Social Science and Social Policy: From National Dilemmas to Global Opportunities

5-9 September 2005, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay

Published in 2005 by the United Nations Educational,Scientifi c and Cultural Organisation1, rue Miollis75732 Paris Cedex 15FranceSHS-2005/WS/24 - cld // 21463

Social science has had an ambiguous relationship with social policy through-out its history. When the term and concept of social science first began to be used in the middle of the nineteenth century, the initial organizations that emerged to promote social science were not located in the universities but in the public sphere. They brought together not only scholars but persons active in the political arena, clergymen, and business people, and the primary objective of these associations was to promote reform, that is, what they considered to be more adequate social policies to ameliorate what they designated as social problems. The social problems of which they spoke were for the most part those associated with the expanding urban centers and the newly-emerging manufacturing sector of the economy. These associations felt that accumulating various kinds of data on these issues, usually statistical data, would illuminate the directions in which the State might proceed, by means of various new policies/reforms, to alleviate the ills that these associations perceived.

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Cultures in Conflict? Who are We? Who are the Others?

Published in Journal of the Interdisciplinary Crossroads Vol. 1, No. 3 (December, 2004), pp. 505–521 ISSN 0972-9801

This essay is an attempt to dissect the multiple universalisms and the multiple particularisms with which we are faced in trying to analyze our work and especially when we attempt to speak of culture.

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After Developmentalism and Globalization, What?

Keynote address at conference, "Development Challenges for the 21st Century," Cornell University, Oct. 1, 2004.

In 1900, in preparation for the Exposition Universelle in Paris, the French Ministry of Colonies asked Camille Guy, the head of its geographical service, to produce a book entitled Les colonies françaises: la mise en valeur de notre domaine coloniale. A literal translation of mise en valeur is “making into value.” The dictionary, however, translates “mise en valeur” as “development.” At the time, this expression was preferred, when talking about economic phenomena in the colonies, to the perfectly acceptable French word, “développement.” If one then goes to Les Usuels de Robert: Dictionnaire des Expressions et Locutions figurées (1979) to learn more about the meaning of the expression “mettre en valeur,” one finds the -explanation that it is used as a metaphor meaning “to exploit, draw profit from.”

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The Dilemmas of Open Space: the Future of the WSF

UNESCO 2004. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX42DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

The World Social Forum (WSF) seeks to bring together, in its own words, all those who oppose ‘‘neo-liberal globalisation’’ and ‘‘imperialism in all its forms’’. It hopes to serve as their common meeting-ground. It has adopted as its principal mode of operation the concept of the ‘‘open space’’. This concept is highly original; it is also quite controversial among the participants of the WSF itself.

We need to explore the origins of this concept of the ‘‘open space’’ and the reasons why it arouses so much fervour – both of those who are favourable to it and of those who are quite uneasy about it. And we need to explore the dilemmas the concept poses to the viability of the WSF itself.

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U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony

Published in Monthly Review on May 30, 2003.

I am going to start with two things with which I think nearly all MR readers will probably agree. One, imperialism is an integral part of the capitalist world-economy. It is not a special phenomenon. It has always been there. It always will be there as long as we have a capitalist world-economy. Two, we are experiencing at the moment a particularly aggressive and egregious form of imperialism, which is now even ready to claim that it is being imperialist.

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Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious Disciplines

This paper was delivered, as the 2002 Sidney W. Mintz Lecture, to the Department of Anthropology of The Johns Hopkins University on November 13, 2002.

The social construction of the disciplines as intellectual arenas that was made in the 19th century has outlived its usefulness and is today a major obstacle to serious intellectual work. Although the institutional framework of the disciplines remains strong, there are cracks in the structures of knowledge that make them less solid than most participants imagine. If the social sciences are to perform the social task demanded of them—providing wise counsel on the problems of the present—it is time that we harvested the richness of each discipline for use in their reconstruction. Some possible foundation stones for are constructed arena that might be called the historical social sciences are here suggested.

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New Revolts Against the System

Published in New Left Review, No. 18, November-December 2002

I coined the term ‘antisystemic movement’ in the 1970s in order to have a formulation that would group together what had, historically and analytically, been two distinct and in many ways rival kinds of popular movement—those that went under the name ‘social’, and those that were ‘national’.

Social movements were conceived primarily as socialist parties and trade unions; they sought to further the class struggle within each state against the bourgeoisie or the employers. National movements were those which fought for the creation of a national state, either by combining separate political units that were considered to be part of one nation—as, for example, in Italy—or by seceding from states considered imperial and oppressive by the nationality in question—colonies in Asia or Africa, for instance.

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The Eagle Has Crash Landed

Published in Foreign Policy, July-August 2002

The United States in decline? Few people today would believe this assertion. The only ones who do are the U.S. hawks, who argue vociferously for policies to reverse the decline. This belief that the end of U.S. hegemony has already begun does not follow from the vulnerability that became apparent to all on September 11, 2001. In fact, the United States has been fading as a global power since the 1970s, and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks as merely accelerated this decline. To understandwhy the so-called Pax Americana is on the wane requires examining the geopolitics of the 20th century, particularly of the century’s final three decades. This exercise uncovers a simple and inescapable conclusion: The economic, political, and military factors that contributed to U.S. hegemony are the same factors that will inexorably produce the coming U.S. decline.

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