Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tenure and the Corporatization of Universities--Assessment, Post Tenure Review and a Corporate Labor Model of Faculty Production

I have suggested that global forces are moving to reshape the cultural bases for university governance.  I have also suggested that this movement is likely to continue a process of aligning the practices and premises of corporate and university governance.  This convergence will be linked to university size and characteristics, with smaller universities becoming more like small corporations and the larger entities resembling more multinational corporations (e.g. Governance Conundrums and the University--Penn State and the Realignments of Governance Norms for the 21st Century, Law at the End of the Day, August 30, 2012). 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

There are consequences to this movement.  Among the most important are its effects on the relationship between the university and faculty.  That relationship, once strongly premised on the idea that faculty represented an aggregation of professionals under an administrative structure built to further their collective interests in research, teaching and service, has been inverted, so that faculty are now increasingly characterized (and I have heard this from State education officials) as factors in the production of the education of revenue generating units (students).

This post highlights a recent example from Saint Louis University described in an article by Audrey Williams June, Faculty-Review Proposals at Saint Louis U Would 'Eviscerate Tenure' AAUP Says, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 30, 2012.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nichola Gutgold on "The Mother Lode of All Political Weapons: The Spouse"

Nichola D. Gutgold is an associate professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley.   She is a global leader in the study of women's communication styles in male dominated fields. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Pennsylvania State University.  Professor Gutgold is author of a number of important books in this field.  Her books include The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women: From Obstacles to Options (Lexington Books 2012);  Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 (Lexington Books, June, 2009), Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News, (Lexington Books, 2008), and Paving the Way for Madam President (Lexington Books, 2006). With Molly Wertheimer she co-authored, Elizabeth Hanford Dole: Speaking from the Heart (Praeger Press, 2004).

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer)

She has been particularly interested lately in the rhetorical styles of the women married to presidential candidates, especially now Ann Romney. She is working on an article examining the evolution of a preview of that study. that style and its consequences.  

Governance Conundrums and the University--Penn State and the Realignments of Governance Norms for the 21st Century

As many know, university governance is undergoing substantial pressure for change.  Long a backwater in the governance literature (and still substantially ignored in favor of the more interesting issues of governance at large economic enterprises, important non-governmental organizations and states) universities are coming into their own as a site for contests over the cultures, philosophies and implementations of governance.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

Penn State is among those "laboratories" within which these stresses are being managed and directed by those with significant stakes in the outcome.  This post outlines the contours of some of the more important areas of governance stress--among them the role of the board of trustees, accountability and control within university administrative structures, cultures of impunity and retaliation within university governance, and transparency (in both its communicative and engagement aspects). 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fidel Castro on Deng Xiaoping and Erich Honecker--Understanding the Foundations of Cuban Political and Economic Policy

Like others, I have been considering the utility of the Chinese model of Marxist Leninism might be useful as a point of reference for reforming the Cuban regime within the current global economic system (e.g., Backer, Larry Catá, "Cuban Corporate Governance at the Crossroads: Cuban Marxism, Private Economic Collectives and Free Market Globalism" Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2005).

  (Pix from Reflection of Cuba’s Castro on Deng Xiaoping, Free More News, June 25, 2012)

Like others, I have been suggesting that Fidel Castro and the adherents to his views within the state and Party apparatus in Cuba have been instrumental in resisting any development of Cuban Marxist Leninist theory that tends toward the Chinese (and to a lesser extent, the Vietnamese approaches).  As a substitute these cadres have been advancing what might be characterized as a more open form of Soviet style economic modeling more like Tito's Yugoslavia than modern Vietnam (e.g. Backer, Larry Catá, "The Proletarian Corporation: Organizing Cuban Economic Enterprises in the Wake of the Lineamientos — Property Rights between Corporation, Cooperatives and Globalization" (August 3, 2012). Consortium for Peace and Ethics Working Paper No. 2012-8/1). Others suggest that these economic debates may also cover a larger political one.  For them, for example, Cuba may be developing an economic model grounded in cultures of gate-keeping. (Javier Corrales, "The Gatekeeper State," Latin American Research Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, June 2004 (preserving state power in the CCP by fragmenting the economy into different sectors  and then controlling which citizens have access to each).  The course of the development of the Guidelines for restructuring the Cuban economy (Lineamientos) nicely evidences these tensions and the resulting compromises.

