The Ambivalences of Success: Discourses on Development, Progress and
Extractivism in Ecuador
Fausto A.P. Ignatov Vinueza, M.A. Doctoral Candidate Rachel Carson Center for
Environment & Society Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
In 2007, the Ecuadorian government made a groundbreaking proposal to the international community. The Ecuadorian State was willing to willing to refrain from drilling and extraction the oil under the Yasuni National Park. The Yasuni-ITT (Ischpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha) initiative would not only promote conservation in one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth; it would leave 856 million barrels’ worth of oil underground. All this in exchange for 3.6 billion USD— half the value of the oil reserves—to be raised from public and private contributions from the international community.
However, after six years of campaigning, the government terminated the initiative owing to inadequate results. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative sparked a national debate on the productive future of a country on the verge of a post-extractivist economic catastrophe, and worldwide controversy. Although the initiative was ultimately unsuccessful, with its proposal, Ecuador opened a still ongoing discussion about concepts like “development,” “growth,” “progress,” and “success.” These are not only meaningful terms to describe and analyze the societies we live in; they are also part of powerful discourses governing our ways of living, individually and collectively, locally and globally.
Questioning the role and meaning of the above-mentioned concepts, the author aims to reveal the dominant discourses on how societies think they should act in order to achieve a certain status. How does a society build its understanding of success and development? How is this understanding reproduced? How does it influence other aspects of societal life? To address these questions, this project combines theories of development, extractivism, and discourse analysis. In addition, the author will also consider social and technical practices. To understand the extent of such discourses and their implications, it is crucial to scrutinize actual oil extraction practices, their impacts on the environment and society, and the role of politics and economics. Only through an integral understanding of the technical, political, and economic practicalities is a reasonable analysis of the social outcomes and mechanisms possible. Ultimately, this project seeks to gain an insight into the construction and reproduction of such discourses, taking into consideration more recent developments like the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. However, it will also take into account Ecuador’s environmental, economic, and political history and its implications, thus allowing us to assess the Ecuadorian case within the framework of a regional and international comparison.
Development of Undergraduate Research on Social Transformations: The Ohio State University Summer School in Social Sciences in Warsaw, Poland
By Joshua K. Dubrow, Polish Academy of Sciences
In June and July 2018, students participate in the annual OSU Summer School in Social Sciences at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN) in Warsaw, Poland. This Study Abroad Program of The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Department of Sociology features a mix of students from OSU and from Polish academic institutions. The OSU Summer School is developed and administered by Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training program (CONSIRT.osu.edu), a collaborative endeavor of OSU and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Summer School is co-organized, in part, by the Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR) at IFiS PAN and the University of Warsaw. We have organized the OSU Summer School every year since 2008.
Students take courses in social science statistics, independent research, and social change in Central and Eastern Europe. The OSU Summer School fosters skills both academia and the professional labor market seek: analyze large-scale datasets with designated software; interpret statistics; communicate results; engage in critical thinking; find and apply for research grants and awards; and gain international experience to work in a multicultural environment.
The Polish Panel Survey, POLPAN 1988 – 2013 (POLPAN.org), is a key teaching resource of the OSU Summer School. POLPAN is a panel survey project carried out since 1988 in 5-year intervals on social structure and social change. Students use POLPAN data to learn how to apply basic concepts in statistics to substantive problems of the post-Communist transformation in Poland and to write their individual research paper. Many of our students have presented these papers at OSU’s Undergraduate Research Festival held in the Fall semester and at OSU’s Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Spring.
Some of our undergraduate students have published their OSU Summer School research in journals or book chapters:
“The Global Economic Crisis, Economic Distress, and Mental Health in Poland” by Taylor Cathcart, forthcoming in the 2018 issue of JUROS: Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State
“Justice for All? Economic Disadvantage and Trust in Poland’s Judicial System” by Lauren Sayers, 2017 in JUROS: Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State
“Is the Church a Source of Social Capital? Religiosity and the Size and Quality of Personal Networks,” by Oyindamola Bola, 2016 in the edited book, Social Inequality and the Life Course: Poland’s Transformative Years 1988–2013 (IFiS Publishers)
“Lean In in Poland: Psychological Determinants of Women’s Labor Market Success” by Polina Zvavitch, 2014 in JUROS: Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State
“Effects of Marital Status on Material Conditions” by Megan Hicks, 2011 in JUROS: Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State
OSU Summer School instructors are Kazmierz M. Slomczynski, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, and Joshua K. Dubrow from IFiS-PAN and CONSIRT. In addition, guest lecturers Anna Kiersztyn (PhD, University of Warsaw), Nika Palaguta (PhD Candidate, GSSR), Yevhen Revtiuk (PhD from Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas, Ukraine), Marcin Slarzynski (PhD, GSSR), and Olga Zelinska (PhD Candidate, GSSR) provide expert knowledge on topics pertaining to social and political transformations in Central and Eastern Europe.
OSU undergraduate students have received travel and research awards from OSU, including from the Department of Sociology and the Department of Political Science. Every year, IFiS PAN has awarded travel grants to outstanding students of the Summer School.
Undergraduates are the future scholars of the sociology of social transformations. It is crucial that they gain meaningful research experience early in their academic careers. Since 2008, the OSU Summer School has helped to develop undergraduate research in social and political transformations in the post-Communist region. Interested scholars can learn more about the OSU Summer School at warsawsummerschool.wordpress.com.
Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time
Joshua Dubrow, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Poland’s National Science Centre has awarded a grant for the project, “Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time” (2016/23/B/HS6/03916) for the period 2017 -2020. The Principal Investigator is Joshua K. Dubrow, who is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and who is also a current RC 09 Member and its former newsletter editor.
The purpose of the project is to advance the theory, methods, and empirical base for studying the relationship between political inequality and economic inequality. The fundamental research questions are:
- How and to what extent are the main components of political voice inequality – political participation and party representation – related to each other once main features of political and economic institutions are accounted for?
- How do changes in economic inequality at the macro-level relate to political voice at the micro-level?
- At the macro-level, how and to what extent do political voice inequality and economic inequality influence each other?
This project builds on empirical research on how economic resources and political voice connects, accounting for how political institutions moderate this connection. The social sciences do not have appropriate cross-national and over-time measures of political voice inequality and thus has never adequately addressed our research questions. Thus, we will create the Political Inequality Database (POLINQ) which is a multi-country multi-year dataset with cross-national measures of political voice in terms of levels of voice and inequality of voice from survey and administrative data for over 65 democratic countries from 1990 to 2015.
For more information, please visit the project website Politicalinequality.org.
Deliberating Democratic Alternatives to Capital in 21st Century.
Dr. S. A. Hamed Hosseini F, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Australia
Goal: The project investigates progressive alternatives to capital in 21st century which have been developed in the form of theory, model, practice, policy, and project. It investigates the capacities of these alternatives for cross-ideological interactions and integration. It particularly focuses on four major democratic modes of livelihood and sociality which have influenced transformative social movements in the global field of post-capitalist transitions. More details: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Deliberating-Democratic-Alternatives-to-Capital-in-21st-Century
Project website and outcomes: http://thecommonalts.com
Reconstrucción histórico conceptual y sistematización de experiencias de Economía Comunitaria y Economía Solidaria en Ecuador
Conceptual historical reconstruction and systematization of experiences of Community Economy and Solidarity Economy in Ecuador
Silvia Vega Ugalde, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Ecuador
The social and solidarity economy teaching group of the Central University of Ecuador, was awarded a fund of $ 80,000, awarded by the ARES-AI R2 Program (Académie de Recherche et D’Enseignement Superieur), made up of funds from Belgian Universities to strengthen and promote scientific research at the Central University, the main public university of Ecuador. The project that was submitted to an internal contest of the university, will last for 25 months. It is called “Conceptual historical reconstruction and systematization of experiences of Community Economy and Solidarity Economy in Ecuador” and aims to sustain theoretically, historically and empirically the specific rationalities of the community economy and the solidarity economy and its potentials and limitations, to strengthen endogenous development and equitable of the country and of the localities involved. It will be based on a conceptual clarification of the characteristics of the community economy and the solidarity economy in the contexts of the Andean-Amazonian countries, and the historical reconstruction of the debate on solidarity, popular and community economy will take place around the Constituent Assembly held in Ecuador in 2008, which defined the country’s economic system as “social and solidary”, a characterization that appears for the first time in the Constitution or Magna Carta of the Republic.
In addition, experiences of community economy and / or solidary economy will be documented and systematized in three local territories of the country in order to achieve practical empirical support of the different rationalities present in these initiatives and to contribute to propose strategies to strengthen the actors and their initiatives, worked jointly and participatively between them and the research team. The research will count on the scientific academic support of CIRTES (Center Interdisciplinaire of Recherche Travail, Etat et Société) and the Center d’Etudes du Développement of the Catholic University of Louvain, immersed for some years in studies on the social and solidarity economy in the north and in the south.
El grupo docente de economía social y solidaria de la Universidad Central del Ecuador, se hizo acreedor a un fondo de $80.000 dólares, otorgado por el Programa ARES-AI R2 (Académie de Recherche et D´Enseignement Superieur), constituido por fondos de Universidades belgas para fortalecer y promover la investigación científica en la Universidad Central, principal universidad pública de Ecuador. El proyecto que fue sometido a un concurso interno de la universidad, tendrá una duración de 25 meses. Se llama “Reconstrucción histórico conceptual y sistematización de experiencias de Economía Comunitaria y Economía Solidaria en Ecuador” y pretende sustentar teórica, histórica y empíricamente las racionalidades específicas de la economía comunitaria y la economía solidaria y sus potenciales y limitaciones, para fortalecer el desarrollo endógeno y equitativo del país y de las localidades involucradas. Se partirá de una clarificación conceptual de las características de la economía comunitaria y de la economía solidaria en los contextos de los países andino-amazónicos y se realizará la reconstrucción histórica del debate sobre economía solidaria, popular, comunitaria acaecido en torno a la Asamblea Constituyente realizada en Ecuador en 2008, que definió el sistema económico del país como “social y solidario”, caracterización que consta por primera vez en la Constitución o Carta Magna de la República.
Además, se documentará y sistematizará experiencias de economía comunitaria y/o economía solidaria en tres territorios locales del país para lograr la sustentación empírico práctica de las distintas racionalidades presentes en estas iniciativas y para contribuir a proponer estrategias de fortalecimiento de los actores y sus iniciativas, trabajadas de manera conjunta y participativa entre ellos/as y el equipo de investigación. La investigación contará con el apoyo académico científico del CIRTES (Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherche Travail, Etat et Société) y el Centre d’Etudes du Développement de la Universidad Católica de Lovaina, inmersos desde hace algunos años en estudios sobre la economía social y solidaria en el norte y en sur.