Sociology is the study of how society is organized and how people experience life, and Professor Barbara Misztal, of the Department of Sociology, has been researching the conditions under which people can become vulnerable – and how that vulnerability can be reduced.
While the concept of vulnerability has a long history in the study of natural disasters, hazards, famine and epidemiology, the recent intensification of interest in the issue amongst the media, politicians and the public has been mirrored by growing fascination with this subject within social science.
Addressing the issues of vulnerability is timely due not only to the continuing presence of ‘old ‘ risks but also as a result of growing concerns with consequences of new technologies and new social divisions and threats generated by the information flows and globalization.
Professor Misztal, inspired by Arendt’s concept of ‘the frailty of human affairs’, defines vulnerability as rooted in the human condition of dependence on others, in the unpredictability of action and in the irreversibility of human experiences. Such a conception of vulnerable humanity prompts search for ‘control mechanisms’ that can reduce vulnerability, and imbue people with the faith and hope they desperately need. Forgiveness, Promise and Trust can be applied at the level of the individual, or across the entirety of societies.
Forgiveness looks back in time and absolves the vulnerable from past mistakes, while Promising aims to establish ‘islands of security’ in an otherwise uncertain future. Trust is necessary; without it, vulnerable people would be reluctant to do anything. They need to feel confident both that others will keep to agreements to act in reliable and predictable ways, and that if their own actions have unintended consequences, it won’t be the end of the world.
Professor Misztal said that understanding vulnerability and its remedies is important; “such an understanding could help us to comprehend the essential conditions [for,] and the greatest obstacles to the construction of a peaceful and cosmopolitan world”.
Ather Mirza | alfa
Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science
Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy