Political Power and Social Theory: Volume 20

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Table of contents

(21 chapters)

Political Power and Social Theory is a peer-reviewed annual journal committed to advancing the interdisciplinary understanding of the linkages between political power, class relations, and historical development. The journal welcomes both empirical and theoretical work and is willing to consider papers of substantial length. Publication decisions are made by the editor in consultation with the members of the editorial board and anonymous reviewers. For information on submissions, please see the journal website at www.bu.edu/sociology/ppst.

This year's volume of Political Power and Social Theory marks the end of my tenure as editor of this esteemed journal, truly. Although I composed a very similar sentence a year ago, circumstances beyond my control delayed the transition. Thankfully, our new incoming editor, Professor Julian Go, from the Department of Sociology at Boston University, has already started his tenure as this volume goes to press. In addition to undertaking the review of pending and current incoming manuscripts, he also has contributed to this year's volume by agreeing to guest-edit a special section on empire and colonialism. On behalf of the entire editorial board and our readership, I thank Julian for his work on this volume, welcome him to the helm, and wish him well in future volumes. I look forward to continuing my own commitment to PPST as just another member of the editorial board. In the meantime, we can expect some new ideas and new blood in the editorial board as Julian takes over the journal and moves it in new directions. It is an exciting time to consider changes in the field of comparative-historical sociology, as the discipline seeks to accommodate both old and new trends as well as the transforming spatial scales in which political power and social theory are increasingly embedded.

Power structure research examines core issues in the discipline of sociology; yet this important area of study is declining because of the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological problems. In this paper, I address each of these problems and proposing solutions. I then test the validity of my proposed solutions by conducting empirical analyses examining how big business and labor political action committee (PAC) contributors influence U.S. House decision making. My findings vividly show significant big business influence on House decision making, but negligible labor influence. These findings carry considerable implications for power structure theorizing and research, and provide a solid foundation for future power structure work.

Specialised literature on democratisation has generally presented the Spanish case as the model of an elite-led political settlement. This approach forms the basis of the most widespread interpretation of Spain's transition to democracy as a work of top-down political engineering. However, this scholarship fails to pay sufficient attention to the capacity for agency of civil society and both “old” and “new” social movements. In fact, although there is no doubt that democracy arrived in Spain by means of a negotiated transition, it must not be forgotten that the pacts among elites were influenced, as is demonstrated here, by relentless social pressure among highly organised collective actors, including the Communist Party. This paper shows that protests by this organisation and other collective actors in the most socioeconomically underdeveloped provinces of Spain, most of which have been ignored by the most influential scholarship on the transition, were vitally important in the negotiated path to democracy. As such, it investigates the relationship between social unrest and political change through the study of provinces which, a priori, were considered to be socially and politically inactive. This analysis of popular mobilisation in poor and politically marginalised provinces enables a deeper theoretical and empirical understanding of the dynamics from below, which were fundamental in Spain's transition process.

