In a time of rapid technological change, journalism has been plagued by questions that prod at its core tenets and practices. Irish Journalism before Independence provides a timely and accessible examination into the heart of the profession as it developed under Ireland’s seismic political and cultural shifts. Reviewed by Danielle Moran.
Irish Journalism before Independence. Kevin Rafter. Manchester University Press. October 2011.
Studies into female Conservatives are sparse compared to that of their Labour counterparts. The term “Conservative feminist” is still for many the ultimate oxymoron. Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party attempts to address this gap in the literature by examining the political choices and associations of female Tories. Krista Cowman thinks the book captures a party on the verge of change and offers a clear and concise picture of how it shifted its focus to its female members, merging quantitative and qualitative approaches into a highly readable account.
Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party: From Iron Lady to Kitten Heels. Sarah Childs and Paul Webb. Palgrave Macmillan. November 2011.
Fragile States shows how the monopoly of violence is a crucial element in maintaining state fragility. By taking case studies from The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Afghanistan, the authors intend to define and clarify the meaning behind fragile statehood and to determine why outside intervention is often very limited in its actions to halt or prevent war and conflict in these countries. Ramona Wadi values the book’s analysis which, in addition to imparting a deep insight into the complex nature of fragile states, gives a coherent historical framework which defines political trends in today’s era.
Fragile States: War and Conflict in the Modern World. Lothar Brock, Hans-Henrik Holm, Georg Sørensen & Michael Stohl. Polity Press. January 2012.
Examining interactions between global, regional and national media processes, European Media emphasises the transformation of political communication in Europe and the alleged emergence of a European public sphere and identity. Damian Tambini finds it offers an excellent overview and reference on some of the big shifts that characterise the evolving media scene in Europe.
European Media: Structures, Politics and Identity. Stylianos Papathanassopoulos and Ralph Negrine. Polity. July 2011.
David Brady’s book Rich Democracies, Poor People is a study with profoundly important policy implications, showing with painful clarity why the welfare state must be protected and indeed expanded, as a moral, political and economic imperative. Kate Donald values Brady’s insight but had hoped for more cutting edge arguments.
Ron Johnston shares how some of the books that most influenced him came from outside his undergraduate reading list, and discusses the few books that were seminal to the development of his research career .
Seasons in the Sun is a lively and attractively written account of Britain in the mid to late 1970s, covering all the political and cultural highlights and low days that readers might expect. Paul Brighton notes that although it shouldn’t be taken as the last word on the era of Wilson and Callaghan, it is witty, wide-ranging and much more than a “book of the TV series”.
Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979. Dominic Sandbrook. Allen Lane. April 2012.
The Invisible Arab traces the roots of the revolutions in the Arab world. Marwan Bishara, chief policy analyst of Al Jazeera English, combines on-the-ground reporting, extensive research and scholarship, and political commentary in this book on the complex influences that made the revolutions possible. Reviewed by Rory Creedon.
The Invisible Arab. Marwan Bishara. Nation Books. February 2012.
The legacy of Blair and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to loom large for the Labour Party, whether in opposition or in government, giving rise to fierce debates over Labour’s attitude towards the wider world. This book considers the idea of Labour’s international identity, examining how world events and Labour’s response to them have helped to shape ideology, political culture and domestic agendas from the 1920s until the Iraq War.
Proving that the public can be trusted to deliberate on complex policy issues, Elaine Byrne’s ‘We the Citizens’ project re-engaged voters with the political process. She Here, she talks of her impact on the formation of policy, and how she is challenging ideas of citizen engagement… all while dealing with journalists waiting outside her office door.
Researchers must take time to listen to what politicians want. To have an impact on policymaking, we must try to marry our research interests with political agendas and manifestos, writes Herryman Moono.
Communication between researchers and policymakers is key to achieving policy impact. Steve Johnson shows that PhD graduates who move into government circles rather than academia have a valuable role to play in blending the two extremes.
In early April 2010, Nick Clegg was fighting for recognition, even as the young, fresh and personable leader of Britain’s third political party. Two weeks later he was the focus of Cleggmania and his popularity was being compared with Churchill’s. Four weeks after that he became the second-most important figure in the government. But within a year he was ridiculed and reviled as popular hopes turned to disappointment. Chris Bowers attempts to uncover the real Nick Clegg in this biography, writes Alastair Hill.
In a period where social unrest manifests itself by coinciding with young people’s dissatisfaction with formal political involvement and the diversification of protest movements across the globe, the question of youth participation is at the forefront of democratic societies. Based on original research data, Youth Participation in Europe provides a thorough analysis of participation initiatives at the implementation level and gives a transversal approach to various areas of youth participation. Alex Hensby finds that the voice of youth presented here is saying ‘why should we speak if no-one is listening?’
What do the periods spent in both opposition and government by the Conservatives since 1945 tell us about what drives parties to change their sales force, the way they organize, and the policies they come up with? Using internal papers, memos, and minutes of meetings from party archives, along with historical and contemporary accounts, memoirs and interviews, Tim Bale‘s recent book maps the extent of change and then explores what may have driven it. Timothy Heppell recommends the book to students of political history.
Electoral administration is a topic that only occasionally and dramatically breaks into the public
consciousness, but is otherwise the province of the political obsessive. Paul Brighton finds
that some of the most important examples of such moments are surprisingly absent from Elite
Statecraft and Election Administration, but nonetheless he believes that Toby S.
James has written a timely book which serves as a useful reminder that the prominence of
electoral administration constitutes a barometer for democratic vitality.
Using case studies from the post-Soviet region, the contributors to Presidents, Oligarchs
and Bureaucrats explore the character of post-Soviet regimes and review the political
transformations experienced since the end of the Cold War. Through a combination of
theoretical approaches and detailed, empirical analysis the authors highlight the difficulties and
benefits of applying the concepts of hybrid regimes, competitive authoritarianism and
neopatrimonialism to the countries of the post-Soviet space. Liz Carolan finds that the authors
offer some ways to address an uneven playing field which may be of use to those currently
focused on support democratic transitions.
What makes art ‘feminist art’? Kathy Battista‘s engagement with the founding generation of
female practitioners centres on 1970s London as the cultural hub from which a new art
practice arose. Emphasising the importance of artists including Bobby Baker, Anne Bean, and
Catherine Elwes, Battista investigates some of the most controversial and provocative art from
the era. To be sincerely alive to female and male art practices and the larger cultural, social
and political issues concerning us today, we need to be awake to the period discussed
in Renegotiating the Body, writes Jade Montserrat.
Mobilizing on the Extreme Right is a very welcome addition to the literature on the topic and a highly
recommended book for students of the extreme right and contemporary society in general, writes Alexandros
Nafpliotis. This book describes the discourse, action, and organizational structures of the extreme right in
Italy, Germany, and the United States, and explains these on the basis of the available discursive and political
opportunities. Substantive chapters address the framing of protest events, the definition of ‘us’, and old and
new forms of racism.