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January 04 2015

Rumford-Soup for Humanities wrote the following post:


Ulrich Beck dies aged 70
A very sad announcement:

The German sociologist Ulrich Beck died January 1 at age 70 of a heart attack.

Süddeutsche Zeitung:

* "Ulrich Beck is tot"

* "Was die Soziologie Ulrich Beck zu verdanken hat" - Armin Nassehi

* "Der Kosmopolit" - Andreas Zielcke

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

* "Der Freihandsegler der Theorie" - Jürgen Kaube

Die Welt:

* "Der Mann der uns Chaos aushalten lehrte" - Alan Posener

* "Wir alle wurden von Ulrich Beck beeinflusst" - Sigmar Gabriel (SPD)

Der Tagesspiegel:

* "Der demokratische Existentialist" - Peter von Becker

Die Zeit:

* "Er lebte, was er lehrte" - Gunter Hofmann

Der Spiegel:

* "Kollegen erinnern an Ulrich Beck: Er wollte wirken - und das auch politisch" - Richard Sennett, Angela McRobbie, Claus Leggewie, Ronald Hitzler, Cornelia Koppetsch, Saskia Sassen, Paul Gilroy, Sighard Neckel

* "Zum Tode Ulrich Becks: Die Zukunft ist offen" - Romain Leick


#German #deutsch

#Soziologie
#sociology

January 31 2013

Blackfacing [Anglizismus 2012] | sprachlog

Das Wort Blackfacing ist abgeleitet vom Englischen blackface, der Bezeichnung für eine ursprünglich aus den USA stammende Theater– und Varieté-Tradition, bei der weiße Schauspieler/innen oder Sänger/innen auf meistens übertrieben stereotypisierte Weise als Schwarze geschminkt auftreten.

Einen soliden Einstieg in die Geschichte des Blackface bietet die englische Wikipedia. Für die Geschichte des Lehnworts Blackfacing ist zunächst entscheidend, dass diese Praxis in doppelter Weise rassistisch belegt ist: Erstens, weil die Tradition aus einem zutiefst rassistischen historischen Zusammenhang stammt, in dem ein Auftreten schwarzer Schauspieler/innen als inakzeptabel gegolten hätte, und zweitens, weil beim Blackface nicht nur das Make-Up selbst und die dazugehörige Mimik übertrieben stereotypisiert ist (dicke rote Lippen, struppige Haare, weit aufgerissene Augen, wie auf dem weiter unten abgebildeten zeitgenössische Plakat), sondern auch die Zusammenhänge, in denen es verwendet wurde (Schwarze als naive, immer fröhliche Unterhalter).

[Hinweis: Der folgende Beitrag enthält eine rassistische Abbildung.]

Diese rassistischen Untertöne der Praxis und die Gedankenlosigkeit, mit der sie auch an deutschen Theatern immer wieder eingesetzt wird, führten im Jahr 2012 mehrfach zu Protesten, durch die auch das Wort (manchmal in der eigentlichen englischen Form Blackface, häufiger aber in der im englischen sehr seltenen Form Blackfacing) in die öffentliche Diskussion geriet. Absolut betrachtet scheint das Wort zunächst eher selten zu sein, das Deutsche Referenzkorpus enthält nur vier Treffer, die alle aus dem Januar 2012 stammen. Auch im Duden sucht man es vergeblich.

Nun fehlt im Deutschen Referenzkorpus allerdings bislang die gesamte zweite Jahreshälfte 2012; eine Suche im Google-News-Archiv zeigt aber, dass das Wort das ganze Jahr über zu verschiedenen Anlässen verwendet wurde. Vor 2012 finden sich im Google-News-Archiv dagegen nur vereinzelte Treffer, erstmals 2009 im Zusammenhang mit Günter Wallraffs Film „Schwarz auf Weiß“ (z.B. taz, 22.10.2009). Das Wort war also 2012 in der breiteren öffentlichen Diskussion nicht übermäßig häufig, wurde aber durchgängig und deutlich häufiger verwendet als in den Jahren zuvor. Dass es insgesamt nicht so häufig ist, wie beispielsweise Fracking oder Hashtag liegt mit daran, dass es weniger Anlässe zu seiner Verwendung gab und dass die Proteste gegen die Praxis von vielen Medien noch nicht ausreichend ernst genommen wurden, um darüber zu berichten.

Wm. h. west's big minstrel jubilee – amerikanisches werbeplakat von 1900

Wm. H. West's Big Minstrel Jubilee – Amerikanisches Werbeplakat von 1900

Das Wort Blackfacing erfüllt aber grundsätzlich die ersten zwei Bedingungen unseres Wettbewerbs: Es stammt aus dem Englischen und hat 2012 einen klaren Häufigkeitsanstieg erfahren.

Dass es eine interessante Lücke füllt, zeigt die Diskussion, die sich um das Wort entsponnen hat. Zum ersten Mal erhielt es 2012 im Januar mediale Aufmerksamkeit, als Dieter Hallervorden in einem Theaterstück eine schwarze Figur von einem schwarz geschminkten weißen Kollegen spielen ließ (alle vier Treffer im Deutschen Referenzkorpus beziehen sich auf diesen Vorfall). In Kommentaren auf der Facebook-Seite des Theaters führte das zu Hinweisen auf die rassistische Tradition des Blackface, woraufhin sich das Theater und der Regisseur Hallervorden alle Mühe gaben, auch die letzten Zweifel an einem unterschwelligen Rassismus ihres Vorgehens auszuräumen — das Theater, indem es behauptete, einen qualifizierten schwarzen Schauspieler zu finden, sei schlicht unmöglich gewesen und überhaupt könne es nicht angehen, dass „die Kunst“ sich von „einer Gruppe von Menschen im Internet“ vorschreiben lassen müsse, was Rassismus sei, und Hallervorden, indem er fragte, ob „Sigmar Gabriel sich für Maßnahmen gegen den Hunger in der Welt einsetzen [dürfe], obwohl er über Leibesfülle verfüg[e]” (ganz so, als habe man ihn dafür kritisiert, sich gegen Rassismus zu engagieren, und nicht dafür, Rassismus zu replizieren).

Wenn es bei dieser einen Diskussion geblieben wäre, bräuchten wir über das Wort blackface/blackfacing im Zusammenhang mit unserer Wörterwahl nicht weiter zu reden, aber es folgten weitere Diskussionen, z.B. im März im Zusammenhang mit zwei Theaterstücken, die das Blackface sorgsam mieden, im April im Zusammenhang mit einem Aktionskunstwerk in Stockholm und im Oktober, als ein amerikanischer Dramatiker dem Deutschen Theater eine Aufführung seines Stückes untersagte, weil doch wieder zum Blackface gegriffen wurde. Auch ganz aktuell findet sich das Wort wieder in der öffentlichen Diskussion um einen Literaturkritiker, der eine mäßig originelle Besprechung der sprachlichen Überarbeitung von Kinderbüchern mit schwarz geschminktem Gesicht aufzeichnete [Hinweis: Verlinkter Text enthält rassistische Sprache und Bilder].

Das Wort Blackfacing ist also auf dem besten Wege, Teil des deutschen Wortschatzes zu werden. Dass es bereits einen gewissen Integrationsprozess hinter sich hat, zeigt sich übrigens sowohl auf der Ebene der Form, als auch auf der Ebene des Inhalts. Auf der Formebene fällt auf, dass sich im Deutschen fast ausschließlich die Form Blackfacing findet, im englischen Sprachraum dagegen hauptsächlich die Form blackface verwendet wird, häufig in der Kombination in blackface. Während das englische Wort also das Make-Up selbst bezeichnet (bzw. die Tatsache, dass es jemand trägt), bezeichnet das deutsche Wort Blackfacing durch die Partizipialendung –ing einen Prozess, bezieht sich also auf die Praxis des Schwarzschminkens. (Im Deutschen ist Blackfacing natürlich streng genommen kein Partizip, da –ing ja kein deutsches Morphem ist, aber das Prozesshafte vermittelt die Form trotzdem in Analogie zu den vielen anderen entlehnten englischen ing–Formen, die allesamt Prozesse bezeichnen.)

