March 14, 2008
1893 French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) first used the term ‘cohésion sociale’ in his 1893 publication entitled De la division du travail social (1893:133) (Durkheim 1893:133)(later published in English as The Division of Labour in Society). He built on and critiqued 19th century theories of progress, evolution and Darwinism (Spencer, van Gierke) from a sociological point of view. Using the same metaphors employed by Herbert Spencer or Otto von Gierke of biological organisms versus complex machines, Durkheim argued that traditional societies, such as subsistence farming communities, were more mechanical than organic since members were more homogenous, sharing a common heritage and values, well-regulated social norms and social behaviours and a collective consciousness that subsumed individual consciousness. In contrast modern societies, where there is a complex division of labour promotes an organic unity resembling complex living organisms that promote social cohesion. He argued that, “la division du travail [est] une source de cohésion sociale. Elle ne rend pas seulement les individus solidaires, comme nous l’avons dit jusqu’ici, parce qu’elle limite l’activité de chacun, mais encore parce qu’elle l’augmente. Elle accroît l’unité de l’organisme, par cela seul qu’elle en accroît la vie; du moins, à l’état normal, elle ne produit pas un de ces effets sans l’autre (1893:133) .”
“C’est donc à tort qu’on a vu parfois dans la division du travail le fait fondamental de toute vie sociale. Le travail ne se partage pas entre individus indépendants et déjà différenciés qui se réunissent et s’associent pour mettre en commun leurs différentes aptitudes. Car ce serait un miracle que des différences, ainsi nées au hasard des circonstances, pussent se raccorder aussi exactement de manière à former un tout cohérent. Bien loin qu’elles précèdent la vie collective, elles en dérivent. Elles ne peuvent se produire qu’au sein d’une société et sous la pression de sentiments et de besoins sociaux ; c’est ce qui fait qu’elles sont essentiellement harmoniques. Il y a donc une vie sociale en dehors de toute division du travail, mais que celle-ci suppose. C’est, en effet, ce que nous avons directement établi en faisant voir qu’il y a des sociétés dont la cohésion est essentiellement due à la communauté des croyances et des sentiments, et que c’est de ces sociétés que sont sorties celles dont la division du travail assure l’unité. Les conclusions du livre précédent et celles auxquelles nous venons d’arriver peuvent donc servir à se contrôler et à se confirmer mutuellement. La division du travail physiologique est elle-même soumise à cette loi : elle n’apparaît jamais qu’au sein de masses polycellulaires qui sont déjà douées d’une certaine cohésion (Durkheim 1893).”
1916 The concept of social capital was first used in the context of education to explain the importance of community involvement for successful schools (L. J. Hanifan 1916). During the 20th century the concept of social capital has changed according to the prevailing ideological climate. Social capital then can be seen as a tool for public policy through which social cohesion might be acheived. See (Cheong et al. 2007). In a sense Hanifan (1916) was describing how social cohesion was acheived through accumulation of social capital: “those tangible substances [that] count for most in the daily lives of people: namely good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit….The individual is helpless socially, if left to himself….If he comes into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the coöperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors (L. J. Hanifan 1916 cited in Putnam 2000).”
1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 in order to strengthen the protection of human rights at international level.
1948 In a short radio interview under the title, “Planned Science,” (1998: 106-111 Ealy 2002) research chemist Michael Polanyi explained why true science was resistant to central planning by using the metaphor of polycellular organisms as did sociologist Emile Durkheim in his explanation of social cohesion. Science is systematic, but “the nature of scientific systems is more akin to the ordered arrangement of living cells which constitute a polycellular organism.” Steven D. Ealy (2002) described how “Polanyi’s professional work led him to consider the broader implications of science as an institution, first, to an examination of the nature of the scientific enterprise and questions of scientific governance, and then, to consider the institutional arrangements appropriate for complex societies.” As Ealy noted (2002) Polanyi rejected “the image of men building a house, with the blueprints as the plan. Scientists cooperate by adjusting their research to the research and findings of other scientists working in the same field as they pursue their own research agenda, just as in embryonic development healthy cells adjust their growth to the surrounding cells. But this image too proves inadequate. “The actual situation . . . may perhaps be better captured by using Milton’s simile, which likens truth to a shattered statue, with fragments lying widely scattered and hidden in many places. Each scientist on his own initiative pursues independently the task of finding one fragment of the statue and fitting it to those collected by others.”But even this is inadequate, for it will be obvious (setting aside certain contemporary works of art) when the statue is incomplete, but science always appears to be a complete whole. Polanyi therefore modifies Milton’s image by stipulating that the shattered statue appears to be complete even as new pieces are being added and that its meaning is modified—to the surprise of those watching— with each addition. This is crucial in understanding why central planning in science cannot work. No committee of scientists, however distinguished, could forecast the further progress of science except for the routine extension of the existing system. No important scientific advance could ever be foretold by such a committee. The problems allocated by it would therefore be of no real scientific value. They would either be devoid of originality, or if, throwing prudence to the winds, the committee once ventured on some really novel proposals, their suggestions would invariably prove impractical. For the points at which the existing system of science can be effectively amended reveal themselves only to the individual investigator. And even he can discover only through a lifelong concentration on one particular aspect of science a small number of practicable and really worth-while problems. In a number of studies Polanyi continues his critique of central planning in science and his understanding of the “self government of science.” The scientific enterprise involves what Polanyi calls “general authority,” characterized by rules of art and individual freedom to pursue research, “governed” by a loose set of institutions that publicize and evaluate scientific activity and maintain professional standards. He then extends his analysis to consider the cognitive limitations on central planning in complex organizations and societies—some of this work paralleling that of Hayek. Although Polanyi uses the term“polycentric” in a technical sense in his papers, I think it can be helpful to think of that term as applicable to an understanding of society which sees multiple sources and locations of social power, none of which are “comprehensive and authoritative” in a final sense—just as there is no “final authority” in science (except in a very temporary and localized way).” Ealy (2002) continues by suggesting that, “A fruitful avenue for future research would be to relate Polanyi’s discussion of the self-government of science to a consideration of civil society. The concept of civil society, so popular right now, can be particularly important to the extent it is developed with an understanding that community and intermediary institutions are actually independent, control their own affairs, and have the resources and power to influence the direction(s) of social change (as opposed to being merely “delagatees” of governmental chores).” For more on how Polanyi offered an alternative to the political vision of Strauss and Will see Ealy (2002).
