food, excess, wastage, and waste. We examine what kind of modes of valuation (Çalışkan and Callon 2009) these different framings entail, and how the modes sometimes compete or clash with each other. ...
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The reduction of consumer and retail food waste is crucial for the transition towards a circular economy to take place. Based on an ethnography conducted in a supermarket in Finland, the article examines the hands-on practices of producing and preventing food waste in the retail sector, with a focus on the practices of framing and valuing products. We pay special attention to the process of ridding, which our analysis shows to be integral to selling food products and thus creating value. The findings shed light on how different modes of valuation, both monetary and non-monetary, related to the food products sometimes clash with each other in the everyday operations of the retail business, creating challenges for circular practices. Moreover, the analysis also brings to light how the supermarket practices do not only produce food or waste, but the categories of surplus food are much more varied and subtle. We claim that understanding the multiplicity of these categories, their enactment and mutual relations, and the different modes of valuation related to them is crucial for understanding how and why food waste is generated in the retail sector. Our analysis shows that rather than being only a managerial problem in the context of the circular economy, food waste is always enacted and unmade situationally, through constant hands-on work that also entails leakage and spillover.
... All four works emphasized the need to separate moral judgment from scientific and scholarly analysis and were careful to do so. Allowing moral judgment to guide or dominate conclusions as to fact, especially concerning sexual behavior, can lead to strong bias, as Douglas (1966) documented anthropologically and Gray et al. (2014) showed experimentally. The CSA field has been particularly prone to the problem of mixing morals with conclusions as to fact, with one result being that it has often assumed without adequate empirical basis that minor-older sex is an aggravated ordeal (Angelides, 2019;Clancy, 2009;Jenkins, 1998). ...
Article
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Felson et al. (2019) used a large-scale nationally representative Finnish sample of sixth and ninth graders to estimate the population prevalence of negative subjective reactions to sexual experiences between minors under age 18 and persons at least 5 years older and between minors and peer-aged partners for comparison. They then accounted for these reactions in multivariate analysis based on contextual factors. The present study argued that focusing exclusively on negative reactions short-changed a fuller scientific understanding. It analyzed the full range of reactions in the same sample, focusing on positive reactions. For reactions in retrospect, boys frequently reacted positively to minor-older sex (68%, n = 280 cases), on par with positive reactions to boy-peer sex (67%, n = 1510). Girls reacted positively to minor-older sex less often (36%, n = 1047) and to girl-peer sex half the time (48%, n = 1931). In both minor-older and minor-peer sex, rates of positive reactions were higher for boys vs. girls, adolescents vs. children, when partners were friends vs. strangers or relatives, with intercourse vs. lesser forms of sexual intimacy, with more frequent sex, and when not coerced. Boys reacted positively more often with female than male partners. In minor-older sex, partner age difference mattered for girls but not boys, and the minor’s initiating the sex (14% for girls, 46% for boys) produced equally high rates of positive reactions. Most of these factors remained significant in multivariate analysis. The frequency of positive reactions, their responsiveness to context, the similarity in reaction patterns with minor-peer sex, and the generalizability of the sample were argued to contradict the trauma view often applied to minor-older sex, holding it to be intrinsically aversive irrespective of context.
... Many resource management issues, more often than not are undertaken and interpreted within a specific political context. But "when science is used to arbitrate in these conditions", by intention or not, "like other high priests who mix politics with ritual", it loses its independence and disqualifies itself (Douglas 2003). The question is 'why? ...
... Mary Douglas' analysis of Hebrew dietary laws (Douglas, 1975(Douglas, , 1966 explained the taboo of pork in the Jewish food culture in cultural terms, referring to texts from the Bible. In her study of the biblical dietary prohibitions, she impugns the evolutionary model in which irrational magic (including ritual) belongs to the primitive stages of humanity, in contrast to the sacramental theology of modern Western religion, which belongs to a more advanced stage of reason and morality. ...