Auf der inhaltlichen Ebene gibt es erste Hinweise darauf, dass sich das Wort aus seinem ursprünglichen Zusammenhang löst und auch außerhalb von (Theater-)Inszenierungen dunkelhäutiger Menschen verwendet wird. So findet sich das Wort z.B. an verschiedenen Stellen im Zusammenhang mit einer Aktion der Gruppe Femen, bei der sich Aktivistinnen auf dem Berliner Slutwalk einen (schwarzen) Niqab auf den Körper malten.

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen Kolonialgeschichte und der damit einhergehenden rassistischen Vergangenheit ebenso wie mit der rassistischen Gegenwart kommt in Deutschland sehr viel schleppender in Gang, als etwa in den USA, aber immerhin beginnt sie langsam. Es ist anzunehmen, dass dabei auch die Diskussion um das Blackface weiter geführt wird, und dass sich damit auch das Wort Blackfacing weiter verbreiten wird. Es hat also nicht nur eine interessante Struktur und Bedeutungsgeschichte, sondern auch eine hohe gesellschaftliche Relevanz. Es ist damit ein solider Kandidat im Rennen um den Anglizismus des Jahres, durchaus schon in diesem, aber ganz sicher im nächsten Jahr.

Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

September 27 2012

September 06 2012

The great divergence | understandingsociety.blogspot 2012-09-01

It has been ten years since Ken Pomeranz published The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy., a book that forced some real rethinking about the economic history in Europe and China. Along with Bin Wong in China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience, he called for a deep questioning of many of the basic premises of much twentieth century economic history, which was premised on the backwardness and stagnation of China and the dynamism of Western Europe. Industrial revolution and sustained economic growth were unique products of the west, and China was incapable of these transformations at the beginning of the modern epoch -- 1600, let us say.

So the central problematic for "European exceptionalism" was to identify some set of features of western society lacking in China that could account for takeoff. Was it merchant culture? Perhaps Newtonian science? Was it European family and reproductive behavior? Or perhaps it was some feature of Christianity?

Pomeranz doesn't like these theories. More basically, he doesn't accept the premise of European economic superiority in 1600, whether in institutions or ideology. He considers agriculture first and holds that Chinese agriculture was as productive in terms of land and labor as English farming; it was not undergoing involution through population increase; and it supported a rural standard of living that was competitive with that of Europe and England, his primary focus.

Pomeranz doesn't doubt that there were sharp differences in European and Chinese economic development in the 18th century. This is the "great divergence" to which he refers. But he doubts that there are grand socio-cultural explanations for this fact; instead he focuses on contingent conjunctival circumstances that gave England a lead that it maintained for 200 years. These include the fortuitous location of coal in Britain, the fact of New World wealth, and the returns if slave labor in North America. None of these is a deep systemic factor but rather a lucky break for Britain.

Bin Wong adds a different theme to the debate. He recognizes that Europe and China possessed complex political-economic systems that were different from each other. And he agrees that these systems had consequences for development. But he agrees with Pomeranz that neither system is inherently superior. And he calls for an economic history that pays attention to the differences as well as similarities. Each process of development can be illuminated by comparison to the other.

So where is the debate today? This was the focus of a productive conference at Tsinghua University in Beijing last week. Some of the primary contributors to economic history participated, including Robert Allen, Bozhong Li, and James Lee. It isn't possible to summarize the papers, but several themes emerged. The most basic is the need to bring substantially more factual detail to the debate. What we need at this point isn't more theorizing about large causes; it is more fine grained factual discovery across both Europe and China.

Three areas in particular have gotten much more factual in the debate in ten years. the first is agricultural productivity. Historians like Robert Allen and Bozhong Li have substantially sharpened our knowledge of the farm economies of England and China.

Second is the question of the historical standard of living in various places. Essentially this depends on price data, wage data, and a system for comparing consumption across countries. Here too there has been a great refinement of our knowledge. Robert Allen has contributed much of this.

Third is population behavior. The Malthusian theory of the difference between China and Europe is a stumbling block, and of course this theory was created in a fact-free universe. Now comparative historical demography has advanced a long way thanks to researchers like James Lee. The Eurasian Population and Family History Project has now refuted the Malthusian view.