1949-05-05 Treaty of London, establishing the Council of Europe, signed by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. It “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” (dates >> COE)
1950-11-04 Signature in Rome of the Council’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – the first international legal instrument safeguarding human rights. (dates >> COE)
1954-12-19 Signature of the European Cultural Convention, forming the framework for the Council’s work in education, culture, youth and sport. (dates >> COE)
1956-04-16 Creation of the resettlement Fund (which is now the Council of Europe Development Bank), intended to help member States finance social projects. (dates >> COE)
1957-01-12 The Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (now the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe) set up by the Council of Europe, to bring together local and regional authority representatives. (dates >> COE)
1959-09-18 The European Court of Human Rights established by the Council in Strasbourg, under the European Convention on Human Rights, to ensure observance of the obligations undertaken by contracting states. (dates >> COE) (dates >> COE)
1959 In his article entitled “What is Political Philosophy?” Leo Strauss’ identified the major premise underlying political philosophy as the notion that “the political association . . . is the most comprehensive or authoritative association” in society (1959:13). Ealy (2002) offered a critique of this position based on the argument that “the political” exists in the modern world only by analogy, and that the use of the political analogy allows many assumptions, perhaps true of the ancient Greek Polis, to be applied without serious thought to the modern state.”
1961-10-18 The Council’s European Social Charter signed in Turin as the economic and social counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights. (dates >> COE)
1962 E Rogers, E. published Diffusion of Innovations
1961 Urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs (1916-) used the term social capital in reference to the value of networks (1961, 1969). Some trace the modern usage of the term social capital to her writings of the 1960s which took in the wider issues of economics and social relations. While working for the Architectural Forum (1952-), Jacobs observed how the magazine editors believed in urban renewal and considered Yale alumni Ed Logue, an Ivy League establishment guru, to be a hero of the modernist urban renewal campaigns. Jacobs claimed Logue inadvertently destroyed both New Haven and much of central Boston to the detriment of older neighbourhoods rich in social capital. Jacobs lived in Boston in 1972 and remembered the North End as a vibrant Italian blue collar neighborhood, very insular, but tremendously active—full of all the pork stores, the cheese stores and the cookie stores. Jacobs seized the imagination of an otherwise extremely complacent era in her seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) a stark criticism of the experiment of Modernist urbanism. She urged Americans to look to the traditional wisdom of the vernacular city with its vibrant neighbourhoods and streets as it fundamental units. See (Jacobs, Kunster 2001).
1972-06-01 The Council’s first European Youth Centre is opened in Strasbourg (France). (dates >> COE)
1980-03-27 The Pompidou Group established by the Council as a multi-disciplinary forum for inter-ministerial co-operation against drug abuse and trafficking. (dates >> COE)
1988 James Coleman used the term social capital which loosely refers to social networks that depend on reciprocity and mutual trust.
1989-06-08 Special guest status introduced by the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, to forge closer links with the parliaments of new member states moving towards democracy. (dates >> COE)
1990-04-30 The Council’s North/South Centre opened in Lisbon (Portugal). (dates >> COE)
1990-05-10 The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the “Venice Commission”) established by the Council to deal with legal guarantees on democracy. (dates >> COE)
1990-11-06 Accession of the first State from the former Soviet Block: Hungary. (dates >> COE)
1993 Robert Putnam (1993, 1995, 2000) further developed the concept of social capital.
1993-10-08 First Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government in Vienna (Austria) adopts a declaration confirming its pan-European vocation and setting new political priorities in protecting national minorities and combating all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. (dates >> COE)
1993-08 Michael M Cernea, Sociologist and Senior Adviser, World Bank, Washington, DC, USA: ‘Sociological Work Within a Development Agency – Experiences in the World Bank‘, August 1993.
1994-01-17 The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) set up by the Council’s Committee of Ministers to replace the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. (dates >> COE)
1995 Ignacy Sachs, ‘Searching for New Development Strategies: The Challenge of the Social Summit’, Policy Paper no 1 (Paris: UNESCO, 1995).
1995 Roskilde Symposium (Denmark 1995) ‘From Social Exclusion to Social Cohesion: a policy agenda’, convened on the eve of the Copenhagen conference, and jointly sponsored by UNESCO, WHO, ILO, and the European Commission DG XII’. See also Bessis, Sophie. 1995. “From social exclusion to social cohesion: towards a policy agenda.” Policy Paper – No. 2. Management of Social Transformations (MOST) – UNESCO. The Roskilde Symposium. University of Roskilde, Denmark. 2-4 March 1995.
