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Volume 14, February
 
 

Societies, Volume 14, Issue 3 (March 2024) – 12 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This article advocates for an ontological shift, emphasizing indeterminacy and fluidity in examining social phenomena. Through a post-foundationalist lens and exploration of alternative approaches, it proposes the analysis of social configuration as the primary unit of inquiry, challenging conventional categories in social theory. Focusing on Iranian youth in Tehran, it investigates the construction of identity within the cosmopolitized spaces of action and against Iran's current socio-political backdrop. Utilizing configurational analysis, it navigates the complexities of identity politics in everyday Iranian life, adeptly navigating the conflict between the politics of determinacy and indeterminacy through the construction of diverse social configurations. View this paper
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18 pages, 267 KiB  
Article
Innovation 4.0 Policies in Italy: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Innovation Ecosystem of the “Transition 4.0” Plan from an International Perspective
by Francesco Orazi and Federico Sofritti
Societies 2024, 14(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030042 - 19 Mar 2024
Viewed by 563
Abstract
Innovation 4.0 is a strategic lever of industrial policies. That is the reason why, over the last decade, many European countries have introduced national plans to implement it in their economic fabric. Within this context, this paper focuses on the effects of Industry [...] Read more.
Innovation 4.0 is a strategic lever of industrial policies. That is the reason why, over the last decade, many European countries have introduced national plans to implement it in their economic fabric. Within this context, this paper focuses on the effects of Industry 4.0 policies in Italy and Europe by presenting the results of a research study on the national and continental ecosystems of innovation. In particular, the study was conducted by involving the main key bodies introduced by the “Transition 4.0” plan in Italy: Competence Centers (CCs), Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs), and Punti Impresa Digitale (PID). The study adopted a qualitative–quantitative approach: an analysis of gray literature, semi-structured interviews, and a survey involving Italian and European DIHs were carried out. The results highlight an ambivalent scenario: on the one hand, the research suggests that the consolidation of the ecosystems of innovation is underway in Italy and relies on good organizational capacity; on the other hand, the international comparison indicates that the Italian system still suffers from a marked territorial and institutional fragmentation that needs to be addressed in the coming years. Full article
15 pages, 251 KiB  
Article
An Exploratory Typology for Understanding Family-Relationship Issues in Kinship-Care Placements
by Amilie Dorval, Sonia Hélie and Marie-Andrée Poirier
Societies 2024, 14(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030041 - 15 Mar 2024
Viewed by 685
Abstract
Family relationships are a distinctive feature of kinship-care placements, but very few studies have examined how the dynamics of these relationships affect the placement experience. This article does explore these dynamics and identifies some possible patterns, as experienced and reported by parents of [...] Read more.
Family relationships are a distinctive feature of kinship-care placements, but very few studies have examined how the dynamics of these relationships affect the placement experience. This article does explore these dynamics and identifies some possible patterns, as experienced and reported by parents of children placed in kinship care. The findings presented here come from a qualitative study employing a life-story methodology, in which nine parents were interviewed on two occasions each. All of them had experienced the permanent placement of at least one of their children with a member of their extended family, under the direction of a government child-protection agency. Drawing from significant themes in parental narratives, particularly that of relationships, we analyzed and delineated three distinct profiles. In the first profile, a family solidarity was present between the parents and the kinship caregivers before the placement and was maintained during the placement. In the second, the parents struggled to keep their place in their children’s lives, thus experiencing conflicts both with the kinship caregivers and with the child-protection agency. In the third profile, the dynamics of the current relationship between both biological parents influenced the other family relationships of the parent who was interviewed. Full article
16 pages, 1004 KiB  
Article
Beyond Words: Tapping the Potential of Digital Diaries While Exploring Young Adults’ Experiences on Apps
by Rita Alcaire, Ana Marta M. Flores and Eduardo Antunes
Societies 2024, 14(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030040 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 824
Abstract
In the dynamic landscape of online interactions, this article explores the use of digital diaries to unravel the intricacy of Portugal young adults’ experiences within the realm of apps and their connection to gender dynamics. By designing a digital participatory research method, we [...] Read more.
