Higher education in the United States in the early 21st century is certainly a field in the sense of the term as it is used by Bourdieu. It is a network of relations among objective positions within it. Among those positions are universities and colleges, a wide range of academic departments, chancellors and deans, professors of vari- ous ranks, graduate students, undergraduate students, staff, and so on. Like other fields, it can be looked at as a kind of vast military battlefield in which a variety of struggles to improve or protect positions are taking place. Among the ongoing struggles are the following:
1. Elite universities versus those that aspire to that status. There are a relatively small number of elite universities in the United States (e.g., Harvard, Stanford) that have a disproportionate share of the best-known and most productive scholars and produce the vast majority of PhDs. There are many other lesser universi- ties (most state universities) that would like to achieve elite status, but almost always find it impossible to do so. The elite universities often undercut their efforts by, for example, hiring away their best professors.
2. Department versus department. Within any university there is a status hierarchy among departments with, for example, the hard sciences (e.g., physics, chem- istry) almost always ranking above the social sciences (economics, sociology), with arts and humanities (history, English) ranking even lower. This hierarchy is reflected in, among other ways, the relative funding of departments and the average salaries of faculty in them. Lower-ranking departments frequently struggle to move up the hierarchy in order to obtain more funding, higher sal- aries, and greater prestige and they are usually opposed by the departments that rank above them.
3. Senior faculty versus junior faculty. Senior faculty (professors) hold most of the power in academic departments and junior faculty (associate and assistant pro- fessors) aspire to be professors. However, it is the professors who decide which junior faculty will get promoted. More generally, junior faculty aspire to get a share of the power held by professors who, needless to say, are generally reluc- tant to share much, if any, of it.
4. Faculty versus graduate students. Graduate students are far lower in the status hierarchy than the most junior faculty members who, along with other fac- ulty members, exercise power over them. Graduate students aspire to get the PhDs that they hope will lead them into faculty positions, but existing faculty decide how difficult the process will be and who will or will not get those degrees.
5. Faculty versus undergraduate students. Undergraduate students want the time and attention of faculty members, but the latter, especially if they are ambitious, want to devote most of their time to the writing and research that will get them promotions, perhaps even to an elite university.
This far from exhausts the positions, relationships, and struggles in the field of U.S. higher education today, but it does give us at least a sense of it.
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Contemporary Integrative Theories 193
1. Richard Emerson constructed a more integrative exchange theory. 2. He dealt with the psychological basis of exchange as well as exchange relations,
networks, and structures at the macro-level. 3. An exchange network is a web of social relationships involving a number of either
individual or collective actors; the various actors have a variety of valued resources as well as exchange opportunities and exchange relations with one another.
4. There are a number of these exchange relations and they interrelate with one another to form a single network structure.
5. Power (the potential cost that one actor can induce another to accept) and depen- dence (the potential cost that an actor will be willing to tolerate within a relationship) are central to Emerson’s integrative exchange theory.
6. Anthony Giddens’s structuration theory deals with agents and structures as a dual- ity; they cannot be separated from one another.
7. Giddens’s approach is distinguished by the power it accords to agents. 8. Structure is defined unconventionally as the structuring properties (specifically
rules and resources) that give similar social practices a systemic form. 9. Social systems are reproduced social practices, or relations between actors or col-
lectivities that are reproduced, becoming regular social practices. 10. Structuration is premised on the idea that agents and structures are not independent
of one another. Rather they are interrelated to such an extent that at the moment they produce action, people produce and reproduce the structures in which they exist.
11. In contrast to Giddens, Archer makes the cases for a dualism in which structure and agency can be distinguished analytically even though they are intertwined in the social world.
12. Archer also argues that culture has been ignored and that we should focus on the relationship between culture and agency.
13. Bourdieu’s integrated theory is concerned with the relationship between habitus and field.
14. Habitus is the mental or cognitive structure through which people deal with the social world.
15. The field is a network of relations among the objective positions within it. 16. The positions of agents in the field are determined by the amount of capital—
economic, cultural, social, and symbolic—they possess. 17. The field is a site of struggles to gain advantageous positions.
K aren S. C ook and J oseph W hitmeyer “Richard Emerson.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 193–218. Brief introduction to Emerson’s life and work; the senior author is Emerson’s most important disciple.
K aren S. C ook and E ric R ice “Social Exchange Theory.” In George Ritzer , ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 735–740 . Examination of the history and current status of exchange theory whose senior author is one of the most important living contributors to that theory.
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N oah F riedkin “Exchange Networks.” In George Ritzer , ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 264–265 . Entry focused on the concept that gets to the heart of a more integrated exchange theory.
I ra C ohen “Structuration.” In George Ritzer , ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 811–814 . Readable overview of Giddens’s dense and difficult structuration theory by one of its foremost analysts.
I ra C ohen Structuration Theory. London: Macmillan , 1989 . Makes structuration theory as accessible as possible.
I an C raib Anthony Giddens. London: Routledge , 1992 . A critical examination of Giddens’s work, including structuration theory.
M argaret A rcher Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1988 . The source for Archer’s views on Giddens and her own ideas on the integration of culture and agency.
D avid S wartz Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 1997 . Excellent overview of the contributions of Pierre Bourdieu to social theory.
C raig C alhoun “Pierre Bourdieu.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 361–394. Compelling overview of Bourdieu’s life and work.
R ichard J enkins “Pierre Bourdieu.” In George Ritzer , ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 66–71 . Broad overview of the person and his work that includes a discussion of the relationship between habi- tus and field.
R ichard J enkins “Habitus.” In George Ritzer , ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 352–353 . More detailed examina- tion of the best-known and most influential of Bourdieu’s concepts.
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C H A P T E R 8
Contemporary Feminist Theories
Patricia Madoo Lengermann The George Washington University
Gillian Niebrugge American University
The Basic Theoretical Questions The Classical Roots Contemporary Feminist Theories Toward a Feminist Sociological Theory Summary Suggested Readings
F eminist theory is a generalized, wide-ranging, interdisciplinary system of ideas about social life and human experience developed from a woman-centered perspective. It is woman-centered in two ways. First, the starting point of all its investigation is the situations and experiences of women in society. Second, it seeks to describe and critically evaluate the world from the distinctive van- tage points of women. Feminist sociological theory both broadens sociological understanding and contributes to the interdisciplinary community of feminist theory by developing the concept of gender from a marginal variable in sociology to a major field of study.
This chapter has four main sections: an overview of the basic questions that guide feminist theory; a sketch of the classical roots of contemporary feminist theory; a description of the various types of contemporary feminist theory, emphasizing the contributions of sociologists to those theories; and an integrated statement of a general feminist sociological theory developed out of these various theoretical traditions. The theoretical traditions are presented in terms of basic questions of feminism.
feminist theory A generalized, wide-ranging system of ideas about social life and human experience developed from a woman-centered perspective.
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196 CHAPTER EIGHT
THE BASIC THEORETICAL QUESTIONS
Historically feminist theory has developed in relation to feminist activism, which is usually described in terms of “waves” of collective mobilization. The classic roots of contemporary feminist theory are in first-wave feminist activ- ism (ca. 1848–1920), which centered on women’s struggle for the vote and for admission to the political process. Contemporary feminist theory began with second-wave activism (1960–1990), which worked to translate basic political rights into tangible economic and social equality with men, and is continued in third-wave activism (1990–present), which will be determined by those of you who will spend the majority of your life in the 21st century.
The impetus for contemporary feminist theory begins in a deceptively sim- ple question: And what about the women? In other words: Where are the women in any situation being investigated? If they are not present, why? If they are present, what exactly are they doing? How do they experience the situation? What do they contribute to it? What does it mean to them?
A half century of posing this question has produced some general conclu- sions. Women are present in most social situations. Where they are not present, the reason is not because of their lack of ability or interest but because there have been deliberate efforts to exclude them. Where they are present, women have played roles very different from the popular conception of them (e.g., as passive wives and mothers). Indeed, as wives and as mothers and in a series of other roles, women have, along with men, actively created the social world. Yet though women are actively present in most social situations, academics and people in general, both male and female, have often been blind to their pres- ence. Moreover, women’s roles in most social situations, although essential, have been different from and less privileged than those of men. Their invisibil- ity is only one indicator of this inequality.
Feminism’s second basic question, then, is “Why is all this as it is?” In answering this question, feminist theory has produced a general social theory with broad implications for sociology. One of feminist sociological theory’s major contributions to answering this question has been the development of the concept of gender as a way of distinguishing between biologically deter- mined attributes associated with male and female and the socially constructed behaviors associated with masculinity and femininity. The essential qualities of gender remain a point of theoretical debate in feminism and these debates offer one way to distinguish among some of the varieties of feminist theories. But a starting point of agreement among nearly all varieties of feminist theory is an understanding of gender as a social construction, something not emanating from nature but created by people as part of the processes of group life.
gender A concept developed in feminist sociological theory to distinguish between sex, the biologically determined attributes associated with male and female, and socially constructed behaviors associated with masculinity and femininity.
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Contemporary Feminist Theories 197
The third question for all feminists is: How can we change and improve the social world to make it a more just place for all people? This commitment to social transforma- tion in the interest of justice is the distinctive characteristic of critical social theory. This commitment is shared in sociology by feminism, Marxism, neo-Marxism, and social theories being developed by racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities and in postcolonial societies. The commitment to critical theory requires that feminist theorists ask how their work will improve the lives of the people they study.
As the circle of feminists exploring these questions has become more inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds, both in the United States and internationally, feminist theorists have raised a fourth question: And what about the differences among women? Exploring this question leads to a general conclusion that the invisibility, inequality, and role differences in relation to men, which generally characterize women’s lives, are profoundly affected by a woman’s social location—that is, by her class, race, age, affectional prefer- ence, marital status, religion, ethnicity, and global location.
But feminist theory is not just about women, nor is its major project the creation of a middle-range theory of gender relations. Posing and answering feminist theory’s basic questions has produced a theory of social life universal in its applicability and comparable to the revolution in thought produced by Marx. Marx, more than a century ago, showed social scientists that the knowledge peo- ple assumed to be an absolute and universal statement of truth about society in fact reflects the experiences of those who economically and politically rule the social world and that it is possible to view the world from the vantage point of the world’s workers, the economically and politically subordinate. Today, femi- nism’s basic theoretical questions are producing a similar radical transformation of our understanding of the world. What we have taken as universal and abso- lute knowledge is in fact knowledge derived from the experiences of a powerful section of society, men as masters. That master’s knowledge is relativized if we rediscover the vantage point of women who though subordinated have been indispensable in sustaining and recreating the society we live in.
Feminism not only relativizes established knowledge, but also deconstructs such knowledge. Feminism deconstructs established systems of knowledge by showing their masculinist bias and the gender politics framing and informing them. But feminism itself has been reshaped by challenges from three sources to its most basic concept, its unitary understanding of “woman.” First, women of color, women in postcolonial societies, working-class women, and lesbians have con- fronted the white, privileged-class, heterosexual status of many leading feminists. These women, speaking from what bell hooks calls margin to center, question whether there is a single woman’s standpoint. Second, the growing movement for transgender rights and identity calls into question the validity of the binary understanding of gender as masculine or feminine. Third, a growing postmod- ernist literature (see Chapter 9) raises questions about the reality of gender, of the individual self and hence of a standpoint of women. Nevertheless, the practice of doing theory from the standpoint of women remains vital in sociology because empirically one half of the world’s population in their daily lives know them- selves, are interacted with by others, and defined by macrostructures as “women.”
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198 CHAPTER EIGHT
THE CLASSICAL ROOTS
Posing the question “And what about the women?” has resulted in studies like our own work in the history of women in sociology, The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory, 1830–1930. This work shows within the discipline of sociology itself the ways that women can be major players in the creation and development of a field and yet have their contributions remain invisible—a process we call “erasure.” Women were active creators of both sociology and social theory in the first century of the discipline. Indeed, the claim can be made that in the founding generation, it was the work of a woman, Harriet Martineau (1802–1876), along with Auguste Comte (see Chapter 2), that produced the first formal mapping of sociology as a way of thinking and as a method (see Biographical Vignette). Later, in the classic generation (1890–1930), at the same
Harriet Martineau (1802–1876) A Biographical Vignette
Born on June 12, 1802 in Norwich, England to a Unitarian manufacturing family, Harriet Martineau received a good education for a woman in her times because of the family’s religious principles which emphasized human reason as the way to transcendental experience. But she was left penniless with the failure of the father’s textile business in 1829 and had to choose, as she later said, between making her living by the needle or by the pen. She had written for Unitarian publications in her youth with success in the form of monetary prizes and so she turned to writ- ing. She became a household name in England, outselling even Charles Dickens, with the publication of Illustrations of Political Economy (1832–1834), a series of novels designed to teach the general public the principles of what was then economics. The effort left her with enough financial independence to be able to choose her new project and at the same time disillusioned with the possibilities of economics. She turned to the new science of sociology and to a test of this new science in the new world, the United States, where she felt she would be able to view a society in the making (a view shared by her contemporary Alexis de Tocqueville (see Chapter 1), whose time in America overlapped with hers). On her way to the U.S. in 1835, she drafted the first methods text in sociology, How to Observe Morals and Manners. She used many of the principles therein as a guide to the field research that produced Society in America in 1836/37. In 1853, she published her translation, reorganiza- tion, and abridgement of Auguste Comte’s six-volume Positive Philosophy, a version Comte liked so much that he had it retranslated into French, where it became a stan- dard version. Long-recalled only for this last work, Martineau is now being studied for her original work of the 1830s and recognized as being, along with Comte, one of the inventors of sociology. Martineau was a prolific writer in many genres of literature, publishing some seventy books and over 1500 newspaper articles. Deaf from her early teens, she was the first sociologist to write about illness and disabil- ity. She died on June 27, 1876.
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Contemporary Feminist Theories 199
time that Durkheim, Weber, Simmel and Mead were creating what would become the academic field of sociology, a group of women who formed a broad and connected network of social reformers were also developing pioneering sociological theories.
These women included Jane Addams (1860–1935), Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964), Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935), Florence Kelley (1859–1932), Beatrice Potter Webb (1858–1943), Marianne Weber (1870–1954), and Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931). With the possible exception of Cooper, they can all be connected through their relationship to Jane Addams—and Cooper was influenced by Addams. That they have not been known or recognized in con- ventional histories of the discipline as sociologists or sociological theorists is dramatic evidence of the power of gender politics within sociology. Although the sociological theory of each of these women is a product of individual theo- retical effort, when they are read collectively, they represent a coherent statement of early feminist sociological theory.
The chief hallmarks of their theories are characteristics they share with con- temporary feminist sociological theory and are also the very qualities which may account for their being passed over in the development of professional academic sociology. First, they practice a critical rather than a descriptive or explanatory analysis. They understand sociology as part of the general pro- gressive movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and claim that the purpose of sociology is social amelioration and that the main problem to be ameliorated is social inequality. Second, they emphasize wom- en’s experience, lives, and works as being equal in importance to men’s. A third hallmark is a conscious awareness that they—like all people—speak from a situated and embodied standpoint and that this understanding must be central to sociological method. And, fourth, they have a concern with domination as the chief practice by which inequality is maintained in the world; domina- tion is the power relation in which the superordinate makes the subordinate an instrument of his will, denying the subordinate’s individual capacity for thought and opinion.
What distinguishes the classical women theorists from each other is the nature of and the remedy for the inequality on which they focused—gender, race, or class, or the intersection of these factors. But all these women translated their views into social and political activism and helped shape and change the North Atlantic societies in which they lived. This activism was as much a part of their sense of practicing sociology as was creating theory. They believed in social science research as part of both the theoretical and activist practices of sociology. They were, consequently, highly creative innovators of social sci- ence method. As the developing discipline of sociology marginalized these women as sociologists and sociological theorists, it often incorporated their research methods into its own practices, while using the women’s activism as an excuse to define them as “not sociologists.” Thus, the women are remem- bered as social activists, community organizers, and social workers rather than sociologists. Their heritage is a sociological theory that is a call to action as well as to thought.
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200 CHAPTER EIGHT
CONTEMPORARY FEMINIST THEORIES
In this section we look at how feminist sociologists have incorporated the insights of feminist theory into the theory and practice of sociology. The first basic point is that feminist theory takes several forms. One map of this variety is given by sociologist Judith Lorber in terms of how the theories approach gender inequality. She identifies three approaches: theories that aim to “reform” the gender system by equalizing opportunities for women and men—including liberal and socialist theories; theories that aim to “resist” the gender system by actively promoting the value of women’s ways of being—including radi- cal, cultural, and psychoanalytic theories; and theories that “rebel” against the gender system by challenging the existence of gender itself—including post- modern and queer theories. We offer a somewhat different mapping from Lorber—but the important first point is that while there is variety within femi- nist theory, there is an underlying unity based in a dedication to understanding and improving women’s position in society.
Our typology classifies the various feminist theories in terms of their answer to feminism’s most basic question, “And what about the women?” In our mapping, there are four basic answers to this question.
1. Women’s location in, and experience of, most situations is different from that of the men in those situations.
2. Women’s location in most situations is not only different from but also less privileged than or unequal to that of men.
3. Women’s situation also has to be understood in terms of a direct power relationship between men and women. Women are oppressed: that is, restrained, subordinated, molded, and used and abused by men.
4. Women’s experiences of difference, inequality, and oppression vary according to their total location within societies’ arrangements of structural oppression or vectors of oppression and privilege: class, race, ethnicity, age, affectional preference, marital status, and global location.
These general answers can be further broken down in terms of the second basic question of feminist theory, “Why is all this as it is?” (see Table 8.1 ).
Table 8.1 needs to be read with the following cautions in mind. One cau- tion is that the typology outlines theoretical positions, not the location of specific theorists; a given theorist may write over the course of a career from several of these positions. A second caution is that feminist theory and feminist socio- logical theory are dynamic enterprises that change over time. Over the last few years, there has been a steady movement toward synthesis, toward seeing how elements of these various theories complement each other. There has also been a shift in the focus of much feminist theorizing from women’s oppression to oppressive practices and structures that impact the lives of the majority of the world’s population, men and women. A major line of tension has developed between interpretations that emphasize culture and meaning and those that emphasize the material consequences of power. Part of this debate over what explains most—meaning or materiality—has focused on problematizing gender.
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Contemporary Feminist Theories 201
Theorists are exploring and deconstructing the taken-for-granted meanings of gender. And finally, the theories identified in the chart do not exist on a level playing field: at this moment, some are relatively dormant, that is, have made significant contributions in the past but are not now being elaborated—most notably psychoanalytic feminism but also to some degree radical feminist theory; other theories are currently dynamic and expanding—most notably, ethnomethodology and intersectionality.
By “theories of gender difference,” we mean theories that describe, explain, and trace the implications of ways men and women are or are not the same in behavior and experience. Theories of gender difference have to confront the problem of “the essentialist argument.” The essentialist argument is the the- sis that the fundamental differences between men and women are givens that cannot be changed. This immutability is traced to three factors: biology, the needs of social institutions for men and women to perform different roles, and the mental need humans have to think in terms of a category of “Otherness” as part of defining the self. The closest feminist theory and feminist sociological
TABLE 8.1 Overview of Varieties of Feminist Theory
Basic varieties of feminist theory— answers to the descriptive question: What about the women?
Distinctions within theories— answers to the explanatory question: Why is women’s situation as it is?
Women’s location in, and experience of, most situations is different from those of men in the situation.
Cultural feminism Phenomenological Institutional Interactional/ethnomethodological
Women’s location in most situations is not only different but also less privileged than or unequal to that of men.
Liberal feminism Rational Choice feminism
Women are oppressed, not just different from or unequal to, but actively restrained, subordinated, molded, and used and abused by men.
Psychoanalytic feminism Radical feminism
Women’s experiences of difference, inequality, and oppression vary by their social location within capitalism, patriarchy, and racism.
Socialist feminism Intersectionality theory
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202 CHAPTER EIGHT
theory come to the essentialist argument is in theories of sociobiology. Sociol- ogist Alice Rossi has explored the thesis that human biology determines many social differences between men and women. But overall the feminist response to sociobiology has been oppositional. We will look at theories of gender dif- ference in terms of general feminist theory, first, and then sociological theories of gender difference.
General Feminist Theories of Difference
There are two major theories of gender difference in general feminist theory: cultural feminism and existential (or phenomenological) feminism.
Cultural feminism is unique among theories analyzed here because it does not focus on explaining the origins of difference but rather it explores (and cel- ebrates) the social value of women’s distinctive ways of being, that is, of the ways in which women are different from men. This approach allows cultural feminism to sidestep rather than resolve problems posed by the essentialist thesis. The essentialist thesis was first used against women in male patriarchal discourse to claim that women are inferior to men. But that argument was reversed by the First Wave feminists who created cultural feminism. Cultural feminism extols the positive qualities of what it defines as “the female character” or “person- ality.” Theorists such as Margaret Fuller, Frances Willard, Jane Addams, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman argued that the governing of society needed women’s virtues like cooperation, pacifism, and nonviolence in the settling of disputes. This tradition has continued in the present day in arguments about women’s distinctive standards for ethical judgment, mothers’ particular quality of con- sciousness, female communication style, women’s capacity for openness to emo- tion, women’s lower level of aggression. The best-known contemporary work of this type is psychologist Carol Gilligan’s thesis that women make their moral decisions based on “an ethic of care” which is different from what she sees as the typical male ethic, an ethic of rights derived from abstract principles. Cultural feminism suggests that women’s ways of being may be a healthier template for producing a just society than those of an androcentric (or male-centered) culture.
Existential or phenomenological feminism has developed one of the most enduring themes of feminist theory: that women are marginalized as “Other” in a male-created culture. This theme is given its classic formulation in Simone de Beauvoir’s analysis in The Second Sex. Existential or phenomenological femi- nism sees people being born into a world that is shaped by a culture that reflects male experience and ignores or marginalizes women’s experience. De Beauvoir argues that human thought and culture tend to organize around a binary
cultural feminism A feminist theory that explores and celebrates the social value of women’s distinctive ways of being.
existential or phenomenological feminism A feminist theory of difference that sees people born into a world shaped by a culture that reflects male experience and ignores or marginalizes women’s experience.
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Contemporary Feminist Theories 203
opposition—an either/or logic. A major binary opposition is male/female. One is either male or female. But de Beauvoir says, in a world built on male expe- rience, woman is not just part of either/or, she is “Other.” Woman is assigned all the “other” qualities that are the opposite of the agentic male subject. She is seen as passive where he is active, as timid where he is brave, as simple where he is complex, etc. Women’s difference from men results in part from this fact of cultural construction which excludes them. It also results in part from their inter- nalizing this “otherness” so that they do not experience themselves as actors in the world but as objects that wait for men to desire them. Existential or phenom- enological feminism raises crucial questions about difference: can women liberate themselves from the status of object/other? Must they become like men to do so? One answer being asserted in French feminism by thinkers like Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray is that liberation will come for women only when they develop a consciousness and culture that is uniquely theirs.
Sociological Theories of Difference
Feminist institutional theory posits that gender differences result from the different roles that women and men play within various institutional settings. A major source of difference is the sexual division of labor in the family to which all people are socialized both as children and adults. This sexual division of labor links women to the functions of wife, mother, and household worker; to the private sphere of home and family; and thus to a lifelong series of events and experiences very different from those of men. Women’s roles as mothers and wives in producing and reproducing a female personality and culture have been analyzed by theorists like Jessie Bernard in The Future of Marriage (see Lib- eral Feminism below), Nancy Chodorow in The Reproduction of Mothering, and Miriam Johnson in Strong Mothers, Weak Wives. Repeated experience in these settings is pictured as a carrying over into other institutions and producing dif- ferences between women and men in political behavior (e.g., the gender gap in voting), in choice of careers (e.g., the caring professions for women), in styles of corporate management, and in possibilities for advancement (e.g., the “mommy track”). Institutional placement theories have been subject to two criticisms. First, they do not account for the persistence of gender difference when men and women occupy the same institutional position. Second, many sociologists see these theories as presenting too static and deterministic a model.
Feminist interactionist theory is currently the most elaborated socio- logical understanding of the origins of gender difference. It is anchored in
feminist institutional theory A feminist theory that sees gender differences as result- ing from the different roles that women and men play within various institutional settings.
feminist interactionist theory A feminist theory that views gender as an accomplish- ment by skilled actors in interaction with others who hold them accountable for conforming to appropriate gender behavior.
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ethnomethodology’s analysis of gender as an accomplishment. Ethnomethodology (see Chapter 6) claims that institutional order, culture, and stratification are main- tained by the ongoing activities of individuals in interaction. When this idea is applied by them to gender, it produces the understanding that “people do gen- der”—or what is called in shorthand “doing gender.” West and Zimmerman’s 1987 article “Doing Gender” distinguishes among sex, sex category, and gender. A baby is born with some configuration of biological sex (though this may be more or less clear); on the basis of what the adults attending to the birth interpret as its sex, the baby is assigned to a sex category; after that assignment, everyone around the child and the child itself over time begin to do gender, to act in ways considered appropriate to the sex category designations. The question of how they know what is appropriate is resolved in ethnomethodology by the principle of accountability —people do not just act any way they choose; people in interac- tions hold other people “accountable” for behaving in ways that are expected, or useful, or understandable.
Thus, gender is constantly being produced by people in interaction with each other as a way of making sense of and letting the world work. For instance, using the “right” public restroom is a way of avoiding all sorts of potential embarrassments; it is a method of getting through the day okay—and it is one so taken for granted that the person doing it hardly considers it doing gen- der. Ways of hugging, laughing, complaining—conveying the whole range of human emotions—are deeply gendered and are situationally enacted by peo- ple as they attempt to communicate with other people. Indeed, one question that emerges from the doing gender perspective is whether it is possible not to do gender.
While the elemental understanding of “doing” holds constant for women and men, interactionist theorists recognize that a part of the substance of the doing in gender is “doing difference,” is acting to make distinctions, to dis- tinguish oneself as masculine not feminine or, conversely, as feminine not masculine. These acts of distinction are repeated from situation to situation to maintain gender identity.
The major criticism of this approach is the sense—felt about much ethnomethodology—that it is not clear where the standards for accountability come from, that it is perhaps too voluntaristic in its orientation because peo- ple in individual interactions do for the most part produce remarkably similar behaviors in doing gender. Other sociologists have argued that the approach is too concerned with how gender gets reproduced and does not account enough for moments of resistance.
“Doing gender” as a theory has gained additional attention because of its similarities with the thesis of postmodernist philosopher Judith Butler that gen- der is a “performance.” Everyday meanings of “doing” and “performance” have led to a confusion about whether the two ideas are really the same. Three differences are important. First, there is the difference in the beginning points of the two theories: the ethnomethodologists begin from an attempt to understand how gender is produced in everyday life; Butler begins from an unease with the most basic categories of feminism—“woman” and “gender.” For Butler, the
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category of woman arises out of the process that produces gender, a process she names “performativity.” The concept of “performativity” comes from speech act theory where a performative is an act of speaking that makes something happen. For instance, according to this theory, when a minister says, “I now pronounce you man and wife,” the act of speaking makes the marriage hap- pen. Butler sees gender as arising as people perform it in interaction with each other. In Butler’s thinking, people do not begin life with an internal identity as man or woman; rather they get hold of certain understandings of man and woman depending on their personal biographies and their locations in history. These meanings suggest ways of acting and as people look around they can see other people engaged in similar ways of acting. Thus, gender is created as people imitate other people trying to act in accord with culturally given ideas about masculinity and femininity. These ideas so effectively bring into being what they name that people take as real the idea of a core gendered self—even though all that is really there is an ongoing chain of imitative performances.
A second difference between ethnomethodology and Butler’s performativ- ity is that ethnomethodology, like nearly all sociology, does posit a unified, basically rational self—there is a being behind the doing (or the imitating) and that being makes choices. Butler like other postmodernists calls the existence of this unified self into question. A third difference is that ethnomethodology has in its principle of accountability a way of understanding what controls the particular “imitations” that a person undertakes to achieve.
A major development in theories of difference is a stock-taking being done about the results of several decades of feminist activism. That stock-taking pro- duces a picture of society that shows gender differences having been negotiated in favor of equality up to a certain point and then stalling out. For instance, Paula England notes that women have made enormous but uneven gains in educa- tion and employment, yet still do the bulk of the housework and await male initiatives in matters of dating and mate selection. Cecilia Ridgeway explains this persistence of gender difference despite trends toward greater equality in terms of gender frames. She places gender frames in the larger social context of people’s needs to coordinate activity—and to do so often fairly quickly—by placing other actors in a few general categories such as gender, race, and age. They then respond to those actors in terms of traits assumed to belong to the category. She sees these frames as being slower to change than the associational parts of society and as permeating new interactions with old understandings. In a similar vein, England argues that women and men themselves hold con- tinuing essentialist understandings of gender differences that inhibit them from making change.
Four themes characterize feminist theories of gender inequality. Men and women are situated in society not only differently but also unequally. Women get less of the material resources, social status, power, and opportunities for self-actualization than do men who share their social location—whether it
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is a location based on class, race, occupation, ethnicity, religion, education, nationality, or any other socially significant factor. This inequality results from the organization of society, not from any significant biological or personal- ity differences between women and men. All human beings are characterized by a deep need for freedom to seek self-actualization and by a fundamental malleability that leads them to adapt to the constraints or opportunities of the situations in which they find themselves. To say that there is gender inequality, then, is to claim that women are situationally less empowered than men to real- ize the need they share with men for self-actualization. All inequality theories assume that both women and men will respond fairly easily and naturally to more egalitarian social structures and situations. They affirm, in other words, that it is possible to change the situation. In this belief, theorists of gender inequality contrast with the theorists of gender difference, who present a pic- ture of social life in which gender differences are, whatever their cause, more durable, more penetrative of personality, and less easily changed.
Liberal Feminism The major expression of gender inequality theory is lib- eral feminism, whose basic ideas have been so intertwined with the history of U.S. feminist activism, successfully incorporated into the daily life of the soci- ety, that its foundational principle, that men and women are equal, now seems unremarkable. But in 1848, at the time of the fi rst women’s rights convention in world history, at Seneca Falls, New York, women were only barely even second class citizens: They could neither vote nor serve on juries (even if the defendant was a woman) nor hold public offi ce nor practice medicine or law or theol- ogy. If married, the woman could not hold property in her own name, claim her wages from work outside the home as her own, have a right to custody of her children in the case of divorce, or even sign her own will; her husband had the right to beat her in order to preserve order in the commonwealth. The Seneca Falls convention concluded with the adoption of “the Declaration of Sentiments,” which opens by revising the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal” (“and women” is added). This was a radical claim, both politically and concep- tually. It situated the women’s quest for justice in the intellectual discourses of the Enlightenment, the American and French revolutions, and the Abolitionist Movement, and it conceptualized woman not in the context of home and family but as an autonomous individual with rights in her own person. These rights empower women to enter the political process to secure full equality through organized appeals to a reasonable public and the use of the state.
liberal feminism A feminist theory of inequality that argues that women may claim equality with men on the basis of an essential human capacity for reasoned moral agency, that gender inequality is the result of a patriarchal and sexist patterning of the division of labor, and that gender equality can be produced by transforming the division of labor through the repatterning of key institutions—law, work, family, education, and media.
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Liberal feminism, thus, rests on the beliefs that (1) all human beings have certain essential features—capacities for reason, moral agency, and self- actualization; (2) the exercise of these capacities can be secured through legal recognition of universal rights; (3) the inequalities between men and women assigned by sex are social constructions having no basis in “nature”; and (4) social change for equality can be produced by an organized appeal to a rea- sonable public and use of the powers of government.
Where cultural feminism (see Gender Difference above) argued that women had a duty to bring from home and family their ways of knowing to the running of the state, classical liberal feminism argued that women, like men, carried in their human personhood the right to participate in the government of society on their own behalf.
Contemporary liberal feminism has become the foremost theoretical propo- nent of gender as a social construction, divorced from biology. Thus, gender is seen as the set of practices that establish differences between men and women and sanctions the use of those differences as grounds for the unequal treatment of women. This unequal treatment is maintained, even when under attack, through a system of discriminatory attitudes and practices connected by a theme of privileging male experience and devaluing female experience. In keeping with its assertion of the fundamental capacity for rationality of all people, contem- porary feminist theory has expanded to include a global feminism which works for the human rights of women everywhere.
In sociology, contemporary liberal feminism is in part focused on the intel- lectual project of defining gender as a structure. Barbara Risman argues that gender must be understood as a highly complex structure in its own right; a structure that patterns human behavior at three levels—individual, cultural/ interactional, and institutional—and creates a system of stratification. Liberal feminism sees that gender as a system of stratification produces a gendered division of labor, an organization of society into “public” and “private” spheres, and a cultural dimension of sexist ideology. Women are given primary responsi- bility for the private sphere. Men are given privileged access to the public sphere, which liberal feminists see as the sphere that offers the major rewards of social life—money, power, status, freedom, opportunities for growth, and self-worth. The fact that women have the access to the public sphere that they do is one of the achievements of liberal feminism. The two spheres interact in the lives of women more than they do in men’s, and both spheres are shaped by patriarchal ideology and sexism which are pervasive in mass culture.
One feature of contemporary liberal feminist sociology is the attempt to understand the interactions of these spheres in women’s lives. Arlie Hochschild in The Second Shift and The Time Bind has been the primary theorist naming the tensions women face. On the one hand, women find their experience within
sexism A system of discriminatory attitudes and practices connected by a theme of privileging male experience and devaluing female experience.
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the public sphere of education, work, politics, and public space still limited by practices of discrimination, marginalization, and harassment. On the other hand, in the private sphere, they find themselves in a “time bind” as they return home from paid employment to a “second shift” of home and child care infused by an ideology of intensive mothering. Women’s ability to compete in career and profession is hindered by the demands of the private sphere and by what Joan Williams calls “the ideal worker norm” of the public sphere. The ideal worker norm assumes the life schedule available to the typical male worker as the basis for organizing and evaluating all work; this assumption puts women workers, who carry “the second shift,” at an ongoing disadvantage.
A recurring theme in liberal feminist analysis is the problem of achieving equality in marriage, given its classic formulation in Jessie Bernard’s The Future of Marriage . Bernard analyzes marriage as at one and the same time a cultural system of beliefs and ideals, an institutional arrangement of roles and norms, and a complex of interactional experiences for individual women and men:
1. Culturally, marriage is idealized as the destiny and source of fulfillment for women; a mixed blessing of domesticity, responsibility, and constraint for men; and for American society as a whole, an essentially egalitarian association between husband and wife.
2. Institutionally, marriage empowers the role of husband with authority and with the freedom, indeed, the obligation, to move beyond the domes- tic setting; it meshes the idea of male authority with sexual prowess and male power; and it mandates that wives be compliant, dependent, self- emptying, and essentially centered on the activities and demands of the isolated domestic household.
3. Experientially then there are two marriages in any institutional marriage: • The man’s marriage, in which he holds to the belief of being constrained
and burdened, while experiencing what the norms dictate: authority; independence; and a right to domestic, emotional, and sexual service by the wife.
• The wife’s marriage, in which she affirms the cultural belief of fulfill- ment, while experiencing normatively mandated powerlessness and dependence, an obligation to provide domestic, emotional, and sexual services, and a gradual dwindling away of the independent young per- son she was before marriage.
The results of all this are to be found in the data that measure human stress: Married women, whatever their claims to fulfillment, and unmarried men, whatever their claims to freedom, rank high on all stress indicators, including heart palpitations, dizziness, headaches, fainting, nightmares, insomnia, and fear of nervous breakdown; unmarried women, whatever their sense of social stigma, and married men rank low on all the stress indicators. Marriage then is good for men and bad for women and will cease to be so unequal in its impact only when couples feel free enough from the prevailing institutional constraints to negotiate the kind of marriage that best suits their individual needs and personalities.
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Liberal feminism’s agenda for change is consistent with its analyses of the basis for claiming equality and the causes of inequality: They wish to eliminate gender as an organizing principle in the distribution of social goods, and they are willing to invoke universal principles in their pursuit of equality. They pur- sue change through law—legislation, litigation, and regulation—and through appeal to the human capacity for reasoned moral judgments, that is, the capac- ity of the public to be moved by arguments for fairness. They argue for:
• Equal educational and economic opportunities. • Equal responsibility for the activities of family life. • The elimination of sexist messages in family, education, and mass media. • Individual challenges to sexism in daily life.
For liberal feminists, the ideal gender arrangement is one in which each indi- vidual acting as a free and responsible moral agent chooses the lifestyle most suit- able to her or him and has that choice accepted and respected, whether it be for housewife or househusband, unmarried careerist or part of a dual-income fam- ily, childless or with children, heterosexual or homosexual. Liberal feminists see this ideal as one that enhances the practice of freedom and equality—central cul- tural ideals in America. Liberal feminism, then, is consistent with the dominant
Jessie Bernard (1903–1996) A Biographical Vignette
Bernard’s life is marked by a series of transitions, or “outgrowths,” from old to new ways of being. Born Jessie Ravitch on June 8, 1903, in Minneapolis, she made her first outgrowth when she moved from her Jewish immigrant family to the University of Minnesota at the age of 17. At the university, she studied with Pitirim Sorokin, who later founded the Harvard sociology department, and with L. L. Bernard, who helped found the American Sociological Review and whom she married in 1925. Her study with Bernard gave her a grounding in positivistic sociology that showed in her later work in her ability to integrate quantitative research into increasingly qual- itative and critical studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis in 1935.
By the mid-1940s, the Bernards were at Pennsylvania State University, and Jes- sie was in the midst of outgrowing positivism. The Nazi Holocaust destroyed her faith that science could know and produce a just world, and she moved toward a sense of knowledge as contextualized rather than objective. She also began to establish an independent academic reputation. Her husband died in 1951, but she remained at Penn State until about 1960, teaching, writing, and raising her three children. In the 60s, she moved to Washington, D.C., to devote herself fully to writ- ing and research.
The most dramatic outgrowth was in the last third of her life, from 1964 to her death in 1996. This period is significant for both Bernard’s extraordinary output and what it says about career patterns in women’s lives.
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American ethos in its basic acceptance of democracy and capitalism; its reformist orientation; and its appeal to the values of individualism, choice, responsibility, and equality of opportunity.
Rational choice feminist theory has been little developed since its origi- nal potential was suggested by Debra Friedman and Carol Diem in 1993 and reinforced by Janet Chafetz in 1997. We explore it briefly here because it offers a conceptual framework for refining the study of gender inequality proposed in liberal feminism. As its name suggests, rational choice theory (see Chapter 6) conceives of the human being as a rational decision-maker and it seeks to study social outcomes as the result of decisions by such people. Rational choice theory understands the rational decision-maker as a purposive actor who makes deci- sions based on the best information available to her and in terms of external and internal constraints. There are two kinds of external constraints—institutional constraints and opportunity costs. Institutional constraints are the ways that social structures function to limit one’s agency. Opportunity costs are the ben- efits a person has to give up when deciding to pursue one course of action over another; the course of action not pursued is an opportunity cost—to do A, one must forego doing B. Internal restraints take the form of preferences—there are things that people would like or feel are necessary or good. In the context of explaining why women’s condition is as it is, rational choice theory urges soci- ologists to consider women as rational decision-makers who labor under more institutional constraints and more pressing opportunity costs than do men. For instance, for women the “ticking of the biological clock” is a constant opportu- nity cost that they have to weigh as they make decisions about marriage and career. These opportunity costs may combine with institutional constraints to produce an outcome—when both are weighed by a purposive actor. For instance, a woman in medical school may be more influenced than a man by the need in her future to balance her medical practice with childcare responsibilities and this may affect her choice of specialty. Her understanding of the institutional constraints of some specialties may lead her to feel that dermatology is a better specialty than cardiology because of the absence of emergencies in the former.
Rational choice theory also offers possibilities for explaining collective out- comes like political action groups. Friedman and Diem look at Kristen Luker’s study of antichoice women and argue that the women in her study have ben- efitted from the traditional role of wife and mother. The presence of on-demand abortion makes it more possible for women to compete in the economic job market and reduces the difference in the positions of men and women. But the antichoice women have chosen not to so compete and have made the insti- tutional constraints of gender difference a part of their life choice equations. Introducing the possibility of such competition alters those equations and can be seen as hurting rather than helping these women.
rational choice feminist theory Rational choice feminist theory sees women as ratio- nal decision-makers who labor under more institutional constraints and more pressing opportunity costs than men.
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The major contributions of rational choice theory are to give a way to ana- lyze the specific mechanisms by which gender inequality is produced and to conceptualize women as actors whose choices are guided by a desire to produce the outcome that is most beneficial to them, given their preferences. “Preference” is an open concept and is not in any way limited to wealth or material goods; it may as easily be marriage or children or a day to oneself. Feminist rational choice theory valorizes women’s preferences by treating them as part of the actions of autonomous moral agents.
Theories of gender oppression describe women’s situation as the consequence of a direct power relationship between men and women in which men have fun- damental and concrete interests in controlling, using, subjugating, and oppress- ing women: that is, in the practice of domination. By domination, oppression theorists mean any relationship in which one party (individual or collective), the dominant, succeeds in making the other party (individual or collective) the subordinate, an instrument of the dominant’s will, refusing to recognize the subordinate’s independent subjectivity. Conversely, from the subordinate’s viewpoint, it is a relationship in which the subordinate’s assigned significance is solely as an instrument of the will of the dominant. Women’s situation, then, for theorists of gender oppression, is centrally that of being used, controlled, subjugated, and oppressed by men.
This pattern of gender oppression is incorporated in the deepest and most pervasive ways into society’s organization, a basic structure of domination most commonly called patriarchy. Patriarchy is not the unintended and sec- ondary consequence of some other set of factors, like biology or socialization or sex roles or the class system. It is a primary power structure sustained by strong and deliberate intention. Indeed, to theorists of gender oppression, gender dif- ferences and gender inequality are by-products of patriarchy.
Two major variants of oppression theory are psychoanalytic feminism and radical feminism.
