Editorial: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This issue continues to look backwards and forwards, reflecting on the last six years of Global Dialogue, and the swing from effervescent social movements – Indignados, Occupy, Arab Spring, etc. – to movements of the right that have installed authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Philippines, Argentina, and Brazil. This global trend may be traced in part to the storms of an international capitalism that runs roughshod over nation states, sapping governmental autonomy and discrediting official, electoral politics, leading to populism of both the right and the left – though increasingly of the right.

It is fitting, therefore, that we should open this issue with an interview with Anthony Giddens, theorist and publicist of what he once called the juggernaut of globalization. In his political guise, as a member of the House of Lords, he continues to champion the issues that concerned him as a sociologist – issues such as climate change and the implications of the digital age.

The underside of globalization can be found expressed in the fate of Syriza, the movement that nearly brought the EU to its knees but in the end, with power reversed, has brought Greece to its knees. Here we publish five articles that narrate the disastrous consequences of austerity imposed on Greece by the European Union, bringing untold poverty to Greece, but also untold riches to its upper classes.

In Latin America, in reaction to a decade or more of social democracy – the so-called pink tide – country after country succumbs to a rightward shift. Here we publish three articles on the winds of change as reflected in struggles around abortion. Innovative protest has led to clashes with the state in Argentina, Mexico and Peru. Especially interesting is the struggle over the use of common medication to avoid or interrupt pregnancy.

We have three perspectives on the fate of Arab social science. The discussion is sparked by the first report on the state of the discipline authored by Mohammed Bamyeh. He begins the symposium with a summary essay, followed by Seteney Shami’s insistence on the importance of changing social science infrastructure. Idriss Jebari poses critical questions about the implications of the Arab Spring and its denouement, raising the possibility that the Arab Spring continues to give vitality and new directions to social science.

We publish an extract of an interview with the well-known sociologist, George Ritzer, conducted by Labinot Kunushevci, a young and enterprising sociologist from Kosovo. Edward Tiryakian offers us a glimpse into the past with his reminiscences of ISA congresses, starting in 1974. We end with the introduction of the Japanese editorial team led by Satomi Yamamoto who inspires her students to devote themselves to the ardors of translation. In this connection, I’m delighted to announce the inauguration of Global Dialogue’s 17th language – Bengali – organized by a team of enthusiastic sociologists stationed in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and led by Habibul Khondker.

> Global Dialogue can be found in 17 languages at the ISA website.
> Submissions should be sent to burawoy@berkeley.edu.

, United States, Volume 6, Issue 4

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