1996 Judith Maxwell presented a paper entitled “Social Dimensions of Economic Growth” as part of the Eric John Hanson Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Alberta in which she defined social cohesion as . . .
1997-10-10 Second Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government, in Strasbourg (France). (dates >> COE)
1998 Jane Jenson published “Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research” as part of the Canadian Policy Research Networks, Ottawa.
1998-11-01 Single permanent European Court of Human Rights was established in Strasbourg under Protocol No. 11 to the Council’s European Convention on Human Rights, replacing the existing system. This is the only truly judicial organ established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It is composed of composed of one Judge for each State party to the Convention and ensures, in the last instance, that contracting states observe their obligations under the Convention. Since November 1998, the Court has operated on a full-time basis.” (dates >> COE)
1998-01-04”To have an economy with a Labor Government where the pound is too strong rather than too weak is quite a notable achievement,” said Anthony Giddens, director of the London School of Economics. Mr. Giddens’s concept of effecting consensual change not from the right or the left but from the ”radical center” has been adopted by Mr. Blair as his own. [. . .] It was academics from his London School of Economics, led by William Beveridge in 1942, who formulated the basis of the welfare state that the Labor Government of Clement Attlee created in 1945 to help Britain recover from World War II.[ The social security part of the budget now reaches $170 billion, or one-third of the Government's spending, a tempting target for an administration that has promised greater social cohesion while pledging to hold the line on taxes and spending. This outlay for welfare has continued to grow even through the Conservative years. [. . .] According to David G. Green, director of the health and welfare unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs, 30 percent of the British population now rely on subsidies where only 4 percent did in 1951 (Hoge 1998-01-04)”
1999 “At the Berlin European Council in March 1999, the Heads of State and Government reached agreement on Agenda 2000, an action plan put forward by the Commission principally to strengthen the Community’s policies and provide the Union with a new financial framework for 2000-06 in preparation for enlargement. In this context, Agenda 2000 also included the reform of the Structural Funds. Consequently, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund now have a new legal framework, which should remain in place until 2006 (NSA UK 2003).”
2000 Robert D. Putnam published his highly influential book entitled Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community. Putnam described how Americans had “become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and democratic structures– and how we may reconnect. Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities. Putnam draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often. We’re even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues. Putnam shows how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women’s roles and other factors have contributed to this decline (http://www.bowlingalone.com/).” Putnam was invited to the White House by President Bill Clinton in xxxx to discuss his research and its implications. (Social capital is a term developed by Pierre Bourdieu?)
2001-03-13 (I believe this is the first time the Directorate Generale published an article using the term social cohesion MFB 2008-03-11.) The Directorate General on Social Cohesion published its second issue of the electronic newsletter ” Social cohesion : developments ”. Children are the main theme of this issue. There is an article about the Final Conference of the Programme for Children that took place in Nicosia in November 2000. It also presents some NGOs that participated in the Forum for Children. Moreover, this newsletter introduces the new strategy for the protection of children in Romania and presents some of the main issues of the international conference on child labour exploitation. “‘Social Cohesion: Developments’ Newsletter: hits the newstands.” http://www.social.coe.int/en/cohesion/strategy/devunit.htm
2001-12 Building Cohesive Communities: A Report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion UK. discussed social cohesion.
2001-12 Community Cohesion: A Report of the Independent Review Team UK Chaired by Ted Cantle, December 2001 discussed social cohesion.
2003 The Community Services Council Newfoundland and Labrador published their “Glossary of Terms for the Voluntary Sector.” which included a definition of social cohesion.
2003-01-03 Jean Cassidy compiled a glossary of terms used in discussing poverty and social exclusion for a non-specialist audience entitled “Combat Poverty Agency – Glossary of Poverty and Social Inclusion Terms” for the Combat Poverty Agency. She included Social cohesion: Bringing together, in an integrated way, economic, social, health and educational policies to facilitate the participation of citizens in societal life.; Social exclusion: The process whereby certain groups are pushed to the margins of society and prevented from participating fully by virtue of their poverty, low education or inadequate lifeskills. This distances them from job, income and education opportunities as well as social and community networks. They have little access to power and decision-making bodies and little chance of influencing decisions or policies that affect them, and little chance of bettering their standard of living; Social inclusion:Ensuring the marginalised and those living in poverty have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives, allowing them to improve their living standards and their overall well-being; Social Inclusion Units: Structures developed or being developed by local authorities which have a dedicated emphasis on tackling social exclusion. These Units seek to extend key elements of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS) to local level and to promote social inclusion as a key priority within local government.” The site was modified on 2003-12-01.
2003-01 NSA of UK. 2003. “Social Cohesion – Prospect and Promise.” A statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom.
