Volume 3, issue 1, 2011

To access the complete Amsterdam Social Science Volume 3 Issue 1 click here.

Preface
by Valentina di Stasio

When I timidly set foot in the University of Milan, at the beginning of my academic route in 2003, the very first class I attended for my Bachelor program was the introductory seminar of the course of Aesthetics. I remember quite vividly how the lecture briefly sketched on a couple of slides what was the core issue we would be dealing with that semester. Namely, the gradually changing role of the spectator in the reception of art, from mere observation by sight to an all-encompassing act of interaction, at times even involving the observer in a stage of ‘performance in the making’. (…)

A reflection on the Development of Gender Construction in ‘Classic’ Disney Films
by Andreea Coca

Classic Disney feature-length animated films are potent sites for the creation, circulation and consumption of gendered representations. A certain ‘disenchantment’ with Disney happens as gender is deconstructed, revealing a formulaic script. Previously unnoticed or overlooked in favor of the colorful, musical and happy ending plots, contemporarily gender representations and messages appear stereotypical and modelled after patriarchal gender expectations. Female beauty and intellect, male hygiene and manners, erotic Otherness or villains in drag, love at first sight and heterosexual stares, each finds its place in the animated plots.

Political Engineering in Kosovo Lessons from Confronting Institutional Theory and Practice
by Steffen Eckhard

Theory of political engineering adopts an instrumental understanding of political institutions. Especially in ethnically divided post-conflict societies, such as Kosovo, the design of political institutions is argued to have an effect on the potential for peaceful co-existence between ethnic groups. Two major, partly competing perspectives on engineering can be identified in the literature: consociationalismand centripetalism. The models are distinguishable from each other through to their logic of institutional design and their respective potential for long-term societal reconstruction. The author analyzes the recent attempts of institution building in Kosovo under the United Nations interim administration since 1999. He finds that the current approach closely resembles the consociationalist school of thought. By drawing on the competing centripetalist position, he argues that the former is misleading with respect to the long term goal of societal reconciliation. Building further upon insights derived from field research, he concludes that the current approach is one based on political expediency, rather than on sound scientific principles which have informed earlier work.

How Do Communities of Practice Improve Employee Performance in Service Relations? A Case of an Inbound Call Center
by Lamine Mebarki

The Communities of Practice (CoPs) approach is subject of a very rich literature, and is presented as an instrument generating and disseminating knowledge in the organization. However, the link between CoP and its members’ performance still remains to be identified. By means of a case study, we aim to examine the impact of CoP’s on employees’ performance.

Elitepartner.de An Online Dating Self Experiment
by Sebastian Reck

Online dating networks have become increasingly popular over the last years. Millions of people make use of online communities in order to find their match. While initially these networks were open to everyone, more recently a supposedly more respectable and exclusive type of dating platform emerged. For instance, the German network Elitepartner.de claims to be the first choice for ‘cultured’ singles. Since its inception in 2005, the number of its members has risen to more than two million. Apparently, Elitepartner.de’s business concept has great appeal. It is the objective of this essay to explore the reasons underlying this appeal. Why is it that Elitepartner.de has become so popular and what cab we infer from this popularity about the structure of our society? Adopting a sociologist’s point of view, I will argue that Elitepartner.de can be interpreted as a prime example both for the ongoing process of disenchantment and for the competitive and consumerist structure of our society.

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