Recently, in a series of remarkable reflections, Fidel Castro has opened a window on what may be some of his most personal reasons for his continued embrace of European Soviet Marxist Leninism and his suspicion of the Chinese approach.  The first speaks to Erich Honecker, the person credited with masterminding the Berlin Wall,  and the second to Deng Xiaoping, an architect of contemporary Chinese Marxist Leninism. They both speak to the way in which personal interaction and relationships substantially effect state policy and political theory.

State and Party Constitution in China: A View From China

People tend to understand things only from out of their personal experiences and contexts.  People tend to take the foundational premises of the social and political order in which they have achieved a measure of success as "natural" and "given."  That then becomes the basis from which to judge, and sadly, understand social and political orders other than their own.  But sometimes that pattern is unhelpful. 

 (pix (c) Larrty Catá Backer 2012)

This is especially the case when Western scholars and political analysts try to understand the Chinese system of Marxist Leninist state organization.   Many are content to judge that system against the metrics of Western  post 1945 political and economic conventions.  The result is predictable and negative.  Others, with the failures of the Stalinist Marxist Leninist experiment in Europe and Latin America firmly in mind, tend to assume the Chinese model is merely a variant on this model and thus also ultimately doomed to failure, or that in any case, the inefficiencies of Soviet organization cannot be avoided by the Chinese.  There are exceptions who are well worth reading (e.g., Randall Peerenboom, China's Long March toward Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2002; Peerenboom, Randall, The Social Foundations of China's Living Constitution (January 26, 2010). 

Among the most difficult aspect of Chinese institutional organization to understand is that of the formal relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the State organs.  (e.g., Backer, Larry Catá, The Party as Polity, the Communist Party, and the Chinese Constitutional State: A Theory of State-Party Constitutionalism (January 10, 2009). Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-2009. The work of Chinese scholars, little known in the West, is useful for acquiring perspective.  My research assistant Shan Gao (Penn State SIA '12; SJD expected) prepared a brief introductory summary of the a conversation among Chinese scholars about the issue, which follows.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Robert C. Blitt on Tunisia: Springtime for Defamation of Religion

Robert C, Blit is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law and before that he served as International Law Specialist for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bi-partisan agency created by Congress to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad. 

(Professor Blitt)

Professor Blitt has written a valuable opinion essay in which he recent efforts to criminalize blasphemy in Tunisia in the wake of their version of "Arab Spring" should be a cause for concern   that the US and other countries should contest in an effort to protect international human rights norms  Robert C. Blitt, Tunisia: Springtime for Defamation of Religion, JURIST - Forum, Aug. 13, 2012,  This post includes that essay and some thoughts that it provoked.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Test for Economic Reforms in Cuba and a Challenge to Raúl Castro's Vision?: The Cabildo Affair in Broader Context

I have been writing about recent efforts by Raúl Castro and his supporters to reshape the Cuban economy, focusing on the development of the cooperative as a substitute for the corporate form in the non-state sector of Marxist Leninist economies that must succeed in a globalized economic system.  Backer, Larry Catá, The Proletarian Corporation: Organizing Cuban Economic Enterprises in the Wake of the Lineamientos — Property Rights between Corporation, Cooperatives and Globalization (August 3, 2012). 

 (Pix from Marc Franck,  In Cuba an Opera Singer Builds anEmpire, Reuters, July 11, 2012 )

In my paper, I suggested the possibilities and limitations of the current approach to economic reorganization in Cuba.  I suggested both the potential of the cooperative as a means of shifting Cuba from a Marxist Leninist state-control model to a state-directed model with a managed non-state sector.  I also suggested the resistance to even a narrow opening in this direction by a state bureaucracy and rank and file Party cadres raised on a different model. These theoretical and technical  discussions of tensions and challenges were recently illustrated by the rise and closure of an informal cooperative operating in the non-state sector by a Cuban citizen committed to the national project of revolutionary Cuba. This individual operated a night club for locals and foreigners in Havana that was shut down after international news stories spotlighted its success.  This post considers some of the implications of the Cabildo  Affair.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"What is Context and How to Deal With It?": Nicholas Rowland Reviews Kristin Asdal and Inguun Moser

