N°6 2014 Mali: my fieldwork Sustainable Development

N°6 2014
Innovation Policy
Sustainable Development
Ways of readings
War workers
Mali: my fieldwork
Diderot: the publisher
From 19 September to 3 October I was in Bamako.
The object of the research, also in a material sense,
is the “Foyer Seiwa” (see photo): an efficient locally-produced coal stove the use of which results in
energy savings (reduced use of coal) of more than
30%, with positive consequences for the family budget and the environment (lower CO2 emissions).
The product is available on the market at relatively
affordable prices (around € 6), but the purchase levels
and use are still very low. We wonder: why do people
not buy and use this type of technology, given the
obvious advantages? Is it just a matter of economics:
the stove is too expensive and families cannot afford
to buy it? Or is it a matter of information: people
are not aware of the existence and benefits of the
introduction of the “Foyer Seiwa” in their homes? We
also want to investigate the role of social networks in
influencing purchasing decisions. The objectives of my
mission during my two-week stay were: to test some
research hypotheses, implement operating procedures through the implementation of “evidence” gathered (during the pilot phase) and set and finalize the
instruments to be used for the follow-up collection of
data. We also collaborated in the training of a team of
local investigators who would conduct a survey on a
sample of 700 families in Bamako.
The mission was a success.
We have “trained” more than 25 young Malians,
some on their first field experience. The content of
the training provides for “theoretical” explanations
of how a investigator should behave, the selection of
households (sampling), the questionnaire, and a few
moments of teamwork, to test their skills with the simultaneous translation of the questionnaire (written
in French) into Bambara, the local language, and the
proper use of the iPod, the instrument used for the
compilation of the electronic questionnaire.
Data collection will begin in the middle of October.
Thanks also to the feedback received from the investigators during training and after some field tests, we
have finalized the questionnaire that will be the key
tool for getting a snapshot of the situation of families
before our attempt to encourage the dissemination
of the “foyer seiwa”. We have prepared a detailed
work plan for the coming months to make best use of
human and physical resources. We have consolidated
the relationship with GERES, a French NGO, specialized in supporting the production chain of the foyer
Seiwa. I personally think that the days of training
with the young people who will be the investigators
have been the most enriching moments of my stay
in Bamako. Trying to stimulate interest, curiosity and
commitment of many who sometimes are having
their first work experience, in a project with possibly
immediate implications for the quality of life of their
families was a precious moment of connection and
exchange and not only from a work point of view.
I also had the opportunity to know and deepen my
understanding of a part of African culture, in many
ways very different from ours.
Field work for a development economist is a critical
step: it is necessary to test in the field the feasibility
of the proposals thought up behind a desk in Milan.
Sometimes protocols and procedures designed in the
office prove ineffective and sterile in answering the
research question; then it is essential for enthusiastic
creative work to adapt them to the context. However,
you do not have a totally free hand, being bound by
the systematic and scientific criteria required to stay
within international standards of research. It forces
you to come to terms with reality, with the problems
and, sometimes, with failure or the need to radically
revise your ideas.
Beyond the intensity of the work and the unpredictability of situations in phases of development, the continuing daily challenges, confronted with colleagues “on
the same wavelength”, has made this a unique experience. The next challenge will be to support the project
from my desk in Milan: Skype and email will help!
A man of letters who wishes to undertake the publishing of
works of others is qualified to be called a publisher. There
are two essential qualities of a publisher: that he know the
language in which the work was originally written; that he
be familiar with the subject matter of the work.
Those who gave us the first editions of the Greek and Latin
classics were cultured, hardworking and helpful.
There are works whose publication assumes a large number
of skills that is not given to a single individual to possess.
The Encyclopaedia is a work of this kind. It would seem indispensable, in order to achieve perfection, that each be the
publisher of his own articles, but this would have resulted in
excessive delay.
As publisher of the Encyclopaedia I do not arrogate to myself
some kinds of authority in its production from my colleagues,
it would be wrong both to lay blame for what may be considered to be weak and to give praise for what is found to
be excellent.
