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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 63, No. 4 (Winter 1996)

January 1, 1997

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

János Kornai
Paying the Bill for Goulash Communism: Hungarian Development and Macro Stabilization in a Political-Economy Perspective

This article presents a study which examined the economic phenomena in Hungary using the approach of political economy. The Hungarian economy's road from a centralized, planned economy to a market economy displays a number of features that distinguish it from other post-socialist countries despite the underlying similarities. Hungary can vie with the most developed Scandinavian countries in the range of codified entitlements to benefits and in the proportion of gross domestic product laid out on social spending, whereas per capita production is only a small fraction of theirs.

 

Alan Ryan
Pragmatism, Social Identity, Patriotism, and Self-Criticism

This article discusses the connection between philosopher John Dewey's educational ideals, his philosophy and his account of US identity. It was the success of US citizens in constructing an identity and a world in which they could be at home that Dewey's pragmatism celebrated. Philosophically, this was what one might not implausibly describe as a technological view of the US psychic and political situation. Not all objectors to pragmatism have thought that its objectionable features reflected the essence of American culture. The role of education, Dewey argued in Nationalizing Education, was not to inculcate one canonical image of US identity, but to foster mutual respect.

 

Eric Hobsbawm
Language, Culture, and National Identity

This article explores the situation of languages in cultures. The case for the privileged use of any language as the only language of education and culture in a country is political and ideological or, at best, pragmatic. Except in one respect, it is not educational. Universal literacy is extremely difficult to achieve in a written language that has no relation to the spoken vernacular and it may be impossible unless the parents and the community are particularly anxious for their children to become literate in that language, as is the case with most immigrants into anglophone countries. Whether this requires formal bilingual education is another matter.

 

Talal Asad
On Torture, or Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment

This article discusses the modern conception of cruelty, as represented in Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A book by G. R. Scott represents physical cruelty as a feature of barbaric societies, that is, societies that have not yet been humanized. Another book by D. Rejali makes a distinction between two kinds of physical cruelty, one appropriate to pre-modern and the other to modern societies, and describes that difference in the context of contemporary Iran. The instances of physical pain Scott describes as torture belong sometimes to the involuntary submission to punishment and sometimes to the practices of personal discipline.

 

Henri Zukier
The Essential "Other" and the Jew: From Antisemitism to Genocide

This article presents a study which examined collective protest events which took place in Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 1994. Research on political protest and social movements was very difficult to conduct under the communist regimes. The lack of empirical research was due to the ruling elites' dim view of this topic. Considerable differences can be observed in the conditions of social movements before and after the beginning of the process of system transformation. The communist systems in most classical forms, that is, in the forties and fifties, demanded total conformity and pushed protest movements to the political margins or eliminated them completely.

 

Máté Szabó
Repertoires of Contention in Post-Communist Protest Cultures: An East Central European Comparative Survey

Students of contention in Western Europe and North America commonly emphasize the significance of the political opportunity structure in determining the forms and incidence of public claim-making. Their arguments apply equally to the political systems of Central and Eastern Europe. The transformation of communist to post-communist regimes in the region has altered political opportunity structures; therefore, the character of contention has been altered as well.

 

Adam Ashforth
Of Secrecy and the Commonplace: Witchcraft and Power in Soweto

This article explores questions concerning the political consequences of the everyday transposition of interpretative frameworks from the worlds of unseen powers such as ancestors, spirits, deities and witches to the unseen powers of the state and economy. It is a relatively simple matter to explain why the available academic literature on South Africa fell silent on matters concerning power and the supernatural, and it is hard to imagine that it could have been otherwise. Representations of African life were produced in a world of legislatively-buttressed social boundaries. For the most part, social researchers were committed to overcoming those boundaries.

 

 

 

 

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