Philosophy has taught us that it is difficult to examine something from "outside."Things are always understood from within the parameters of a framing order. That framing order is not irrational--but it is arbitrary. One measures distance in relation to the spatial capacities of the human beings who do the measuring, and the culture of measurement is centered on creating meaningfulness between measurement and the person measuring. Likewise, few have found it possible to de-link human institutional systems from biology 
 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)
or social scientists, and especially those studying social systems, this issue, which I will call the problem of "embededness" (or context) strikes at the center of their own field mythologies.  If the study of social systems, for example, cannot escape the deep webs of frameworks within which they are studies, then all social science ultimately must devolve into a study of the frameworks within which they operate.  For Philosophers, this is not surprising.  For social science, it poses quite starkly a great contradiction--the more they seek "truth" (in whatever form they seek it, the more they will find the limits of their endeavors in the contexts in which that truth is sought. 
Yet, if embeddedness is everything, might it also be nothing?  That is, might presuming embeddedness, embracing the framework within which analysis occurs, provide a space, however limited and arbitrary, within which the social sciences might seek to distill truth as they have come to understand that term as a cultural artifact of the systems within which they operate. Can one be content (as academics have come to understand that term within the cultural structures of their fields)  to build worlds within semiotic space without the need (beyond acknowledgement of the foundational framework within which investigations are undertaken) to engage that space itself.  
This unquestioning "inwardness" has been essential to the construction of human systems--law, religion, social, etc.--for a very long time. It produces stability but also the possibility of deep revolution. This is the problem of modernity itself, now come home to roost within the very fabric of the self-conception of the social sciences themselves.  This appears to be the focus of the July issue of Science, Technology, & Human Values is out (July is volume 37, number 4).  My colleague and guest writer, Nicholas Rowland has produced a review of the issue (Best STHV issue in a while, Installing (Social) Order.) and now tackles the first of the articles: Kristin Asdal and Inguun Moser, "Experiments in Context and Contexting," Science, Technology and Human Values 37(4):291-306 (2012). Rowland's review, cross posted from STHV, Special Issue on Context: Comment One,  and my comments, follow:

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Exercise Mass Democracy and Cyberspace Disciplinary Power! Recommend a Favorite Legal Blog for the ABA Blawg 100 List

The ABA Journal produces an annual list of what it rates as the 100 best law focused blogs (or blawgs).  They are soliciting advice on which blawgs readers think they should include  in the Blawg 100.  They invite interested people to use the Blawg 100 Amici form, to tell them about a blawg——whether or not it is this one——that you read regularly that you think others should know about. You can recommend as many as you like; each recommendation must be submitted separately. The ABA Journal editors promise to include some of the best comments in their Blawg 100 coverage, as long as it is within their 500-character limit.
Editors make the final decisions about what's included in the Blawg 100; the editors insist that not all blawgs that receive the most amici are the ones that make the list. A blawg with no amici support at all can still make the list. "Friend-of-the-blawg" briefs are due no later than Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.  Please vote for your favorite law blog (whether or not it is this one!).

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Michael Strauss on 'Does Cuba Share Responsibility for Human Rights at Guantanamo Bay?'

My friend Michael Strauss is presenting an excellent and provocative paper at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy which will be hosting its 22st Annual meeting and Conference in Miami August 1-4, 2012. For the Preliminary Program, please click here»; For Press Release for the Meeting, please click here ».  The paper, entitled, Does Cuba Share Responsibility for Human Rights at Guantanamo Bay is the subject of this post.

(Michael Strauss, Pix from The Global Journal)

Michael J. Strauss, Professor of International Relations at the Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris, is a specialist on territorial leases and servitudes between nations – “one of the foremost authorities on a neglected area of international law” (Global Journal). He also teaches international relations at Schiller International University in Paris, and lectures on the acquisition of territory in international law at the Belarusian State University in Minsk. Prof. Strauss is the author of two books -- The Leasing of Guantanamo Bay (Praeger, 2009) and The Viability of Territorial Leases in Resolving International Sovereignty Disputes (L’Harmattan, 2010), in addition to research papers and articles. He recently created a traveling university seminar called “Guantanamo Bay in Diplomacy and International Law.” Prof. Strauss earned his Ph.D. in international relations and diplomacy at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies. He was an International Fellow at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs, and holds degrees in journalism from the University of Minnesota and Columbia. He studied international law in the United States and France. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Nicholas Rowland on Cultural Economy of Legitimacy

My colleague here at Penn State, Nicholas Rowland, guest blogs on "Law at the End of the Day" form time to time.  He is an assistant professor of sociology at Penn State University, resident at our Altoona, Pennsylvania campus. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, Department of Sociology focusing on the Sociology of Technology with a minor study in Cultural Studies. He is also a principal contributor to Installing (Social) Order, a blog on the sociology of infrastructure, exploring the sociotechnical nerves of contemporary society, originally formed as an informal work group of researchers at Bielefeld University's Department of Sociology.
  (Pix courtesy Nicholas Rowland)
Today, Professor Rowland blogs on the Cultural Econmy of Legitimacy.