Psychoanalytic Feminism Psychoanalytic feminism attempts to explain patriarchy by reformulating the theories of Freud and his intellectual heirs. These theories, broadly speaking, map and emphasize the emotional dynamics of personality, focusing on emotions often deeply buried in the subconscious or unconscious areas of the psyche; they also highlight the importance of
domination To oppression theorists, any relationship in which one party (individual or collective), the dominant, succeeds in making the other party (individual or col- lective) the subordinate, an instrument of the dominant’s will, and refuses to recog- nize the subordinate’s independent subjectivity.
psychoanalytic feminism An effort to explain patriarchy through the use of reformu- lated theories of Freud and his successors in psychoanalytic theory.
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infancy and early childhood in the patterning of these emotions. In attempting to use Freud’s theories, however, feminists undertake a fundamental reworking of his arguments. They follow through on directions implied by Freud’s theories while rejecting his gender-specifi c conclusions, which are sexist and patriarchal.
Psychoanalytical feminists operate with a particular model of patriarchy. Like all oppression theorists, they view patriarchy as a system in which men subjugate women. It is universal, pervasive in its social organization, durable over time and space, and triumphantly maintained in the face of occasional challenge. Distinctive to psychoanalytic feminism, however, is the view that this system is one that all men, in their individual daily actions, work continu- ously and energetically to create and sustain. Women resist only occasionally but are to be discovered far more often either acquiescing in or actively work- ing for their own subordination. The puzzle that psychoanalytical feminists set out to solve is why men bring everywhere enormous, unremitting energy to the task of sustaining patriarchy and why there is an absence of countervailing energy on the part of women.
In searching for an explanation to this puzzle, these theorists give short shrift to the argument that a pragmatic calculation of practical benefits is suf- ficient for the intense energy that men invest in patriarchy, especially because men may not always and everywhere be certain that patriarchy is of unquali- fied value to them. Moreover, an argument anchored in the cognitive pursuit of self-interest suggests that women would as energetically mobilize against patri- archy. Instead, these theorists look to those aspects of the psyche so effectively mapped by the Freudians: the zone of human emotions, of half-recognized or unrecognized desires and fears, and of neurosis and pathology. Here they find a clinically proven source of extraordinary energy and debilitation, one springing from psychic structures too deep to be recognized or monitored by individual consciousness. In searching for the emotional underpinnings of patriarchy, psychoanalytical feminists have identified as one possible explana- tion for male domination of women the socioemotional environment in which the personality of the young child takes form.
Two important explorations by sociologists of early childhood develop- ment from a psychoanalytic perspective are Nancy Chodorow’s The Reproduc- tion of Mothering and Jessica Benjamin’s The Bonds of Love. These works focus on two facets of early childhood development: (1) the assumption that human beings grow into mature people by learning to balance a never-resolved ten- sion between the desire for freedom of action—individuation—and the desire for confirmation by another—recognition; and (2) the observable fact that in all societies infants and children experience their earliest and most crucial devel- opment in a close, uninterrupted, intimate relationship with a woman, their mother or mother substitute.
patriarchy A system in which men subjugate women. It is universal, pervasive in its social organization, durable over time and space, and triumphantly maintained in the face of occasional challenge.
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As infants and young children, for considerable periods lacking even lan- guage as a tool for understanding experience, individuals experience their earli- est phases of personality development as an ongoing turbulence of primitive emotions: fear, love, hate, pleasure, rage, loss, desire. The emotional conse- quences of these early experiences stay with people always as potent but often unconscious feeling memories. Central to that experiential residue is a cluster of deeply ambivalent feelings for the woman/mother/caregiver: need, depen- dence, love, possessiveness, but also fear and rage. Children’s relationship to the father/man is much more occasional, secondary, and emotionally uncluttered.
From this beginning, the male child, growing up in a culture that posi- tively values maleness and devalues femaleness and increasingly aware of his own male identity, attempts to achieve an early, rapid individuation and emo- tional separation from the woman/mother. This culturally induced separation is not only partial but also destructive in its consequences. In adulthood the emotional carryover from early childhood toward women—need, love, hate, possessiveness—energizes the man’s quest for a woman of his own who meets his emotional needs and yet is dependent on and controlled by him: that is, he has an urge to dominate and finds mutual recognition difficult.
The female child, bearing the same feelings toward the woman/mother, discovers her own female identity in a culture that devalues women. She grows up with deeply mixed positive and negative feelings about herself and about the woman/mother and in that ambivalence dissipates much of her potential for mobilized resistance to her social subordination. She seeks to resolve her emotional carryover in adulthood by emphasizing her capacities for accord- ing recognition—often submissively with males in acts of sexual attraction and mutually with females in acts of kinship maintenance and friendship. And rather than seeking mother substitutes, she recreates the early infant-woman relationship by becoming a mother.
Psychoanalytical feminist theorists have extended the analyses beyond indi- vidual personality to Western culture. The emphases in Western science on a distinct separation between man and nature, on man as the dominator of nature, and on a scientific method derived from these attitudes and promising objective truth have been challenged and reinterpreted as the projection by the overindi- viduated male ego of its own desire for domination and its own fear of intersub- jective recognition. Motifs in popular culture, such as the repeated positioning in both plot and image of the male as dominant over the female, are interpreted by psychoanalytical theorists as a sign of a breakdown in the requisite ten- sions between a need for individuation and a need for recognition. When this breakdown reaches, in a culture or personality, severe enough proportions, two pathologies result: the overindividuated dominator, who recognizes the other only through acts of control, and the underindividuated subordinate, who relin- quishes independent action to find identity only as a mirror of the dominator.
Psychoanalytical feminists, then, explain women’s oppression in terms of men’s deep emotional need to control women, a drive arising from near-universal male neuroses centering on ambivalence toward the mothers who reared them. Women either lack these neuroses or are subject to complementary neuroses, but
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in either case they are left psychically without an equivalent source of energy to resist domination. Much clinical psychiatric evidence supports the argument that these neuroses are in fact widespread in Western societies. But these theories, in drawing a straight line from universal human emotions to universal female oppression, fail to explore the intermediate social arrangements that link emo- tion to oppression and fail to suggest possible lines of variation in emotions, social arrangements, or oppression. Several theorists have discussed the unac- knowledged ethnic, class, and nationality assumptions in these theories—their generalization from white, upper-middle-class, North Atlantic family experience. Moreover, and partly because of these omissions, psychoanalytic feminist theory suggests very few strategies for change, except perhaps that we restructure our childbearing practices. These theories thus give us some provocative insights into and deepen our understanding of the roots of gender oppression, but they require a great deal more elaboration of both sociological factors and change strategies.
Radical Feminism Radical feminism is based on two emotionally charged central beliefs: (1) that women are of absolute positive value as women, a belief asserted against what they claim to be the universal devaluing of women; and (2) that women are everywhere oppressed—violently oppressed—by the system of patriarchy. From this passionate mixture of love and rage, radical feminists elaborate a theory of social organization, gender oppression, and strategies for change. The classic statement of radical feminism is Adrienne Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Sociological con- tributions to this perspective include Pauline Bart and Eileen Moran’s Violence Against Women: The Bloody Footprints, and Diane Scully’s Understanding Sexual Violence: A Study of Convicted Rapists.
Radical feminists see in every institution and in society’s most basic structures—heterosexuality, class, caste, race, ethnicity, age, and gender— systems of oppression in which some people dominate others. Of all these systems of domination and subordination, the most fundamental structure of oppression is gender, the system of patriarchy. Not only is patriarchy historically the first structure of domination and submission, but it continues as the most pervasive and enduring system of inequality, the basic societal model of domi- nation. Through participation in patriarchy, men learn how to hold other human beings in contempt, to see them as nonhuman, and to control them. Within patriarchy, men see and women learn what subordination looks like. Patriarchy creates guilt and repression, sadism and masochism, manipulation and deception, all of which drive men and women to other forms of tyranny. Patriarchy, to radical feminists, is the least noticed and yet the most significant structure of social inequality.
radical feminism A theory of social organization, gender oppression, and strategies for change that affirms the positive value of women and argues that they are every- where oppressed by violence or the threat of violence.
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Central to this analysis is the image of patriarchy as violence practiced by men and by male-dominated organizations against women. Violence may not always take the form of overt physical cruelty. It can be hidden in more com- plex practices of exploitation and control:
• In standards of fashion and beauty. • In tyrannical ideals of motherhood, monogamy, chastity, and heterosexuality. • In sexual harassment in the workplace. • In the practices of gynecology, obstetrics, and psychotherapy. • In unpaid household drudgery and underpaid wage work.
Violence exists whenever one group controls in its own interests the life chances, environments, actions, and perceptions of another group, as men do women.
But the theme of violence as overt physical cruelty lies at the heart of radi- cal feminism’s linking of patriarchy to violence: rape, sexual abuse, femicide, trafficking in women and children, spouse abuse, incest, sexual molestation of children, hysterectomies and other excessive surgery, the sadism in pornogra- phy, the historic and cross-cultural practices of witch burning, the stoning to death of adulteresses, the persecution of lesbians, female infanticide, Chinese foot-binding, the abuse of widows, and the practice of clitorectomy.
Patriarchy exists as a near-universal social form because men can muster the most basic power resource, physical force, to establish control. Once patri- archy is in place, the other power resources—economic, ideological, legal, and emotional—also can be marshaled to sustain it. But physical violence always remains its base, and in both interpersonal and intergroup relations, that violence is used to protect patriarchy from women’s individual and collective resistance.
Men create and maintain patriarchy not only because they have the resources to do so but because they have real interests in making women serve as compliant tools. Women are a uniquely effective means of satisfying male sexual desire. Their bodies are essential to the production of children, who sat- isfy both practical and prestige needs for men. Women are a useful labor force. They can be ornamental signs of male status and power. As carefully controlled companions to both the child and the adult male, they are pleasant partners, sources of emotional support, and useful foils who reinforce the male’s sense of central social significance. These useful functions mean that men everywhere seek to keep women compliant. But differing social circumstances give different rank orders to these functions and therefore lead to cross-cultural variations in the patterning of patriarchy. Radical feminists give us both an explanation of universal gender oppression and a model for understanding cross-cultural variations in this oppression.
Radical feminist theory argues that the defeat of patriarchy must begin with a basic reworking of women’s consciousness, through one of the hallmarks of radical activism—consciousness-raising groups; in these groups women link their personal troubles to the macro workings of patriarchy, validate women’s values and strength, and establish a broad-based sisterhood of trust, support, appreciation, and mutual defense. With this sisterhood in place, two strategies
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suggest themselves: a critical confrontation with any facet of patriarchal domi- nation whenever it is encountered; and a degree of separatism as women with- draw into women-run businesses, households, communities, centers of artistic creativity, and lesbian love relationships. Lesbian feminism, as a major strand in radical feminism, is the practice and belief that erotic and emotional relation- ships with other women are a form of resistance to patriarchal domination.
Emotionally each of us will respond to radical feminism in light of our own degree of personal radicalism, some seeing it as excessively critical and others as entirely convincing. But in attempting a theoretical evaluation, one should note that radical feminism incorporates arguments made by both socialist and psychoanalytical feminists about the reasons for women’s subordination and yet moves beyond those theories. Radical feminists, moreover, have done significant research to support their thesis that patriarchy ultimately rests on the practice of violence against women. They have a reasonable, though per- haps incomplete, program for change. They have been faulted in their exclusive focus on patriarchy as oversimplifying the realities of social organization.
Structural oppression theories, like gender oppression theories, recognize that oppression results from the fact that some groups of people derive direct benefits from controlling, using, subjugating, and oppressing other groups of people. These theories analyze how those interests in domination are enacted through mechanisms of social structure, that is, through recurring and routin- ized large-scale arrangements of social interaction. Structural oppression theo- rists see that these arrangements are always arrangements of power that have arisen over time. They focus on the structures of patriarchy, capitalism, racism, and heterosexism; and they locate enactments of domination and experiences of oppression in the interplay of these structures, that is, in the way they mutually enforce each other. Structural oppression theorists do not absolve individuals who engage in domination of responsibility for their actions, but they examine how those individual actions are the product of structural arrangements. This section deals with two types of structural oppression theory: socialist feminism and intersectionality theory.
Socialist Feminism Socialist feminism attempts to achieve a critique of the distinctive yet interrelated oppressions of patriarchy and capitalism from a standpoint in women’s experience. To do this, socialist feminists develop methods for social analysis out of an expanded understanding of Marxist his- torical materialism (Chapter 2). Socialist feminists seek to bring together what they perceive as the most valuable feminist traditions: Marxian and radical feminist thought.
Radical feminism, as discussed previously, is a critique of patriarchy. Marxian feminism like Marxian theory is a critique of capitalism that focuses on class oppression. The problematic part of the Marxian analysis is that it makes patri- archy a by-product of economic relations. Socialist feminists accept the radical
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feminist argument and proof that patriarchy, while interacting with economic conditions, is an independent structure of oppression.
Socialist feminism sets out to bring together these dual knowledges— knowledge of oppression under capitalism and of oppression under patriarchy— into a unified explanation of all forms of social oppression. One term used to try to unify these two oppressions is capitalist patriarchy. But the term per- haps more widely used is domination (defined previously). Socialist feminism’s explanations of oppression present domination as a large-scale structural arrangement, a power relation between groups or categories of social actors. This structure of domination both patterns and is reproduced by the agency, the willful and intentional actions, of individual actors. Women are central to socialist feminism in two ways. First, as with all feminism, the oppression of women remains a primary topic for analysis. Second, women’s location and experience of the world serve as the essential vantage point on domination in all its forms. Ultimately, though, these theorists are concerned with all experi- ences of oppression, either of women or of men. They also explore how some women, themselves oppressed, may yet actively participate in the oppression of other women, as, for example, privileged-class women in American soci- ety who oppress poor women. Indeed, one strategy of all socialist feminists is to confront the prejudices and oppressive practices within the community of women itself.
Both the focus on capitalist patriarchy and that on domination are linked to a commitment, either explicit or implicit, to historical materialism as an analytical strategy. Historical materialism, a basic principle in Marxian social theory, refers to the claim that:
• The material conditions of human life, inclusive of the activities and rela- tionships that produce those conditions, are the key factors that pattern human experience, personality, ideas, and social arrangements.
• Those conditions change over time because of dynamics immanent within them.
• History is a record of the changes in the material conditions of a group’s life and of the correlative changes in experiences, personality, ideas, and social arrangements.
socialist feminism An effort to develop a unified theory that focuses on the role of capitalism and patriarchy in creating a large-scale structure that oppresses women.
capitalist patriarchy A term that indicates that the oppression of women is traceable to a combination of capitalism and patriarchy.
historical materialism The Marxian idea that the material conditions of human life, inclusive of the activities and relationships that produce those conditions, are the key factors that pattern human experience, personality, ideas, and social arrange- ments; that those conditions change over time because of dynamics immanent within them; and that history is a record of the changes in the material conditions of a group’s life and of the correlative changes in experiences, personality, ideas, and social arrangements.
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In linking historical materialism to their focus on domination, socialist feminists attempt to realize their goal of a theory that probes the broadest of human social arrangements, domination, and yet remains firmly committed to precise, historically concrete analyses of the material and social arrangements that frame particular situations of domination.
But in their use of the principle of historical materialism, socialist feminists move beyond the Marxians in three crucial ways.
First, they broaden the meaning of the concept of the “material conditions of human life.” Marxians typically mean by this idea the economic dynamics of society, particularly the ways in which goods of a variety of types are created for and exchanged in the market. In these various exploitative arrangements, which make some wealthy and others poor, they locate the roots of class inequality and class conflict. Socialist feminist analysis includes economic dynamics but also other conditions that create and sustain human life: the human body, its sexuality and involvement in procreation and child rearing; home maintenance, with its unpaid, invisible round of domestic tasks; emotional sustenance; and the production of knowledge. In all these life-sustaining activities, exploitative arrangements profit some and impoverish others. This redefinition of the con- cept of material conditions transforms the Marxian assumption that human beings are producers of goods into a theme of human beings as creators and sustainers of all human life.
Second, socialist feminism emphasizes the role of ideas, which some Marxians dismiss as mere byproducts of economic life. The emphasis on ideas includes consciousness, motivation, ideas, social definitions of the situation, knowledge, texts, ideology, the will to act in one’s interests or acquiesce to the interests of others. To socialist feminists all these factors deeply affect human personality, human action, and the structures of domination that are realized through that action. Moreover, these ideas are produced by social structures that are inextricably intertwined with, and as elaborate and powerful as, those that produce economic goods. Within all these structures, too, exploitative arrangements enrich and empower some while impoverishing and immobi- lizing others.
Third, socialist feminist analysis is not primarily concerned with class inequality but with the complex intertwining of a wide range of social inequali- ties. Socialist feminism develops a portrait of social organization in which the public structures of economy, polity, and ideology interact with the intimate, private processes of human reproduction, domesticity, sexuality, and subjectiv- ity to sustain a multifaceted system of domination. The workings of this sys- tem are discernible both as enduring and impersonal social patterns and in the more varied subtleties of interpersonal relationships. To analyze this system, socialist feminists shuttle between a mapping of large-scale systems of domi- nation and a situationally specific, detailed exploration of the mundane daily experiences of oppressed people.
A contemporary socialist feminist classic, Chrys Ingraham’s White Weddings, explores how capitalism, patriarchy, and racism play out in the institution of the wedding as an increasingly mandatory and enormously costly public ceremony
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marking two people’s private intentions. Ingraham demonstrates the importance of the wedding for capitalism with raw financial data—this is a billion-dollar industry, part of the profits arising from the exploitation of workers around the world—about diamond mine workers in Africa, honeymoon resort workers in the Caribbean, sweatshop sewers of wedding gowns in Southeast Asia. She shows capitalism’s ideological practices as it sells persistently the image of the wedding fantasy through toys, films, TV shows, and women’s magazines. She also demonstrates how this ideological appeal is deeply intertwined with patriarchy. The ritual of the white wedding has become the sacred ceremony of what Adrienne Rich earlier termed “compulsory heterosexuality” and Ingraham calls heteronormativity. Heteronormativity lies at the heart of patriarchy. It is the collectively enforced belief that adult needs for family, security, and inti- macy must only be satisfied in a relation between a man and a woman, that is, between two people who within patriarchy’s gender stratification are unequal in power, rights, and status. Ingraham shows how the white wedding is passion- ately desired by brides and their families because it encodes the “heterosexual imaginary”: the idealized image of romantic love between a man and a woman that obscures and erases from the mind all knowledge of the work required to maintain a relation between unequals, the risks of noncommunication, and ultimately divorce. To be told, as women are, that one’s wedding day is “the happiest day of one’s life” is to say that one’s significance as a human being is not in accomplishment but in being chosen as an object of desire.
Socialist feminists’ program for change calls for a global solidarity among women to combat the abuses capitalism works in their lives, the lives of their communities, and the environment. They call on the feminist community to be ever vigilant about the dangers of their own co-optation into a privileged intelligentsia that serves capitalist interests. Their project is to mobilize people to use the state as a means for the effective redistribution of societal resources through the provision of an extensive safety net of public services like pub- licly supported education, health care, transportation, child care, housing; a progressive tax structure that reduces the wide disparities of income between rich and poor; and the guarantee of a living wage to all members of the commu- nity. They believe that this mobilization will be effective only if people become aware of and care about the life conditions of others as well as their own. The feminist social scientist’s duty is to make visible and experientially real the material inequalities that shape people’s lives.
Intersectionality Theory Intersectionality theory begins with the under- standing that women experience oppression in varying confi gurations and in varying degrees of intensity. The explanation for that variation (and this expla- nation is the central subject of intersectionality theory) is that while all women
intersectionality theory The view that women experience oppression in varying con- figurations and in varying degrees of intensity.
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vectors of oppression and privilege The varied intersections of a number of arrange- ments of social inequality (gender, class, race, global location, sexual preference, and age) that serve to oppress women differentially. Variation in these intersections qualitatively alters the experience of being a woman.
potentially experience oppression on the basis of gender, women are, neverthe- less, differentially oppressed by the varied intersections of other arrangements of social inequality. We may describe these arrangements of inequality as vectors of oppression and privilege (or in Patricia Hill Collins’s phrase, “the matrix of domination” ), which include not only gender but also class, race, global location, sexual preference, and age. The variation of these intersections qualita- tively alters the experience of being a woman; and this alteration, this diversity, must be taken into account in theorizing the experiences of women. Kimberly Crenshawe, for example, shows that black women frequently experience dis- crimination in employment because they are black women, but courts routinely refuse to recognize this discrimination—unless it can be shown to be a case of what is considered general discrimination, sex discrimination (read “white women”) or race discrimination (read “black men”). A fundamental insight of intersectionality theories is that the privilege exercised by some women and men turns on the oppression of other women and men. Theories of intersection- ality at their core understand these arrangements of inequality as hierarchical structures based in unjust power relations.
Patricia Hill Collins (1948– ) A Biographical Vignette
Collins writes that her experiences of educational success were permeated by the counterexperience of being the first, or only, African American (or woman, working- class person, etc.) in various social settings. She learned that educational success seemed to demand that she distance herself from her black working-class back- ground. This created for her a loss of voice.
Her response to these tensions has been to formulate an alternative understand- ing of social theory and an alternative way of doing theory. This project led her to discover the theoretical voice of her community and to reclaim her own voice by situating it in that community. It culminated in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and Empowerment (1990), a landmark text in feminist and social theory. Black Feminist Thought presents social theory as the understandings of a specific group, black women; to this end, Collins draws on a wide range of voices—some famous; others obscure. What she presents is a community-based social theory that articulates that group’s understanding of its oppression by intersections of race, gender, and class—and its historic struggle against that oppression. In 2009 Collins served as the first African-American Woman President of the American Sociological Association.
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Intersectionality theory emphasizes the link between ideology and power, showing how dominants use differences among people to justify oppressive practices by translating difference into models of inferiority/superiority; people are socialized to relate to difference not as a source of diversity, interest, and cul- tural wealth but evaluatively in terms of better or worse. These ideologies oper- ate in part by creating what Audre Lorde calls a mythical norm (in the United States, examples include white, thin, male, and heterosexual) against which people evaluate others and themselves. This norm not only allows dominants to control social production (both paid and unpaid), but it also becomes part of individual subjectivity—an internalized rejection of difference that can operate to make people devalue themselves; reject people from different groups; and create criteria within their own group for excluding, punishing, or marginal- izing group members. Gloria Anzaldua describes this last practice as othering, an act of definition done within a subordinated group to establish that a group member is unacceptable, an “other,” by some criterion. This definitional activ- ity, she points out, erodes the potential for coalition and resistance.
The intersection of vectors of oppression and privilege creates variations both in the forms and the intensity of people’s experience of oppression. Much of the writing and research done out of an intersectionality perspective presents the concrete reality of people’s lives as those lives are shaped by the intersections of these vectors. One part of the project of intersectionality theory is to give voice to the group knowledges worked out in specific life experiences created by historic intersections of inequality and to develop various feminist expressions of these knowledges, for example, black feminist thought or chicana feminism.
Intersectionality theory develops a critique of earlier feminist writings in which it sees that work reflecting the experience and concerns of white privileged-class feminists in North Atlantic societies. This critique has produced questions about what we mean by categories such as woman, gender, race, and sisterhood. It has focused on the diversity of experience in such seeming uni- versals as mothering and family and has reinterpreted theoretical works like the sociological-psychoanalytic studies of Chodorow. This critique has prompted a repositioning of the understandings of whiteness by white feminists who seek to understand whiteness as a construction, the ways that whiteness results in privilege, what they can actively do to reduce racism, and how they can contrib- ute to producing a more inclusive feminist analysis.
Beyond this function of critique, intersectionality theory has had three other significant impacts on sociology. First, and foremost, it is almost impos- sible to write about gender today without some reference to other dimensions of privilege and oppression—most especially in the U.S. context of race and class. Second, this insight has extended to the study of masculinity where the idea of multiple masculinities, first pioneered by R.W. Connell, has replaced
othering An act of definition within a subordinated group to establish that a group member is unacceptable, an “other,” by some criterion; this erodes the potential for coalition and resistance.
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the conception of masculinity as a monolithic structure of privilege. Third, intersectionality theory is now the central model of the study of gender at the global or transnational level, including the whole field of immigration studies and the issue of trafficking in women and children.
This process of theory-building, research, and critique has brought inter- sectionality theory to one of its central themes and one of the central issues con- fronting feminism today: how to allow for the analytic principle and empirical fact of diversity among women, while at the same time holding to the valu- ational and political position that specific groups of women share a distinctive standpoint. Explaining standpoint (see the Key Concept box titled Standpoint), Patricia Hill Collins proposes that it is the view of the world shared by a group characterized by a heterogeneous commonality. Thus, Collins concludes that a group’s standpoint is constituted not out of some essentialism but out of a rec- ognition that everyone is in the same boat. Although vectors of oppression and privilege—race, class, gender, age, global location, sexual preference—intersect in all people’s lives, these theorists argue that the way they intersect markedly affects the degree to which a common standpoint is affirmed. Among factors facilitating this affirmation are the group’s existence over time, its sense of its own history as a group, its location in relatively segregated identifiable spaces, and its development of an intragroup system of social organizations and knowl- edges for coping with oppression. But a group standpoint is never monolithic or impermeable; the very fact that the group is constituted out of intersections of vectors means that group members can pivot between varying senses of self. Group members frequently move from the home group into the larger soci- ety where their experience is that of the outsider within. Moreover, the home group is subject to permeation by outside ideas and is not undifferentiated; it has its own internal dynamics of difference and may even be constituted by its existence at what Anzaldua names a cultural borderland. Intersectionality theo- rists warn that, although it is easy to locate the experience of intersection and of standpoint in individuals, this reductionism is theoretically and politically dan- gerous, erasing the historic structures of unequal power that have produced the individual experience and obscuring the need for political change.
TOWARD A FEMINIST SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
Drawing on all the lines of feminist argument reviewed above, feminist soci- ologists have begun to create a general theory that addresses the key concerns of all sociological theories: the relation between social structure and individual action (or agency), the relation between macrosocial and microsocial, the nature of power, the causes of inequality, and the origins of change.
standpoint The perspective of embodied actors within groups that are differentially located in social structure.
the outsider within The frequent experience of group members when they move from the home group into the larger society.
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Key Concept Standpoint
Much of feminist theory is premised on the idea that people operate from a particu- lar standpoint in the social world, from the perspective of the positions of embodied actors within groups that are differentially located in social structure. As a result, what everyone sees and knows is always partial and interested, never total and objective. Knowledge is produced in and varies among groups and, to some degree, among actors within groups. That knowledge is always affected by power relations—whether it is formulated from the standpoint of dominant or subordinate groups.
A feminist sociological theory begins here because feminists attempt to describe, analyze, and change the world from the standpoint of women, and because, working from women’s subordinated position in social relations, feminist sociological theo- rists see that knowledge is part of the system of power governing the production of knowledge, as it governs all production in society. Feminist sociological theory attempts to alter the balance of power within sociological discourse—and within social theory—by establishing the standpoint of women as one of the standpoints from which social knowledge is constructed.
In attempting to do sociology from the standpoint of women, feminist sociologi- cal theorists have to consider what constitutes a standpoint of women. A standpoint is the product of a social collectivity with a sufficient history and commonality of circumstance to develop a shared knowledge of social relations. All women under patriarchy have been assigned to the tasks of social reproduction (childbearing, child- rearing, housekeeping, food preparation, care of the ill and dependent, emotional and sexual service); hence, this work, which is done without material compensation, is exploitative. This shared and historic relation to social reproduction in circumstances of subordination is the basis for the feminist claim of the standpoint of women, but the intersection of gender inequality with race inequality, class inequality, geo-social inequality, and inequalities based on sexuality and age produces a complex system of unequally empowered standpoint groups relating through shifting arrangements of coalition and opposition. These intersectionalities are now an integral part of the feminist description and analysis of women’s standpoint.
This emergent feminist theory understands human beings as agents, that is, beings who have the potential to both set and execute projects but whose potential is limited (or enhanced) by their location in the vectors of oppression and privilege (or the matrix of domination). Social life is presented as a system of inequality maintained by practices of domination enacted by agents who can- not be absolved from their responsibility for the reproduction of domination even when we can explain the social structures framing those enactments. But social life can also be understood as an ongoing series of individual and group responses
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to domination, responses like coping, challenging, witnessing, subverting, rebelling, resisting—a politics of resistance in which individual and collective agency can oppose structures and agents of domination. Significant to oppo- sitional politics are the existence and persistence of group standpoints (see Key Concept box); these group standpoints are ways of understanding society that develop out of social structural arrangements and that serve as motivations for individual and group reproduction of or resistance to domination. Even though the structural determinist may argue that standpoints are the product of social structures, feminist analysis points to the human capacity to hope and act for better things even in circumstances of the most brutal oppression. Feminist analysis emphasizes the emotional responsiveness of embodied human subjects to structures, their capacity to respond in anger and to turn anger to constructive uses. The emotional response of anger—and the willing- ness to turn that anger into a stand against injustice or a demand for justice— cannot be accounted for by the structures of oppression that produce it. In this affirmation, feminism bases its hope for liberationist politics and offers a solu- tion to the theoretical problematic of the structure versus agency debate.
Feminist theorists have also been developing a vocabulary for talking about the various and simultaneous realities of macro- and micro-relations. Dorothy Smith has introduced the concepts of relations of ruling; generalized, anony- mous, impersonal texts; and local actualities of lived experience.
1. Relations of ruling refers to the complex, nonmonolithic but intricately connected social activities that attempt to control human social production.
2. Human social production must by its material nature occur at some moment in the local actualities of lived experience: that is, the places where some actual person sits while writing or reading a book (or plants food or pro- duces clothing).
3. The relations of ruling in late capitalist patriarchy manifest themselves through texts that are characterized by their essential anonymity, general- ity, and authority. These texts are designed to pattern and translate real- life, specific, individualized experience into a language form acceptable to the relations of ruling. This criterion of acceptability is met when the text imposes the dominants’ definition on the situation. The texts may range from contracts to police reports to official boards-of-inquiry statements to school certificates to medical records. Everywhere they alter the material
relations of ruling The complex, nonmonolithic but intricately connected social activi- ties that attempt to control human social production.
local actualities of lived experience The places where actual people act and live their lives.
texts “Written documents issued out of the relations of ruling, having the power to organize relations of production in the everyday life world and having the qual- ity of generality and anonymity so that they may be seen as applicable in various everyday life circumstances; texts include licenses, diplomas, contracts, purchasing orders, laws, college catalogues, etc.”
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reality—reinterpreting what has occurred, determining what will be pos- sible. Thus, in seeking to interact with the relations of ruling, even at a fairly local level, a given individual (such as a student applying for a summer job in a restaurant owned by a family friend) finds that she or he must fill out some texts (e.g., tax forms) that have been established not by the employer face-to- face but by part of the apparatus of ruling. These texts continuously create intersections between the relations of ruling and the local actualities of lived experience. It is important to observe that this intersection works both ways: At some series of moments in historic time, embodied actors, situated in abso- lutely individual locations, sit at desks or computer workstations or conference tables generating the forms that will become part of the apparatus of ruling.
All three aspects of social life—relations of ruling, local actualities of lived expe- rience, and texts—are widespread, enduring, constant features of the organization of social life and of domination. All three features at the same time can and must be studied as the actions, relationships, and work of embodied human subjects. Each dimension has its distinctive internal dynamic: the drive for control in the relations of ruling, the drive for production and communication in the local actu- alities, and the drive toward objectification and facticity in the generalized texts. This world is both gendered and racialized. Thus, although no one can totally escape life in the local actuality—everyone has to be physically somewhere in time and space—women are much more deeply implicated in the never-ending maintaining of the local actualities, and men are much freer to participate as dom- inants in the relations of ruling; these same divisions are repeated for economic and racial subordinates and dominants. The texts that strive for objectification and facticity are drawn in ways that make it impossible for all to share equally in the activity the text organizes. Those inequalities are created along lines of race, gender, class, age, global location; that is, difference is an organizational principle of the texts of the relations of ruling. Through this lens the elements of structure and interaction are fused. Domination and production become the problematic, and their manifestations involve and thus absorb the age-old sociological distinc- tions of micro-macro and agency-structure.
Feminist sociological theorists describe a micro-social order in which there is a radical difference in the world of everyday life experienced by society’s dominants and society’s subordinates. Domination and subordination must be understood on a continuum in which the location of individual men and women depends on the intersection in their lives of various vectors of oppression and privilege at a given moment in history. While at the current moment in history, women with class and race privilege have improved their position on this continuum, it remains true that the vast majority of women worldwide are subordinates—and that gender still operates to subordinate women even when they have a dominant class or race position. Traditional mainstream sociology tends to see the micro-social world as operating in a kind of democratic ethos of equals trying to work things out together or at least of situations in which any individual could emerge as the “winner” or “definer.” But feminist sociological theory argues that the ongoing social experiences of action, interaction, self, and consciousness are different for women and other subordinates from those same experiences for dominants.
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Dorothy E. Smith (1926– ) A Biographical Vignette
Dorothy E. Smith explained that her sociological theory derived from her life expe- riences as a woman, moving between the male-dominated academic sphere and the female life experience which she describes the single parent. Remembering herself studying for a doctorate in sociology as “not so much . . . a career as a series of con- tingencies, of accidents.” This theme of contingency is an important hallmark of her sociology of women.
Whether they occurred by accident or design, the following events appear to the outsider as significant stages in Smith’s development. She was born in 1926 in Great Britain. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of London in 1955 and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. During this same period, she had “the experience of marriage, of immigration [to Canada] closely following marriage, of the arrival of children, of the departure of a husband rather early one morning, of the jobs that became available.” These events, Smith stresses, “were moments in which I had in fact little choice and certainly lit- tle foreknowledge.” The jobs that became available included research sociologist at Berkeley; lecturer in sociology at Berkeley; lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex, Colchester, England; associate professor and then professor in the department of sociology at the University of British Columbia; and professor of sociology in edu- cation at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto.
Smith’s ideas are foundational to feminist macro-theory, integrated feminist- theory, and socialist feminism.
Action, for someone with some configuration of the various forms of privilege, involves the purposive setting of goals, and the pursuit of those goals through linear courses of action in which one can compartmentalize and focus on the project at hand. In contrast, most women’s lives have a quality of incidentalism, as women find themselves caught up in agendas that shift and change with the vagaries of marriage, husbands’ courses of action, children’s unpredictable impact on life plans, divorce, widowhood, and the precarious- ness of most women’s wage-sector occupations. In their daily activities, women find themselves not so much pursuing goals in linear sequences as responding continuously to the needs and demands of others, oriented not so much to their own goals as to the task of monitoring, coordinating, facilitating, and moderat- ing the wishes, actions, and demands of others.
For society’s dominants the experience of interaction with others may involve a mutuality of orientation, a pressure to arrive at common understandings, and the freedom to move in and out of interactional settings. Any interpersonal equality or dominance that women as individuals may achieve is effectively offset, with in the interactive process itself by the macrostructural patterning of gender inequality. This macrostructure affects the broad division of labor, that is, who sets and who implements projects, the enactment of authority and def- erence, and the control of space and time.
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Contemporary Applications Some Marriage Stats
Good news seemed to be coming recently for college-educated women as headlines now trumpet that they are, for the first time in U.S. history, marrying at the same rate as women who did not attend college; that almost 30% of women now have more education than their husbands, that 22% of women now earn incomes higher than their husbands, that men now rank intelligence and education fourth in a list of 18 variables of what they want in a wife. Further marriages between college-educated men and women are more secure both in income and durability. These trends hold for both white and African-American women (historic Hispanic data is not available).
This news points to some triumphs of feminist activism and a decline in practices by which patriarchy might generally be assessed. It suggests the possibility of equal- ity, the long-held goal of liberal feminism, is moving closer. It also suggests a decline in gender essentialism as men are sharing more in housework and childcare and this brings closer the goal of cultural feminism that women’s work be valued.
Yet this is not unrelieved good news for feminist theory. Intersectionality the- ory and materialist feminism points out that the data speak hopefully for only about 30% of the total U.S. population and much of the heralded advances by college- educated women come because of less positive trends—a decline in male wages, a decline in marriage among women without a college degree, and the reliance on less privileged workers’ labor for child care, eldercare, housecleaning, laundry/dry cleaning, yard work, food preparation and delivery. These workers are women, peo- ple of color, and people from the global south.
The good news for college-educated women and their families is located in a dynamic of intersectionality, both national and transnational, in which class and race frame the relations between the college-educated household and the networks of paid help that maintain them. Despite brightening the day for many readers of a college textbook like this one, the data point again to the growing class gap between women: some women are doing all right in the new global economy and other women are really hurting. That gap brings us to the point stressed by material- ist feminism that these two fates are not unconnected, that the success of some in a capitalist society depends on the exploitation of others.
These differences underscore the truth in Dorothy E. Smith’s model of society. The major difference between the college-educated and the non-college educated women is a text. While students joke about “getting the piece of paper,” in point of fact, that diploma has real economic consequences. A major reason college-educated couples are doing so well and have lower divorce rates is because they are two- income households in the primary labor sector. The diploma as text gives them entry into the world of text creation which serves the apparatus of ruling. The apparatus of ruling, in turn, continues to write rules that reward people for getting degrees by giving much higher salaries to people who do text creation than to people who create things with their hands—even when those text creators are in the financial services industry that brought on a major recession. And a primary reason that non- college educated women, and men, are not getting married is that they feel they are not economically secure enough because their work in the local actuality of lived experience does not reward them sufficiently.
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228 CHAPTER EIGHT
Persons with power arrive at a knowledge of self by learning to see them- selves as others like them see them. Women are socialized to see themselves through the eyes of men—the genuine other. Feminist theory calls into question the existence for the socially disempowered of a unified generalized other. The subordinate has to pivot between a world governed by a dominant generalized other, or meaning system, and locations in home groups that offer alternative understandings and generalized others.
For women, the most pervasive feature of the cognitive style of everyday life is what Dorothy Smith calls a bifurcated consciousness, developing along a line of fault between their own personal, lived, and reflected-on experience and the established types available in the social stock of knowledge to describe that experience. A feminist sociology of subjectivity asks, how do people sur- vive when their own experience does not fit the established typifications of that experience? We know already that some do so by avoiding acts of sustained reflection, some by cultivating their own series of personal types to make sense of their experience, some by seeking community with others who share this bifurcated reality, and some by denying the validity of their own experience. But it is out of this line of fault, this division between what one knows from living and what a world organized by capitalist racist patriarchy says, that the possibility of change emerges, that one learns to see through and question the taken-for-granted and to believe that things can be different because one knows from living that they are different.
1. Feminist theory is a generalized, wide-ranging system of ideas about social life and human experience developed from a woman-centered perspective.
2. Feminist theory raises several basic questions: What about the women? Why is all this as it is? How can we change and improve the social world to make it a more just place for women and all people? What about the differences among women?
3. Contemporary feminist sociology has its historical roots in the work of earlier gen- erations of women theorists, who, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries made important contributions to the formulation of sociology, but whose accom- plishments were erased from the record by a politics of gender.
4. One type of feminist theory focuses on gender difference. 5. Cultural feminism extols the positive aspects of being female. 6. Explanatory theories locate the source of gender differences in biology, institutional
roles, socialization, and social interaction. 7. The second type of feminist theory focuses on gender inequality.
bifurcated consciousness A type of consciousness characteristic of women that reflects the fact that, for them, everyday life is divided into two realities: the reality of their actual, lived, reflected-on experience and the reality of social typifications.
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Contemporary Feminist Theories 229
8. Liberal feminism argues that women may claim equality with men on the basis of an essential human capacity for reasoned moral agency, that gender inequality is the result of a patriarchal and sexist patterning of the division of labor, and that gender equality can be produced by transforming the division of labor through the repatterning of key institutions: law, work, family, education, and media.
9. Theories of gender oppression describe women’s situation as the consequence of a direct power relationship between men and women in which men have funda- mental and concrete interests in controlling, using, subjugating, and oppressing women: that is, in the practice of domination.
10. Psychoanalytic feminism maps and emphasizes the emotional dynamics of person- ality, emotions often deeply buried in the subconscious or unconscious areas of the psyche; it also highlights the importance of infancy and early childhood in the pat- terning of these emotions.
11. Radical feminism is based on the belief that women are of absolute positive value as women, a belief asserted against what they claim to be the universal devaluing of women, and that women are everywhere oppressed—violently oppressed—by the system of patriarchy.
12. Structural oppression theories recognize that oppression results from the fact that some groups of people derive direct benefits from controlling, using, subjugating, and oppressing other groups of people. These theories analyze how those interests in domination are enacted through mechanisms of social structure: that is, through recurring and routinized large-scale arrangements of social interaction.
13. Socialist feminists seek to bring together Marxian and radical feminist thought. 14. Intersectionality theory begins with the understanding that women experience
oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. The expla- nation for that variation is that, although all women potentially experience oppres- sion on the basis of gender, women are, nevertheless, differentially oppressed by the varied intersections of other arrangements of social inequality.
15. Feminist sociological theory links structure and agency, micro-social and mac- rosocial, through the concepts of standpoint, extra-local relations of ruling, local actualities of lived experience, texts, incidentalism, responsive action, bifurcated consciousness, and intersectionality.
P atricia M adoo L engermann and J ill N iebrugge -B rantley The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory 1830–1930. New York: McGraw-Hill , 1998 . Excellent treatment of the theories of the long-neglected early female contributors to sociol- ogy. Includes very useful selections from these thinkers.
A rlie H ochschild with A nne M achung The Second Shift. London: Penguin Books , 2003 . This is a new edition of the 1989 classic, honored as a New York Times notable book, with a new introduction by Hochschild.
P atricia H ill C ollins Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and Empower- ment. Boston: Unwin Hyman , 1990 . Fast becoming a contemporary classic on the black feminist perspective and standpoint theory.
N ancy C hodorow The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press , 1978 . A book that gave great impetus to psychoanalytic feminism.
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C hrys I ngraham White Weddings. New York: Routledge , 2008 . A classic of socialistic materialist feminism.
J oan W illiams Unbending Gender. New York: Oxford University Press , 2000 . Explores problems of balancing work and family.
D orothy E. S mith The Everyday World as Problematic. Boston: Northeastern University Press , 1987 . Smith’s major theoretical statement.
