Studies in Symbolic Interaction: Volume 25

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(29 chapters)
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This paper addresses the changing relationship of public and private life, as that relationship is altered by emerging communication technologies. Implicit in the writings of Walter Ong, Marshall McLuhan, and the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is an answer to the changes in the social domain we are now experiencing. Each of these scholars offers valuable insights into how the conceptualization of the self shifts over time. Considered as a group, their collective writings deepen the significance of each singular perspective. These scholars are concerned with the process of social change, with the transformations of technology, and with the evolution of human awareness. In so far as Ong argues for a secondary orality and McLuhan argues for a new awareness of interrelatedness, one must ask to what end? It cannot merely be that the emergence of new social forms implies no consequence, leads to nowhere in particular.

This paper examines the relationship between popular music and adolescent identity in Poland. I will specifically discuss how this relationship has evolved within the context of complex changes occurring in Polish society over the past twenty years. This analysis is largely derived from interviews with and observations of young people in Wroclaw, Krakow, and Katowice, Poland in 1992 and 1999. Before the revolutionary events of the late 1980s, popular music in Poland reflected the drudgery of everyday life under communism and the severe economic constraints placed on young people's musical experiences. Since the democratic revolution in 1989, the popular music scene has become increasingly complex and fragmented. Styles of music have expanded three ways. First, Polish youth now have access to all the popular music available to American or British youth via the Internet, Euro MTV, and so forth. Second, Polish artists are devising local versions of this globalized music. Third, Polish artists are creating new music that is true to traditional, even folk, musical styles. The net effect of these trends is the availability of the kind of musical resources long used by Western adolescents to create the identity of the “teenager”.

In this article, we develop an understanding of racism based on a style of social control that recent writers have referred to as “symbolic violence”. Symbolic violence is novel in that agents are oppressed through their own complicity as they accept and reproduce a “reality” that is made to appear unavoidable and even beneficial. Although many sociological discussions of racism have contributed to the sort of reification that leads to symbolic violence by understanding racial identities as essential, cultural ideals as ahistorical, and market dynamics as autonomous, we make the point that symbolic violence survives even as oppressed members are understood as active agents. We discuss how symbolic violence differs from other variants of racism and address the sort of theoretical maneuver that needs to be made if a more equitable order is to be fostered. Specifically, only by restoring the praxiology of language can race cease from being an immutable social fact that normalizes racial inequalities.

The ‘human being’ and ‘humanism’ have become thoroughly contested terms and widely denounced from a range of intellectual positions from behaviorism to post-modernism. After outlining some elements of the anti-humanist critique, the paper attempts to mount a defence. It concludes by suggesting some of the elements for a ‘critical humanism’, and suggests that postmodernism and humanism need not be incompatible.

The rollback of state intervention presents a major challenge to the leading models of power. Since these models imply that greater power entails an increasing concentration or intensification of the techniques of rule, they are unable to explain how delegation and displacement can enhance effective control. An examination of the philosophical methods informing major models of power shows their conceptual limitations and the need for a Deweyan pragmatist alternative. This method leads to an alternative analysis of power that combines both direct power or causal interaction evident in agency and structural models and indirect power, transactional operations through which intelligent agents generate media of social production. From this perspective, power becomes more effective by withdrawing and consolidating direct while expanding indirect power. This view suggests a revision of state theory and a means for social criticism and amelioration.

Institutional controls and legal enmeshments have become increasingly problematic for social scientists in recent years. For sociologists, whose disciplinary ethic is defined by rigid standards of confidentiality and admonishments to “do no harm”, the dilemma appears to be one of accepting legislative protections based on the natural science model of good science or enduring the consequences of compelled disclosure of data and participant identities in court. Some critical and interpretive sociologists offer a third option — a return to a moral framework for the discipline, one that focuses on the ways power and ideology influence institutions.In this paper, I examine how street-level politics and the enmeshment of the scientific paradigm within the various contributing (layered) bureaucracies influence the shape of university research and challenge the ideal of a moral framework. I use personal experience to demonstrate how subjectivities, or narrative identities, are continuously negotiated and redefined during the research approval process to produce bureaucratic acceptability, scientific legitimacy, and legal accountability. The analysis has broader implications as it demonstrates how the biases that equate good sociology with scientific method can ultimately shape research decisions and create additional challenges for those who seek to change the discipline

Cover of Studies in Symbolic Interaction
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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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