Anthropologists have long discussed the ways in which their discipline has been entangled, consciously and unconsciously, with the colonized populations they study. A foundational text in this regard was Michel Leiris' Phantom Africa (L'Afrique fantôme; Leiris, 1934), which described an African ethnographic expedition led by Marcel Griaule as a form of colonial plunder. Leiris criticized anthropologists' focus on the most isolated, rural, and traditional cultures, which could more easily be described as untouched by European influences, and he saw this as a way of disavowing the very existence of colonialism. In 1950, Leiris challenged Europeans' ability even to understand the colonized, writing that “ethnography is closely linked to the colonial fact, whether ethnographers like it or not. In general they work in the colonial or semi-colonial territories dependent on their country of origin, and even if they receive no direct support from the local representatives of their government, they are tolerated by them and more or less identified, by the people they study, as agents of the administration” (Leiris, 1950, p. 358). Similar ideas were discussed by French social scientists throughout the 1950s. Maxime Rodinson argued in the Année sociologique that “colonial conditions make even the most technically sophisticated sociological research singularly unsatisfying, from the standpoint of the desiderata of a scientific sociology” (Rodinson, 1955, p. 373). In a rejoinder to Leiris, Pierre Bourdieu acknowledged in Work and Workers in Algeria (Travail et travailleurs en Algérie) that “no behavior, attitude or ideology can be explained objectively without reference to the existential situation of the colonized as it is determined by the action of economic and social forces characteristic of the colonial system,” but he insisted that the “problems of science” needed to be separated from “the anxieties of conscience” (2003, pp. 13–14). Since Bourdieu had been involved in a study of an incredibly violent redistribution of Algerians by the French colonial army at the height of the anticolonial revolutionary war, he had good reason to be sensitive to Leiris' criticisms (Bourdieu & Sayad, 1964). Rodinson called Bourdieu's critique of Leiris' thesis “excellent’ (1965, p. 360), but Bourdieu later revised his views, noting that the works that had been available to him at the time of his research in Algeria tended “to justify the colonial order” (1990, p. 3). At the 1974 colloquium that gave rise to a book on the connections between anthropology and colonialism, Le mal de voir, Bourdieu called for an analysis of the relatively autonomous field of colonial science (1993a, p. 51). A parallel discussion took place in American anthropology somewhat later, during the 1960s. At the 1965 meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Marshall Sahlins criticized the “enlistment of scholars” in “cold war projects such as Camelot” as “servants of power in a gendarmerie relationship to the Third World.” This constituted a “sycophantic relation to the state unbefitting science or citizenship” (Sahlins, 1967, pp. 72, 76). Sahlins underscored the connections between “scientific functionalism and the natural interest of a leading world power in the status quo” and called attention to the language of contagion and disease in the documents of “Project Camelot,” adding that “waiting on call is the doctor, the US Army, fully prepared for its self-appointed ‘important mission in the positive and constructive aspects of nation-building’” a mission accompanied by “insurgency prophylaxis” (1967, pp. 77–78). At the end of the decade, Current Anthropology published a series of articles on anthropologists’ “social responsibilities,” and Human Organization published a symposium entitled “Decolonizing Applied Social Sciences.” British anthropologists followed suit, as evidenced by Talal Asad's 1973 collection Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. During the 1980s, authors such as Gothsch (1983) began to address the question of German anthropology's involvement in colonialism. The most recent revival of this discussion was in response to the Pentagon's deployment of “embedded anthropologists” in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. The “Network of Concerned Anthropologists” in the AAA asked “researchers to sign an online pledge not to work with the military,” arguing that they “are not all necessarily opposed to other forms of anthropological consulting for the state, or for the military, especially when such cooperation contributes to generally accepted humanitarian objectives … However, work that is covert, work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by another violates professional standards” (“Embedded Anthropologists” 2007).3 Other disciplines, notably geography, economics, area studies, and political science, have also started to examine the involvement of their fields with empire.4

This paper examines the constitution and transformation of the political regime in the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century. It argues that our understanding of the transitional stages between the end of empires and the formation of new states continues to be analytically underdeveloped, particularly in the context of Eastern/Southeastern Europe. Drawing on recent scholarship, which challenges the existing dichotomous empire-to-nation model and suggests furthering studies on the transition period, the paper offers a close-up look at the role of transnational ideologies played during the transition from empire-to-nation. It highlights the existence of a rather complex interplay between national and transnational ideologies. It argues that understanding the role of transnational ideologies allows us to attribute more agency to the political actors of the late Ottoman era, helping model the changes that happened in the state's legitimacy, the ideological transformations, and the political mobilization of the elites in this period. Focusing on the Ottoman case, it sheds insights on both Habsburg and Russian Empires, which exhibited similar characteristics at that time. It also illustrates the role that transnational ideologies played in all three cases.

Against the prevalent assumption that the United States is and has been a nation-state, this article proposes to reconceptualize it as an empire-state, a state encompassing hierarchically differentiated spaces and peoples. In addition to being descriptively more apt, an empire-state approach provides a firmer basis for understanding the United States as a racial state, a state of white supremacy. Drawing on evidence from constitutional law, I examine the early development of the U.S. empire-state, the long 19th century. The article demonstrates how U.S. state formation has always entailed the racial construction of colonial spaces, specifically “territories” and American Indian lands. Through an extended consideration of Dred Scott v. Sandford, the 1857 Supreme Court case associated almost exclusively with African Americans and hardly ever with empire, I argue for a unified framework to analyze the different but linked racial subjections of colonized and noncolonized peoples. The article concludes with several implications of an empire-state approach to the United States.

The paper examines recent debates on “Empire” and offers a feminist perspective. It asks: what are the gender dynamics of the new imperialism and its rival, Islamism? Drawing on world-system theory and feminist studies of international relations, this paper examines hegemonic masculinities in empire, war, and resistance; the cooptation of women's rights for neoliberal and expansionist purposes; the world-system's transition from U.S. hegemonic power to an alternative yet to be determined; and the role of global feminism in challenging Empire and shaping an alternative world.

