ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Welfare to the Good Life

Sarah Joseph Theorising Welfare: Enlightenment and Modern Society by Martin O

Social Democracy Updated

Political Philosophy by Jean Hampton; THIS is an introductory work reprinted by OUP, Delhi, by arrangement with Westview Press. The blurb perhaps originated with Westview. To try and attract the largest possible readership for the book it makes somewhat sweeping claims for it. "Lively and readable", "a marvellous feat of synthesis", "the most complete survey of the field of political philosophy" are some of the claims made for the book, There is also a more cautious endorsement by our own Rajeev Bhargava who describes it as insightful and original written with lucidity and elegance. Lucid and elegant it certainly is although one may have some reservations about some of the other claims made. The author herself is more modest in her introduction. As she points out, the Westview series was intended to provide a landscape of a field, not a detailed picture. Within that agenda she has discussed some of the foundational and enduring questions in political philosophy, drawing On the work of both classical and contemporary political thinkers, and with reference to some important political problems confronting contemporary western societies. Although mainly exegetical in approach she claims to also offer some original theorising, "in part to prevent the book from being boring". Few authors would have been so modest about their work and it seems quaint to believe that original thinking can be an optional extra for a book on political philosophy. In fact, a number of issues have been carefully and thoroughly discussed in the book, the very framing of the questions and the discussion reflecting the perspective of the author - feminist, North American and located slightly to the left of the spectrum of liberal political theories.

Politics of Contemporary Indian Communitarianism

It has become important for us in India to evolve a notion of community which does not leave room for nativist or socially conservative strategies. Instead of posing community as an alternative to liberal individualism, we have to try to understand the different dimensions of individual and social life in an integrated way. We need to re-appropriate community for democratic politics.

Explanation and Meaning in Social Sciences

Explanation and Meaning in Social Sciences Sarah Joseph Individualism In Social Science by Rajeev Bhargava; Clarendon Press, Oxford, THIS book is for those interested in issues of philosophy and methodology in the social sciences. Lucidly written and closely argued, it explores various versions of methodological individualism (MI) and arrives at certain propositions regarding explanation and meaning in the social sciences. A certain stamina is required from the reader to follow the author through an intricate set of arguments and definitions which explore the fine points of difference between different theories and concepts. The method which is followed is to attempt to clarify and order the different entangled versions of MI, explore their strengths and weaknesses, eliminate those which cannot stand up to critical examination and put forward an alternative account of explanation which incorporates some of the elements of individualist modes of explanation but grounds them in a wider theory which takes into account what Bhargava considers to be the irreducibly social character of meaning and explanation in the social sciences. This is of course the style of the language game called analytical philosophy, a tradition of inquiry which is less commonly adopted by social scientists in India than many others. Probably the American and European influence is stron- ger on Indian social scientists today than the British. This mode of argumentation imposes on its practitioners a certain rigour and precision but there is the danger that it may become merely a formal exercise which relies on logic and definition but says little about the world as we know it Bhargava appears to be sensitive to this possibility, almost defensive in tone at times. Hence he reiterates that since MI is neither trivial nor obviously true it is a worthwhile exercise to analyse its forms and to try and clarify the confusions which often exist in the arguments of both its defenders and its critics. He also maintains that methodology defends a particular interpretation of human beings and their capacities, a particular philosophical anthropology and therefore the study of methodology is of more than formal interest. This is no doubt true though the book on the whole focuses mainly on issues of logic and the structure of different arguments, However, some of the examples which are given do draw our attention to the wider implications of different theories. One wishes that this aspect had been developed more fully.

Identity, Culture and Community

Identity, Culture and Community Sarah Joseph A distinct set of assumptions about the social role of culture forms the framework of much of the debate about culture, religion and community in India and influences thinking across the political spectrum. So widely and uncritically have they been accepted that it may be difficult to undermine them except through sustained effort.

