The Politics of Volunteering

Author: Nina Eliasoph
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0745669565
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Many of us may have participated in grassroots groups, changing the world in small and big ways, from building playgrounds and feeding the homeless, to protesting wars and ending legal segregation. Beyond the obvious fruits of these activities, what are the broader consequences of volunteering for the participants, recipients of aid, and society as a whole? In this engaging new book, Nina Eliasoph encourages readers to reflect on their own experiences in civic associations as an entry point into bigger sociological, political, and philosophical issues, such as class inequality, how organizations work, differences in political systems around the globe, and the sources of moral selfhood. Claims about volunteering tend to be astronomical: it will create democracy, make you a better person, eliminate poverty, protect local cultures, and even prevent illness. Eliasoph cuts through these assertions by drawing on empirical studies, key data, real-life case studies, and a range of theoretical analyses. In doing so, the book provides students of sociology, political science, and communications studies with a framework for evaluating the role of civic associations in social and political life, as well as in their own lives as active citizens.

Avoiding Politics

Author: Nina Eliasoph
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521587594
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Nina Eliasoph's vivid portrait of American civic life reveals an intriguing culture of political avoidance. Despite the importance for democracy of open-ended political conversation among ordinary citizens, many Americans try hard to avoid appearing to care about politics. To discover how, where and why Americans create this culture of avoidance, the author accompanied suburban volunteers, activists, and recreation club members for over two years, listening to them talk - and avoid talking - about the wider world, together and in encounters with government, media, and corporate authorities. She shows how citizens create and express ideas in everyday life, contrasting their privately expressed convictions with their lack of public political engagement. Her book challenges received ideas about culture, power and democracy, while exposing the hard work of producing apathy.

Volunteer Tourism

Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317750330
Format: PDF, ePub
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Just a generation ago the notion that holidays should be invested with ethical and political significance would have sounded odd. Today it is part of the lifestyle political landscape. Volunteer tourism is indicative of the growth of lifestyle strategies intended to exhibit care and responsibility towards others less fortunate, strategies aligned closely with developing one’s ethical identity and sense of global responsibility. It sits alongside telethons, pay-per-click, Fair Trade and ethical consumption generally as a way to “make a difference”. Volunteer tourism involves a personal mission to address the political question of development. It draws upon the private virtues of care and responsibility and disavows political narratives beyond this. Critics argue that this leaves the volunteers as unwitting carriers of damaging neoliberal or postcolonial assumptions, whilst advocates see it as offering creative and practical ways to build a new ethical politics. By contrast, this volume analyses volunteer tourism as indicative of a retreat from public politics into the realm of private experience, and as an expression of diminished political and moral agency. This thought provoking book draws on development, political and sociological theory and is essential reading for students, researchers and academics interested in the phenomenon of volunteer tourism and the politics of lifestyle that it represents.

Making Volunteers

Author: Nina Eliasoph
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400838820
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Volunteering improves inner character, builds community, cures poverty, and prevents crime. We've all heard this kind of empowerment talk from nonprofit and government-sponsored civic programs. But what do these programs really accomplish? In Making Volunteers, Nina Eliasoph offers an in-depth, humorous, wrenching, and at times uplifting look inside youth and adult civic programs. She reveals an urgent need for policy reforms in order to improve these organizations and shows that while volunteers learn important lessons, they are not always the lessons that empowerment programs aim to teach. With short-term funding and a dizzy mix of mandates from multiple sponsors, community programs develop a complex web of intimacy, governance, and civic life. Eliasoph describes the at-risk youth served by such programs, the college-bound volunteers who hope to feel selfless inspiration and plump up their resumés, and what happens when the two groups are expected to bond instantly through short-term projects. She looks at adult "plug-in" volunteers who, working in after-school programs and limited by time, hope to become like beloved aunties to youth. Eliasoph indicates that adult volunteers can provide grassroots support but they can also undermine the family-like warmth created by paid organizers. Exploring contradictions between the democratic rhetoric of empowerment programs and the bureaucratic hurdles that volunteers learn to navigate, the book demonstrates that empowerment projects work best with less precarious funding, more careful planning, and mandatory training, reflection, and long-term commitments from volunteers. Based on participant research inside civic and community organizations, Making Volunteers illustrates what these programs can and cannot achieve, and how to make them more effective.

The Politics of Compassion

Author: Bin Xu
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 1503603407
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed 87,000 people and left 5 million homeless. In response to the devastation, an unprecedented wave of volunteers and civic associations streamed into Sichuan to offer help. The Politics of Compassion examines how civically engaged citizens acted on the ground, how they understood the meaning of their actions, and how the political climate shaped their actions and understandings. Using extensive data from interviews, observations, and textual materials, Bin Xu shows that the large-scale civic engagement was not just a natural outpouring of compassion, but also a complex social process, both enabled and constrained by the authoritarian political context. While volunteers expressed their sympathy toward the affected people's suffering, many avoided explicitly talking about the causes of the suffering—particularly in the case of the collapse of thousands of schools. Xu shows that this silence and apathy is explained by a general inability to discuss politically sensitive issues while living in a repressive state. This book is a powerful account of how the widespread death and suffering caused by the earthquake illuminates the moral-political dilemma faced by Chinese citizens and provides a window into the world of civic engagement in contemporary China.

