Posts Tagged ‘society’
I intend to sketch out some ideas based around an article written by Gilles Deleuze in 1990. The article is called Postscript on Socities of Control and suggests a number of ideas around social change since the second world war. Whilst it paints a certain picture of modern society which may seem hugely problematic, and suggests that the role of computers and technology is central to a loss of humanism, there are nevertheless other areas in Deleuze’s work which highlight the hugely positive grassroots role technology can play in resisting corporate hegemony. Hope the posts are of some interest.
The philosophical implications of the sciences of complexity suggest that complex systems (such as society) function according to a dialectic of chance and necessity, multi-dimensionality, non-linearity and circular causality. It is argued that one could employ aspects of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory in order to establish a consistent theory of social self-organization. Bourdieu describes society in epistemological terms as consisting of mutual relationships of subjectivity/objectivity, individual/society, homogeneity/diversity, freedom/necessity, externalization of internality/internalization of externality, embodiment/objectiﬁcation, modus operandi/opus operatum. The concept of the habitus is a means of explaining the re-creation/self-organization of social systems in terms of human beings as permanent creators and permanently created results of society.
What makes The Power Elite most relevant today, and much more than an analysis of the institutional structure of America in the late 1950’s, is that C. Wright Mills’s thesis relies upon a compelling description of the social structure in America at the bottom level of society, what he calls a mass society. Mills suggests that, in the present, democracy exists in form and rhetoric rather than in substance and practice. The Power Elite considers the implications of structured domination in modern democratic society and how this generates not merely political apathy but the occlusion of thought in both public life and social analysis.
Mills’s mass society thesis illustrates how power in America effects individuals and the ways in which social theory may need to reassess its embrace of pluralism as the guiding principle of American political society. As this essay will argue, many sociological and political theorists, in their eagerness to rationalize and embrace the ideology of 19th century pluralism, have overlooked the significance of Mills’s mass society thesis or rejected it outright for being too pessimistic and dismissive. His theory of mass society posits a public that is atomized and alienated.
The way in which the ruling ideas of a social system are related to structures of class, production and power, and how these are legitimated and perpetuated, is fundamental to the sociological project. In this second edition of this classic text, which includes a new introduction by Pierre Bourdieu, the authors develop an analysis of education (in its broadest sense, encompassing more than the process of formal education). They show how education carries an essentially arbitrary cultural scheme which is actually, though not in appearance, based on power. More widely, the reproduction of culture through education is shown to play a key part in the reproduction of the whole social system.
Fields and Institutional Strategy – Bourdieu on the Relationship between Higher Education, Inequality and Society
This paper takes as its focus the concept of “field“, which has received relatively less attention than Bourdieu‘s other concepts such as “cultural capital” and “habitus” in the sociology of education. The development of the concept is outlined to present Bourdieu’s understanding of higher education as a field consisting of cognitive and structural mechanisms that mediate sociopolitical and economic forces while simultaneously reproducing fundamental principles of social stratification. As an illustration of its widespread application, Bourdieu’s framework is applied to develop an analytical understanding of institutional strategies developed by South African universities during a period of political instability. Drawing insights from the South African case study and Bourdieu’s empirical research, the article concludes that Bourdieu’s theory may be seen to have transcended more simplistic conceptions of universities as closed systems detached from the sociopolitical complex or as mere reflections of external power relations. However, the strict relational nature of Bourdieu’s framework and his concept of the “arbitrary” have placed limits on the extent to which his theory can offer a more in-depth account of the relationship between higher education and society.
Society is self-organising or re-creative in the sense that new emergent structures result from interactions of actors, these structures enable and constrain actions and stimulate further practices. Political self-organisation is a reflexive process where political agents co-ordinate their actions in such a way that political power structures emerge and are differentiated, these structures enable and constrain political activities and stimulate further political practices. Power and the establishment of collective decisions are central aspects of the self-organisation of politics. In the modern State system laws are the most important power structures that stimulate political practices. The modern State consists of two subsystems (the system of rule and the system of civil society), it is organised around the competitive accumulation of power. Central features of the modern state include the regulation of economic autopoiesis, it organises and defends the autopoiesis of society within a bounded territory by making use of the monopoly of the means of coercion, it organises the self-observation, self-containment and self-description of modern society and is a meta-storage mechanism of social information. The Postfordist mode of development of society that is based on economic globalisation and transnationalisation has changed the role of the state. Actors such as transnational corporations, non-government organisations and non-profit organisations are gaining increased importance, the structural coupling between the economy and the State is becoming more rigid in the direction where the economy influences the state system, parts of the welfare system are either shifted to the mode of economic autopoiesis or to the system of civil society. Postfordism is shaped by an increase dominance of economic autopoiesis over political, cultural and life-world autopoiesis. This doesn’t imply a “weak state” or the end of the nation state, the latter transforms its functions and answers with measures of re-organisation to the increased globalisation and complexity of the world. Self-observation, self-containment and self-description are altered by the nation state in such a way that the closure of society increases although the openness of the world economy grows.