Abstracts Revista Crítica 79 (2007)

24 April 2008
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Hermes Augusto Costa
Pedro Araújo
Information and consultation in multinationals: The experience of Portuguese representatives in European Works Councils

Based on the experience of Portuguese representatives in European Works Councils (EWC), we focuse on their evaluation of the fulfilment of the two fundamental principles of the Directive: information and consultation. With this in mind, we take into account two dimensions of the EWC: the functional dimension and the dimension of practical possibilities. The first relates to the way in which information and consultation are articulated in the texts of the agreements that establish the modus operandi of the EWC and the way in which workers’ representatives evaluate the information that they receive. The second dimension concerns the principle of consultation and the possibilities that EWC have of influencing the decisions of multinationals. Although Portuguese representatives view both dimensions with little enthusiasm, this text discusses the role that the EWC can play in the construction of a transnational labour identity, taking GM-Europa as an example.

Sílvia Portugal
What makes social networks move? An analysis of norms and ties

Sílvia Portugal discusses the norms that regulate the action of informal ties in the production of well-being. It shows that the action of social networks follows the general principles of the gift system, that is to say, the triple obligation of “giving, receiving, and reciprocating” structures actors’ practices and representations. However, the author also addresses the problems that derive from these basic principles. Reciprocity, obligation, equality, autonomy – these rules are clear, but a detailed analysis unveils contradictory principles, as well as resistance, tension, and conflict.

Luiz Inácio Gaiger
The other rationale of the solidary economy. Conclusions of the first National Survey of Brazil

An examination of the empirical results of the first national survey on the solidary economy in Brazil, which collected data on nearly 22,000 experiments. Since these relate to organizations based on the free association of workers, cooperative production, and principles of self-management, the author’s goal is to see to what extent they adopt a different rationale, opposed in certain aspects to the economic logic that underlies the continuous accumulation of capital. The analysis focuses on relations between indicators of the internal and external solidarity of enterprises and indicators of efficiency and economic viability. Although weaknesses and limitations are pointed out, these enterprises show a general tendency to accomplish their goals of preserving life with dignity through democratic participation and reciprocity.

Luís Quintais
Tectonic fluidity. Bio-techno-sciences, bio-art, and the cognitive landscape of the present

A critical commentary on Paul Virilio’s thesis that a certain type of practice in the frontier between art and techno-science – which came to be called “bio-art” – epitomizes the expressionistic and nihilistic radicalism of the present. By taking as an example the artistic practices of Eduardo Kac, the author shows that those practices, far from appealing to such radicalism, only become operative and meaningful in a context of ethical and political commitment that is inescapable, given the relevance of the bio-techno-sciences in the contemporary world.

Maria Paula Nascimento Araújo
Myrian Sepúlveda dos Santos
History, memory and forgetting: Political implications

Researchers have questioned the retrieval of traumatic situations such as the ones that occurred in the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima, the Vietnam war, and the fratricidal massacres in Yugoslavia. Although some classic studies have identified important aspects relating to history and memory, there are several ways of dealing with the past, and all of them involve interests, power, and exclusions. The politics of memory relating to past crimes – at the centre of an ongoing debate in several academic fields as well as in society in general – depends on processes of selection and on elements that are beyond human understanding. We need to find a balance between an obsession for the past and attempts to impose forgetting. Therefore, our goal is to expand the knowledge of history, memory and forgetting, emphasizing limits as well as moral and ethical implications.

Helena Serra
On the construction and reproduction of medical knowledge and discourse. Towards an ethnography of hepatic transplants

Starting from some recent contributions in the field of medical sociology, this paper presents some results of an ethnographic study in a hepatic transplant unit. The author chose a qualitative methodology and used continuous participant observation as the primary method of collecting information, complemented by semi-structured and in-depth interviews applied to the different categories represented in the field of observation. Initially the distinction between different kinds of knowledge is established, emphasizing the primacy of clinical experience over theory in the construction of medical knowledge; medical discourse(s) and practice(s) are discussed in what concerns the construction of the diagnosis; and finally the question of uncertainty in the construction of medical knowledge is addressed.

Telmo H. Caria
History, reform and lucidity/insight in science: scientific reflexivity according to Pierre Bourdieu

This paper presents a critical commentary on Pierre Bourdieu’s last book (Science de la science et réflexivité), focusing on his understanding of scientific practice and reason (both social and cognitive), and on his belief in the reflexivity of science. The author’s comments are related to the body of sociological knowledge of science. He emphasizes the main features of the scientific habitus, according to Bourdieu’s rationalistic conception, and the way in which they differ from the culture of the social sciences in Portugal. Following on this interpretation, the author discusses the eventual ethnocentrism of Bourdieu’s epistemology, which is not applicable to science outside universities or beyond the central countries. The need to “reform the culture of the field” of the social sciences in Portugal is also addressed.

Published 24 April 2008

Original in Portuguese
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