Globalization, Social Justice and Human Rights        


Sumaries   [Sumários em português]

Fall  semestre 2017


November, the 22th

Women and children Human Rights

Preliminary considerations on the instruments of international law applicable in these matters, on the accessibility of these instruments, on the competition that exists among the various entities whose mission is to promote them. Click for some relevant links.

Debate on the remaining discrepancy between the pretensions of modern societies to recognize equality between all human beings and the fact that inequalities and abusive practices are practically maintained by taking advantage of these inequalities. Need to understand better how, in modern societies - but not only in these - norms of equality have been established; what are the factors that favor practices contrary to these norms; what are the factors that favor practices that correspond to these norms.

In the face of a particular form of denial of equality and equal respect for the dignity of all persons, sexual abuse of children, there is a recently developed strategy: Transformative Justice. It can be understood as a way of taking advantage of calls for redress of such ill-treatment, not for resorting to the official police and judicial apparatus, which reproduces forms of violence, but for the transformation of collectives, progressively eliminating factors favoring child abuse.

Brief comparative considerations on new concepts of justice that have arisen in recent years: restorative justice, transitional justice, now transformative justice; after general justice, commutative justice, distributive justice, and of course social justice. Concepts that reveal transformations of human collectivities both in terms of the positions of their various members and in the plane of the mechanisms of self-observation they develop: a philosopher who questions about justice in his society; a militant of the workers' movement who wonders about the position of his class and ways of making the State intervene; social scientists who observe collectivities and propose innovative ways of intervening in them.


November, the 15th

Demographics and migrations

It resumes the discussion of the texts covered last week
Robert I. Lerman and Stephanie R. Schmidt "An Overview of Economic, Social and Democratic Trends Affecting the U.S. Labor Market"

European Commission 2009, Regions 2020 globalisation challenges for european regions

Jonna, R. Jamil, Foster, John Bellamy (2016) Marx's Theory of Working-Class Precariousness Its Relevance Today

These, in some way, represent the three points of view that can be deduced from Habermas's text: the State (Commission text on the regions); the economy (Lerman / Schmidt); the society (Jonna / Foster).

Approach to the text of Aaron Benanav, "Demography and Dispossession", 2017. Importance of the demographic perspective, which takes into account the mere physical reproduction of the human race and allows to show the effects of this reproduction, independently of the effects of other economic and social processes. Comparison between the latter text (p.2) and Jonna / Foster's (note 43): the two are based on ILO reports: the World Employment Social Outlook 2015 (the last edition of this report here), which illustrates the importance of international organizations in building a global social reality.

Presentation of Dores, A.P, "Human Rights through national borders" Sociology Without Borders (4): 382-297, drawn from the observation on the ground of the reception of refugees on a Greek island. Considerations about the treatment by modern states of those who are not recognized as full citizens, who are the victims of violence that we tend, we who do not suffer, not to perceive, making them invisible.

November, the 8th

Law and global world

Brief presentation of the theory of communicative action: conditions needed for modern communication. On the one hand, there are the meanings in which we make sense / give meaning to what surrounds us and to what begins in the process of communication, within which we also identify ourselves as contributors and participants announcers (we become aware of ourselves when we are already communicating; Habermas call this areas of Lebenswelt / Lifeworld). On the other hand, there are domains (systems) in which individuals are suspended about symbols they cannot control (one cannot redefine the meaning and the uses of wording and the power of the symbols everybody use). The administration and the economy have legal powers granted, except in new legislative processes; The value of money is not discussed. What is at stake is to articulate these two radically different domains: Lifeworld and systems. This is one of the major problems societies are call to deal with. In a first step, Habermas approaches this problem, in several places in the Theory of the Communicative Action in the light of the "colonization of the Lebenswelt" thesis: the domination of the systems would extend progressively, while diminishing the opportunities one have to define by ourselves the sense experiences. This thesis has been illustrated by Habermas using his research on sociology of law. He notice the juridical regalement trend in each time more present in different social sectors, such as family, education. He call it "Juridification" (see text Trends toward Juridification, which is one of the last chapters of Theory of Communicative Action). In a second phase, one is interested in the way Lebenswelt "fences" the systems (in the book Facts and Norms [1992] 1996, available in the ISCTE-IUL library).

In a first part of "Tendencies toward Juridification," Habermas seeks to interpret the development of modern law as revealing the way in which the political-administrative system, the economic system, and a less structured, public-space debate have been differentiated throughout history; as well as private spaces where we can withdraw and organize our way as our relations with others; and as the dynamics of political and economic systems have an impact on less structured public and private spaces, which led to the adoption of measures to protect people (social policies). It seeks to analyze more precisely how protection measures apply to new forms of state and economic intrusion in private spheres, to introduce a distinction between law-institution (legal rules enshrining fundamental principles that may favor a communicational activity that generates new meanings) and law (legal rules that frame the functioning of organizations that may interfere with this communicational activity).

O Estado moderno surge tirando proveito destes ofícios e enquadrando o exercício destes. O que pode acarretar limitações na actuação das pessoas, mas o que também, em certas circunstâncias, pode abrir espaços de actuação.