Thesis
Trotz seiner hohen Stellung auf der politischen Tagesordnung wurde das massive Wegwerfen von Essen, das insbesondere in den reichen Ländern dokumentiert ist, in Studien über städtischen Metabolismus bisher wenig beachtet. Ziel dieser interdisziplinären Dissertation ist es, eine Methode zur Mengenbestimmung des städtischen Lebensmittelmetabolismus zu entwickeln und verschiedene Faktoren zu untersuchen, die das Wegwerfen von Essen beeinflussen. In der Dissertation wird zuerst der städtische Lebensmittelmetabolismus beschrieben und mengenmäßig bestimmt. Dieser quantitative Teil stützt sich auf eine Fallstudie über die französische Hauptstadt Paris und die umliegenden Gebiete innerhalb der Île-de-France Region im Jahr 2014. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, wie groß der Strom der Lebensmittelabfälle ist. 19% und 22% der Menge an Lebensmitteln, ohne Getränke, zur Versorgung der essenden Bevölkerung in Paris Petite Couronne und Île-de-France sind Lebensmittelabfälle. . Ein Teil dieser Abfälle, nämlich der aus weggeworfenem Essen, könnte vermieden werden, wenn Essen anders gehandhabt würde. Das Verständnis des städtischen Metabolismus wird bereichert, wenn er eingebettet in kulturelle Praktiken und soziale Institutionen betrachtet wird. Der Literaturüberblick zeigt, dass das Wegwerfen von Essen zu Hause und außer Haus nicht alleine eine Folge individueller Handlungen ist, sondern von Praktiken unter dem Einfluss gesellschaftlicher Prozesse. Im Gegensatz dazu berücksichtigt Politik weder die systemischen Züge des städtischen Lebensmittelmetabolismus, noch die Verknüpfung zwischen Essen und Abfall und auch nicht die zahlreichen Faktoren, die das Wegwerfen von Essen bedingen oder fördern. Forschungsbedarf besteht darin zu untersuchen, wie Gesellschaften der Einladung weniger Essen wegzuwerfen gegenüberstehen, wenn der Konsumkontext von Überversorgung und vermeintlichem Überfluss geprägt ist und das Wegwerfen von Essen weitestgehend unsichtbar bleibt.
... Career ladders in hierarchical settings support mechanisms by which power to dominate on subordinates positions and power to influence within one's personal network reinforce each other. This point is rooted in the multidimensional models of social stratification discussed at length by Randall Collins (1988), drawing on analysis carried out as part of anthropological studies of group cultures such as those by Mary Douglas (1966). These multidimensional models are built on the assumption that social stratification cannot be reduced simply to the vertical dimension of power. ...
... Skillet mellom mennesker og åndeverden, levende og døde, kvinner og menn, yngre og eldre uttrykkes gjennom kroppens deler og helhet. Mary Douglas (1966Douglas ( , 1970 har analysert hvordan kroppen er en saerlig virksom metafor, og uttrykker et samfunns kosmologi og sosiale struktur. Inndeling i hode og korpus, høyre og venstre, det indre og ytre, fingrer i forhold til hånden uttrykker enkle dikotomier, grenser, så vel som komplekse relasjoner og strukturer. ...
... To highlight the moral connotation implied by "dirty", many scholars have drawn on M.Douglas's (1984) elaborations on "purity" and "pollution". Inspired by E. Durkheim's distinction between the sacred and the profane, Douglas contends that societies equate "cleanliness" with goodness and "dirtiness" with badness so that those who perform seemingly "dirty" tasks are seen as transgressors of the boundaries which mark out the moral terrain of their group.Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. ...
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This article explores the tensions between ideals about sociology (and what it ought to be) transmitted during university socialization and the everyday working activities among Argentinean sociologists. It focuses on an extreme case: that of the graduates who, lacking the opportunity or the desire to join the professoriate, became market researchers. The case is extreme because while university training provided these individuals with a set of methodological and analytical skills that proved to be useful (and profitable) when studying consumers and markets, it also encouraged a critical, world-rejecting, view of the discipline which was at odds with their professional activities. Not surprisingly, they encountered a distressing moral puzzle: were they betraying sociology’s progressive values, values to which they were seriously committed? Building on E. Hughes’ concept of “dirty work”, this paper examines how these individuals navigated an occupation that was, at least initially, seen as morally objectionable, and the ways by which they came to imbue it with new and edifying “sociological” value. This article is based on interviews with sociologists working in market research and a socio-historical account of the School of Sociology at the University of Buenos Aires, the nation’s most important program, where all our interviewees were trained. This study has implications for understanding situations in which actual professional practices are in sharp contrast with the ideals presented during university socialization, and the identity repair processes that university-trained workers undertake when dealing with deviant careers.
... Sandra Bem also agreed with Butler's characterization of the relationship between homosexuality and heterosexuality. In one of the last articles that she published , she drew on the work of Mary Douglas, an anthropologist who wrote about the function of religious prohibition that categorized certain foods or practices as taboo or polluted (Douglas, 1966). Douglas argued that by defining certain practices as "dirt" or polluted, the purity of accepted practice is clarified and reinforced. ...