2004-06-24 “Jean-Louis Borloo, Ministre de l’emploi, de la cohésion sociale et du logement présentait en conseil des ministres le Plan de cohésion sociale, comportant 20 programmes et 107 mesures destinés à agir simultanément sur trois leviers : l’emploi, le logement et l’égalité des chances.” “Il n’y aura pas de croissance durable sans cohésion sociale.” more: http://www.travail-solidarite.gouv.fr/espaces/social/grands-dossiers/plan-cohesion-sociale/20-programmes-107-mesures-pour-cohesion-sociale-7255.html
2005-05-16 Third Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government, in Warsaw (Poland). (dates >> COE) “The current Council of Europe‘s political mandate was defined by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw in May 2005. It “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” (dates >> COE)
2005 “Recent applications of social capital theories to population health often draw on classic sociological theories for validation of the protective features of social cohesion and social integration. Durkheim’s work on suicide has been cited as evidence that modern life disrupts social cohesion and results in a greater risk of morbidity and mortality—including self-destructive behaviors and suicide. We argue that a close reading of Durkheim’s evidence supports the opposite conclusion and that the incidence of self-destructive behaviors such as suicide is often greatest among those with high levels of social integration. A reexamination of Durkheim’s data on female suicide and suicide in the military suggests that we should be skeptical about recent studies connecting improved population health to social capital (Kushner and Sterk 2005).”
2006-12-06. Ferroni, Marco. 2006. “Social Capital and Social Cohesion: Definition and Measurement.” Medicion de la Calidad de Vida. (IDB) Sustainable Development Department. Inter-American Development Bank. Washington DC. Taller de Consulta sobre. December 8. PowerPoint Presentation. .
2007 “In recent years, there has been an intense public and policy debate about ethnic diversity, community cohesion, and immigration in Britain and other societies worldwide. In addition, there has been a growing preoccupation with the possible dangers to social cohesion represented by growing immigration flows and ethnic diversity. This paper proposes a critical framework for assessing the links between immigration, social cohesion, and social capital. It argues that the concept of social capital is episodic, socially constructed and value-based, depending on the prevailing ideological climate. Considerations of social capital as a public policy tool to achieve social cohesion need to incorporate an appreciation of alternative conceptions of social capital rooted in a textured under-standing of immigrant processes and migration contexts (Cheong et al. 2007).”
2007-10-05In his New York Times Op-Ed article entitled “The Republican Collapse, Brooks argued that the Burkean dispositional conservatism which emerged after the French Revolution has been abandoned by different creedal conservatism: 1) free market conservatives (1967-2008-) built on freedom and capitalism. (creedal conservatives like William F. Buckley, George F. Will and Andrew Sullivan value transformational leadership and perpetual tax cuts, devolve power to the individual, through tax cuts, private pensions and medical accounts, at the price of social cohesion. 1967-2007 free market conservatives within the GOParty have put freedom [with government as a threat to freedom] at the center of their political philosophy); 2) religious conservatives built on a conception of a transcendent order. Within the G.O.P. they have argued that social policies should be guided by the eternal truths of natural law and that questions about stem cell research and euthanasia should reflect the immutable sacredness of human life; and 3) Neoconservatives and others built a creed around the words of Lincoln and the founders. Edmund Burke’s ideology of conservatism was based on a reverence for tradition, a suspicion of radical change, epistemological modesty, awareness of the limitations on what we do and can know, what we can and cannot plan, power must always be clothed in constitutionalism. “The Burkean conservative believes that society is an organism; that custom, tradition and habit are the prime movers of that organism; and that successful government institutions grow gradually from each nation’s unique network of moral and social restraints.” “Temperamental conservative believes government is like fire — useful when used legitimately, but dangerous when not.” Dispositional Burkean conservative puts legitimate authority at the center.” But temperamental conservatives are suspicious of the idea of settling issues on the basis of abstract truth. These kinds of conservatives hold that moral laws emerge through deliberation and practice. The temperamental conservative does not see a nation composed of individuals who should be given maximum liberty to make choices. Instead, the individual is a part of a social organism and thrives only within the attachments to family, community and nation that precede choice.” “Therefore, the Burkean dispositional (temperamental) conservative values social cohesion alongside individual freedom and worries that too much individualism, too much segmentation, too much tension between races and groups will tear the underlying unity on which all else depends. Without unity, the police are regarded as alien powers, the country will fracture under the strain of war and the economy will be undermined by lack of social trust.” Brooks, David. 2007-10-05. “The Republican Collapse.” New York Times. Dispositional (temperamental) conservatives such as suburban, Midwestern and many business voters value order, prudence and balanced budgets in contrast to creedal conservatives.
2008-08-29 The theme of the 32nd annual conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies is Religion and Social Cohesion.” The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of interest in the role that religion can play as a source of social conflict, on the one hand, and a force of social cohesion on the other. The roots of the term religion – a force of social cohesion. In this regard, religion continues to play a primary role in identity formation even as it reaches to the deepest wells of human commitment and motivation. The Bahá’í Faith, while acknowledging abuses and corruptions of the religious impulse, “declares the purpose of religion to be the promotion of amity and concord, proclaims its essential harmony with science, and recognizes it as the foremost agency for the pacification and the orderly progress of human society. Recent expressions of religious intolerance, conflict and violence have caused leaders of thought, policy makers, and academics to ponder if, or how, religion can play a more constructive role in processes of social integration. How can this force that binds people together, shapes human identities, and reaches to the depths of human motivation, be aligned with the construction of a peaceful, just, and sustainable social order in an age of increasing interdependence among the world’s diverse peoples? These are themes that will be explored at the 32nd annual conference of the North American Association for Bahá’í Studies. New and experienced presenters and participants, from all backgrounds and disciplines, are welcome. Possible topics for presentation might include, but are not limited to: the role of the global plans of the Bahá’í community in promoting social cohesion; implications of a Bahá’í culture of learning for processes of social integration; the critique of religion articulated within the “new atheist” discourse of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and others; social cohesion, public policy, and effective governance; processes of social integration and disintegration; the religious construction of social reality; the psychology of human motivation and identity formation; religion in social development; the forces of attraction and the science of cohesion; and the sources of, and solutions to, religious conflict (source ?).”
