Marsh …

We, in academia, are promised the Garden of Eden, though getting there is not about eating oneself through the thick wall of gingerbread – instead it is about the tedious and painstaking work of climbing up the ladder of disciplined work, or with other words more like the way up to Calvary (or more frequently known as Golgotha), todays crown of thorns being the expectation that young applicants for academic jobs should be proven successful applicants for grants, successful in teaching in particular Phd-students, by possibly contributors to some form of community but most importantly: publishing in very specific journals and having successfully concluded their degree at one of the “outstanding” = high-ranking schools.
  • Much had been said, suggesting even the Suicide of Social Science
  • is being said as for instance in the NBER WORKING PAPER, titled PUBLISHING AND PROMOTION IN ECONOMICS: THE TYRANNY OF THE TOP FIVE (by James J. Heckman Sidharth Moktan)
  • and will be said increasingly, even more convincingly in a new approach, testing the calculations of published articles – the founders of this more or less recent initiative state in the editorial
  • This is what they actually want to overcome, or at least to oppose with the new publication/journal

Lack of reproducibility is seriously undermining the credibility of science as a whole. By extrapolating the findings of isolated checks, one may expect a substantial fraction of published articles in scientific journals to contain findings that simply do not hold. But we do not know which articles are affected – they usually remain uncovered.

Grunow, Martina, Hilmar Schneider, Gert G. Wagner, and Joachim Wagner (2018). Editorial. International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics, Vol 2(2018-2).
DOI: 10.18718/81781.6

  • This is what they actually want to overcome, or at least to oppose with the new publication/journal
****
The really strange thing is: apparently we all know and we are still proving unable to do better: socio-moral envy? hoping to come to a position where we are the able to do good?
And in order to achieve any of our supposed dreams we are educated and educating that we should be proud entering the stage with people like – …
… – the other day it had been as scales would shed from my eyes. I cannot recall exactly why I came across Steve Bannon – vaguely I do remember that it had been in the context of the Harvard Business School, one of the celebrated temples, educating all the High Priests of today’s business world – the new-religious title is MBA which presumably stands for Master of Bullshit Arrangements (I suppose a higher variation of what David Gaebler calls Bullshit Jobs – that is the topic then for two public talks first half of December).
Naiv as I am, not knowing every – in human(istic) terms – irrelevant existence, I checked a bit on this Steve B. – anything easier than wikipedia? (I know, yes I really do …. )
November 6th, the afternoon – searching for Trump on the WP-sites
177 hits
23 hits
(川普) 8 hits (Trump) 3 hits
(Трамп) 28 hits (Trump) 12 hits
29 hits
It is a nice picture, right? It is somewhat remarkable that these people succeeded while doing the long march across the marsh – and they did not only succeed personally but they did so in ways that we are supposed to take them and their institutions as the ultimate “standard of success”. Isn’t it not timely to look for other idols?
Yes, these people did and they succeeded collectively as “neoliberalism” did – this ideology is well captured in a book by Kean Birch, titled A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism, elaborating the problematique by questioning the one-term-catches-all-use in a more differentiated way, also analyzing the long time of its steady development – yes, that agenda succeeded with its long march across the morass, whereas the solid ground of the current establishment swallowed most of those who were serious about Rudi Dutschke’s plea for The long march through the institutions
By Smartartone100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42674174
Annunci

From here to where ? Living in academia …

On youtube a new playlist is launched, asking to where we move in academia. Occasionally it may a bit about ….

sites.google.com/site/mrdssocialstudiessite/_/rsrc/1401456166430/word-of-the-week/treason/treason.jpg

…, well lets call it a strong wish to move forward.

From personal experience, occasionally videos will be posted there, having different backgrounds, being recordings of presentations but also reflections “on occasion of” – for instance reflecting after public lecture or in connection with teaching or in the context of politics, policies, and polities – sometimes being asked for advise, sometimes not being asked though I should have been asked 😉
One of the aims is to ventilate issues that are too often left out of consideration, leaving us with complains about how bad the world is, instead of thinking about what we – in academia – really complain, analysing the reasons being developments, often also going back to our performance in academia itself and not least taking out the way forward.

In any case, it is a potpourri, a kaleidoscope and a huge variety of topics will be dealt with.

never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them

A widely known problem is that students today have – supposedly – problems to read: are unwilling, only printed on exams and subsequently the reeding they need for proceeding. My personal experience suggest something different: if students have space: literally by way of sufficient “quality location”, time and mental space, not being pestered by problem-solving urgency, allowed to foster critical thinking (as Robert Cox outlines it in the piece from 1981: Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory; in: Millennium – Journal of International Studies 1981; 10; 126-155 DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501) most of them would love reading more, more widely, critically working with texts.