... It is typically expected that conditions of increasing density or intensity of competition motivate the instrumental pursuit of differentiation through the use of cultural dichotomies that split the world into those who are like oneself and everyone else (Abbott, 2001;Lieberson, 2000). A basic anthropological premise is that binary oppositions, such as good-bad, moral-immoral or pure-impure structure our world and self-perception (Douglas, 1984;Lévi-Strauss, 2013). Scholars demonstrate the foundational role of such cultural dichotomies in creating patterns of differentiation in social action, fracturing social networks (Sgourev & Operti, 2019) or scientific fields (Bourdieu, 1988;Abbott, 2001). ...
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We develop a process-based framework, articulating the escalation of difference between “private” self and “public” display as an alternative trajectory in the pursuit of authenticity to alignment and compromise. A parsimonious model presents an endogenous dynamic of binary choice that generates momentum toward polarization. The model is illustrated in the context of “black” metal – a branch of heavy metal music that appeared in Norway in the early 1990s, notorious for its involvement in criminal activities. Using fanzine data, we construct a narrative of how a process of escalation led to innovation and transgression through self-selection and exclusion. The analysis addresses two related theoretical problems – what motivates actors to challenge normative scripts and “burn the bridges” to social acceptance, and why such challenges may prove more effective in achieving recognition than compromise. Examples from politics, culture and sports reinforce the importance of these problems.
... I have come across this same idea-that women are more protected by menstruation staying in the shadows than by talking about it-many times since, most recently when doing research on menstruation in the workplace (Owen, 2018). Menstruation has been so thoroughly stigmatised (e.g. de Beauvoir, 1953;Douglas, 1966;Johnston-Robledo and Chrisler, 2013) through a variety of strategies cross-culturally (Buckley and Gottlieb, 1988) to the extent that ignorance is widespread (Chrisler, 2013) and many cannot conceive of a culture safe enough to move past normative silencing and marginalisation (Young, 2005;Pascoe, 2007;Vostral, 2008). Such intransigent stigmatisation has affected a wide swathe of experience that includes menstruation being under-researched across disciplines and affecting the career paths of menstrual researchers . ...
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Menstruation has been historically stigmatised through a variety of strategies cross-culturally, including silencing and marginalisation. Such stigmatisation has affected the inclusion of menstruation as a topic of research across disciplines, reproducing stigma through a lack of research and new knowledge. I set out to discover more about the perceived nature and impact of such stigmatisation on the professional experience of menstrual researchers. The research cohort was a group of nine scholars from humanities and social science disciplines, living and working in the UK, USA and Russia, who came together in 2020 for a two year project to research menstrual history, activism, politics, education and culture in order to better understand the Scottish context of legislation to 'end period poverty'. I was also a member of this group and this paper is structured through an autoethnographic enquiry. My qualitative research was interview-based using online video meetings. My data shows that the perceived impact of menstrual stigma on academic research has altered, with older researchers experiencing more barriers in the early stages of their careers than younger ones do now. However, menstrual researchers still experience challenges they consider to be stigma-related in publishing menstrual research, in obtaining permanent positions centred on their specialisation, and in attracting long-term and large-scale funding. This research shows how entrenched stigma can lead to a feedback loop of victimisation that is difficult to escape from, and suggests that academics working on stigmatised topics may need specific types of institutional support in order to progress, publish and flourish.
... Los símbolos proporcionan las categorías estructuradas de lo puro/impuro en las cuales se disponen a los miembros internos y externos de una sociedad (Alexander, 2019). Los actores buscan proteger los referentes de pureza de cualquier contacto con objetos contaminados o profanos (Douglas, 1979). En este orden de ideas, la contaminación es una amenaza que debe evitarse o mantenerse bajo control a través de rituales civiles o políticos (Alexander, 2019). ...
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En este artículo se examina la competencia por el sentido de la reunión en 2016 del candidato Donald Trump y el presidente Enrique Peña Nieto en tanto performance. Se realizó un análisis textual y un proceso iterativo de codificación de las interpretaciones del performance en 60 columnas de la prensa mexicana. Un discurso sugirió que la visita de Trump contaminó la investidura presidencial y otro que solo contaminó la imagen de Peña Nieto. Se observó el impacto de esta reunión en las columnas mexicanas; futuras investigaciones tendrían que incluir la prensa estadounidense. Se interpreta la manera en que la figura presidencial se legitima o no en tanto representación de la nación, autoridad política y civil. El evento político activó una disputa sobre los efectos del performance en los tres cuerpos de la investidura presidencial encarnada en Peña Nieto.