Filed in Economics, governance, heimlich, hospitality, Public Policy, religion and politics, Social History Timeline, Social Sciences, Sociology, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, timelines
Tags: Council of Europe, definitions, disparities in wealth and income, Economy, governance, human rights, Jane Jenson, key concepts, OECD, political action, public policy formation network, social change, social cohesion, social exclusion, social inclusion, timeline, timeline:social cohesion, values
March 12, 2008
Some of the most compelling work currently being done in the name of social cohesion is undertaken under the auspices of the Council of Europe, formed in Post WWII. The Council of Europe’s Directorate General of Social Cohesion (DG III) among other things “develops interaction and synergies between the work of the Council of Europe in the field of social cohesion and other European, regional and universal actors in the field of social cohesion through targeted contacts and liaison with the competent services and bodies of the United Nations family, the OSCE, OECD, the World Bank and the European Union, taking into account the specific responsibilities of the DGAP ( Mandate >> COE).”
“The subject of social cohesion has attracted much attention from inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental organisations during since c. 1993 prompted by a widely-held belief that the quality of public and civic life is in decline (Cantle 2001, MGPOCC 2001, NSAUK 2003).” Social inclusion is one of the major challenges of governance in this advanced stage of globalization where nations are at the threshold of post-nationalism.“Cultural activities have the potential of encouraging social cohesion. Cultural industries encompass production and distribution as well as their related knowledge systems. There is a tension between the need for those who are developing and implementing public policy to engage in political and budgetary arbitration while reflecting on the long-term objectives of reconciliation which involves the slower processes of memory work with its passions and anxieties (Flynn-Burhoe “Cultural policy in a highly pluralistic society.” 2005).”
Definitions of social cohesion
“Social cohesion is the capacity for cooperation in society based on the set of positive effects accruing from social capital, in addition to the sum of factors promoting equity in the distribution of opportunities among individuals (Ferroni 2006).” Social capital and social cohesion are relevant dimensions of the standard of living, both as means to attain certain desired results and ends in themselves. Social capital and social cohesion are increasingly invoked as desiderata in the evolving discussion of the social agenda and social rights in Latin American Countires. Ferroni illustrated how interpersonal trust and trust in institutions eroded between 1996 and 2004.
“The literature on social cohesion is rich and varied, yet poorly integrated. Social cohesion is a measure of how tightly coupled, robust and unified a community is across a set of indicators. A community with a strong sense of identity and shared goals is considered to be more cohesive than one without these qualities. A cohesive community is also able to buffer more effectively changes resulting from realignments of international actors, national priorities, local political climates, economic upturns or downturns and the introduction of new technologies. Recent developments in agricultural biotechnology and their subsequent commercialisation give us a unique opportunity to chart how agricultural communities adjust to this suite of technologies. There is little agreement on how to define social cohesion. This is somewhat startling considering how widely used this concept is, and how quickly some claim that social cohesion has declined in recent years. Moreover, such assertions suggest that social cohesion is a desired state instead of its more likely manifestation as a process that reflects the changing nature of social relations. (Mehta 2002-11-27).</a>”
“Judith Maxwell (1996) considers the relationship between social cohesion and a range of social conditions that indicate when a society fails to function adequately. Maxwell (1996: 13) defines social cohesion as the sharing of values that reduce “…disparities in wealth and income” while giving people a sense of community. It is assumed from this definition that strongly cohesive societies are better able to face the challenges posed by social, economic and technological change. Many of the debates over new innovations in agricultural biotechnology pick up on this thread. We will now turn to the relationship between social cohesion and biotechnology by examining the challenges and opportunities posed by this technology to various actors (s0urce ?).”
“Jane Jenson (1998: 3) suggests that social cohesion became popular as a topic of discourse because it illuminates the interconnections between “economic restructuring, social change and political action.” Furthermore, Jenson notes that a cohesive society is assumed to be socially and economically optimal according to a range of governmental agencies and organisations like the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), and that a decline in cohesion represents a threat to the social order. However, it is worth noting that changes in social cohesion are considered to be much more than simply a threat to the economy (source ?).”
Social Cohesion “is the ongoing process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunities within Canada, based on a sense of trust, hope and reciprocity among all Canadians.” CSC. 2003. “A Glossary of Terms for the Voluntary Sector.” Community Services Council Newfoundland and Labrador. http://www.envision.ca/templates/profile.asp?ID=56
Jean Cassidy compiled a glossary of terms used in discussing poverty and social exclusion for a non-specialist audience entitled “Combat Poverty Agency – Glossary of Poverty and Social Inclusion Terms” for the Combat Poverty Agency. She included Social cohesion: Bringing together, in an integrated way, economic, social, health and educational policies to facilitate the participation of citizens in societal life (Cassidy 2003).
