nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2019‒04‒01
two papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Cultural rights of native majorities between universalism and minority rights By Koopmans, Ruud
  2. Impact of religious participation, social interactions and globalisation on meat consumption: evidence from India By Massimo Filippini; Suchita Srinivasan

  1. By: Koopmans, Ruud
    Abstract: Minorities' claims for rights increasingly clash with majorities who wish to retain and defend "national" cultural and religious traditions. Debates around minarets in Switzerland, burqas in France, Saint Nicolas' companion "Black Pete" in the Netherlands, and about freedom of speech versus respect for minorities in several countries are cases in point. Such issues are highly salient and offer a major mobilization potential for populist parties. However, while publications about minority rights abound, the normative literature is remarkably silent on the issue of the normative legitimacy of rights claims by autochthonous cultural majorities. The reason for this negligence is the assumption that majorities can, by definition, impose their will by electoral force. But in the postwar rights regime in which protection for minority rights has proliferated, there are many situations in which parliamentary majorities have been trumped by court decisions or obligations derived from international treaties. Moreover, even if electoral majorities prevail, this does not solve the normative problem and leads to situations in which claims of minorities, legitimated by national and supranational minority protection norms, stand against majorities backed by the electoral power of numbers but lacking normative legitimacy. The paper argues that it is this dynamic of "right" versus "might" that is an important structural factor behind the rise of nationalist populism across Western countries. This confrontation has a tendency to polarize and to escalate, because there is no common normative ground on which the legitimacy and limits of majority rights claims can be negotiated. For one side in such debates, majorities have no legitimate right whatsoever to claim privileges for their language or culture over others, for the other side, this right is absolute because in the populist view democratic legitimacy is reduced to whatever the majority decides. A normative elaboration of the legitimacy and limits of cultural majority claims is necessary to escape from this confrontation that increasingly poisons the political debate in Western democracies. An additional reason to take cultural majority rights more strongly into consideration is that the idea that majority cultures are not in need of any special protection is less and less tenable. In a more and more globalized world where Anglo-Saxon culture has become the norm in many domains, the distinction between "dominant" and "minority cultures" can no longer be exclusively seen as applying to relationships within nation-states, but increasingly also applies to the unequal balance of power between the cultures of nation-states.
    Keywords: majority rights,self-determination,immigration,indigenous peoples,populism,multiculturalism
    Date: 2018
  2. By: Massimo Filippini (ETH Zurich, Switzerland); Suchita Srinivasan (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: From both health and environmental policy perspectives, it is advisable to ensure that individuals maximise the nutritional gains from eating meat, without having a significantly adverse environmental impact, i.e. sustainable meat consumption pathways are imperative. This is especially true for developing countries, where rising incomes and growing populations have meant that meat consumption has also risen. India is an example of a country where a large share of the population has been vegetarian due to religious and cultural factors, although this is rapidly changing. In this paper, we hypothesise that social interactions and globalisation are two factors that explain this shift in consumption behaviour, especially amongst Hindu households. These hypotheses are based on the theoretical findings of Levy and Razin (2012). The empirical results show that Hindus that are members of religious groups are less likely to eat meat than non-member Hindus, whereas Hindus that are members of non-religious types of groups are more likely to eat meat than non-members. We also find that Hindu households that frequently use sources of media such as newspapers, the radio or television are more likely to consume meat compared to Hindus that do not. This paper provides important policy implications, both in terms of the formulation of Nationally Recommended Diets in developing countries, and in terms of identifying the channel of influence of both social networks and globalisation on social and religious norms, consumption behaviour, and ultimately, on climate change.
    Keywords: Meat consumption, Religious norms, Social interactions, Globalisation, India
    JEL: D83 Q18 Q54 C23 C26
    Date: 2018–11

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