(Post)modernism and the Other

Broj 2 - Godina 1 - 06/2011

Uvodnik

There is always a good reason to cherish and celebrate a second issue of a journal. In our case it would probably be the fact that in spite of the severe world financial crisis and its repercussions on the academic world we found a way to beat the odds and publish what is hopefully a progressive, intellectually competitive and, at the end of the day, an interesting collection of academic papers. As opposed to the first issue, dedicated to the theme of the endangered "body", the second one functions as a form of proceedings from the conference that was held at the University of Zadar in September 2010. The conference entitled Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences questioned the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other through an extremely wide variety of scientific approaches, creating an atmosphere of highly academic competitiveness surrounded by a distinct Mediterranean ambiance. The second issue of our journal is an intellectual and textual extension of that unique experience. Obviously the papers presented here are merely a fragment of that experience but nevertheless we believe that they will provide the reader with an interesting and challenging insight into the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other. ..

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Izdvojeno

This article seeks to utilise Bourdieu’s conceptual framework published in 1984 to make sense of the educational decision of so-called ‘loser’ students in contemporary Hong Kong. The last few decades have witnessed a continuous expansion of education in many industrial-capitalist societies; yet, it is well documented that a class gap in educational attainment persists (e.g. Shavit and Blossfeld; Schofer and Meyer; see the collections in Torres and Antikainen). Many sociologists are agreed that such persistent class differential in educational attainment could be understood as a result of class-related distortions in the educational process (Marshall et al.). Indeed, a number of concepts have been proposed and many explanations have been advanced to explain the persistence of such a class gap and illustrate how this takes place (cf. Moore). No one would ever doubt the necessity of sociologists’ effort to illustrate how children of an advantaged class (usually labelled as the middle class) are much better able than their disadvantaged class counterparts (usually labelled as the working class) at each branching point – where social selection takes place (usually in the form of public examinations) to decide who could stay on in the education system and who could not after that point – to take advantage of an educational expansion so that the former would eventually attain a higher level of education. More specifically, in the case of Hong Kong, as will be discussed in more detail below, more middle-class students than working-class students pass two public examinations – the two important branching points – and eventually get a bachelor’s degree. However, I suggest that attention should also be paid to elucidate how class effects operate for students who fail at one of those branching points or both, so-called ‘loser’ students, so that we could understand why more middle-class students than their working-class counterparts, despite failing at previous stage(s), could still finally get a place in university. The term ‘loser’ could certainly be criticized for being derogative; but, in using it here, I do not have such intention: for the sake of convenience, I use it simply to refer to students who fail any necessary public examination and thus could not move on to the next stage in an education system. ...

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Although the novels of the French writer Lydie Salvayre tend to be soliloquic, they are far from being mono-logical: founded on the clashes of different logics and systems of value, discourses and desires, they embody the protagonists' inherent antagonism and rage, reflecting the violence of the outside world. This study analyses some common matrixes underlying Salvayre’s prose. It focuses on the manifestations of resistance to either external or self-imposed oppressions, restrictions and mystifications. It aims to demonstrate that Salvayre’s novels not only represent subjects in permanent and incurable crises, but also challenge the very imperative of the subject's constitution through the foreclosure of the other, of what is outside the self.Salvayre’s texts are typically monologues in which an individual strives to affirm his or her distinct unicity and separation from the rest of the universe. These discourses are defensive, since the protagonists present themselves as endangered by an external element, oppressed in a relationship or socially marginalized. At the same time, they are sarcastic and often (self)destructive. In those cases where the word is given to more than one character, the interaction does not result in a dialogue but in a series of speeches which do not intersect. The subjects blindly plead their cause and recognize only aggression and malevolence in the others’ discourse. The most obvious example can be found in the novel The Cintegabelle Conference (La Conférence de Cintegabelle): a local intellectual delivers a lengthy, pompous and heavy lecture on what he calls the lost art of conversation—cultural heritage which was once preeminently French, and is today sadly abandoned. Ironically, he who speaks out as a defender of the conversational virtue, remains blatantly monological; although very careful not to lose his listeners, he does not leave them any time even to answer his questions, showing interest in nothing but his own voice. Another irony resides in his confession that he used to be bored by the conversations with his wife while she was alive, whereas now that she is dead, he converses with her regularly and with great satisfaction. ...

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Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road did not receive much academic attention despite the fact that it is an exceptionally refined and capturing piece of fiction. It was critically acclaimed following its publication in 1961, nominated for the National Book Award in 1962 and then forgotten. Not surprisingly, the novel was “rediscovered” once a movie adaptation was made in 2008. Revolutionary Road is typically read – quite expectedly – as a story of suburban malaise and a critique of the American (suburban) life in the 1950s. However, in an interview, published in Ploughshares in 1972, Yates stated that although he intended the novel to be an indictment of American life in the 1950s because of a general lust for conformity (DeWitt and Clark 66), he never planned the novel to be anti-suburban in any way. On the contrary, he hoped to make it implicit in the text that he is writing about a particular couple, the Wheelers, and what turns out to be specifically “their delusion, their problem” (DeWitt and Clark 66). In that sense, the novel should be read as a psychological exploration of the universal issues of human desire and the relationship of the individual to the pre-established (social) system in which he or she lives. Consequently, it becomes clear that Yates’s novel hardly represents an indictment of a way of life, but quite the opposite: an indictment of the individual unable to adapt to the demands of the Other. In Lacanian terms, Revolutionary Road is a story about the unattainable desire to create one’s identity regardless or in spite of the socially constructed Symbolic order. ...

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The concept of social capital has been used very often in sociological researches over the last two decades. Measuring social capital in civil society, neighborhoods and educational systems is merely a part of its popular usage. Many sociologists tend to use the concept of social capital very freely and therefore expand the definition of social capital. The author’s personal experience indicates that there have been a great number of academic discussions, research planning and public speeches implementing the notion of social capital without taking a detailed consideration of what that concept truly entails. By overviewing the available literature on social capital, it is actually no wonder that both sociologists and the noted concept were in this confusing situation. As Field stated in his book Social Capital (Key Ideas), published in 2008, his work was “the first attempt to provide an extended introduction on increasingly influential concept of social capital” (Field 1). Quibria notes that even though there is a vast number of research conducted on social capital in many academic fields and with various approaches ‘the concept of social capital remains largely elusive’’(1). That obviously is not an obstacle because there is a constantly growing interest in social capital. A vast body of research concerning, measuring, and defining social capital is available today, which helps a researcher to analyze and compare all of the perspectives concerning social capital. This can be of great importance when researchers approach a somewhat new subject of research such as online communication and, more specifically, online games....

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