However, if politicians educate teachers who then educate students and then these students become politicians, educating teachers who then educate students who then become politicians … … … – it is quite natural that after going a couple of times around, policy documents and texts books look very much alike, nit even reaching the intellectual level of A Little Bit of Everything for Dummies.
Though already from 2011, a document issued by the Irish government can be taken as example for such dummies=stultification-strategy, showing on page 7 the following:
It reminds me that at some stage “Communications“, issued by the European Commission had not been allowed to be longer than 20 pages – politicians are not reading longer documents …  the paradox then and there: instead of producing one document with 30 pages, two documents with twenty pages each had been produced … , and so forth and so forth … at least the printing press being extensively used. The crux of “maths”: making two documents out of one 30-page document dos not mean having two 15-pages docs. because additional space is needed for the cross-references and the like. though we end up with something like 30 divided by 2 = 20+20 = 60, or in short: 30 divided by 2 equals 40. There is a German term “Milchmaedchen-Rechnung”, literally “calculation made by a dairymaid”, meaning fallacy, naive. Perhaps it should be changed, the new term being Commissioner- or Politician-Calculation.
May be it is still better then producing one document that is so much simplification of everything that it requires a guideline to show the reader the way through (though to sweet) nothingness.
In any case, please, never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them.
Some voluntarily, some lazily, some being forced .., and some still resisting.

How serious(ly stupid) they are

… or: the de-academisation of academia.
The other day I received a mail – one of many of this kind, though this time I have had a closer look as it had been addressed to
Dear Xiaoming,
with
Greetings from Journal of Accounting and Marketing!!
Bit strange – though I get admittedly occasionally mixed up with names of my Chinese colleagues, Xiaoming did not ring a bell at all. Also admittedly I (= Peter) published recently something on accounting, I was a bit surprised as my take on accounting is not necessarily that which suits the mainstream. Anyway, I was reading on. The usual rubbish and spam. Noting about three different URLs is surely not a matter suitable for establishing trust. The fact that the URL fur submissions is a hidden behind the term MARKETING is surely not suggesting that all this is about serious academic stuff. Also their reference to something that I supposedly wrote, read by them with great interest and appreciation …
Well, Mrs. Nancy Lisa, Managing Editor, Journal of Accounting & Marketing … E-mail: accounting@journalinsights.org – you surely deserve more and other than a personal reply, marking your stupidity. You would even deserve more than a blog-post …. (though you may read this also with great interest and appreciation … – One day you may even have to read your-journals …
******
… and still there is a big
As bad as such publishing spammers are, there is another dimension to all this: the de-academisation of academia. Another example, side by side with others mentioned  earlier, we may also look at
about whom The Economist reported a while back. There is an interesting detail that deserves attention:
… one study found that for every dollar spent to comply with government rules, voluntary spending on bureaucracy totalled $2 at public universities and $3 at private ones. Robert Martin of Centre College in Kentucky, a co-author of the study, says the real reason for the growth in spending is that administrators want to hire subordinates, thereby boosting their own authority and often pay, rather than faculty, over whom they have less power. Bureaucrats outnumber faculty 2:1 at public universities and 2.5:1 at private colleges, double the ratio in the 1970s.
Should we be surprised to see that
[o]ne result of all this is growing “resistance, anger, grumpiness, and eventually backlash” to the proliferation of diversity officials.
Well, in this light Nancy is probably just a poor person, not willing and not able to see that she is actually a cogwheel of a machinery that is not much else then a mafia of today’s time. – … scrupulous … stultification!

a(nother) sad day, a(nother) sad policy development, a(nother) sad country

 

I received a mail from, Zsuzsa, a good friend of mine – she sent it also to others; Adrian and John, also fiends of mine, circulated it via some mailing lists – and I want to do my part in distributing this news, hoping also to contribute to mobilisiation of as many as possible. Thank you for standing together, the only way to overcome. — While sitting here, writing …, no, I will not cry; and I will not answer in the biblical way of Exodus 22-25

22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

But I will make use of the energy, that comes from the confrontation with evil …

Here now

Zsuzsa’s mail

Yesterday [=August 8th; p.h.) (full vacation time, nobody at the universities) the government sent a government decree to all universities. There  was no previous consultation or discussion. The decree forbids the teaching of GENDER STUDIES.  Almost all universities have some such subjects, CEU and ELTE Masters degree studies. The decree allows those already enrolled to finish their degree, but nothing else. Despite the exceptionally hot weather there are already many signs of indignation and outcry, and some started to organise conferences or petitions. Civil associations will send open letters, etc.