PhD student Marlene De Beer, whose PhD research study focused on social cohesion discourses, their relevance for education policy and practice and interventions by international organisations to develop social cohesion through education suggested in her 2003 paper (2003-09-01) that “There are multiple perspectives on social cohesion, and the following could be seen as influential academic conceptual developments: Social cohesion is a ongoing process that deals with bipolar dimensions of: belonging / isolation, inclusion / exclusion, participation / non-involvement, recognition / rejection, legitimacy / illegitimacy, equality / inequality, reciprocity, trust, hope and shared values (Paul Bernard, 1999; Caroline Beauvais and Jane Jenson, 2002; Sharon Jeannotte, 2000; Sharon Jeannotte, Dick Stanley, Ravi Pendakur, Bruce Jamieson, Maureen Williams, and Amanda Aizlewood, 2002; Jane Jenson, 1998 & 2002; Dick Stanley, 2002; Maureen Williams, 2001). Social cohesion is about wanting to take part (vs. dropping out / opting out); being allowed to take part (vs. discrimination); and being able to take part (vs. deprivation, enabling) (Talja Blockland, 2000:56-70, also see Selma Sevenhuijsen, 1998) (De Beer, Marlene. 2003.)”
Social cohesion: The capacity to live together in harmony with a sense of mutual commitment among citizens of different social or economic circumstances (Senate of Canada definition, based on a review of common elements in various national definitions). (CIRCLE/CCRN, 2000, p. 3)3.
See also Timeline of social events related to social cohesion http://snipurl.com/23a8u Webliography and bibliography related to social cohesion, What is Being Done in the Name of Social Cohesion? as well as http://snipurl.com/23a2b 2 http://snipurl.com/23a77
This theme is also being developed on the page entitled Key Concepts: Social Cohesion >> Speechless.
Creative Commons License 3.0
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “What is Being Done in the Name of Social Cohesion?” >> Speechless. March 11. First Draft. Last modified March 12, 2008.
Filed in governance, Political Philosophy, postnational, Public Policy, religion and politics, social cohesion, Social History Timeline, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: Council of Europe, definitions, disparities in wealth and income, Economy, governance, human rights, Jane Jenson, key concepts, OECD, political action, public policy formation network, social change, social cohesion, social exclusion, social inclusion, values
September 6, 2007
In his May 10, 2007 Address to Shareholders, Paul Desmarais Jr. CEO of the Power Corporation of Canada compared and contrasted his corporation with private equity and hedge funds.
In recent years private equity funds have grown at a phenomenal pace. Collectively they have brought about the privatization of public companies worldwide worth $900 billion! In 2006 alone, the 10 largest private equity funds raised $120 billion in new money destined for privatizations. At first an American phenomenon, private equity funds spread to Canada, the U.K., continental Europe and even Japan. Today in the U.K., 19% of private sector employees, or 3.3 million people, work for businesses owned by private equity firms. In Germany the number is 800,000.
In their early years, private equity funds often brought an added value and better governance to the companies they privatized by replacing ineffective and complacent boards of directors. While they were then generally met by fiercely resistant business managers opposed to privatization, nowadays their job is made easier by the growing number of public company executives who, frustrated by the tedious, distracting and costly compliance to modern-day governance rules and regulations, are more receptive to the idea of private equity funds taking them private. And, let’s not forget that, in today’s world, managers are more mobile and can gravitate to the numerous opportunities offered by private equity funds, where they can receive considerable compensation over a relatively short period of time, while being sheltered from public scrutiny and sensational headlines.
Meanwhile hedge funds, which by nature have a shorter time horizon, now number 9,000 and manage in excess of $1 trillion (that’s right, one thousand billions!). In 2006 alone, $126 billion of new money flowed into U.S. hedge funds. Their presence in the financial markets is substantial: for example, they account for between 30% and 50% of transactions on the New York and London stock exchanges! These funds are lightly regulated private investment pools which initially attracted endowment funds and wealthy individuals, but which today also have pension funds and insurance companies as investors.
While many hedge funds are devoted to generating short-term returns by leveraging financial instruments, I would like to focus on those funds which take positions in widely held public companies and become “activist shareholders” with the view of pressuring those companies into actions which, in turn, will quickly result in added value for shareholders, including themselves. Once they become shareholders, they will often align with other institutional investors who are shareholders of the company, and promote whatever initiatives could quickly generate added value: sale or spinoff s of divisions, cash dividends or repurchase of shares, and cuts in operating costs, are a few examples of what can be on their agenda, in addition to their ultimate goal of an outright sale of the company, which would fetch a premium for control (Desmarais 2007a:3.)
In the same month in an article published in the Canadian Council of Chief Executives journal National and Global Perspectives Desmarais warned of the structural impact on the industrialized world caused by the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds in the financial markets.
Is it not ironic that the principal investors in private equity and hedge funds – large institutional investors – are happy to put massive amounts of money in the hands of people who do not register with any securities commission, or have few, if any, governance regulations to adhere to and report on? (Desmarais 2007:16).
In the same edition both Gordon Nixon and Dominic D’Alessandro echoed their concerns.
In 2006, more than 100 of Canada’s public companies were acquired by foreign interests. The list includes some of the oldest and most well-established companies across a broad spectrum of industries – everything from hotels to retailing, to metals and mining [. . .] My concern stems from the fact that the world is awash with capital and that the consolidation trend in many industries will inevitably continue. We are a small country with a relatively small population. Canadian companies typically are not of a size to be global players. All too often, decisions affecting the future of important firms and the communities that they sustain are made solely with a view to the short-term financial consequences. I find it particularly bothersome that so many of our natural resource companies – which I would argue represent unique and irreplaceable assets – are now owned elsewhere (D’Alessandro 2007).