The Human Rights Enterprise

Author: William T. Armaline
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0745688187
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Why do powerful states like the U.S., U.K., China, and Russia repeatedly fail to meet their international legal obligations as defined by human rights instruments? How does global capitalism affect states’ ability to implement human rights, particularly in the context of global recession, state austerity, perpetual war, and environmental crisis? How are political and civil rights undermined as part of moves to impose security and surveillance regimes? This book presents a framework for understanding human rights as a terrain of struggle over power between states, private interests, and organized, “bottom-up” social movements. The authors develop a critical sociology of human rights focusing on the concept of the human rights enterprise: the process through which rights are defined and realized. While states are designated arbiters of human rights according to human rights instruments, they do not exist in a vacuum. Political sociology helps us to understand how global neoliberalism and powerful non-governmental actors (particularly economic actors such as corporations and financial institutions) deeply affect states’ ability and likelihood to enforce human rights standards. This book offers keen insights for understanding rights claims, and the institutionalization of, access to, and restrictions on human rights. It will be invaluable to human rights advocates, and undergraduate and graduate students across the social sciences.

Talking about Race

Author: Katherine Cramer Walsh
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226869083
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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It is a perennial question: how should Americans deal with racial and ethnic diversity? More than 400 communities across the country have attempted to answer it by organizing discussions among diverse volunteers in an attempt to improve race relations. In Talking about Race, Katherine Cramer Walsh takes an eye-opening look at this strategy to reveal the reasons behind the method and the effects it has in the cities and towns that undertake it. With extensive observations of community dialogues, interviews with the discussants, and sophisticated analysis of national data, Walsh shows that while meeting organizers usually aim to establish common ground, participants tend to leave their discussions with a heightened awareness of differences in perspective and experience. Drawing readers into these intense conversations between ordinary Americans working to deal with diversity and figure out the meaning of citizenship in our society, she challenges many preconceptions about intergroup relations and organized public talk. Finally disputing the conventional wisdom that unity is the only way forward, Walsh prescribes a practical politics of difference that compels us to reassess the place of face-to-face discussion in civic life and the critical role of conflict in deliberative democracy.

The Politics of Aesthetics

Author: Jacques Rancière
Publisher: A&C Black
ISBN: 1780936990
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The Politics of Aesthetics rethinks the relationship between art and politics, reclaiming "aesthetics" from the narrow confines it is often reduced to. Jacques Rancière reveals its intrinsic link to politics by analysing what they both have in common: the delimitation of the visible and the invisible, the audible and the inaudible, the thinkable and the unthinkable, the possible and the impossible. Presented as a set of inter-linked interviews, The Politics of Aesthetics provides the most comprehensive introduction to Rancière's work to date, ranging across the history of art and politics from the Greek polis to the aesthetic revolution of the modern age.  Now reissued 10 years after its original publication, The Politics of Aesthetics includes an afterword by Slavoj Zizek, an interview for the English edition, a glossary of technical terms and an extensive bibliography.

Fields of Knowledge

Author: Scott Frickel
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing
ISBN: 1783506679
Format: PDF
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This issue of Political Power and Social Theory explores the changes in science associated with the rise of neoliberalism since the 1970s. The collected papers together chart an important theoretical agenda for future research in the study of sciencesociety relations in the contemporary era.

The Politics of Secularism

Author: Murat Akan
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231543808
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Discussions of modernity—or alternative and multiple modernities—often hinge on the question of secularism, especially how it travels outside its original European context. Too often, attempts to answer this question either imagine a universal model derived from the history of Western Europe, which neglects the experience of much of the world, or emphasize a local, non-European context that limits the potential for comparison. In The Politics of Secularism, Murat Akan reframes the question of secularism, exploring its presence both outside and inside Europe and offering a rich empirical account of how it moves across borders and through time. Akan uses France and Turkey to analyze political actors' comparative discussions of secularism, struggles for power, and historical contextual constraints at potential moments of institutional change. France and Turkey are critical sites of secularism: France exemplifies European political modernity, and Turkey has long been the model of secularism in a Muslim-majority country. Akan analyzes prominent debates in both countries on topics such as the visibility of the headscarf and other religious symbols, religion courses in the public school curriculum, and state salaries for clerics and imams. Akan lays out the institutional struggles between three distinct political currents—anti-clericalism, liberalism, and what he terms state-civil religionism—detailing the nuances of how political movements articulate the boundary between the secular and the religious. Disputing the prevalent idea that diversity is a new challenge to secularism and focusing on comparison itself as part of the politics of secularism, this book makes a major contribution to understanding secular politics and its limits.