Following this presentation, debate about the conditions in which we communicate at the present time. – the technological facilities to communicate at a distance, and the fact that not everything enter the distant communication. Think of the substance that can be the silence. - What it means more precisely to communicate and about a possibility of communicating with the nonhuman world. - On the differentiation of forms of communication through history. Namely a differentiation of forms of communication lived as enabling a learning (any communication can be source of learning). Possible connection between these forms of communication and crafts that develop in particular in the Renaissance (think of art). The modern state comes by taking advantage of the offices and framing the exercise of these. What can lead to limits in the performance of people, but also, under certain circumstances, can open spaces for action.

Brief commentary on the three texts scheduled for discussion this week: (1) how States react to globalization? (2) How do regions develop in the context of global dynamics? (3) Stable employment and precariousness in a globalized economy.

Octobre, the 25th

History and tales about Nation-state

Nation-state was invented in the West. It is a specific form of state, different from other kind of state. It has been imposed and copied all over the world.
Nation-state, in the globalization era, is presented as decaying in power. Ideally, corporations, capital and assets are free to move out of the intervention (and taxing) of the states. Peoples moves, in contrast, are hardly policed and turned out to become central political problem (immigrants, refugees).
German and English newspapers of this week published articles arguing about IMF reports asking for social support to people, instead of austerity policies. From the right and from the left, arguing about industrial innovation or about strengthening workers power, several articles call to support this new view about politics. We are living a turn on politics. Is this the end of neoliberal era?
Modern state find its roots in the Companies of India of several European kings. They needed them to strategic management of Discoveries: to do business overseas, to plan military force interventions and to take taxes. American and French Revolution, ending the royalty leadership, found in the People, built afterwards as nation, another way of legitimizing state power. Messianic and Imperial notion, turn into the people living inside political borders to represent the solidarity of all (between them and with the state) as an old tradition, brought by national 19th century historiography. Till today, racist politics still work. This was the strength of the social ground where this state identity work stand. Work done against several nations existing inside borders, both in Europe and in other parts of the world.
Jurisdification Habermas´ thesis notice the growing intervention of judicial principles and processes in the sphere of experience. Sphere of experience is where people are free to consensually build their specific kind of relationships. Judicial systems are spreading its influence. From this point of view, Habermas describe four stages for the western style state: the private and contractual state of kings involved in Discoveries. State of law, when it assured inside its political borders the life, the property and freedom of its use. Democratic state of law, when not only the those who have property would be able to benefit from the security of the state. Every citizen would be entitled to be supported by the state on their lives. Last state, se social state deliver a special attention to labour relationship, recognizing that salaried people is not in the same position as entrepreneurs and so state should find ways to equilibrate this difference of power.
There is other ways to divide this stages of evolution of the state. One can conclude that there time where the state was not present, in History. There are several politic orientations that run the state in different situations. New stages build in the ancient ones, becoming more complex. The will to get a minimum state converge the new left and the neoliberals this last decades. Still the state seems to grow and its power seems to vanish, when facing corporations or banks.

Octobre, the 18th

What is globalization?

Globalization is an expression that has start circulating since the 80's and especially 90's of the last century. Although one can say that the tendency towards globalization is an innate characteristic in the human species, since leaving Africa it has done nothing more than colonize the world. Europe in particular began to colonize the world from the 14th century on. International maritime trade (as opposed to the silk route and all the commercial land routes, as well as the struggles between the knights of the Euro-Asian steppe and the sedentary societies) follows the first steps of what in the nineteenth century came to be call colonization. Capitalism, as a system, arises in the midst of these events, in England; and expands with them.
There are two ideological views on this: Anglo-Saxon and Francophone. Globalization (English-speaking) is a pragmatic process that does not depend on the will of anybody: it is a force of nature, unstoppable and above all unregulated. Mondialization (French) is a cultural process of realizing the best that universal values can offer to humanity, which means respect for legal and humanitarian rules.
There is, in fact, a more superficial globalization (communication networks via TV, the internet, transport network, international tourism and work networks, the trading of standardized products available around the world - macdonaldization - etc.) which explains how Bin Landen also consumed Western products, such as the watch he wore on his wrist when he made his presentation to the world after the attack on the Twin Towers as a leader of anti-modern and anti-Western movements. (In fact, without the free movement of capital and private warfare - completely banned before the 1980s - there would be no possibility of organizing Al Quaeda).
There is, at the same time, a deeper globalization. Like the one that is reflected in the fires in Portugal. The result of accelerated modernization policies from the entry into the European Union, when a third of the population left the rural world and became urban, abruptly abandoning the interior of the country to a human desertification that anticipated for decades the announced climate desertification, resulting from climate change. The practical consequences of extreme weather events that have occurred are more serious because the populations and the state are not prepared.
The interests that are measured by GDP, by the value produced each year, are mainly those that are linked to international trade: speculative value, specialization, exploitation and extraction of natural resources and labor force, they all allow the accumulation of great wealth but leave a trace of disorganization, disorientation, poverty, lack of solidarity and burnt land. A class of international people with access to the most sophisticated technologies lives in a way that is oblivious to other people, especially those who are trapped in the local territories on which they depend and where they organize life. States, turned to support and benefit, through taxes and through the opportunities to rise in life offered to their highest officials (especially politicians), develop social policies that do not dignify people in need: on the contrary, they humiliate and incapacitate.
The open paths to overcome these contradictions, between ideal and reality, are the return to the past of the national state for the benefit of nationals, proposed by the far right, and a series of practical utopias advanced by local businessmen and civil society movements, including community projects, dispersed among themselves. The functional and cognitive hyper specialization, as well as the dualization that split those people that can use modern technologies and the others, is an obstacle to cooperation around a narrative of the future that is mobilizing.

