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Contemporary sociologists implicitly assume or explicitly state that classical social theorists shared the Enlightenment’s optimistic vision that society would become more…
Contemporary sociologists implicitly assume or explicitly state that classical social theorists shared the Enlightenment’s optimistic vision that society would become more rational, free, ethical, and just overtime. I reexamine the primary works that laid the foundation for sociology and resituate them in their neo-Romantic origins.
Close readings of formative texts are provided to revisit modernist critiques of social progress in turn of the century sociology. The works of Ferdinand Tönnies, Thorstein Veblen, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, and Max Weber exemplify this tradition.
Insights from social theory written during and around the neo-Romantic period mirrored the Zeitgeist, a time fascinated with irrationality, moral decay, unconsciousness, decadence, degeneration, cynicism, historical decline, and pessimism. However, classical sociology’s pessimism should not be interpreted as anti-modern. Rather, it contributed to the Enlightenment’s maturation.
Contemporary sociologists should recover the spirit of classical sociology’s gloomy extension of the modern project and bring societal processes to consciousness through human reason, untainted by the fable of progress. Without rational grounds for optimism, the most honest and sincere way to preserve the hope for alternatives and emancipation is through the continuation and advancement of the pessimistic tradition. To formulate new disillusioned theories of society, sociology ought to draw from its ignored tragic legacy.
Rather than accept accounts of classical sociologists as believers in progress, the tradition reveals a world of increasing disenchantment, atomization, anomie, alienation, confusion, quarrel, rationalization devoid of value, and unhappiness. Providing society thoughtful, systematic accounts of its own estrangement advances the project of modernity.
Seeking to clarify the concept of lying, I deal with several topics on which ideas vary. I consider the symbolic, intentional, misleading, and relational character of lies, and include secrecy and other forms of deliberate deception within lies on the basis of these components. Next, I distinguish between human and nonhuman deception, invoking the concepts of symbols, role‐taking, self, and mind. Following this, I present several representative categories of the infinite array of benign and exploitive social contexts in which lying occurs. In a brief discussion, I then impugn the commonly‐used notion of “self‐deception” as internally contradictory. And, finally, I describe both negative and positive consequences of deception in human affairs.
Alienation, a legacy of the Marxian Hegelian critique of domination, remains one of the most heuristic yet ambiguous concepts in social thought. Yet there endure questions…
Alienation, a legacy of the Marxian Hegelian critique of domination, remains one of the most heuristic yet ambiguous concepts in social thought. Yet there endure questions of its definition, indications, level of analysis, relationships to capitalism or modernity in general. To speak of alienation raises a notion that there was once either a pristine era of bliss or a Utopian promise of universal self‐realization. I cannot enter this debate but only note that throughout most historical eras people have created societies, institutions and beliefs that have benefited the powerful few at the cost of the powerless many. Yet the few have had the power to construct definitions of reality and ideologies of legitimacy that are reproduced in the everday life routines of the many, so that arbitrary power arrangements seem natural and typical. Insofar as these routines are sustained by habits, fear and anxiety and thwart human potential, we can talk of alienated selfhood and interaction.
This chapter delineates the interactional structure of flirtation. Refining Simmel's analysis, I show flirtation as a way in which two time frames are continuously…
This chapter delineates the interactional structure of flirtation. Refining Simmel's analysis, I show flirtation as a way in which two time frames are continuously maintained within the same interaction. Rather than moving into a future interaction by using what I term “actualization practices” – actions which thrust the present interaction into a future – interactants simultaneously use practices from both time frames, careful not to irrevocably shift the situation. The management of interactional ambiguity in flirtation is then analyzed as a key to examine other ambiguous or “suspended” interactions, where interactants must work to keep different potential future possibilities open.
Confidence, trust and loyalty are three social emotions necessary respectively for the social processes of agency, cooperation and organization. In addition to the centrality of emotion in social life, an examination of these emotions demonstrates the importance of future‐time in social structure. Temporality is seldom discussed in the sociological literature, but unavoidable in a consideration of confidence, trust and loyalty. An examination of confidence, trust and loyalty from the perspective of temporality clarifies issues of social rationality and indicates some of the limitations of rational choice theory.
Social media stage online patterns of social interaction that differ remarkably from ordinary forms of acting, talking and relating. To unravel these differences, we…
Social media stage online patterns of social interaction that differ remarkably from ordinary forms of acting, talking and relating. To unravel these differences, we review the literature on micro-sociology and social psychology and derive a shorthand version of socially-embedded forms of interaction. We use that version as a yardstick for reconstructing and assessing the patterns of sociality social media promote. Our analysis shows that social media platforms stage highly stylized forms of social interaction such as liking, following, tagging, etc. that essentially serve the purpose of generating a calculable and machine-readable data footprint out of user platform participation. This online stylization of social interaction and the data it procures are, however, only the first steps of what we call the infrastructuring of social media. Social media use the data footprint that results from the stylization of social interaction to derive larger (and commercially relevant) social entities such as audiences, networks and groups that are constantly fed back to individuals and groups of users as personalized recommendations of one form or another. Social media infrastructure sociality as they provide the backstage operations and technological facilities out of which new habits and modes of social relatedness emerge and diffuse across the social fabric.
Recently there has been a resurgence in the study of how ideas shape policies. Two perspectives which dominate this literature are what Habermas has called the…
Recently there has been a resurgence in the study of how ideas shape policies. Two perspectives which dominate this literature are what Habermas has called the empirical‐analytical tradition and historical‐hermeneutic tradition. These two epistemological positions represent contrasting views. They depict very different pictures of how ideas sway popular values and the policy choices confronted by policymakers. Each also raises important questions about how the processes of knowledge formation and promotion unfold and what actors play a dominant role in furthering these developments.
States that the participation of men and women in the German academic and scientific system is unequally distributed. Shows that the higher the status at the university…
States that the participation of men and women in the German academic and scientific system is unequally distributed. Shows that the higher the status at the university, the lower the female proportion and that women also choose different subjects to men. Asks why more men choose science and engineering and what social cognitive characteristics do women show who opt for a “male” subject. Presents the theoretical background to the above before providing some insights using surveys carried out in Germany.