29,622 research outputs found

    Towards a sociology of conspiracy theories: An investigation into conspiratorial thinking on Dönmes

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    This thesis investigates the social and political significance of conspiracy theories, which has been an academically neglected topic despite its historical relevance. The academic literature focuses on the methodology, social significance and political impacts of these theories in a secluded manner and lacks empirical analyses. In response, this research provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for conspiracy theories by considering their methodology, political impacts and social significance in the light of empirical data. Theoretically, the thesis uses Adorno's semi-erudition theory along with Girardian approach. It proposes that conspiracy theories are methodologically semi-erudite narratives, i.e. they are biased in favour of a belief and use reason only to prove it. It suggests that conspiracy theories appear in times of power vacuum and provide semi-erudite cognitive maps that relieve alienation and ontological insecurities of people and groups. In so doing, they enforce social control over their audience due to their essentialist, closed-to-interpretation narratives. In order to verify the theory, the study analyses empirically the social and political significance of conspiracy theories about the Dönme community in Turkey. The analysis comprises interviews with conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theory readers and political parties, alongside a frame analysis of the popular conspiracy theory books on Dönmes. These confirm the theoretical framework by showing that the conspiracy theories are fed by the ontological insecurities of Turkish society. Hence, conspiracy theorists, most readers and some political parties respond to their own ontological insecurities and political frustrations through scapegoating Dönmes. Consequently, this work shows that conspiracy theories are important symptoms of society, which, while relieving ontological insecurities, do not provide politically prolific narratives

    The Grapes of Wrath: An Artful Jurisprudence

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    By documenting the harsh realities of the era, The Grapes of Wrath (‘GOW’) calls to mind those distressing UN Country Reports that both describe and denounce avoidable landscapes of poverty, hunger, homelessness, and dispossession. Steinbeck embeds the novel’s harrowing images within an unforgiving framework of human rights violations, most of which flow directly from human greed. The novel’s prescient yet timeless warnings speak not only to the various humanitarian crises brought about by climate change and unethical commercial practices, but also to many ongoing, perennial global atrocities: corrupt political regimes, gendered injustices, ethnic cleansing, and displacement of entire populations. It is landscapes such as these that still serve to both spark and underpin refugee existence: the need for a compassionate system of asylum-granting, firmly grounded in human rights law, clearly remains as urgent now as it was in Steinbeck’s time. As witnesses to such chronic disregard for human dignity, readers of the novel are not only tasked with judging those responsible: we must also evaluate the perennial failings of the various global and domestic systems that have enabled and perpetuated such egregious rights violations. The final scene, drenched in symbolism, still serves as a quasi-courtroom: before the bared breast of a Lady Justice figure we become jurists, and cannot help apportioning blame for all that has been witnessed over the course of the Joad’s journeying. A close reading now, almost a century later, serves as a timely reminder that similar atrocities continue: migrant and refugee populations remain especially vulnerable, not least where they have been displaced by poverty or political crises from all that was once familiar. This article argues that the novel’s central focus on “social realism” demands much in the way of “moral and emotional effort” (Benson, 9) from the reader: we should leave the book with nothing less than a highly “active compassion for the dispossessed” (Wyatt, 12). It is perhaps best viewed as a collection of first-hand witness testimonies, akin to those gathered and collated by the United Nations (UN) various Committees and which serve to reveal, record, and address the horrendously fine detail of abject human rights violations and their impacts upon the most vulnerable. It is Steinbeck’s “consistently catchy eyewitness quality” (De Mott, xiii) which both brings and retains this timeless sense of urgency and immediacy, without directing any clear response: it is up to the conscience of the individual reader to determine how best to process or address the various challenges presented

    Factors shaping future use and design of academic library space

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    COVID is having immediate and long-term impacts on the use of libraries. But these changes will probably not alter the importance of the academic library as a space. In the decade pre COVID libraries saw a growing number of visits, despite the increasing availability of material digitally. The first part of the paper offers an analysis of the factors driving this growth, such as changing pedagogies, diversification in the student body, new technologies plus tighter estates management. Barriers to change such as academic staff readiness, cost, and slow decision making are also presented. Then, the main body of the paper discusses emerging factors which are likely to further shape the use of library space, namely: concerns with student well-being; sustainability; equality, diversity and inclusion, and decolonisation; increasing co-design with students; and new technologies. A final model captures the inter-related factors shaping use and design of library space post COVID

    ‘Something extra’: In defence of an uncanny humanism

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    This article proposes literature and psychoanalysis as forms of critical education, putting in urgent question the market-driven, instrumental models of learning that currently dominate higher education policy. In psychoanalytic terms, it argues, the primary mechanism at work in such a policy is what psychoanalysis calls splitting, which involves above all a kind of banishment of doubt and a rigid assurance in the rightness of the status quo that precludes meaningful change or transformation in the self and the world. The article goes on to identify in psychoanalysis and literature more ‘unsplit’ modes of thinking that refuse the reduction of the human being to a purely functional value. It ends with a reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go as a critical meditation on this reductive tendency