Octobre, the 11th

Human Rights - theories

The need for a human rights theory, raised by Amartya Sem, goes on to explain how these rights are acquired by the people and in what context they are enjoyed. Some say that rights are inseparable from obligations and duties, without which rights do not exist. That is to say, who benefits from the rights is because it has the conditions to maintain them, that is, to fulfill obligations.
This is the theory still valid today in professional fields. One must be "competent" to exercise it as a right, far from those who are "incompetent". But it is also valid in economic and social aspects: some claim to be realistic to make economic and social rights dependent, says Sen, on the scarcity of each society. If a country is poor, economic and social rights (to be provided by the state) will have to be adequate to the states' achievement possibilities. The author claims that this is not true: economic and social rights are moral and social obligations. People and societies have obligations to provide services, directly or by the state or by professionals.
Human rights are, in the sense of Sen, the recognition of the right of all citizens to organize and participate in the transformation of the world for the benefit of all, without being harmed in their personal life, without persecution or discrimination or retaliation. In particular, by directly supporting those in need and calling on the state and other institutions - such as businesses or families - to respect first and second generations rights (political and civic participation, first generation human rights, access to goods economic and cultural rights in the second generation).
For Sen, human rigths is a social and moral way of developing freedoms in any part of the world, regardless of the relative wealth of countries and sectors of activity. Everywhere one must maximize individual and collective capacities.
Human rights movements are based on imperfect (facultative) and perfect moral determinations (obligations under penalty of moral penalty for abstention). Anyone who can, should help feed homeless or defend the rights of prisoners. It is an imperfect moral determination. Anyone who witnesses a car accident or a person at risk of drowning in a river or at sea, has a strict obligation to seek to rescue those in imminent danger. It is an perfect moral determination.
Human rights also refer to practices of agitation and acknowledgment of the humanity of others and unknown persons, including observing and publicizing practices of abuses of power (of the state and other persons with powers), following imperfect moral determinations. Practices of public support, evaluation and discussion of people in situations of non-freedom. Where torture and disease and access to health care are priorities. The need for professional criticism of the professional practices of caregivers (teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, sociologists) including parents and spouses or other family members (eg, boy/girlfriends) can be added to Sen's point of view. The abuse of children, women, conjugal and gender-based violence, the destruction of lives at their emotional level, is a pandemic that is now recognized and where more determined actions are lacking. Situations where the state - the police and social services - is too conditioned to be
The fact that, realistically, economically or institutionally, from the state's point of view, it is not possible, in a certain situation, to deliver rights - for example, to end poverty or torture - does not inhibit the moral right and obligation to claim (organizational reforms or institutional transformations) to achieve determined objectives as desirable.
The universality of these rights means that they should not be restricted either to certain social groups or to political boundaries.
The discussion of torture, for example, goes beyond the secrets of state and the social secrets surrounding the penal systems. Retaliation is a magical social practice that still works today. Especially through denial. And through the distinction between mistreatment, degrading treatment and torture. A gradation of torture that makes allegations of torture on the one hand broader and on the other hand more controversial: ill-treatment is also torture and, at the same time, ill-treatment is not torture. The ill-treatment is less serious, the torture unacceptable. If a state turns real torture into alleged mistreatment, one can see, as it happened in Portugal, representatives of the State directly responsible for the prisons say that there is no torture in the country.


September. the 27th 

Human Rights regime

Before listening to the individual motivations of those present to attend the course, the teacher explained the way of functioning of the two sites of the course - the website of the summaries and the readings; the NING website, used as blogs site, to post and to comment. The quantification of the final evaluation was presented, as well.

In the second part of the lesson the notion of human rights regime was presented as a postwar movement that involved moral, political and institutional issues. This movement is interpreted in the light of American imperial logic, which characterizes the same historical period, in the light of the influence of good ideas and imagination of what justice in real life is, in the light of institutional constructivism. The human rights movement uses a number of legal instruments, such as manifestoes and declarations, with no legal value, but with symbolic and cultural value; conventions oblige signatory states to incorporate international law in their national legislation; recommendations frame international evaluation of good legislation.

The practical value of the law, and in particular of human rights law, is often contested as it is disregarded by states. In fact, human rights law aims to provide individual with the means to appeal to the courts in defense of their interests and rights violated by states. The law and the courts, of course, are not enough to prevent abuses of power. They can stand for damning judgments and demand that cases of abuse not be repeated. They do so by shaming the states that are condemned, presenting them to the international community as violators of law and morality. Its effects are not abolitionists of state abuses. They are, in any case, an instrument of defense (of people) and of attack (of non-compliant states) that has borne fruit, to be evaluated on another occasion.


About existing international legal instruments aiming at the promotion of human rights, see the commented list published on the website “Sociology of Law at ISCTE-IUL”. Important distinction: between binding and non binding instruments (frequently used terminology: hard law / soft law). Both have to be adopted by a formal decision of an international organization. On top of this, binding instruments – usually called “conventions” – have to be ratified by the member states of these organizations, through domestic procedures comparable to legislative procedures. Such binding documents may supply legal foundations to procedures against the states that ratified the conventions. Non binding documents – declarations, recommendations – cannot be invoked as such; however, references to them may help the construction of legal arguments.  

