Friday, July 19, 2019

Checking Malta’s Powerful Prime Minster through Constitutional Reforms - Michael Briguglio

My article 'Checking Malta’s Powerful Prime Minster through Constitutional Reforms'.  has been published in ConstitutionNet

You can read the article here

This is a follow up of my previous article on the matter published in 2017.  

ConstitutionNet is project created to support legislators, constitutional lawyers and other constitutional practitioners in finding useful and relevant information, sharing knowledge and building a community of best practice. ConstitutionNet is an International IDEA (an IGO headquartered in Sweden) project developed and maintained with generous support from the Government of Norway.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. Its mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Towards a materialism of the environment in Malta - Michael Briguglio

The social media is very valuable in mediating selections of reality: we are prosumers, and some are effectice influencers. At the same time I note that this often results in lack of holistic, deep and investigative engagement with reality: e.g. through facebook-driven journalism which replicates the chorus. In reality however , areas such as the environment go beyond what we post in facebook, important as this is. As a sociologist I must note that environmental challenges such as groundwater salinity, the political economy of development, determinants of air pollution, socio-cultural dynamics, consumer-citizen human behaviour, macro-systematic factors, micro-ethnographic experience, geo-physical factors, technology, dominant discourses, dynamics of power, agency of nature etc go beyond snackable media and require thorough research and evidence. Thus, very often we have photocopies of hot pop rather than an archaeaology of knowledge. The irony is that Malta is rich with the latter, courtesy of scholars who quietly produce a wealth of knowledge. 

Which takes me to the social construction of the environment - and the vitality of discourse in a post truth society. Even if the agency of the real (eg climate change) cannot be superseded by rhetoric or lack of it, it can be sensitized through discourse , possibly resulting in substantive policy making. Here again, policy making is not just about textbook exercises or ideological sloganeering. For example it can have unintended consequences in a risk/opportunity society with natural limits. 

Hence the need for syntheses of (critical) realism with effective social construction. 

For example in the world of academia some are trying to do this through the New Materialism: Bruno Latour is one celebrated example. Same for other scholarly perspectives. 

I think that constructionist icons like Judith Butler and postmodern politicians/communicators of different stripes and colours like Muscat, Trump, Cami, Xarabank, Lovin Malta and Nas Daily show the importance of popular fluid social construction: effectively sensitizing their audiences and beyond in a post-truth society. 

But beyond communication - important as it is - there is the real, even if hiding in a closed drawer and not sensitized by effective influencers: the physical world, scientific discovery, nature etc. Gravity and death will exist even if we don't take selfies with them.

In my view, both constructionist and realist poles need each other. And I believe that Malta needs sensible minds to work with each other on policy issues: Fora where evidence, discussion, networks, agency, transformation are prioritized, beyond bubbles and ideational ghettoes and beyond flat social investigation. This is the approach I adopt as a sociologist and I invite anyone with a similar outlook to get in touch.