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16 Essential Questions That Will Deepen Your Understanding of the PastJune 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-105-3
Availability: In stock
350pp. ¦ $45 £33 €38
Since the days of the Ancient Greeks, history has been perceived as the academic study of the past. Unfortunately, it has generally been taught as a litany of rigid, boring facts intended to be accepted rather than questioned. This has been reinforced for decades by weighty textbooks that overwhelm the reader with mind-numbing details presented in a chronological sequence. The end result is that students see little relevance of what they learn in history class to the real world, and many simply struggle to stay awake. Compared to other subjects taught at the secondary level, history is frequently judged to be the most boring. This is largely because it is viewed as an intellectually lifeless subject that presents few opportunities for active engagement. Questioning History is a book built around 16 essential questions designed to challenge this common assumption. Each question is broad, open-ended and subject to vigorous debate. By examining the historical background behind each question and by analyzing the ways in which the question can be answered, the reader will come away with a deeper understanding of the past and a new appreciation for history as a cognitively dynamic subject. In addition, by using each chapter as a platform for engaging discussions and Socratic seminars, the reader will be able to refine the decision-making skills necessary for effective citizenship in a democratic society. Depending on the classroom or the setting in which it is being used, Questioning History can either take the place of the more traditional textbook or at least be used as a supplement to make it come more alive. The best way to learn and to appreciate a subject is through active engagement. Questioning History provides a shot of adrenalin to the study of history.
Self, History and Future
A work on the modality of historyJuly 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-473-3
Availability: In stock
188pp. ¦ $45 £30 €40
Be it Foucault’s insight into a society based on ‘power-knowledge’ or Fukuyama’s attempts to predict the future based on the end-game situation of ‘liberal democracy’, both are like trying to work out a curvature of a line from a given point by using pre-calculus maths. No amount of elaborate narratives based on a quasi-dynamic, phenomenological concept like ‘discourses’ or a static concept like ‘liberal democracy’ will capture the dynamism of moving events and their fluid directions called ‘future’. You need the methodology of operative concepts that process moving events. My essay is based on a holistic and dynamic concept with logical progressions. Instead of capturing movements as a still picture I try to record constantly changing situations in terms of modality of history. It is the necessity of tangencies and encompassments for Circles of Identity (CI) that forms history. The momentum of ‘self’ that bridges the past and the future is the propellant of CIs, which follows certain rules to suggest our destiny.
How Social Relations rebuild Space(s)
Roberta Iannone, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Availability: In stock
230pp. ¦ $70 £55 €60
The present volume attempts to critically evaluate claims that modern society may be read and understood as a network. Accepting that this perspective holds some potential, the question becomes how to best capitalize on it. To analyze society as a network means to respond not only to the “actual needs”, but also to highlight the "opportunities" and the "utilities", and to investigate whether society is increasingly relational or just perceived as such, as e.g. digital "social networks" and related concepts exemplify. From a strictly scientific perspective to answer the question "how to" read society as a network means to ask ourselves: a) if the conceptual categories (especially the concepts of structure and exchange) and the paradigms of traditional analysis (holism and individualism, both in the functionalist and the conflictive versions) are still sufficient; b) if new conceptual categories/theories/instruments are needed to represent more properly the reality we face: to investigate it, to explain it or, at least, to understand it. Starting from a reflection on already established social networks (Scott, 2003), the fundamental differences between groups and networks (Vergati, 2008), the logics of networks (Serra, 2003) as well as social capital formation and links (Di Nicola, 2006; Mutti, 1998), we seize the spatial dynamics, seemingly following opposite paths, but which revert to a common denominator: de-spatialization and re-spatialization, namely the processes of dematerialization of space(s) and its reconstruction by specific relational dynamics and forms. The study of networks is therefore not attributable to a single theory but to several theories converging towards a unique perspective (spaces) and logical reasoning (Serra, 2001) each one with its own uniqueness. The strength of this volume and the difference with respect to other attempts at explaining the Network Society lies in the multidimensional and interrelated perspectives it offers emerging from converging multidisciplinary perspectives (sociological, anthropological and linguistic), and from applications that the Network Society provides, namely, international (European Governance), institutional, public (linguistic landscape of the city of Rome) and mediated ones (communication technology).
Politics and Web 2.0: The Participation Gap
Gisela Goncalves, Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal
and J. Paulo Serra, University of Beira Interior, Portugal
Availability: In stock
184pp. ¦ $55 £40 €45
A point of departure for this book is the paradox between the seemingly limitless promise modern web technologies hold for enhanced political communication and their limited actual contribution. Empirical evidence indicates that neither citizens nor political parties are taking full advantage of online platforms to advance political participation. This is particularly evident when considering the websites of political parties, which have taken on two main functions: i) Disseminating information to citizens and journalists about the history, structure, programme and activities of the party; ii) Monitoring citizens’ opinions in regard to different political questions and policy proposals that are under discussion. Despite the integration of websites into political parties’ “permanent campaigns” (Blumenthal), television continues to be seen as the core medium in political communication and one-way and top-down communication strategies still prevail. In other words, it is still “business as usual”. This book questions whether Web 2.0 could help enhance citizens’ political participation. It offers a critical examination of the current state of the art from diverse perspectives, highlights persisting gaps in our knowledge and identifies a promising stream of further research. The ambition is to stimulate debate around the party-citizen "participation mismatch" and the role and place of modern web technologies in this setting. Each of the included chapters provide valuable explorations of the ways in which political parties motivate, make use of and are shaped by citizen participation in the Web 2.0 era. Diverse perspectives are employed, drawing examples from several European political systems and offering analytical insights at both the individual/micro level and at broader, macro or inter-societal systems level. Taken together, they offer a balanced and thought-provoking account of the political participation gap, its causes and consequences for political communication and democratic politics, as well as pointing the way to new forms of contemporary political participation.
In the Sphere of the Personal: New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons
Simon Smith, University of Surrey
and James Beauregard, Rivier University
Availability: In stock
377pp. ¦ $70 £50 €60
The papers in this collection were originally presented at the 13th International Conference on Persons, held at the University of Boston in August 2015. This biennial event, founded by Thomas O. Buford and Charles Conti in 1989, attracts a host of international scholars, both the venerable and the aspiring. It is widely regarded as the premier event for those whose research concerns the philosophical tradition known as ‘personalism’. That tradition is, perhaps, best known today in its American and European manifestations, although there remains a small but fiercely defended stronghold in Britain. Personalism is not an exclusively Western development, however; its roots are also found in India, China, and Japan. What unites these disparate intellectual cultures may seem quite small. There is little, if any, methodological or doctrinal consensus among them. They are all, however, responses to the impersonal and depersonalising forces perceived to be at work in philosophy, theology, and, most recently, the natural and political sciences. Their common aim is to place persons at the heart of these discourses, to defend the idea that persons are the metaphysical, epistemological, and moral ‘bottom line’, the vital clue to knowledge of self, reality, and all conceivable values. The authors in this collection do not simply reflect upon this tradition, they put it to work on a range of philosophical and theological problems, both classical and contemporary; problems of free will, personal identity, and the nature of reality, as well as the very current concerns of environmental philosophers, bio- and neuro-ethicists. Their perspectives, too, are many and varied, so offer profound insights into key debates among other philosophical traditions, such as the Kantian, Hegelian, phenomenological, and process schools.