The changing articulation of citizenship is traced, both in relation to the national and the global. Conceiving of citizenship as an incompletely theorized contract between the state and the citizen, and locating her inquiry at that point of incompleteness, the author opens up the discussion to the making of the political. The central thesis is that the incompleteness of the formal institution of citizenship makes it possible for the outsider to claim for expanded inclusions. It is the outsider, whether a minoritized citizen or an immigrant, who has kept changing the institution across time and space. Times of unsettlement make this particularly visible. The current period of globalization is one such period, even though this is a partial unsettlement. New types of political actors are taking shape, changing the relationship between the state and the individual, and remaking the political.

The relationship between changing geographies and the notion of citizenship is outlined. As well as focussing on the transformation of the nation-state, it is argued, it is necessary to concentrate on other kinds of geographical transformation. These include changing regimes of mobility, the privatisation of public space and the salience of belonging at the local level. The paper insists on the importance of geography (both material and imaginative) to the process of making up the citizen and this is illustrated through considerations of the ‘denizen’ and the ‘shadow citizen’ in relation to their various geographies. In each case issues of place and mobility lie at the heart of the process by which citizens and their other come to be defined and lived. Recognizing the geographical constitution of the citizen means thinking about the citizen not as a self-sufficient individual body but as a ‘prosthetic citizen’ who is a product of the assemblage of the body and the world.

A full picture of the making of new rights-bearing subjects requires theorizing the political obligations as well as entitlements of citizenship. These must be specified lest the enumeration of political obligations be left to extreme nationalists and advocates of racial, ethnic, gender, and cultural exclusion. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression has led many nation-states to re-regulate their national economies and decouple them from the global economy. New terms of engagement and combinations of political rights and duties are likely to follow from nations' turn to looking out for themselves in the uncharted waters of the global meltdown.

Citizenship reemerged as a topic of major academic and policy interest from the 1990s, and as extensive and passionate as that debate has been, Saskia Sassen's commentary illustrates why we have not fully unlocked its importance. Citizenship, in Sassen's thought-provoking argument, articulates the relationship of the individual and the state, and the national and the international. The articulation here is, as I read it, both in the meaning of, first, “makes sense of,” conceptualizes and gives voice to a set of relationships, and second, facilitates the facile movement between different parts. In this latter sense, citizenship is the “joint” or nexus that articulates between social and political parts, much in the way (metaphorically speaking) our bodies have articulating joints.

How is the global embedded in the national? How do national institutions enable global relations? And how in turn is citizenship being transformed as a social, political, and legal institution amidst these two-way ties? These are some of the important questions at the heart of Saskia Sassen's paper examining the “denationalization” of citizenship. Drawing on a wide diversity of theoretical literatures, and complicating simple sound bites with her sensitivity to the contested character of key concepts, Sassen here offers inspiration and provocation in equal amounts. Her approach is inspiring in part because of the insistence from the start that it is the always-incomplete nature of citizenship that allows for it to be both developed and studied as an outcome of diverse insurgencies against the exclusion and marginalization of the non-citizen or sub-citizen. Sassen thus models a way of theorizing citizenship that problematizes its enclosure as a fixed and finalized socio-legal institution. Instead, she shows how it can be explored as a congeries of ongoing and open-ended citizenship struggles or projects. These ongoing processes of redefinition, she suggests, have a tendential trajectory, and it is with Sassen's attempt to chart this trajectory that her paper makes its particular provocation: namely the argument that today, in the context of globalization, we are seeing citizenship becoming increasingly denationalized.

Citizenship, as Sassen notes, is embedded in the nation-state, but by that logic cannot be “denationalized,” as she also claims in a contrarian move. While we can all agree that transnational regimes of virtue or corporate largess are extending protections and services to a variety of marginalized groups regardless of national borders, these regimes do not replace but rather seek to supplement citizenship orders. Human rights regimes do not displace citizenship because they do not exist as formal legal relationship with enforceable rights and obligations to a territorialized citizenry. By contrast, only states can enforce (human rights as) citizenship rights. Certain conceptualizations of citizenship can be influenced by the discourse of human rights (as has been the case in China), but the transnational regimes of virtue cannot disembed citizenship from the state.

I want to thank the respondents for their observations and critiques. It is impossible to address the many points raised in these five responses. Here I will limit myself to some of the issues which are emblematic of the diverse interpretive tools of each author and may or may not contain a foundational disagreement.

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Political Power and Social Theory
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