Candace West and Don Zimmerman “Doing Gender” Gender & Society. 1: 2;1987: 125– 151. The most widely cited article on gender in the world.
Ridgeway, Cecelia Framed by Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World. Oxford: 2011. An important linkage of difference theories to inequality theories of gender.
Marie Campbell and Marjorie Devault “Dorothy Smith.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 268–286. A review of Smith’s most important ideas placed in the context of her life and intellectual context.
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C H A P T E R 9
Postmodern Grand Theories
The Transition from Industrial to Postindustrial Society Increasing Governmentality (and Other Grand Theories) Postmodernity as Modernity’s Coming of Age The Rise of Consumer Society, Loss of Symbolic Exchange, and Increase
in Simulations The Consumer Society and the New Means of Consumption Queer Theory: Sex and Sexuality Summary Suggested Readings
C hapters 4 and 5 dealt with a variety of modern grand theories. Most grand theories that deal with the contemporary world have been created by theorists who consider themselves to be modernists. This chapter discusses a series of grand theories (postmodern theorists have done comparatively little work on everyday life) that either deal with the postmodern world and/or were cre- ated by thinkers associated with postmodern social theory. Most postmodern- ists argue that in contrast to the relative certainty and stability of the modern world, the postmodern world is characterized by flux, constant change, and a pervasive uncertainty. A further group of postmodern theorists go so far as to say that in the postmodern world there is no truth, only ever-changing social constructions. This is a direct challenge to modern grand theories that seek to discover truths and tell all-encompassing stories about society. We will see this view expressed at several points in this chapter. The irony, however, is that even though these postmodern theorists are sometimes critical of modern grand theories they themselves have created such perspectives.
THE TRANSITION FROM INDUSTRIAL TO POSTINDUSTRIAL SOCIETY
The work of Daniel Bell (1919–2011) on the coming of the postindustrial society represents something of a transition from Chapters 4 and 5 on modern grand theories to this one on postmodern grand theories. Even though he is decidedly
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a modernist, many commonalities exist between what he has to say on industrial-postindustrial societies and what the postmodernists argue about modern/postmodern societies. However, although grand theories seem to emerge unintentionally in the work of postmodernists, as a modernist, Bell has no hesitation about consciously offering a theory of the great sweep of recent history. Bell is also eager to criticize at least some aspects of postindustrial soci- ety; most postmodernists are inclined to depict that society in more positive terms, at least in comparison to modern society.
What Bell has to say on the industrial-postindustrial relationship is embed- ded in a broader scheme of social change that also includes preindustrial society. He sees a transition from preindustrial (most of Asia and Africa), industrial (some of Western Europe, Russia), to postindustrial (the United States was considered the sole postindustrial society at the time Bell wrote [the early 1970s]). Of course, much has happened in the nearly three decades since Bell wrote. The United States is a far more pronounced postindustrial society and other nations have moved further in that direction (e.g., several Western European nations and Japan).
Postindustrial Society Bell’s primary concern is postindustrial society and to analyze it he divides society into three realms: social structure, polity, and cul- ture. The coming of the postindustrial society primarily affects social structure and several of its major components: the economy, the work world, science, and technology. However, changes in social structure do have implications for the political system (polity) and culture.
The following is an enumeration of the major changes in social structure associated with the transition to postindustrial society:
1. Within the economy, there is a transition from goods production to the pro- vision of services. Production of such goods as clothing and steel declines and services such as selling hamburgers and offering advice on invest- ments increase. Although services predominate in a wide range of sectors, health, education, research, and government services are the most decisive for a postindustrial society.
2. The importance of blue-collar, manual work (e.g., assembly line workers) declines and professional (lawyers) and technical work (computer pro- grammers) come to predominate. Of special importance is the rise of scien- tists (e.g., medical and genetic) and engineers.
3. Instead of practical know-how, theoretical knowledge is increasingly essen- tial in a postindustrial society. Such knowledge is seen as the basic source of innovations (e.g., the knowledge created by those scientists involved in the human genome project is leading to new ways of treating many diseases). Advances in knowledge also lead to the need for other innovations such as
postindustrial society A society characterized by the provision of services rather than goods; professional and technical work rather than blue-collar, manual work; theo- retical knowledge rather than practical know-how; the creation and monitoring of new technologies; and new intellectual technologies to handle such assessment and control.
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ways of dealing with ethical questions raised by advances in cloning tech- nology. All of this involves an emphasis on theoretical rather than empirical knowledge and on the codification of knowledge. The exponential growth of theoretical and codified knowledge, in all its varieties, is central to the emergence of the postindustrial society.
4. Postindustrial society seeks to assess the impacts of new technologies and, where necessary, to exercise control over them. The hope is, for example, to better monitor things like nuclear power plants and to improve them so that accidents like that at Three-Mile Island or Chernobyl can be prevented in the future. The goal is a surer and more secure technological world.
5. To handle such assessment and control, and more generally the sheer complexity of postindustrial society, new intellectual technologies are developed and implemented. They include cybernetics, game theory, and information theory.
6. A new relationship is forged in postindustrial society between scientists and the new technologies they create. Scientific research has come to be institutionalized, and new science-based industries have come into exis- tence. The fusion of science and innovation, as well as systematic tech- nological growth, lies at the base of postindustrial society. This leads to the need for more universities and university-based students. In fact, the university is crucial to postindustrial society. The university produces the experts who can create, guide, and control the new and dramatically changing technologies.
Differences among Types of Societies Given this depiction of postindustrial society, Bell outlines a number of differences between it and preindustrial and industrial societies:
1. Occupationally, preindustrial society is dominated by farmers, miners, fish- ermen, and unskilled workers; industrial society, by semiskilled workers and engineers; and postindustrial society, by professional and technical scientists.
2. The three types of society involve different types of challenges. The chal- lenge to preindustrial society is to be able to extract things from nature in the realms of mining, fishing, forestry, and agriculture. The challenge in industrial society is to deal with machines through more sophisticated coordination, scheduling, programming, and organization. Finally, the main challenge in postindustrial society is other people. Some people are providing services to other people and those who provide the services generally have more information and knowledge (they are the experts) than those to whom the service is being provided. This gives them a great advantage in dealing with their clients.
3. In preindustrial societies, the landowners and the military hold the power, and they exercise it through the direct use of force. In industrial society, businesspeople have the lion’s share of power, although they exercise it indirectly by influencing politicians. Scientists and researchers come to the fore as the dominant figures in postindustrial society, and they seek to bal- ance technical and political forces.
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Culture All of these factors focus on changes in social structure in postindus- trial society, but Bell, as we’ve seen, is also interested in the polity and, espe- cially, the culture. Of great interest to Bell is the fact that fundamentally different principles lie at the base of social structure and culture in postindustrial soci- ety. Although social structure, with its focal concern with economic issues, is dominated by a concern for rationality and effi ciency, culture is dominated by notions of irrationality, self-realization, and self-gratifi cation. Thus, in postin- dustrial society the old-fashioned ideas of self-discipline, restraint, and delayed gratifi cation predominate in social structure and confl ict with the hedonism that characterizes the cultural domain.
In this context Bell explicitly attacks postmodernism, which he associates with such irrational and hedonistic ideas as impulse, pleasure, liberation, and eroticism. Clearly, a culture characterized in this way is at odds with a social structure dominated by efficiency and rationality. In Bell’s terms, this leads to a disjuncture between social structure and culture, and this situation can create the conditions needed for a social revolution.
Although he is at odds with the postmodernists on this and other grounds, Bell, like the postmodernists, does accord central importance to the rise of con- sumer society. Hedonism has replaced frugality and asceticism, at least in part, because of the mass production and sale of all sorts of goods. Traditional values are being eroded and being replaced by a focal interest in things like pleasure, play, fun, and public display. As a modernist, and a conservative at that, Bell is alarmed by these postmodern developments and the threats they pose to society.
INCREASING GOVERNMENTALITY (AND OTHER GRAND THEORIES)
To some, Michel Foucault is a forerunner of postmodern social theory, while to others he is one of its foremost practitioners. In either case, he created an important grand theory that needs to be considered by every serious student of social theory.
One thing that especially distinguishes Foucault’s grand theories from modern grand theories is that he does not see, or at least does not emphasize, the continuities over time that are integral to most modern grand narratives. Foucault does not view history unfolding in a unilinear and unidirectional fashion as Weber, among others, does in his theory of rationalization. The fol- lowing are several differences between Foucault’s grand theories and those of modernists:
1. Modernists often search for the source or the origin of social developments, while Foucault seeks to describe and analyze social realities at various points in time. Finding the origin is akin to finding the answer, but post- modernists reject the idea of finding an answer. They are more interested in raising questions than in finding answers; they are more interested in keeping the intellectual dialogue alive than they are in the modernist search for answers (or origins). After all, once a theorist purports to have found the answer or origin, the issue is presumably closed.
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2. While modernists emphasize coherence, Foucault focuses on incoher- ence. To put it another way, while modernists focus on what holds things together over time, Foucault is interested in the internal contradictions that exist at any given point in time.
3. In contrast to the modernists who emphasize continuity in developments over time, Foucault emphasizes the discontinuities, the ruptures, the sudden reversals that characterize social history. Historical developments do not occur uniformly, consistently, unidirectionally, and without ebbs and flows; there are movements backward, sideward, and sometimes even forward.
Within the context of such general views on change, Foucault was interested in the changing nature of what he called governmentalities , or the practices and techniques by which control is exercised over people. The most obvious form of governmentality is that exercised by the state over its citizens. Although Foucault is interested in this, what distinguishes his approach is his interest in the way gov- ernmentality is practiced by agencies and agents unrelated to the state (including the social sciences and social scientists). Also distinctive in his work is a concern for the way people govern themselves. No directionality is implied in this concep- tualization, but it is found in some of Foucault’s specific works.
Discipline and Punish The best example of Foucault’s interest in non-state- related governmentality is in his book Discipline and Punish. His main con- cern in this work is the period between 1757 and the 1830s, specifi cally within the prison system, where he sees a historical process by which the torture of prisoners is replaced by control by prison rules. Characteristically, he views this change as developing in fi ts and starts, not unidirectionally. Nonetheless, there is general trend from one form of punishment to the other. Not only was there such a change, but it was viewed (by modernists) as a progressive development. The transition from torture to rule-based control was seen by most observers as involving a progressive humanization of the treatment of criminals. In general, punishment was viewed as growing more kind, less painful, and less cruel. However, the reality from Foucault’s perspective was that the system had greatly enhanced its ability to punish criminals.
For one thing, the new ability to punish had fewer negative side effects. Earlier, prisoners had been subjected to public torture, but the problem was that this treatment tended to incite the masses viewing the spectacle to criminal acts, riots, and perhaps even rebellion. Excited by the scenes of public torture, people were prone to all sorts of behavior that those in power viewed as anti- social and threatening to them and their position. In contrast, the imposition of rules on prisoners generally occurred behind prison walls and, even if it didn’t, it was unlikely to incite a crowd.
governmentalities The practices and techniques by which control is exercised over people.
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Imposing rules carried with it many more advantages over torture. First, the ability to impose rules can occur much earlier in the deviance process than torture; people can be taught the rules before they even think of engaging in a deviant act, or they can have those rules reinforced at the first sign of a tendency toward deviance. In contrast, torture is only likely to be undertaken when an act, and more likely a series of acts, of deviance has occurred.
In addition, the imposition of rules can take place far more often than torture; rules can be taught and retaught. However, torture cannot be practiced repeat- edly on the same deviant because it is likely to badly injure, maim, or even kill the deviant. Furthermore, the more often acts of torture are practiced, the more likely it is that those who witness them will engage in deviant acts of their own.
Third, rule imposition is closely associated with rationalization and bureau- cratization. Among other things, that means it is more efficient, more impersonal, more sober, and more invariable than torture. In other words, torture is likely to be inefficient (it may anger the prisoner rather than bringing him under greater control); it could get very personal (the person using a whip could take out per- sonal animosity on the victim); it could become very emotional for the torturer, the tortured, and those who witness the whole thing; and it could be highly vari- able with one user of the whip being far more aggressive than another.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, imposition of rules has much broader ramifications. It is almost impossible to torture an entire population, but rule-based control can be exercised over a population. This ability to con- trol an entire population is based on the ability to exercise surveillance over it on a regular basis. However, power and surveillance are not, in Foucault’s view, part of a single overarching power system, but are exercised in a number of seemingly independent local settings. Thus, there are innumerable points in which power and surveillance are exercised over people, and there is always the possibility within Foucault’s theoretical perspective for opposition to this to occur at every one of those points. Three basic instruments are available to those who seek to exercise control and observe a population.
Instruments of Observation and Control The fi rst is hierarchical observation or the ability of offi cials at or near the top of an organization to oversee all that they control with a single gaze. In this context is found Foucault’s famous dis- cussion of a panopticon. A panopticon is a structure that allows someone in power (e.g., a prison offi cer) the possibility of complete observation of a group of people (e.g., prisoners). In fact, the offi cial need not necessarily be present in the structure; the mere possibility that the offi cial might be there constrains people and forces them to behave as they are expected to behave. For example, a panopticon might take the form of a tower surrounded by a circular prison. Guards in the tower, who may or may not be visible to the prisoners, can see into all of the cells that are open to view from the tower. The tower gives guards
hierarchical observation The ability of officials at or near the top of an organization to oversee all that they control with a single gaze.
panopticon A structure that allows someone in power (e.g., a prison officer) the pos- sibility of complete observation of a group of people (e.g., prisoners).
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the possibility of total surveillance if the guards are on duty and observing what is transpiring around them. More importantly, it gives the guards enormous power even if they are not present in the tower or observing what is transpir- ing in the cells. The reason is that the inmates cannot see into the tower and therefore cannot tell whether they are being watched. However, because of an ever-present possibility that they are being watched, they are likely to behave as expected even though guards may be absent or inattentive for long periods of time. Guards need not do anything; prisoners will control themselves because they fear they might be observed by the guards. The panopticon, and variations on it, are the base of what Foucault calls the disciplinary society .
His point is that there are many places from which, and many ways in which, we can be observed, with the result that we exert control over ourselves and prevent ourselves from engaging in acts that might cause us trouble if they are seen. Take the case of the computer. There are various ways in which our behavior on the Internet can be monitored, with the result that we monitor ourselves and prevent ourselves from, for example, visiting certain Web sites (e.g., those that allow access to pornography). In the workplace, we might be tempted to log on to an e-tail site and do some shopping, but we do not do so because we think there is a possibility that our boss may be monitoring our use of the computer and the Web sites we visit.
The panopticon is a specific example of hierarchical power, involving those in official, high-ranking positions who are in a position to have constructed the panopticon and to occupy, or to have subordinates occupy, the lookout posi- tions in it. They are also the ones who initiate and control newer technologies, like those associated with the Internet, that monitor what subordinates are doing. Most generally, hierarchical observation involves the ability of superiors to oversee all they control with a single gaze.
A second instrument of disciplinary power is the ability to make normalizing judgments and to punish those who violate the norms. Those in power can decide what is normal and what is abnormal on a variety of dimensions. Those who violate the norms, who are judged abnormal, can then be punished by officials or their agents. For example, officials may focus on time and make normalizing judgments about those who are late. Or they may concentrate on behavior and penalize those who do not behave as expected. For example, students are sup- posed to be attentive in class; those who are inattentive may be punished.
Finally, officials can use examinations as a way of observing subordinates and judging what they are doing. This involves the other two methods (hier- archical observation and normalizing judgments). An examination is a way of
disciplinary society A society in which control over people is pervasive. normalizing judgments Those in power can decide what is normal and what is abnor-
mal on a variety of dimensions. Those who violate the norms, who are judged abnormal, can then be punished by officials or their agents.
examination A way of observing subordinates and judging what they are doing. It involves checking up on subordinates and assessing what they have done; it is employed in a given setting by those in authority who make normalizing judg- ments about what is and is not an adequate score.
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checking up on subordinates and assessing what they have done. It is employed by those in authority in a given setting and involves normalizing judgments about what is and is not an adequate score. We usually associate examinations with schools, but we also find examinations of the kind being discussed by Foucault in psychiatrist’s offices and psychiatric hospitals, in physician’s offices and in hospitals, and in various work settings.
Increasing Disciplinary Power Foucault’s most general point is that because of the creation of new and better methods of disciplinary power, our ability to punish people has increased, not decreased. Torture may have been cruel, but it was limited to the moment of torture. The disciplinary power previously dis- cussed affects us all the time and in all settings. We are constantly watched and judged. If we misbehave in the eyes of those in power, we will be punished. Thus, there has not been a liberalization and humanization of punishment. Rather, it has become more pervasive and more insidious.
However, in rejecting one grand theory Foucault seems to be replacing it with another. This is true to some degree. Here and elsewhere in his work Foucault does offer grand theories, but he is also wary of them and tempers them in ways that would not be found in the grand theories of modernists. For example, although a modernist would tend to see various changes affect- ing parts of society in a rather uniform way, Foucault writes about discipline “swarming” through society. This is meant to imply that the process affects some parts of society and not others, or it may affect some parts at one time and other parts at another time. Thus, instead of creating something like Weber’s iron cage, it creates more of a patchwork of centers of discipline amidst a world in which other settings are less affected or unaffected by the spread of the disciplinary society. One term that gets at this is the notion of a carceral archipelago . Foucault views various islands of discipline amidst a sea in which discipline is more or less absent.
The roots of the disciplinary society lie in the prison, but the theories, prac- tices, and technologies developed there are seen by Foucault as swarming into many other sectors of society—schools, hospitals, and military barracks, for example. The result is that he sees more and more settings coming to resemble prisons. This is the creation of the carceral archipelago and carceral society that are central to Foucault’s grand theory of the changing nature of, and increase in, governmentality.
Microphysics of Power Another aspect of Foucault’s grand theory differen- tiates it from that of the modernists: Foucault is ever attuned to oppositional forces within each of these settings as well as those that operate against the pro- cess in general. There are innumerable points of opposition, confrontation, and
carceral archipelago An image of society that results from the idea that discipline is swarming through society. This means that the process affects some parts of society and not others, or it may affect some parts at one time and other parts at another time. Thus, it creates a patchwork of centers of discipline amidst a world in which other settings are less affected or unaffected by the spread of the disciplinary society.
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resistance. These settings and the overall process are always being contested and being reshaped by that constant testing. This is another reason why we cannot view these settings as iron cages. Constant contestation is altering these structures on a continuing basis. His interest in these processes is part of his interest in what he calls the microphysics of power .
Other Grand Theories
Madness and Civilization In spite of these and other refi nements, one senses a grand theory not only in Discipline and Punish but in other works of Foucault. For example, in Madness and Civilization, Foucault studies the history of the
Michel Foucault (1926–1984) A Biographical Vignette
Among Foucault’s last works was a trilogy devoted to sex: The History of Sexuality (1976), The Care of the Self (1984), and The Use of Pleasure (1984). These works reflected Foucault’s lifelong obsession with sex. A good deal of Foucault’s life seems to have been defined by this obsession, in particular his homosexuality and his sadomas- ochism. During a trip to San Francisco in 1975, Foucault visited and was deeply attracted to the city’s flourishing gay community. Foucault appears to have been drawn to the impersonal sex that flourished in the infamous bathhouses of that time and place. His interest and participation in these settings and activities were part of a lifelong interest in “the overwhelming, the unspeakable, the creepy, the stupefy- ing, the ecstatic.” In other words, in his life (and his work) Foucault was deeply interested in “limit experiences” (where people, including himself, purposely push their minds and bodies to the breaking point) like the impersonal sadomasochistic activities that took place in and around those bathhouses. It was Foucault’s belief that it was during such limit experiences that great personal and intellectual break- throughs and revelations became possible.
Sex was related to limit experiences, and both, in turn, were related in his view of death: “I think the kind of pleasure I would consider as the real pleasure would be so deep, so intense, so overwhelming that I couldn’t survive it . . . Complete total pleasure . . ., for me, it’s related to death.” Even in the fall of 1983, when he was well aware of AIDS and the fact that homosexuals were disproportionately likely to con- tract the disease, he plunged back into the impersonal sex of the bathhouses of San Francisco: “He took AIDS very seriously . . . When he went to San Francisco for the last time, he took it as a ‘limit-experience.’ ”
Foucault also had a limit experience at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley in the spring of 1975. There Foucault tried LSD for the first time, and the drug pushed his mind to the limit: “The sky has exploded . . . and the stars are raining down upon me. I know this is not true, but it is the Truth.” With tears streaming down his face, Foucault said, “I am very happy . . . Tonight I have achieved a fresh perspective on myself . . . I now understand my sexuality . . . We must go home again.”
microphysics of power The idea that power exists at the micro-level and involves efforts to exercise it as well as efforts to contest its exercise.
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relationship between madness and psychiatry. Similar to his critique of the increasingly humane treatment of criminals, Foucault takes on the modern grand theory that because of the rise of psychiatry and psychiatric facilities, we have witnessed, over the last several centuries, the growth of scientifi c, medical, and humanitarian treatment of those who are mad. Instead, he sees an increase in the ability of the sane and their agents to separate out the insane from the rest of the population and to oppress and repress them (and this implies a serious ques- tioning of the whole idea of mental illness). Writing in the 1960s, Foucault was certainly thinking of the then widespread mental hospitals and institutions to which the mentally ill were sent and in which they were often treated abysmally. He was also thinking of the control psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health workers exercised over those with psychological problems.
Since the 1960s we have witnessed a deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. Many psychiatric institutions have closed and much of the type of oppres- sion that existed in the 1960s has disappeared. However, it has been replaced by other forms. For example, many mentally ill people have been left free to roam the streets, becoming what we think of today as homeless or streetpeople. Sec- ond, many of those freed from mental hospitals, or who were never sent to such hospitals in recent years as a result of deinstitutionalization, have been put on heavy-duty psychotropic drugs that exert great control over their mental and, often, physical functioning. Finally, as Foucault anticipated, many of the mentally ill (and many others) have been forced to judge themselves and their own mental condition. In many senses, such internalized control is the most repressive form of control. For example, people have far more access to their innermost thoughts than do outside agents like psychiatrists. And, while psychiatrists may make occa- sional negative judgments, individuals are able to judge themselves ceaselessly. Overall, we find in Madness and Civilization the same pattern as in Discipline and Punish—a critique of a modern grand theory and its replacement, perhaps unin- tentionally, by another more critical and postmodern form of that type of theory.
A Grand Theory of Sexuality A somewhat different pattern appeared in Foucault’s later work on sexuality. The History of Sexuality critiques the modern grand theory that Victorianism had led to the repression of sexuality, especially discourse about sexuality. Although he continued to view sex as repressed, he took the opposite position on discourse, arguing that Victorianism had led to an explosion of discourse on sexuality. As a result of Victorianism, there was more analysis, stocktaking, classifi cation, specifi cation, and causal and quanti- tative study of sexuality. Once again, Foucault was criticizing one grand narra- tive and seemingly putting another in its place. However, although in previous cases the modern position emphasized greater freedom, and Foucault’s posi- tion greater constraint, in this case the modern position focuses on increased repression and Foucault sees greater freedom (of discourse on sexuality).
deinstitutionalization The process, begun in the 1960s and made possible by new drug treatments, involving the closing of many psychiatric institutions and the release of the vast majority of patients who were left to their own devices to survive in the larger society.
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In addition to arguing that we are experiencing more discourses on sexual- ity we are also witnessing increased efforts to exercise power over sexuality, as well as resistance to that power in a number of specific settings. Beginning in the 18th century an effort was made by society to shift from control over death to control over life, especially sex. This took two forms. The first, focusing on the individual, involved an effort to exert great discipline over the human body, especially the sexual practices associated with it. The second, focusing on the population as a whole, involved efforts to control and regulate popula- tion growth, health, life expectancy, and so forth. By controlling sex society was able to control both the individual and the species. Although Foucault was concerned about this oppression, he also saw hope in bodies, sexuality, and pleasure. He believed that through them people can overcome efforts to control not only their sexuality, but their lives.
Thus, in spite of his rejection of the modern grand theory about the increas- ing repression of sexuality, the outlines of several grand theories appear in Foucault’s work.
POSTMODERNITY AS MODERNITY’S COMING OF AGE
Zygmunt Bauman has been a perceptive analyst of the modern world, and he has offered many insights into the advent of the postmodern world. Relatedly, he has dealt with the issue of modern sociology as well as what a postmodern sociology and a sociology of postmodernity might look like (see the Key Con- cepts box: Postmodern Sociology; Sociology of Postmodernity). Depending on which aspects of his work one wishes to emphasize, he can be thought of as either a modern or a postmodern social theorist. Bauman’s works on postmod- ernism occupy our attention here.
Learning to Live with Ambivalence?
Ambivalence is a distinctive product of modernity, but postmodernism offers at least the possibility of overcoming that problem by simply accepting and learning to live with ambivalence. In fact, Bauman defines postmodernity in opposition to modernity and its need to eliminate ambivalence. However, even if it is successful in learning to live with ambivalence, and thereby eliminating it as a source of problems (and that is by no means assured), postmodernism is fully capable of producing a range of other problems. Thus, Bauman concludes that postmodernity is both worrying and exhilarating; it opens both new pos- sibilities and new dangers. It should be noted that most postmodernists have a far more pessimistic view of postmodern society. For example, barbarism (e.g., ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia) is associated with postmodernism.
Rather than seeking to eliminate ambivalence, postmodernity accepts the messiness of the world; it is not determined to impose order on it. For example, the postmodern world is more accepting of the stranger. Generally, it is a more
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tolerant world, one that tolerates differences. However, tolerance brings with it even more ambiguity. Thus, the postmodern world is destined to be a far more uncertain world than modernity, and those who live in it need to have strong nerves.
Ambivalence about Postmodernity Although Bauman generally sees post- modernity as preferable to modernity, he is, quite characteristically, ambiva- lent about it. He argues that postmodernity shares with modernity a fear of the
Key Concepts Postmodern Sociology; Sociology of Postmodernity
Despite some sympathy for it, Bauman is generally opposed to the development of what he calls postmodern sociology. One reason for his opposition is the fear that a radically different postmodern sociology would give up on the formative questions that lay at the foundation of the discipline. Bauman also opposes a postmodern sociol- ogy because it would, by its very nature, be in tune with the culture of postmodernity. Since postmodern culture is very different from modern culture, postmodern sociol- ogy would have to be very different from modern sociology. For example, the differ- ence between rational modern culture and nonrational postmodern culture would be reflected in the respective sociologies. Bauman is not ready for a nonrational sociol- ogy; he wants a sociology that is, to a large extent, continuous with its origins.
Bauman feels that what we really need to develop is a sociology of postmodernity. Although postmodern sociology breaks sharply with modern sociology, a sociology of postmodernity is continuous with modern sociology by, for example, being char- acterized by rational and systematic discourse and by an effort to develop a model of postmodern society. Even though it is continuous with modern sociology, the sociology of postmodernity accepts postmodern society as a distinctive and unique type and not as an aberrant form of modern society.
Bauman offers a number of major tenets of a sociological theory of postmoder- nity including:
1. The postmodern world is complex and unpredictable. 2. The postmodern world is complex because it lacks a central goal-setting orga-
nization and it contains a great many large and small, mainly single-purpose agencies. No one of these agencies is large enough to subsume or control the others, and each is resistant to centralized control. Although the agencies may be partially dependent on one another, the nature of that dependence cannot be fixed, with the result that each of these agencies is largely autonomous. Thus, agencies are largely free to pursue their own institutionalized purposes.
postmodern sociology A type of sociology that is heavily influenced by postmodern ideas and that would adopt a nonrational approach to the study of society.
sociology of postmodernity A type of sociology that is continuous with modern soci- ology by being characterized by rational and systematic discourse and by an effort to develop a model of postmodern society. However, the sociology of postmoder- nity accepts postmodern society as a distinctive and unique type and does not see it as an aberrant form of modern society.
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void. Postmodernity has not succeeded in eliminating those fears, but it did serve to privatize them. Faced with private fears, postmodern individuals are also doomed to try to escape those fears on their own. Not surprisingly, they have been drawn to communities as shelters from these fears. However, this raises the possibility of confl ict between communities. Bauman worries about these hostilities and argues that we need to put a brake on them through the development of solidarity.
Although the modern world sought to eliminate distinct communities and assimilate them into the whole, postmodernity can be seen as the coming of age of community. In fact, Michel Maffesoli has dubbed this the age of neotribalism .
neotribalism A postmodern development characterized by the coming of age of a wide array of communities that are refuges for strangers and more specifically for ethnic, religious, and political groups.
3. Even though they are likely to be well ordered internally, when they operate in the larger world, agencies face an arena that appears as a space of chaos and chronic indeterminacy and ambivalence, a territory subjected to rival and contradictory meanings. The various states of the postmodern world appear equally contingent. That is, any given state has no overwhelming reason to be what it is, and it could be very different if other agencies operated differently. Agencies need to be cogni- zant of the fact that what they do affects the world in which they are operating.
4. The existential situation of agents is quite fluid. The identity of agents needs to be self-constituted continually, largely on the basis of trial and error. Identity is permanently changing but not developing in any clear direction. At any given time, the constitution of identity involves the disassembly of some existing ele- ments and the assembly of new elements.
5. The only constant in all of this is the body, but even here agents devote con- tinual attention to the cultivation of the body. People engage in a series of self- controlling and self-enhancing activities (jogging, dieting) that they would have resented were they imposed on them by some external organization. Thus, these activities are seen as the product of free human agents and not resented as externally imposed regimens. More generally, we can say that agents are no longer coerced; rather, they are seduced.
6. Lacking a predesigned life-project, agents need a series of orientation points to guide their moves throughout their lifespans. These are provided by other agencies (real or imagined). Agents are free to approach or abandon these other agencies.
7. Accessibility to resources varies among agents depending on their personal assets, especially knowledge. Those with more knowledge can choose among a wider range of assembly patterns. Variations in freedom to choose among resources is the main basis of social standing and social inequality in postmodern society. Knowledge is also the main stake in any kind of conflict aimed at the redistribu- tion of resources. This emphasis on knowledge and the fact that information is a key resource tends to further enhance the status of experts.
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These new tribes, or communities, are the refuge for strangers and more specifi- cally for a wide range of ethnic, religious, and political groups. These commu- nities, and their groups, are tolerated by the larger society. Those living in the postmodern world have overcome the hubris of modernity and are therefore less likely to be cruel to others and to have the need to humiliate them. However, this is not enough as far as Bauman is concerned. Each of these communities needs to be respected by all other communities as well as by the society as a whole.
Although it offers hope against ambivalence, the latter does not totally dis- appear in postmodernity. There is still popular disaffection and discontent, but the postmodern state no longer feels the need to control it. Rather, it may be that scattered ambivalence can be used to help society reproduce itself.
However, the tolerance of postmodernity does not necessarily lead to solidarity. Because it is characterized by a lack of concern, playfulness, and self-centeredness, postmodernity could make it easier to engage in massive acts of cruelty.
Life in postmodern society is not easy. It is a life without clear options and with strategies that are always open to question. However, one thing that is clear in the postmodern world is that consumerism and the freedom associated with it are not enough to satisfy people in that society. The paradox here is that postmodern society is, above else, a consumer society. Therefore, we seem to be doomed to the knowledge that the world we live in is inadequate to our needs.
Bauman is interested in the status of an ethical code in a postmodern era that is inherently antagonistic to the idea of a coherent set of rules that any moral per- son ought to obey. In postmodernity the old ethical systems are no longer seen as adequate. This has opened up the possibility of a radical new understanding of moral behavior. Thus, as usual, Bauman sees postmodernity as offering an opportunity, in this case, in the realm of ethics. It may be a time of the renais- sance of morality, or, on the other hand, of the twilight of morality.
It is clear that postmodern ethics must reject much of what passed for mod- ern ethics. Postmodern ethics must reject things like coercive normative regula- tion and the search for things like foundations, universals, and absolutes. Also to be rejected is modernity’s search for an ethical code that is nonambivalent and lacking in contradictions. Despite such rejections, clearly, the great issues in ethics have not lost their importance. Even in a postmodern world we are confronted with such issues as human rights, social justice, the conflict between peaceful cooperation and individual self-assertion, and the confrontation between individual conduct and the collective welfare. These issues persist, but they must be dealt with in a novel manner.
The moral code, looked at from a postmodern perspective, is rife with ambiv- alence and contradictions. Among the aspects of the moral condition viewed from a postmodern perspective are the following:
1. People are neither good nor bad but morally ambivalent, and it is impos- sible to find a logically coherent ethical code that could accommodate such moral ambivalence.
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2. Moral phenomena are not regular and repetitive. Therefore, no ethical code can possibly deal with moral phenomena in an exhaustive fashion.
3. Morality is inherently laden with contradictions that cannot be overcome, with conflicts that cannot be resolved.
4. There is no such thing as a universal morality. 5. From a rational point of view, morality is, and will remain, irrational. 6. Since Bauman rejects coercive ethical systems emanating from society as
a whole, he argues for an ethical system that emanates from the self. It is based on the idea that one has to be for the Other before it is possible to be with the Other.
7. Although the postmodern perspective on morality rejects the modern coer- cive form of morality, it does not accept the idea that anything goes—the idea of complete relativism. Among the ideas central to a postmodern ori- entation to ethics is the view that the world would fall apart without the nation-state (and the tribe), that the autonomous self will ultimately be emancipated, and that the moral self will ultimately stand up to the inherent and inevitable ambivalence.
Irresolvable Moral Dilemmas Despite the ideas just discussed, neither Bauman nor postmodernism can offer an ethical code to replace the modern ethical code that is being dismantled. As a result, we are destined to a life of irresolvable moral dilemmas. Without an overarching ethical code, people are left with their own indi- vidual moralities. Given the innumerable moral voices in today’s world, the only ultimate ethical authority lies in the subjectivities of individuals. The challenge of the postmodern world is how to live morally in the absence of an ethical code and in the presence of a bewildering array of seemingly equal moralities. Without such an overarching code, life in the postmodern world is not likely to grow any easier, although it is at least possible that life will become more moral with the disman- tling of the oppressive and coercive ethical code associated with modernity. After all, Bauman associates the most heinous of crimes (e.g., the Holocaust) with the modern ethical code. At the minimum, we will be able to face moral issues directly without the disguises and deformities that came with the modern ethical code.
Instead of the coercive and deforming ethical codes of modernity, there is hope in the conscience of the moral self, especially its need to be for the Other. The Other is the responsibility of the moral self. Being for the Other does not determine goodness and evil. That will be worked out in the course of the relationship. It will be worked out in a world devoid of certainty, where there will never be a clear dividing line between good and evil. Thus, it does matter what we do and do not do, but that must be worked out in individual conscience and not in some collective moral code. In this way, Bauman adopts a postmodern position without surrendering to relativism and nihilism. None- theless, there is a fundamental tension between the unconditional need to be for the Other and the discontinuity and fragmentariness that Bauman associ- ates with postmodernity.
The postmodern world is simultaneously one of great moral hope and great personal discomfort: People have full moral choice, but they have it without the guidance of an overarching moral code once promised by modernity. To put
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it another way, morality, like much else in the postmodern world, has been privatized. Without a larger ethical system to guide people, ethics for individu- als become matters of individual decision, involve risks, and involve chronic uncertainty. Postmodernity may be either our bane or our chance. Which it will be is far from determined at this juncture in history.
THE RISE OF CONSUMER SOCIETY, LOSS OF SYMBOLIC EXCHANGE,
AND INCREASE IN SIMULATIONS
The social thinker Jean Baudrillard is most associated with postmodern social theory even though he disliked being labeled in such a way. Baudrillard was radical not only in his ideas, but in his style of writing, especially in his later work. Like other postmodernists, he rejected the idea of a grand theory and the style of his later work—books that include a series of seemingly unrelated aphorisms—seem to militate against the creation of grand theory. Yet it is pos- sible to identify several such theories in the body of his work.
From Producer to Consumer Society
In his early work, Baudrillard was heavily influenced by the thinking of Karl Marx and various branches of neo-Marxian theory. However, although Marx and most neo-Marxists focused on issues relating to production, Baudrillard concerned himself with the emergence of consumer society. In doing so, Baudrillard was ahead of his time, since the consumer society with which we have now grown so accustomed was, at the time Baudrillard wrote his book on that society (the late 1960s), still in its infancy.
Although Baudrillard was later to break with Marxian theory, he was still heavily influenced by that theory when he analyzed the consumer society. For example, despite his focus on consumption, he took the traditional Marxian posi- tion of according ultimate importance to production; that is, the forces of produc- tion control and orchestrate the world of consumption. Thus, Toyota can be seen as controlling the consumption of automobiles, just as Microsoft can be viewed as orchestrating the purchase of computer software. Baudrillard does not go far enough here in terms of his emphasis on consumption. The forces of consump- tion (e.g., advertisers, shopping malls, McDonald’s, Disney World) play their own important role in consumption. Although they are not totally separable from the forces of production, these entities are crucial in their own right in the realm of consumption. Baudrillard is unable to see this at this point in his career because he has not yet made his break with a Marxian view of the world.
Consumption as Language Baudrillard was also infl uenced by linguistics, which led him (and others) to think of the consumption of objects as a kind of language. Within that language, each consumer object has a sign associated with it. For example, in today’s automobile market the purchase of a Lexus is a sign of
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wealth, while buying a Kia indicates humble economic circumstances. Similarly, going to a Lady Gaga concert is a sign of youth, while attending a performance of Madame Butterfly is a sign of being middle-aged, if not elderly. In a real sense, when we purchase cars or tickets, we are purchasing signs as much or more than we are the ability to drive a car or attend a performance. To Baudrillard, consumption is most importantly about signs, not goods.
But how do we know what all these signs mean? Baudrillard argues that we are able to interpret these signs because we all understand the code and are controlled by it. The code is basically a system of rules that allows us to under- stand signs and, more importantly, how they relate to one another. Thus, the code allows us to understand the meaning of Lexus and Kia and, most impor- tantly, the fact that the Lexus yields far higher status than the Kia. Because we all understand and are controlled by the code, we all are able to have similar understandings of the meaning of signs and how those meanings relate to one another. In fact, consumption is based on the fact that others will understand the meaning of what we consume in the same way that we do. Thus, the main reason for buying a Lexus is the assumption that others will understand the meaning of that sign and will approve of it, as well as of us, for buying a Lexus.
This leads to the point that in consuming objects we are, in the process, serving to define ourselves. Categories of objects define categories of people. One of the ways in which we find our place in the social order is in terms of what we consume. Thus, a Lexus helps give us a higher position in the social order than a Kia. Furthermore, we can alter our position in that order by con- suming differently. For example, if we want to move up the stratification lad- der, we can go into debt and buy a Honda rather than a Kia. Such purchases allow us, at least to some extent, to manipulate the trajectory of our movement through the stratification system. Of course there are limits on this. We may know that if we really wanted to alter our position, we would need to buy a Lexus, but no matter how far we stretch, many of us may never be able to afford such a car. In this way, the stratification system often acts to keep people in their place within the system. Overall, in a very real sense, people are what they consume; they define themselves, and are defined by others, on that basis.
Consequently, the motivation for consumption is not what we often assume it to be. We generally believe that the cause of consumption is human needs . We buy various things because we need them: food to survive, clothes to keep us warm, cars to transport us. However, Baudrillard sees grave problems with such an explanation. How can needs explain why some of us buy the much more expensive Lexus rather than the modestly priced Kia? Both vehicles get us from one point to another quite nicely. How can needs explain the extraordinarily high
code A system of rules that allows us to understand signs and, more importantly, how they relate to one another.
needs Those things that people require in order to survive and to function at a mini- mal level in the contemporary world. Often used to explain why we consume what we do.
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level of consumption—the hyperconsumption —that characterizes the devel- oped world today? Many of us are clearly consuming far more than we need and in many cases far more than we could ever use (or at least we did until the begin- ning of the 2007 recession; see the Contemporary Applications box “The Death of Consumer Culture? If So, What Next?).
Thus, Baudrillard rejects the theory of needs, at least in our affluent society, and argues that such a consumption pattern is better explained by difference than by needs. We consume in order to be different from other people, and such differences are defined by what and how we consume. Buying CDs of operas like Madame Butterfly differentiates us from those who buy Lady Gaga CDs. Since differences are infinite in number, there is no end to consumption; there are an endless number of things (in addition to those mentioned before, CDs by Frank Sinatra, The Grateful Dead, Pete Seeger, Green Day, and so on, speak to addi- tional differences) that we can buy to differentiate ourselves from others. Thus, the need for difference can never be satisfied; we end up with a continuous, life- long need to differentiate ourselves from those who occupy other positions in society. This means that consumption is a form of communication. When we consume things, we are communicating a number of things to others, including what groups we do or do not belong to. They understand what we are “saying” because they, too, know the code and therefore understand the meaning of signs.
But that brings us back to the question: How do we know what to buy in order to signify difference? The answer is that such guidelines are inscribed in the code, and because we know the code, we know what to consume. How- ever, this means that the code does more than simply inform our choices; it con- trols our selections. Thus, what we think of as needs on a day-to-day basis are determined by the code. We end up needing what the code tells us we need. Individual needs exist because the code needs them to exist.
Another key point made by Baudrillard is that consumption has little or noth- ing to do with what we conventionally think of as reality. When we buy a Big Mac at McDonald’s, we are not just, or mainly, buying something to eat, but rather we are obtaining what dining at McDonald’s and eating a Big Mac say about us. We are more consuming signs—Big Mac, McDonald’s—than we are consuming food to keep us alive. In consuming a Big Mac we are differentiating ourselves from those who eat not only Whoppers at Burger King, but also filet mignon at Morton’s. Thus, we are not consuming the reality of the food, but the unreality of the signs associated with them and the code that defines and controls them.
Another key point is that in a society controlled by signs and the code, we are coming to relate far more to consumer objects and the settings in which they are sold, especially the consumption of those objects and settings, than we are to other human beings. Relationships with objects and settings have tended to
hyperconsumption An extraordinary level of consumption associated with the con- temporary world.
difference An alternate explanation of consumption favored by postmodernists. We consume, not because of needs, but in order to be different from other people; such differences are defined by what and how we consume.
