Lecture examines role of sociology

first_imgJocelyn Viterna, associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, delivered a lecture on the interdisciplinary field of development, sponsored by the Kellogg Institute on Tuesday afternoon. She spoke about the history and “identity crisis” of the field and on how a renewed interest in the field is allowing development to once again gain prominence in sociology. “At the close of World War II, everybody was asking these questions: Why are some countries poorer than others and what can be done to raise the standards of living for everyone?” Viterna said. “Answering these questions was thought to be necessary by both scholars of academic institutions as well as by politicians.” Viterna said the dependency and world system theory started losing credit during the 1980s, causing many sociologists in that field to become less welcoming to interdisciplinary work and research. A lot of people who were researching related disciplines described themselves as working with another subfield. “Development sociology had a sort of identity crisis within its own discipline,” Viterna said. “Sociologists like to complain that we have practically zero presence in a lot of development institutions, but I think sociologists have to own up to the fact that although we have very important things to say, we didn’t exactly make ourselves easy to find.” The discrediting of the dependency and world system theory also gave way to what some scholars call “the new consensus.”“‘The new consensus’ is that there’s not a grand new theory, there’s not a grand new explanation of ‘what is development,’” she said. “Now what we’re finding is there is consistent relevance of certain factors — these are these are institutions, social divisions human capital and targeted interventions affected.”“The new consensus” is multidisciplinary, but, according to Viterna, it draws heavily from sociological concepts, such as institutions, mobilization and transnationalism. “If you look at the scholarship on institutes and sociology, institutions themselves are fundamentally cultural,” she said. “But the idea of institutions is that they are these durable structures of knowledge. They embody norms and practices and because we have these institutions that reduce the uncertainty of human interaction and problems of coordination.”Viterna also said many scholars are concerned with how the mobilization of resources function, specifically with how they encourage competition between developing areas and are used by institutions to coerce participation. She mentioned one agency that would only provide resources if enough women held positions on a local council. “There’s this idea that we’re empowering women by ensuring that 50 percent of the positions are filled by women, but we have to acknowledge that this is coerced participation and we don’t know what the consequences of that are,” she said. “Coerced participants are never as ideologically committed as those who do it for more intellectual, more philosophical reasons.” Tags: Jocelyn Viterna, Kellogg Institue, sociologylast_img read more

Region 6 Councillors call for more pastures

first_img…as cattle continue to be poisonedThe ongoing feud between rice and cattle farmers in Corentyne, Berbice, has resulted in animals being killed. Some weeks ago, more than a dozen cattle were shot and persons were arrested but now scores of cattle are being poisoned.This has led to the call by Regional Democratic Councillors for more pastures to be made available to facilitate the thriving cattle industry in the region.When more than 300 acres of rice were destroyed by cattle in Corentyne, Berbice, last month, the rice farmers pleaded with Government to create a cattle pasture for the cattle owners but did not get the urgent response they were hoping for.Two weeks later, 14 cattle were shot and persons were arrested but as the police were getting information on the alleged weapons used, the suspects were identified as two persons with close alliances to a political party in the coalition Government. Following that, cattle started dying and a vet confirmed that they were being poisoned.Regional Councillor Gobin Harbhajan said that the animals are dying on a daily basis. He made the comments as he addressed the Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) Regional Democratic Council (RDC) during a recent meeting.“The rice farmer is protecting their rice and the cattle farmer is saying that the savannah in some parts is fenced so they can’t take their cattle there. Some parts are occupied so they have nowhere to carry the animals. The land must become available because during the previous Administration in the 80s under the PNC [People’s National Congress] it was a communal pasture and we have to keep it that way. As a Councillor, I am asking that we look at how we can solve this. We have to engage the Lands and Survey Department and notices should be sent out to those who are there and don’t fence the savannah,” Harbhajan said while adding that both the cattle and rice industries are equally important to the region’s economy.He also called for more pasture lands to be made available.Regional Chairman David Armogan noted that the current situation reemphasised the need for a clear land use police. Failing which farmers will continue to have conflicts.However, land leases which were given to farmers for the purposes of rearing cattle are worded: “to be used for agricultural purposes only”. With rice cultivation also being a part of agriculture, some farmers then switched to cattle, hence both cattle and rice are done in the same areas.“There is a lot of vacant GuySuCo [Guyana Sugar Corporation] land. All they have to do is to develop it; put water and everything and the grass will grow. In fact, it was pasture land before and GuySuCo took the land to grow more cane for the factory that was supposed to be operable. Unfortunately, that factory is not operable anymore,” the Chairman explained.He added that lands are available but belong to GuySuCo.“So Government will have to negotiate with GuySuCo to probably take back those lands,” he added.last_img read more