Admittedly, legal documents have a considerable symbolic impact, even if they are poorly or not at all implemented in practice. Such a symbolic impact is to be observed in the domain of corporate social responsibility. Organizations grouping private corporations, in order to improve the social image of their members, encourage them to take into consideration human rights in their relations with clients and employees, while human rights, in legal terms, only apply to the states in their relations with the people.

Fall semestre 2014


Septembre, 22th

Course activities

List of topics

Assignment schedule

Example of good student´s final work


Fall semestre 2013

Course evaluation

18 Dec

Assessment and closure

11 Dec

Social-economic rights, cultural rights, workers and nature rights

A presentation of the four generation of Human Rights. A brief discussion of the path and activity of each one.

Civic and political rights did help to integrate women and young people in the voting population. Prisoners and immigrants still are excluded in many cases. Socioeconomic rights in the Welfare State are backward these days, as well being reformulated. Emergent cultural rights work through minority language education, the official use of these languages, public recognition of the cognitive value of minorities´ cultures, creations’ and traditions. Nature rights is only declarative, at the moment: it meant to address diversity both in human cultures as in human habitat and ecological sites.

About Nature rights, one should look at the political rising of first people in Bolivia and Equator and their commitment to record their ancestral views on nature and a constitutional national and world heritage available through the resistance to colonialism of these people.

For a comprehensive understanding, Human Rights should be referred as an all. The resistances to the enforcement of Human Rights declarations claim for new and specific developments and clarifications of what they intend and mean, in all complexity and extension. This is different from specialization approach, splitting in parts what can be apart, turning thoughts and actions simpler and, as well, losing perspective of the sense and results of the actions – we call it alienation.

A group work has been presented and discussed. It dealt with recycling food and helping Lisbon needy families.

4 Dec

Human Rights of women and children

Human Rights are an institution. Historically it starts with the idea of all people are equal, as a natural right. The US Constitution and the French declaration of “Droit de l´Homme”  by the citizens of the French Revolution give them modern form. After the World Wars, UN supported, as a global institution, the Universal Human Rights Declaration that started the recent story of Human Rights. It needs a code built on top of the brutality of the imperial wars, the industrialization of warfare, atomic terror, suicidal aggressive politics in Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. It joined UN Security Council as a not as much important pace making institution.

The first lady, wife of the US President, leaded the diplomatic break trough, in1946, when UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It his till today the normative support for the Human Rights Commission and the legal jurisprudence in different international and national courts, in Europe and Latin America. European Council imposes to every member States to comply with all Human Rights international treaties, and to their jurisprudential interpretation developed by Human Rights European Court, as well from UN Human Rights Commission.

Institution refers to a formal statement of a principle or set of principles that apply in a certain territory and the populations inside it. One should avoid the confusion between institution (a desired principle) and the institutional organization (organization that should aim to enforce the institution for everybody and fails some times, or even many times).

A norm is a statement and generally does not conform to reality. It means the reverse: it means it would be right society and people to conform to the declared principles. It only be possible if society and people find the pathways to avoid obstacles and oppositions to welfare. Norms can help eventually to fight for a better society and a better life. (For instance: capital penalty still remain working and some States protect the death of humans by the State in a cold mood, in order to support a certain political order. Human Rights legislation complies with these kinds of procedures because it feels no able to oppose them as a matter of political principle).      

Many times the recover from an offense is not possible, even when the court and the state try it. Even so, the simple recognition of the legal right of one victim of shearing the human condition available to all other humans has a living effect on people and moralize society.

Court justice work for confirmation (or not) of the injustice made and its main immediate causes. Under an intellectual discipline that translates single empirical facts in terms of violations of stated abstract and universal norms. Law is the discipline that studies norms, their practical applications, now a day and in the past, what, at present, in the past and what presumably would be in the near future, is the use of understanding of the norms, legal procedures, ways of driving the judicial procedures at the proper organizations, ways of support each one´s interest in court as well outside the court.

Modern laws apply to everybody. Even not everybody is treated the same way by the courts and all proceedings around it, regardless the good will of the judiciary personnel. Economic and finance limits the accessibility to legal bargaining. Social and cognitive capital is, as well, able to differentiate people entering the courts. The virtual world claims universality of the law.  The practical world has a lot of obstacles to deliver such a result.  

The reified idea of the law – and human rights law as well – as an automatic protection for the people that works directly in the real world without material and bloody mediation does not conform with experience. The law is only a fighting instrument available to help people to join, to gather, to call attention, to mobilize, to claim for help from the State, to call for allies. The law follows the social fights, can be used to turn the fights in conflict for a while and avoid violence. If it takes too long, it could support a violent reaction against the obstacles to justice. As well the case can be brought high in the international courts. Using their judgment to built in their prestige.

The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, built on sequence, result of the formal recognition of the practical exclusion of these two groups of people from fully benefice of general Human Rights Declaration, too close to the previous idea of Men Rights. They also are the result of the struggles of feminist movements to become noticed and recognized at the legal level.

6 Nov

Human Rights - introduction

Nov. 6 -   Project design complete by the group -- at this point, everything should be prepared for realizing the project, i.e., the  overall structure will be drafted, literature (al least preliminary)   will be found, locations and concrete partners will be identified,   etc. This marks the start of the fieldwork or research by students, if not already so.