I do not hide the fact that, in the articles of my colleagues,
I sometimes feel things that are difficult not to personally
disapprove of, while on the contrary, it is likely that there are
texts that my co-workers on the Encyclopaedia accept with
some discomfort.
But each has its own way of saying and thinking and cannot
be expected to sacrifice this when it is part of an undertaking
built on the tacit agreement that everyone keep his freedom.
This observation applies both to praise and criticism. I would
consider myself guilty of reprehensible infidelity against an
author if in his name I passed favourable or unfavourable
judgment, as the reader would be unfair to me if he imagined I had.
If in the Encyclopaedia there is something that is mine, it is
taking care to recognize in others the freedom to express the
good and the bad that can be said of the works.
Source: Éditeur, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, par J. Assézat, Garnier Frères, Paris 1876, t. XIVème, pp. 378-379.
Jacopo Bonan (Researcher Laboratorio Expo)
The relationship between work and war and between workers and war can be described as ambiguous
in the most literal sense of the word. I emphasize
here the distinction between “work” and “workers”.
The need to manage, make investments, adopt new
forms of work organization and equipment suitable
for the challenges of wartime production saw for the
first time the violation of the taboo of not having
direct state intervention in the economy. Standing
out in particular was the emphasis given to the deployment of the workforce.
The contrast between the peasant foot soldier “used
to obeying in silence” and the rebellious worker keeping his head down was the most poisonous fruit
of authoritarian nationalism in the immediate aftermath of the war. Mobilized factory workers, however,
really give full expression to the ambiguity mentioned above.
Social Innovation
Subjected to a military discipline, where added to
the authoritarian relations of the factory at the beginning of the twentieth century (but ultimately in
every factory), was the control demanded by military
officials, mobilized factory workers lost – or saw limited by arbitration – the right to strike, by that time
widespread throughout industrialized Europe and
even, with many limitations, in the Russian Empire.
At the same time, the prolongation of the war and
the effect (different from country to country) of trade unions required all the protagonists of the war
effort (patrons, ministers, senior officials) to take into
consideration the consensus of the immediate producers, besides the population in general.
On one side, Joseph Schumpeter, in his Sociology of
Imperialism, began with the atavistic drive to war
and expansionism apparent in ancient empires. On
the other, Lenin (Imperialism, the Supreme phase of
Capitalism) preferred a reconstruction of events beginning with the Panic of 1873, with the consequent
processes of industrial and financial concentration
and imperialist rivalry for the conquest of new markets that led, inevitably according to him, to the
outbreak of the conflict.
With regard to the degree of consensus among the
civilian population in the war – taking into account
the rapid changes which occurred in the winter of
1916 and summer of 1917 – we have endless sources open to many different interpretations, “from
resignation to revolt”, although it is clear a short
circuit existed between consensus or the resistance
of the soldiers in the trenches and that of their families, despite the convergent forces of censorship
and propaganda.
Of the difficulty of interpretation there are signals
– for example – in the testimony of British soldiers
who had left voluntarily and soon realized that military discipline was much tougher than the factory
they had always protested against thus bringing the
flames of patriotism into crisis.
There were two results. The involvement of trade
unions in the mediation and arbitration process stimulated the temptation to strike. At the same time,
in the mobilized factories, thanks to the bargaining
power conferred by the urgency of production, organisms made their appearance that had many
different names, shop stewards, delegates, workers’
councils, workers’ committees – institutions that lay
stress on the process of policy innovation.
Institutions founded, however, because of the need
to find interlocutors for conflicts, with an army
unwilling to redeploy troops from war fronts to
maintain public order – would converge in new forms of direct representation. In Italy they would be
called Internal Committees. Institutions in embryo
prior to 1914 were to become the protagonists of
an entire new era of industrial relations.
Thus a short period dawned where workers recovered
their autonomy to fight in the face of the various interests and powers, opening an era of democracy finally
crystallized in the International Labour Organisation.
Maria Meriggi (University of Bergamo)
August 1914.
Socialist internationalism
and the test of war
It is widely accepted that the outbreak of the First
World War marked, among other things, the defeat
of socialist internationalism and of pacifism in the
face of the rising tide of the various nationalisms
which grew during years of propaganda and “nationalization of the masses”.
