Open AccessArticle
Socioeconomic Factors of Immigrants’ Location Choices. Evidence for the South of Europe
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 53; doi:10.3390/socsci6020053 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper takes as a reference, empirical analyses conducted in northern European countries and the United States which associate socioeconomic factors to the location patterns of immigrants. It has been suggested that the socioeconomic context of southern Europe could impact immigrants’ location choices.
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This paper takes as a reference, empirical analyses conducted in northern European countries and the United States which associate socioeconomic factors to the location patterns of immigrants. It has been suggested that the socioeconomic context of southern Europe could impact immigrants’ location choices. We analyze data on the location of immigrants in municipalities of the Andalusian region in southern Spain with respect to the factors that most influence immigrants’ location preferences as discussed in the literature: a pre-existing immigrant community, economic dynamism, population size and other scarcely investigated factors such as the territorial characteristics of the municipality and its productive structure. We conclude that immigrant location patterns in Andalusia are very similar to those found in geographical areas outside Spain, with the exception of specific characteristics related to the social and labor model of the region. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Well, It Should Be Changed for One, Because It’s Our Bodies”: Sex Workers’ Views on Canada’s Punitive Approach towards Sex Work
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 52; doi:10.3390/socsci6020052 -
Abstract
Background: The regulation of sex work is contentious in all countries, including for governments, the public, and sex workers themselves. Research shows sex workers’ perspectives are ignored during policy formation in most cases. This is despite the fact they have unique insider knowledge
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Background: The regulation of sex work is contentious in all countries, including for governments, the public, and sex workers themselves. Research shows sex workers’ perspectives are ignored during policy formation in most cases. This is despite the fact they have unique insider knowledge and are directly affected by the policies that are enacted. Methods: We analyzed the accounts of a heterogeneous sample of adult sex workers (N = 218) residing in different urban cities in Canada to find out their views on current laws and their recommendations for reform. The interviews were conducted in 2012–2013 prior to the implementation of the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The paper thus provides an opportunity to compare the changes desired by Canadian sex workers with changes put into law by the Act. Results: Although the interview questions did not directly ask about the current legal system, 121 expressed an opinion. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) the challenges that criminalization posed to sex workers; (2) the workers’ suggestions for legal reform; and (3) potential issues with legal reform. Conclusions: We discuss the contributions our qualitative findings make to the scholarship on sex work regulation and call for further research that includes sex workers’ voices in decision-making regarding changes to policies affecting their lives. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Economic Impact of SPS Measures on Agricultural Exports to China: An Empirical Analysis Using the PPML Method
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 51; doi:10.3390/socsci6020051 -
Abstract
Since China first joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, many countries around the world have sought to capitalize on lower tariff rates and China’s increasing demand for high quality agricultural products. However, as competitive pressures in its agricultural sector have intensified,
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Since China first joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, many countries around the world have sought to capitalize on lower tariff rates and China’s increasing demand for high quality agricultural products. However, as competitive pressures in its agricultural sector have intensified, the Chinese government has implemented other forms of protectionist measures. Known as non-tariff measures (NTMs), these policy initiatives have added another dimension to international trade activities that needs to be better understood. Using a set of variables clearly identified in academic literature, our paper analyzes the effect that sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) have on New Zealand, U.S., Korean, and Japanese agricultural exports to China. To measure the effect that NTMs have on exports, we use an adapted version of the gravity model and the Poisson pseudo maximum likelihood method. The key findings from the empirical projection show that Chinese SPS measures have a negative, albeit insignificant effect on the sample as a whole. However, when looking at the individual countries, the SPS measures were seen to have a negative effect on Japan and the U.S., while from a Korean perspective, their impact was positive and significant. As part of a secondary analysis, it was interesting to note that the SPS measures had a positive effect on New Zealand’s exports before its free trade agreements (FTA) with China came into force. However, in the years since then, they were seen to have a negative impact. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Understanding Mothers’ Infant Feeding Decisions and Practices