 Nov 13- Intermediate report on the project

The International Labour Organization ILO was been established at the end of the First World War. Social justice at work has been envisaged as a peace previous condition. It works as a tripartite organization instead of a intergovernmental instance as are mostly other international bodies. Every member State is represented by their government, their workers unions and entrepreneur associations. ILO main activity is to produce international conventions in labor market maters, its development in the international arena in order to become accepted and ratified by member States and monitoring its enforcement. ILO mission is defined, now a day, by four documents linked to four important moments of the raising of this institution: its Constitution, from 1919; Philadelphia Declaration, from 1944, stressing the relevance of individual dignity and freedom as legal rights; the Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work, from 1998 (answering the situation built by World Trade Organization, from 1995) that convey member  States to compromise with these rights, regardless what other conventions they may ratify; the declaration on Social justice towards a just globalization, from 2008.

To expand its action to labor subjects more informal e less organized is one ILO priority, these days. The adoption of a convention on domestic work, at the 100th ILO Conference 2012, is an example. This adoption has consequences in the momentum explored by several NGO and research centers that join efforts to lobby for national ratification of this convention at national level.  

Looking at ILO activities one can understand the distance between the international law, developing a dense net of norms and the respective elaborated control procedures on the field, regarded by several and heterogeneous groups of people concerned, and the State and corporation practices ignoring the law or using it by non authorized reinterpretation regarding economic benefits, exploitation e human trafficking.

Related to the growing concerns with human trafficking, the enforcement means mobilized sometimes open space for arbitrary behavior of agents of the State, including open to inadequate control and repression of citizens in general.

One good reference to think domestic work is Nancy Fraser / Axel Honneth, Redistribution and Recognition, Londres, Verso, 2003.

The Axel Honneth theory has two paths. A theory of society at A luta pela reconhecimento (1992). Following Hegel, Honneth claim three spheres where recognition manifests: love; law; solidarity. A political philosophy: O direito da liberdade. He build on the consensus about freedom to ask: what is freedom? How can it be enforced? He proposes three dimensions about freedom: no constrains; to act respecting each one will; ability to coordinate social actions with partners. The two previous dimensions refer to possibilities of acting free, the last dimension refers to the ability of acting.

The freedom we live now a day is built trough struggles that concerns three systems of action: the intimacy; the economic activities; the will formation by democratic methods. One of the main problems these days is the fact that the build of social will are produced out of national public debate and so the confrontation of individual and societal desires has no way to develop and progress. That is why Honneth propose the build of new supra nationals public spaces where to experience social freedom.

30 Oct

Vulnerabilities, Discriminations, Invisibility

States build a territorial interior and a territorial exterior as well as a different kind of knowledge of what is in and out of the State territory, produced by mass media as well by social sciences. For instance, the long distance migration fluxes traverse different state territories and become invisible in its roots and social density. This invisibility turns unthinkable the reasons and emotions that produces suicidal terrorists between young people with modern lives and socially integrated in western countries.

Juridical problems bring the ignorance about long distance migrant fluxes still more profound, since immigrant policy is build in order to avoid immigrant´s voice. And what about social science responsibilities in giving voice to people that lacks freedom of speech?

With the common structural-functionalist dimensions it is hard to discover these people, because sociology focuses on integration or event in assimilation. Giddens in 1985 proposed to renew social dimensions and adapt them to advanced capitalism. And to look out of the state political borders. With no consequences for the social theory. Most sociological work still considers state controversies as the centre of political problems and obscure global problems and humanitarian problems as real problems. As  Göran Therborn states, social theory focus in studying resources and avoid to discuss vitality and existential dimensions of social lives.  

23 Oct

Nation-States, Social States ‑ Borders, Migrations

 Michael Novak´s paper “Defining Social Justice” has been subject of criticism from Guibentif. He noticed that Hayek individual virtue is not the main social justice principle to every thinker concerned with this topic. The long run, discussed, collective build of social justice institutions and the correlative state and private organizations is other way, eventually more spread, to understand social justice as a social modern phenomena.

The presence of this paper in our syllabus can reflect the different main ideological presumptions in the two borders of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tea Party centrality in the States as well as the irrational trend against scientific way of consider good knowledge is not comparable to any social phenomena in Europe.

The groups should be aware of that whenever receiving information and thoughts from the North American Colleagues.

The group of students that presented their work was concerned with helping the organizations that supports Syrian refuges from the civil war and the way European authorities organize the repression against migrants trying to enter Europe. These and other matters have been discussed with the group in order to develop further their working program.

16 Oct

Global governance and social justice 

People, nations, societies mean different things in different epochs. People opposes aristocracy as much as civil society opposes dominant class or military, according to the times. Knowledge focuses on few groups of relevant people. Their dialogue or struggle decides the destiny of the all societies. Much social reality stays out of focus and unknown. Now a day, people benefits from the prestige of the use of the word made by North American and French Revolutions as new and modern sovereign.

People mean enthusiasm, will, violence if needed to enforce its will, as well as delusion; consequence of the confrontation of values, principles, desires, promises and the real history of people and state and civic institutions.  Social theory celebrates modern victories as well as inventor obstacles and defeats. Peace, for instance, stays not warranty and progress seems each time again frustrated in many ways, and crises still coming.

Human Rights means to discredit in the future to solve present problems and claim to deliver to everybody the dignity of being humans to decide for each one’s own lives. State do promise, ratifying the different declaration and conventions on human rights, to conform to principles and soft juridical norms that measures the respect of individual human´s rights. This commitment becomes a base for international trust and prestige at international level for dominant class in each part of the world, depending of the mood of the respect that reigns in societies and at the State level regarding Human Rights principals, institutions and the way human rights organizations are respected.    