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replace human relationships. We are increasingly oriented to spending more time consuming things in these settings than we are in relationships with other people. Ironically, we do so for what it says about us and our relationship to such people, but we spend less and less time actually relating to them. This is clearest in the settings in which we consume. In those settings, we increasingly are asked to do things ourselves (pump our own gasoline, obtain money on our own from ATMs) rather than to obtain those things from other human beings. Even when we do relate to other human beings in those settings, the relationship is very likely to be an inhuman one in which employees act like automatons and interact with us on the basis of scripts (“Would you like apple pie with your Big Mac?” “Have a nice day.”) taught to them by the employing organization. In a McDonald’s restaurant, for example, we relate far more to the restaurant and the objects (including the toys that are forever being promoted in such settings) than we do to the people who work there or to the others dining there.
From Production to Consumption Embedded in all of this is a grand theory. Most generally it involves the argument that we are moving from a society dominated by production to one that focuses on consumption. More specifi cally, Baudrillard outlines a change from a society in which capitalists focused on controlling their workers to one in which the focus shifts to control over con- sumers. In the early days of capitalism consumers could be left largely on their own. However, more recently capitalists came to the realization that consumers could no longer be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to consume or how much or what to consume. Capitalism has increasingly come to need to be sure that people participate, and participate actively, in the consumer soci- ety. Specifi c capitalistic organizations (McDonald’s, Lexus) must try to convince people to be active and regular consumers of their products.
In a way, from the perspective of capitalists, consumers, like workers, per- form a kind of labor that must be controlled. Going to the mall and buying a range of goods and services is as much a form of labor as putting hubcaps on cars on an automobile assembly line. When we look at consumers in this way, it is not a stretch for capitalists to think of them as a group that must be exploited in order to enhance the capitalist’s profits. This was (and is) the way capital- ists think about workers; such thinking has now been extended to consumers. Consumers need to be lured into such things as buying what they do not need, what they cannot afford, and what they may well need to go into debt for in order to acquire. In addition, capitalists are interested in preventing a social revolution and, just as the proletariat were kept from revolting by being kept hard at work, consumers are less likely to become rebellious if they are busy not only consuming but also working in order to afford all those consumables.
The Loss of Symbolic Exchange and the Increase in Simulations
A more general and historically far-reaching grand theory in Baudrillard’s work involves his views on the differences between primitive and contemporary
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Contemporary Applications: The Death of Consumer Culture? If So, What Next?
The focus in the current economic downturn is, as it should be, on closed businesses, shuttered factories, and disappearing jobs. There is also considerable attention to the decline in shopping and, as a result, of retail businesses and even chains. Lost in all of this is the demise of a consumer culture that had become central to many Americans and to many others in the developed and developing world.
Consumer culture emerged and exploded in the second half of the 20th, and early 21st, centuries. In that culture, consumption was no longer something people had to do, but had become something many enjoyed doing. For those who could afford it, consumption of more than the basics needed for survival came to be valued in its own right. More than that, many came to feel compelled to consume and to feel guilty if they did not, or did not consume “enough.” Something of a peak in this epoch was reached when after 9/11 both the Mayor of New York and the President of the United States urged Americans to go out and shop. Some wondered when it had become the “duty” of Americans to shop, but in fact consumption for many had come to feel like something they not only liked to do, but felt they had to do. Culture in general, and consumer culture in particular, not only expresses that which we value, but it also constrains our actions.
For about a half century, the growth of consumer culture and the expansion of consumption came to seem inexorable. However, all of that came to an abrupt halt in the severe economic downturn that began in late 2007. Driven by a decline in their economic resources, many individuals are finding, perhaps regretfully, that they cannot consume as much as they once did and they feel less pressure to do so. The culture of consumption is changing; consumer culture is in retreat.
What is not clear is whether this is a temporary development or whether it rep- resents a cultural and economic sea change. The disappearance of some of the titans of the consumer society and the decline of others points to at least a longer-term change. Also pointing in that direction is the decline in the availability of credit and the willingness, let alone eagerness, of consumers to obtain and use it. Amazingly, there appears to be the beginning of a reversal of the long-running decline in the savings rate.
society. Basically, he argues that primitive societies characterized by symbolic exchange have tended to be superseded by contemporary societies defined by their simulations.
Symbolic Exchange By symbolic exchange Baudrillard means a reversible process of giving and receiving—a cyclical exchange of gifts and counter-gifts. He praises this type of exchange and the primitive societies in which it occurs.
symbolic exchange A reversible process of giving and receiving; a cyclical exchange of gifts and counter-gifts, associated with primitive society.
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Take, for example, the case of death. In primitive societies, exchanges with peo- ple do not end with their death. People continue to engage in exchanges with the dead by bringing offerings to the grave site, integrating cemeteries into the life of the community, and engaging in periodic rituals involving the dead, often at their grave sites. In other words, the dead are integrated into the life of a primitive community. Baudrillard contrasts this to the contemporary situ- ation in which the dead, their grave sites, and cemeteries are segregated from the rest of society. Although there might be a few perfunctory offerings here or there (e.g., bringing fl owers to the grave site), in the main, the living have little to do with the dead. Overall, Baudrillard argues that primitive societies are characterized by symbolic exchanges with the dead, but such exchanges have all but disappeared in the contemporary world.
In many ways, this seems to be a welcome, even healthy, development. Less deficit spending, less debt, less of an obsession with the consumption of unneeded goods and services, all seem to be good things. However, if we are witnessing the early stages of a decline in consumer culture and the many businesses and jobs that depend on it, the issue is: What is going to take its place at the center of the U.S. economy?
It seems unlikely that early centers of the economy can fill the void. While the United States is a global agricultural powerhouse, technological and organizational advances mean that it requires ever fewer workers. The “heavy” industry that the United States relied on for so long has long been in decline, and the current catastro- phe in the auto industry augurs further declines in those industries and the jobs avail- able in them. Other countries have taken the technological lead in many industries and it seems unlikely that the United States will invest in a whole new generation of smokestack industries. Further, workers remain unlikely to accept wages and work- ing conditions that would make their industries competitive globally, although this should not be ruled out entirely if the economy deteriorates over a long period of time.
With this off the table, what choice is there but a resuscitation of consumer cul- ture in the United States and redoubled efforts, once the current downturn abates, to export it and its components to the rest of the world? While this offers some hope of economic recovery, it also promises in the longer term a recurrence of our current economic difficulties. What would seem to be needed is thinking about the “next new thing” in the economy. Several possibilities exist—new developments on the Internet, alternative forms of energy (solar, wind, biomass), rebuilding the infra- structure of the United States. While all may be desirable in themselves, they do not seem to offer the possibility of economic success, within the United States and globally, that was the case in earlier economic epochs. The implication may well be that the United States experienced unprecedented economic success for more than a century and a half, but it is going to need to adjust to less comparatively at home and to a smaller role in the global economy. Adjusting to less in the current eco- nomic downturn may be just the beginning of a long-term trend and may actually help Americans adjust to coming global economic realities.
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This, for Baudrillard, is emblematic of what has happened throughout society. Thus, in the economic realm symbolic exchange has tended to be replaced by economic exchange. In primitive society the exchange of goods tended to be strictly limited. Gifts and counter-gifts were given, but eventually the parties were satisfied and the cycle associated with that particular exchange ended. However, in the contemporary world of economic exchange, there is no end to the exchange of goods: There is no end to purchasing goods for one’s self and others. The idea is to keep the process of economic exchange through consumption going on continually and forever. This, of course, serves to increase production and, ultimately, the wealth of those who control production (today, the capitalists).
Work can also be examined from this perspective. In primitive societies work involved a symbolic exchange between workers and other workers, raw materials, tools, and so forth. For example, workers took from nature (e.g., raw materials), but they also returned to nature (e.g., by replanting that which they had taken). In contemporary societies, work is dominated by economic exchange. Raw materials derived from nature may be purchased, but there is little sense (unless it is coerced by outside forces) that the buyer needs to renew what has been taken from nature. In addition, in contemporary society a worker gives the owner labor time and in exchange the worker is paid. There is no symbolic exchange between worker and owner. Moreover, in primitive soci- ety there were no owners in the contemporary sense of the term; there was sim- ply continual symbolic exchange between people involved in the work process.
Simulations Relatedly, Baudrillard views a transformation from primitive societies characterized by genuine cultural worlds, such as symbolic exchange, to contemporary worlds characterized by their lack of genuineness—by simu- lations. Simulations are fakes and Baudrillard envisions a world increasingly dominated by them. He also views genuine cultural worlds such as those char- acterized by symbolic exchange as being enchanted, magical. However, over time the social world has lost its enchantment (its magic). The simulations that characterize the contemporary world do not have the capacity for magic and enchantment, at least in the sense that Baudrillard uses the term. Thus, this simulated world is totally disenchanted and is almost shameful in comparison to the primitive, genuine world.
Baudrillard offers several examples of what he means. The Indian tribe, the Tasaday, was real, or genuine, during its existence in primitive times. The tribe that continues to exist today is nothing more than a simulation of its primitive form. It is protected by authorities, frozen artificially in time, and sterilized to elimi- nate some of its most distinctive characteristics. It exists for anthropologists to study and tourists to ogle, but it is no longer really the Tasaday.
One of Baudrillard’s favorite examples of a simulation is Disney World. This contemporary theme park encompasses many simulations of what were at one time genuine social realities. For example, one enters and leaves Disney
simulations Fakes; to Baudrillard the contemporary world is coming to be increas- ingly dominated by the inauthentic.
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World through Main Street, a thinly disguised shopping mall that is a simula- tion of the kinds of main streets that characterized many American towns at the turn of the century. But it is not just the past that is simulated at Disney World; there is also a simulated submarine ride to which people flock in order to view simulated undersea life. Strikingly, many tourists prefer to go there rather than to the more genuine aquarium (itself, however, a simulation of the sea) down the road, to say nothing of actual ocean and its sealife not much further away from the doors of Disney World.
The widespread existence of simulations is a major reason for the erosion of the distinction between the real and the imaginary, the true and the false. Virtu- ally every aspect of the contemporary world is a mixture of the real and the imagi- nary. Thus, real tribespeople exist among the Tasaday, but their behavior has been altered, made into an imaginary image of how such tribespeople should behave, by government officials, tourists, and so on. Nothing is real at Disney World except for the people who work there, and even they behave in unreal ways by donning costumes (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, etc.) and speaking and acting in accord with preset scripts. In fact, the real and the true are harder and harder to find and may even be said to have disappeared in an avalanche of simulations. This can make it dangerous to try to get to the bottom of things, to try to probe beneath and behind the simulations. It is increasingly likely that we will find that there is nothing beneath the simulations but other simulations. In other words, in the contemporary world, there is no truth; there is no reality. Without truth and reality it could be argued that we live in one huge simulation.
Baudrillard views the United States as being in the forefront of this development—the most unreal, false, and simulated society on earth. It is setting the standard here, but the rest of the world is sure to follow. Thus, America is the home of some of the world’s best-known and most popular simulations. Another major example is Las Vegas, especially its hotels that simulate other worlds: New York, New York; Paris; Venetian; Mandalay Bay; Bellagio; and Luxor, to mention just a few. But Baudrillard goes beyond the obvious examples to discuss whole cities (e.g., Los Angeles) and even the entire nation in terms of simulations. Thus, in New York City today, one can discuss the Disneyization of the Times Square area. Disney’s renovation of an old theater led to a dramatic change in the entire area as the old pornographic theaters and cheap shops have been closed and replaced by a number of franchises found throughout the United States. One could say that the real Times Square has been eliminated and a simulated, sterilized reality, not much different from that found elsewhere, has taken its place. New York is in the process of losing its distinctiveness and coming to look like many other places.
The United States is also the home of other key centers of simulation. The United States dominates the world’s movie industry and all of what one sees in the movies is simulation. Similarly, the world’s television programming is dominated by the United States and that, too, is entirely within simulation. In addition, the Internet and the various cybersites are all simulations. For example, people increasingly visit cybershops and cybermalls that are simula- tions of the real things that exist throughout the United States. Of course, they, too, are increasingly simulated so that people find it relatively easy to move
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smoothly from a cybermall to some real setting like the Park Meadows Retail Resort in suburban Denver, a shopping mall (although it refuses to call itself one) that is a simulation of the rustic Timberline Lodge (itself the model for the simulation of it in the movie, The Shining ) on Mount Hood in Colorado.
Baudrillard describes such developments as being hyperreal , that is, entirely simulated and, as a result, more real than real, more beautiful than beautiful, truer than true. This is certainly true of Disney World, Las Vegas, and even the
hyperreal Entirely simulated and, as a result, more real than real, more beautiful than beautiful, truer than true, and so on.
Key Concepts The Prosumer and Prosumption
The Industrial Revolution marked the beginning of an era in which the focus in the economy was on production (e.g., in the factory) and producers (e.g., workers and owners). In the decades after World War II, especially in the United States, production at first rose and then began to decline (in steel, tires, and more recently automobiles). In its place arose a society increasingly dominated by consumption (e.g., shopping) and consumers. However, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries we have entered an era in which “prosumption” rather than either production or consumption has become pre-eminent. The term prosumption is a fusion of produc- tion (“pro”) and consumption (“sumption”). That is, we increasingly produce and consume more or less simultaneously. Furthermore, there is a growing realization that we are not only increasingly likely to be prosumers, but that people have always been prosumers.
In fact, the clear distinction between production and consumption is relatively recent. On the farm, for example, those who were (and still are) the producers of food (the farmers) were also the consumers of much of what they produced. In the Industrial Revolution and with the emergence of the factory, all industrial produc- tion simultaneously involved consumption. For example, an enormous range of things are consumed in the production of automobiles, including raw materials, the workers’ labor time, and energy of various types.
Recent trends have tended to reduce further whatever separation between the two continues to exist, at least in the developed West. For example, the rise of the modern fast food restaurant was instrumental in the trend toward putting the consumer to work (creating a prosumer). The “diner” at a fast food restaurant, the consumer of fast food, is also, at least to some degree, a producer of that meal. Diners are, for example, expected to serve as their own waiters carrying their meals to their tables and as bus persons (by disposing of their own debris after the meal is finished).
This trend toward putting the consumer to work has accelerated since the birth of the fast food restaurant. Among the examples are: pumping one’s own gaso- line at filling stations; serving as a bank teller at the ATM machine; working at the checkout counter at the supermarket by scanning one’s own food, bagging it, and
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“new” Times Square in New York. For example, Disney World is cleaner than the world outside its gates and its employees are far friendlier than those we are likely to meet in our daily lives. To take another example, think of the luxury gated communities springing up throughout the United States, especially in states with hospitable climates like Arizona, Florida, and California. In those communities one finds foliage that is not necessarily indigenous to the area. In addition, even that which is indigenous has been nurtured so that it appears far more lush than that which exists in nature. The result is the production of a tropical paradise that is far more real than the surrounding environment, which may well be dry, dusty, and populated by an occasional undernourished palm tree. The tropical paradise of these luxury communities is clearly hyperreal.
paying for it by credit card; using electronic kiosks to check into a hotel and at the airport, to purchase movie tickets, etc.; co-creating a variety of experiences such as moving oneself through Disney World and its many attractions or serving as an “actor” in the theatre “staged” by Starbucks designed to create the image of an old- fashioned coffee house.
Medicine is increasingly characterized by do-it-yourself (DIY) technologies (e.g., blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, pregnancy tests) that allow patients to perform tasks without recompense formerly performed by paid medical professionals. In the entertainment industry there is the recent proliferation of “real- ity TV shows,” in which members of the audience become performers, perhaps for an entire season. In pornography, the once-booming “professional” porn industry finds itself in difficulty because of competition from amateurs. Cell phones now allow “amateurs” to photograph dramatic events and then send the photos to TV networks and local stations that show them on air almost immediately.
Much of what transpires on the Internet in terms of content generated by the user (the consumer) needs to be seen in this context and as among the latest devel- opments in this long-term trend. For example, it is the users who generate and constantly edit the articles on Wikipedia; create the profiles (composed of videos, photos, text) and the interaction that creates communities on You Tube, MySpace and Facebook; create the characters and virtual environments in the massively pop- ular Second Life game; are the “blogosphere” where weblogs, personal blogs and the comments on them are produced by those who consume them; create the mar- ket on eBay, craigslist, etc.; are the mostly “amateur” photographers who upload and download the photographs on Flickr; and not only do all the work involved in ordering products on sites like Amazon.com., but also do things like write the “reviews” that appear there.
It is on the Internet, especially Web 2.0 (all of the examples in the previous paragraph are examples of Web 2.0), that the prosumer has come of age. Web 1.0 (e.g., the websites for the New York Times and the New York Yankees) was, and still is, dominated by distinct producers and consumers of content. What distinguishes Web 2.0 from 1.0 is user-generation; it is the users (consumers) who also generate (produce) most, if not all, of the content.
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Another example, in an entirely different realm, is pornography. The female pornographic film star with her implants, additional cosmetic surgery, tatoos, body makeup, and other alterations can be viewed as a simulated temptress. She is a hyperreal sex object more real than the women most men are ever likely to encounter in real life. The same can be said of the sex acts depicted in these movies; few people attempt, or are even able, to go through the gyrations and manipulations that are seen on the screen. And, if people try, they are turning their own sex lives into simulations. Since the sex acts seen on the screen are hyperreal, people do try to emulate them, with the result that their day-to-day sex lives themselves become simulations. People may also seek to live up to these hyperreal images by transforming themselves so that they look more like porn stars. Thus, women have breast implants and even surgery to beautify their vagi- nas, while men may undergo surgery to increase the length and breadth of their penises. In this way, they come to be simulated lovers, if not simulated people.
Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) A Biographical Vignette
Jean Baudrillard was an unusual social theorist, even in France, which specializes in producing unique theorists (e.g., Michel Foucault). He was trained in sociology, but soon moved away from it. He taught at the university level, but gave it up rather quickly. One of his early publications was a critique of Foucault, who was then a leading figure in French scholarly life. Foucault dismissed Baudrillard as easily forgotten and Baudrillard subsequently had a difficult time advancing in French scholarly and academic circles. He was a radical strongly influenced by Marxian ideas. Over the years he grew less politically engaged and, even more quickly, he abandoned Marxian theory. One of the reasons for the latter was the fact that Marx and the Marxists focused on production, while Baudrillard quickly came to recog- nize the increasing centrality of consumption in the contemporary world. In the late 1960s Baudrillard published pioneering work on consumption, work that continues to influence this growing area of sociological interest.
In the 1970s and beyond, Baudrillard published a series of innovative and star- tling works that led to him being considered the pre-eminent postmodern social theorist. Characteristically, Baudrillard had disdain for the postmodern label and refused to allow himself to be labeled a postmodernist. Yet many students of Baudrillard’s work and postmodern theory more generally view him as being at the very heart of that new theoretical orientation. His general perspectives, as well as many of his more specific ideas (e.g., symbolic exchange, simulations, implosion), have powerfully influenced not only postmodern social theory, but more main- stream work in theory.
Baudrillard’s influence is not restricted to social theory; many artistic fields have been affected by his ideas. For example, in the movie The Matrix there is a close-up of a book entitled Simulations. Thus, even pop culture has been influenced by Baudrillard who, himself, has become something of a pop icon. Few thinkers can be considered both a pop icon and a serious social theorist.
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It could be argued that not only are these simulated realities important in themselves, but also because they are serving as the models for transforma- tions beyond their immediate confines. Under the influence of these hyperreal models, the rest of the world is itself becoming increasingly simulated, increas- ingly hyperreal. Thus, Disney World’s influence is not restricted behind its walls or even restricted to Times Square in New York. Many communities are being built on the Disney model in order to simulate America of the turn of the 20th century. In fact, Disney itself has built such a model community, Celebration, on its grounds in Florida. Furthermore, new communities around the country are using it and Disney World as models for their own develop- ment. Thus, according to Baudrillard, reality is increasingly contaminated by these simulations.
Overall, Baudrillard offers a grand theory of the change from primitive soci- eties characterized by real, human symbolic exchange, through the less real and fully human economic exchange, to the contemporary world increasingly char- acterized by unreal, inhuman technologies. The sense is that while the United States lies at the heart of all of this, the rest of the world is destined to move in the same simulated direction. Furthermore, even in the United States we are clearly just at the beginning of the process of simulation. The future will bring not only increasingly extraordinary, but increasingly pervasive, simulations.
THE CONSUMER SOCIETY AND THE NEW MEANS OF CONSUMPTION
Strongly influenced by several of Baudrillard’s postmodern ideas, as well as other ideas drawn from modernists like Marx and Weber, George Ritzer has created a grand theory that involves the settings in which we consume. More generally, it depicts a world of increasing consumption leading to contempo- rary society, which can be seen as being characterized by hyperconsumption.
Means of Consumption: Old and New Following Marx, Ritzer has labeled consumption sites means of consumption. Marx uses this term, but he does so in a way that is inconsistent with the way he uses his far better known con- cept, means of production. To Marx, the means of production are those things (tools, machines, raw materials, etc.) that make production possible in a cap- italist society. However, as he defi nes them, the means of consumption are simply consumer goods. To be consistent with the defi nition of means of pro- duction, the means of consumption should be defi ned as those things that
means of production Those things that are needed for production to take place (including tools, machinery, raw materials, and factories).
means of consumption To Marx, these are simply consumer goods, but to Ritzer, par- alleling Marx’s sense of the means of production, these are the things that make consumption possible. Just as the factory makes production possible, the shopping mall enables the consumer and consumption.
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make consumption possible. Just as the factory makes production possible, the shopping mall enables the consumer and consumption. Others who have used the concept in this way include Baudrillard, who viewed the Parisian drug- store, among other settings, as a means of consumption.
Part of Ritzer’s grand theory involves movement from what can be termed old means of consumption such as taverns, cafes, and diners to the new means of consumption to be discussed next. The older, more traditional means of con- sumption were (and are) all quite material, involving physical structures, face- to-face interaction among customers and employees, consumption of things like food and drink, and payment almost exclusively in cash. Although they were material structures, these sites had, or produced, a number of immaterial effects such as feelings of gemeinschaft, or community, among those who fre- quented them. Of course, there are even older means of consumption such as the bazaar, arcade, department store (see the Key Concepts box, Phantasmago- ria and Dream Worlds), general store, and county fair.
What Ritzer is calling the new means of consumption are a set of sites that came into existence largely after 1950 in the United States and have served to revolutionize consumption. The following are the major new means of con- sumption with notable examples and the year in which they began operations:
• Franchises (McDonald’s, 1955). • Shopping malls (the first indoor mall, Edina, Minnesota, 1956). • Megamalls (West Edmonton Mall, 1981; Mall of America, 1992). • Superstores (Toys ’R’ Us, 1957). • Discounters (Target, 1962). • Theme parks (Disneyland, 1955). • Cruise ships (Sunward, 1966). • Casino-hotels (Flamingo, 1946). • Eatertainment (Hard Rock Cafe, 1971).
These, too, are material structures, but they also can be seen as phantas- magoria or dream worlds. In fact, over the last half century these have become increasingly fantastic and spectacular in order to enchant consumers and to lure them in greater numbers and with increasing frequency into their lairs in order to heighten progressively the level of consumption—to produce hyper- consumption. They have all been enormously successful in their efforts, and, through what Joseph Schumpeter called the process of creative destruction (older structures destroyed to make way for newer ones that function more effectively), have largely replaced the older means of consumption such as din- ers, arcades, and expositions.
new means of consumption The set of consumption sites that came into existence largely after 1950 in the United States and that served to revolutionize consumption.
creative destruction The idea that older structures are destroyed to make way for newer ones that function more effectively.
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Yet the pace of change is so rapid that many of these new means of con- sumption are already being threatened by other, even newer, dematerialized means of consumption such as home shopping television (born in 1985) and especially cybercommerce of all types (made possible by the coming of the Internet in 1988). These combine a dematerialized form with the capacity to produce, and to a far greater extent, phantasmagoria and dream worlds. Their greater immateriality (both perceptual and real) gives them enormous advan- tages over the material means of consumption in terms of both what they are able to do and the effect they are able to create. As a result, they pose a pro- found threat to several of the more material new means of consumption, espe- cially shopping malls, megamalls, and superstores.
Why venture out of the house, into one’s car, onto the thruways, into those cavernous parking lots and those enormous and tiring consumption sites when one can obtain as much, and in many cases even more, from the comfort of one’s sofa or seat in front of the computer? For example, amazon.com’s million-plus list of books is far larger than the stock in the largest Barnes and Noble’s book superstores. Instead of all of those physical acts required to get to and from the superstore, consumption can be accomplished with a few keystrokes. Many other new (and old) material means of consumption face a similar struggle in the future in luring customers out of their homes. Why fly to a Las Vegas casino hotel when one can play the slots and other games of chance online? Why go to the racetrack when one can bet on the races over the Internet? Why go to a men’s club when one can view a private lap dance on one’s own computer screen?
More importantly, these new dematerialized sites of consumption, espe- cially those associated with the Internet, have a far greater potential to produce phantasmagoria or dream worlds than their more material predecessors. Ritzer focuses on various processes that serve to make the new means of consumption more spectacular, enchanting, dream-like, phantasmagoric. The fact is that, at least potentially, the dematerialized means of consumption have a far greater capacity to use these processes to create an alluring fantasy world to consum- ers. In other words, greater immateriality is not only an advantage in itself, but also one that can be used to create still further advantages for dematerialized means of consumption.
Spectacle and Implosion One of the ways that the new means of consump- tion create spectacles is through the implosion (this concept, like others, is borrowed from Baudrillard and involves the decline of boundaries and the collapse of various things into each other) of once separate means of consump- tion into one setting: the Mall of America, which is both a mall and an amuse- ment park; the cruise ship encompassing a mall, a casino, and so on. Yet because these are material structures, there are limits to what can be imploded into
implosion The decline of boundaries and the collapse of various things into each other; dedifferentiation as opposed to differentiation.
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a mall or a cruise ship. People need to be able to physically navigate a mall or the deck of a cruise ship. If, in order to encompass more means of consumption, malls, amusement parks, and so on, grow too big, people will not be able to work their way through them. For example, it was found that if hypermarkets grew too large, customers, especially older ones, would be turned off by the need to walk so far to get a quart of milk.
There are no such limits in cyberspace. Cyberspace can be as big as the imag- inations of those who create, and view, its various components. Of course, as cybersites and cyberspace grow larger, it becomes increasingly difficult getting around, but this is where search engines and other technologies come in and do the work for the consumer. A more specific example of such a technology is a shop bot; it roams through various e-tailers looking for a specific item. There is no need for consumers to switch from amazon.com to barnesandnoble.com to varsitybooks.com in search of a specific book; the shop bot will do it for them. Consumers may get irritated by delays and problems finding what they want as the components of the Internet grow more numerous and diverse, but few of them will be winded by the process.
Key Concepts Phantasmagoria and Dream Worlds
An examination of older means of consumption is found in the work of Walter Benjamin, who was concerned with both their physical structure and the immate- rial feelings they were designed to evoke. Best known is Benjamin’s arcades project (Passagen-Werk), a fragmentary, unfinished undertaking focusing on the 19th-century Parisian arcades. The arcades were old means of consumption even when Benjamin wrote about them (roughly 1920–1940) since he used them as a lens to gain greater insight not only into his day but the era in which they flourished. Benjamin saw him- self examining the debris or residue of the mass culture of the 1800s. The arcades were essentially privately owned covered city streets lined on both sides with shops of various sorts. The streets were closed to vehicular traffic, allowing consumers to wander from shop to shop in order to buy or merely to window shop.
Benjamin views the arcade as the original temple for the consumption of capi- talist commodities. It was the immediate precursor of other temples for the con- sumption of commodities—expositions and the department stores. (The arcades themselves, of course, had predecessors such as the church [arcades were often shaped like a cross] and Oriental bazaars.)
What were originally confined to the arcades later burst out of those con- fines and flooded Paris with grander and more pretentious commodity displays. Benjamin accords an important role here to the architect Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, who created in Paris a series of physical structures, including railroad stations, museums, wintergardens, sport palaces, department stores, exhibition halls (as well as the boulevards to get to them) that not only dwarfed the original arcades but served to eclipse them. All of these structures related wholly or in part to consumption. However, Benjamin recognized that not only the arcades, but all of
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Many of the means of consumption, new and old, are collapsing into the Internet in one way or another. The incredible spectacle is that with a click of a mouse a person can switch from shopping at the cybermall to gambling at the cybercasino to a virtual tour of Disney World.
Spectacles and Simulations Another way in which the new means of con- sumption make themselves spectacular is through the creation of simulations more incredible than reality. For example, the Las Vegas Strip encompasses a series of incredible casino-hotel simulations such as New York, New York. As physical structures, casino-hotels must operate with the limitations imposed
these physical structures, were more than material realities; they produced immate- rial effects, most notably Benjamin’s famous notion of phantasmagoria. In fact, his general argument was that the new urban phantasmagoria traced to Haussmann was replacing arcades and that the once magical arcades that had created such phantasmagoria were in decline.
A similar argument is made by Rosalind Williams about other earlier means of consumption: expositions and department stores. Williams argues that the Paris Expositions, especially of 1889 and 1900, were the first systematically planned mass consumption settings and that they were innovative in the way they combined imagination and goods to be sold. Imagination in concert with a planned environ- ment creates a dream world for consumers. (Again, we see here the integration of ideal [imagination] and material [planned environmental] factors.) In this context, Williams discusses the founding of the French department store, especially Bon Marché in 1852. She concentrates on such things as the use of décor to lure customers to the stores and to make the store’s merchandise seem glamorous, romantic, and, therefore, appealing to consumers. To Williams, the goal of such department stores was to inflame the desires and feelings of consumers for the merchandise in them. The goal was not necessarily to arouse a desire that would be immediately satisfied, but rather a free-floating desire that would sooner rather than later lead to purchases.
The key point is that the older means of consumption were decidedly physi- cal structures, and while analysts such as Benjamin and Williams recognized that fact and acknowledged its importance, they emphasized the way those structures served to arouse various feelings associated with being in a phantasmagoric setting or a dream world.
phantasmagoria The fantastic immaterial effects produced by physical structures like the arcades as well as the newer means of consumption.
dream world Similar to the concept of phantasmagoria; more specifically refers to the use of things like décor to lure customers to means of consumption and to make the goods and services being purveyed seem glamorous, romantic, and, there- fore, appealing to consumers. The goal is to inflame the desires and feelings of consumers.
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by their materiality. For example, New York, New York’s attractions are not to scale and they are jumbled together indiscriminately. From the outside, the viewer never loses sight of the fact that he or she is looking at a simulation, and inside the viewer never loses the sense of being in a casino-hotel; the viewer never really feels that he or she is in New York.
Cybersites are by definition simulations. Because they do not have the limitations of physical sites, they are freer to create simulations that are more spectacular and even in some senses truer to reality. Thus, a to-scale model of New York could, at least theoretically, be built in cyberspace. Once we have greater bandwidth and the wedding of virtual reality and cyberspace, we will see even greater ability to place people in simulated worlds that closely approx- imate reality. They may even be more real than real; in other words, hyperreal (e.g., cybersites lack the crowds and the trash one sees in malls). The point is that because they are not restricted physically, cybersites have a much greater potential to use simulations in order to create far more fantastic worlds than are possible in Las Vegas or the Mall of America.
Spectacles, Time, and Space Time and space are also manipulated in order to create spectacles in the new means of consumption. Las Vegas hotels freely jux- tapose time periods. The Luxor of ancient Egypt stands next to Excalibur [the England of King Arthur], which stands adjacent to a mid-20th century New York, New York. Furthermore, the interiors of casino-hotels are designed so that gamblers have no idea what time it is. This is accomplished by allowing no clocks or windows in casinos. Space is manipulated by, for example, creating huge spaces designed to awe consumers. The Mall of America is large enough to encompass both a shopping mall and an amusement park. The Luxor has the world’s largest atrium, one that can hold nine Boeing 747 airplanes. As impres- sive as these are, they pale in comparison to what can potentially be created in cyberspace where literally there are no limits to what can be done with time and space. The entire universe and the entire expanse of time are at the disposal of the means of consumption that exist in cyberspace.
QUEER THEORY: SEX AND SEXUALITY
Connected to what we have already said about Michel Foucault, another impor- tant area of social theory studies sex and sexuality. One important contribu- tor to this area, called Queer Theory, is distinct from theories of gender (see Chapter 8) and thus requires separate treatment. Queer theories are postmodern because they emphasize the socially constructed and historically contingent nature of sexuality. They also focus on the fundamental instability of meaning systems, social systems, and the material, desiring body. Indeed, more than any other contemporary theoretical approach, queer theory does not simply docu- ment the instability of meaning systems but also develops strategies to resist the stabilization of meanings, bodies, and desires.
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Even though queer theory has implications for social theory more generally, it is firstly concerned with the stigmatization and marginalization of gays and lesbians. The queer, then, in queer theory refers to the experiences of gay, les- bian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons. But we must be careful here. Even though queer theory is allied with anti-homophobic politics, it is wary of the identity politics that have served as the foundation for mainstream concep- tualizations of sexuality. Identity politics refers to a particular kind of political activism in which marginalized groups seek recognition for their distinct iden- tities. Queer theorists argue that the concept of identity mistakenly assumes that all persons have essential, in-built, character traits and, in the case of sexu- ality, essential sexual desires. As a postmodern perspective, queer theory rejects essentialist thinking and tries to open conceptual and practical spaces in which we can articulate forms of desire that are not captured within existing catego- ries. The purpose is not merely to speak up for marginalized sexualities, but to establish the basis for descriptions of uncategorized and unmarked desires and forms of social relationship. For this reason, queer theory does not promote the truth or reality of homosexual desire alongside heterosexual desire. Instead it develops theoretical tools that demonstrate the contingency of all identities and then describes the processes through which sexual identifications are achieved. Queer theory “queers” social life by drawing attention to the in-betweens, the hidden spaces, and the invisible zones which both exist alongside but also help to constitute the meaning of identities and desires.
The Heterosexual/Homosexual Binary
Queer theory draws heavily on poststructuralist philosophy. Poststructural- ism is a school of thought that grew out of mid-to-late 20th century French literary theory (see also Bourdieu, Chapter 7). According to poststructural- ists, language is a system of power that constructs and orders social reality. In the modern West, reality has been constructed through linguistic binaries: male versus female, white versus black, inside versus outside, and in the case of modern sexuality, heterosexual versus homosexual. These categories define what people can be and do in a given time and place. Through the technique of deconstruction poststructuralists show that even though these binaries appear to be natural realities, they are in fact linguistic creations. Foucault, for exam- ple, describes the construction of sexuality, homosexuality, and heterosexual- ity in the 19th century. Prior to this historical period there was no such thing
identity politics Political activism that arises out of the efforts of marginalized groups to seek legitimacy and recognition for their distinct identities.
deconstruction An analytic technique used by poststructuralists to demonstrate the constructed nature of taken-for-granted social realities. In particular, deconstruc- tion shows that social reality is created in the relationship between binary linguistic categories in which one of the elements in the category is treated as inferior.
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as a sexual identity, at least in the sense understood today. People engaged in sexual acts such as same sex sodomy, but it was not believed that these acts expressed something fundamental about the person who engaged in them. The development of the sciences of sex, such as psychoanalysis and sexology, alongside transformations in industrial and domestic life, led to the identifica- tion of particular sex acts with character types. The 20th century conceptual- ization of homosexuality emerges, then, when the act of sodomy is associated with the identity of homosexuality. Furthermore, the identity of homosexuality is defined in contrast to the identity of heterosexuality, itself a newly invented concept. Following poststructuralist logic, a central claim of queer theory is that, as binaries, heterosexuality and homosexuality define one another and hence depend for their meaning on one another.
Beyond the idea that identities are constructed through binaries, another central idea of poststructuralist thought is that one element in the binary struc- ture is always viewed as inferior to the other. For example, as constructed in patriarchal societies, masculinity is superior to femininity. So too, queer theo- rists demonstrate that homosexual identity has been constructed as inferior to heterosexuality. In fact, modern Western social life has been organized around the presumed naturalness and primacy of heterosexuality. In other words, modern social life is governed by what Judith Butler calls a heterosexual matrix. The heterosexual matrix is the cultural framework that makes it appear as if heterosexuality was the natural form of sexuality. Further, the heterosex- ual matrix imposes compulsory heterosexuality. This refers to a social system in which the only viable, intelligible and respectable form of sexuality is hetero- sexuality accompanied by the related accoutrements of middle-class suburban life. Any alternative expression of desire is treated as unnatural and unintelli- gible. It is frequently disparaged and sometimes met with violence.
Queer theorist Eve Sedgwick further describes the logic of contemporary sexual culture through her concept of the epistemology of the closet. Epis- temology is the field of philosophy that studies the various ways in which humans know and can know the world. The closet refers to the now popu- lar idea that an identity can be closeted; that is kept secret, hidden from view, maintained in a private and safe place. Sedgwick analyzes the concept of the closet as a means of understanding how the relationship between heterosexu- ality and homosexuality has shaped modern ways of knowing and relating to sexuality. It is not only that homosexuality is treated as inferior to heterosexual- ity, but that this relationship of dependency is hidden from view, unspoken, or closeted. This has given rise to central components of identity formation in our
heterosexual matrix A cultural framework that makes it appear as if heterosexuality was the natural form of sexuality.
compulsory heterosexuality A product of the heterosexual matrix; the social sys- tem in which the only viable, intelligible and respectable form of sexuality is heterosexuality.
epistemology of the closet The idea that modern knowledge about sexuality and in particular homosexuality is connected to the public denial of homosexuality.
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times. For one, in contrast to the open public image of heterosexuality, homo- sexuality and other queer sexualities have largely been developed in hidden spaces. This has resulted in feelings of shame being associated with queer iden- tities. Further, as a result of its identification with the closet, the act of “coming out” of the closet has, for good or bad, been a defining feature of queer experi- ence in the last thirty years.
Finally, because homosexuality has been closeted, people who identify themselves as heterosexual are unable to understand the relationship between their sexuality and queer sexuality. As already described, queer theorists argue that there is a mutually constitutive relationship between homosexuality and heterosexuality. Moreover, drawing on psychoanalytic theory, some queer theorists argue that sexuality, in general, is never classifiable or set in stone. Instead sexual desire is fluid and open to transformation. Desire is locked into strict categories only through historical and social processes. Following this, queer theorists make a very subversive point: Heterosexual persons contain within themselves the potentials of queer sexuality. When social institutions repress or deny queer sexuality they do not eliminate it but only hide it from view. This can be dangerous. For example, Sedgwick argues that homosex- ual panic—the fearful and violent reactions that homosexuality arouses in heterosexual society (often described as homophobia)—is a product of the clos- eting of queer desire. Because it has so insistently denied the homosexuality within itself, the heterosexual culture strikes back against public manifestations of queer sexuality.
Making a related point Judith Butler argues that modern Western persons suffer homosexual melancholy. Homosexual melancholy is the persistent sad- ness that emerges when heterosexual culture denies its own homosexuality. In both of these examples, even though it is denied, homosexual desire, the queer side of the modern subject, continues to haunt heterosexuality, and vice versa. The task of queer theory then is to show the ways that queer desire is and always has been a central component of sociocultural life.
Judith Butler is one of the most important queer theorists. Butler is famous for her claim that gender and sex are created through social performances. In femi- nist theories gender refers to the social roles played by men and women. These roles are generally regarded as social constructions. Sex refers to the biological makeup of males and females. Butler agrees with other feminists that gender roles are social constructions but she takes the argument a step further and says that sex is also a social construction. Even though Western society believes that there are only two sexes—male and female—Butler insists that our percep- tion of this difference is a cultural and historical achievement. For example, the distinction overlooks the many intersex bodies that do not clearly fit into the category of male or female.
homosexual melancholy The persistent sadness that is part of a heterosexual culture in denial of its own homosexuality.
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With these ideas in hand we can turn to the concept of performance. From Butler’s perspective, sex, gender, and desire are not automatic possessions of a body but rather they are brought into existence in performance. The successful achievement of sex identity (to see oneself as a “real man”) and accompanying ideas about sex attraction depends upon the successful performance of a gender role. This is similar to Goffman’s idea that the self is not an in-born entity but rather an effect of social performances (see Chapter 6). In the same way, then, that a person builds a self over time in social performances so too sex, gender, and sexual desire are produced through performance. For example, male heter- onormative gender performances link together male bodies with male gender performances and male expressions of desire for females. These connections between bodies, desires, and social roles are not automatically given but rather are cultural and personal achievements.
In connection with this, Butler also argues that certain culturally sanctioned performances produce “bodies that matter.” Butler plays on the double meaning of the word matter. On the one hand, “matter” describes the way that identi- ties become embodied. Distinctions made in language are built into the body through its performances so that they are felt and lived as real and uncontest- able. At the same time, “matter” describes a political judgment. Sexuality is constructed and then materialized within social structures that privilege some forms of sexuality and desire over others. There are bodies that matter and there are bodies that don’t matter. The bodies that don’t matter are marginalized and submitted to social and political violence.
The concept of performance, then, is crucial for queer theory. If sex and gender are performed, then the viability of dominant sexualities depends upon their continued performance. Through the concept of performance Butler de-naturalizes heterosexuality in a very concrete way. She doesn’t merely reveal it to be a social construction, but also shows that it is a performance that has to be chosen to be sustained. To be a woman you need to walk and talk and act like a woman. This does not automatically happen but must be practiced.
In addition, the concept of performance grounds Butler’s challenge to the het- erosexual matrix. Contrary to gay rights activists, Butler does not call for the cre- ation of a space for gays and lesbians within heterosexual culture. Nor does she call for the replacement of heterosexual social organization with a presumably more open and liberating homosexual social organization. Each of those moves would merely re-instantiate a normative social order and in particular re-affirm heterosex- uality as the binary opposite of homosexuality. Queer theory tries to move beyond utopias, essentialisms, and binaries and instead sees sexuality as a constant and ongoing set of activities through which sexuality and desire are created.
