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2015 (37) Issue 1
Social Mechanisms

Social mechanisms are the focus of several analytical approaches in the social sciences striving for explanation while acknowledging the relevance of understanding. The plea to reveal more fine-grained social mechanisms may be associated with quite distinct explanatory approaches such as Coleman's macro-micro-macro model (1990), Hedström's desires, beliefs and opportunities scheme (2005), or the specification of ('wide') rational action models by bridge assumptions, social production functions, and/or the model of frame selection (Lindenberg 1996; Opp & Friedrichs 1996; Kroneberg & Kalter 2012).
Apart from theoretical considerations, different modeling techniques may be used to approximate the social mechanisms supposed to be at hand empirically. Depending on the particular theoretical and methodological framework, different modeling strategies may be favorable. The volume at hand will focus on advanced quantitative empirical survey research (e.g. multilevel and/or moderation/mediation models), agent-based modeling (simulation studies) and currently evolving intertwining techniques.
For the special issue "Social Mechanisms" we invite interested researchers to submit papers addressing four different domains:

  1. Methodological aspects of social mechanisms: explanatory status and potential
  2. Quantitative empirical applications of social mechanisms
  3. Agent-based modeling of social mechanisms
  4. Intertwining techniques: combining social mechanisms in quantitative models with agent-based modeling
Deadline for this issue: November 2014.
Ms will be blind-reviewed.
Contributions addressing these (and related) questions are highly welcome. If interested, please send a short abstract of your prospective article to one of the editors.


2015 (37) Issue 2
The Normative Turn Away from Marxism: Substitution or Transformation?

Marxism, both as a Western political movement and an intellectual centre of dispute, lost its appeal during the 1970s and 80s, foreshadowing the breakdown of 'really existing' socialism in the early 90s. Within Western Marxism there has always been acute awareness of Marx' early philosophy, with its visionary ideas of a good life and an ideal society. Nevertheless, the core of Marxist theory was acknowledged by most to lie in economic theory and 'historical materialism'. In growing theoretical contrast, at around the same time normative theories of ethics and politics came to life, forcefully shifted into the limelight by John Rawls' Theory of Justice.
Since that time, a broad philosophical, legal and political literature and culture has developed, both theoretical and applied, which discusses nearly every social aspect of modern Western societies, save the elementary axioms and values of capitalism. There is no way back, it seems, from the elements constituting capitalism and excluding socialism: private property, competitive market, wage labour, unrestricted accumulation of capital, growing inequalities. Present-day normative philosophical theories, be it those of justice or politics, try to defend the modern values of freedom and equality within this framework, but leave the frame itself untouched.
Issue 2/2015 is devoted to analyses of the contrast between Marxism's normative visions and actual 'liberal' and 'social' aims, the principled reasoning behind them and their reality. If socialism is impossible under real human conditions, to what extent do the ideas of freedom and equality need to be downsized? Are present theories of justice and democracy sensitive to the economic-functional frame of capitalism and the market? Are they utopian in a realistic or an obscuring way? Is there any sense at all of alternatives to a well-entrenched capitalism, and is there a sense of the limitations it imposes on the ethical organisation of society?
There may be consent that Marxism's 'science' has gone for good and that the attractions of Marxism have been well transferred to normative thinking. This, however, was just what Marxism criticized in the French Socialists. Not to fall back again into the Marxian trap of substituting values by science, is there a way to avoid the early socialists' substitution of science by values, and to achieve a synthesis?
Contributors will include: Jason Brennan, Brian Leiter, Georg Lohmann, Jan Narveson, John Roemer, Fabien Tarrit.
Deadline: contributions should be submitted by February 15th, 2015.
Publication date: April 2015.
Ms will be blind-reviewed.
Contributions addressing these (and related) questions are highly welcome. If interested, please send a short abstract of your prospective article to one of the editors.



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