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This article contributes to anthropological debates surrounding borderlands and biosecurity by tracing the multiple pursuits of protection that emerge between the state and minorities during infectious disease outbreaks. Drawing on an ethnographic study of child health in Jerusalem following epidemics of measles and COVID-19, the article demonstrates how responses to public health interventions are less about compliance or indiscipline than a competing pursuit of immunity to preserve religious lifeworlds. The voices of Orthodox Jews are situated alongside printed broadsides that circulated anonymous truth-claims in Jerusalem neighborhoods. These broadsides cast state intervention against historical narratives of deception and ethical failures. Borderland tensions, like a virus, mutate and influence responses to authority and biosecurity, and they reconfigure vernacular entanglements of religion, state, and health. The article encourages anthropologists to consider responses to public health interventions and non-vaccination beyond a COVID-19 silo, as part of situated relations between states and minority populations.
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This chapter is a much-needed examination of the nineteenth-century transition from the slave trade to legitimate commerce and its impact on coastal Ghanaian foodways. The coastal Fante, the Gã, and the Ewe experienced changes to their economic, political, and social conditions which resulted in people from dissimilar regions coming into greater contact with each other in urban centres and in mission schools. Despite the adoption and adaptation of imported foods, local food retained its importance as a marker of traditional social boundaries and of ethnic difference. Traditional structures and domestic economies contribute to the success, survival, and expansion of local food consumption even as the commercial export trade in palm oil expands.
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Over the course of the last 18 years, shamans in Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region have started to register “local religious organizations”. This development has transformed shamanism itself whilst also forcing the Ministry of Justice to articulate whether shamanism could be considered a religion. The article describes this process as an interactive loop: the classifiable (shamans) responds to the process of classification (state registration) and then changes that classification. The study hinges on two findings. First, the differences in the structure of shamanic organizations lead them to create fundamentally different ways of describing the world (classification systems). Secondly, some of these classifications align more closely with the language of the state. The author builds on the “grid and group” model by Mary Douglas, which is subsequently augmented with conceptual insights from Bernstein and Collins. The model makes it possible to highlight three types of organizations that respond differently to the language of state classification. The study is based on empirical data (40 interviews and participant observation) collected by the author during an expedition to Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region between December 2019 and January 2020.
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The scholarship on African foodways is reviewed in this chapter, noting its emphases on scarcity in favour of the study of skill and technique. Focusing on the cooking and eating practices of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) from the beginning of the nineteenth century to 2014, the chapter draws attention to how cooking, eating, and identity were and still are connected to the local microclimates and the resulting ecologies in each of Ghana’s three major eco-culinary zones. The argument is that the foodways of Ghana have been resistant to change over centuries of interaction and trade with the rest of the world. The chapter concludes with an explication of the theoretical foundations, the methodology, and an overview of the books organization.
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The paper is concerned with the social categorizations and perception of social diversity of the Moscow Metro passengers. Drawing on the Goffman’s theory, I assume that the interaction between passengers is based on categorization, which links appearance and behavior of people with their cultural expectations. The categorization allows to make interaction participants identifiable and accountable. In 2020 face masks and gloves, social distancing transformed the process of categorization having directly affected per-sonal front of city dwellers and situational proprieties. Using the theoretical resources of Erving Goffman, Harvey Sacks, and contemporary urban researchers, I compare how passengers of Moscow Metro recog-nized and defined each other under the regular circumstances and during the self-isolation regime, which was enforced by the city authorities at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is built around three general types of “Others” that were developed as abductive notions: non-specific, specific, and stigmatized Others. I analyze how these types are situationally produced and to what extent they change when the localized interactional order undergoes significant transformations. On the one hand, this study is aimed at a detailed documentation of the unique socio-historical situation that occurred at an early stage of the pandemic. On the other hand, I use it as a “natural” breaching experiment that helps to reveal the basic elements of temporal and local specificity of the social order.