This phenomenon can be studied (like all historical
issues) from various points of view and using different periodizations. Two come to mind.
Economics of Work
Work in Milan 2014
In recent decades, the modalities of work and careers have changed dramatically in all industrialized
countries. The heterogeneity and instability of work
has increased; the decrease of blue and white-collared jobs in medium-sized and large enterprises
and the increase of tertiary work, work in care-giving and information technology have resulted in a
strong destandardization of ways to work; the increased employment of women, the growing importance of knowledge and of technological skills, the
massive increase of migrant workers coming from all
continents and with different cultures have imported new social problems into the workplace, such as
the importance of strategies for the reconciliation of
work and family care and the need to realize lifelong
learning programs and multicultural social inclusion.
The changes in work are reflected in major changes
in terms of political representation and trade unions
of new workers and, above all, access to and enjoyment of the social rights of citizenship and forms
of social protection. Today new workers, especially
young people entering the labour market, have potentially great opportunities for self-realization, are
generally more educated and better able to participate and communicate through high-tech tools, but
at the same time, they are more isolated and vulnerable, less protected by a welfare state that is in
endemic financial crisis, less protected by traditional
forms of political and union representation which
cannot answer to a fragmented and unstable reality, and by social and family ties that are also more
and more heterogeneous and brittle. No doubt the
expectations and the concept of social rights and
representation have changed profoundly among the
generations that have entered the labour market in
recent decades.
The project of research on Society by the Fondazione
aims to shed light on the dynamics of the transformation of the system of representation and social
protections both in relation to the needs for social
protection which remain unsatisfied and with respect to innovative solutions that enable new workers to deal with these situations.
Next to this a third possibility must be kept in mind,
seen in the wide array of historians who studied the
events with much more limited periodization, with
short or very short timeframes, but at different levels, from international relations to domestic politics
in various countries, focusing often on that crucial
month between the assassination in Sarajevo and
the declaration of war.
The context of the metropolitan area of Milan, from
this point of view, is a very interesting laboratory because it is characterized by a dynamic labour market,
with a high content of knowledge and information,
with important creative niches in design, fashion,
publishing, multimedia communication, but also in
biotechnology and advanced pharmaceutical research, and with a great diffusion of consultants in
the business and financial sector. It also has a large
and diverse community of foreigners with different
professions who raises the issue of cross-cultural
interactions in the processes of social integration.
Not surprisingly, new forms of association and representation have developed involving both employees and self-employed workers and, above all,
new careers and new semi-autonomous non-regulated professions. It will be interesting to see in the
field, beginning with the web which is an effective
resource of contact for new workers, if and how organizational structures will arise that are capable of
building effective resources to address the lack of
welfare and political and social representation. In
addition, we will try to focus on how new ways of
working and being active in different social networks (space sharing, co-working, exchange of experiences, proximity groups, cooperation and joint purchasing, and so on) intertwine with working careers
and the workers’ manner of building life experience.
Enzo Mingione (University of Milan-Bicocca)
For example, faced with a sudden pressure of events,
the Bureau of the Socialist International was urgently convened in Brussels on 28-29 July by its secretary, Huysmans. The meeting, the outcome of which
was also eagerly awaited by the leaders of Italian
socialism, essentially closed with a stalemate, disbelieving – amazingly – the real risks of a European
war and limiting itself to reiterating its call for intensified demonstrations for peace and for arbitration
to resolve the Austro-Serbian conflict and delaying
further action until the congress of the International,
which was to be convened in Vienna on 9 August.
A congress that never happened: on July 31 Jean
Jaurès was assassinated and the next day a general
mobilization in France and Germany was proclaimed.
On the same day Huysmans sent a notice to all party
members postponing the congress to a future date.
On August 4, the German Parliament approved, with
a vote supported by the Social Democrats, funding
for war.
These are the events that formed the basis of the
research of Georges Haupt and that, still today, can
be seen in the archives of Fondazione Feltrinelli
(starting from the Huysmans cards in the catalogue)
as an essential point of reference.
Giovanni Scirocco (University of Bergamo)
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