Forces beyond nations

first_imgIn February, Jason Beckfield was named a full professor of sociology at Harvard, where he had labored in the junior faculty trenches for five years.“It was a relief you cannot imagine,” said Beckfield, a modest, rangy 35-year-old and the father of two, “an instantaneous lowering of blood pressure.”Beckfield got his introduction to sociology at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University), where his favorite professor barked out brilliant lectures and often showed up in class still dressed for duck hunting. Said Beckfield of Harvard, “This is not the place I expected to land.”Yet his academic path was remarkable and lucky, said Beckfield, beginning with the public schools in his native Joplin, Mo. “At every grade,” he remembered, “I was fortunate to have very good teachers.” Most of all, there was the steadying influence of his parents — the late Albert Beckfield, an accountant, and his wife Cathy, a bank loan assistant.Despite solid academics in Joplin, Beckfield was a freshman in college before he had heard of sociology. He took a memorable survey course taught by Jack Mitchell, the duck hunter. “He was extremely intimidating,” he said of the man who was to inspire a life’s work. “He was big man — gruff, severe, and a compelling lecturer.”Beckfield sampled English, biology, astronomy, anthropology, and journalism. But the siren call of sociology won. Mitchell left his young student with a senior-year gift: intensive seminars in classic and contemporary social theory that gave him an exceptional grounding for the Ph.D. program at Indiana University. “I still have those notes,” said Beckfield.He spent one of his seven doctoral years helping his adviser, Professor Art Alderson, complete an intensive social network analysis of selected cities around the world. “It was a very important moment in graduate school,” said Beckfield. “It completely changed the way I thought about globalization.”Social network analysis is the complex, data-driven study of how nodes (individuals) and ties (relationships) relate to one another. Conceptually, this key analytical tool dates to the 1930s, but it only took off in the ’90s, when computing power could finally cope with massive data sets. Beckfield is a fan of the technique’s fluid intersections with physics, neuroscience, statistics, and other disciplines.The complex equations and fulsome quantitative data of social network analysis underlie his chief research: regionalization initiatives like the European Union (EU). Entities like the EU are increasingly common – new economic, political, and social hybrids of national and global ties. In a book he will finish writing this year, Beckfield wonders: Does the EU, for one, create patterns of inequality?“The political and economic fates of a large number of people are increasingly bound up in regions,” he said. “We should be paying a lot more attention than we are.”It’s all so new. Beckfield called regional unions like the EU “supranational entities” that are “completely fascinating society-building experiments.”Among those EU-like experiments are the Common Market of the Southern Cone, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States. The one anomaly is the North American Free Trade Agreement, said Beckfield, since it is based on “economic integration without political integration.”While regional models of interchange knit together fresh alliances, the old order of nation-to-nation interchange is unraveling. “The factors that influence people’s lives are less coupled to the nation-state than they were before,” said Beckfield, describing a global sea change that Columbia University sociologist Saskia Sassen calls “denationalization.” (She and Beckfield were colleagues at the University of Chicago, where he first taught.)In the face of these changes, it’s important to conceptualize “what regionalized forms of social organization look like,” said Beckfield, and to understand what it means for “a nation-state to be integrated into something that exists above it.”The idea of globalization helps us understand grand patterns, said Beckfield. But it is more accurate to think of the world as a place of multiplying supranational regions: densely woven networks of social, economic, and political ties that exceed national boundaries.The world is not the globalized “flat world” popularized by writer Thomas Friedman, said Beckfield. “The metaphor I like better — it’s not my own — is that the world is ‘spiky,’ increasingly fragmented and increasingly unequal.”last_img read more

Record-setting quarter pushes installed U.S. solar capacity to more than 71GW

first_imgRecord-setting quarter pushes installed U.S. solar capacity to more than 71GW FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNBC:The solar market in the U.S. added 2.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics in the third quarter of 2019, with total solar capacity — which includes both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power — hitting 71.3 GW, according to a new report.The figures, released Thursday morning, come from the most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Photovoltaic refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electricity. The SEIA describes concentrating solar plants as using mirrors “to concentrate the sun’s energy to drive traditional steam turbines or engines that create electricity.”The 2.6 GW of capacity added during the third quarter represents a 45% increase compared to the third quarter of 2018 and a 25% increase compared to the second quarter of 2019, the SEIA said.Breaking the figures down, the third quarter saw the U.S. residential market install 712 megawatts (MW) of solar. California led the way in this market, installing almost 300 MW.For 2019 as whole, Wood Mackenzie is forecasting year-over-year growth of 23% and expecting 13 GW of installations. To put things in perspective, China added 44 GW of solar photovoltaics in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In 2017, the country added 53 GW, the IEA says. [Anmar Frangoul]More: U.S. adds 2.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics in third quarter, new figures showlast_img read more

Pokies removed as gambling declines in South Canterbury

first_imgStuff 21 October 2015A declining interest in gambling has had two South Canterbury bars stripped of their gaming machines.The move has prompted a mixed reaction from publicans, who say the bulk of their customers were not problem gamblers.Punters in the Timaru District poured more than $5 million into gambling machines between January and June this year, according to figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs.However, that was a drop of more than $100,000 from the same period in 2014.Both the Wolseley Hotel in Winchester and The Jolly Potter in Temuka have had their gaming machines removed after they failed to bring in enough revenue.Wolseley Hotel co-owner Dianne Herbert said she had received a lot of positive feedback from patrons since the “anti-social” machines were taken away at the end of September. read more