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 50; doi:10.3390/socsci6020050 -
Abstract
This paper begins with a discussion of social research which seeks to critique the emphasis on breastfeeding in infant feeding health promotion. The key themes of this research center on science, risk, and morality but other factors can also shape mothers’ decisions and
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This paper begins with a discussion of social research which seeks to critique the emphasis on breastfeeding in infant feeding health promotion. The key themes of this research center on science, risk, and morality but other factors can also shape mothers’ decisions and practices regarding infant feeding, and particularly, breastfeeding. The paper explores a range of research studies which together highlight the wide range of social, cultural, and economic factors implicated in infant feeding decisions and practices. The discussions here demonstrate that social and economic factors, familial and social networks, interactions with health professionals, cultural contexts which sexualize women’s bodies, and experiences of public space, can all play a role in shaping how mothers negotiate infant feeding. This broad conceptualization of the factors that shape infant feeding practices offered by social research poses a challenge to the more simplistic accounts of infant feeding decisions implicit in public health promotion. It also demonstrates the profoundly social quality of infant feeding decisions that women make and the particular contributions that social research can make to our understandings of this area. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Class and Gender Relations in the Welfare State: The Contradictory Dictates of the Norm of Female Autonomy
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 48; doi:10.3390/socsci6020048 -
Abstract
One debate among feminist scholars of the welfare state is whether it supports women’s subordination or emancipation. Since the 1980s, the French state apparatus has been experiencing a conflict of values, between feminism and familialism. The research presented here probed how these distinct
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One debate among feminist scholars of the welfare state is whether it supports women’s subordination or emancipation. Since the 1980s, the French state apparatus has been experiencing a conflict of values, between feminism and familialism. The research presented here probed how these distinct institutional-level conceptions of gender might be manifest at the interactional level. Analysis is based on ethnographic research in four social service offices in France. The article explores the childrearing and behavioral norms that female social workers promote for mothers in regular contact with social services. It first shows how central the norm of female autonomy is in these social workers’ thinking, which in turn reveals their gendered expectations of the women they see, beyond their role of mother. It then demonstrates that this conception of female autonomy is closely tied to a class position, as it is a model from the middle classes. The article lastly examines how this unequal situation in terms of social class, but not of gender domination, influences professional practices relative to the working classes. Combining gender and class dimensions in analyzing interactions with the welfare state bureaucracy helps to identify the contradictions in the job of social worker, caught between the goal of emancipation and the mandate of social control. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Gender, Migration and Development: Can Advocacy Groups Be More of a Hindrance than a Help?
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 49; doi:10.3390/socsci6020049 -
Abstract
The social world is complex and ever changing. However, to function, we need shared common knowledge for social relations and social interaction. We need categories of people, and assumptions about collective identities. While this is necessary to manage social interaction, it also leads
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The social world is complex and ever changing. However, to function, we need shared common knowledge for social relations and social interaction. We need categories of people, and assumptions about collective identities. While this is necessary to manage social interaction, it also leads to debates that question the essentialism of collective attributes and identities. In this article we argue that advocacy groups campaigning for the rights of women and migrants can sometimes reinforce an understanding of these groups as static and unchanging and this impedes their development. The article contends that advocacy groups, can, unintentionally, reinforce stereotypes. Two different data sets, both drawn from Northern Ireland, are used to explore this question. Our case studies raise global questions about the need for critical analysis and reflection on the strategies used by advocacy groups to advance social equality. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Weeded Out? Gendered Responses to Failing Calculus
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 47; doi:10.3390/socsci6020047 -
Abstract
Although women graduate from college at higher rates than men, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This study examines whether women react to failing a STEM weed-out course by switching to a non-STEM major and graduating with a