To demonstrate the performed and constructed nature of sexuality and gender Butler famously uses the example of the drag performer. The drag queen is a male who performs as a woman. A successful performance reveals that gender is a performance and so too is the desire generated by the drag per- former in the audience. Butler also provides an analysis of “butch” identity. In queer culture the butch is a lesbian who adopts the posture of masculinity. The Hollywood star James Dean is an iconic figure who some butch lesbians try to
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imitate in their everyday identifications. Butler says that the butch is not simply a woman who adopts a male role. Rather in juxtaposing sex and gender in new ways the butch generates new forms of sexuality and desire. These examples don’t make sex and sexual desire any less concrete or real. Instead they show that very real feelings and identities originate in sociocultural play.
This points to the overall relevance of queer theory. Queer theory is a per- spective that illuminates the sphere of sexuality, especially queer sexuality, but it speaks to social theory more generally. For one, it demonstrates that sexuality and desire are central features of social life and have been for some time. This means that any serious social theory must incorporate the study of sex, gender, and sexuality into its analysis. In addition, queer theory provides tools to help understand how various sexualities have been and continue to be constructed and performed. Finally, queer theory shows that as a society we are not locked into preset social and bodily roles. Rather, in the spirit of all social theories that have sought social change, queer theory argues that by playing with new com- binations of bodies and roles we can create more equitable and satisfying social relationships and social institutions.
Contemporary Application The Bathroom Problem
In the book Female Masculinity queer theorist Judith Halberstam introduces the “bathroom problem.” The bathroom problem illustrates the way that gender bina- rism is reproduced in everyday innocuous ways. The bathroom, Halberstam says, is a place for enhanced gender policing. This is one of the most important everyday occasions on which people are implicitly and sometimes explicitly asked: Are you male or female? The complexities of the bathroom problem are revealed through the experiences of people of ambiguous gender, people who do not look clearly male or female. It is a regular experience for people of ambiguous gender to be submit- ted to scrutiny, questioning, and hostility when they enter a bathroom. Sometimes security or police forces are called. Other bathroom users want to know whether ambiguous people are male or female and therefore whether or not they belong. According to Halberstam, the bathroom problem shows that one of the most impor- tant rules of gendered existence is that one’s gender immediately be recognizable to others. Any ambiguity, confusion, or uncertainty results in fear, anger, and in some cases, violence. The bathroom problem also highlights the anxieties that accompany everyday life for some queer people. In order to avoid the problems confronted by the bathroom, people of ambiguous identity may avoid using public bathrooms. Consequently, they organize, at least parts of their lives, around finding safe bath- rooms: those at home or in queer-friendly spaces. This not only demonstrates the social psychological distress that comes with some forms of queer life, but it also shows the taken-for-granted privilege that accompanies straight life. Straight peo- ple, especially straight white males, generally feel comfortable in public space. In contrast, queer people often experience public space as something that resists, chal- lenges, and questions their right to existence.
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1. Daniel Bell’s grand theory focused on the emergence of postindustrial society char- acterized by a transition from goods-production to service-provision, the decline of blue-collar work and the rise of professional and technical work, theoretical knowl- edge replacing practical know-how, better assessment of and control over technol- ogy, and the development of new intellectual technologies.
2. In postindustrial society a conflict occurs between social structure (especially the economy) dominated by rationality and efficiency and culture dominated by irra- tionality, self-realization, and self-gratification.
3. Michel Foucault’s grand theory differed from those of modernists because of his rejection of finding origins and his focus on incoherence and on discontinuity.
4. The substance of Foucault’s grand theory deals with the increase in governmentality, the practices and techniques by which control is exercised over people.
5. Instead of seeing progress and increasing humanization in the treatment of prison- ers, Foucault saw an increase in the ability to punish people and to punish them more deeply.
6. Three basic instruments are available to those who seek to exercise control over and observe a population. The first is hierarchical observation or the ability of officials at or near the top of an organization to oversee all that they control with a single gaze.
7. A panopticon is a structure that allows someone in power (e.g., a prison officer) the possibility of complete observation of a group of people (e.g., prisoners).
8. A second instrument of disciplinary power is the ability to make normalizing judg- ments and to punish those who violate the norms.
9. The third instrument is the use of examinations as a way of observing subordinates and judging what they are doing.
10. Although he focuses on control, Foucault recognizes that control is constantly con- tested. This is part of his interest in the microphysics of power.
11. In contrast to the accepted grand theory, Foucault sees an increase in the ability of the sane and their agents to separate out the insane from the rest of the population and to oppress and repress them.
12. In contrast to the accepted grand theory on the relationship between Victorianism and sexuality, Foucault sees more analysis, stocktaking, classification, specification, and causal and quantitative study of sexuality.
13. Zygmunt Bauman associates modernity with an inability to accept ambivalence, but postmodernity promises to be more accepting of ambivalence.
14. Bauman also associates neotribalism with postmodernity. These new tribes, or communities, are the refuge for strangers and more specifically for a wide range of ethnic, religious, and political groups. These communities, and their groups, are tolerated by the larger society.
15. The morality of the postmodern world is dominated by the need to be for the Other. 16. Jean Baudrillard sees a transformation from producer to consumer society. 17. Consumption is better explained by the consumer’s search for difference than by
the needs of consumers. 18. When we consume, we are really consuming signs rather than goods or services. 19. Since the code determines the meanings of signs, it also controls consumption. 20. Capitalism has shifted from a focus on control over workers to control over
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21. Baudrillard also views a transformation from primitive symbolic exchange (a reversible process of giving and receiving) characterized by its genuineness to today’s simulations, or fakes, that are characterized by their lack of genuineness.
22. Ritzer sees a world dominated by hyperconsumption, fostered, at least in part, by the new means of consumption.
23. The process of creative destruction continues and even some of the new material means of consumption are threatened by the even newer nonmaterial means of con- sumption such as cybermalls and home-shopping television.
24. In order to attract consumers, the new means of consumption use a variety of mech- anisms such as implosion, simulation, and the manipulation of time and space. Nonmaterial means of consumption are better able to use these mechanisms than the new material means of consumption.
25. Queer theory focuses on the social construction of sexuality and in particular the construction of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sexuality.
26. The categories of homosexual and heterosexual are not universal forms of sexuality but rather modern constructions that have shaped the experience of sexuality for the last 150 years.
27. Sex and gender are not natural attributes that emanate from the body, but rather are created through social performances.
28. Modern sexuality has been defined through an epistemology of the closet, in which the importance of homosexuality to the organization of modern life has been hidden and denied.
M alcolm W aters Daniel Bell. London: Routledge , 1996 . Much fuller, book-length treatment of Bell and his work.
Couze Venn “Michel Foucault.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley- Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 240–267. Overview of the major contributions of Michel Foucault placed in the context of his life and intel- lectual environment.
J ames M iller The Passion of Michel Foucault. New York: Anchor Books , 1993 . Fascinat- ing biography of this most provocative of social theorists.
G ary T. M arx “Surveillance.” In George Ritzer , ed. The Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 2 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage , 2005 , pp. 816–821 . Brief overview of surveil- lance and surveillance methods in the contemporary world.
W illiam S taples Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield , 2000 . Book-length discussion of everyday surveillance in the postmodern world.
Z ygmunt B auman Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press , 1989 . A provocative modernist work by a theorist who has become one of the best- known postmodernists. Demonstrates why, despite his own ambivalence about it, he prefers postmodernity to modernity.
D ennis S mith Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell , 2000 . A short book-length introduction to the ideas of Zygmunt Bauman.
P eter B eilharz Zygmunt Bauman: Dialectic of Modernity. London: Sage , 2000 . Study of Bauman’s work from a strong theorist and a great admirer of Bauman’s work.
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Peter Beilharz “Zygmunt Bauman.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 155–174. Overview of the major contributions of Zygmunt Bauman placed in the context of his life and intellectual environment.
K eith T ester The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman. London: Palgrave , 2004 . More recent, but certainly not the last, overview of Bauman’s contributions to social theory.
D ouglas K ellner “Jean Baudrillard.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 310–338. Overview of the major contributions of this provocative postmodern thinker placed in the context of his life and times.
M ike G ane , ed. Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews. London: Routledge , 1993 . Reveal- ing and fascinating set of interviews with this leading postmodern thinker.
George Ritzer, Paul Dean, and Nathan Jurgenson, eds. “The Coming Age of Pro- sumption and the Prosumer,” special double issue of American Behavioral Scientist, 56, 4, 2012. A collection of cutting-edge research papers in the field of prosumption studies.
G eorge R itzer Explorations in the Sociology of Consumption: Fast Food, Credit Cards, and Casinos. London: Sage , 2001 . A collection of excerpts from Ritzer’s books and essays, several previously unpublished, on the sociology of consumption.
Moya Lloyd “Judith Butler.” In George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky, eds., The Wiley- Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Volume II – Contemporary Social Theorists. Malden, MA, and Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 541–560. Overview of the work and life of this most important queer theorist.
Judith Butler Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. A foundational text in queer theory and one of Butler’s most cited books. She offers criticisms of essentialist theories of sexuality and introduces her performative theory of sexuality.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990. A central text in queer theory, Sedgwick analyzes how the concept of the closet has shaped modern understandings of sexuality and social life more generally.
Steven Seidman Difference Troubles: Queering Social Theory and Sexual Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Book-length treatment of the topic from the leading sociological spokesperson for queer theory.
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C H A P T E R 1 0
Major Contemporary Theorists on Globalization Cultural Theory Economic Theory Political Theory Other Theories Summary Suggested Readings
I t is likely that no single topic has received as much popular and academic attention in recent years as globalization. In fact, the academic concern is moti- vated, in large part, by the extraordinary public importance of, interest in, and worry over, globalization. However, there are also reasons internal to the aca- demic world (e.g., reactions against early and narrow approaches to what is now called globalization) that have led to this near-obsession with this topic. Social theorists, including many of those discussed in this chapter and else- where in this book, have been no exception to this trend toward a focal concern with globalization. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to offer anything like a complete overview of the voluminous work of social theorists on this topic, let alone a review of the entire literature on globalization. What follows is a brief overview of some of the most important theoretical work on globalization.
Virtually every nation and the lives of billions of people throughout the world are being transformed, often quite dramatically, by globalization. The degree and significance of its impact can be seen virtually everywhere one looks, most visibly in the now common protests that accompany high-level meetings of such global organizations as the WTO (World Trade Organization) and IMF (International Monetary Fund). As both the magnitude of the issues before these organizations and the level of protest against them make clear, people throughout the world feel strongly that they are confronting matters of great moment.
Globalization theory also emerged as a result of a series of developments internal to social theory, notably the reaction against such earlier perspectives as modernization theory. Among the defining characteristics of this theory were its Western bias, the pre-eminence accorded to developments in the West, and
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the idea that the rest of the world had little choice but to become increasingly like it. While there are many different versions of globalization theory, there is a tendency in virtually all of them to shift away dramatically from a focus on the West (including and especially the United States) and to examine transnational processes that not only flow in many different directions, but also those that are, at least to some degree, autonomous and independent of any single nation or area of the world (see discussion of Appadurai’s work below).
Globalization can be analyzed culturally, economically, politically, and/or institutionally. For each, a key difference is whether one sees increasing homo- geneity or heterogeneity. At the extremes, the globalization of culture can be seen as the transnational expansion of common codes and practices (homoge- neity) or as a process in which many global and local cultural inputs interact to create a kind of pastiche, or a blend, leading to a variety of cultural hybrids (het- erogeneity). The trend toward homogeneity is often associated with cultural imperialism, or, the influence of a particular culture on a wide range of other cultures. There are many varieties of cultural imperialism including those that emphasize the role played by American culture, the West, or core countries. Among many others, Roland Robertson, although he doesn’t use the term cul- tural imperialism, opposes the idea through his famous concept of glocalization (see below) in which the global is seen as interacting with the local to produce something distinctive—the glocal.
Theorists who focus on economic factors tend to emphasize their growing importance and homogenizing effect on the world. They generally see globaliza- tion as the spread of the market economy throughout many different regions of the world. For example, some have focused on globalization and the expansion of trade. Recently, George Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize–winning economist and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, issued a stinging attack on the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and especially the Interna- tional Monetary Fund (IMF) for their roles in exacerbating, rather than resolv- ing, global economic crises. Among other things, Stiglitz criticizes the IMF for its homogenizing, “one-size-fits-all” approach that fails to take into account national differences. The IMF in particular, and globalization in general, have worked to the advantage of the wealthy nations, especially the United States (which effec- tively has veto power over IMF decisions), and to the detriment of poor nations; the gap between rich and poor has actually increased as a result of globalization.
While those who focus on economic issues tend to emphasize homogeneity, some differentiation (heterogeneity) is acknowledged to exist at the margins of the global economy. Indeed, Stiglitz argues for the need for more differentiated policies by the IMF and other global economic organizations. Other forms of heterogeneity in the economic realm involve, for example, the commodifica- tion of local cultures and the existence of flexible specialization that permits the tailoring of many products to the needs of various local specifications. More
cultural imperialism The influence of a particular culture on a wide array of other cultures.
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generally, those who emphasize heterogenization would argue that the inter- action of the global market with local markets leads to the creation of unique “glocal” markets that integrate the demands of the global market with the reali- ties of the local market.
Political/institutional orientations, too, tend to emphasize either homogene- ity or heterogeneity. For example, some of those who operate with a homogeni- zation perspective in this domain focus on the worldwide spread of models of the nation-state and the emergence of similar forms of governance throughout the globe; in other words, the growth of a more-or-less single model of gover- nance around the world. More broadly, there is a concern with the global influ- ence of a multiplicity of institutions. As we will see, some see the growth of transnational institutions and organizations as greatly diminishing the power
Key Concept Globalization
Globalization is increasingly omnipresent. We are living in a—or even the—“global age.” Globalization is clearly a very important change; it could even be argued that it is the most important change in human history. This is reflected in many domains, but particularly in social relationships and social structures, especially those that are widely dispersed geographically. Globalization can be defined as: a transplanetary process or set of processes involving growing multidirectional flows of increasingly liquid people, objects, places, and information and the structures they encounter and create that are barriers to, or expedite, those flows.
On the one hand, the emphasis in this definition is on movement—multidirectional processes and flows of various phenomena that have become increasingly liquid in the contemporary world. People move around the world more easily (as tour- ists, migrants), objects travel easily and quickly because of companies like Federal Express, places move everywhere (McDonald’s in well over one hundred countries in the world), and information moves most easily and quickly of all via the Internet.
On the other hand, there are various structures that are also important globally. Some of those structures help in the flow of various phenomena. For example, estab- lished routes for airlines help them move throughout the world (and serve to prevent mid-air collisions) and illegal migrants follow well-established tracks from, for exam- ple, Central and South America through Mexico and then to the United State. However, other structures serve to slow down or even stop various global flows. The borders of nation-states and passport and customs controls are examples of such structures.
Overall, in thinking about globalization we need to focus on that which is in motion—processes, flows, liquids—as well as the more stationary structures that either expedite or impede those flows.
globalization A transplanetary process or set of processes involving growing multidi- rectional flows of increasingly liquid people, objects, places, and information and the structures they encounter and create that are barriers to, or expedite, those flows.
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of both the nation state and other, more local, social structures to make a differ- ence in people’s lives. One of the most extreme views of homogenization in the political realm is Benjamin Barber’s thinking on “McWorld,” or the growth of a single political 1 orientation that is increasingly pervasive throughout the world.
Interestingly, Barber also articulates, as an alternative perspective, the idea of “Jihad”—localized, ethnic, and reactionary political forces (including “rogue states”) that involve an intensification of nationalism and that lead to greater political heterogeneity throughout the world. The interaction of McWorld and Jihad at the local level may produce unique, glocal political formations that integrate elements of both the former (e.g., use of the Internet to attract sup- porters) and the latter (e.g., use of traditional ideas and rhetoric).
While the issue of homogenization/heterogenization cuts across a broad swath of globalization theory, it is clearly not exhaustive. That will become clear in the following discussion of major theories of globalization that certainly touches in various ways on homogenization/heterogenization, but also high- lights a number of other facets of globalization theory. This discussion will be divided into four sections. First, we will look at the perspectives on globaliza- tion of some of the major contemporary theorists (Giddens, Beck, and Bauman) encountered earlier in this book. Then, we will turn to three broad categories of theorizing globalization—cultural, economic, and political/institutional.
In contrast to many other definitions of globalization, the one offered here does not assume that greater global integration is an inevitable component of globaliza- tion. That is, globalization can bring with it greater integration (especially when things flow easily), but it can also serve to reduce the level of integration (when structures are erected that successfully block flows).
A term that is closely related to globalization is transnationalism, which involves the interconnection of individuals and social groups across the borders of specific nation-states. This is closely related to the idea of transnationality, or the develop- ment of communities, identities, and relationships that are not limited to a single nation-state.
Globalization and transnationalism are often used interchangeably. However, transnationalism is limited to interconnections that cross geo-political borders, especially those associated with nation-states, while globalization includes such connections, but is not restricted to them and encompasses a far wider range of transplanetary processes. Further, geo-political borders are only one of the barriers encountered, and often overcome, by globalization.
Some phenomena, labor unions for example, are better thought of as transna- tional rather than as global. That is, the cross-border relationship between labor unions that exist in two or more nation-states is more important than the global labor movement. Transnationalism is most often used in thinking about, and doing research on, immigrants who move from one country to another, but who continue to be involved in various ways with the country from which they came.
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MAJOR CONTEMPORARY THEORISTS ON GLOBALIZATION
Anthony Giddens on the “Runaway World” of Globalization
Giddens’ views on globalization are obviously closely related to, and overlap with, his thinking on the juggernaut of modernity (see Chapter 5). Giddens also sees a close link between globalization and risk, especially the rise of what he calls manufactured risk. Much of the runaway world of globalization is beyond our control, but Giddens is not totally pessimistic. We can limit the prob- lems created by the runaway world, but we can never control it completely.
Key Concept Civil Society
The major figure in social theory associated with the idea of civil society is Alexis de Tocqueville (see Chapter 1). Tocqueville lauded the early American propensity to form a wide range of associations (e.g., religious, moral) that were not political in nature and orientation. Such civil associations allowed people to interact with one another and to develop, renew, and enlarge feelings, ideas, emotions and under- standings. These civil associations also allowed people to band together and to act in concert with one another. Without such associations they would be isolated and weak in large-scale contemporary societies.
The United States (and the West more generally) often conquered the world through uncivilized, even violent, means (colonialism, imperialism). However, it also played a major role in creating many of the elements of civil society such as a free press, written constitutions, religious tolerance, human rights, etc. A robust civil society was already in existence by the nineteenth century and early twentieth century (e.g., peace societies, cooperatives, workers movements), but it was soon set back dramatically by the two world wars. It is largely in the aftermath of World War II that modern civil society took shape and expanded dramatically.
Central importance is accorded to the 1970s and 1980s, especially in Latin America and Eastern Europe. In both regions, there was opposition to military dic- tatorship and efforts to find an autonomous and self-organizing base outside of the state in order to oppose the military. It was also during this period that civil society became increasingly global as improved travel and communication made linkages among various civil society groups throughout the world increasingly possible. These groups mounted appeals to international authorities and were able to create a global political space for themselves where they argued for, and helped bring about, international agreements on such issues as human rights. Of great importance in the 1990s was the emergence of global activists who came together in an effort to deal with land mines, human rights, climate change, and HIV/AIDS.
Civil society is the process through which individuals deal with political and economic authorities in a wide variety of ways. It is a realm in which people
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He holds out some hope for democracy, especially international and transna- tional forms of democracy such as the European Union.
Giddens emphasizes the role of the West in general, and the United States in particular, in globalization. However, he also recognizes that globalization is a two-way process, with America and the West being strongly influenced by it. Furthermore, he argues that globalization is in the process of becoming increasingly decentered with nations outside the West playing an increasingly large role in it. He also recognizes that globalization has both undermined local cultures and served to revive them. And he makes the innovative point that globalization “squeezes sideways” producing new areas that may cut across nations. He offers as an example an area around Barcelona in Northern Spain that extends into France.
can engage each other more or less directly and in which they can, among other things, analyze and criticize their political and economic institutions. People can do this, and thereby act publicly, by acting through a variety of voluntary asso- ciations, social movements, political parties, and labor unions. Thus, civil society involves both settings and actions that take place within those settings. It also rep- resents an ideal toward which many people and groups aspire—an active, vital, and powerful civil society that can influence, and act as a counterbalance to, the polity and the economy. It is particularly the case that civil society stands as a counterbalance and an alternative to both the nation-state and the economic mar- ket, especially the neo-liberal capitalist market.
While civil society was linked historically to groups and actions within states, in more recent years it has been associated with more global actions and orga- nizations (e.g., international nongovernmental organizations: INGOs). In other words, we have moved increasingly toward a global civil society, although civil society remains a force within states and societies, as well. Global civil society is nongovernmental, a form of society composed of interlinked social processes, ori- ented to civility (nonviolence), to being pluralistic (including the strong potential to reduce conflict), and to being global.
A number of factors are involved in the recent rise of civil society in general, and INGOs in particular. Perhaps the most important are various global flows (see Key Concept: Globalization) including flows of both resources (money, informa- tion, popular culture, etc.) and threats (e.g., pollution, drugs, sex trafficking). As the power of the nation-state to deal with these flows, and in the case of negative flows, to mitigate or prevent them, has declined, the role of civil society in general, and of myriad INGOS in particular, has grown. Among the most notable of these INGOS are CARE, Worldwide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, Amnesty Interna- tional, Friends of the Earth, Medecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, and so on. Perhaps of greatest importance today in civil society are groups that represent the poor, espe- cially those in less-developed countries, and their efforts to improve the position of the poor within the global economy.
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A key clash taking place at the global level today is that between funda- mentalism and cosmopolitanism. In the end, Giddens sees the emergence of a “global cosmopolitan society.” Yet even the main force in opposition to it—traditionalism—is itself a product of globalization. Furthermore, fundamen- talism uses global forces (e.g., the mass media) in order to further its ends. Funda- mentalism can take various forms—religious, ethnic, nationalist, political—but whatever form it takes, Giddens thinks that it is problematic, both because it is at odds with cosmopolitanism and because it is linked to violence.
Ulrich Beck and the Politics of Globalization
We can get at the essence of Beck’s thinking on this issue by discussing his distinction between globalism and globality. Globalism is the view that the world is dominated by economics and that we are witnessing the emergence of the hegemony of the capitalist world market and the neoliberal ideology that underpins it. To Beck, this view involves both monocausal and linear think- ing. The multidimensionality of global developments—ecology, politics, cul- ture, and civil society—is wrongly reduced to a single economic dimension. And that economic dimension is seen, again erroneously, as evolving in a lin- ear direction of ever-increasing dependence on the world market. Clearly, Beck sees the world in much more multidimensional and multidirectional terms. In addition, he is very sensitive to the problems associated with the capitalist world market including the fact that there are all sorts of barriers to free trade and that there are not just winners in this world market, but also (many) losers.
While Beck is a critic of globalism, he sees much merit in the idea of globality in which closed spaces, especially those associated with nations, are growing increasingly illusory. They are growing illusory because of global- ization, which involves transnational actors, with varying degrees of power, identities, and the like, criss-crossing and undermining nation-states. These transnational processes are not simply economic, but also involve ecology, cul- ture, politics, and civil society. Such transnational processes traverse national borders rendering them porous, if not increasingly irrelevant: Nothing is any longer limited to the local. That which takes place locally, including both advances and catastrophes, affects the entire world.
While transnational processes have long existed, globality is new for at least three reasons. First, its influence over geographic space is far more exten- sive than ever before. Second, its influence over time is far more stable; it is of continual influence from one time to another. Third, there is far greater den- sity to its various elements including transnational relationships and networks.
globalism The monocausal and unilinear view that the world is dominated by eco- nomics and that we are witnessing the emergence of the hegemony of the capitalist world market and the neoliberal ideology that underpins it.
globality The view that closed spaces, especially those associated with nations, are growing increasingly illusory in the era of globalization.
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Beck also lists a number of other things that are distinctive about globality in comparison to earlier manifestations of transnationality:
1. Everyday life and interaction across national borders are being profoundly affected.
2. There is a self-perception of this transnationality in such realms as the mass media, consumption, and tourism.
3. Community, labor, and capital are increasingly placeless. 4. There is a growing awareness of global ecological dangers and actions to be
taken to deal with them. 5. There is an increasing perception of transcultural others in our lives. 6. Global culture industries circulate at unprecedented levels. 7. There is an increase in the number and strength of transnational agree-
ments, actors, and institutions.
This leads Beck to refine his previously discussed thinking on modernity and to argue that globality, and the inability to reverse it, is associated with what he now calls “second modernity.” Above all, however, what defines the latter is the decline of the power of the nations and the national borders that went to the heart of “first modernity.” The central premise of first modernity is (was) that we live in self-enclosed nation-states. (Beck dismisses this as a “container theory” of society.) Thus globality, and second modernity, mean, most importantly, denationalization and, Beck hopes, the rise of transnational organizations and perhaps a transnational state.
Zygmunt Bauman (1925– ) A Biographical Vignette
Zygmunt Bauman has had an interesting life and scholarly career. Born in Poland, he escaped the Nazis (he is Jewish) by fleeing with his family to Russia. He fought in the Polish army during World War II and by 1953 had risen to the rank of major before being relieved of his duties during a wave of anti-Semitism. He then turned to the social sciences and by 1968 had risen to become a professor at Warsaw University when he was again forced out of his position by anti-Semitism. He eventually ended up at the University of Leeds in England, where he proceeded to publish widely in English and became one of the leading social theorists of the day.
His first book in English appeared in 1972, and while he achieved signifi- cant recognition in the ensuing decades, his career really took off when in 1989 he published the landmark Modernity and the Holocaust, a book that argued that the Holocaust was not an aberration, but an expression of the essential nature of moder- nity. This critique of modernity led Bauman in the direction of postmodernity and postmodern social theory, which he engaged and adapted to his own orientation through the 1990s. More recently, he has increasingly become a public intellectual writing on a wide range of subjects, including globalization, but this has not pre- vented him from making new and original contributions to the scholarly literature such as his 2000 notion of “liquid modernity.”
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Zygmunt Bauman on the Human Consequences of Globalization
Bauman sees globalization in terms of a “space war.” In his view, it is mobility that has become the most important and differentiating factor in social stratification in the world today. Thus, the winners of the space war are those who are mobile; able to move freely throughout the globe and in the process to create meaning for themselves. They can float relatively free of space and when they must “land” somewhere, they isolate themselves in walled and policed spaces where they are safe from the losers in the space war. The latter not only lack mobility but are relegated and confined to territories denuded of meaning and even of the abil- ity to offer meaning. Thus, while the elite are likely intoxicated by their mobility opportunities, the rest are more likely to feel imprisoned in their home territories from which they have little prospect of moving. Furthermore, the latter are likely to feel humiliated by the lack of their own mobility and the sight of elites free to move about at will. As a result, territories become battlefields where the losers and winners of the space war face off in a very uneven conflict.
The winners can be said to live in time rather than space; they are able to span virtually every space quickly, if not instantaneously. In contrast, the los- ers can be seen as living in space. That space is beyond their control, heavy, resilient, resistant, untouchable, able to tie time down. However, it is important to distinguish among those who have at least some mobility. The tourists are on the move because they want to be. They are attracted by something, find it irresistible and move toward it. Then there are the vagabonds who are on the move because they find their environs unbearable, inhospitable for any num- ber of reasons. The positive aspects of what we applaud as globalization is that which is associated with tourists, while an unavoidable side effect is that many others are transformed into vagabonds. However, most people exist between these two extremes. They are not only unsure exactly where they now stand, but wherever it is, they are not sure they will be in the same place tomorrow. Thus, globalization translates into uneasiness for most of us.
However, even the seeming winners in globalization—the tourists—have their problems. First, there is the burden associated with the impossibility of slowing down; it is hard to be always on the move and at high speed. Second, mobility means an unending string of choices and each choice has a measure of uncertainty associated with it. Third, each of these choices also carries with it a series of risks and dangers. Endless mobility and continual choice eventually become troublesome if not burdensome.
Given the globalization theories of some of today’s major social theorists, we turn to the major types of globalization theory, often with examples from other major social thinkers.
tourists Those on the move throughout the globe because they want to be. vagabonds Those on the move throughout the globe because they find their environs
unbearable, inhospitable for any number of reasons.
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Jan Nederveen Pieterse has identified three major paradigms in theorizing the cultural aspects of globalization, specifically on the centrally important issue of whether cultures around the globe are eternally different, converging, or cre- ating new “hybrid” forms out of the unique combination of global and local cultures. Let us look at each of these paradigms and a representative example (or examples) of each.
Those who adopt this paradigm argue that there are lasting differences among and between cultures that are largely unaffected by globalization or any other bi-, inter-, multi-, and transcultural processes. This is not to say that culture is unaffected by any of these processes, especially globalization, but it is to say that at their core they are largely unaffected by them; they remain much as they always have been. In this perspective globalization only occurs on the surface with the deep structure of cultures largely, if not totally, unaffected by it. Cul- tures are seen as largely closed not only to globalization, but also to the influ- ences of other cultures. In one image, the world is envisioned as a mosaic of largely separate cultures. More menacing is a billiard ball image, with billiard balls (representing cultures) seen as bouncing off others (representing other cul- tures). This is more menacing because it indicates the possibility of dangerous and potentially catastrophic collisions among and between world cultures.
This paradigm has a long history, but it has attracted increasing attention and adherents (as well as critics) in recent years because of two sets of current events. One is the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To many, these events were seen as the product of a clash between Western and Islamic culture and the eternal cultural differences between them. The other is the increasing multiculturalism of both the United States (largely the growth of the Hispanic population) and of Western European countries (largely the growing Muslim populations) and the vast differences, and enmity, between majority and minority populations.
The most famous, and controversial, example of this paradigm is Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. Huntington traces the beginnings of the current world situation to the end of the Cold War and the reconfiguring of the world from one differentiated on a political-economic basis (democratic/capitalist vs. totalitarian/communist) to one based on cultural differences. Such cultural differences are nothing new, but they were largely sub- merged (as in the old Yugoslavia and the differences between, among others, Serbs and Croats) by the overwhelming political-economic differences of the Cold War era. What we have seen resurfacing in the last two decades are ancient identi- ties, adversaries, and enemies. Huntington uses the term civilization to describe
civilization The broadest domain of cultures and cultural identities; culture “writ large.”
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the broadest level of these cultures and cultural identities (indeed, to him civiliza- tion is culture “writ large”). What he sees is the emergence of fault lines among and between these civilizations, and this is a highly dangerous situation given the historic enmities among at least some of these civilizations.
Huntington differentiates between seven or eight world civilizations—Sinic [Chinese], Japan [sometimes combined with the Sinic as Far Eastern], Hindu, Islamic, Orthodox [centered in Russia], Western Europe, North America, along with the closely aligned Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and (possibly) Africa. He sees these civilizations as differing greatly on basic philosophical assumptions, underlying values, social relations, customs, and overall outlooks on life. To Huntington, human history is in effect the history of civilizations, especially these civilizations. Civilizations share a number of characteristics including the fact that there is great agreement on what they are (although they lack clear beginnings and there are no clear-cut boundaries between civiliza- tions which, nonetheless, are quite real). They are:
1. Among the most enduring of human associations (although they do change over time),
2. The broadest level of cultural identity (short of humanity in its entirety), 3. The broadest type of subjective self-identification, 4. Usually span more than one state (although they do not perform state
functions), 5. Are a totality, 6. Are closely aligned with both religion and race.
Huntington offers a modern grand narrative of the relationships among civilizations. For more than 3000 years (approximately 1500 BC to AD 1500) civi- lizations tended to be widely separated in terms of both time and space. As a result, contacts among them tended to be nonexistent. When they occurred, they tended to be on a limited or intermittent basis and they were likely quite intense.
The next phase, roughly from 1500 to the close of World War II, was charac- terized by the sustained, overpowering, and unidirectional impact of Western civ- ilization on all other civilizations. Huntington attributes this to various structural characteristics of the West including the rise of cities, commerce, state bureaucracy, and an emerging sense of national consciousness. However, the most immediate cause was technological especially in ocean navigation and the military, including a superior military organization, discipline and training, and, of course, weaponry. In the end, the West excelled in organized violence and while those in the West sometimes forget this, those in other parts of the world have not. Thus, by 1910, just before World War I, the world came closer, in Huntington’s view, than at any other time in history to being one world, one civilization—Western civilization.
The third phase—the multicivilizational system—is traceable to the end of the expansion of the West and the beginning of the revolt against it. The period after World War I to about 1990 was characterized by a clash of ideas, especially capi- talist and communist ideologies. With the fall of communism the major clashes in the world now revolve around religion, culture, and ultimately civilizations. While the West continues to be dominant, Huntington foresees its decline. It will
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be a slow decline, it will not occur in a straight line, and it will involve a decline (at least relatively) in the West’s resources—population, economic product, and military capability (traceable to such things as the decline of U.S. forces and the globalization of the defense industries making generally available weapons once available only, or largely, in the West). Other civilizations will increasingly reject the West, but they will embrace and utilize the advances of modernization, which can and should be distinguished from Westernization.
While the West declines, the resurgence of two other civilizations are of great- est importance. The first is the economic growth of Asian societies, especially Sinic civilization. Huntington foresees continuing growth of Asian economies that will soon surpass those of the West. Important in itself, this will translate into increasing power for the East and a corresponding decline in the ability of the West to impose its standards on the East. He sees the economic ascendancy of the East as largely traceable to the superior aspects of its culture(s), especially its collectivism in contrast to the individuality that dominates the West. Also helpful to the economic rise of the East are various other commonalities among the nations of the region (e.g., religion, especially Confucianism). The successes of Asian economies will not only be important in themselves, but also for the role they will play as models for other non-Western societies.
This first of Huntington’s arguments is not that surprising or original. After all, we witnessed the dramatic growth of the post-World War II Japanese economy and we are now witnessing the amazing economic transformation of China. Few would disagree with the view that projecting present economic trends, the Chinese economy will become the largest in the world in the not- too-distant future. More controversial is Huntington’s second major contention that involves the resurgence of Islam. While the Sinic emergence is rooted in the economy, Islamic growth is rooted in dramatic population growth and the mobilization of the population. This has touched virtually every Muslim soci- ety, usually first culturally and then socio-politically. It can be seen as part of the global revival of religion. It also can be seen as both a product of, and an effort to come to grips with, modernization.
Huntington goes beyond pointing to this development to paint a dire portrait of the future of the relations between the West and these other two civilizations, especially Islam. The Cold War conflict between capitalism and communism has been replaced by conflict that is to be found at the “fault lines” among and between civilizations, especially the Western, Sinic, and Islamic civilizations. Thus, he foresees dangerous clashes in the future between the West (and what he calls its “arrogance”), Islam (and its “intolerance”), and Sinic “assertiveness.” Much of the conflict revolves around the West’s view of itself as possessing “universal culture,” its desire to export that culture to the rest of the world, and its declining ability to do so. Furthermore, what the West sees as universalism, the rest of the world, especially Islamic civilization, sees as imperialism. More specifically, the West wants to limit weapons prolif- eration, while other civilizations want weapons, especially “weapons of mass destruction.” The West also seeks to export democracy to, even impose it on, other societies and civilizations that often resist it as part of the West’s idea of universal culture. And the West seeks to control and to limit immigration
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(especially from Islamic civilization), but many from those civilizations have found their way into the West, or want to be there. As this increases, Hunting- ton sees cleft societies developing within both Europe and the United States (in the latter, fault lines will develop not only between Westerners and Muslims, but Anglos and Hispanics). 2
Key Concept Orientalism
The concept of orientalism was introduced by the literary and postcolonial theorist Edward Said (1935–2003). It has since been used, and debated, in cultural theory, social theory, and globalization studies. Most broadly, orientalism refers to a process through which widely held ideas about differences between the East and the West, or Europe and the “Orient,” are constructed. In contrast to Samuel Huntington, Said does not believe that there are clear distinctions between civilizations. Rather these distinctions are discursive constructions. That is, they are ways of talking about and constructing the world that do not accurately represent the world, but instead serve the interests of their inventors.
In his book Orientalism Said traces the distinction between Europe and the Orient to the scholarly field of Orientalism. Orientalist studies created the concept of “the Orient” as we understand it today. Orientalist studies emerged in the 1800s in the context of European colonialism. The Orient was studied so that Europeans could better know and rule their colonies. However, Said argues that this knowledge was never an accurate account of the Orient. Indeed, the purpose of Orientalist knowl- edge is not to accurately represent the lives and experiences of people living in the Orient. Rather it is designed for a European audience that wants and needs to understand the Orient in ways that serve its own interests and purposes. The Orient and “Orientals” are portrayed as exotic, strange, feminine, and infantile. This is in contrast to the European self-definition as scientific, reasonable, masculine, mature and, ultimately, civilized. At the same time, even though Orientalist knowledge describes the Orient as exotic and infantile it also depicts the Orient as dangerous— a threat to the West. This is particularly the case with Orientalist descriptions of the Islamic religion. Orientalism constructs Islam as a religion that is necessarily opposed to Christianity and therefore to Western civilization. This legitimizes and justifies political and social domination. Like other contemporary theorists (e.g., Foucault), Said argues that knowledge is related to power. European knowledge of the Orient gives Europeans power over the Orient. It creates a set of ideas that European colonists, bureaucrats, and politicians have used to act on and govern the Orient as they perceive and understand it.
While these Orientalist ideas were largely developed in the 19th and 20th centuries Said says that they continue to shape Western conceptions of Islam and what is now called the Near-East. These views have been particularly prevalent in the post 9/11 era where distinctions between Eastern and Western civilizations have been newly affirmed. Said argues that perspectives such as those developed by Huntington draw on this orientalist tradition. From Said’s perspective Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis does not accurately represent the position of the East or of Islam. It overgeneralizes and therefore fails to understand the diversity of per- spectives and experiences that emerge in the encounter between East and West.
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What has earned Huntington numerous criticisms and the greatest enmity is his controversial statements about Islamic civilization and Muslims (for an example of such a critique see Key Concept on Orientalism). For example, he argues that wherever Muslims and non-Muslims live in close proximity to one another, violent conflict and intense antagonism are pervasive. And Hunting- ton puts much of the blame for this on Muslims and their propensity toward violent conflict. He argues that from the beginning, Islam has been a religion of the sword; it glorified military values and there is a history of Islamic conquest. 3 The relationship between Islam and other civilizations has historically been one of mutual indigestibility. Of course, Western imperialism—often with Islam as a target—has played a key role in this. Islam also lacks a strong core state to exert control over the civilization. But of greatest importance to Huntington is the pressures created by the demographic explosion within Islam.
Huntington is concerned about the decline of the West, especially of the United States. He sees the United States, indeed all societies, as threatened by their increasing multicivilizational or multicultural character. For him, the demise of the United States effectively means the demise of Western civiliza- tion. Without a powerful, unicivilizational United States, the West is minuscule. For the West to survive and prosper, the United States must do two things. First, it must reaffirm its identity as a Western (rather than multicivilizational) nation. Second, it must reaffirm and reassert its role as the leader of Western civilization around the globe. The reassertion and acceptance of Western civi- lization (which would also involve a renunciation of universalism), indeed all civilizations, is the surest way to prevent warfare between civilizations. The real danger, for Huntington, is multiculturalism within the West and all other civilizations. Thus, Huntington ultimately comes down on the side of cultural continuity and something approaching cultural purity within civilizations. Thus, for him, at least in some ideal sense, globalization becomes a process by which civilizations continue to exist and move in roughly parallel fashion in the coming years. This constitutes a reaffirmation of the importance of civiliza- tion, that is, culture, in the epoch of globalization.
While the previous paradigm is rooted in the idea of lasting differences among and between cultures and civilizations as a result of, or in spite of, globaliza- tion, this paradigm is based on the idea of globalization leading to increasing sameness throughout the world. While thinkers like Huntington emphasize the persistence of cultures and civilizations in the face of globalization, those who support this perspective see those cultures changing, sometimes radically, as a result of globalization. The cultures of the world are seen as growing increas- ingly similar, at least to some degree and in some ways. There is a tendency to see global assimilation in the direction of dominant groups and societies in the world. Those who operate from this perspective focus on such things as “cultural imperialism,” global capitalism, Westernization, Americanization, and “McDonaldization.” At its extreme, globalization becomes Westernization, Americanization, and McDonaldization writ large.
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Next, we will discuss two versions of this basic argument that is closely associated with George Ritzer’s work on this topic: McDonaldization and the Globalization of Nothing. However, a note of warning and clarification. While Ritzer’s work does focus on cultural convergence, it certainly does not argue that that is all that is happening in globalization or that local cultures are disappear- ing completely, or even necessarily being altered in some fundamental way. Rather, the argument is that there are global processes that are bringing the same or similar phenomena (e.g., McDonald’s restaurants in 120-plus countries in the world) to many parts of the world and, in that sense, there is cultural conver- gence. However, side-by-side with such global phenomena exist local phenom- ena (e.g., local open-air food markets or craft fairs) that continue to be vibrant and important. Furthermore, it may well be that the arrival of these global forms spurs the revival or development of new local forms. While the last two points are certainly meritorious, in accepting them we must not lose sight of the fact that some, perhaps a great deal, of cultural convergence, is also occurring (the spread of Wal-Mart into Mexico and other nations would be another example).
“McDonaldization” Although it is based on Max Weber’s ideas on the ratio- nalization of the West (see Chapter 2), the McDonaldization thesis adopts a different model (Weber focused on the bureaucracy, but Ritzer concentrates on the fast-food restaurant), brings the theory into the 21st century, and views rationalization extending its reach into more sectors of society and areas of the world than Weber ever imagined. Of greatest concern in terms of this section is the fact that McDonaldization is, as we will see, a force in globalization, espe- cially increasing cultural homogenization.
McDonaldization is the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society, as well as the rest of the world. The nature of the McDonaldization process may be delineated by outlining its five basic dimensions: efficiency, calculability, predictability, control through the substitution of technology for people, and, paradoxically, the irrationality of rationality.
