The Return of the Underground Retail Cannabis Market?

Attitudes of Dutch coffeeshop owners and cannabis users to the proposed ‘cannabis ID’ and the consequences they expect.

ABSTRACT
The sale of cannabis to persons aged 18 or older is permitted in the Netherlands under certain conditions in commercial establishments called coffeeshops. The present Dutch government has proposed that access to coffeeshops be restricted to persons holding a cannabis ID, a mandatory membership card known colloquially as a ‘weed pass’ (wietpas). Recent interviews with 66 Amsterdam coffeeshop owners reveal that they expect mainly detrimental effects from the proposed measure. In particular, they predict customer resistance to compulsory registration, the discriminatory exclusion of tourists and other non-members, and a resurgence of cannabis street dealing. Two surveys of cannabis users (in a local sample of 1214 Amsterdam coffeeshop customers and a nationwide sample of 1049 last-month users) confirmed that many, but not all, users would oppose registration. The majority of respondents intended to look for other suppliers or to grow their own marijuana if the cannabis ID becomes law. Surprisingly, about one in ten said they would stop smoking cannabis.
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Ireland and the European Economic and Monetary Union

“A theory of capitalism that recognises the pluralist, multi-dimensional and internally conflicted nature of social systems restores politics to the central place it deserves, in contrast to efficiency theories in which politics is about no more than the instrumental problem of defining and implementing the most efficient institutions for the essentially technocratic task of coordination” (Wolfgang Streeck, 2010)

The financial crisis has called into question the capacity of national sovereign democratic states to reconcile the distributional tensions that emerge from capitalist market expansion. This problem has become particularly acute for countries of the Eurozone (De Grauwe, 2010, 2011). They cannot devalue their currencies and must adjust their economies through IMF-ECB induced structural reforms in labour, wage and fiscal policy. The problem of coordinating wage, fiscal and monetary policy in the interest of employment and economic performance, or capital accumulation, is not new. It was central to the construction of different variants of national incomes policies in European political economies during the neo-corporatist Keynesian era.

But how did domestic political actors respond to the adjustment constraints of globalised variants of capitalism during the neoliberal era, and what has been the trajectory of institutional change in European industrial relations and welfare regimes? This question guides the theoretical dimension of my PhD The Rise and Fall of Irish Social Partnership – The Political Economy of Institutional Change in European Varieties of Capitalism (2012) which is grounded on an argument that the politics of democratic capitalist change can be traced to the disorganisation and flexibilisation of institutions that enable labour to constrain capital. The decline in trade union strength and an increase in business power underpins the public policy paradigm shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism across Europe. The role of the state in conditioning this pattern, and the diverse trajectory of change it invoked, is central to the study of comparative political economy. National labour market regulations have been flexibilised and the problem of employment resolved either through supply side reforms aimed at activation or low wage employment (Hall, 2011).

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From Big Brother to Radical Decentralization

In the past centuries governing has become more centralized, out of necessity and because it made the most sense. The state and its organizations, national as well as international, will not disappear as sources of power and government. However, they can no longer govern alone.

Many things will have to be radically re-organized. Districts organize their own waste collection and every home is energy supplier. The adage for the next decennium will be: Radical Decentralization.

Sun and waste

Governed from Beijing and in its well-known particular brand of go getting, China is creating giant fields full of solar panels in the Gobi desert. The European Union has found the spirit after the accession of 10 new countries in 2004 and is getting ready to accept the rest of former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia) after the accession of Slovenia. The role of centralized government is far from played out. And yet a different trend marks the second decennium of this century: Radical decentralization, meaning organizing general interest issues on a micro scale. The size of the scale varies, and ends with the individual. Currently, individualism is not a popular term and brings to mind images of self-enriching bankers. That is one side of the coin. Thanks to the high level of education of for instance Western societies and ongoing technological advancements, we are more than ever capable of shaping our own lives, which creates great opportunities for the individual as well as for society at large. It does require changes from bureaucrats and administrators. In the next decade they will either have to adjust or make room for new ones.

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Policy Games for Strategic Management

In the life of each organization, situations arise that are completely new to the history of the organization. These situations are complex, surprising, urgent, inspiring, threatening and sometimes enduring. Leadership is forced to bring the organization into uncharted territory. Facing these situations, and often after a period of muddling through in a business-as-usual way, leadership has to recognize that a breakthrough response will only emerge from a previously unexplored (and, for this organization, a revolutionary) strategy process. Think about the bewilderment in a high-tech company when an emerging technology from a competitor threatens the whole existence of their organization.

The California energy crisis in 2002 is another example: by initially oversimplifying the problem and failing to identify and evaluate major alternatives, the state found itself in a crisis of its own making. If there had been proper communication about this complex system among all interested parties (e.g. suppliers, regulatory agencies, distributors, and consumers), it is unlikely that the decisions made would have proven so unsatisfactory. Yet another instance is the dilemma faced by a nationalized railway or postal service – is deregulation an opportunity or a threat? Should they lobby against adoption of a new deregulation law, or pursue it as a great opportunity?

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The Constitution, Negotiation and Representation of Immigrant Student Identities in South African Schools

‘Think, instead of identity as a “production” which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside representation’ (Hall, 2000).

Abstract

The easing of legal and unauthorized entry to South Africa has made the country a new destination for Black immigrants. As this population continues to grow, its children have begun to experience South African schools in an array of uniquely challenging ways. For these immigrant youth, forging a sense of identity may be their single greatest challenge. Accordingly, this study asks how do immigrant students construct, negotiate, and represent their identities within the South African schooling context. Findings were multifold in nature.

First, although immigrant students’ ease of assimilation into the chosen reference group was to some degree sanctioned by their phenotypic racial features, their attempt at ‘psychosocial passing’ was politically motivated. Second, immigrant students did not readily classify themselves according to skin pigmentocracy. Third, the majority of immigrant students heightened their ethnic self-awareness in forming their identity, but also assumed hyphenated identities. Fourth, immigrant students were not seen as having an identity, but rather as being ‘plugged into a category with associated characteristics or features’. Fifth, immigrant students forged a ‘continental identity’. And sixth, the selfagency of immigrant students was twofold in nature; not only did they want to improve their own condition, but there seemed to be an inherent drive to improve the human condition of others.

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The Making of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks

Do you find it difficult to understand why the European Central Bank is restricted in its assistance to EU countries which have difficulty borrowing from financial markets? And do you find it interesting to learn what the tools are of the ECB, compared to the Federal Reserve System, and why the monetary part of the Economic and Monetary Union is so much more successful than its economic leg? These questions are answered in the book The Making of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks, which first appeared as a dissertation in 2004. It describes the economic, political and legal discussions behind every article of the statute of the ESCB, which rules its behaviour and which restrict the options for politicians to intervene in the policy of the ECB. After you have read this, you will find it much easier to understand and predict the behaviour of important actors, like the decision-making body of the ECB and politicians, and the tensions between them.

Checks and balances

The phrase ‘checks and balances’ is most known for its use as a description of the American system of government. The essential feature is that the departments (branches) of government are not just separate from each other (i.e. having their own functional jurisdiction and the absence of personal unions), but also exert limited control over each other, to the extent necessary for preventing departments (branches) from assuming authority in areas for which other branches are responsible. This philosophy was based on the experience that especially the legislature if left to itself could expand its powers in the field of the executive and in extreme cases even taking on judicial powers.

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