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Network Society

How Social Relations rebuild Space(s)

Roberta Iannone, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy et al.

July 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-040-7
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

Edited by Gisela Goncalves, Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal and J. Paulo Serra, University of Beira Interior, Portugal

July 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-099-5
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

Edited by Simon Smith, University of Surrey and James Beauregard, Rivier University

August 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-063-6
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.

The Solitary Voice of Dissent

Using Foucault and Giddens to Understand an Existential Moment

Martin Kay

May 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-472-6
Availability: In stock
128pp. ¦ $28 £18 €22

This book urges respect for solitary dissent rather than censure. It equips a wide audience to understand what previously seemed unimaginable, much less comprehensible. It shows the reader how to reach beyond those first conclusions and into the heart of the matter. The lone voice explains that something has been hidden away, something which the individual now dissenting can no longer acquiesce in. It raises the possibility that more may be seriously wrong. Those who need to understand range from academics, to researchers, to managers, to elected representatives, to journalists. We all have an interest in knowing not just what has gone wrong but also why this person, and no other, decided they could take no more. If we are to correct a bad situation, rather than just patch it up, we need clarity at every level of the individual’s deepening unease. The book uses four case studies (two in Ireland, one in UK, all on the record, and one authoritative biography of a well-known Italian personality), to demonstrate an approach to analyzing solitary dissent. The methods used are academic but, in the way they are presented, certainly intelligible to the lay-reader. Indeed, the author (who is one of the case studies) writes with a degree of affection for his two authorities, Michel Foucault and Anthony Giddens, which is engaging, anything but formal, but no less authoritative for that. Another persuasive output of the book is the resonance of solitary dissent with Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism which is also analysed. The Solitary Voice of Dissent is limited by the extent to which the author has been able to delve into the personal privacy of the case studies offered. With commendable detachment, he is able to examine his own experience; and the biography he has selected allows a similarly deep investigation into the fourth case study. While each personality investigated was male, the author also identifies certain contemporary female dissenters. This is an area increasingly impacting upon the public’s awareness but which no-one has written about before. If we are to mend our society, we need to start a conversation. A wide audience will wish to follow it.

Confessions and Declarations of Multicolored Men

Frederick Douglass Alcorn, University of Puget Sound

July 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-059-9
Availability: In stock
284pp. ¦ $45 £32 €40

This book is a culturally situated study of the experiences and perspective garnered from of a group of post-secondary Black African American, bi-multi-racial male students aged 19-37. The undergirding interest was to see if there was an awareness of the group's manly inclinations, tendencies and predispositions and understand how such awareness projects and influences their quest and discipline for learning and to academically achieve. The sociological construct of "habitus", as conveyor of dispositions, inclinations, and tendencies, provides an analytical framework permitting an appreciation of interactions between personal identity, social belonging and approaches to learning and education. The result is an original and powerful account of the ways in which unspoken dominant mainstream intergroup cultural relationships, involving social-political attitudes, decision making, and behavioral reactions and responses, interact with internalized self-in-group or in ascription with group, oppression, repression, intellectual-cognitive-physical strategies, determination, and work, that have brought men of Black African American, bi-multi-racial descent, in the U.S., to their current social position. Unlike some public discourse in U.S. society, this is not a blame game, nor is it one of relinquishing self or group responsibility, but one based upon and motivated by a deeper understanding of complex facts. The prose can be best described as an ethnographical narrative, synthesizing a wealth of original observations with insights from scholarly and popular literature and media. Its original and engaging style may appeal to a broad audience including postsecondary educators and students, researchers studying the sociology of gender, African American identity, intercultural relational communications, student services, social work, and social psychology as well as mental and physical healthcare practitioners.

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