A key idea in the Pomeranz debate is Philip Huang's idea the Chinese agriculture was "involutionary". The work provided by Bozhong Li demonstrates that this theory is simply incorrect when applied to the lower Yangzi River delta. Moreover, China's development after 1970 makes the theory implausible in any case. As Li pointed out at the conference, "It is inconceivable China's modern development could have occurred in the conditions of involution described in the debate." China was clearly not caught in an inescapable involutionary trap.

So there is work to be done still on the origins of the great transformation. And it is valuable for this work to take place with a global and comparative perspective. But most valuable will be detailed factual research that adds significantly to what we know about the past.




Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

July 27 2012

02mydafsoup-01

[...]

Sport erzählt uns auch etwas über die Machtbalance innerhalb der vorindustriellen Gesellschaften, wo sich die sozialen Eliten nicht nur in Republiken wie der Schweiz, den Generalstaaten oder in Venedig, sondern sogar in Erbmonarchien wie Frankreich, der Toskana oder den deutschen Fürstenstaaten verpflichtet fühlten, populäre Sportarten zu sponsern und zu besuchen und – solange sie fit genug waren – aktiv mitzumachen.

„Running for election“ – wie heutige Politiker – war für die Fürsten nicht das Problem, aber sie mussten auch in Alteuropa um die Zustimmung ihrer Untertanen kämpfen. Ein von der Bevölkerung nicht anerkannter Herrscher galt gemäß der frühneuzeitlichen Politiktheorie als Tyrann. Herrschaft beruhte auf gegenseitigem Respekt. Besonders ungeschickten Potentaten nützte aber auch die Unterstützung des Sports nichts. König Karl I. von England etwa verlor wegen seiner Unfähigkeit in der Finanz- und Religionspolitik buchstäblich seinen Kopf. Jakob I. von England hatte dagegen mit der Verteidigung des Sports gegen religiöse Angriffe in seinem „Book of Sports“ große Zustimmung gewonnen.

Bereits der Schriftsteller Juvenal hat festgestellt, dass die Bevölkerung des Römischen Reiches durch „Brot und Zirkusspiele“ abgelenkt und dabei politisch entmündigt würde. Die Frage nach dem Verhältnis von Sport und Macht hat Soziologen auch in den letzten Jahrzehnten stark beschäftigt. Gelehrte im Umfeld der Frankfurter Schule – und insbesondere Theodor W. Adorno – bezogen eine Extremposition mit der Ansicht, dass Sport nur ein raffiniertes Mittel zur Unterdrückung sei. Dieses in der Bitternis des Exils formulierte Urteil bezog sich aber nicht allein auf den Sport im Nationalsozialismus, sondern gleichermaßen auf den Sport als Teil der amerikanischen Kulturindustrie.[17] Ein Echo dieses Standpunkts findet sich bei dem französischen Kulturtheoretiker Michel Foucault, der Sport als Bestandteil einer gewaltigen staatlichen Disziplinierungsmaschinerie sieht, die seit Beginn der Neuzeit versuchte, die Körper der Menschen zu dressieren.[18]

Wesentlich differenzierter ist die Sicht des Italieners Antonio Gramsci, der zwar wie Adorno die faschistischen Massenchoreographien vor Augen hatte, aber doch dem Sport ein emanzipatorisches Potential zuerkannte. Einerseits sahen er und seine Nachfolger den Sport als Bestandteil einer kulturellen Hegemonie der bürgerlichen, kapitalistischen Klasse, die das Volk mit „Zirkusspielen“ zumal in ­einer Periode zunehmender Freizeit ablenkt und besonders die immer unruhige männliche Jugend in das System einbindet, andererseits setzte Sport als Quelle der Freude potentiell auch positive Energien frei.[19]