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Although women graduate from college at higher rates than men, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This study examines whether women react to failing a STEM weed-out course by switching to a non-STEM major and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in a non-STEM field. While competitive courses designed to weed out potential STEM majors are often invoked in discussions around why students exit the STEM pipeline, relatively little is known about how women and men react to failing these courses. We use detailed individual-level data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) Postsecondary Transcript Study (PETS): 1988–2000 to show that women who failed an introductory calculus course are substantially less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree in STEM. In doing so, we provide evidence that weed-out course failure might help us to better understand why women are less likely to earn degrees. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective—An Example of a Successful Policy Actor
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 46; doi:10.3390/socsci6020046 -
Abstract
The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is a unique example of a sex workers’ rights organisation which is an important actor in prostitution policy. The NZPC has had a significant impact on prostitution laws, managing to achieve the decriminalisation of sex work in
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The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is a unique example of a sex workers’ rights organisation which is an important actor in prostitution policy. The NZPC has had a significant impact on prostitution laws, managing to achieve the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand, which distinguishes it from many other studied organisations. Indeed, the literature on sex workers’ rights organisations notes their relative failure in terms of their impact on prostitution law and policy, identifying the following hurdles: the lack of a common identity and solidarity among sex workers, their stigmatisation, problems with organisational leadership and membership, lack of resources and challenging relationships with allies. This article analyses the role of the NZPC in prostitution policy in New Zealand, particularly in the adoption of the decriminalisation model, and examines the key factors for its success in light of the literature on sex workers’ rights organisations. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Gendered Perceptions of Cultural and Skill Alignment in Technology Companies
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 45; doi:10.3390/socsci6020045 -
Abstract
Previous research documents how stereotypes discourage young women from choosing and attaining technology jobs. We build off this research and ask whether (and how) stereotypes continue to affect men and women once they enter the technology workforce. Using a novel survey of technical
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Previous research documents how stereotypes discourage young women from choosing and attaining technology jobs. We build off this research and ask whether (and how) stereotypes continue to affect men and women once they enter the technology workforce. Using a novel survey of technical employees from seven Silicon Valley firms and new measures of what we call “cultural” and “skill” alignment, we show that men are more likely than women to believe they possess the stereotypical traits and skills of a successful tech employee. We find that cultural alignment is especially important: because women are less likely than men to believe they match the cultural image of successful tech workers, they are less likely to identify with the tech profession, less likely to report positive supervisor treatment, and more likely to consider switching career fields. This paper is the first to use unique and independent measures of cultural and skill alignment comparing employees’ perceptions of themselves to their perceptions of an ideal successful worker. By allowing cultural and skill alignment to operate separately, we are able to determine which work outcomes are most strongly related to each form of alignment. Our results imply that if we can broaden the cultural image of a successful tech worker, women may be more likely to feel like they belong in technology environments, ultimately increasing their retention in tech jobs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“Yeah, and What’s the Problem?” Embodiment, Cultural Practices and Working out in a Dutch Gym
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 44; doi:10.3390/socsci6020044 -
Abstract
In this paper, I present empirical data from ethnographic work carried out in a Dutch gym, where people, especially students, from different countries work out, interact and explore ideas and practices related to their cultures and to other people’s cultures. I will analyse
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In this paper, I present empirical data from ethnographic work carried out in a Dutch gym, where people, especially students, from different countries work out, interact and explore ideas and practices related to their cultures and to other people’s cultures. I will analyse and explain four things: first, the social skills required to successfully interact in a multicultural space; second, the cultural and physical skills that people who have worked out in this gym for a long time have embodied; third, the skills and culture that foreigners have to quickly learn; and finally, how this affects the relationships and the activities considered important in this gym. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Why Prostitution Policy (Usually) Fails and What to Do about It?