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For modern people, ghost stories are no more than thrilling entertainment. For those living in antiquity, ghosts were far more serious beings, as they could affect the life and death of people and cause endless fear and anxiety. How did ancient societies imagine what ghosts looked like, what they could do, and how people could deal with them? From the vantage point of modernity, what can we learn about an obscure, but no less important aspect of an ancient culture? In this volume, Mu-chou Poo explores the ghosts of ancient China, the ideas that they nurtured, and their role in its culture. His study provides fascinating insights into the interaction between the idea of ghosts and religious activities, literary imagination, and social life devoted to them. Comparing Chinese ghosts with those of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, Poo also offers a wider perspective on the role of ghosts in human history.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions in our contact with others and the introduction of social distancing barriers. These rules can enhance the psychological mechanisms resulting from fear of contamination and may lead to exacerbating prejudiced attitudes towards certain social groups seen as possible carriers of infection. Fear of infection and ideas about cleanliness and dirtiness have indeed historically and culturally influenced the way we interact with other people, both on an inter-personal and inter-group level. The aim of the present research is to analyse whether the concern about COVID-19 is linked to prejudices towards other social groups and whether this relationship is mediated by individual representations of cleanliness. Results on 251 Italian citizens showed that concerns about COVID-19 are positively related to prejudicial attitudes towards immigrants and that such a relation is indeed mediated by so-called cultural representations of cleanliness. Specifically, the so-called cultural representations of hygiene—by which people and groups are categorized as being more or less civilized on the basis of their cleaning practices—was a significant mediator. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.
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The notion of “dirty work” as a socially constructed metaphor of caregiving work in “residential care homes for the elderly” (RCHE) has been one of the most consequential factors contributing to the acute labour shortage in RCHE. It operates within the context of rapid population ageing and increasing social demand for RCHE work. The term “dirty work” is widely used by a variety of stakeholders in social discourses to describe the job nature in RCHE or to explain RCHE staff shortages in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, RCHE workers’ insider experiences with the meaning of RCHE work are largely absent from the community and the literature, resulting in the hidden social processes that stigmatise and marginalise these workers. This chapter calls for the pressing needs of understanding how “dirty work” is being socially constructed and how it contributes to a critical factor of the RCHE workforce crisis in Hong Kong. It aims at generating new discussion on the development of public policy to cope with the workforce crisis from a socio-cultural perspective that is largely lacking in the process of making RCHE workforce policy and may facilitate the socio-cultural change in public views on RCHE work.
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This dissertation examines the politics of contemporary welfare provision in the United States through the lens of the social impact bond (SIB, also called “Pay for Success” (PFS)), a novel market-based policy tool that harnesses private dollars to fund local public programs. In a SIB agreement, the government borrows funds from private banks or philanthropies to pay for program implementation, and government borrowers repay the loan, with interest, only if the program achieves certain desired outcomes (e.g., a 10% reduction in recidivism). The SIB provides much-needed funding for resource-strapped governments, but it also infuses financial logics into processes of social service provision. SIBs ask local governments to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals, reduce social ills and save money on program costs as a result, and produce a program evaluation as evidence that said outcomes have been reached. In other words, SIBs ask governments not only to meet citizen needs but also to create capital in doing so, be it in terms of cost savings or knowledge gained. The rise of the SIB inspires three interrelated questions: What happens when financial logics organize activity within the social service sector? How do financial logics fare in processes of local service provision? And why do these logics fail to take hold fully in this space, even though they appear to find solid footing as organizing discourses in many other social domains? To answer these questions, I conducted a comparative case study of SIB projects in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Massachusetts; and Washington, D.C. My data stems from 47 in-depth interviews with actors party to the SIB process, supplemented by public documents and records detailing the parameters of my three cases, the characteristics of other SIB projects, and the structure of the SIB field. The dissertation presents three broad findings. First, I argue that SIBs catalyzed the creativity and skill of local policymakers, who made adaptations to entrenched processes and responded nimbly to unexpected obstacles, first in applying the SIB model to their specific service provision contexts and later in pushing back against the financial logic of the SIB when it compromised their mandate to do no harm to the communities they served. Second, I demonstrate that the SIB movement is a rare case in which a specific financial logic moved into a space, failed to gain secure footing, and ultimately retreated. This occurred, I argue, because the range of hazards that arise in the implementation, measurement, and evaluation of social service interventions is exceedingly difficult to anticipate. Financial models hinge on successful risk management, and risk management is very hard in this setting. Third, I show that a rigid focus on social outcomes, like that which is built into the SIB model, masks meaningful differences in the work that goes into these projects: the politics of implementation, the variance in expertise and flexibility among actors within this space, and the difficulty of evaluating the efficacy of social interventions in a causally rigorous way. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that though the SIB failed as a financial tool, it succeeded as a political project. The movement’s trajectory demonstrates that novel tools of governance can spark creative problem solving among local political actors and disrupt institutionalized practices, setting into relief the power of political agents to embody, navigate, and recombine competing logics of action.