Do you see any way foreign organisations – including SPA, BSA –  could join us? Maybe open letters to  our government? And how should it run?

Dear Prime Minister , or

To Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Viktor Orbán!

We have been informed by…? that a government decree enacted  without previous consultation with the interested parties have been sent out ordering the closure of the teaching of gender studies. (We understand that those already enrolled at MS courses may finish their degree but no new courses are allowed.)

Our understanding of the legal and real autonomy of higher education excludes such measures. However, even if it may be legal according to Hungarian legislation, it seems to us a major attack on social science. Gender studies form since … an integral part of …etc.

(If somebody  has official contacts with Hungarian teachers of gender studies, this may be mentioned.,)

We ask (?) the Hungarian government to withdraw the decree in order to…

….

Please, help with the letter, with possible forms of support, with whatever you think.

I have to add that 2-3 years ago they already prohibited the courses of anthropology and andrapedagogy, but then noise was not loud enough. (The original Law of higher education made it the right and duty of Univ Senates to found  or close faculties, degrees etc., but this was altered too, in 2015. Hence the current step is “legal”.)

sad greetings from a self-revelating  dictatorship,

Zsuzsa

Adrian’s mail, sent via mailing lists, accompanying Zsuzsa’s lines

I have just received this email from Zsuzsa Ferge whom I have known and admired for nearly 50 years. The first professor of social policy in Hungary, she has made a major contribution to the social sciences, and especially social policy and sociology. Recently there have been increasing attacks on the universities, reducing their powers and that of the Hungarian Academy of Science ( Zsuzsa was made the first social policy member some 15 years ago). This is the latest development.

I have a very poor record in getting my own government to change decisions, let alone another one. But it does seem to me important to show that there is wide concern at developments such as this one. I do not know whether many individual letters or group ones will have more impact – both probably.

Best wishes, yours, Adrian

Finally John’s mail

Thanks, Caroline. The BSA and European sociological networks have it in hand already. But as it hasn’t reached me via ESPAnet or the European social policy jiscmail, I’ve added them here and would encourage maximum further dissemination to all the networks we are linked with in whatever subjects even at the risk of overlap and duplication.

John

*******

Still, I may add one point – I discussed it actually frequently with John, with Zsuzsa and so many others: It is not just about Orban and Hungary, as little as the discussion about Turkey is about Erdogan and Turkey, as little as Italy is a just one single case, as much as “we are all Greek” – we are all …, if we are ready to be!

social policy … and the value of values

Hum, in general Augustine is classified as theologian and philosopher … – and in general one can suppose that people’s remarks are based at least to some extent on personal experience. If so, and thinking for example about extremely high fees students have to pay, university administrator’s incomes increasing more than that of lecturers, and then looking at the fancy dresses of many priests, I am wondering what to make out of the following:

[I]t was Augustine who proposed to found not only the Christian ‘brotherhood’ but all human relationships on charity. But this charity, though its wordlessness clearly corresponds to the general human experience of love, is at the same time clearly distinguished from it being something, which, like the world, is between men: ‘Even robbers have between them [inter se] what they call charity.’

(quoted from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, with reference to Augustine’s Contra Faustum Manichaeum)

One Belt – One Road – One World – Digitisation of Life as Chinese Lifestyle?

It is never an easy thing: dedication of some work – doesn’t it propose also agreement?
I do not know if and in which way Elmar would have agreed with what I presented – yesterday he passed away and we, critical thinkers with a genuine interest in progressive scientific work – progressive by way of contributing to progress of societal development so we will never know exactly. One thing we do know – the obituary of the scientific committee of attac [German] clearly states it:

ELMAR ALTVATER DIED

It talks about him as an

Inspiring critique of the capitalist economy

This he truly was – as such he encourages me to dedicate the presentation to him: as quest to me and to the students to take up this challenge of critical thinking.

The abstract of the presentation which is recorded here
may give some insight into what you can expect from the lecture — and hopefully you still will be surprised and inspired.
Living in China means as well getting used to a highly advanced level of internet-penetration in large parts of daily life. Often this is perceived as contradicting prevailing traditional ‘life styles’ and attitudes. At first glance this has not much to do with the future of social policy, or does it? – Social policy faces the difficult task of bringing an institutional system and ‘life worlds’ together. With globalisation and digitisation there is an additional challenge: the reference to the nation state and standard forms of labour are increasingly loosing or changing their role, or at least changing it. Is there any common ground for small island nations like Ireland and unimaginable countries like China?