First, a McDonaldizing society emphasizes efficiency, or the effort to dis- cover the best possible means to whatever end is desired. Workers in fast-food restaurants clearly must work efficiently; for example, burgers are assembled, and sometimes even cooked, in an assembly-line fashion. Customers want, and are expected, to acquire and consume their meals efficiently. The drive-through win- dow is a highly efficient means for customers to obtain, and employees to dole out, meals. Overall, a variety of norms, rules, regulations, procedures, and struc- tures have been put in place in the fast-food restaurant in order to ensure that both employees and customers act in an efficient manner. Furthermore, the efficiency of one party helps to ensure that the other will behave in a similar manner.
McDonaldization The process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society, as well as the rest of the world; in the latter sense, a form of cultural imperialism.
efficiency The effort to discover the best possible means to whatever end is desired; a dimension of McDonaldization.
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Second, great importance is given to calculability, to an emphasis on quan- tity, often to the detriment of quality. Various aspects of the work at fast-food restaurants are timed; this emphasis on speed often serves to adversely affect the quality of the work, from the point of view of the employee, resulting in dissat- isfaction, alienation, and high turnover rates. Similarly, customers are expected to spend as little time as possible in the fast-food restaurant. In fact, the drive- through window reduces this time to zero, but if the customers desire to eat in the restaurant, the chairs may be designed to impel them to leave after about 20 minutes. This emphasis on speed clearly has a negative effect on the quality of the dining experience at a fast-food restaurant. Furthermore, the emphasis on how fast the work is to be done means that customers cannot be served high- quality food that, almost by definition, requires a good deal of time to prepare.
McDonaldization also involves an emphasis on predictability, meaning that things (products, settings, employee, customer behavior, etc.) are pretty much the same from one geographic setting to another and from one time to another. Employees are expected to perform their work in a predictable manner and, for their part, customers are expected to respond with similarly predictable behavior. Thus, when customers enter, employees ask, following scripts, what they wish to order. For their part, customers are expected to know what they want, or where to look to find what they want, and they are expected to order, pay, and leave quickly. Employees (following another script) are expected to thank them when they do leave. A highly predictable ritual is played out in the fast-food restaurant—one that involves highly predictable foods that vary little from one time or place to another.
In addition, great control exists in a McDonaldized society and a good deal of that control comes from technologies. Although these technologies currently dominate employees, increasingly they will be replacing them. Employees are clearly controlled by such technologies as french-fry machines that ring when the fries are done and even automatically lift the fries out of the hot oil. For their part, customers are controlled both by the employees who are constrained by such technologies as well as more directly by the technologies themselves. Thus, the automatic fry machine makes it impossible for a customer to request well-done, well-browned fries.
Finally, both employees and customers suffer from the irrationality of rationality that seems inevitably to accompany McDonaldization. That is, par- adoxically, rationality seems often to lead to its exact opposite—irrationality.
calculability An emphasis on quantity, often to the detriment of quality; a dimension of McDonaldization.
predictability Things (products, settings, employee, customer behavior, etc.) are pretty much the same from one geographic setting to another and from one time to another; a dimension of McDonaldization.
control Domination of technologies over employees and customers; a dimension of McDonaldization.
irrationality of rationality The paradoxical reality that rationality seems often to lead to its exact opposite—irrationality.
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For example, the efficiency of the fast-food restaurant is often replaced by the inefficiencies associated with long lines of people at the counters or long lines of cars at the drive-through window. Although there are many other irratio- nalities, the ultimate irrationality is dehumanization. Employees are forced to work in dehumanizing jobs and customers are forced to eat in dehumanizing settings and circumstances. The fast-food restaurant is a source of degradation for employees and customers alike.
McDonaldization, Expansionism, and Globalization McDonald’s has been a resounding success in the international arena. About half of McDonald’s restaurants are outside the United States (in the mid-1980s only 25 percent of
George Ritzer (1940– ) An Autobiographical Vignette
As with a surprising number of other twists and turns in my academic career, I did not set out to write about globalization. When I first wrote about the McDonaldiza- tion of society in 1983, and even a decade later when I published the first edition of a book with that title, I was not fully conscious of its relationship to globaliza- tion. I was certainly aware of, and described, the spread of McDonald’s, and the larger process that it spawned, through both the United States and the world, but the broader issue of globalization was not on my radar and, in fact, was not much on sociology’s radar when I first began this work.
My sensitivity to the relationship between McDonaldization and globalization increased in a 1995 book, Expressing America: A Critique of the Global Credit Card Soci- ety. As the title makes clear, that book took a global orientation and it included a discussion of McDonaldization focusing on the degree to which the credit card industry was McDonaldized. Perhaps, more importantly for my developing orien- tation, it focused on credit cards as a form of Americanization and the latter was clearly one aspect of a broad process of globalization.
I soon found myself with three interrelated concepts—McDonaldization, Americanization, and globalization—that needed to be sorted out and analyzed on their own and in relationship to one another. It became clear that both McDon- aldization and Americanization were subprocesses under the broader heading of globalization. It also became clear that the former needed to be differentiated with McDonaldization not being reducible to one form of Americanization. For one thing, McDonaldization had roots outside the United States and, more importantly, today it has taken root outside the United States and is being exported back into it.
Gradually, my focus has shifted more and more in the direction of globaliza- tion. In my most recent work on the topic, I have come to focus on the globalization of “nothing” and to argue that McDonaldization and Americanization are two key contributors to the globalization of nothing. I have also related that form of global- ization to several others in an effort to cast light on globalization in general, espe- cially as it relates to culture.
Thus, I embarked on an intellectual voyage that has led me to a focal interest in globalization, although that topic could not have been further from my mind when I began.
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McDonalds were outside the United States). The vast majority of new restau- rants opened each year are overseas. Well over half of McDonald’s profi ts come from its overseas operations. Starbucks has become an increasingly global force and is now a presence in Latin America, Europe (it’s particularly visible in London), the Middle East, and the Pacifi c Rim.
Many highly McDonaldized firms outside of the fast-food industry have also had success globally. In addition to its thousands of stores in the United States, Blockbuster now has just over 2,000 sites in 28 other countries. Although Wal-Mart opened its first international store (in Mexico) in 1991, it now operates over a thousand stores overseas (compared to over 3,000 in the United States, including supercenters and Sam’s Club).
Another indicator of globalization is the fact that other nations have devel- oped their own variants of this American institution. Canada has a chain of coffee shops, Tim Hortons (merged with Wendy’s a few years ago), that has 2,200 outlets (160 in the United States). Paris, whose love for fine cuisine might lead you to think it would prove immune to fast food, has a large number of fast-food croissanteries; the revered French bread has also been McDonaldized. India has a chain of fast-food restaurants, Nirula’s, that sells mutton burgers (about 80 percent of Indians are Hindus, who eat no beef) as well as local Indian cuisine. Mos Burger is a Japanese chain with over 1,500 restaurants that, in addi- tion to the usual fare, sells Teriyaki chicken burgers, rice burgers, and Oshiruko with brown rice cake. Russkoye Bistro, a Russian chain, sells traditional Russian fare like pirogi (meat and vegetable dumplings), blini (thin pancakes), Cossack apricot curd tart, and, of course, vodka. Perhaps the most unlikely spot for an indigenous fast-food restaurant, war-ravaged Beirut of 1984, witnessed the opening of Juicy Burger, with a rainbow instead of golden arches and J.B. the Clown standing in for Ronald McDonald. Its owners hoped that it would become the McDonald’s of the Arab world. After the 2003 war with Iraq, a number of clones of McDonald’s (“Madonal,” “Matbax”) quickly opened.
Now McDonaldization is coming full circle. Other countries with their own McDonaldized institutions have begun to export them to the United States. The Body Shop, an ecologically sensitive British cosmetics chain, had over 1,900 shops in 50 nations in 2003, of which 300 were in the United States. Furthermore, American firms are now opening copies of this British chain, such as Bath & Body Works. Pollo Campero, a Guatemalan chain specializing in fried chicken, is currently in six countries and is spreading rapidly throughout the United States.
McDonald’s, as the model of the process of McDonaldization, has come to occupy a central position throughout the world. At the opening of McDonald’s in Moscow, it was described as the ultimate American icon. When Pizza Hut opened in Moscow in 1990, customers saw it as a small piece of America. Reflect- ing on the growth of fast-food restaurants in Brazil, an executive associated with Pizza Hut of Brazil said that his nation is passionate about things American.
The “Globalization of Nothing” The globalization of nothing, like McDon- aldization, implies increasing homogenization as more and more nations around the world have an increasing number of the various forms of nothing. Ritzer is not arguing that globalization is nothing; indeed it is clear that the
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process is of enormous signifi cance. Rather, the argument is that there is an elective affinity (using a term borrowed from Weber) between globalization and nothing. That is, one does not cause the other, but they do tend to vary together.
What is central here is the idea of grobalization (a companion to the notion of glocalization, see below for a definition), or the imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations, and the like and their desire, indeed need, to impose themselves on various geographic areas. Their main interest is in seeing their power, influence, and in some cases profits grow (hence the term gro balization) throughout the world. Grobalization involves a variety of sub- processes, three of which—capitalism, Americanization, McDonaldization— are not only central driving forces in grobalization, but also of great significance in the worldwide spread of nothingness.
By nothing, Ritzer means (largely) empty forms; forms largely devoid of distinctive content. Conversely, something would be defined as (largely) full forms; forms rich in distinctive content. Thus, it is easier to export empty forms throughout the globe than it is forms that are loaded with content (something). The latter are more likely to be rejected by at least some cultures and societies because the content conflicts, is at variance with, local content. In contrast, since they are largely devoid of distinctive content, empty forms are less likely to come into conflict with the local. In addition, empty forms have other advantages from the point of view of globalization including the fact that since they are so mini- malist, they are easy to replicate over and over. They also have a cost advantage since they are relatively inexpensive to reproduce. A good example of nothing in these terms is the shopping mall (e.g., any of the malls created by the Mills Corporation—Potomac Mills, Sawgrass Mills, etc.), which is an empty (largely) structure that is easily replicated around the world. These malls could be filled with an endless array of specific content (e.g., local shops, local foods, etc.— something!) that could vary enormously from one locale to another. However, increasingly they are filled with chain stores of various types—nothing! Since more and more countries in the world have these malls, this is an example of the grobalization of nothing and of increasing global homogenization.
There are four subtypes of nothing and all of them are largely empty of distinctive content and are being globalized. The four types are “non-places,” or settings that are largely empty of content (e.g., the malls discussed above); “non-things” such as credit cards in which there is little to distinguish one from the billions of others and which work in exactly the same way for all who use them anywhere in the world; “non-people,” or the kind of employees associated with non-places, for example, telemarketers (who may be virtually anywhere in the world) and who interact with all customers in much the same way, relying heavily on scripts; and “non-services” such as those provided
grobalization The imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations, and the like and their desire, indeed need, to impose themselves on various geographic areas.
nothing Largely empty forms; forms devoid of most distinctive content. something Largely full forms; forms rich in distinctive content.
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by ATMs (the services provided are identical; the customer does all the work involved in obtaining the services) as opposed to human bank tellers. The grobal proliferation of non-places, non-things, non-people, and non-services is another indication of increasing homogenization.
The third paradigm emphasizes the mixing of cultures as a result of globaliza- tion and the production, out of the integration of the global and the local, of new and unique hybrid cultures that are not reducible to either the local or the global culture. From this perspective, McDonaldization and the grobaliza- tion of nothing may be taking place, but they are largely superficial changes. Much more important is the integration of these and other global processes with various local realities to produce new and distinctive hybrid forms that indicate continued heterogenization rather than homogenization. Hybridiza- tion is a very positive, even romantic, view of globalization as a profoundly creative process out of which emerges new cultural realities, and continuing if not increasing heterogeneity, in many different locales.
The concept that gets to the heart of cultural hybridization, as well as what many contemporary theorists interested in globalization think about the nature of transnational processes, is glocalization. Glocalization can be defined as the interpenetration of the global and the local resulting in unique outcomes in dif- ferent geographic areas. While grobalization, as discussed above, tends to be associated with the proliferation of nothing, glocalization tends to be tied more to something and therefore stands opposed, at least partially (and along with the local itself), to the spread of nothing.
Following Roland Robertson, the following are the essential elements of glocalization:
1. The world is growing more pluralistic. Glocalization theory is exception- ally sensitive to differences within and between areas of the world.
2. Individuals and local groups have great power to adapt, innovate, and maneuver within a glocalized world. Glocalization theory sees local indi- viduals and groups as important and creative agents.
3. Social processes are relational and contingent. Globalization provokes a variety of reactions—ranging from nationalist entrenchment to cosmo- politan embrace—that feed back on and transform grobalization; that pro- duce glocalization.
4. Commodities and the media are not seen as (totally) coercive, but rather as providing material to be used in individual and group creation throughout the glocalized areas of the world.
glocalization The interpenetration of the global and the local resulting in unique out- comes in different geographic areas.
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Those who emphasize glocalization tend to see it as militating against the grobalization of nothing and, in fact, view it as leading to the creation of a wide array of new, “glocal” forms of something. In contrast, those who emphasize grobalization see it as a powerful contributor to the spread of nothingness throughout the world.
A discussion of some closely related terms (and related examples) will be of considerable help in getting a better sense of glocalization, as well as the broader issue of cultural hybridization. Of course, hybridization itself is one such term emphasizing increasing diversity associated with the unique mixtures of the global and the local as opposed to the uniformity associated with grobalization. A cultural hybrid would involve the combination of two, or more, elements from different cultures and/or parts of the world. Among the examples of hybridization (and heterogenization, glocalization) are Ugandan tourists visiting Amsterdam to watch two Moroccan women engage in Thai boxing, Argentinians watching Asian rap performed by a South American band at a London club owned by a Saudi Arabian, and the more mundane experiences of Americans eating such concoctions as Irish bagels, Chinese tacos, Kosher pizza, and so on. Obviously, the list of such hybrids is long and growing rapidly with increasing hybridization. The con- trast of course would be such uniform experiences as eating hamburgers in the United States, quiche in France, or sushi in Japan.
Yet another concept that is closely related to glocalization is creolization. The term creole generally refers to people of mixed race, but it has been extended to the idea of the creolization of language and culture involving a combination of languages and cultures that were previously unintelligible to one another.
All of the above—glocalization, hybridization, creolization—should give the reader a good feel for what is being discussed here under the heading of cultural hybridization.
Appadurai’s “Landscapes” Arjun Appadurai’s Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization emphasizes global fl ows and the disjunctures among them. These serve to produce unique cultural realities around the world; they tend to produce cultural hybrids.
Appadurai discusses five global flows— ethnoscapes, mediascapes, tech- noscapes, financescapes, and ideoscapes. The use of the suffix scape allows Appadurai to communicate the idea that these processes have fluid, irregu- lar, and variable shapes and are therefore consistent with the idea of hetero- genization and not homogenization. That there are a number of these scapes and that they operate independently of one another to some degree, and are
hybridization A perspective on globalization that emphasizes the increasing diversity associated with unique mixtures of the global and the local as opposed to the unifor- mity associated with grobalization.
creolization A combination of cultures that were previously separate from one another; often used interchangeably with hybridization.
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perhaps even in conflict with one another, make this perspective also in tune with those that emphasize cultural diversity and heterogeneity. Furthermore, these scapes are interpreted differently by different agents ranging all the way from individuals, to face-to-face groups, subnational groups, multinational cor- porations, and even nation-states. And these scapes are ultimately navigated by individuals and groups on the basis of their own subjective interpretations of them. In other words, these are imagined worlds and those doing the imagining can range from those who control them to those who live in and traverse them. While power obviously lies with those in control and their imaginings, this per- spective gives to those who merely live in or pass through them the power to redefine and ultimately subvert them.
At the center of Appadurai’s thinking are the five landscapes mentioned above:
1. Ethnoscapes are the mobile, moving groups and individuals (tourists, refu- gees, guest workers) that play such an important role in the shifting world in which we increasingly live. This involves actual movement as well as fantasies about moving. Furthermore, in an ever-changing world, people cannot afford to allow their imaginations to rest too long and thus must keep such fantasies alive.
2. Technoscapes are the ever-fluid, global configurations of high and low, mechanical and informational technology and the wide range of material (Internet, e-mail) that now moves so freely and quickly around the globe and across borders that were at one time impervious to such movement (or at least thought to be).
3. Financescapes involve the processes by which huge sums of money move through nations and around the world at great speed through commodity speculations, currency markets, national stock exchanges, and the like.
4. Mediascapes involve both the electronic capability to produce and trans- mit information around the world as well as the images of the world that these media create and disseminate. Involved here are global film mak- ers and distributors, television stations (CNN and Al-Jazeera are notable examples), and newspapers and magazines.
ethnoscapes Mobile groups and individuals (tourists, refugees, guest workers). Can involve actual movement as well as fantasies about moving; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
technoscapes The ever-fluid, global configurations of high and low, mechanical and informational technology and the wide range of material (Internet, e-mail) that now moves so freely and quickly around the globe and across borders; one of Appadu- rai’s landscapes.
financescapes The processes by which huge sums of money move through nations and around the world at great speed; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
mediascapes The electronic capability to produce and transmit information around the world as well as the images of the world that these media create and dissemi- nate; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
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5. Ideoscapes, like mediascapes, are sets of images. However, they are largely restricted to political images either produced by states and in line with their ideology, or the images and counter-ideologies produced by movements that seek to supplant those in power, or at least to gain a piece of that power.
Three things are especially worth noting about Appadurai’s landscapes. First, they can be seen as global processes that are partly or wholly indepen- dent of any given nation-state. Second, global flows not only occur through the landscapes, but also increasingly in and through the disjunctures among them. Thus, to give one example of such a disjuncture, the Japanese are open to ideas (ideoscapes, mediascapes), but notoriously closed to immigration (at least one of the ethnoscapes). More generally, the free movement of some land- scapes may be at variance with blockages of others. Studies in this area must be attuned to such disjunctures and to their implications for globalization. Third, territories are going to be affected differently by the five landscapes and their disjunctures leading to important differences among and between cultures. The focus on landscapes and their disjunctures points globalization studies in a set of unique directions. However, it is in line with the idea that globalization is much more associated with heterogenization than homogenization.
While there are many theories of the economic aspects of globalization, the most important perspectives, at least in sociology, tend to be those associated with Marxian theory, that are neo-Marxian in nature. Two major examples are discussed in this section.
Neo-liberalism is a theory that is particularly applicable to economics (espe- cially the market and trade), as well as politics (especially the need to limit the government’s involvement in, and control over, the market and trade). It is not only an important theory in itself, but it has also strongly influenced other thinking and theorizing about both of those domains. This is especially the case with various neo-Marxian economic theories that are highly critical of neo-liberalism. In the following section we will deal with two of the major neo- Marxian alternatives to neo-liberalism.
A number of well-known scholars, especially economists, are associated with neo-liberalism. We will briefly examine some of the ideas of one neo-liberal economist—William Easterly—here in order to give the reader a sense of this perspective from the point of view of one of its supporters.
ideoscapes Largely political images either produced by states and in line with their ideology, or the images and counter-ideologies produced by movements that seek to supplant those in power, or at least to gain a piece of that power; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
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Easterly is opposed to any form of collectivism and state planning, either as they were espoused and practiced in, for example, the Soviet Union or are today by the UN, other economists, and so on. Collectivism failed in the Soviet Union and, in Easterly’s view, it will fail today. It will fail because it inhibits, if not destroys, freedom and freedom, especially economic freedom, is highly correlated with economic success. This is the case because economic freedom allows for searches for success that are decentralized; such searches go the heart of the idea of a free market. Economic freedom and the free market are great favorites of neo-liberal economists.
Easterly offers several reasons why economic freedom is related to eco- nomic success. First, it is extremely difficult to know in advance which economic actions will succeed and which will fail. Economic freedom permits a multitude of actions and those that fail are weeded out. Over time, what remains, in the main, are the successful actions and they serve to facilitate a higher standard of living. Central planners can never have nearly as much knowledge as myriad individuals seeking success and learning from their failures and from those of others. Second, markets offer continuous feedback on which actions are succeeding and failing; central planners lack such feed- back. Third, economic freedom leads to the ruthless reallocation of resources to those actions that are succeeding; central planners often have vested inter- ests that prevent such a reallocation. Fourth, economic freedom permits large and rapid increases in scale by financial markets and corporate organizations; central planners lack the flexibility to make large-scale changes rapidly. Finally, because of sophisticated contractual protections, individuals and corporations are willing to take great risks; central planners are risk-averse because of their personal vulnerability if things go wrong.
Created by John Locke (1632–1704), Adam Smith (1723–1790), and oth- ers, classical liberal theory came to be termed neo-liberalism, at least by some, as a result of developments in the 1930s. The term neo-liberalism involves a combination of the political commitment to individual liberty with neo classi- cal economics devoted to the free market and opposed to state intervention in that market. Entrepreneurs are to be liberated, markets and trade are to be free, states are to be supportive of this and to keep interventions to a minimum, and there are to be strong property rights.
Neo-liberalism emerged during the Depression era, at least in part, in reac- tion to Keynesian economics and its impact on the larger society. The market, entrepreneurs, and corporations, inspired in part by the then-predominant theories of John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), came to be limited by a num- ber of constraints (social and political) and a strong regulative environment. In addition, calls for a revitalization of liberal ideas were spurred by the need to counter the collectivism (Marxian theory) that dominated much thinking and many political systems in the early 20th century.
neo-liberalism A theory that combines the political commitment to individual liberty with neoclassical economics devoted to the free market and opposed to state inter- vention in that market.
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The intellectual leaders of this revitalization were economists, especially members of the Austrian School including Friedrich van Hayek (1899–1992) and Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973). An organization devoted to liberal ideas— the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS)—was created in 1947. Its members were alarmed by the expansion of collectivist socialism (especially in, and sponsored by, the Soviet Union) and the aggressive intervention by liberal governments in the market (e.g., Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”). Those associated with MPS, especially the famous and highly influential Chicago economist, Milton Friedman (1912–2006), played a key role in the efforts to protect traditional liberal ideas, to develop neo-liberal theory, and to sponsor their utilization by countries throughout the world.
Neo-liberalism as a theory comes in various forms, but all are undergirded by some or all of the following ideas:
• Great faith is placed in the free market and its rationality. The market needs to be allowed to operate free of any impediments, especially those imposed by the nation-state and other political entities. The free operation of the market will in the “long run” advantage just about everyone and bring about both improved economic welfare and greater individual freedom (and a democratic political system). To help bring this about, it is impor- tant to champion, support, and expand a wide range of technological, legal and institutional arrangements that support the market and its freedom. The free market is so important that neo-liberals equate it with capitalism. Further, the principles of the free market are not restricted to the economy (and the polity); transactions in every sphere of life (family, education, cul- ture) should also be free like those in the economy.
• The key, if not only, actor in the market is the individual; neo-liberalism is radically individualistic.
• Related to the belief in the free market is a parallel belief in free trade. • Where there are restraints on the free market and free trade, the theory
leads to a commitment to deregulation to limit or eliminate such restraints. Free markets and free trade are linked to a democratic political system. Thus the political system, especially the freedom of democracy, is associated with economic well-being and with the freedom of individuals to amass great individual wealth.
• There is a commitment to low taxes and to tax cuts (especially for the wealthy) where taxes are deemed too high and too burdensome. Low taxes and tax cuts are believed to stimulate the economy by encouraging people to earn more and ultimately to invest and to spend more.
• Tax cuts for business and industry are also encouraged with the idea that they would use the tax savings to invest more in their operations and infrastruc- ture, thereby generating more business, income and profits. This is seen as benefiting not only business and industry, but society as whole. Higher profits would “trickle down” and benefit most people in society.
• Spending on welfare should be minimized and the safety net for the poor should be greatly reduced. Such spending and such a welfare system are seen as hurting economic growth and even as harming the poor. Cuts in welfare are
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designed to reduce government expenditures and thereby to allow the gov- ernment to cut taxes and/or to invest in more “productive” undertakings. It also is presumed that without the safety net more poor people would be forced to find work, often at minimum wage or with low pay. More such workers presumably allow companies to increase productivity and profits. Reduction of the safety net also creates a larger “reserve army” that business can draw on in good economic times in order to expand its workforce.
• There is a strong and generalized belief in limited government. The theory is that no government or government agency can do things as well as the mar- ket (the failure of the Soviet Union is seen as proof of that). Among other things, this leaves a government that is, at least theoretically, less able, or unable, to intervene in the market. It also presumably means a less expensive government, one that would need to collect less in taxes. This, in turn, would put more money in the hands of the public, especially the wealthier members of society who, in recent years, have benefited most from tax cuts. The state must not only be limited, but its job is to cooperate with open global markets.
• There is great belief in the need for the global capitalist system to continue to expand. It is presumed that such expansion would bring with it increased prosperity (but for which members of society?) and decreased poverty.
While most of the above deals with the neo-liberal economy, a few ideas apply to the closely linked neo-liberal state. More concretely and directly, the neo-liberal state should:
• Provide a climate that is supportive of business and its ability to accu- mulate capital. This should be done even if certain actions (e.g., raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve) lead to higher unemployment for the larger population.
• Focus on furthering, facilitating, and stimulating (where necessary) the interests of business. This is done in the belief that business success will benefit everyone. However, many believe that neo-liberalism has benefited comparatively few people and areas of the world.
• Privatize sectors formerly run by it (e.g., education, telecommunications, transportation) in order to open up these areas for business and profit- making. It seeks to be sure that those sectors that cannot be privatized are “cost effective” and “accountable.”
• Work to allow the free movement of capital among and between economic sectors and geographic regions.
• Extol the virtues of free competition, although it is widely believed that the state actually works in support of the monopolization of markets by busi- ness interests.
• Work against groups (e.g., unions, social movements) that operate to restrain business interests and their efforts to accumulate capital.
• Work to reduce barriers to the free movement of capital across national borders and to the creation of new markets.
• Bail out financial institutions if they are in danger of collapse (as in the 2007–8 cases of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, Citibank).
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Overall, critics argue that the neo-liberal state favors elites, but seeks to conceal that fact by seeming to be democratic; in fact, it is in the eyes of many deeply antidemocratic. Its emphasis on things like freedom and liberty is largely restricted to the market.
Contrary to the established view, neo-liberalism has not made the state irrelevant. Rather, the institutions and practices of the state have been trans- formed to better attune them to the needs and interests of the neo-liberal mar- ket and economy.
However, the neo-liberal state is riddled with internal contradictions. For one thing, its authoritarianism co-exists uncomfortably with its supposed inter- est in individual freedom and democracy. For another, while it is committed to stability, its operations, especially in support of financial (and other) specu- lation, lead to increased instability. Then there is commitment to competition while it operates on behalf of monopolization. Most generally, there is the con- tradiction that its public support for the well-being of everyone is given the lie by its actions in support of the economic elites.
The Early Thinking of Karl Polanyi Much of the contemporary critique of neo-liberalism, especially as it relates to economics, is traceable to the work of Karl Polanyi (1886–1964), especially his 1944 book, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. He is the great critic of a lim- ited focus on the economy, especially the focus of economic liberalism on the self-regulating, or unregulated, market, as well as on basing all on self-interest. In his view, these are not universal principles, but rather were unprecedented developments associated with the advent of capitalism. Polanyi shows that the laissez-faire system came into existence with the help of the state and it was able to continue to function as a result of state actions. Furthermore, if the laissez- faire system was left to itself, it threatened to destroy society. Indeed, it was such threats, as well as real dangers, that led to counter-reactions by society and the state (e.g., socialism, communism, the New Deal) to protect them- selves from the problems of a free market, especially protection of the prod- ucts of, and those who labored in, it. The expansion of the laissez-faire market and self-protective reaction against it by the state and society is called the double movement. While economic liberalism saw such counter-reactions (including any form of protectionism) as “mistakes” that disrupted the opera- tion of the economic markets, Polanyi saw them as necessary and desir- able reactions to the evils of the free market. Polanyi saw the self-regulating market as an absurd idea. He also described as mythical the liberal idea that
double movement The expansion of the laissez-faire market and the self-protective reaction against it by the state and society.
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socialists, communists, New Dealers, and so on were involved in a conspiracy against liberalism and the free market. Rather than being a conspiracy, what took place was a natural, a “spontaneous,” collective reaction by society and its various elements that were threatened by the free market. In his time, Polanyi saw a reversal of the tendency for the economic system to dominate society. This promised to end the evils produced by the dominance of the free market system, and also to produce more, rather than less, freedom. That is, Polanyi believed that collective planning and control would produce more freedom, more freedom for all, than was then available in the liberal economic system.
It is interesting to look back on Polanyi’s ideas with the passage of more than sixty years since their publication and especially with the rise of a global econ- omy dominated by the kind of free market system he so feared and despised. Polanyi’s hope lay with society and the nation-state, but these have been rendered far less powerful with the rise of globalization, especially the global economy. Very telling here is Margaret Thatcher’s (in)famous statement: “There is no such thing as society.” Without powerful social and political influences, one wonders where collective planning and social control over the market are to come from. Clearly, such planning and control are more inadequate than ever in the global age. Beyond that, one wonders whether the creation of truly global planning and control is either possible or desirable. Nevertheless, it is likely that were he alive today, the logic of Polanyi’s position would lead him to favor global planning and control because of his great fears of a free market economy, now far more powerful and dangerous because it exists on a global scale.
The great global economic crisis of 2007–2009 underscores the impor- tance of Polanyi’s ideas. The market had come to be allowed unprecedented freedom; restraints on it turned out to be limited or nonexistent. The result was a series of excesses (mortgage loans to those who should not have qualified for them; excessively risky undertakings by financial institutions; financial instru- ments that were opaque [e.g., “derivatives”] and that diffused responsibility for bad loans [mortgage-backed securities], etc.) that led to the collapse of the American housing market, the credit crunch and eventually a global economic meltdown. Polanyi would have said that the cause of all of this was a lack of state control over the market. In fact, in wake of the crisis we are witnessing a resurfacing of interest in regulating the market and the economy.
(More) Contemporary Criticisms of Neo-Liberalism. Among the problems with neo-liberalism as a theory is the fact that it assumes that everyone in the world wants very narrow and specifi c types of economic well-being (to be well- off economically, if not rich) and political freedom (democracy). The fact is, there are great cultural differences in the ways in which well-being (e.g., to not have to work very hard) and freedom (e.g., to be unfettered by the state even if it is not democratically chosen) are defi ned. Neo-liberalism very often comes down to the North, the United States, and/or global organizations (e.g., International Monetary Fund), seeking to impose their defi nitions of well-being and freedom on other parts of the world. Furthermore, there is great variation on this among individuals in each of these societies with the result that these defi nitions are dif- ferent from at least some of theirs, but are nonetheless imposed on them.
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Another problem lies in the fact that the theory conceals or obscures the social and material interests of those who push such an economic system with its associated technological, legal, and institutional systems. These are not being pursued because everyone in the world wants them or will benefit from them, but because some, usually in the North, are greatly advantaged by them and therefore push them.
Among the other criticisms of neo-liberalism are the fact that it has pro- duced financial crises in various countries throughout the world (e.g., Mexico, Argentina), its economic record has been dismal since it has redistributed wealth (from poor to rich) rather than generating new wealth, it has sought to commodify everything, it has helped to degrade the environment, and so on. Furthermore, there are signs that it is failing such as deficit financing in the United States and China, signs of more immediate crises (e.g., burgeoning bud- get deficits, the bailout of financial institutions), and evidence that U.S. global hegemony is crumbling.
Contemporary Application Is Global Neo-Liberal Capitalism Dead?
The deep economic recession that began in the United States in late 2007 deepened in the ensuing months and years and spread rapidly throughout much of the world threatening globalization, in particular neo-liberal economic globalization. There have been prior epochs of globalization (e.g., the late 1800s until 1914) and they were ended by abrupt changes such as war (e.g., World War I) and a recession/ depression. A frequent reaction in such times is for nations to begin to close their borders and to turn inward, especially economically; to engage in “protectionism.” The goal is to husband remaining resources and protect the nation as much as pos- sible from the disastrous effects of negative global flows of all types (e.g., military invasion, a run on stock markets and banks). However, such protectionism is anath- ema to capitalism in general, but especially neo-liberal global capitalism, which is premised on free markets and free trade. The partially or completely closed borders that result from protectionism serve to block, at least in part, the flow of goods, money, and the like that is the lifeblood of neo-liberal global capitalism. During the global economic crisis that began in late 2007, the dangers posed by protectionism to global capitalism led to warnings being raised, most notably by the President of the United States (the major source and the center of neo-liberalism and capitalism), that nations should not react to it by resorting to protectionism.
However, a broader issue may have been raised by this most recent global eco- nomic crisis and that is the future of global capitalism, especially in its neo-liberal form. The crisis commenced in the United States and began because of the lack of restraints on, and regulations over, capitalist enterprises, especially financial institu- tions and their highly risky investments. Many institutions throughout the world had bought some of these high-risk investments (not fully understanding how risky they were) and losses cascaded around the world. Losses across the world led to other kinds of losses and a growing lack of confidence in the global economic system led to deep declines in many stock markets, and economies in general, throughout the
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The Death of Neo-Liberalism? It is arguable that the economic crisis of 2007–9 spelled the beginning of the end of neo-liberalism (see box). In a speech in late 2008 French President Sarkozy said: ”The idea of the absolute power of the markets that should not be constrained by any rule, by any political interven- tion, was a mad idea. The idea that markets are always right was a mad idea.” 4 Referring implicitly to the global economic system dominated to that point by neo-liberalism, Sarkozy argued that “we need to rebuild the whole world fi nan- cial and monetary system from scratch.” 5 In other words, we need to scuttle the remnants of the global neo-liberal economic system, just as the Keynesian sys- tem was scuttled as neo-liberalism gained ascendancy, and replace it with some as yet undefi ned alternative. Where and how far this goes remains to be seen, but believers in neo-liberalism have not disappeared and their ideas, perhaps in some new form, are likely to resurface when the dust of the current economic crisis settles.
If nothing else, this economic crisis has reminded us of the importance of not only the neo-Marxian critique of neo-liberalism, but also of neo-Marxian alter- natives to it. We turn now to two major examples of neo-Marxian thinking.
world. Job losses accelerated, poverty increased, and fear and worry over the econ- omy mounted. Many, including the former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, blamed American-style, risk-taking, neo-liberal capitalism and began a search for global alternatives to it.
The issue is: Is there a viable alternative to a neo-liberal global economy? There are, of course, many ways to run an economy (e.g., socialism), including a global economy, but the most likely alternative seems to be some efforts to reform neo- liberalism both in terms of the way it operates in the United States (and elsewhere), as well as globally. Thus, global neo-liberal capitalism does not seem to be dead. Rather, what is likely to happen once the immediate crisis passes is a wide range of efforts to reform the system so that its worst inadequacies and abuses are limited or eliminated. What this will mean is the creation of a variety of regulations and restraints on capitalism and its enterprises both nationally and globally. After all, many blamed the crash that began in December 2007 on the relaxation, or inad- equacy of, restraints on the system, especially in the United States.
So, we will see an era of “restrained” neo-liberal global capitalism. At a general level, neo-liberalism regards any form of restraint as anathema to its basic princi- ples. More concretely, if history is any guide, capitalistic businesses will find those restraints objectionable and in their pursuit of ever-higher profits will seek, and even- tually find, ways to circumvent them. Without constant vigilance, the world will find itself faced with a renewal of economic excess and the possibility of yet another global economic meltdown in the not-too-distant future. From the point of view of Marxian and neo-Marxian theory, this is just another example of the “boom and bust” charac- ter of capitalism. The big question is whether the great gains in boom periods (which tend to go to a relatively small portion of the population) are worth the disastrous consequences of the busts (especially for those least able to afford an economic set- back). If not, then an alternative to neo-liberal global capitalism is needed.
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Neo-Marxian Theoretical Alternatives to Neo-Liberalism
We have already presented, at least implicitly, critiques of neo-liberalism from a neo-Marxian perspective, but neo-Marxists have done more than critique neo-liberalism, they have developed their own perspectives on, and theories of, capitalism. While neo-liberalism is supportive of capitalism, the neo-Marxists are, needless to say, critical of it. In this section we offer two examples of a neo- Marxian approach that are explicitly and implicitly critical of the neo-liberal theory outlined in this chapter. However, they are not only of interest as critiques; they are important in their own right.
Leslie Sklair distinguishes between two systems of globalization. The first— the capitalist system of globalization—is the one that is now predominant. The other is the socialist system that is not yet in existence, but is foreshadowed by current antiglobalization movements, especially those oriented toward greater human rights throughout the world. The antiglobalization movements, and the possibility of a socialist form, are made possible by the problems in the current system of globalization, especially class polarization and the increasing eco- logical unsustainability of capitalist globalization.
While the nation-state remains important, it is the case that Sklair focuses on transnational practices that are able to cut across boundaries—including those created by states—with the implication that territorial boundaries are of declining importance in capitalist globalization. As a Marxist, Sklair accords priority to economic transnational practices and it is in this context that one of the central aspects of his analysis— transnational corporations —predominate. Underlying this is the idea that capitalism has moved away from being an inter- national system (since the nation [-state] is of declining significance) to a global- izing system that is decoupled from any specific geographic territory or state.
The second transnational practice of great importance is political and here the transnational capitalist class predominates. However, it is not made up of capitalists in the traditional Marxian sense of the term. That is, they do not necessarily own the means of production. Sklair differentiates among four
transnational corporations Corporations that dominate the contemporary capital- ist global economy and whose actions are largely unconstrained by the borders of nation-states.
transnational capitalist class Not made up of capitalists in the traditional Marxian sense of the term; its members do not necessarily own the means of production. Includes four “fractions”— corporate, made up of executives of transnational corpo- rations and their local affiliates; state, composed of globalizing state and interstate bureaucrats and politicians; technical, made up of globalizing professionals; consum- erist, encompassing merchants and media executives.
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“fractions” of the transnational capitalist class. The first is the corporate fraction made up of executives of transnational corporations and their local affiliates. Second, there is a state fraction composed of globalizing state and interstate bureaucrats and politicians. The third, technical fraction, is made up of global- izing professionals. Finally, there is the consumerist fraction encompassing mer- chants and media executives. This is obviously a very different group than Marx thought of in conceptualizing the capitalist.
The transnational capitalist class may not be capitalist in a traditional sense of the term, but it is transnational in various ways. First, its “members” tend to share global (as well as local) interests. Second, they seek to exert various types of control across nations. That is, they exert economic control in the work- place, political control in both domestic and international politics, and culture- ideological control in everyday life across international borders. Third, they tend to share a global rather than a local perspective on a wide range of issues. Fourth, they come from many different countries, but increasingly they see themselves as citizens of the world and not just of their place of birth. Finally, wherever they may be at any given time, they share similar lifestyles, especially in terms of the goods and services they consume.
The third transnational practice is culture-ideology and here Sklair accords great importance to the culture-ideology of consumerism in capitalist global- ization. While the focus is on culture and ideology, this ultimately involves the economy by adding an interest in consumption to the traditional concern with pro- duction (and the transnational corporations) in economic approaches in general, and Marxian theories in particular. It is in this realm that the ability to exert ideo- logical control over people scattered widely throughout the globe has increased dramatically primarily through the greater reach and sophistication of advertis- ing, the media, and the bewildering array of consumer goods that are marketed by and through them. Ultimately, they all serve to create a global mood to consume that benefits transnational corporations, as well as the advertising and media cor- porations that both are examples of such corporations and profit from them.
Ultimately, Sklair is interested in the relationship among the transna- tional social practices and institutions that dominate each by arguing that transnational corporations utilize the transnational capitalist class to develop and solidify the consumerist culture and ideology that is increasingly necessary to feed the demands of the capitalist system of production. Indeed, it is this rela- tionship that defines global capitalism today and it is the most important force in ongoing changes in the world.
As a Marxist, Sklair is not only interested in critically analyzing capitalist globalization, but in articulating an alternative to it and its abuses. He sees some promising signs in the protectionism of some countries that see themselves as
culture-ideology of consumerism An ideology that affects people scattered widely throughout the globe with the greater reach and sophistication of advertising, the media, and consumer goods. Ultimately, a global mood to consume is cre- ated that benefits transnational corporations, as well as the advertising and media corporations.
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exploited by transnational corporations. Also hopeful are new social move- ments such as the green movement seeking a more sustainable environment and the various anti-globalization groups that have sprung up in recent years. He is particularly interested in various human rights movements in which, he believes, can be found the seeds of the alternative to capitalist globalization, that is socialist globalization. He predicts that these and other movements will gain momentum in the 21st century as they increasingly resist the ways in which globalization has been appropriated by transnational corporations. In fact, in good Marxian dialectical terms, he sees the success of capitalist globalization sowing the seeds of its own destruction. That is, its expansion tends to provide the opponents with resources (derived from the economic success of transna- tional capitalism), organizational forms (copied from the successful organiza- tions in global capitalism), and most obviously a clarity of purpose. That is, as the transnational corporations grow more successful, so do their abuses and the need to supplant them as the central players in the global system.
Empire The most important and widely discussed and debated Marxian approach to globalization is Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire. Although they have reservations about postmodern social theory, they analyze the postmodernization of the global economy. They associate modernity with imperialism, the defining characteristic of which is a nation(s) at the center that controls and exploits, especially economically, a number of areas throughout the world. In a postmodern move, they “decenter” this process thereby defining empire as a postmodern reality in which such dominance exists, but without any single nation (or any other entity) at its center. To put this another way, modern sovereignty can be traced to a place, but in its postmodern form as empire sover- eignty exists in a nonplace. That is, there is no center, it is deterritorialized, it is virtual in the form of communication (especially through the media), and, as a result, the spectacle of the empire is everywhere; it is omnipresent.
Empire does not yet exist fully; it is in formation at the moment, but we can already get a sense of its parameters. Empire governs the world with a single logic of rule, but there is no single power at the heart of empire. Instead of a single source of command, in empire power is dispersed throughout society and the globe. Even the United States, in spite of its seeming hegemony in the world today, is not an empire in these terms and does not lie at the heart of Hardt and Negri’s sense of an empire. However, the sovereignty of the United States does constitute an important precursor to empire and the United States continues to occupy a privileged position in the world today. However, it is in the process of being supplanted by empire.