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 43; doi:10.3390/socsci6020043 -
Abstract
This article describes and discusses the results of two comparative studies of prostitution policy in Europe that are complementary in their design and methodology. One is a comparison of 21 countries using a most different systems design; the other an in-depth comparison of
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This article describes and discusses the results of two comparative studies of prostitution policy in Europe that are complementary in their design and methodology. One is a comparison of 21 countries using a most different systems design; the other an in-depth comparison of Austria and The Netherlands, using a most similar systems design. The two studies found a remarkable continuity in the inherent approach to the regulation of prostitution and its effects. Despite differences in political regime, administrative organization, and national cultures, since the middle of the 19th century, the purpose of prostitution policy has been to impose strict controls on sex workers and to a lesser extent their work sites. The effects of this approach have been disappointing: despite rhetorical claims to the contrary the control of sex workers has no discernable effect on the prevalence of prostitution in society. The effects of policies aimed at control are mostly negative in that they corrode the human and labor rights of sex workers. The article discusses several challenges to the regulation of prostitution (such as its deeply moral nature and the lack of precise and reliable data) as well a number of other important outcomes (such as the importance of local policy implementation for the effects of regulation). The article concludes with the empirically substantiated suggestion that a form of collaborative governance in which sex worker advocacy organizations participate in the design and implementation of prostitution policy offers real prospects for an effective and humane prostitution policy. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 42; doi:10.3390/socsci6020042 -
Abstract
While many studies examine how different legal approaches to prostitution affect sex workers’ living and working conditions, few studies analyze how sex workers’ physical workspaces and the policies regulating these spaces influence sex work conditions. Based on interviews with 109 current or former
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While many studies examine how different legal approaches to prostitution affect sex workers’ living and working conditions, few studies analyze how sex workers’ physical workspaces and the policies regulating these spaces influence sex work conditions. Based on interviews with 109 current or former sex workers, 13 civil society representatives, 12 government officials, and 5 other actors in Ecuador and Argentina, this study describes sex workers’ uses of urban space in the two countries and compares how they experience and respond to government regulation of locations of prostitution. Argentina and Ecuador took different approaches to regulating sex work space, which appear to reflect different political ideologies towards prostitution. Sex workers expressed different individual preferences for spaces, and government limitation of these spaces represented one of their major concerns. The results illuminate how sex workers’ workspaces influence their working conditions and suggest that governments should consider sex worker preferences in establishing policies that affect their workspaces. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Brexit: The Economic and Political Implications for Asia
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 41; doi:10.3390/socsci6020041 -
Abstract
Often trumpeted as a bastion of modern economic and political integration, the European Union (EU) has played an integral role in the development of the United Kingdom’s (UK) economy. However, in recent times, the relationship between the EU and the UK has become
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Often trumpeted as a bastion of modern economic and political integration, the European Union (EU) has played an integral role in the development of the United Kingdom’s (UK) economy. However, in recent times, the relationship between the EU and the UK has become increasingly fragile, particularly on issues of national sovereignty, immigration, and the general bureaucratic reach of Brussels. Tension surrounding these concerns meant that on 23 June 2016, the British public voted, by way of a referendum, to leave the EU. This decision, often referred to as Brexit, has created a watershed moment in the history of the region, with implications that may have a significant impact on not only Europe, but also Asia and the wider global community. In order to make better sense of the issue, this study provides a brief synopsis of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, before providing a detailed analysis of how the Brexit decision will impact the Asian region. As part of this discussion, a series of relevant policy issues are considered. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Influence of Women Legislators on State Health Care Spending for the Poor
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 40; doi:10.3390/socsci6020040 -
Abstract
In the realm of representational politics, research exploring the relationship between descriptive representation and substantive representation is conflicted with some scholars finding policy outcomes influenced by the presence of women in office and others displaying a complicated or null relationship. We enter the