In the dynamic landscape of online interactions, this article explores the use of digital diaries to unravel the intricacy of Portugal young adults’ experiences within the realm of apps and their connection to gender dynamics. By designing a digital participatory research method, we were able to reflect on the participants’ experiences in maintaining the requested diaries, scrutinize the major themes in the narratives generated through this approach, and examine how participants interacted with the prompts sent to them. Therefore, we delved into how participants both challenged and (re)negotiated these solicitations and how their agency led to an untapped reservoir of insights for the project in ways that went beyond words. There were visual and non-verbal elements that brought insights into young adults’ interactions with mobile applications, offering a comprehensive exploration of four key themes: mobile apps as part of young adults’ routines, between performance and authenticity, making the diaries their own, and elaborating on feelings. We also explored diary methods at the convergence of various disciplines and their high potential for contributing to topics related to gender, mental health, productivity, relationships, online identity management, apps in everyday life, intimacy, and more in creative ways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Arts and Design: Practice-Based Research)
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10 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Translation and Validation of the German Version of the Ikigai-9
by André Hajek, Tadanori Imai, Larissa Zwar and Hans-Helmut König
Societies 2024, 14(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030039 - 13 Mar 2024
Viewed by 768
Abstract
Background: The Japanese concept of “ikigai” embodies the feeling of having a meaningful purpose in life. It is associated with several positive outcomes. This study aimed to translate and validate the German version of the Ikigai-9 scale (Ikigai-9-G)—and ikigai scores for certain groups [...] Read more.
Background: The Japanese concept of “ikigai” embodies the feeling of having a meaningful purpose in life. It is associated with several positive outcomes. This study aimed to translate and validate the German version of the Ikigai-9 scale (Ikigai-9-G)—and ikigai scores for certain groups of interest were presented. Methods: Data were taken from a quota sample of the German adult population aged 18 to 74 years (n = 5000; representative in terms of age, sex, and state). Data were collected in August/September 2023. The translation process was conducted in accordance with the existing guidelines. Reliability (Cronbach’s alpha; McDonald’s omega) was assessed. Moreover, we evaluated the structure’s soundness using confirmatory factor analysis for construct validity and examined concurrent validity by exploring pairwise correlations between the Ikigai-9-G with life satisfaction, happiness, health-related quality of life, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, we presented ikigai scores for specific sociodemographic groups of interest. Results: Cronbach’s alpha for the Ikigai-9-G equaled 0.88. The results of confirmatory factor analysis supported the original three-factor model as initially proposed. A higher sense of ikigai was associated with less depressive symptoms (r = −0.43, p < 0.001), less anxiety symptoms (r = −0.39, p < 0.001), higher health-related quality of life (r = 0.42, p < 0.001), higher happiness levels (r = 0.62, p < 0.001), and higher satisfaction with life levels (r = 0.57, p < 0.001). Conclusion: The Ikigai-9 scale is a psychometrically sound tool offering the possibility for assessing ikigai among German speakers. Additional translation and validation studies are required to facilitate comparisons across different countries. Full article
13 pages, 549 KiB  
Article
Examining Financial Hardship and Caregiver Subgroups in Kinship Foster Placements: A Machine Learning Approach
by Imani Careese Johnson, Solomon Hadi Achulo, Kanisha Coleman Brevard and David Ansong
Societies 2024, 14(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030038 - 08 Mar 2024
Viewed by 860
Abstract
Children placed with kinship foster parents can experience less disruption and stronger family ties than children in non-kinship placements. However, financial hardship can restrict kinship caregivers from taking in relatives’ children. This study investigated (1) kinship caregivers’ financial standing compared to a national [...] Read more.