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Since ancient time clothes has been integrated into human life, though this is the 1960s and after when clothes have been described as an artistic concept. Nowadays, clothes in addition to their traditional functions including protection, coverage and beauty have found communicative function as well. Since 1960s, artists have benefited from such a powerful tool presenting their desired concepts and dispositions and have employed clothes in their installations, performances, videos, photographs, etc. to create artistic works and to communicate audiences. Similarly, in recent decades in Iran there have been exhibitions dealing with the issue of clothing as artworks. The main purpose of this research is Check the status of conceptual clothing in Iran held in the 2000s. To achieve this purpose, after reviewing related literature to clothes and conceptual art as well as conceptual clothes as the bridge between these two concepts, the conceptual artists working with clothes in Iran were identified and their works were examined. Since such artists are rare in Iran and there is no archive of their opinions, approaches and works, in this research, participants were purposely selected and semi-structured interviews with them were conducted. Data gathered from these interviews were analyzed using quantitative methods. The collected data from face-to-face interviews and emails were transcribed, coded and finally the categories and patterns were identified and analyzed. The research findings indicate that this area of art in Iran has not developed extensively and only few artists have involved in the field of conceptual clothes. The most artists who presented conceptual clothing in their exhibitions during 2000s are educated in visual arts. The rest of artists under study have their education in fabric and clothing design and architecture. The study reveals that there is a meaningful relationship between the artists’ approaches to clothing and their educational background. Artists with education in fabric and clothing design had more functional approach to clothing than the other participants and more poorly presented in their exhibitions compared to the artists with visual art background. It seems these artists need stronger underlying theoretical basis sufficient to develop their initial ideas and to begin their artistic process of creation. The results also show that one of the most salient factors in such disachivement can be a dearth of theoretical information and resources, unfamiliarity and indifference of audiences toward this field as well as various social, cultural and political obstacles in Iran. At the end, the research findings indicate that the art is in the tremendous growth in this field. Based on the findings of the main reasons for the lack of knowledge and contacts in this field received, also there are several limitations of social, cultural and political in Iran.
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Roberto Esposito (1998; 2002; 2008) examines how immunological apparatuses originally designed to protect communities end up undermining communities. This paper explores comparatively his view on the interplay between community and immunity with Giorgio Agamben’s and Jacques Derrida’s, although in their works these notions appear under other labels. Beyond pointing out their similarities, the paper concludes by analyzing what, in our view, constitute the raison d’être of their ultimate and irreconcilable differences: Agamben’s approach is antinomic, while Derrida’s is aporetic and Esposito’s is rather dialectical.
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This article studies the sociolinguistic and social semiotic transgression enacted by a group of political signs in a public university in Hong Kong. It demonstrates how the signs break normative/stabilized social, cultural and political boundaries and order by mixing up multifarious stylistic and generic resources, resulting in a heteroglossic blending of diverse, often incongruent identities, voices and ideologies predominantly rooted in the modern history of Greater China. The article suggests that this heteroglossia ideologically distances the university away from the state, defends its historical, Western‐style autonomy and aligns it with the local pro‐democracy civil society amid the escalating sociopolitical tensions in Hong Kong particularly after the Umbrella Movement in 2014. It shows the value of linguistic and semiotic landscape research on institutions as dynamic and complex communities and discursive spaces.
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Classic sociological theories hold that rituals offer opportunities for community integration and cohesion. Rituals allow people to come together across many differences and experience similar thoughts and feelings. Death rituals raise existential questions about the purpose of society and generally foster preexisting social ties. This paper examines the efforts of a US community of volunteers who gather to bury unclaimed, or “abandoned,” babies. Drawing on ethnographic research over a two‐year period, we advance the concept of cultural palimpsest to capture the process by which a gathering of strangers turns a potentially divisive political issue in to a community forming event. We find that in their efforts to mourn babies to whom they have no connection, these volunteers temporarily foster new social bonds that allow them to work through unresolved grief. Similar processes of ritualistically inverting social meanings occur whenever people gather to turn potentially negative into group forming events.
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Actual environmental pollution will worsen people's perception of environmental problems, which may affect people's perception of government corruption, and thus affect the governments' credibility and social stability. From the micro perspective of residents' comprehensive feelings on environmental issues, this paper uses panel data for the period 2014–2018 obtained from a large‐scale dynamics survey in China to investigate the impact of environmental issues on corruption perception. The empirical results suggest that residents' perception of environmental problems has a significantly positive linear correlation with their corruption perception. Moreover, the causal explanation of this correlation is strengthened after the introduction of exogenous environmental condition variables that profoundly affect residents' environmental perception and after mitigating endogenous bias via the instrumental variable method. The findings of this study deeply reveal the political value of environmental governance, suggesting that the deterioration of environmental problems can increase public perception of government corruption, and this relationship is distinct in different demographic groups.