2 Oct

Those groups who want to develop international networking between universities were informed that this week is the dead line to present their claim of interest, supported by a English written document the start of the bargaining on the work of the international group. The bargaining will be conducted with the participation of the teachers from both universities involved in each group.

The rest of the time the class discussed the notion of globalization and the need and possibilities to turn it in a consensual concept.

Globalization attracts opinions, starting in being a good thing and ending with the assessment of being a bad thing. Most opinions, have been said, are not sharp and straight. Nuances recommend imagining a continuum of opinions between these two hard opinions.

There several ways of able us to avoid being stucked in an opinion dispute. Developing a historic perspective on the usage of the word; identifying social entities protagonists of the disputes on globalization conceptualization; looking for causes that explain the historical emergence of the globalization situation.

From a historical point of view, globalization emerges as a fashionable name on the 90´s: after the USRR implosion and the winning of US as the unique superpower on Earth; after the settlement of World Trade Organization (1994). Those who oppose north-American imperialism become negative whenever the subject arises.  In 2000 Davos Economic World Forum reunite every year some of the main interests on globalization. The same year, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Social World Fórum reunite all kinds of social movements that oppose “this” globalization, merging those who are against (anti-globalization movements) and those who wants new governance of globalization (alter-globalization movements).

Global governance is an idea introduced by Kant, near the beginning of 19th century and started as the pacifist League of Nation, at the end of the some century.  These movements did not avoid the two world wars at the first half of the 20th century. UN emerges under the support of USA, sited in NY, as a moral claim against war and for human rights at the end of the Second World War. Inspiring the building of European friendship between France and Germany, including as well other countries affected by the war and supported by Marshall Investment Plan that transform Europe the same way New Deal (between the USA federation sate and General Motors) transforms north-America.

The present shape of several institutions – with their own history behind – under neo-liberal rule has not emerge in the 90´s. Word Bank, MIF and other world development institutions used by mainstream global governance as main tools started working, for different proposes, earlier; they evolved in order to push ideological agendas through the world. They influence other global governance institutions, as in the health and agriculture fields. They influence little other global governance institutions that oppose this trend, such as those in culture, human rights and equal opportunities fields.

Globalization is caused by long run trends, such as some coming from Western Discoveries started 500 years ago, from French Revolution spirit, from capitalism started by Industrial Revolution, from the idea of a united human kind from two thousand year religious notion of brotherhood and 200 years old idea of diplomatic work to avoid war. New materials,  transportation, and information and communication technologies – such as computers, internet, the web of intra banks business, the globalized stock market, easy and cheap plan traveling and the securitarian restrictions to migrations – draw, by the end of the 20th century, new possibilities, conflicts and violence.

After 80´s neo-liberal policies, global governance introduced, besides diplomatic talks in UN, the gathering of NGO´s in order to push public global agenda to address specific global issues, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, AIDS, sustainable development, women emancipation, etc.

For concept building proposes it was noticed the difference between holist (durkheimian) perspectives – that stress the huge and untenable presence of globalization process, as a thing, indifferent to opinions and institutions – and dimensional perspective (weberian) – that stress the sector dynamics, mainly in finance and politics, to show their differences and unbalance as main causes of the social stress we live in. It has been suggested that both perspectives can be useful if properly used: the first one in revolutionary situations, when normal social dimensions blur over each other, becoming one, as when the people arises and claim its sovereignty.  The second one useful in normalized times, such as those lived in Portugal  between December 1975 and 12th March 2011, with the first multitudinary demonstration that shows the change from normality to a “normal abnormality” on the mind of institutions and people in the country, parallel to foreigner intervention in the govern of the national institutions.

25 Sep

In the class students were instigated to present their intend Lisbon groups/themes in order to organize a casa by case short discussion about how to run the work for the final project each group has to present at the end of the semester. It has been stressed the need of choosing a NGO or alike in order to able the group, the international partners and the teachers to discuss over concrete ground.

Amilcar´s case shows a very structured activism over deaf community and a much defined interest on gestural languages and problems over translation procedures.  During the week one confirm the registration of disability as a new field of possible interest for groups and we receive the information that this year one can count on partners in Milan, UK, Miami, L.A. and other north-American city.

As Amilcar is so determined and informed on his chosen theme, it results not so easy to find out Lisbon and international partners, since there is no much room for negotiation. In cases like that one should face the possibility of working in the class alone, out of the groups arrangements. This do not mean it is impossible any international cooperation. But this cooperation will perform out of mainstream work, for instance, by person to person email messages change.

Alexandre´s example of send an email message to the teachers in the middle of the week is a good example how one can run the work, because it allows a reflection and an answer from the teachers, and the message can be shared as well with the other students – using the special webpage  created this week for this propose.

This message gives the opportunity to argue that, for the moment, the more urgent need is to find out a empirical anchor where to attach a discussion over the group formation and the way the chosen theme can be address. Each group need to find a website, some activist activity, some activist, some proposals of future activities through what one can discuss in class and with the potential international partners; about thinking how can our scholar work be useful to innovate or depth the work already done in the empirical ground we choose to work in.

A previous knowledge of one reference social organization working on the ground of social justice and human rights would represent for us a base for future discussion over the pratical orientation of the international (comparative) work.

