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Why have we lost control and how can we regain it?

May 3, 2014

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“This is notably true of leaders who are driven very much by a combination of individualist impulse and hierarchy. That model of leadership is no longer sufficient. Nor is the wider resort to charisma (emotion) and concentrated power (hierarchy) that underpins such leadership. We need to get creative if we are to face enormous collective challenges in the midst of dizzying change. Charisma and concentrated power currently overwhelm more creative, nimble forces.”

[via @anthonypainter]

See on www.rsablogs.org.uk

The social world

May 1, 2014

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“There is a further complexity raised by the action-centered picture sketched above. This has to do with the making of social individuals through concrete and historically actual processes of formation and socialization. Actors are social from infancy forward, and their cognitive, affective, and practical mental frameworks are created and formed through their various social interactions. So their behavior as adults is itself a socially created product of the ideological and practical circumstances within which they developed. Here once again, we cannot “reduce” social change to pre-social or non-social individuals. There is no starting de novo in the social world or in history.”

[via @jamiejordan23]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

A space to watch …

See on undsoc.org

The Adjunct Revolt

April 30, 2014

The Adjunct Revolt: How Poor Professors Are Fighting Back

“The adjunct crisis also restricts the research output of American universities. For adjuncts scrambling between multiple short-term, poorly paid teaching jobs, producing scholarship is a luxury they cannot afford. “We have lost an entire generation of scholarship because of this,” Debra Leigh Scott, an adjunct activist and documentary filmmaker, told me. “Adjunct contracts not only drive professors into poverty, it makes it next to impossible for them to do the kind of scholarship they have trained an average of ten years to do.” Scott suggests that the loss of academic scholarship has ripple effects throughout society, since fewer scholars are contributing to national discussions on issues like the ethics of business and the value of the humanities. “If you lose these expert voices then who is really left speaking?” she asks. “You get the pundits on either side, but there is not a lot of depth to the conversations being held. There has been a dumbing down of discourse across all platforms.”

[via @catspyjamasnz]

The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century. PWatson (2011)

April 27, 2014

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“We have today, therefore, a very different and more pervasive form of “false consciousness” from that which Marx introduced: we are living in a thoroughly distorted version of reality or, as Habermas puts it, “systematically distorted communication.” In fact, this is now the accepted state of affairs, in which we all know, at some level, that facts and values “cannot be accepted uncritically as ‘givens,’” nothing we are told can be accepted at face value: late capitalism thrives on marketing and public relations, so that we are surrounded in the mass media by acts of communication that say one thing and mean another—not completely another, but with an agenda of their own, unspoken but present.”

[op. cit., p. 777]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

An interesting time to live in, with huge access to information, and with the biggest doubts about its value. “Bildung” is something we have to do every day, not the german version, our own.

See on www.bookdepository.com

40 anos depois …

April 25, 2014

Acabei de encontrar um texto interessante sobre australianos que lutaram na Primeira Guerra Mundial  e que se aplica, mutatis mutandis, ao dia de hoje:

If we cast the Anzacs, the returned and the fallen alike, as fundamentally different from us, then it’s impossible to even try to appreciate what they went through. If we turn them into purely mythic figures, then Anzac Day becomes merely an exercise in flag waving, a day for platitudes about freedom and sacrifice.

What my great grandfather’s diary taught me about war and Gallipoli

The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century Peter Watson (2011)

April 16, 2014

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“A final effect of the reading revolution was on self-consciousness. Print-as-commodity, says Benedict Anderson, generates the “wholly new” idea of simultaneity, as people throughout society realize—via their reading—that others are going through the same experience, having the same thoughts, at the same time. “We are…at the point where communities of the type ‘horizontal-secular, transverse time’ become possible.” In this way public authority was consolidated, helped along by the depersonalized nature of state authority. (66) These developments were more important than they might seem at first because it was these (vernacular) print languages, says Anderson, that laid the basis for nationalistic consciousness. Anderson’s conclusion is that print-capitalism operated on a variety of languages to create a new form of “imagined community,” setting the stage for the modern nation, in which a “national literature” was an important ingredient. (67) In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand (Götz von Berlichingen with the Iron Hand), a play about liberty, which describes the decline and fall of an Imperial Knight, the author himself said that the theme of the play was “Germanness emerging” (Deutschheit emergiert).* In the nineteenth century, says Thomas Nipperdey, all this would lead to Germany becoming “the land of schools.””

[op. cit., p. 58]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

There are two things about this passage that I find remarkable. The first is the modernity of such an idea at the time and the huge influence over society that was already patent in it; the other is a mere side note, to make a parallel with the same sort of effect today, via, for lack of a better word, the internet (social media).

