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Affect in Critical Studies  

Brian L. Ott

Affect has historically been conceptualized in one of two dominant ways. The first perspective, which has its roots in psychology and neuroscience, tends to view affect as an elemental state. This tradition is reflected in Silvan S. Tomkins’s theory of primary affects and Antonio Damasio’s theory of basic emotions. Recent extensions of this tradition include the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lisa Cartwright, and Teresa Brennan. The second perspective, which is typically associated with developments in philosophy and the humanities, treats affect as an intensive force. This tradition, whose most famous proponent is Gilles Deleuze, is evident in Brian Massumi’s theory of autonomous affect and Nigel Thrift’s non-representational theory. Recent extensions of this tradition tend to emphasize the importance of materiality, or what Jane Bennett has called “thing-power.” A number of scholars working in communication and cultural studies have created a third, hybrid tradition that attempts to bridge or mediate the two dominant historical accounts. This third perspective includes Lawrence Grossberg’s notion of affective investments, Christian Lundberg’s Lacanian-inspired view of affect, Sara Ahmed’s work on the sociality of emotion, and Gernot Böhme’s theory of atmospheres.

Article

Peace Movements and Religion in the United States  

Sharon Erickson Nepstad

Religious groups in the United States have been active in the cause of peace, particularly in the 20th century. These groups come from a variety of traditions, such as progressive Catholicism, Reformed Judaism, mainline Protestantism, and the Historic Peace Churches (i.e., Quakers, Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren). Under the broad umbrella of peace issues, religious movements have challenged U.S. foreign policies and intervention abroad, military training, the arms race, and conscription. The Cold War generated significant faith-based organizing. At the close of World War II, there was growing concern about the nuclear arms race. The use of atomic weapons raised serious moral questions, and some religious activists believed that the indiscriminate and immense destructive capacity of these weapons rendered the Just War tradition obsolete. Religious movements challenged the nuclear arms race through a variety of campaigns, including noncooperation with city drill practices, interfering with nuclear testing, and damaging weapons. The Vietnam War also spurred a significant mobilization within U.S. religious communities. Radical Catholic groups began interfering with the conscription process by burning draft cards and destroying Selective Service files. More moderate religious groups were also active, primarily in promoting amnesty for draft resisters and through stockholder challenges that pressured corporations to stop producing weaponry. The Cold War battles in Central America in the 1980s were another major focus for religious peace movements, who organized delegations of U.S. citizens to travel to the war zones of Nicaragua to document and impede counterrevolutionary attacks against citizens. They also developed national networks of resistance to contest U.S. funding of authoritarian states in El Salvador and Guatemala and the training of these nations’ militaries. As the 20th century came to a close, an initiative was launched within the Historic Peace Churches to train volunteers in the art of nonviolent action and then send them to conflict zones to work with oppressed groups facing potentially lethal repression. These religious peace movements challenged faith communities to reflect on their ethical obligations and political commitments during periods of war and militarization.

Article

Ethical Decision-Making in Schools  

Özgür Önen and Burcu Tibet

How many times do people encounter an ethical dilemma within a day? Many of them, probably, say more than one. Frequently encountering ethically questionable situations which have heavy costs to both business and educational organizations is very common. It is crucial to understand how teachers, for example, make decisions when they are faced with ethically questionable situations, such as intimate relationship offers or dishonest grading desires. Indeed, every individual involved with schools—not only teachers, but principals, students, and even parents—are faced with ethically questionable situations, forcing them to choose between right and wrong, possibly benefiting themselves or the ones they are close to and/or harming innocent others. So, increasing knowledge on how individuals make judgments and act when they are confronted a dilemma is important. Which factors affects ethical decisions? Do people simply choose the options granting their positions or beneficial for them in some way? A review of theoretical models of ethical decision-making revealed that existing models need to be modified in order to cover some ignored aspects. Additionally, there seems to be a need to add new constructs to the moral intensity factor: ease of the act and magnitude of the gain are possible issue contingents to be considered. Furthermore, empirical findings, in general, present contradictory results on proposed factors affecting ethical decision-making. However, some factors, such as moral intensity and reward–sanction systems, were found to consistently affect decisions on ethically questionable issues. There are, nonetheless, many finer points to be understood regarding what exactly is happening when people face dilemmas. This suggests new studies need to be conducted.