Empire lacks (or will) geographic or territorial boundaries. It can also be seen as lacking temporal boundaries in the sense that it seeks (albeit unsuc- cessfully) to suspend history and to exist for all eternity. It also can be seen as lacking a lower boundary in that it seeks to expand down into the depths of the
imperialism The control and exploitation, especially economically, of a number of areas throughout the world by a nation(s) at the center.
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social world. This means that it seeks control not only of the basics of the social world (thought, action, interaction, groups), but to go further in an effort to use biopower to control human nature and population; both peoples’ brains and their bodies. In a way, empire is far more ambitious than imperialism in that it seeks to control the entirety of life down to its most basic levels.
The key to the global power of empire lies in the fact that it is (or seeks to be) a new juridical power. That is, it is based on such things as the constitu- tion of order, norms, ethical truths, and a common notion of what is right. This juridical formation is the source of power of empire. Thus, it can, in the name of what is “right,” intervene anywhere in the world in order to deal with what it considers humanitarian problems, to guarantee accords, and to impose peace on those who may not want it or even see it as peace. More specifically, it can engage in “just wars” in the name of this juridical formation; the latter legiti- mates the former. Such wars become a kind of sacred undertaking. The enemy is anyone or anything that the juridical formation sees as a threat to ethical order in the world. Thus, the right to engage in just war is seen as boundless, encom- passing the entire space of civilization. The right to engage in it is also seen as boundless in time; it is permanent, eternal. In a just war, ethically grounded military action is legitimate and its goal is to achieve the desired order and peace. Thus, empire is not based on force, but on the ability to project force in the service of that which is right (precursors of this can be seen in the two U.S. wars against Iraq, as well as the incursion into Afghanistan).
Empire is based on a triple imperative. First, it seeks to incorporate all that it can. It appears to be magnanimous and it operates with a liberal facade. However, in the process of inclusion, it creates a smooth world in which differ- ences, resistance, and conflict are eliminated. Second, empire differentiates and affirms differences. While those who are different are celebrated culturally, they are set aside juridically. Third, once the differences are in place, empire seeks to hierarchize and to manage the hierarchy and the differences embedded in it. It is hierarchization and management that are the real powers of empire.
Empire is, then, a postmodern Marxian perspective on globalization and the exertion of power around the world. However, instead of capitalists, or capitalist nations, exerting that power, it is the much more nebulous empire that is in control. If there are no more capitalists in empire, what about the pro- letariat? To Hardt and Negri, the time of the proletariat is over. But if the pro- letariat no longer exists to oppose empire, where is the opposition to it to come from? After all, operating from a Marxian perspective, Hardt and Negri must come up with an oppositional force. In fact, they do not disappoint on this score and label that oppositional group the multitude. This is an interesting choice
empire A decentered, postmodern Marxian perspective on globalization and the exer- tion of power around the world based on new juridical power such as the constitu- tion of order, norms, ethical truths, and a common notion of what is right. It can, in the name of what is “right,” intervene anywhere in the world in order to deal with what it considers humanitarian problems, to guarantee accords, and to impose peace on those who may not want it or even see it as peace.
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of terms for many reasons. For one thing it is much more general and abstract than the proletariat and also moves us away from a limited focus on the econ- omy. Secondly, it is clear that there are lots of at least potential opponents of the empire; indeed, those in control in the empire constitute only a small minority vis-à-vis the multitude.
The multitude is that collection of people throughout the world that sus- tains empire in various ways, including, but not restricted to, its labor (it is the real productive force in empire ). Among other ways, it also sustains it by buy- ing into the culture-ideology of consumption and, more importantly, in actually consuming a variety of its offerings. Like capitalism and its relationship to the proletariat, empire is a parasite on the multitude and its creativity and produc- tivity. Like Marx’s proletariat (which all but disappears in this theory), the mul- titude is a force for creativity in empire. Also like the proletariat, the multitude is capable of overthrowing empire through the autonomous creation of a counter- empire. The counter-empire, like empire, is, or would be, a global phenomenon created out of, and becoming, global flows and exchanges. Globalization leads to deterritorialization (and the multitude itself is a force in deterritorialization and is deterritorialized) and the latter is a prerequisite to the global liberation of the multitude. That is, with deterritorialization social revolution can, as Marx predicted, occur, perhaps for the first time, on a global level.
Thus, while Hardt and Negri are certainly critics of globalization, whether it be modern capitalist imperialism or postmodern empire, they also see a utopian potential in globalization. Thus, globalization is not the problem, but rather the form that it has taken, or takes, in imperialism and empire. That utopian potential has always been there, but in the past it has been smothered by modern sovereign powers through ideological control or military force. Empire now occupies, or soon will, that controlling position, but its need to suppress that potential is counterbalanced by the need of the multitude to manifest and express it. Ultimately, it is in globalization that there exists the potential for universal freedom and equality. Further, globalization prevents us from falling back into the particularism and isolationism that has characterized much of human history. Those processes, of course, would serve to impede the global change sought by the multitude. More positively, as globalization progresses, it serves to push us more and more in the direction of the creation of counter-empire. This focus on the global serves to distinguish Hardt and Negri from other postmodernists and post-Marxists who tend to focus on the local and the problems and potential that exists there. In contrast, in their view, a focus on the local serves to obscure the fact that the sources of both our major problems and our liberation exist at the global level, in empire.
While Hardt and Negri foresee counter-empire, they, like Marx in the case of communism, offer no blueprint for how to get there or what it might look like. Like communism to Marx, counter-empire will arise out of actual practice
multitude A collection of people throughout the world that sustains empire in vari- ous ways, including, but not restricted to, its labor (it is the real productive force in empire), but it also has the power, at least potentially, to overthrow empire.
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Contemporary Applications The Great Global Economic Meltdown of 2008
If there was any lingering doubt about the reality of globalization, it was put to rest by the global economic crisis that began in 2007 and reached a crescendo (at least for the moment) in late 2008. It began as a largely U.S. problem relating specifically to its housing market, bad mortgage loans, and accelerating foreclosures on those unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. What was at first seen as a small and manageable American problem soon grew out of control in the United States and ultimately spread throughout much of the world.
It turned out that many of these bad mortgages has been carved up into little pieces and packaged as financial instruments (they had been “securitized,” turned into mortgage-backed securities) that had been sold to many financial institutions not only in the United States but throughout the world. They had bought them because of faith in the U.S. economy, in the safety of mortgage loans (backed by real estate), and ultimately because small pieces of so many mortgages in any given financial instrument seemed to mean that the failure of a few mortgages would have little impact on the instrument as a whole.
However, as the number of bad mortgages increased dramatically, these finan- cial instruments were increasingly threatened and they declined significantly in value. Soon major American financial institutions came under increasing pressure and a number failed (e.g., Lehman Brothers, Indy Mac, and Washington Mutual banks), or were bailed out by the U.S. government (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG). These developments put at risk financial institutions throughout the world which found themselves holding financial instruments whose value was in freefall.
Prior to this, there had been much talk that the global economy had “decoupled” from, was no longer closely tied to, the American economy. Many areas (EU) and nations (China, India, Brazil) had become so successful economically that it was believed that they could withstand a decline in the U.S. economy by either trading more with each other and/or increasing consumption of their products, as well as those of other success- ful economies. To many, it seemed that the economic crises that had previously befallen the world (e.g., the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s) were a thing of the past.
However, it turned out this was not the case and what was an American economic problem rapidly became a global economic problem. Banks and other financial institu- tions throughout much of the world came under increasing pressure; some failed and others were bailed out by their governments. Many governments also injected large sums of money into their economies to keep them afloat. Some nations failed almost completely (e.g., Iceland) or experienced severe economic problems and in some cases (e.g., Hungary, Pakistan) had to be helped by financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Consumption declined globally and, as a result, production declined in response to lower demand. Global oil prices, which had risen to almost $150 a barrel, declined to almost $40 a barrel because of reduced demand as global economies slowed. The demand for other commodities (e.g., copper) also fell and their prices also declined precipitously.
These and other aspects of the economic crisis of 2007–8 indicated how tightly intertwined the world had become and how easily economic problems flowed throughout the world. There was little that any given region or nation-state could do to protect itself from these negative economic flows and from globalization more generally. Of course, this cuts both ways and when the global economy improves those improvements, like the problems, will flow throughout much of the world.
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(praxis), especially that of the multitude. Counter-empire must be global, it must be everywhere, and it must be opposed to empire. Counter-empire is made increasingly likely because empire is losing its ability to control the multitude. Thus, it must redouble its efforts (e.g., through police power) and this serves to mobilize the multitude and make counter-empire more likely. As postmod- ernists, Hardt and Negri reject a focus on the agent of the type found in Marx- ian theory, specifically the centrality accorded to the proletarian revolutionary agent who is increasingly conscious of exploitation by capitalism. Instead, they focus on such nonagential, collective actions by the multitude as desertion, migration, and nomadism. In accord with their postmodern orientation and the latter’s focus on the body, Hardt and Negri urge a new “barbarism” involving new bodily forms of the kind that are now appearing in the realm of gender, sexuality, and esthetic mutations (such as tattooing and body piercing). Such bodies are less likely to submit to external control and more likely to create a new life; the basis of counter-empire. Thus, the revolutionary force is not a con- scious agent, but new bodily, corporeal forms.
While Hardt and Negri retain a Marxian interest in production, they do recognize a new world of production and work in which immaterial, intel- lectual, and communicative labor is increasingly central. Thus, control over those engaged in such work—a key element and increasing proportion of multitude—is of increasing importance. However, while they are controlled through global communication and ideology (especially via the media), it is also through communication and ideology that the revolutionary potential of the multitude will be expressed. The key thing about communication is that it flows easily and effectively across the globe. This makes it easier for empire to exert control, to organize production globally, and to make its justification of itself and its actions immanent within that communication. Conversely, of course, it is also the mechanism by which the multitude can ultimately create counter-empire.
There are several theories, most of which are deeply rooted in political science rather than sociology that deal with globalization. International relations (IR) focuses on the relations among and between the nation-states of the world. They are viewed as distinct actors in the world, occupying well-defined terri- tories, and as sovereign within their own borders. There is also an emphasis on a distinct and well-defined inter-state system.
Within IR, political realism begins with the premise that international poli- tics is based on power, organized violence, and ultimately war. It assumes that nation-states are the predominant actors on the global stage; that they act as
international relations (IR) A political theory that focuses on the relations among and between the nation-states of the world.
political realism A political theory that operates on the premise that international pol- itics is based on power, organized violence, and ultimately war.
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308 CHAPTER TEN
coherent units in the global arena; that force is not only a usable, but also an effective, method by which nation-states wield power on the global stage; and that military issues are of utmost importance in world politics.
Complex interdependence sees nation-states relating to one another through multiple channels; formally and informally; through normal channels and so-called back channels. Where complex interdependence differs from real- ism is in the importance accorded to these informal channels where, for example, entities (e.g., MNCs) other than the state connect societies to one another. There is no clear hierarchy of interstate relationships and it is certainly not the case that military issues always, or even often, predominate. Coalitions arise within and between nation-states on these issues. Conflict may or may not arise and, if conflict arises, it varies greatly in terms of degree of intensity. Complex interde- pendence tends to lead to the decline in, or even the disappearance of, the use of military force by one nation-state against other(s) within a given region or alli- ance, although military action may continue to occur outside that region or bloc. While international organizations have only a minor role to play in the realist view of the world, they play an expanded role from the perspective of complex interdependence. Such organizations bring together representatives from vari- ous countries, set agendas, serve as catalysts for the formation of coalitions, serve as arenas from which political initiatives arise, and are helpful to weak states in playing a larger role in the international arena. Thus, the complex interdepen- dence perspective continues to focus on relationships among nation-states, but takes a much wider and broader view of the nature of those relationships.
There is also a variety of positions that are at variance with IR and its derivatives and that offer fundamental challenges to it. Among these are a wide range of other scholars associated with IPE (international political economy) that challenge IR. Among other things, they focus more on power and critique the state-centrism of IR, which ignores other entities with political and eco- nomic power, especially the corporation.
An over-riding interest in the literature on globalization and politics is the fate of the nation-state in the age of globalization. Many see the nation-state as threatened by various global processes, especially global economic flows. Some go so far as to argue that the state is now a minor player globally in comparison to a huge and growing borderless global economy that nation-states are unable to control. While nation-states once controlled markets, it is now the markets that often control the nation-states.
There is a variety of other factors threatening the autonomy of the nation- state, including flows of information, illegal immigrants, new social move- ments, terrorists, criminals, drugs, money (including laundered money, and other financial instruments), sex-trafficking, and much else. Many of these flows have been made possible by the development and continual refinement
complex interdependence A political theory that sees nation-states relating to one another through multiple channels and that emphasizes informal channels where, for example, entities (e.g., MNCs) other than the state connect societies to one another.
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of technologies of all sorts. The nation-state has also been weakened by the growing power of global and transnational organizations (e.g., the EU) that operate largely free of the control of nation-states. Another factor is the growth of global problems (AIDS, TB) that cannot be handled, or handled very well, by a nation-state operating on its own. A more specific historical factor is the end of the Cold War, which had been a powerful force in unifying, or at least hold- ing together, some nation-states. One example is Yugoslavia and its dissolution at the end of the Cold War, but the main one, of course, is the dissolution of the Soviet Union into a number of independent nation-states (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, etc). Then there are “failed states” (e.g., Somalia) where there is, in effect, no functioning national government as well as states that are in the pro- cess of breaking down. Clearly, failed states, and states that are disintegrating, are in no position to maintain their borders adequately.
One way of summarizing much of this is to say that the nation-state has become increasingly porous. While this seems to be supported by a great deal of evidence, the fact is that no nation-state has ever been able to control its borders completely. Thus, it is not the porosity of the nation-state that is new, but rather what is new is a dramatic increase in that porosity and of the kinds of flows that are capable of passing through national borders.
There are at least some who contest the position taken above. A variety of arguments is made, including that the nation-state continues to be the major player on the global stage, that it retains at least some power in the face of global- ization, that nation-states vary greatly in their efficacy in the face of globalization, and that the rumors of the demise of the nation state are greatly exaggerated.
There are even scholars who see the role of the state as not only endur- ing, but even increasing in the world today. There are greater demands being placed on the state because of four major sources of collective insecurity: ter- rorism, economic globalization leading to problems such as outsourcing and pressures toward downsizing, threats to national identity due to immigra- tion, and the spread of global diseases such as AIDS. Further, the state does not merely respond to these threats; it may actually find it in its interest to exaggerate or even create dangers and thereby make its citizens more insecure. A good example is the United States and British governments’ arguments prior to the 2003 war with Iraq that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruc- tion (WMDs) that posed a direct threat to them. The United States even claimed that Iraq could kill millions by using offshore ships to lob canisters containing lethal chemical or biological material into American cities. The collective inse- curity created by such outrageous claims helped foster public opinion in favor of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
The other side of this argument in support of the nation-state is that global processes of various kinds are just not as powerful as many believe. For exam- ple, global business pales in comparison to business within many countries, including the United States. For another, some question the porosity of the nation-state by pointing, for example, to the fact that migration to the United States and other countries has declined substantially since its heights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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A related point is that it would be a mistake simply to see globalization as a threat to, a constraint on, the nation-state; it can also be an opportunity for the nation-state. For example, the demands of globalization were used as a basis to make needed changes (at least from a neo-liberal point of view) in Australian society, specifically allowing it to move away from protectionism and in the direction of (neo-)liberalization, to transform state enterprises into private enterprises, and to streamline social welfare. In this, the rhetoric of glo- balization, especially an exaggeration of it and its effects, was useful to those politicians who were desirous of such changes. In other words, Australian poli- ticians used globalization as an ideology in order to reform Australian society.
1. Globalization theory emerged as a result of developments and changes in both the world as a whole as well as within academia.
2. Globalization can be analyzed culturally, economically, politically, and institutionally. A concern for homogenization/heterogenization cuts across work in all of these areas.
3. Central to the work of Giddens on globalization is losing control over the juggernaut of modernity and creating a runaway world.
4. Beck sees hope in globality with the decline of the nation-state and in transnational organizations and possibly a transnational state.
5. To Bauman, what defines the global world is a “space war” between those who have and those who do not have mobility. However, even those with mobility face grave problems.
6. Cultural theories of globalization may be divided into three paradigms—cultural differentialism, cultural convergence, and cultural hybridization.
7. Cultural differentialism adopts the view that there are lasting differences among and between cultures that are largely unaffected by globalization.
8. Huntington offers the best-known example of cultural differentialism with his focus on civilizations, the major civilizations of the world, and the likelihood of economic conflict between Sinic and Western civilization and warfare between Islamic and Western civilization.
9. Cultural convergence takes the view that globalization is leading to increasing sameness around the world.
10. Two examples of cultural convergence are the McDonaldization thesis and the idea that the world is increasingly dominated by the “grobalization” of “nothing.”
11. Cultural hybridization adopts the perspective that globalization is bringing with it the mixing of cultures, the production of new and unique cultures that are not reducible to either global or local.
12. A number of theoretical ideas are associated with cultural hybridization including glocalization, hybridization, and creolization.
13. A major theory included under the heading of cultural hybridization is Appadurai’s thinking on landscapes and the disjunctures among and between them.
14. Neo-liberalism is the dominant economic theory of globalization. It combines a commitment to individual liberty with the economic ideas of the free market and an opposition to state intervention in that market.
15. The excesses of neo-liberalism in the economy and the polity led to counter- reactions to it, including the work of Karl Polanyi on the “double movement,”
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which involves the expansion of the laissez-faire market and the self-protective reaction against it by the state and society.
16. Leslie Sklair develops a neo-Marxian economic theory of globalization that focuses on transnational capitalism, especially transnational corporations, the transnational capitalist class, and the culture-ideology of consumerism.
17. Sklair argues that transnational capitalism is providing the basis for the emergence of socialist globalization.
18. To Hardt and Negri, we are in the midst of a transition from capitalist imperial- ism to the dominance of empire. Empire lacks a center and is based on juridical power.
19. The multitude sustains empire, but it also has, at least potentially, the power to overthrow empire and create counter-empire.
20. There are several political theories that relate to globalization, including interna- tional relations, political realism, and complex interdependence.
21. A central issue in the study of political globalization is the degree to which the nation-state is being weakened by globalization.
J oseph E. S tiglitz Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton , 2002 . Important critique of globalization and the role played by the United States and key international organizations (e.g., IMF) in structuring globalization to the advantage of the United States and the West.
B enjamin B arber Jihad vs. McWorld. New York: Times Books , 1995 . Popular and influential work by a political scientist that sees a global split between the forces of McWorld and Jihad. However, it is likely that in order to succeed in the long term, Jihad will need to use more of the tools of McWorld (e.g., Internet, television).
A nthony G iddens Runaway World: How Globalization Is Reshaping Our Lives. New York: Routledge , 2000 . Perhaps today’s most famous and influential contemporary theorist relates his ideas on the juggernaut of modernity to the possibility that glo- balization is bringing with it a runaway world.
U lrich B eck World Risk Society. Cambridge: Polity Press , 1999 . Beck develops further his theory of risk society, its relationship to globalization, as well as offering further insights into the latter.
Z ygmunt B auman Globalization: The Human Consequences. New York: Columbia Uni- versity Press , 1998 . One of the most famous theorists of the day expounds on his thoughts on globalization, especially on the “space war” and the advantages that accrue to those who can move easily across space over the immobile.
J ohn U rry Global Complexity. Cambridge: Polity , 2003 . Unique look at globalization through the lens of complexity or chaos theory.
M anuel C astells The Rise of the Network Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell , 1996 . Highly processual view of globalization that focuses on global flows and networks.
J an N ederveen P ieterse Globalization and Culture: Global Melange. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield , 2004 . Develops a useful way of looking at three paradigms in the analysis of the relationship between culture and globalization, as well as fur- ther developing the idea of hybridization.
J ohn T omlinson Globalization and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 1999 . Excellent overview of work on the relationship between culture and globalization, especially that which emphasizes heterogenization.
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S amuel P. H untington The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster , 1996 . Perhaps the most controversial book on globaliza- tion. It focuses on culture “writ large,” that is, civilizations, but its arguments on Islam led to the most heated critiques.
Edward Said Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979/1994. A founding text of postcolonial theory in which Said introduces the concept of orientalism. According to this much debated book, Western ideas about the “Orient” and in particular the near-East are cultural constructions that serve Western interests.
G eorge R itzer The Globalization of Nothing 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press , 2007 . A theory of globalization that emphasizes both heterogenization (glocaliza- tion) and homogenization (grobalization), although its most important argument is that increasing homogenization is occurring through the grobalization of nothing.
G eorge R itzer The McDonaldization of Society, 7th edition, 20th Anniversary Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press , 2008 . Develops both a theory of contem- porary society building on Max Weber’s theory of rationalization and a theory of increasing global homogenization as a result of the worldwide proliferation of McDonaldized forms.
G eorge R itzer Globalization: A Basic Text . Malden, MA: Blackwell , 2010 . A rjun A ppadurai Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneap-
olis: University of Minnesota Press , 1996 . An important anthropological take on globalization that is best known for its discussion of various “scapes“ and the dis- junctures among and between them.
L eslie S klair Globalization: Capitalism and Its Alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press , 2002 . A neo-Marxian economic treatise that emphasizes the importance of transnational corporations, the transnational corporate class, and the culture ideol- ogy of consumerism.
M ichael H ardt and A ntonio N egri Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press , 2000 . Highly influential and controversial neo-Marxian approach to globalization that sees a more nebulous empire replacing capitalist imperialism and multitude taking the role of the proletariat in traditional Marxian theory.
M ichael H ardt and A ntonio N egri Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin , 2004 . Important, more popularly oriented, follow-up to Empire that among other things further develops the elusive idea of multitude.
J ames N. R osenau Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization. Princeton: Princ- eton University Press , 2003 . A political scientist analyzes global political trends through a variety of developments that produce both “distant proximities” and increasing “fragmegration.”
Endnotes 1Barber’s view of McWorld is not restricted to politics; he sees many other domains fol- lowing the model of McWorld. 2For more on this, see Samuel Huntington , “The Hispanic Challenge,” Foreign Policy March/April 2004 . 3However, this clearly pales in comparison to the history of Western conquest. 4 www.france24.com/en/20080926 . 5 www.france24.com/en/20080926 .
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absolute spaces Spaces built in natural locations that embody religious and politi- cal principles. Ultimately these spaces serve the interests of political and religious elites.
abstract space The kind of space produced within modern capitalist society. It domi- nates nature and all unique human forms. It views space as a problem to be solved and calculated.
accounting The process by which people offer accounts in order to make sense of the world (ethnomethodology).
accounting practices The ways in which one person offers an account and another person accepts or rejects that account (ethnomethodology).
accounts The ways in which actors explain (describe, criticize, and idealize) specific situations (ethnomethodology).
act The basic concept in Mead’s theory, involving an impulse, perception of stimuli, taking action involving the object perceived, and using the object to satisfy the ini- tial impulse.
action Things that people do that are the result of conscious processes.
actual social identity What a person actually is (Goffman).
adaptation One of Parsons’s four functional imperatives. A system must adjust to its environment and adjust the environment to its needs. More specifically, a system must cope with external situational dangers and contingencies.
affectual action Nonrational action that is the result of emotion (Weber).
agency Actions that are perpetrated by actors; what occurs would not have occurred in that way were it not for the fact that the actor intervened and took the action in question.
agents Actors who have the ability to make a difference in the social world; they have power.
alienation The breakdown of, the separation from, the natural interconnection between people and their productive activities, the products they produce, the fellow workers with whom they produce those things, and with what they are potentially capable of becoming (Marx).
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altruistic suicide When people are too well integrated into the collectivity they are likely to kill themselves in greater numbers because the group leads them, or even forces them, to (Durkheim).
anomic suicide People are more likely to kill themselves when they do not know what is expected of them, where regulation is low, and they are largely free to run wild. This mad pursuit is likely to prove unsatisfying and, as a result, a higher percentage of people in such a situation are apt to commit this type of suicide (Durkheim).
anomie A sense, associated with organic solidarity, of not knowing what one is expected to do, of being adrift in society without any clear and secure moorings (Durkheim). To Merton, a situation in which there is a serious disconnection between social structure and culture; between structurally created abilities of people to act in accord with cultural norms and goals and the norms and goals themselves.
appearance The way the actor looks to the audience; especially those items that indi- cate the performer’s social status (Goffman).
association The relationships among people, or interaction (Simmel).
autopoiesis The idea that systems are self-making or, more broadly, self-organizing (Luhmann).
back stage Where facts suppressed in the front stage or various kinds of informal actions may appear. A back stage is usually adjacent to the front stage, but it is also cut off from it. Performers can reliably expect no members of their front audience to appear in the back (Goffman).
base To Marx, the economy, which conditions, if not determines, the nature of every- thing else in society.
behavior Things that people do that require little or no thought.
behavioral organism One of Parsons’s action systems, responsible for handling the adaptation function by adjusting to and transforming the external world.
behaviorism The study, largely associated with psychology, of behavior.
bifurcated consciousness A type of consciousness characteristic of women that reflects the fact that, for them, everyday life is divided into two realities: the reality of their actual, lived, reflected-on experience and the reality of social typifications (feminist theory).
boomerang effect Risks strike back on the upper classes and rich nations most respon- sible for their production (Beck).
breaching experiments Experiments in which social reality is violated in order to shed light on the methods by which people construct social reality (ethnomethodology).
bureaucracy A modern type of organization in which the behavior of officers is rule bound; each office has a specified sphere of competence and has obligations to perform specific functions, the authority to carry them out, and the means of com- pulsion to get the job done; the offices are organized into a hierarchical system; technical training is needed for each office; those things needed to do the job belong to the office and not the officer; the position is part of the organization and cannot be appropriated by an officer; and much of what goes on in the bureaucracy (acts, decisions, rules) is in writing (Weber).
business A pecuniary approach to economic processes, in which the dominant interests are acquisition, money, and profitability rather than production and the interests of the larger community (Veblen).
calculability The emphasis on quantity, often to the detriment of quality (Ritzer).
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capitalism An economic system composed mainly of capitalists and the proletariat, in which one class (capitalists) exploits the other (proletariat) (Marx).
capitalist patriarchy A term that indicates that the oppression of women is traceable to a combination of capitalism and patriarchy (feminist theory).
capitalists Those who own the means of production under capitalism and are there- fore in a position to exploit workers (Marx).
carceral archipelago An image of society that results from the idea that discipline is swarming through society. This means that the process affects some parts of society and not others, or it may affect some parts at one time and other parts at another time. Thus, it creates a patchwork of centers of discipline amidst a world in which other settings are less affected or unaffected by the spread of the disciplinary society (Foucault).
center-periphery differentiation Differentiation between the core of a system and its peripheral elements (Luhmann).
charisma The definition by others that a person has extraordinary qualities. A person need not actually have such qualities in order to be so defined (Weber).
charismatic authority Authority legitimated by a belief by the followers in the excep- tional sanctity, heroism, or exemplary character of the charismatic leader (Weber).
civilization The broadest domain of cultures and cultural identities; culture “writ large” (Huntington).
civilizing process The long-term change in the West in manners as they relate to daily behavior. Everyday behaviors once acceptable have, over time, become increasingly unacceptable. We are more likely to observe the everyday behaviors of others, to be sensitive to them, to understand them better, and, perhaps most importantly, to find an increasing number of them embarrassing. What we once found quite acceptable now embarrasses us enormously. As a result, what was once quite public is now hidden from view (Elias).
class consciousness The ability of a class, in particular the proletariat, to overcome false consciousness and attain an accurate understanding of the capitalist system (Marx).
code A system of rules that allows us to understand signs and, more importantly, how they relate to one another (Baudrillard).
collective conscience The ideas shared by the members of a collectivity such as a group, a tribe, or a society (Durkheim).
colonization of the lifeworld As the system and its structures grow increasingly dif- ferentiated, complex, and self-sufficient, their power grows and with it their ability to direct and control what transpires in the lifeworld (Habermas).
color-line The division of black society and white society into two different and unequal worlds (Du Bois).
communism The social system that permits, for the first time, the expression of full human potential (Marx).
complex interdependence A political theory that sees nation-states relating to one another through multiple channels and that emphasizes informal channels where, for example, entities (e.g., MNCs) other than the state connect societies to one another.
compulsory heterosexuality A product of the heterosexual matrix; the social system in which the only viable, intelligible and respectable form of sexuality is hetero- sexuality (queer theory).
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conflict group A group that actually engages in group conflict (Dahrendorf).
conspicuous consumption The consumption of a variety of goods, not for subsistence but for higher status for those who consume them and thereby to create the basis for invidious distinctions between people (Veblen).
conspicuous leisure The consumption of leisure; the nonproductive use of time; the waste of time as a way of creating an invidious distinction between people and elevating the social status of those able to use their time in this way (Veblen).
constructivist perspective The view that schemes of perception, thought, and action create structures (Bourdieu).
consummation Final stage of the act involving the taking of action that satisfies the original impulse (Mead).
control Domination by technologies over employees and customers (Ritzer).
conversation of gestures Gestures by one party that mindlessly elicit responding gestures from the other party (Mead).
core The geographical area that dominates the capitalist world-economy and exploits the rest of the system (Wallerstein).
cost Rewards lost in adopting a specific action and, as a result, in forgoing alternative lines of action (exchange theory).
creative destruction The idea that older structures are destroyed to make way for newer ones that function more effectively (Schumpeter).
creolization A combination of cultures that were previously separate from one another; often used interchangeably with hybridization.
critical race theory Currently, one of the most prominent theories of race and racism. It grows out of the field of law and studies the way that racism is built into and repro- duced through the institutions that organize everyday life, particularly the law.
cultural capital The various kinds of legitimate knowledge possessed by an actor (Bourdieu).
cultural feminism A feminist theory that explores and celebrates the social value of women’s distinctive ways of being.
cultural imperialism The influence of a particular culture on a wide array of other cultures.
cultural system The Parsonsian action system that performs the latency function by providing actors with the norms and values that motivate them for action.
culture-ideology of consumerism An ideology that affects people scattered widely throughout the globe with the greater reach and sophistication of advertising, the media, and consumer goods. Ultimately, a global mood to consume is created that benefits transnational corporations, as well as the advertising and media corpora- tions (Sklair).
culture industry To the critical theorists, industries such as movies and radio that were serving to make culture a more important factor in society than the economy.
debunking Looking beyond stated intentions to real effects (Berger).
deconstruction An analytic technique used by poststructuralists to demonstrate the constructed nature of taken-for-granted social realities. In particular, deconstruc- tion shows that social reality is created in the relationship between binary linguistic categories in which one of the elements in the category is treated as inferior.
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definition of the situation The idea that if people define situations as real, then those definitions are real in their consequences (Thomas and Thomas).
deinstitutionalization The process, begun in the 1960s and made possible by new drug treatments, involving the closing of many psychiatric institutions and the release of the vast majority of patients who were left to their own devices to survive in the larger society.
dependence The potential cost that an actor will be willing to tolerate within a rela- tionship (exchange theory).
dependency chains The chain of relationships involving those people that a person is dependent on as well as those people’s dependency on the person (Elias).
difference An alternate explanation of consumption favored by postmodernists. We consume, not because of needs but in order to be different from other people; such differences are defined by what and how we consume.
differential space A hoped-for space that accentuates difference and freedom from control; it would restore the natural unity that is broken by abstract space (Lefebvre).
differentiation The process by which systems make distinctions (Luhmann).
disciplinary society A society in which control over people is pervasive (Foucault).
discreditable stigma The stigma is neither known by audience members nor discern- ible by them (Goffman).
discredited stigma The actor assumes that the stigma is known by the audience mem- bers or is evident to them (Goffman).
discrimination The tendency to manifest behavior only under the specific circum- stances that proved successful in the past (exchange theory).
discursive consciousness The ability to describe our actions in words (Giddens).
distanciation The tendency for various components of the modern juggernaut to grow quite distant from us in space and time (Giddens).
domination To (feminist) oppression theorists, any relationship in which one party (individual or collective), the dominant, succeeds in making the other party (individ- ual or collective), the subordinate, an instrument of the dominant’s will, and refuses to recognize the subordinate’s independent subjectivity.
double-consciousness The feeling that a black person has of being split in two, of having two forms of self-consciousness.
double hermeneutic The social scientist’s understanding of the social world may have an impact on the understandings of the actors being studied, with the result that social researchers can alter the world they are studying and thus lead to distorted findings and conclusions (Giddens).
double movement The expansion of the laissez-faire market and the self-protective reaction against it by the state and society (Polanyi).
dramaturgy A view of social life as a series of dramatic performances akin to those that take place in the theater (Goffman).
dream world Similar to the concept of phantasmagoria; more specifically refers to the use of things like decor to lure customers to means of consumption and to make the goods and services being purveyed seem glamorous, romantic, and, therefore, appealing to consumers. The goal is to inflame the desires and feelings of consumers (Williams).
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dualism Structure (and culture) and agency can be distinguished for analytic pur- poses, although they are intertwined in social life (Giddens, Archer).
duality All social action involves structure and all structure involves social action. Agency and structure are inextricably interwoven in ongoing human activity or practice (Giddens, Archer).
dyad A two-person group (Simmel).
dynamic density The number of people and their frequency of interaction. An increase in dynamic density leads to the transformation from mechanical to organic solidar- ity (Durkheim).
dysfunctions Observable consequences that have an adverse effect on the ability of a particular system to adapt or adjust (Merton).
economic capital The economic resources possessed by an actor (Bourdieu).
economy To Parsons, the subsystem of society that performs the function of adapting to the environment.
efficiency The effort to discover the best possible means to whatever end is desired (Ritzer).
egoistic suicide When people are not well integrated into the collectivity and largely on their own, they feel a sense of futility, meaninglessness, and more of them feel that they are morally free to kill themselves (Durkheim).
empire A decentered, postmodern Marxian perspective on globalization and the exertion of power around the world based on new juridical power such as the constitution of order, norms, ethical truths, and a common notion of what is right. It can, in the name of what is “right,” intervene anywhere in the world in order to deal with what it considers humanitarian problems, to guarantee accords, and to impose peace on those who may not want it or even see it as peace (Hardt and Negri).
epistemology of the closet The idea that modern knowledge about sexuality and in particular homosexuality is connected to the public denial of homosexuality (queer theory).
ethnomethodology The study of ordinary members of society in the everyday situa- tions in which they find themselves and the ways in which they use commonsense knowledge, procedures, and considerations to gain an understanding of, navigate in, and act on those situations.
ethnoscapes Mobile groups and individuals (tourists, refugees, guest workers) can involve actual movement as well as fantasies about moving; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
examination A way of observing subordinates and judging what they are doing. It involves checking up on subordinates and assessing what they have done; it is employed in a given setting by those in authority who make normalizing judg- ments about what is and is not an adequate score (Foucault).
exchange network A web of social relationships involving a number of either individ- ual or collective actors and the various actors have a variety of valued resources as well as exchange opportunities and exchange relations with one another. A number of these exchange relations exist and interrelate with one another to form a single network structure (Emerson).
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existential or phenomenological feminism A feminist theory of difference that sees people born into a world shaped by a culture that reflects male experience and ignores or marginalizes women’s experience.
exploitation In capitalism, the capitalists get the lion’s share of the rewards and the proletariat get enough to subsist even though, based on the labor theory of value, the situation should be reversed (Marx).
false consciousness In capitalism, both the proletariat and the capitalists have an inac- curate sense of themselves, their relationship to one another, and the way in which capitalism operates (Marx).
fatalistic suicide In situations of excessive regulation (e.g., slavery) people are often so distressed and depressed by their lack of freedom that they take their own lives more frequently than otherwise (Durkheim).
feminist institutional theory A feminist theory that sees gender differences as resulting from the different roles that women and men play within various institutional settings.
feminist interactionist theory A feminist theory that views gender as an accomplish- ment by actors in interaction with others who hold them accountable for conform- ing to appropriate gender behavior.
feminist theory A generalized, wide-ranging system of ideas about social life and human experience developed from a woman-centered perspective.
fiduciary system To Parsons, the subsystem of society that handles the pattern main- tenance and latency function by transmitting culture (norms and values) to actors and seeing to it that it is internalized by them.
field A network of relations among objective positions (Bourdieu).
fieldwork A methodology used by symbolic interactionists and other sociologists that involves venturing into the field (the day-to-day social world) to observe and col- lect relevant data.
figurations Social processes involving the interweaving of people who are seen as open and interdependent. Power is central to social figurations; they are constantly in flux. Figurations emerge and develop, but in largely unseen and unplanned ways (Elias).
financescapes The processes by which huge sums of money move through nations and around the world at great speed; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
formal rationality The choice of the most expedient action is based on rules, regula- tions, and laws that apply to everyone. This form of rationality is distinctive to the modern West (Weber).
forms Patterns imposed on the bewildering array of events, actions, and interactions in the social world both by people in their everyday lives and by social theorists (Simmel).
front stage That part of a dramaturgical performance that generally functions in rather fixed and general ways to define the situation for those who observe the perfor- mance (Goffman).
functional differentiation The most complex form of differentiation and the form that dominates modern society. Every function within a system is ascribed to a particu- lar unit (Luhmann).
functions Consequences that can be observed and that help a particular system adapt or adjust (Merton).
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game stage The second stage in the genesis of the self (the first is the play stage): Instead of taking the role of discrete others, the child takes the role of everyone involved in a game. Each of these others plays a specific role in the overall game (Mead).
gender A concept developed in feminist sociological theory to distinguish between sex, the biologically determined attributes associated with male and female, and socially constructed behaviors associated with masculinity and femininity (feminist theory).
generalization The tendency to extend behavior to similar circumstances (exchange theory).
generalized other The attitude of the entire community or of any collectivity in which the actor is involved (Mead).
genetic structuralism Bourdieu’s approach, which involves the study of objec- tive structures that cannot be separated from mental structures, that, themselves, involve the internalization of objective structures.
gestures Movements by one party (person or animal) that serve as stimuli to another party (Mead).
globalism The monocausal and unilinear view that the world is dominated by eco- nomics and that we are witnessing the emergence of the hegemony of the capitalist world market and the neo-liberal ideology that underpins it.
globality The view that closed spaces, especially those associated with nations, are growing increasingly illusory in the era of globalization.
globalization A transplanetary process or set of processes involving growing multi- directional flows of increasingly liquid people, objects, places, and information and the structures they encounter and create that are barriers to, or expedite, those flows.
glocalization The interpenetration of the global and the local resulting in unique out- comes in different geographic areas (Robertson).
goal attainment The second of Parsons’s functional imperatives involving the need for a system to define and achieve its primary goals.
governmentalities The practices and techniques by which control is exercised over people (Foucault).
grand theory A vast, highly ambitious effort to tell the story of a great stretch of human history.
grobalization The imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations, and the like and their desire, indeed need, to impose themselves on various geographic areas (Ritzer).
habitus The mental or cognitive structures through which people deal with the social world (Bourdieu).
heterosexual matrix A cultural framework that makes it appear as if heterosexuality was the natural form of sexuality (queer theory).
hierarchical observation The ability of officials at or near the top of an organization to oversee all that they control with a single gaze (Foucault).
historical materialism The Marxian idea that the material conditions of human life, inclusive of the activities and relationships that produce those conditions, are the key factors that pattern human experience, personality, ideas, and social arrange- ments; that those conditions change over time because of dynamics immanent
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within them; and that history is a record of the changes in the material conditions of a group’s life and of the correlative changes in experiences, personality, ideas, and social arrangements.
historical space The kind of space produced when separate nations vie with one another for power and the accumulation of wealth (Lefebvre).
homosexual melancholy The persistent sadness that is part of a heterosexual culture in denial of its own homosexuality (queer theory).
hybridization A perspective on globalization that emphasizes the increasing diversity associated with unique mixtures of the global and the local as opposed to the unifor- mity associated with grobalization (Pieterse).
hyperconsumption An extraordinary level of consumption associated with the con- temporary world (Ritzer).
hyperreal Entirely simulated and, as a result, more real than real, more beautiful than beautiful, truer than true, and so on (Baudrillard).
hysteresis The condition that results from having a habitus that is not appropriate for the situation in which one lives (Bourdieu).
I The immediate response of the self to others; the incalculable, unpredictable, and creative aspect of the self (Mead).
ideal speech situation A speech situation that is free of all distorting influences, espe- cially power; one in which the better argument wins out rather than the one that is backed by the most powerful individual or group. A consensus arises out of this contest of ideas as to what is the truth; truth arises from consensus and not because it is a copy of reality (Habermas).
ideal type A one-sided, exaggerated concept, usually an exaggeration of the rationality of a given phenomenon, used to analyze the social world in all its historical and contem- porary variation. The ideal type is a measuring rod to be used in comparing various specific examples of a social phenomenon either cross-culturally or over time (Weber).
identity politics Political activism that arises out of the efforts of marginalized groups to seek legitimacy and recognition for their distinct identities.
ideoscapes Largely political images either produced by states and in line with their ideology, or the images and counter-ideologies produced by movements that seek to supplant those in power, or at least to gain a piece of that power; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
imperatively coordinated associations Associations of people controlled by a hierar- chy of authority positions (Dahrendorf).
imperialism The control and exploitation, especially economically, of a number of areas throughout the world by a nation(s) at the center.
implosion The decline of boundaries and the collapse of various things into each other; dedifferentiation as opposed to differentiation (Baudrillard).
impression management The techniques actors use to maintain certain impressions in the face of problems they are likely to encounter and the methods they use to cope with these problems (Goffman).
impulse First stage of the act, in which the actor reacts to some external stimulus and feels the need to do something about it (Mead).