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Menstruation hygiene management (MHM) is an important factor in gender-sensitive sanitation promotion. MHM is a concept and an approach in international development that gained greater attention in the last decade. This chapter first reviews the development of MHM (also recently referred to as menstrual health and hygiene: MHH) as an international agenda. The second part focuses on the cultural aspects of menstruation. To illuminate the local reality and cultural context of female students in a secondary school, a case study from the Manafwa district in Uganda will be described. The research results show that seemingly simple behaviors associated with menstrual management pass through the filter of cultural norms and girls’ perceptions. Those behaviors include (1) changing menstrual absorbents, (2) using a latrine, (3) discarding used sanitary pads or other sanitary items, (4) washing menstrual items or underwear, and (5) drying them. The chapter will provide some recommendations for MHM interventions.
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This ethnographic study provides contextual definitions of religious-centered frames for communication in an Irish-American and a Slovak-American parish. Spatial behavior patterns which appear incident to ethnic traditions and patterns associated with Roman Catholicism which do not appear to vary significantly across ethnic parishes are both described. The context control methodology employed is adapted from the microanalytic study of multimodal communication behavior. A detailed explication of the evolving methodological process reveals relevant cultural contrasts in interview negotiations and hospitality patterns. Data analyses include informant interviews and observations made in analogously controlled conditions in a variety of comparable locations in each church and in the dwelling space of both clergy and laity. Historical depth to empirical observations is provided by a through-time description of the two cultural groups and their migration and settlement patterns. Church doctrine and architectural history provides technical insights regarding the liturgical significance of ritual behaviors patterns.
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This research explores the intersection between zoonosis and the trade in wild animals by applying the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) as a lens through which to analyse the ways humans and animals shape, and are shaped by, multi-species entanglements. Civets occupy a unique space within contemporary human-animal relations, as they have become an increasingly popular companion species despite being vectors of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus. The 2002 SARS outbreak not only killed 774 humans, but its confirmed species origin instigated the retribution-like public slaughter of an estimated 10,000 civets. Guided by the theory of "contamination", this paper compares human-civet relations during SARS and COVID-19 outbreaks through content analysis of global news media and the social media activity of "Civet Lover" clubs, dedicated social spaces for civet pet keeping enthusiasts. Results show that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the civet pet trade is thriving with considerable implications for humans and animals. This paper argues for the exotic pet trade to receive greater monitoring and regulation, for compromised animal welfare and health could present the opportunity for further disease emergence.
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Based on ethnographic research of a large food retail cooperative in New York (the Co-op), this paper raises the research question of whether organizations can cultivate an ethic of responsibility to others and, if so, how this can be secured in everyday working practices? It draws principally on the work of Foucault and especially his later writings on the care of the self and ethics but seeks to link these deliberations to Levinas in identifying responsibility to the Other as prior to identity. Indeed, one message that we seek to convey is that attachments to identities are frequently a stumbling block for developing ethically responsible relations and organizations and this may necessitate some normative control. While recognizing that normative control can easily become oppressive and there were occasional signs of this where staff were watching one another and demanding compliance, our research provides a platform for exploring conversations about alternative forms of organization. We explore how relations of power can produce ethically progressive relations, through generative norms that give space to, and nurture, care and responsibility for others to constitute morally engaging organizational life.
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This article draws upon my doctoral fieldwork conducted between 2019 and 2021 among scuba trash divers in Stockholm, Sweden. The article provides an overview of developments in waste management in Stockholm, explaining how water has turned from a dump for waste to a resource. We will dive with the divers into these cold and dark Nordic waters, following their quest to clean the waters and educate the larger public about the issue of growing amounts of underwater waste. The divers use the underwater waste from the past, as also from current times, as a 'moral punctuation' (Ahmann 2018), stressing the urgent need to engage with the waste that has accumulated over time. The outreach by the divers is largely done via social media, where images are used to tell a story about those issues which normally remain invisible. Furthermore, I will emphasise the importance of engaging the field sensuously to understand the conditions during trash dives.