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In the realm of representational politics, research exploring the relationship between descriptive representation and substantive representation is conflicted with some scholars finding policy outcomes influenced by the presence of women in office and others displaying a complicated or null relationship. We enter the discussion by investigating the effect of increased representation of women across state legislatures on state health care spending for poor children, the disabled, and elders, issues which disproportionately affect women. Using a 50-state dataset spanning from 1999 to 2009 we find that spending is indeed more generous when the number of women representatives is substantial, regardless of party. This generosity, however, is conditional upon the presence of considerable aggregate need. The findings suggest that contextual factors must be considered when exploring the influence of women on policy outcomes. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
A Sex Work Research Symposium: Examining Positionality in Documenting Sex Work and Sex Workers’ Rights
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 39; doi:10.3390/socsci6020039 -
Abstract
Historically, academic literature on sex work has documented the changing debates, policies, and cultural discourse surrounding the sex industry, and their impact on the rights of sex workers worldwide. As sex work scholars look to the future of sex workers’ rights, however, we
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Historically, academic literature on sex work has documented the changing debates, policies, and cultural discourse surrounding the sex industry, and their impact on the rights of sex workers worldwide. As sex work scholars look to the future of sex workers’ rights, however, we are also in a critical moment of self-reflection on how sex work scholarship engages with sex worker communities, produces knowledge surrounding sex work, and represents the lived experiences of sex workers’ rights, organizing, and activism. In this short Communication, proceedings from a recent sex work research symposium entitled, Sexual Economies, Politics, and Positionality in Sex Work Research are presented. Held at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, this symposium is a response to the need for sex work researchers, sex workers, and sex worker-led organizations to come together and critically examine the future of research on sex work and the politics of documenting sex workers’ rights. Full article
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Open AccessEssay
Frozen in Time: How Disney Gender-Stereotypes Its Most Powerful Princess
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 38; doi:10.3390/socsci6020038 -
Abstract
Disney’s animated feature Frozen (2013) received acclaim for presenting a powerful heroine, Elsa, who is independent of men. Elsa’s avoidance of male suitors, however, could be a result of her protective father’s admonition not to “let them in” in order for her to
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Disney’s animated feature Frozen (2013) received acclaim for presenting a powerful heroine, Elsa, who is independent of men. Elsa’s avoidance of male suitors, however, could be a result of her protective father’s admonition not to “let them in” in order for her to be a “good girl.” In addition, Elsa’s power threatens emasculation of any potential suitor suggesting that power and romance are mutually exclusive. While some might consider a princess’s focus on power to be refreshing, it is significant that the audience does not see a woman attaining a balance between exercising authority and a relationship. Instead, power is a substitute for romance. Furthermore, despite Elsa’s seemingly triumphant liberation celebrated in Let It Go, selfless love rather than independence is the key to others’ approval of her as queen. Regardless of the need for novel female characters, Elsa is just a variation on the archetypal power-hungry female villain whose lust for power replaces lust for any person, and who threatens the patriarchal status quo. The only twist is that she finds redemption through gender-stereotypical compassion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Reimagining the Hajj
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 36; doi:10.3390/socsci6020036 -
Abstract
Throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world, political and religious leaders are being pulled into sharpening debates over rival approaches to reforming the Hajj. For at least two decades, Hajj controversies have deepened with rising death tolls among the pilgrims and with
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Throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world, political and religious leaders are being pulled into sharpening debates over rival approaches to reforming the Hajj. For at least two decades, Hajj controversies have deepened with rising death tolls among the pilgrims and with soaring complaints about corruption and incompetence against pilgrimage managers in Saudi Arabia and dozens of other countries. Demands for Hajj reform are reaching new peaks after Saudi officials recently revealed stunning details of the scope and magnitude of pilgrim fatalities during the last 14 years. The Saudi data leave little doubt that the quality of care for Hajjis varies enormously depending on several key factors which policy makers and religious leaders must address with greater honesty and determination. Year in and year out, the most vulnerable pilgrim populations are poor people, women, and children from across Africa and Asia as well as foreign workers, refugees, and illegal migrants living in Saudi Arabia. Most of the current proposals for Hajj reform ignore these high-risk groups. Saudi planners focus on promoting year-round pilgrimage to boost tourism revenues and high-end infrastructure. In most other countries, government-run Hajj agencies are busy cutting market-sharing deals with private business cartels and their political patrons. The combined effect of these policies is to weaken what remains of already inadequate regulations that are vital to the protection of all Hajjis. Meanwhile, support is also growing for more sweeping proposals to reimagine and reinvent the Hajj instead of fine-tuning the status quo. Some of these reforms are particularly likely to test the ingenuity and influence of leaders from all backgrounds because they challenge longstanding custom. A few of the most unconventional suggestions include lengthening the Hajj season to several months as well as linking the Hajj to pilgrimages and festivals of other world religions throughout the year. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Enhancing Intersectional Analyses with Polyvocality: Making and Illustrating the Model