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individual culture The capacity of the individual to produce, absorb, and control the elements of objective culture (Simmel).
industry The understanding and productive use, primarily by the working classes, of a wide variety of mechanized processes on a large scale (Veblen).
integration The third of Parsons’s functional imperatives, this one requiring that a system seek to regulate the interrelationship of its component parts. Integration also involves the management of the relationship among the other three functional imperatives (AGL).
interest group Unlike quasi groups, interest groups are true groups in the sociological sense of the term, possessing not only common interests, but also a structure, a goal, and personnel. Interest groups have the capacity to engage in group conflict (Dahrendorf).
interests Concerns, usually shared by groups of people (Dahrendorf).
international relations A political theory that focuses on the relations among and between the nation-states of the world.
intersectionality theory The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity (feminist theory).
irrationality of rationality The idea that rational systems inevitably spawn a series of irrationalities (Weber). Various unreasonable things associated with rationality (and McDonaldization), especially dehumanization in which employees are forced to work in dehumanizing jobs and customers are forced to eat in dehumanizing settings and circumstances (Ritzer).
juggernaut Giddens’s metaphor for the modern world as a massive force that moves forward inexorably riding roughshod over everything in its path. People steer the juggernaut, but it always has the possibility of careening out of control.
knowledge industry To the critical theorists, those entities in society concerned with knowledge production and dissemination, especially research institutes and univer- sities. Like the culture industry, these settings achieved a large measure of autonomy within society, which allowed them to redefine themselves. Instead of serving the interests of society as a whole, they have come to focus on their own interests, and this means that they are intent on expanding their influence over society.
labor theory of value Marx’s theory that all value comes from labor and is therefore traceable, in capitalism, to the proletariat.
latency One aspect of Parsons’s fourth functional imperative involving the need for a system to furnish, maintain, and renew the motivation of individuals.
latent functions Unintended positive consequences (Merton).
latent interests Unconscious interests that translate, for Dahrendorf, into objective role expectations.
levels of functional analysis Functional analysis can be performed on any standard- ized repetitive social phenomenon ranging from society as a whole, to organizations, institutions, and groups (Merton).
liberal feminism A feminist theory of inequality that argues that women may claim equality with men on the basis of an essential human capacity for reasoned moral agency, that gender inequality is the result of a patriarchal and sexist patterning of the division of labor, and that gender equality can be produced by transforming the division of labor through the repatterning of key institutions—law, work, family, education, and media.
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lie A form of interaction in which a person intentionally hides the truth from others (Simmel).
lifeworld The commonsense world, the world of everyday life, the mundane world; that world in which intersubjectivity takes place (Schutz). Habermas is more con- cerned with interpersonal communication in the lifeworld.
local actualities of lived experience The places where actual people act and live their lives (feminist theory).
looking-glass self The idea that we form our sense of ourselves by using others, and their reactions to us, as mirrors to assess who we are and how we are doing (Cooley).
lumpenproletariat The mass of people who stand below even the proletariat in the capitalist system (Marx).
manifest functions Positive consequences that are brought about consciously and purposely (Merton).
manifest interests Latent interests of which people have become conscious (Dahrendorf).
manipulation Third stage of the act involving manipulating the object, once it has been perceived (Mead).
manner The way an actor conducts himself; tells the audience what sort of role the actor expects to play in the situation (Goffman).
mass culture The culture (e.g., radio quiz shows) that has been made available to, and popular among, the masses (critical theory).
material social facts Social facts that take a material form in the external social world (e.g., architecture) (Durkheim).
McDonaldism The continuing existence of many characteristics of Fordism in indus- tries like fast food: homogeneous products, rigid technologies, standardized work routines, deskilling, and homogenization of workers and consumers (Ritzer).
McDonaldization The process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society, as well as the rest of the world. Its five basic dimensions are efficiency, calculability, predictability, control through the substitution of technology for people, and, paradoxically, the irrationality of rationality (Ritzer).
me The individual’s adoption and perception of the generalized other; the conformist aspect of the self (Mead).
means-ends rational action The pursuit of ends that the actor has chosen for himself; that choice is affected by the actor’s view of the environment in which he finds him- self, including the behavior of people and objects in it (Weber).
means of consumption To Marx, these are simply consumer goods, but to Ritzer, par- alleling Marx’s sense of the means of production, these are the things that make consumption possible. Just as the factory makes production possible, the shopping mall enables the consumer and consumption.
means of production Those things that are needed for production to take place (including tools, machinery, raw materials, and factories) (Marx).
mechanical solidarity In Durkheimian theory, the idea that primitive society is held together by the fact there is little division of labor and, as a result, virtually every- one does essentially the same things.
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mediascapes The electronic capability to produce and transmit information around the world as well as the images of the world that these media create and dissemi- nate; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
methodological holists Those social scientists who focus on the macro-level and view it as determining the micro-level.
methodological individualists Those social scientists who focus on the micro-level and view it as determining the macro-level.
methodological relationists Those social scientists who focus on the relationship between macro- and micro-level phenomena (Ritzer).
microphysics of power The idea that power exists at the micro-level and involves efforts to exercise it as well as efforts to contest its exercise (Foucault).
middle-range theories Theories that seek a middle ground between trying to explain the entirety of the social world and a very minute portion of that world (Merton).
mind To Mead, the conversations that people have with themselves using language.
multicultural social theory Multicultural social theory focuses on perspectives that highlight the experiences of people who are not represented in mainstream political, cultural, and academic arenas.
multitude A collection of people throughout the world that sustains empire in vari- ous ways, including, but not restricted to, its labor (it is the real productive force in empire), but it also has the power, at least potentially, to overthrow empire (Hardt and Negri).
mystification An effort by actors to confound their audience by restricting the contact between themselves and the audience, concealing the mundane things that go into their performance (Goffman).
need-dispositions To Parsons, drives that are shaped by the social setting.
needs Those things that people require in order to survive and to function at a minimal level in the contemporary world. Often used to explain why we consume what we do.
neo-liberalism A theory that combines the political commitment to individual liberty with neo classical economics devoted to the free market and opposed to state inter- vention in that market.
neotribalism A postmodern development characterized by the coming of age of a wide array of communities that are refuges for strangers and more specifically for ethnic, religious, and political groups.
net balance The relative weight of functions and dysfunctions (Merton).
new means of consumption The set of consumption sites that came into existence largely after 1950 in the United States and that served to revolutionize consumption (Ritzer).
nonfunctions Consequences that are irrelevant to the system under consideration (Merton).
nonmaterial social facts Social facts that are external and coercive, but which do not take a material form; they are nonmaterial (e.g., norms and values) (Durkheim).
normalizing judgments Those in power can decide what is normal and what is abnor- mal on a variety of dimensions. Those who violate the norms, who are judged abnormal, can then be punished by officials or their agents (Foucault).
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nothing Largely empty forms; forms devoid of most distinctive content (Ritzer).
objective culture The objects that people produce—art, science, philosophy, and so on—that become part of culture (Simmel).
observation A methodology closely related to fieldwork, in which the symbolic inter- actionist (and other sociologists) studies the social world by observing what is transpiring in it. In the case of symbolic interactionism, this enables researchers to engage in sympathetic introspection and put themselves in the place of actors in order to understand meanings and motives and to observe the various actions that people take.
one-dimensional society To Herbert Marcuse, the breakdown in the dialectical rela- tionship between people and the larger structures so that people are largely con- trolled by such structures. Lost is the ability of people to create and to be actively involved in those structures. Gradually, individual freedom and creativity dwindle away into nothingness, and people lose the capacity to think critically and nega- tively about the structures that control and oppress them.
operant conditioning The learning process by which the consequences of behavior serve to modify that behavior (exchange theory).
opportunity costs The costs of forgoing the next most-attractive action when an actor chooses an action aimed at achieving a given end (rational choice theory).
organic solidarity To Durkheim, the idea that because of the substantial division of labor in modern society, solidarity comes from differences; that is, people need the contri- butions of an increasing number of people in order to function and even to survive.
othering An act of definition within a subordinated group to establish that a group member is unacceptable, an “other,” by some criterion; this erodes the potential for coalition and resistance (feminist theory).
outside Neither front nor back; literally outside the realm of the performance (Goffman).
outsider within, the The frequent experience of group members when they move from the home group into the larger society (feminist theory).
panopticon A structure that allows someone in power (e.g., a prison officer) the pos- sibility of complete observation of a group of people (e.g., prisoners).
patriarchy A system in which men subjugate women. It is universal, pervasive in its social organization, durable over time and space, and triumphantly maintained in the face of occasional challenge (feminist theory).
pattern maintenance The second aspect of Parsons’s fourth functional imperative involving the need to furnish, maintain, and renew the cultural patterns that create and sustain individual motivation.
perception Second stage of the act, in which the actor consciously searches for and reacts to stimuli that relate to the impulse and the ways of dealing with it (Mead).
periphery Those areas of the capitalist world-economy that provide raw materials to the core and are heavily exploited by it (Wallerstein).
personal front Those items of expressive equipment that the audience identifies with the performers and expects them to carry with them into the setting (Goffman).
personality To Parsons, the individual actor’s organized system of orientation to, and motivation for, action.
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personality system The Parsonsian action system responsible for performing the goal- attainment function by defining system goals and mobilizing resources to attain them.
phantasmagoria The fantastic immaterial effects produced by physical structures like the arcades as well as the newer means of consumption (Benjamin).
play stage The first stage in the genesis of the self, in which the child plays at being someone else (Mead).
political realism A political theory that operates on the premise that international pol- itics is based on power, organized violence, and ultimately war.
polity To Parsons, the subsystem of society that performs the function of goal attain- ment by pursuing societal objectives and mobilizing actors and resources to that end.
postindustrial society A society characterized by the provision of services rather than goods; professional and technical work rather than blue-collar, manual work; theoretical knowledge rather than practical know-how; the creation and monitoring of new technologies; and new intellectual technologies to handle such assessment and control (Bell).
postmodern sociology A type of sociology that is heavily influenced by postmodern ideas and that would adopt a nonrational approach to the study of society (Bauman).
poststructuralist A theorist, like Bourdieu, who has been influenced by a structuralist perspective, but has moved beyond it to synthesize it with other theoretical ideas and perspectives.
power To Emerson, the potential cost that one actor can induce another to accept.
practical consciousness Involves actions that the actors take for granted, without being able to express in words what they are doing (Giddens).
practical rationality On a day-to-day basis, we deal with whatever difficulties exist and find the most expedient way of attaining our goal of getting from one point to another (Weber).
practice To Bourdieu, actions that are the outcome of the dialectical relationship between structure and agency. Practices are not objectively determined, nor are they the product of free will.
praxis The idea that people, especially the proletariat, must take concrete action in order to overcome capitalism (Marx).
predictability The idea that goods or services will be essentially the same from one time or place to another (Ritzer).
primary group An intimate face-to-face group that plays a crucial role in linking the individual to the larger society. Of special importance are the primary groups of the young, mainly the family and friendship groups (Cooley).
profit The greater number of rewards gained over costs incurred in social exchange (exchange theory).
proletariat Those who, because they do not own means of production, must sell their labor time to the capitalists in order to get access to those means (Marx).
Protestant ethic A belief system associated with the Protestant sect of Calvinism that emphasized hard work and asceticism, the denial of personal pleasure. The devel- opment of capitalism depended upon the presence of this ethic (Weber).
psychoanalytic feminism An effort to explain patriarchy through the use of reformu- lated theories of Freud and his successors in psychoanalytic theory.
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punishments Actions with negative values; an increase in such actions means that the actor is less likely to manifest undesired behaviors (exchange theory).
quasi group A number of individuals who occupy positions that have the same role interests (Dahrendorf).
racialism An approach to race widespread in the 19th century which held that there are distinct races with unique defining features. Unlike racism, racialism does not necessarily assume that some races are superior to others (Du Bois).
racialization The social processes through which the concept of race is created and attached to particular groups of people.
radical feminism A theory of social organization, gender oppression, and strategies for change that affirms the positive value of women and argues that they are every- where oppressed by violence or the threat of violence.
rational-legal authority A type of authority in which the legitimacy of leaders is derived from the fact that there are a series of codified rules and regulations, and leaders hold their positions as a result of those rules (Weber).
rationalization To Giddens, this means the development of routines that not only give actors a sense of security but enable them to deal efficiently with their social lives.
reason People assess the choice of means to ends in terms of ultimate human values such as justice, freedom, and happiness (critical theory).
recursive The idea that social practices can be repeated indefinitely. Giddens says that society acquires structure through recursive practices (Giddens).
reflexive sociology The use by sociologists of their own theoretical and empirical tools to better understand their discipline (Bourdieu).
reflexivity The ability to put ourselves in others’ places: think as they think, act as they act (Mead).
reify To endow social structures, which are created by people, with a separate and real existence (Marx).
relations of ruling The complex, nonmonolithic, but intricately connected social activ- ities that attempt to control human social production (feminist theory).
repressive law Characteristic of mechanical solidarity, this is a form of law in which offenders are likely to be severely punished for any action that is seen by the tightly integrated community as an offense against the powerful collective conscience (Durkheim).
restitutive law Characteristic of organic solidarity and its weakened collective con- science. In this form of law offenders are likely simply to be asked to comply with the law or to repay (make restitution to) those who have been harmed by their actions (Durkheim).
rewards Actions with positive values; an increase in such actions is more likely to elicit the desired behavior (exchange theory).
role What an actor does in a status, seen in the context of its functional significance for the larger system (Parsons).
role distance The degree to which individuals separate themselves from the roles they are in (Goffman).
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routinization of charisma Efforts by disciples to recast the extraordinary and revolution- ary characteristics of the charismatic leader so that they are better able to handle mun- dane matters. This is also done in order to prepare for the day when the charismatic leader passes from the scene and to allow the disciples to remain in power (Weber).
secrecy As defined by Simmel, the condition in which one person has the intention of hiding something while the other is seeking to reveal that which is being hidden.
segmentary differentiation The division of parts of the system on the basis of the need to fulfill identical functions over and over (Luhmann).
self The ability to take oneself as an object. To Goffman, a sense of who one is that is a dramatic effect emerging from the immediate dramaturgical scene being presented.
semiperiphery A residual category in the capitalist world-economy that encompasses a set of regions somewhere between the exploiting and the exploited (Wallerstein).
setting The physical scene that ordinarily must be there if the actors are to engage in a dramaturgical performance (Goffman).
sexism A system of discriminatory attitudes and practices connected by a theme of privileging male experience and devaluing female experience.
significant gestures Gestures that require thought before a response is made; only humans are capable of this (Mead).
significant symbols Symbols that arouse in the person expressing them the same kind of response (it need not be identical) as they are designed to elicit from those to whom they are addressed (Mead).
simulations Fakes; to Baudrillard the contemporary world is coming to be increas- ingly dominated by the inauthentic.
social capital The extent of the valued social relations possessed by an actor (Bourdieu).
social facts To Durkheim, social facts are the subject matter of sociology. They are to be treated as things that are external to, and coercive over, individuals and they are to be studied empirically.
social stratification To the structural functionalist, a structure involving a hierarchy of positions that has the function of leading those people with the needed skills and abilities to do what is necessary to move into the high-ranking positions that are most important to society’s functioning and survival.
social system The Parsonsian action system responsible for coping with the integra- tion function by controlling its component parts; a number of human actors who interact with one another in a situation with a physical or environmental context. To Giddens, reproduced social practices, or relations between actors or collectivi- ties, that are reproduced, becoming regular social practices.
socialist feminism An effort to develop a unified theory that focuses on the role of capitalism and patriarchy in creating a large-scale structure that oppresses women.
societal community To Parsons, the subsystem of society that performs the integra- tion function; coordinating the various components of society.
societal functionalism A variety of structural functionalism that focuses on the large-scale social structures and institutions of society, their interrelationships, and their constraining effects on actors.
society To Parsons, a relatively self-sufficient collectivity.
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sociological canon The set of theorists, theories, ideas, and texts that, at least in the past, have been considered the most important in the field of sociology. Over the last 30 years critics have argued that the canon is not a neutral construction but is affected by political factors.
sociological theory A set of interrelated ideas that allow for the systematization of knowledge of the social world, the explanation of that world, and predictions about the future of the social world.
sociology of postmodernity A type of sociology that is continuous with modern sociol- ogy by being characterized by rational and systematic discourse and by an effort to develop a model of postmodern society. However, the sociology of postmodernity accepts postmodern society as a distinctive and unique type and does not see it as an aberrant form of modern society (Bauman).
something Largely full forms; forms rich in distinctive content (Ritzer).
spirit of capitalism In the West, unlike any other area of the world, people were moti- vated to be economically successful, not by greed, but by an ethical system that emphasized the ceaseless pursuit of economic success. The spirit of capitalism had a number of components, including the seeking of profits rationally and systemati- cally, frugality, punctuality, fairness, and the earning of money as a legitimate end in itself (Weber).
standpoint The perspective of embodied actors within groups that are differentially located in the social structure (feminist theory).
status A structural position within the social system (Parsons).
stigma A gap between virtual and actual social identity (Goffman).
stranger One of Simmel’s social types defined by distance: One who is neither too close nor too far.
stratificatory differentiation Vertical differentiation according to rank or status in a system conceived as a hierarchy (Luhmann).
structural functionalism A sociological theory that focuses on the structures of society and their functional significance (positive or negative consequences) for other structures.
structuralist perspective The view that there are hidden or underlying structures that determine what transpires in the social world.
structuration Agents and structures are interrelated to such an extent that at the moment they produce action, people produce and reproduce the structures in which they exist; the dialectical relationship between structure and agency. Structure and agency are a duality; neither can exist without the other (Giddens).
structure To Giddens, the structuring properties (specifically, rules and resources) that give similar social practices a systemic form.
structures In society, patterned social interaction and persistent social relationships (structural functionalism).
subsistence wage The wage paid by the capitalist to the proletariat that is just enough for the worker to survive and to have a family and children so that when the worker falters, he can be replaced by one of his children (Marx).
substantive rationality The choice of the most expedient action is guided by larger values rather than by daily experiences and practical thinking (Weber).
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superstructure To Marx, secondary social phenomena, like the state and culture, that are erected on an economic base that serves to define them. Most extremely, the economy determines the superstructure.
surplus value The difference between the value of a product when it is sold and the value of the elements consumed in production of the product (including worker’s labor) (Marx).
symbolic capital The amount of honor and prestige possessed by an actor (Bourdieu).
symbolic exchange A reversible process of giving and receiving; a cyclical exchange of gifts and counter-gifts, associated with primitive society (Baudrillard).
symbolic interactionism The school of sociology that, following Mead, focused on symbolic interaction; the distinctive human ability to relate to one another not only through gestures, but also through significant symbols.
symbolic violence A soft form of violence (the agent against whom it is practiced is complicit in its practice) that is practiced indirectly, largely through cultural mechanisms (Bourdieu).
sympathetic introspection The methodology of putting oneself in the places and the minds of those being studied. Researchers do so in a way that is sympathetic to who others are and what they are thinking, and they try to understand the meanings and the motives that lie at the base of peoples’ behavior.
system To Habermas, the structures (such as the family, the legal system, the state, and the economy) that have their source within the lifeworld, but which come to develop their own distinctive existence and to grow distant and separated from the lifeworld.
team Any set of individuals who cooperate in staging a single performance (Goffman).
technocratic thinking Concern with being efficient, with simply finding the best means to an end without reflecting on either the means or the end (critical theory).
technoscapes The ever-fluid, global configurations of high and low, mechanical and informational technology and the wide range of material (Internet, e-mail) that now moves so freely and quickly around the globe and across borders; one of Appadurai’s landscapes.
texts Written documents issued out of the relations of ruling, having the power to organize relations of production in the everyday life world and having the qual- ity of generality and anonymity so that they may be seen as applicable in various everyday life circumstances; texts include licenses, diplomas, contracts, purchasing orders, laws, college catalogues, etc.
theoretical rationality An effort to master reality cognitively through the develop- ment of increasingly abstract concepts. The goal is to attain a rational understand- ing of the world rather than to take rational action within it (Weber).
theories of everyday life Theories that focus on such everyday and seemingly mun- dane activities as individual thought and action, the interaction of two or more people, and the small groups that emerge from such interaction.
tourists Those on the move throughout the globe because they want to be (Bauman).
traditional action Action taken on the basis of the ways things have been done habitually or customarily (Weber).
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traditional authority Authority based on the belief by followers that certain people (based on their family, tribe, or lineage) have exercised sovereignty since time immemorial. The leaders claim, and the followers believe in, the sanctity of age-old rules and powers (Weber).
tragedy of culture Stems from the fact that over time objective culture grows exponen- tially while individual culture and the ability to produce it grow only marginally. Our meager individual capacities cannot keep pace with our cultural products. As a result, we are doomed to increasingly less understanding of the world we have created and to be increasingly controlled by that world (Simmel).
transnational capitalist class Not made up of capitalists in the traditional Marxian sense of the term; its members do not necessarily own the means of production. Includes four “fractions”— corporate, made up of executives of transnational corpo- rations and their local affiliates; state, composed of globalizing state and interstate bureaucrats and politicians; technical, made up of globalizing professionals; consum- erist, encompassing merchants and media executives (Sklair).
transnational corporations Corporations that dominate the contemporary capital- ist global economy and whose actions are largely unconstrained by the borders of nation-states (Sklair).
triad A three-person group (Simmel).
types Patterns imposed on a wide range of actors by both laypeople and social scien- tists in order to combine a number of them into a limited number of categories.
utilities Actor’s preferences, or values.
vagabonds Those on the move throughout the globe because they find their environs unbearable, inhospitable for any number of reasons (Bauman).
value-rational action Action that occurs when an actor’s choice of the best means to an end chosen on the basis of the actor’s belief in some larger set of values. This may not be the optimal choice, but it is rational from the point of view of the value system in which the actor finds herself (Weber).
vectors of oppression and privilege The varied intersections of a number of arrange- ments of social inequality (gender, class, race, global location, sexual preference, and age) that serve to oppress women differentially. Variation in these intersections qualitatively alters the experience of being a woman (feminist theory).
the veil A metaphor that describes the separation between blacks and whites. The imagery is not one of a wall, but rather of thin, porous material through which each race can see the other (Du Bois).
verstehen A methodological technique involving an effort to understand the thought processes of the actor, the actor’s meanings and motives, and how these factors led to the action (or interaction) under study (Weber).
virtual social identity What a person ought to be (Goffman).
world-system A broad economic entity with a division of labor that is not circum- scribed by political or cultural boundaries. It is a social system, composed internally of a variety of social structures and member groups, that is largely self-contained, has a set of boundaries, and has a definable life span (Wallerstein).
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Permission and Source Acknowledgments
p. 17. Excerpt from Steven Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp. 345, 347. © 1972 by Steven Lukes. Used by permission.
p. 26. Excerpt from “Communism and the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung,” in D. McLlellan (ed.), Karl Marx: Selected Writings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1844/1972), p. 20. By permission of Oxford University Press.
p. 56. Excerpt cited in Rick Tilman, Thorstein Veblen and His Critics, 1891–1963: Conserva- tive, Liberal, and Radical Perspectives (Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 9–10.
p. 61. Excerpts from Leonard S. Cottrell Jr., “George Herbert Mead: The Legacy of Social Behaviorism,” in R. K. Merton and M. W. Riley (eds.), Sociological Traditions from Generation to Generation: Glimpses of the American Experience (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1980), pp. 40–50. Copyright © 1980 by Ablex Publishing Company. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT.
p. 79. Figure 4.1: “Structure of the General Action System.” Reprinted by permission of the publisher from The American University by Talcott Parsons and Gerald Platt, p. 15, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1973 by The Presi- dent and Fellows of Harvard College.
p. 80. Figure 4.2: “Parson’s Action Schema” from Talcott Parsons, Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspective, 1st ed., © 1966. Adapted by permission of Pearson Edu- cation, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ.
p. 87. Excerpts from Robert Merton, “Remembering the Young Talcott Parsons” from American Sociologist 15 (1980), pp. 69, 70, 71. © 1980 by the American Sociological Association.
p. 90. © Robert Merton. Used by permission.
p. 126. Excerpt from Stephen Mennell, Norbert Elias: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), p. 23. Used by permission of Blackwell Publishing.
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Permission and Source Acknowledgments 333
p. 130. Excerpts cited in Rolf Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). Used by permission.
p. 134. Excerpt from Ian Craib, Anthony Giddens (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 12. Used by permission.
p. 150. Excerpt from Randall Collins, “The Passing of Intellectual Generations: Reflec- tions on the Death of Erving Goffman,” in Sociological Theory 4 (1986):106–113, p. 112. © 1986 by the American Sociological Association.
p. 155. Figure 6.1: “Breaching in Tic-Tac-Toe” from Michael Lynch, “Pictures of Nothing? Visual Constructs in Social Theory,” from Sociological Theory 9 (1991). © 1991 by the American Sociological Association. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the American Sociological Association.
p. 159. Reprinted with the permission of George Homans. p. 166. Excerpts from James S. Coleman, “A Vision for Sociology,” in Society 32 (1994):
32–33. © 1994 by Transaction Publishers. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
p. 226. Excerpts from Dorothy E. Smith, “A Sociology for Women,” in J. A. Sherman and T. Beck (eds.), The Prism of Sex: Essays in the Sociology of Knowledge (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), p. 151. © 1979. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.
p. 239. Excerpts from Michel Foucault in James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault (New York: Anchor Books, 1993).
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Absolute space, 117 Abstract space, 120 Accounting, 153 Accounting practices, 153 Accounts, 153–154 Act
defined, 58 in Mead, 58
Action affectual, 33 behavior and, 31–33 defined, 31 means-ends rational, 33–34 social, 31 traditional, 33 types of, 33–34 value-rational, 33
Action schema, 80f Action system, 79–81 Actor, corporate, 168–169 Actualities of lived experience, local, 224 Actual social identity, 149 Adaptation, 76–77 Affectual action, 33 Agency
culture, 182–183 defined, 180
Agents, 180 AGIL, 76–79 Alienation, 23–25 Altruistic suicide, 22 Ambivalence, 241–244 Anomic suicide, 22 Anomie, 19–20, 92 Antidepressants, 142 Appadurai, Arjun, 291–292 Appearance, 145 Association, 46
Associations, coordinated, 97 Authority
charismatic, 39 in Dahrendorf, 96–97 rational-legal, 41–42 traditional, 39
Authority structure, rationalization and, 38–42
Back stage, 148–150 Base, 109 “Bathroom problem,” 267 Baudrillard, Jean, 246, 256 Bauman, Zygmunt, 278, 279 Beck, Ulrich, 277 Behavior
action and, 31–33 collective, 167 defined, 31
Behavioral organism, 79, 86–88 Behaviorism
defined, 31 exchange theory and, 158–160 social, 57–64
Bell, Daniel, 231–232 Bernard, Jessie, 209 Blumer, Herbert, 143 Boomerang effect, 135 Bourdieu, Pierre, 184 Breaching experiments, 154–156 Bureaucracy
defined, 40 as ideal type, 40
Business defined, 54 in Veblen, 54–56
Note: Page numbers in italic type indicate biographical vignettes.
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Calculability, 286 Cannon, sociological, 6 Capital
cultural, 188 economic, 188 social, 188 symbolic, 188
Capitalism Confucianism, 38 Hinduism, 38 in Marx, 25–30 spirit of, 37 transnational, 301–307
Capitalist patriarchy, 217 Capitalists, 23 Carceral archipelago, 238 Center-periphery differentiation, 103 Charisma
defined, 39–41 routinization of, 39–41
Charismatic authority, 39 Civilization, defined, 280–281 Civilizing process, 124–129 Civil society, 275 Class consciousness, 28–29 Code, 247 Coleman, James S., 166 Collective behavior, 167 Collective conscience, 17–18 Collins, Patricia Hill, 220 Colonization of the
lifeworld, 129–132 Color-line, 65 Communism, 21–23, 30 Complex interdependence, 308 Compulsory heterosexuality, 264 Comte, Auguste, 15 Conflict group, 99 Conflict theory, 93–99 Confucianism, 38 Conscience, collective, 17–18 Consciousness
class, 28 discursive, 179 double, 67–68 practical, 179 in Simmel, 47–49
Consciousness, class, 28–29 Consequences, unanticipated, 91–92 Conspicuous consumption, 55 Conspicuous leisure, 55 Constructivist perspective, 185 Consumer culture, 250–251 Consumerism, 302 Consumer society, 246–257 Consummation, 58 Consumption
hyperconsumption, 248 language, 246–249 means of, 257 new means of, 257–262
Contingency, 101 Control, 286 Control instruments, 236–238 Convergence, cultural, 284–290 Conversation of gestures, 59 Cooley, Charles Horton, 141 Coordinated associations, 97 Core, 123 Corporate actor, 168–169 Corporations, transnational, 301 Cost
defined, 162 opportunity, 164
Creative destruction, 258 Creolization, 291 Critical race theory, 66 Critical theory, 108–116 Cultural capital, 188 Cultural convergence, 284–290 Cultural differentialism, 280–284 Cultural feminism, 202 Cultural hybridization, 290–293 Cultural imperialism, 272 Cultural system, 79, 85 Cultural theory, 280–293 Culture
agency and, 182–183 consumer, 250 individual, 52–53 mass, 109 objective, 52–53 tragedy of, 53
Culture-ideology of consumerism, 302 Culture industry, 108–116
Dahrendorf, Ralf, 95–96 Debunking, 93 Deconstruction, 263 Definition of the situation, 62 Deinstitutionalization, 240 Democracy in America (de Tocqueville), 4 Dependence, 176 Dependency chains, 126–128 Deprivation-satiation proposition, 162 Destruction, creative, 258 de Tocqueville, Alexis, 4 Difference
among types of societies, 233–234 consumption and, 248 feminist theory of, 202–203 sociological theories of, 203–205
Differentialism, cultural, 280–284 Differential space, 121
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Differentiation, 102–105 center-periphery, 103 defined, 102 of functional systems, 103–105 segmentary, 103 stratificatory, 103
Disciplinary power, 238 Disciplinary society, 237 Discipline, 235–236 Discreditable stigma, 149 Discredited stigma, 149 Discrimination, 161 Discursive consciousness, 179 Distance
stranger and, 51 value and, 51–52
Distanciation, 133 Division of labor, 53–54 Domination, 211 Double-consciousness, 67–68 Double hermeneutic, 179 Double movement, 297 Dramaturgy, 143–151 Dream worlds, 260–261 Dualism, 182 Duality, 178 Du Bois, W.E.B., 65–69 Durkheim, Emile, 15–21 Dyad, 50 Dynamic density
changes in, 16–17 defined, 16
Economic capital, 188 Economics, in Du Bois, 68–69 Economic theory, 293–307 Economy
defined, 83 in Parsons, 83–84
Education, field of, 192 Efficiency, 285 Egoistic suicide, 22 Elias, Norbert, 126 Emerson, Richard, 173, 175 Empire, 303–307 Environment, system and, 100–101 Epistemology of the closet, 264 Ethics, postmodern, 244–246 Ethnomethodology, 152–157 Ethnoscapes, 292 Everyday life. See Theories of everyday life Examination, 237 Exchange network, 175 Exchange relationships, networks
and, 174–176 Exchange theory, 157–163, 173–177
Existential feminism, 202 Expansionism, 287–288 Exploitation, 27
Facts, social, 20 False consciousness, 27 Fatalistic suicide, 22 Feminism
cultural, 202 existential, 202 liberal, 206–208 phenomenological, 202 psychoanalytic, 211–214 radical, 214–216 socialist, 216–219
Feminist institutional theory, 203 Feminist interactionist theory, 203 Feminist theory
basic theoretical questions in, 196–198 classical roots of, 198–199 contemporary, 200–222 defined, 195 of difference, 202–203 marriage in, 227 varieties of, 201t
Fiduciary system, 84 Field, 183–192 Fieldwork, 143 Figurations, 127 Financial crisis, 306 Formal rationality, 35 Forms
defined, 46 types and, 46–47
Foucault, Michel, 239 Fox hunting, 128–129 Front stage, 145 Functional differentiation, 103–105 Functionalism
societal, 73 structural defined, 72 stratification and, 73–76
Functions defined, 89 latent, 91 manifest, 91 in Merton, 89 in structural functionalism, 72–73
Future pessimism, 116
Game stage, 62 Garfinkel, Harold, 152, 154 Gays, 262–267 Gender. See also Feminist theory
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defined, 196 difference, 201–202, 201t inequality, 201t, 205–211 oppression, 201t, 211–216
Generalization, 161 Generalized other, 62–63 General system theory, 99–104 Genetic structuralism, 183 Gestures
conversation of, 59 defined, 59 in Mead, 59 significant, 59
Giddens, Anthony, 132, 134, 275–277 Globalism, 277 Globality, 277 Globalization
defined, 273 expansionism and, 287–288 McDonaldization and, 287–288 of nothing, 288–290 politics of, 277–278
Globalization theory overview of, 271–272 “runaway world” of, 275–277
Glocalization, 290 Goal attainment, 77 Goffman, Erving, 143–144, 150 Govermentality, 234–241 Government, limited, 296 Grobalization, 289 Group
conflict, 99 interest, 97 primary, 141 quasi, 97
Group size, 50–51
Habermas, Jürgen, 130 Habitus, 183–192 Harvey, David, 122–124 Herbert, George, 57–64 Hermeneutic, double, 179 Heterosexual/homosexual binary, 263–265 Heterosexual matrix, 264 Hierarchical observation, 236 Higher education, field of, 192 Hinduism, 38 Historical materialism, 217 Historical space, 119–129 Homans, George, 157–160, 159 Homosexuality, 262–267 Homosexual melancholy, 265 Human potential, 23 Hybridization
cultural, 290–293 defined, 291
Hyperconsumption, 248 Hyperreal, 254 Hysteresis, 186
I, 64 Ideal speech situation, 131 Ideal type, 40 Identity politics, 263 Ideoscapes, 293 Imperatively coordinated associations, 97 Imperialism
cultural, 272 defined, 303
Implosion, 259–260 Impression management, 144, 150–151 Impulse, 58 Individual culture, 52–53 Industrial society, transition from, to
postindustrial, 231–234 Industry
defined, 56 in Veblen, 56–57
Inequality, gender, 205–211 Insecurity, risks and, 135–136 Integration, 77–78 Integrative exchange theory, 177 Interdependence, complex, 308 Interest group, 97 Interests
latent, 97 manifest, 97
International relations (IR), 307 Intersectionality theory, 219–222 Irrationality of rationality, 116, 286–287 Irresolvable moral dilemmas, 245–246
Keynes, John Maynard, 294 Knowledge industry, 115
Labor division of, 53–54 theory of value, 26
Language consumption as, 246–249 significant symbols and, 59–60
Latency, 78 Latent functions, 91 Latent interests, 97 Law
repressive, 18–19 restitutive, 18–19
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Leisure, conspicuous, 55 Lesbians, 262–267 Levels of functional analysis, 91 Liberal feminism, 206–208 Lie, 48 Lifeworld
colonization of, 129–132 defined, 129
Limited government, 296 Local actualites of lived
experience, 224 Locke, John, 294 Looking-glass self, 141 Luhnman, Niklas, 99–100, 102 Lumpenproletariat, 99
Madness, 239–240 Manifest functions, 91 Manifest interests, 97 Manipulation, 58 Manner, 145 Marcuse, Herbert, 112 Marriage, 227 Martineau, Harriet, 198 Marx, Karl, 21–23, 26, 28 Marxism, Du Bois and, 68–69 Mass culture, 109 Materialism, historical, 217 Material social facts, 20 “McDonaldization,” 285–288 Me, 64 Mead, George Herbert, 57–64 Means-ends rational action, 33–34 Means of production, 23, 257 Mechanical solidarity, 16 Mediascapes, 292 Merton, Robert, 88–93 Methodological holists, 189 Methodological individualists, 189 Methodological relationism, 189 Middle-range theories, 88 Mills, C. Wright, 94 Mind
defined, 60 in Mead, 60
Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), 295 Moral dilemmas, irresolvable, 245–246 Multicultural social theory, 7–8 Multitude, 305 Muslims, 151 Mystification, 148
Need-dispositions, 82 Needs, 247 Neo-liberalism, 293–301 Neo-Marxianism, 301–307 Neo-Marxian spatial analysis, 117–128
Neo-Marxian theory, 108–124 Neotribalism, 243–244 Net balance, 91 Networks, 174–176 Nonfunctions, 90 Nonmaterial social facts, 21 Normalizing judgments, 237 Norms, 167–168 Nothing
defined, 289 globalization of, 288–290
Objective culture, 52–53 Objectivism, 183–185 Observation, 143
hierarchical, 236 instruments, 236–238
Occupy Movement, 118 One-dimensional society, 113–114 Operant conditioning, 157 Opportunity costs, 164 Oppression
gender, 211–216 structural, 216–222 vectors of, 220
Organic solidarity, 16 Orientalism, 283 Other, generalized, 62–63 Othering, 221 Outside, 149–150 Outsider within, 222
Panopticon, 236 Parsons, Talcott, 31, 76–88 Patriarchy, 212, 217 Pattern maintenance, 78 Perception
defined, 58 Periphery, 123 Personal front, 145 Personality
defined, 85 in Parsons, 85–86
Personality system, 79, 85–86 Pessimism, 116 Phantasmagoria, 260–261 Phenomenological feminism, 202 Play stage, 61–62 Polanyi, Karl, 297–298 Political realism, 307–308 Political theory, 307–310 Polity, 84 Postindustrial society
defined, 232 transition to, from industrial, 231–234
Postmodern ethics, 244–246 Postmodernity, 241–246
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Postmodern sociology, 242 Poststructuralist, 185 Potential, human, 23 Power
disciplinary, 238 in Emerson, 176 microphysics of, 238–239
Power-dependence, 176–177 Practical consciousness, 179 Practical rationality, 34 Practice, 183 Praxis, 29–30 Predictability, 286 Primary group, 141 Privilege, vectors of, 220 Profit, 162 Proletariat, 23 Prosumer, 254–255 Prosumption, 254–255 Protestant ethic, 35–36 Psychoanalytic feminism, 211–214 Punishments, 162, 235–236
Quasi group, 97 Queer Theory, 262–267
Race critical theories of, 66
Race, in Du Bois, 65–67 Racialism, 65 Racialization, 66 Racism, critical theories of, 66 Radical feminism, 214–216 Rational choice feminist
theory, 210–211 Rational choice theory, 164–169 Rationality
authority structures and, 38–42 formal, 35 irrationality of, 116, 286–287 practical, 34 proposition, 163 substantive, 34–35 theoretical, 34 types of, 34–35
Rationalization, in Giddens, 179 Rational-legal authority, 41–42 Realism, political, 307–308 Reason, defined, 115 Recursive, 178 Reflexive sociology, 187 Reflexivity, 60–61, 134–135 Reify, 49 Relationism, methodological, 189 Relations of ruling, 224 Repressive law, 18–19 Restitutive law, 18–19
Rewards, 161–162 Risk
insecurity and, 135–136 society, 135
Ritzer, George, 287 Role
defined, 81 distance, 146
Routinization of charisma, 39–41 “Runaway world,” 275–277
Secrecy, 48–49 Segmentary differentiation, 103 Self
defined, 60 dramaturgy and, 144 in Goffman, 144 looking-glass, 141 in Mead, 60–64 obsession with, 63
Semiperiphery, 123 September 11, 2001, 151 Setting, in Goffman, 145 Sexuality, 240–241 Significant gestures, 59 Significant symbols, 59–60 Simmel, Georg, 45–54 Simulations
defined, 252 increase of, 249–257 spectacles and, 260–261
Situation, definition of the, 62 Smith, Dorothy E., 226 Social action, 31 Social behaviorism, 57–64 Social capital, 188 Social conflict, functions of, 97 Social facts
defined, 20 nonmaterial, 21
Social identity actual, 149 virtual, 149
Socialist feminism, 216–219 Social stratification, 74–75 Social structure, anomie and, 92 Social system, 81–83, 181 Societal community, 84–85 Societal functionalism, 73 Society
defined, 83 in Parsons, 83–85
Sociological cannon, 6 Sociological theory
chronology of, 10f–11f creating, 1–5, 6–8 defining, 5
Sociology of postmodernity, 242
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Solidarity dynamic density and, 16–17 mechanical, 16 organic, 16 types of, 15–16
Something, 289 Space
absolute, 117 abstract, 120 differential, 121 in Giddens, 133–134 in Harvey, 122–124 historical, 119–129 in Simmel, 51 spectacles and, 262
Spatial analysis, 117–128 Spectacle, 259–261 Speech situation, ideal, 131 Spirit of capitalism, 37 Sportization, 128–129 Standpoint, 222, 223 Status, 81 Stigma, 149 Stimulus proposition, 161 Stranger
defined, 51 distance and, 51
Stratification social, 74–75 in structural functionalism, 73–76
Stratificatory differentiation, 103 Structural functionalism
defined, 72 stratification and, 73–76
Structural-functional model, 88–93 Structuralism, genetic, 183 Structuralist perspective, 184 Structural oppression, 201t, 216–222 Structuration, defined, 181 Structuration theory, 177–182 Structure, defined, 72, 180 Subjective culture, 52–53 Subjectivism, 183–185 Subprime mortgage crisis, 306 Subsistence wage, 26 Substantive rationality, 34–35 Success proposition, 160–161 Suicide
altruistic, 22 anomic, 22 egoistic, 22 fatalistic, 22
Superstructure, 109 Surplus value, 27 Symbolic capital, 188 Symbolic exchange
defined, 250 loss of, 249–257
Symbolic interactionism antidepressants in, 142 defined, 139
Symbolic violence, 189 Sympathetic introspection, 141
Team, 148 Technocratic theory, 114 Technology, 113–114 Technoscapes, 292 Terrorism, 104, 151 Texts, 224 Theoretical rationality, 34 Theories of everyday life, defined, 10–11 Time
in Giddens, 133–134 spectacles and, 262
Tourists, 279 Traditional action, 33 Traditional authority, 39 Tragedy of culture, 53 Transnational capitalism, 301–307 Transnational capitalist class, 301 Transnational corporations, 301 Transsexualism, 156–157 Triad, 50 Types
defined, 46 forms and, 46–47 ideal, 40
Unanticipated consequences, 91–92 Utilities, 163
Vagabonds, 279 Value
distance and, 51–52 surplus, 27
Value, labor theory of, 26 Value-rational action, 33 Veblen, Thorstein, 54–57 Vectors, of oppression and privilege, 220 Veil, the, 67–68 Verstehen, 36 Violence, symbolic, 189 Virtual social identity, 149 von Mies, Ludwig, 295
Wage, subsistence, 26 Wallerstein, Immanuel, 123 War on Terror, 104 Weber, Max, 30–32 World-system, 123
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