Children placed with kinship foster parents can experience less disruption and stronger family ties than children in non-kinship placements. However, financial hardship can restrict kinship caregivers from taking in relatives’ children. This study investigated (1) kinship caregivers’ financial standing compared to a national subsample of caregivers and (2) whether certain factors moderate the likelihood that a kinship caregiver will be able to provide care for additional non-relative children without additional financial assistance from the Department of Social Services (DSS). This study utilized primary data from 345 relatives across North Carolina and nationally representative secondary data on 6394 individuals’ financial circumstances. One-sample t-tests and chi-square goodness-of-fit tests revealed that caregivers who participated in our study generally fared better financially than caregivers at the national level. Model-based recursive partitioning results showed that if an additional child is placed in the home, the caregiver’s perceived capacity to provide care without extra DSS support decreased by approximately 19%, with a greater decrease (35%) among a subgroup of caregivers with low financial well-being status. The heterogeneity in caregivers’ experiences, capacities, and financial needs buttresses the need for nuanced interventions and programs targeting these caregivers, enabling them to provide more stable care for children placed in their homes. Full article
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15 pages, 758 KiB  
Article
COVID-19, Race, and Crime: An Early Look at Racial Disparities in U.S. Arrest Data throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Calvin Proffit and Ben Feldmeyer
Societies 2024, 14(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030037 - 01 Mar 2024
Viewed by 897
Abstract
Background: This study explores how arrests changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across race. Daily life changed for everyone across the country with the onset of the pandemic, and early works have shown that crime changed in this period. Method: Official arrest [...] Read more.
Background: This study explores how arrests changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across race. Daily life changed for everyone across the country with the onset of the pandemic, and early works have shown that crime changed in this period. Method: Official arrest data were pulled from the Indiana State Police database for several violent and property crimes covering 26 counties. Data were gathered from 2017 to 2021 for a comparison of pre-COVID-19 versus after the onset of COVID-19 (2020–2021). An OLS regression was run to assess differences in these patterns of arrests across Black and White populations. Results: This analysis finds that Black homicide, White homicide, and total Black violent crime arrests were significantly related to COVID-19 measures after controlling for other variables. The COVID-19 measures indicate that these crimes saw an increase in arrest after the onset of the pandemic and that these effects may not have been identical across race. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic was linked to crime across race in the state of Indiana. Moving forward, it is important to uncover how crime changed across race in other locales and exactly what mechanisms may have driven these changes. Full article
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16 pages, 290 KiB  
Article
Parenting Experiences of Informal Kinship Caregivers: Similarities and Differences between Grandparents and Other Relatives
by Eun Koh, Laura Daughtery, Yongwon Lee and Jude Ozughen
Societies 2024, 14(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030036 - 27 Feb 2024
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Informal kinship care, an arrangement that is made without the involvement of a child welfare agency or a court, makes up the majority of kinship arrangements in the United States. However, the current literature on informal kinship care is very limited. In response, [...] Read more.
Informal kinship care, an arrangement that is made without the involvement of a child welfare agency or a court, makes up the majority of kinship arrangements in the United States. However, the current literature on informal kinship care is very limited. In response, this study explored informal kinship caregivers’ parenting experiences, comparing those of grandparents and other relatives. Anonymous survey responses from 146 informal kinship caregivers (114 grandparents and 32 other relatives) were analyzed. This study found similarities and differences between grandparents and other relatives. Compared to other relatives, grandparents were significantly older and less likely to be married. Over 60% of the caregivers, both grandparents and other relatives, had an annual household income of USD 50,000 or less but did not receive any governmental benefits. Furthermore, other relatives accessed and utilized community resources at significantly lower rates. This study observed significant challenges of informal kinship families, including financial difficulties and child mental health/behavioral issues. At the same time, it noted their strengths and resilience, with most participants reporting a positive perception of their caregiving experience. Programs and services for informal kinship families should reflect their unique experiences, building upon their strengths and resilience. Full article
22 pages, 3317 KiB  
Article
Oops, I Did It Again! The Humour of Incongruity, Risk-Taking and Creativity in Art Practice and Everyday Life
by Philip Welding
Societies 2024, 14(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030035 - 26 Feb 2024
Viewed by 886
Abstract
This article explores the incongruous results of creativity and risk-taking within art practice and everyday life as encountered through the photographic image. The impetus for this study was a humorous experience that took place during health and safety training that raised questions about [...] Read more.