Over the past year, 116 Canadian public companies were acquired by foreign interests, more than any other major country including much bigger economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and all the Nordic countries combined. We have not only seen the disappearance of major Canadian household names, but the loss of Canadian presence in industries where we have long had traditional strengths (Nixon 2007:5).
In May and June, 2007 the 150 C-Suite executives from the top 1000 corporations interviewed by the Gandalf Group were generally optimistic about the Canadian economy (Gandalf Group 2007:4). Some expressed concerns about the increasing levels of foreign ownership in key sectors and about private equity firms hollowing out corporate Canada. 23% have concerns that private equity firms engage in too much short-term thinking (Gandalf Group 2007:32). Most executives now favour restrictions in strategic industries.
The strongest areas of consensus about the negative impacts of private equity relate to keeping the company Canadian owned and about the debt burden of the company. A substantial percentage of executives believe that private equity also has a negative impact on the economic contribution the company will make to Canada and to the community it operates in, on the labour relations of the company and on the governance of the company (Gandalf Group 2007:28).
2006. “Canadian Executives Indicate Human Resources and Rising Canadian Dollar are the Major Business Challenges.” CTV. June 12, 2006.
2007. “C-Suite Survey.” Globe and Mail, Report on Business. 18 June 2007: B5.
D’Alessandro, Dominic. 2007. “How Can We Conserve Canadian Ownership?” National and Global Perspectives . May 3, 2007. p. 23.
Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007. “Private equity, public interest.” National and Global Perspectives . May 10, 2007. p. 16.
Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007a. “Chairman’s Address to Shareholders.” Power Corporation of Canada. May 10, 2007.
Nixon, Gordon M. 2007. “As the world changes, Canada must adapt.” National and Global Perspectives . March 2, 2007.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Meteoric Rise of Private Equity and Hedge Funds.” >> speechless. September 2007. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_355dbbcxv
Filed in Business & Finance, economic efficiency, Economy & Finance, ethics, postnational, risk management, Risk Society, Social Justice, virtual, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Canadian Establishment, corporate social responsibility, economic cohesion and the structure of corporate capita, economic efficiency, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, mergers and acquisitions, moral mathematics, OECD, public policy formation network, Tom D'Acquino
In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June, 2007 two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).
Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).
Market analyst Winzer (2005 cited in Christie 2005) warned that the housing market was high-risk as the boom has already gone on longer than expected. Low interest rates which means cheap mortgage rates extended the cycle of the real estate boom artificially creating higher demand and higher prices as all market levels (Winzer cited in Christie 2005). “Winzer assesses local market risk by taking into account economic and population growth, construction costs, vacancy rates, and, especially, income. He also considers such factors as density and access to open land. Prices in densely settled New York have always been higher than those of cities with lots of space for new housing (Christie 2005).
Key words: mortgage meltdowns, Bear Stearns, Bubble economy, housing slump, mortgage helpers, democratization of debt,
1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).
1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).
1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).
1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).
1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of
strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).
1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).
1987 Stock market crash
1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).
1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).
1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).
1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”
1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”
1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.
1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).
1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”
1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.
“How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.”
- Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**
1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.
1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).
2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.
2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”
2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).
1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005″ (Mason and Rosner 2007).
2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1.
2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).
2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”
2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”
2007 Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.
“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”
2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.
2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).
2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).
2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).
2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”
2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”
2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.
2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).
2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).
Belew, Bill. 2007. “Corporate Bankruptcies climb for third month in a row.” Uploaded January 21, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.
Christie, Lee. 2005. “Real estate: When booms go bust: Home prices can and do go down. Here’s what declines have looked like in the past.” CNN/Money. September 19, 2005.
Editorial. 2007. “Family finances under pressure.” Victoria, British Columbia. Times Colonist. June 24. D2.
Fitch IBCA, 2006. Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study, Nov. 26, 2006.
Huntley, Helen. 2006. “Mortgage Meltdown.” Tampa, Florida: St. Petersburg Times. Uploaded October 2, 2006.
Jayson, Seth. 2007. “Housing Slumps. Who’s Surprised?“; The Motley Fool. Uploaded June 25, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2007.
Lawless, Bob. 2007. “Bankruptcy Filings Up 18% in February 2007.” Credit Slips: A Discussion on Credit and Bankruptcy. Uploaded March 6, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.
Mann, Bill. 2000. “An Investment Opinion: What a Real Bear Market Feels Like.” >> Fool on the Hill. Uploaded April 26, 2000.
Mason, Joseph R.; Rosner, Joshua. 2007. “Where Did the Risk Go? How Misapplied Bond Ratings Cause Mortgage Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions.” Uploaded May 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.
Miller, Geoffrey P. 2001. “The Role of a Central Bank in a Bubble Economy.” July 16, 2001.
Molony, Walter. 2007. “May Existing: Home Sales Show Market is Under Performing.” Washington. Uploaded June 25, 2007.
Perkins, Broderick. 2001. “California Real Estate Won’t Mirror Silicon Valley Volatility.” >> Realty Times. Uploaded May 18, 2001. Accessed June 24, 2007.
Scott, Amy. 2007. “Mortgage meltdown hits Bear Stearns.” >> New York: Marketplace. Uploaded June 20, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2007.