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Traditionally, sociology has spent much more time exploring relationships between humans, than between humans and other animals. However, this relative neglect is starting to be addressed. For sociologists interested in human identity construction, animals are symbolically important in functioning as a highly complex and ambiguous “other”. Theoretical work analyses the blurring of the human-animal boundary as part of wider social shifts to postmodernity, whilst ethnographic research suggests that human and animal identities are not fixed but are constructed through interaction. After reviewing this literature, the second half of the paper concentrates on animals in science and shows how here too, animals (rodents and primates in particular) are symbolically ambiguous. In the laboratory, as in society, humans and animals have unstable identities. New genetic and computer technologies have attracted much sociological attention, and disagreements remain about the extent to which humananimal boundaries are fundamentally challenged. The value of sociologists’ own categories has also been challenged, by those who argue that social scientists still persist in ignoring the experiences of animals themselves. This opens up notoriously difficult questions about animal agency. The paper has two main aims: First, to draw links between debates about animals in society and animals in science; and second, to highlight the ways in which sociologists interested in animals may benefit from approaches in Science and Technology Studies (STS).
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This article seeks to explore consumption of neo-traditional sourdough bread in France in a context of food concerns and growing interest in local foods. Focusing on social representations, we investigate how local foods are used by consumers to re-appropriate food and restore trust. The data presented here are based on 27 in-depth interviews with French customers of bakers and farmer-bakers (paysans-boulangers). The interviews were fully transcribed and coded using Hyperresearch software and subjected to a thematic analysis. These results rely on a broader research also including focus groups, observation and interviews with 41 bakers and farmer-bakers. We show that proximity, a rather polysemic notion, mostly stems from the added value of the baker as a known individual, anchored in a common socio-geographical space. Interpersonal relationships between consumer and baker establish trust, which is able to blunt the need or desire for information reducing uncertainty associated with processed food. Here, ‘local’ does not refer to geographical distance but to a relational, inter-individual, subjective proximity. We suggest a particular type of consumer involvement in alternative food-sourcing systems, based on the trust placed in an individual described as close. While this study adds to the current understanding of the mechanisms of trust in food, bread plays a special role in French food culture. Further research on less symbolically charged foods could clarify these initial results.
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The Bible should be read, first and foremost, as the history of the people of Israel as they developed a distinctive understanding of social justice. One way of making sense of the Hebrew concept of social justice is in terms of montheism, not as an abstract theological proposition, but rather as an experiential notion that was tied to the organization of Hebrew life. Monotheism was a social innovation that made all people equal. Egalitarian land tenure was the economic corollary. Since land was understood as a gift from God, its use was to serve as the basis of a rough degree of social equality. Monotheism remains an ideal that has not been achieved precisely because land tenure arrangements create a social hierarchy that legitimizes control by elites and undermines a universal system of values. The modern world has yet to resolve the problem of social inequality, but a better understanding of the Bible may help us find a way.
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Death and Digital Media provides a critical overview of how people mourn, commemorate and interact with the dead through digital media. It maps the historical and shifting landscape of digital death, considering a wide range of social, commercial and institutional responses to technological innovations. The authors examine multiple digital platforms and offer a series of case studies drawn from North America, Europe and Australia. The book delivers fresh insight and analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, human-computer interaction, and media studies. It is key reading for students and scholars in these disciplines, as well as for professionals working in bereavement support capacities.
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This paper reflects on the origins and subsequent reception of the paper “Ontological Gerrymandering: The anatomy of social problems explanations”, published in 1985. It describes the circumstances of my turning up at McGill University as a Visiting Professor in Sociology and meeting Dorothy, then a graduate student and the TA assigned to an undergraduate course on Social Problems which I was asked to teach. The paper reflects on the twin benefits: of an interloper, from Europe and from Science and Technology Studies (STS), entering the exotic and heady fray of North American social problems; and of Dorothy’s steady and resolute guidance in introducing me to a new field. The paper suggests some reasons for the endurance of the paper’s arguments, more than 35 years after its publication, drawing on some parallel developments in Social Problems and STS. It asks why has there been rather little mutual interaction between these disciplines, given their common concern with questions, among others, about values, effects and interventions in academic scholarship. The paper concludes that many more of us might have done well to pursue the path of strident agnosticism.
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The universes that Scioto, Miami, and other Ohio Hopewellian peoples experienced and cautiously engaged in during their individual daily lives and communal ceremonies were filled with a great diversity of persons and societies. These included not only human beings and their communities, but also nonhuman sentient, volitional, agentive, and social beings and their “tribes” to whom modern Westerners are not so sensitive: animals, plants, material objects, and features of the land of various species that we would call “ordinary” or “natural”, as well as creatures that we would label “extraordinary” or “mythical”. Many of these beings were similar to ones whom historic Woodland and Plains Indians recognized and with whom they interrelated, allied, and coped. A few examples best known to ethnohistorical and archaeological researchers of past Woodland and Plains Indians are the thunderers, horned serpents, and underwater panthers.
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