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Edited by Dikaia Chatziefstathiou and Andrea Kathryn Talentino

Nina-Sophie Fritsch, Roland Verwiebe and Bernd Liedl

Abstract

Although the low-wage employment sector has enlarged over the past 20 years in the context of pronounced flexibility in restructured labor markets, gender differences in low-wage employment have declined in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In this article, the authors examine reasons for declining gender inequalities, and most notably concentrate on explanations for the closing gender gap in low-wage employment risks. In addition, they identify differences and similarities among the German-speaking countries. Based on regression techniques and decomposition analyses (1996-2016), the authors find significantly decreasing labor market risks for the female workforce. Detailed analysis reveals that (1) the concrete positioning in the labor market shows greater importance in explaining declining gender differences compared to personal characteristics. (2) The changed composition of the labor markets has prevented the low-wage sector from increasing even more in general and works in favor of the female workforce and their low-wage employment risks in particular.

Samuel Clark

Abstract

This article examines a sample of comparative-historical literature to assess when convincing generalizations are made and when they are not. Although a variety of factors can affect the potential for generalization, the focus here is on the difference between diachronic and synchronic generalizations. Separate sections are devoted to synchronic-idiographic, synchronic-nomothetic, diachronic-idiographic, and diachronic-nomothetic analysis and research. Evidence is presented to demonstrate that synchronic generalizations are common in comparative history. The most attention in the article is, however, given to the challenges faced when generalizing diachronically and especially when generalizing sequentially. The article ends with a discussion of the effects of inter-societal forces on comparative-historical generalization and with a conclusion outlining when comparative-historical generalizations seem to be more or less successful.

Dmitry Shlapentokh

Abstract

Marx believed that socialist revolution, i.e., the end of the private ownership of the “means of production”, would make the state weak in the long run: the state would “wither away”. He also believed that the despotic state is related to Oriental despotism, marked by general ossification. Here Marx followed the views of his contemporaries. The socialist revolutions in Russia and China demonstrate that Marx was wrong: the end of private ownership of the “means of production” creates a state similar to Oriental despotism, but it is a quite dynamic and economically viable regime. The USSR’s collapse was due to Gorbachev alone; at the same time, totalitarian socialist China would become an economic and geopolitical global force in the future.

Felix Weiss

Abstract

In this article, three country contexts are compared with regard to inequality by social origin in late enrollment in post-secondary education. Countries differ in the frequency at which young adults leave the labor market and (re)-enroll. This article discusses how inequality in late entry into education by social origin can be linked to characteristics of the education system and the labor market. Two cases with education systems that welcome adult learners and offer many second chances – Sweden and the US – are contrasted with the German system before its recent reforms. Systems with a welcoming environment for adult learners in higher education are shown to have higher educational inequalities in later transitions, while inequality in earlier transitions is lower.

Nadia Breda

Can anthroposophists be considered environmentalists? Based on the author’s recent ethnographic research, this article seeks to delineate the profile of the anthroposophical environmentalist, a figure belonging to a particular form of environmentalism. In the last two centuries, anthroposophy (founded by Rudolf Steiner, 1861-1925) has elaborated a universalistic narrative named “spiritual science.” Today, through a “salvific approach” and a “karstic life,” anthroposophy informs different, blended, environmental practices intertwined with ecological and social issues that include spirituality, anti-modernism, human-nonhuman relationships and alternative sciences. Consequently, the ecological movements inspired by anthroposophy have a wide and increasing diffusion globally and this, in turn, stimulates anthropology to produce appropriate ethnographic knowledge of this form of environmentalism.

Greg Beckett

The humanitarian is often seen as the great moral figure of our time. In this article, I explore how the idea of the humanitarian, as a global public figure, is related to broader ideas of liberalism, agency, ethics, and care. I draw on ethnographic examples from Haiti to first paint a portrait of the humanitarian as a person concerned with certain ideas of care, suffering, and salvation. I then offer a more general theoretical account of the figure of the humanitarian and suggest that this figure is tied to a larger story about liberal responses to cruelty and suffering. In the end, I suggest that the figure of the humanitarian tells us much about the normalization of emergency around the world and about what I call the banality of care.

Raymond Apthorpe and John Borton

The international humanitarian sector has long been criticized for relying on standardized responses that make little, if any, adjustment to social and cultural differences between different disaster contexts and disaster-affected populations. Responding to such criticisms, the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit set an ambitious target for “localizing” international humanitarian funding flows so that a quarter would be provided by local and national responders. But what precisely “local” might mean was little theorized, and what humanitarian agencies themselves could learn to improve their own aid-effectiveness from the disaster-affected populations’ own responses to severe stress was not prioritized. This article identifies some of the challenges the new funding regime needs to address for it to have the best chances of meeting its stated objectives, and it explores what role anthropology could play in researching such issues in an action-investigation frame. It concludes with some reflections about effective public anthropology in that conducive frame.