Ohne Bezug auf Gramsci verfolgte Pierre Bourdieu, der sich als einer von wenigen Klassikern der Soziologie früh zu Fragen des Sports geäußert hat, einen ähnlichen Pfad, indem er die Klassenbedingtheit der Sportarten untersucht.[20] Seinem Befund nach haben Angehörige der Arbeiterklasse eine höhere Wertschätzung für physische Stärke und ein stark gegenwartsorientiertes Interesse an Kampfsportarten wie Ringen, Boxen, Karate, Gewichtheben oder Bodybuilding, an Mannschaftssportarten mit hohem Körpereinsatz wie Fußball, Rugby oder American Football und an Wettkämpfen, die mit Gefahr und ganzem Körpereinsatz verbunden sind wie Autorennen oder Geräteturnen. Dagegen sähen die Angehörigen der mittleren und höheren Klassen Sport eher zukunftsorientiert im Zusammenhang mit Gesundheit und Sozialprestige. Dies betreffe fitnessorientierte Aktivitäten wie Jogging, Walking etc. sowie Sportarten mit Naturbezug (Klettern, Kajakfahren, Skilanglauf), Mannschaftsspiele mit wenig Körperkontakt (Volleyball, Cricket) oder prestigeträchtige Sportarten wie Golf, Segeln, Polo oder die Jagd, die mit den entsprechenden Clubs und Accessoires zur Akkumulation von symbolischem Kapital dienten.

Die Wahl der Sportart hängt nach Bourdieu also nicht nur von materiellen Voraussetzungen ab, sondern auch von der Mentalität der unterschiedlichen Gesellschaftsklassen in Bezug auf Praktiken des Körpers. Der klassenspezifische Habitus trage entscheidend zur Erhaltung der herrschenden Machtverhältnisse bei, die quasi in die Körper eingeschrieben seien.

[...]


Olympia 2012: Die sportifizierte Gesellschaft | Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 2012-07-27

April 17 2012

"Eloge du conflit" - Vidéo de la rencontre avec Miguel Benasayag - TV BRUITS

Le dimanche 6 avril 2008 à la librairie Terra Nova à Toulouse se tenait une rencontre avec Miguel Benasayag à propos du livre écrit avec Angélique Del Rey : Eloge du conflit.

En voici presque la totalité légèrement réorganisée et découpée en trois parties


February 07 2012

Axel Honneth on Pierre Bourdieu | habermas-rawls.blogspot

From "Die Tageszeitung" (January 31, 2012):

Alex Honneth - "Der Soziologe als Intellektueller"
(for the 10th anniversary of Pierre Bourdieu's death)

Originally published in "Le Monde" on January 24, 2012, titled "Le savant et le politique".

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

February 01 2012

Defining a social subject: Weber | understandingsociety.blogspot 2012-01-31


How does a sociologist define and conceptualize a subject for research and investigation? And how does a research tradition -- a group of scholars linked by training, scholarly interaction, and mentorship -- do the same thing?  What is the intellectual work that goes into framing an empirical and theoretical conception of a group of related social phenomena -- cities, racism, economic growth, feudalism, or power?

The most evident problem this question raises is the fact that any given social phenomenon itself has multiple aspects and sets of characteristics; so the way we define a research subject is in some important way an expression of what we find "interesting." Let's say that I'm interested in cities.  "How do cities work?"  This might be an economic question; a regional geography question; a cultural question; a question about poverty and segregation; a question about architecture and planning; a question about municipal governance; a question about population characteristics; a question about religion; a question about civil disturbances; and so one, for indefinitely many aspects or features of urban life.

These questions force consideration of several different intellectual acts: selection, conceptualization, and explanation.  Selection has to do with singling out one domain of phenomena for extended empirical and theoretical study.  Conceptualization has to do with providing some intellectual structure in terms of which we can analyze and characterize the phenomena in this domain.  And explanation has to do with discovering meanings, causes, structures, processes, and active social relationships, through which the features of this aspect of the social world takes on the empirical shape that it displays.

I have always thought that Weber had a particularly advanced understanding of this fundamental problem of the social sciences.  His essays on methodology, collected in Methodology of Social Sciences, provide some very interesting thoughts about this set of questions. His essays are primarily aimed at laying out the program of the group of "social economists" who were in the process of defining the research agenda of the Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik.  But his analysis has general relevance to the problem of defining a social-science research agenda.