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 37; doi:10.3390/socsci6020037 -
Abstract
Since the inception of the intersectionality framework by feminists over three decades ago, scholars have advanced the analysis and subsequent understanding of peoples’ social locations, identity constructions, and systems of oppression involving gender, ethnicity, religion, class, and caste, to name a few. Considering
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Since the inception of the intersectionality framework by feminists over three decades ago, scholars have advanced the analysis and subsequent understanding of peoples’ social locations, identity constructions, and systems of oppression involving gender, ethnicity, religion, class, and caste, to name a few. Considering these axes of differentiation as mutually constitutive rather than only as individual factors has been the single most important innovation. However, intersectionality has yet to reach its potential theoretically, methodologically, and practically. For instance, the framework is rarely applied to social phenomena that extend beyond the confines of a given nation-state. In previous publications, we have addressed this shortcoming by arguing for applying intersectionality across multiple social scales (intimate, regional, national, and transnational). We have shown how any given person’s intersectionality can and often does shift according to the scale of analysis. In this article, we address another important way to strengthen intersectionality—bringing in polyvocality. That is, and drawing upon arguments originally made in postmodern critiques of “writing culture”, publications tend to reflect partial and/or limited perspectives, typically those reflecting researchers’ privileged, authoritative accounts. In this article, in contrast, we include different insider (ego) and outsider (ego’s relatives’ and the researchers’) perspectives. The article includes the theoretical and methodological argument for adding polyvocality to intersectionality and then applies the proposed model to an ethnographic case. We illustrate how intersectional constellations shift from voiced interpretation to voiced interpretation and, in so doing, deepen, expand, and problematize these same analyses. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Forests and Food Security: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 34; doi:10.3390/socsci6010034 -
Abstract
Hunger remains a key development problem in the 21st century. Within this context, there is renewed attention to the importance of forests and their role in supplementing the food and nutrition needs of rural populations. With a concurrent uptake of “gender mainstreaming” for
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Hunger remains a key development problem in the 21st century. Within this context, there is renewed attention to the importance of forests and their role in supplementing the food and nutrition needs of rural populations. With a concurrent uptake of “gender mainstreaming” for sustainable development, there is also a call for understanding the gendered dynamics of forest governance and food security. In this paper, we reviewed emerging research (2009–2014) on forests and food security and on the ways gender is said to matter. As with previous work on gender and natural resource management, we found that gender is an important variable; but how, to what degree and why are different in every context. That is, despite the suggestion of clear linkages, the relationships between gender, forests and food security are not generalizable across contexts. Understanding the relationship between forest resources and food security requires attention to gender disparities at the local level, but also to the broader political and economic context in which those disparities are reinforced. We flag the need to guard against ahistorical and technical approaches to gender and suggest some example research questions that use a more relational view of gender—one that examines how political economy and social power structure access to resources at multiple scales. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 35; doi:10.3390/socsci6010035 -
Abstract
This paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in
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This paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in the rural savannahs of northeast Ghana. Many of those degradation narratives take their root in the past during the colonial era, but the conceptual underpinnings of those narratives have remained essentially a-historical, a-political, and a-cultural. This paper shows that the organisation of space and land uses in pre-colonial communities in northeast Ghana was governed by certain traditional knowledge systems which were ignored by the colonial authorities. While narratives about landscape degradation by natives were propagated by the colonial government to justify a need to preserve the environment, their attempts to control land management matters were essentially for political and economic reasons. The study concludes that current policy frameworks on desertification and land management need to move beyond inherent historical biases. Rather, attention ought to be given to critical historical reflections on the dynamic processes by which variations in socio-economic relations of resource access/use, farming practices, land tenure arrangements, and political agendas interact with changes in the biophysical environment to produce different land cover trajectories over time. Full article
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