The class session pressured students to rush on the decision making about 2 persons group-one theme-anchor NGO in order to be able to start thinking in depth and in concrete cases. The teachers hope next week to get this goal done.

Students were informed were to find examples of end projects as it is needed to present for evaluation proposes.

18 Sep

The presence of a deaf student as an activist to open universities to accept their participation on regular classes shows who far we are from integrative practices. And how the effort of someone deaf (being able to work with Portuguese, English and French languages plus their gestural languages contra parts) is huge, both personally and socially for the translator.

One can think that globalization (of information and knowledge by the internet) shows, in its brighter side, the before hidden inequalities. There is a new lesson one can follow during this course, with the help of Amilcar.

This first class confront students with the need of adapt different time schedules in order to reach the opportunity to work together with students elsewhere in the world. A 14 double class weeks´ syllabus for 1rst grade study cycle would be joined by a 10 single class weeks of 2nd grade study cycle. A intensive reading cycle would be joined by a intense participation of Lisbon groups.

As tools we have the site of Lisbon class, the central NING site, an international schedule and a national schedule. The latter is divided in two: a) more theoretical one in order to develop a program with international groups, under one of the themes available this year; b) a second part to get to the final pedagogical goals done with some field work. The month of November is open schedule to this taks.   

The main tasks of the students would be:

1. Groups/subjects organization

2. Ning blog participation

3. Final project presentation, till 10 January 2014.

Next class it is hoped to get done the first task. It would bring us the opportunity to begin with connection work with other universities and groups.

In this class we read two of the NING blog texts and commented them:  

Alexandre Vaz: Globalization is not only a political and economic issue; it has cultural aspects too; it also has epistemological implications.

Filipe Gonçalves: One of the most severe impact globalization are the increasing inequalities.

Tobias Link: To deal with the problems of the world, “strong governance” is not enough; it is also a matter of values, as well as of the citizens’ empowerment.

Pedro Lago: There is not just one globalization, but many of them; and many points of view on all of them.

Helena Mateus: One of the main impacts of globalization is that it favours corruption. A serious problem is: how to assess positive and negative impacts?

Cheila Cardoso: It would be worth trying to analyse the relationship between globalization and the current economic crisis. Points of view on globalization may vary a lot, notably between different generations.

Clémentine Ronseaux: The idea of a global government is not new and did not yield significant results. It would be worth better to take into consideration local initiatives.

Amílcar José Morais: Concerned with the impact on the deaf community. Some examples: the development of communication technologies had a mainly positive impact; attempts to question the relevance of sign languages had a negative impact; medical progress raises serious bio-ethical issues.

A brief discussion compared the value of stressing the differences between economic and political systems and processes and the holistic view of both being part of the some oppressive system and process. To support the first epistemic option one can show its relevance to understand the present crises: the 2007 crises were financial and the 2010 public debt crises were political. To support the second option one can say that the oppressive systems denounced by social movements are political-economical-financial global alliances that benefit 1% and not the 99%, including the people out of Europe and USA.

The class ended by exemplifying the choices of themes and groups by the students.

Fall semester 2012

attach: Social Dinamics


Class of Setember 26th 2012

(lecture by APD)resume program and evaluation .

Brief presentation of a sociological critic of violence and of its limits. These two are reveling features of the social conditions of development of social theory in our times.


attach: Sociology of violence;


Class of Setember 19th 2012

(jointly lectured by APD/PG) Presentation of the dedicated site of the class. Presentation of the NING site of the global class. Presentation of an overview of the work semester and its goals. Presentation of two working fields to address (CAIS association and Fábrica Braço de Prata cultural centre and museum). Each student present was invited to chose do connect one of these two working fields and the arrangements for first contacts as been made.

Guidelines to the students with a view to their individual work (one “post” a week per student, every week; 9 “posts” over the semester; in English and in Portuguese), and to the team work (service project). Introduction to the teaching program: social justice (4 classes delivered by PG); human rights (4 classes delivered by APD); globalization (2 classes delivered in common, APD/PG).


Spring semester 2012

Human Rights at different social levels - Class Prezi presentation (APD)

Class of May 17th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Law and Social Theory

The law operates at an abstract level of social reality. It works at normative dimension. It reflects the proactive desire and imagination, both physical and virtual. The practical constraints never let one deliver what one imagine to be our plain satisfaction and ideal utopia. Frustration cannot be avoid. Prudence as social experience - developed by dominant or marginal people - equally shows that changes do not depend on someone will. Even when one claim his/her action to be the main cause of a due course of action.

To say that the Republic overthrown the Ancient Regime, meaning that the bourgeoisie substitute the aristocracy and the head of society and State, hide the mutual interest alliance between the people who experience these two kinds of  life experience in order to dominate the rest of us. Practical choice that let the aristocracy in charge of ruling the judicial pillar of modern States. The hidden  perspective, once showed, can be useful to think the contemporary decadence of the judicial power in Western countries. It is a new aspect of class struggle, different from employees and employers, workers and bosses.

Human Rights are for these struggle a motive and an instrument. For instance, when the courts used the globalization process to expand their power, till Pinochet was putted in jail. These globalization perspective of judicial systems development did come back and the human wrigth respect as well.

Frankfurt Social Sciences School´s Honneth focus on respect and dignity as the new Social Science concern centre of interest of this school, in order to back up old public space communication strategy.