Social Movements, State and Democracy

Democracy Sarah Joseph A WORKSHOP on 'Social Movements, State and Democracy' organised by the Delhi University DSA Group on Politics of Developing Societies, the Sociology Group, Indian Statistical Institute, and the AKUT Group, University of Uppsala, Sweden, was held in Delhi in the first week of October 1992. The workshop brought together participants from India, Sweden, Africa and Indonesia and provided a forum for sharing the experience and understanding of scholars from these countries. It was both international and interdisciphnary but a common interest in processes of democratisation and social transformation ensured that discussions were focused on these themes; so some genuine exchange of views could take place. A number of seminars in India unfortunately seem to get drawn into highly structured patterns in which participants make formal and often predictable statements to, or at, each other but the Social Movements Workshop proved to be a happy exception to this practice.

Elections and Democratic Process in India

Elections and Democratic Process in India Sarah Joseph Gurpreet Mahajan The notion of vote banks is crucial to the strategy of most parties as also of election analyses but it is difficult to gauge how successful it has actually been. The recent election, for instance, challenged such assumptions.

Rethinking Political Options

Rethinking Political Options Gurpreet Mahajan Sarah Joseph The issue of forging areas of agreement is a pressing one in our fragmented society. But any new consensus would have to consider the demands of groups and interests which are being marginalised by the process of development. A centrist ideological consensus along the Nehruvian lines is not an option available to us any longer. Nor can it offer a possible solution to the problems facing the country GIVEN the prominent role which the Congress Party has played in Indian politics, as well as the special charisma attached to the Nehru/Gandhi family, the death of a Congress leader belonging to that family has always raised complex fears and hopes in the minds of people in India. Fears regarding the possible break-up of the Congress Party, about the possible disintegration of the country, the possibility of economic collapse and political disorder were voiced when Nehru died as much as when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi died. Nehru's death was seen as a cataclysmic event for the country by both Indian and foreign commentators. Indira Gandhi's death also aroused fears about the future of the country and simitar fears are being expressed today. The death of major leaders has also, however, raised hopes that the shock would force the Congress to put its house in order, restore a more democratic style of functioning, rebuild a national consensus around progressive policies and programmes and guide the country out of its problems.

Indigenous Social Science Project-Some Political Implications

Indigenous Social Science Project Some Political Implications Sarah Joseph THE notion of an indigenous social science, or sciences, which could serve as a successor science to Western, 'mainstream' social science with regard to the study of Indian reality at least, is one which has a natural appeal in contemporary India. Given the state of the social sciences in India and the fact that, with a few honourable exceptions, Indian social scientists have been able to make only a marginal contribution to the development of their disciplines, it is not surprising that the notion of an indigenous social science has gained many supporters. It is felt that an Indian social science would be more 'authentic' and relevant and would give greater scope for creativity and originality. It was probably in sociology that the debate regarding a social science for India was first inaugurated but subsequently many philosophers and social scientists have asserted their support for the project and it has been the subject of seminars and campaigns in the press.1 However, much of the support which the project has received has been of a gut level kind and there has been little critical examination of the political and theoretical issues raised by the notion of an indigenous social science. It is some of these issues which will be examined in this paper.

Towards Socialism, Step by Step

Sarah Joseph The Politics of Socialism by John Dunn; Cambridge University Press, 1984; pp xviii -f 107;

Search for an Indian Solution

Search for an Indian Solution Sarah Joseph Ideology, Modernisatio n and Politics in India by V R Mehta; Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 1983; pp xi + 232, Rs 100, Gandhi: Soundings in Political Philosophy by Ramashray Roy;Chanakya Publishers, Delhi, 1984; pp ix + 159, Rs 80.

Political Science, Liberal and Marxist

Political Science, Liberal and Marxist Sarah Joseph The State of Political Theory by Sudipto Kaviraj, Partha Chatterji, Shibani Kinkar Chaube and Sobhanlal Datta Gupta; Research India Publications, Calcutta, June 1978, pp iv + 160, Rs 30.


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