See on www.bookdepository.com

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. CClark (2008)

April 15, 2014

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“The strength of provincial attachments and the corresponding feebleness of Prussia as a locus of collective identity has remained one of the most striking features of the state’s afterlife since 1947. It is remarkable, for example, how inconspicuous Prussia has been in the official rhetoric of the organizations formed in West Germany after the Second World War to represent the interests of the 10 million expellees who were forced to leave the East-Elbian provinces at the end of the Second World War. The refugees defined themselves, by and large, not as Prussians, but as East Prussians, Upper or Lower Silesians, Pomeranians; there were also organizations representing the Masurians from the Polish-speaking southern districts of East Prussia, the Salzburgers of Prussian Lithuania (descendants of the communities of Protestant refugees from Salzburg who were resettled to the Prussian east in the early 1730s) and various other sub-regional groups. But there has been little evidence of a shared ‘Prussian’ identity and surprisingly little collaboration and exchange between the different groups. In this sense the expellee movement has tended to reflect the composite, highly regionalized character of the old Prussian state.”

[op. cit., pp. 685-686]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

How did Prussia, a non existent country, became the black sheep of Europe? An abstract entity that took the blame for errors made by others? Something to read about, as it is an important piece of knowledge in current European affairs.

See on www.bookdepository.com

Revista de imprensa

April 15, 2014

Há mais sexismo nas universidades do que em outras áreas em Portugal”, Público – Maria do Mar Pereira, por Maria João Lopes

[…]

No doutoramento que fez na London School of Economics, escolheu ir para as universidades portuguesas observar como são encaradas as questões de género. O que encontrou?
Em todas as universidades portuguesas, não há uma excepção, existe um discurso oficial e outro nos corredores. Mesmo que, no discurso oficial, se diga que estas áreas são muito importantes, nos corredores, nas reuniões, nas tomadas de decisão, o que se diz é que são umas mulheres ou uns homens homossexuais a fazer uns estudos que não interessam. Há uma coexistência de um discurso oficial que mudou muito nos últimos anos, de abertura e apreço pelo conhecimento, com uma vida informal, não oficial de corredor, de um grande sexismo, homofobia, fechamento e marginalização de uma série de áreas. Por um lado, parece que a situação está melhor, mas ao mesmo tempo está pior, porque torna-se mais difícil chamar a atenção para esse sexismo e esse conservadorismo. Está escondido, não há tantas provas de que, de facto, existe. Um livro que no estrangeiro é reconhecido como o melhor livro, que faz o maior contributo no mundo, em todas as áreas, em Portugal é tratado como uma área menor que só interessa às mulheres.

[…]

O que quer estudar a seguir?
Interessava-me perceber que impacto tem o que está a acontecer em Portugal nas questões de género e como é que a crise afecta a forma como Portugal é visto noutros países. Em Inglaterra tenho observado que Portugal tende a aparecer nos media como uma malta preguiçosa, pouco produtiva, que merece o que lhe está a acontecer. Perceber de que forma é que a xenofobia, estereótipos, racismos antigos, que já eram inaceitáveis, acabam por reaparecer com o pretexto da crise. De repente, parece que é aceitável dizer que a Europa do Sul é inferior à do Norte. Gostaria de perceber como é que a crise acaba por permitir o renascer de desigualdades e estereótipos que já deviam ter desaparecido.

[…]

Revista de imprensa

April 14, 2014

Universidade e pluralismo, JCEspada no Público

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Christopher Clark (2008)

April 9, 2014

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“By scouring the legal residue of ‘feudalism’ from the noble estates, the October Edict aimed to facilitate the emergence of a more politically cohesive society in Prussia. ‘Subjects’ were to be refashioned into ‘citizens of the state’. Yet the reformers understood that more positive measures would be needed to mobilize the patriotic commitment of the population. ‘All our efforts are in vain,’ Karl von Altenstein wrote to Hardenberg in 1807, ‘if the system of education is against us, if it sends half-hearted officials into state service and brings forth lethargic citizens.’41 Administrative and legal innovations alone were insufficient; they had to be sustained by a broad programme of educational reform aimed at energizing Prussia’s emancipated citizenry for the tasks that lay ahead.”

[…]

“Once installed, however, Humboldt unfolded a profoundly liberal reform programme that transformed education in Prussia. For the first time, the kingdom acquired a single, standardized system of public instruction attuned to the latest trends in progressive European pedagogy. Education as such, Humboldt declared, was henceforth to be decoupled from the idea of technical or vocational training. Its purpose was not to turn cobblers’ boys into cobblers, but to turn ‘children into people’. The reformed schools were not merely to induct pupils into a specific subject matter, but to instil in them the capacity to think and learn for themselves. ‘The pupil is mature,’ he wrote, ‘when he has learned enough from others to be in a position to learn for himself.’43 In order to ensure that this approach percolated through the system, Humboldt established new teachers’ colleges to train candidates for the kingdom’s chaotic primary schools. He imposed a standardized regime of state examinations and inspections and created a special department within the ministry to oversee the design of curricula, textbooks and learning aids.”

[op. cit., pp. 331-332]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

And, as an interesting addition, why not read the text over university reform from von Humboldt, available in english in the following address: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01553214 (probably, it only works from a HE network)

See on www.bookdepository.com