Class of April 26th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Globalization and Human Rights

The history of Human Rights is told as part of modern history, from the French Revolution till the 20th century Universal Declaration at UN, from colonialism times till the times of threatening of Human Rights principles by the Western countries that usually were the champions of Human Rights.

The history of Human Rights is also the history of clarification of applying proposes to everybody, and not only to the people that deserve it. That is why it was felt as needed to complete the Universal Declaration with specific documents concerning women and children rights, migrant workers and their families, indigenous people and other kinds of stigmatized people.

The ideal of society become more sensitive to equity through recognition of Human Rights reveal itself as a long term struggle for justice, for social justice, in a special and more abstract way. One should consider the way it can be effective.


Class of April 19th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Human Rights in different social levels

In order to understand different ways of understanding human rights one can choose to look at human rights from 3 different social levels. Bottom level, linking with the biological levels of existence, the level in between – in fact several social levels related to constructed institutions and communities merging each other – and the upper level, related to collective values and intelligence.

The 3 lessons about Human Rights will organize a discussion about each one of these three different kinds of social levels. Human Rights and Social Justice at the bottom, Human Rights and Globalization at the level in between and Law and Human Rights at the upper level.

Social Justice refers to a state of affairs, a feeling, a territory and its people, to the efficacy of a specific social contract, development model and institutional structure to develop happiness to the people.

Human Rights refers to the expectations of one day Humanity can be fulfilled by the natural concern of every good faith person: each person would have access to the critical resources to satisfy the basic needs of a modern person. 


Class of March 15th 2012

(lectured by PG)

Developments of the definition discussed last week. II - Empirical implementation: the definition offers guidelines for the field work. One can (a) the interested people; (b) actors defending them, or defending other positions in the debates on issues of justice. (c) Head or staff of agencies in charge of measures aiming at protecting the rights of the interested people. These different categories of people can be questioned on their conceptions of social justice, in positive terms, or else, in negative terms, on their experiences of negations of social justice. This can be done according to the following grid: relevant social grouping; product of the activity of this grouping, to be distributed; vulnerable social categories, possibility of political procedures leading to decisions on questions of distribution. These items can be observed in their positive version, or in the negative version of  experiences of injustice. Main research question: are the representations observed likely to be qualified as expectations of social justice in the precise sense of the phrase, or do other notions of justice prevail? How could those other notions be named?  - These conceptions are not stable, they evolve in time, in particular under the impact of public debates where meet each other. For this reason, special attention should be placed on the words used, also in different languages.  III - Social Justice and globalization. preliminary section: social justice and internationalization. The notion of social justice develops out of international comparison: comparison between nations, between their productivity, between their social structure, between their political structure. This kind of comparison has been institutionalized by the International Labour Organization. Currently the ILO focused part of its activities - se its missions - on globalization and its relationship to social justice. On this point see the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization.


Class of March 8th 2012

(lectured by PG) Social Justice:  I - Definition of the concept: A - The concept of justice in general: a modest concept will be used, based on the negation of justice. What is unjust is what hurts our expectations toward our group. This definition leads us to admit a plurality of notions of justice, according to the type of group. What has been called universal justice meets the feeling of injustice of people victim of a prohibited behaviour, within a community where someone - a chief, a king - has the means to punish the person who had this behaviour. Commutative and distributive justice are likely to be distinguished in a social world where a public sphere - where exchanges of equal items take place - is differentiated from the private sphere - where everyone receives what he deserves according to his needs or position (see a short paper of the lecturer on this topic). B - The concept of "Social Justice": the call for social justice appears during the 19th century and corresponds to a specific kind of human grouping: modern national societies. Features of such groupings: clear differentiation thanks to the criteria of nationality; produces collectively more than solely what is required for survival; divided in different social categories, created by the process of production, categories having unequal access to the products; societies supposed to govern themselves by democratic institutions. "Social Justice" claimed for in such societies is "social" according to these different meanings: (1) it refers to a "national society"; (2) aims at a distribution of the product of this society's production; (3) concerns social categories; (4) should be the result of decisions of the society itself, taken within the framework of political procedures. - II - Some implications of this concept:  A - General assessment: does not necessarily lead to collectivism, contrarily to the argument of some critics of this notion, but to processes of confrontation of rights, of seeking technical - legal, organizational, economic - arrangements recognizing e reconciling these conflicting rights. Such processes led to the development of modern systems of social protection. B - Unavoidable Ambivalence: (a) the development of an organizational device and of the corresponding financial flows give rise to an administrative entities which evolution and impact on the society might prove difficult to control.  (b) The codification of interests in the format of "rights" has a significant impact on the perceptions people have of their social situation. C - Implications for the field research on concrete domains: one should survey (a) the perceptions the interested people have of their situations and rights; (b) the practice of entities in charge with measures warranting these rights; (c) the strategies of groups that may have been created in order to defend the rights of these people.


Class of February 16th 2012

(jointly lectured by APD/PG) Survey of the blogs created by the students, and of their prospects in terms of final assignment. Guidelines to the students with a view to their individual work (one “post” a week per student, every week; 14 “posts” over the semester; in principle in English and Portuguese), and to the team work (service project, possibly connected to initiatives of existing actors or social movements). Introduction to the teaching program: social justice (3 classes delivered by PG); human rights (3 classes delivered by APD); globalization (2 classes delivered in common, APD/PG).



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