Winzer, Ingo. 2005. president of Local Market Monitor, which sells real-estate market analysis to corporate and consumer clients.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Democratization of Debt: Wall Street’s Bear Stearn’s and Tampa’s Mortgage Meltdown.” >> Speechless. June 24, 2007.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn & Mortgage Meltdown.” >> Google docs
January 25, 2007
Larry looked up, waiting for C. J. to complete her sentence. She smiled with her tired — perhaps even jaded — eyes, ever so slightly, and completed the quote from St. Paul. She explained that she maintained her calm in the Press Room while being shot at because of her faith in “[t]he substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” She wasn’t referring to faith in God but to this team of highly trained West Wing staff from President Bartlett, Toby and Will, to the Secret Service. This mise en scene against a backdrop of an insider’s poker game, is one of the many ways in which the popular TV drama portrayed the idealistic, behind-the-scenes, everyday life of the American presidency in the West Wing of the White House. Now that the entire series (2000-2005?) is available on DVD through video store outlets, public libraries, etc., the audience has probably expanded beyond the “loyal audience that desperately want[ed] to believe in the nobility of the American dream (Amazon).”Jack Beatty in his article (2004) published in The Atlantic online suggested that the West Wing under the presidency of George W. Bush should have St. Paul’s definition of faith as its motto, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).” Beatty argued that while we might question “Bush’s veracity, his grip on reality, and the rationality of his policies,” we cannot question his faith.
By the end of the 20th century, the word faith had become politically charged. Faith and skepticism held in tension by everyday life events are part of the same lifelong dialogue. They are not on opposing teams. The terms faith and ideology have been used as if they meant the same thing in reference to various kinds of truth claims, religious (atheism, theism, deism, shamanism, etc.), politics (democracy, communism, socialism, monarchy), science (quantitative, that is statistical or qualitative methods that is qualia) or art forms (Greek helenistic, French Neo-Classical, German Romanticism, Inuit, Italian Baroque). I am not convinced that belief has the same negative correlation as ideology. The first may be blinded by passion, the second by politics. The first is associated with ignorance and niaivity, the second with jaded realism. The skepticism is a form of reflexivity in which a researcher remains open to the possibility that his/her own axiology, methodology, ontology may indeed be only partial. The need to be able to predict future events based on certain knowledge claims, that are always partial, is obvious. Belief in your own team (discipline, department, office) helps maintain an energy flow to get things done within a time/space continuum where there is a political need for expediency. However, knowledge claims for the future are more productive when faith is that which keeps a researcher engaged in her efforts to better understand regardless of political expediency.
The same quote from St. Paul over a century ago, was used by a Reverend MacDonald (1882). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).” Reverend MacDonald cautioned those in his congregation who judged atheists and agnostics harshly. He instead acknowledged the anguish of those who had lost their faith when they saw only the of the late 19th century and deduced that there was no hope, no light. They lost faith because the evidence around them led to despair or even worse apathy. At the same time Reverend MacDonald expressed his gratitude for the more recent translation of the Bible which clarified for him the difference between the spirit and the letter of statements such as, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”Perhaps then for the 21st century we need to look at psychology, cultural studies, political philosophy and why not religion as part of a similar conversation.
Bertrand Russell, British analytic philosopher, logician and mathematician (1872-1970) once argued that mankind “is a curious accident in a backwater (1961).” He contributed to the dethroning of man, or the marginalization of man in the materialist point of view (Russell 1961 cited by Barr 2003:68). But Russell changed his opinion as he advanced in years. He went from embracing atheism to embracing Faith in the possibility of the existence of God.
“I think, the subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology….Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called ‘education.’ Religion plays a part, though a diminishing one; the press, the cinema, and the radio play an increasing part…. It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment. The subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship…. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray. Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.
—Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (1951)
Rollins and O’Connor’s publication (2003) entitled West Wing: The American Presidency As Television Drama (The Television Series) critically analyzed the series. See also (Things Unseen).
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Evidence of Things Not Seen: Media and Black and White Snow”
Selected Webliograhy and Bibliography
Misiano, Christopher. 2003. “Evidence of Things Not Seen.” West Wing. April 23. No. 420.
Beatty, Jack. 2004. “The Faith-Based Presidency.” Atlantic Unbound. March 25.
MacDonald, George. 1882. “Faith, the Proof of the Unseen.” Sermon. Brixton Congregational Church. June.
- Rollins, Peter C., O’Connor, John E. Eds. 2003. The
- West Wing: The American Presidency As Television Drama (The Television Series). Syracuse University Press. ISBN-10: 081563031X, ISBN-13: 978-0815630319. 272 pp.
- “Informed by historical scholarship and media analysis, this book takes a critical look at this award-winning show from a wide range of perspectives. Eminent scholars Peter C. Rollins and John O’Connor make an important contribution to the field with an eclectic mix of essays, which translate visual language into on-screen politics. While the series may be criticized as “idealistic,” its clever techniques of camera work, lighting, editing, and mise en scene reflect America’s best image of itself, and entertains a loyal audience that desperately wants to believe in the nobility of the American dream. This collection introduces readers to the sensibilities to appreciate the show’s nuances and the necessary knowledge to avoid any misreadings. It will be of interest to students of politics, popular culture, fans and critics alike.”Amazon book reviews.
- Russell, Bertrand. 1961. Religion and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Filed in Concepts/Ideas, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, folksonomy, hermeneutics, My Reviews, religion and politics, Science, Social Justice, teaching learning and research
Tags: Creative Commons, EndNote, ethical topography of self and the Other, Films, ghost in the machine, interpretation, mass media, popular culture, public policy formation network, reflexivity