This article explores the incongruous results of creativity and risk-taking within art practice and everyday life as encountered through the photographic image. The impetus for this study was a humorous experience that took place during health and safety training that raised questions about the role of humour within everyday life. Research was conducted into two forms of visual media, including pamphlets and guides from the British Safety Council (BSC) archives and viral images that demonstrate accidents (tagged with an ‘epic fail’ hashtag). This led to a practice-based approach to research involving the production of photographic works for an exhibition that tested the role of risk-taking and improvisation within the creative process. This article uses humour theory including superiority, incongruity and relief theory in relation to Louise Peacock’s model for the analysis of slapstick, to analyse these different types of photographs and draws comparisons between the risk-taking creative behaviours of both employees and artists. These creative approaches are considered in relation to Michel de Certeau’s notion of tactics within everyday life. Ordinary thinking and improvisational tactics are present within both art and work, and improvisation heightens the potential for risk-taking. This may lead to incongruities represented through a photograph which can impact the viewer’s engagement through humour, fascination or self-reflexivity. It is proposed that the viewer response to images containing risk is made up of a balance between an embodied understanding of the dangers and an awareness of the artifice, which can shift depending on the conditions of the photograph’s production and display. The peculiarities of the photograph are seen as conducive to a humour response because of the photograph’s ambiguous relationship with the reality that it represents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Arts and Design: Practice-Based Research)
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21 pages, 338 KiB  
Review
“Part of Who We Are…”: A Review of the Literature Addressing the Sociocultural Role of Traditional Foods in Food Security for Indigenous People in Northern Canada
by Naomi Trott and Monica E. Mulrennan
Societies 2024, 14(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030034 - 26 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1018
Abstract
Indigenous people in northern Canada have relied on sustained and safe access to traditional foods for millennia. Today, however, they experience higher rates of food insecurity than non-Indigenous people or Indigenous people living in urban settings. Changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions in the [...] Read more.
Indigenous people in northern Canada have relied on sustained and safe access to traditional foods for millennia. Today, however, they experience higher rates of food insecurity than non-Indigenous people or Indigenous people living in urban settings. Changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions in the Canadian north have altered traditional food acquisition and consumption patterns, with implications for health and wellbeing, and cultural continuity. To assess the breadth and depth of scholarship on the sociocultural role of traditional foods in northern Indigenous food security, we conducted a scoping review of online peer-reviewed articles. The 22 articles selected and screened for comprehensive review affirmed that traditional foods remain vital and central to food security for northern Indigenous populations. However, our review brings to light a recurring tendency in these studies to disregard or inadequately consider the complex sociocultural dimensions of traditional foods, such as the critical role of food processing, cooking, and sharing in supporting Indigenous food security. To address this gap and ensure food security is aligned with Indigenous-defined needs and priorities, community-led research is needed, grounded in Indigenous knowledge that promotes access to traditional foods and affirms Indigenous food sovereignty. Full article
17 pages, 6723 KiB  
Article
Connected Art Practice: Transformative Learning Environments for Transdisciplinary Competences
by Dan Norton, Frances-Ann Norton and Stella Veciana
Societies 2024, 14(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030033 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 980
Abstract
This article explores the implementation of Connected Art Practice in diverse learning environments, serving as an immersive entry point for students and researchers to develop collaborative transdisciplinary skills. This innovative approach integrates audio, educational, and sustainability research, employing sound-interaction methods applied to tangible [...] Read more.
This article explores the implementation of Connected Art Practice in diverse learning environments, serving as an immersive entry point for students and researchers to develop collaborative transdisciplinary skills. This innovative approach integrates audio, educational, and sustainability research, employing sound-interaction methods applied to tangible objects. Participants engage in exploring the interplay between objects representing interests or values, fostering the creation of a visual and linguistic network of interconnectedness. Inspired by artistic research, particularly Dérive, the practice provides experiences of connectedness to others and the environment, intertwined with reflections and discussions that foster a community of inquiry. This community collaboratively designs shared practices or projects, encouraging a holistic approach to transformative learning, addressing heterogeneity, complexity, authenticity, critical awareness, and emotional connectedness. All three case studies utilized qualitative analysis in artistic and academic settings. Datasets were collected in case study two from group discussion, participant observation, press releases and documentary photographs. In case studies one and three, audio–visual recordings, participant observation, field notes, and photo-documentation were collected. This study demonstrates that “Connected Art Practice” enhances competences in artistic expression, communication, and collaboration across disciplinary, social, and cultural boundaries. Specifically, it contributes to creative reinvention, personal sharing, self-reflection, and the capacity to co-design diverse projects. The paper concludes by discussing findings and pointing out the essential qualities of Connected Art, providing insights and resources for educational and research institutions seeking to foster transdisciplinary engagement and transformative learning in their curricular activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Arts and Design: Practice-Based Research)
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23 pages, 307 KiB  
Concept Paper
Social Theory and Navigating Indeterminacy: A Configurational Analysis of Iranian Youth’s Identity Construction in Contemporary Iran
by Abbas Jong
Societies 2024, 14(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030032 - 21 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1179
Abstract
An emerging disparity within contemporary social science highlights a disconnection between the world in the process of metamorphosing and cosmopolitanization and the knowledge of the social world that is still trapped in the cognitive assumptions of modern episteme, which provided the conditions for [...] Read more.