Roma couple face abduction and deceit charges

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram A Roma couple were remanded in custody on Monday for the abduction of a young girl who was found during a police raid on a Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece, last week, as a charity caring for the child said it had received thousands of queries from citizens with information and parents with missing children.The pair are to face trial for the abduction of a minor and the deceitful acquisition of official documents.Police, who have asked for Interpol’s help in finding the girl’s biological parents, released photographs of the couple and identified the man as Christos Salis, 39. The woman has two police identity cards with different names and dates and places of birth, one naming her Eleftheria Dimopoulou, aged 41, and the other naming her Selini Sali, aged 40. The couple reportedly insisted during their testimonies that they had adopted the girl from her birth mother, who they claimed was a Bulgarian national.The blond-haired child, who has been nicknamed Maria, is aged between 5 and 6, according to dental tests, officials at the Smile of the Child charity said. The nonprofit organization, which has been caring for Maria since she was removed from the Farsala camp, said it had received thousands of calls from Greece and abroad after appealing for information. The charity’s director Costas Yiannopoulos said Maria was “calm and happy” after a difficult transition.The girl was spotted by police last Wednesday during a raid on the camp in Farsala, near Larissa, when officers noticed that the pale-skinned blond child bore no resemblance to the other residents at the camp. Subsequent DNA tests showed she was not related to the Roma couple who had originally insisted that they were her natural parents before changing their story several times.In a related development, police raided two Roma camps in Zefyri and Avliza, northern Athens. Officials said the raids were part of routine checks for criminal activity and not linked to the investigation into the case of the girl from the Farsala camp. Nine people were arrested on a string of charges.Source: Kathimerinilast_img read more

House Budget Chair Ryan Proposes 2013 Budget ASA Reacts

first_imgHouse Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the House Republican budget proposal for FY2013 today during a speech before the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Chairman Ryan’s proposal calls for $33.2 billion in cuts to agricultural programs, focusing primarily on direct payments and crop insurance. These cuts, Rep. Ryan proposes, would be reconciled by the House Agriculture Committee. Additionally, the chairman’s budget includes a dramatic transformation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, which would cut $123 billion from the program and shift it to a state-run block grant program. American Soybean Association (ASA) First Vice President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., had this to say about Chairman Ryan’s budget proposal:”ASA is pleased to see a proposal that, through the reconciliation process, may lead to a faster consideration of a potential Farm Bill in the coming months. The cuts that Chairman Ryan proposes, however, are significantly higher than those agreed upon by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership during the Supercommittee process last fall, and that concerns us. Especially worrisome is the Chairman’s emphasis on the federal crop insurance program as an area for reduction. Crop insurance serves as the main safety net for America’s farmers, and its integrity must be protected.”Chairman Ryan does call for increased development of domestic energy sources, and mentions the potential for nuclear, wind and solar power. ASA applauds this effort and would remind the Chairman of the sustained success of the American biodiesel industry, one that created 50,000 jobs and saw a record production of 1.1 billion gallons last year, and remains the only advanced biofuel currently produced on a commercial scale across the U.S. The biodiesel industry creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and bolsters our energy security, all while displacing imported diesel with clean, American-made fuel.”As an industry, we have long maintained that we are ready and willing to accept our share of cuts, provided that those cuts are proportionate to other industries. We will continue that cooperative spirit in the interest of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order, however we encourage Chairman Ryan to remember that the record farm productivity that he cites in his budget is a direct result of policies that help those farms to grow.”last_img read more