One question that Weber raises in these essays is the role that the scholar's values play in his or her selection of a subject matter and a conceptual framework.  "The problems of the social sciences are selected by the value-relevance of the phenomena treated. … Together with historical experience, it shows that cultural (i.e., evaluative) interests give purely empirical scientific work its direction" (21, 22). And again: "In the social sciences the stimulus to the posing of scientific problems is in actuality always given by practical 'questions'. Hence the very recognition of the existence of a scientific problem coincides, personally, with the possession of specifically oriented motives and values" (61).

This point about selectivity and the role of values in the definition of a topic of study applies as well to a research tradition: an orienting set of values lead researchers in the tradition to adhere to a given definition of the topics and approaches that their tradition will pursue.  This adherence can be put clearly as a statement about "importance": "These problems are important for us; we need to better understand these problems." Here is how Weber characterizes the "orienting values" that define the approach taken by the new journal:
In general, they were men who, whatever may have been other divergences in their points of view, set as their goal the protection of the physical well-being of the laboring masses and the increase of the latter's share of the material and intellectual values of our culture. (62)
Selectivity applies to the singling out of an area of social phenomena for study.  But it also applies to a singling out of the specific aspects of this area that the researcher will examine.  And this, in turn, raises the possibility of there being indefinitely many different "scientific studies of X."  Here is a typical formulation of Weber's about this form of selectiveness:
The cultural problems which move men form themselves ever anew and in different colors, and the boundaries of that area in the infinite stream of concrete events which acquire meaning and significance for us, i.e., which becomes an 'historical individual,' are constantly subject to change. The intellectual contexts from which it is viewed and scientifically analyzed shift. The point of departure of the cultural sciences remain changeable throughout the limitless future as long as a Chinese ossification of intellectual life does not render mankind incapable of setting new questions to the eternally inexhaustible flow of life.  (84)
The quality of an event as a "social-economic" event is not something which it possesses "objectively." It is rather conditioned by the orientation of our cognitive interest, as it arises from the specific cultural significance which we attribute to the particular event in a given case. (64)
Here is another statement that implies the open-endedness of the social sciences in their definitions of the topics of research:
The fate of an epoch which has eaten of the tree of knowledge is that it must know that we cannot learn the meaning of the world from the results of its analysis, be it ever so perfect; it must rather be in a position to create this meaning itself. (57)
I take this to mean that assigning meaning to events, processes, or structures is a human activity rather than the discovery of an objective fact about the world. So it is open to social scientists of various generations to reevaluate prior interpretations of the world -- whether of capitalism or feudalism, or of rational behavior or religious identity.  In Weber's own context:
Undoubtedly the selection of the social-economic aspect of cultural life signifies a very definite delimitation of our theme. It will be said that the economic, or as it has been inaccurately called, the "materialistic" point of view, from which culture is here being considered, is "one-sided." This is true and the one-sidedness is intentional. The belief that it is the task of scientific work to cure the "one-sidedness" of the economic approach by broadening it into a general social science suffers primarily from the weakness that the "social" criterion (i.e., the relationships among persons) acquires the specificity necessary for the delimitation of scientific problems only when it is accompanied by some substantive predicate. (67)
Or in other words: there is no general or comprehensive or synoptic approach to defining the social; there is only the possibility of a series of selective and value-guided approaches to defining specific aspects of the social world.  And these one-sided and selective approaches have an enormous epistemological merit: they can allow us to discover specific, concrete forms of interconnection among social phenomena as we have defined them.
The justification of the one-sided analysis of cultural reality from specific "points of view" -- in our case with respect to its economic conditioning -- emerges purely as a technical expedient from the fact that training in the observation of the effects of qualitatively similar categories of causes and the repeated utilization of the same scheme of concepts and hypotheses offers all the advantages of the division of labor. (71)
There is no absolutely "objective" scientific analysis of culture -- or put perhaps more narrowly but certainly not essentially differently for our purposes -- of "social phenomena" independent of special and "one-sided" viewpoints according to which...they are selected, analyzed, and organized for expository purposes.  The reasons for this lie in the character of the cognitive goal of all research in social science which seeks to transcend the purely formal treatment of the legal or conventional norms regulating social life. (72)
All the analysis of infinite reality which the finite human mind can conduct rests on the tacit assumption that only a finite portion of this reality constitutes the object of scientific investigation, and that only it is "important" in the sense of being "worthy of being known". (72)
For me, all of this comes down to a rather straightforward and compelling conclusion on Weber's part: there is no social topic or problem for which we might provide a complete, final, and comprehensive analysis.  Rather, we are forced, and we are entitled, to always bring forward new perspectives and new aspects of the problem, and arrive at new insights about how the phenomena hang together when characterized in these new ways.