An emerging disparity within contemporary social science highlights a disconnection between the world in the process of metamorphosing and cosmopolitanization and the knowledge of the social world that is still trapped in the cognitive assumptions of modern episteme, which provided the conditions for the emergence of modern social sciences a century ago. This divide inhibits the efficacy of social analysis in comprehending and elucidating contemporary phenomena. This article advocates for a shift in the ontology of social theory and science towards the cosmopolitanization of the world, characterized by the prioritization of indeterminacy and fluidity in the construction of social phenomena. It investigates the epistemological implications and prerequisites of this ontological transformation, favoring a post-foundationalist approach as the most suitable epistemological framework. In response to the challenges posed by the uncertainty and indeterminacy of cosmopolitanization, after reviewing some of the existing theoretical efforts to address and provide alternatives to this challenge, the article proposes the examination of social configurations as the most fitting subjects for study. This approach necessitates the suspension of conventional, given, regulated categories, and trans-historical theories. It underscores the importance of recognizing configurations as incomplete, contingent units shaped within specific historical contexts and moments. The fluidity, relationality, and indeterminacy of configurations situated between the universal and the singular make them suitable for analysis at the level of particular. After elaborating on the most important features of social configurations, finally, by employing the proposed theoretical framework, this article aims to investigate its effectiveness in analyzing the process of identity construction among Iranian youth in Tehran in the context of the cosmopolitanization of reality, particularly in the face of the Islamist regime of Iran’s official politics of identity. Through a review and revision of selected empirical studies on youth identity construction in the consumer spaces of Tehran, based on the idea of social configurations within the framework of cosmopolitanization, it is argued that the genuine understanding of identity politics in contemporary Iran is not rooted in conventional analytical norms and categories but rather in a comprehensible conceptual apparatus characterized by fluidity and indeterminacy, capable of effectively making sense of the conflict between the politics of determinacy and indeterminacy in Iranian everyday life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Young People’s Constructions of Identities: Global Perspectives)
15 pages, 243 KiB  
Article
From Theory to Action: A Saudi Arabian Case Study of Feminist Academic Activism against State Oppression
by Lana Sirri
Societies 2024, 14(3), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc14030031 - 20 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1449
Abstract
This article explores the intricate landscape of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, an authoritarian state within the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), where the pursuit of modernization strategically utilizes women’s issues as symbols of national identity and markers of progress. The article focuses [...] Read more.
This article explores the intricate landscape of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, an authoritarian state within the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), where the pursuit of modernization strategically utilizes women’s issues as symbols of national identity and markers of progress. The article focuses on the transformative potential of academic activism, exemplified by the work of Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi, in countering oppression against women. It demonstrates how women navigate the realms of academia and activism to reshape gender dynamics and shape their nation’s modernization trajectory. By emphasizing the critical intersection between academic inquiry and activism, this article dispels the misconception that academia and activism are mutually exclusive. In contexts such as Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights face suppression, this intersection emerges as imperative for informed research and frontline advocacy, effectively addressing state-sponsored violence. Furthermore, this article critically evaluates the persistent challenge of feminist neo-Orientalist scholarship, which often distorts the depiction of Saudi women’s experiences. It offers a contribution to a nuanced understanding of women’s theorization that includes the ethico-political context within which women operate. Full article
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