Or in other words, whether he ever actually said it or not, Weber was forced to believe that the history of Rome is never complete; each generation is free to create its new frameworks and perspectives on Rome, and telling its story according to a different set of concepts and insights.

(In the course of thinking about this topic I came across this very interesting paper by Richard Swedberg on "Max Weber's Vision of Economics" (link). The paper presents a very compelling critique of the way that neoclassical economics defines the subject matter of "economics," and gives a strong statement of how Weber's broader and more historical understanding of the subject -- which he referred to as "social economics" -- is of contemporary importance.)
Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

January 24 2012

Relisons Theodore Kaczynski, Quand le chaos d’internet dispairait il ne reste plus que le nouvel état totalitaire | singularite.wordpress - 2012-01-20

Megaupload est fermé, le p2p est mort, le partage privé en cours de destruction, hadopi aura le nombre 3, ACTA PIPA, SOPA gagneront … et rien n’arrette la machine, aucun gesticulement de l’état civil, des associations et des militants.Ils ont tout le temps, ils ont le pouvoir,
Vous n’avez plus de poids dans la société, ils n’ont plus besoin de vous pour du travail, vous n’avez même pas le droit d’etre syndiqué dans le tertiaire majoritaire.

 

 

// oAnth - original URL


January 21 2012

Knowledge naturalized and socialized | understandingsociety.blogspot 2012-01-19

There has been a field of philosophy for quite a long time called "epistemology naturalized." (Here are good articles on naturalized epistemology and evolutionary epistemology in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.) Putting the point simply, the goal of this field is to reconcile two obvious points:
  • Human beings are natural organisms, with cognitive faculties that have resulted from a process of natural selection.  All our beliefs about the world have been created and evaluated using these natural and biologically contingent faculties, generally in social interaction with other knowers.
  • We want to assert that our beliefs about the world are rationally and empirically supportable, and they have a certain probability of being approximately true.
The first point is a truism about the knowledge-producing organism.  The second is an expectation of what we want our beliefs to accomplish in terms of their relationships to the external world.

One of the earliest exponents of naturalized epistemology was W.V.O. Quine in "Epistemology Naturalized", included in Ontological Relativity (1969). Here is a definitive statement of his approach:
Epistemology, or something like it, simply falls into place as a chapter of psychology and hence of natural science. It studies a natural phenomenon, viz., a physical human subject. This human subject is accorded a certain experimentally controlled input -- certain patterns of irradiation in assorted frequencies, for instance -- and in the fullness of time the subject delivers as output a description of the three-dimensional external world and its history. The relation between the meager input and the torrential output is a relation that we are prompted to study for somewhat the same reasons that always prompted epistemology: namely, in order to see how evidence relates to theory, and in what ways one's theory of nature transcends any available evidence...But a conspicuous difference between old epistemology and the epistemological enterprise in this new psychological setting is that we can now make free use of empirical psychology. (82-3)
What are those cognitive faculties that the human organism possesses thanks to our evolutionary history?  Here are several that are important for belief formation.  We have perceptual abilities; we can observe objects and their sensible properties.  We can form concepts that serve to organize our thoughts about the world. We can identify patterns among cognized events.  We can reason deductively and inductively, allowing us to explore the logical relationships among various of our beliefs. We can formulate causal hypotheses about what factors influence what outcomes.  And we can create hypotheses about unobservable structures and properties that are thought to explain and generate the patterns we identify in the sensible world. These capacities presumably have natural histories and, presumably, cognitive gaps. So how can what we know about the human organism's cognitive capacities illuminate the rational warrant of the belief systems that we create?

Experimentation is a key part of belief formation, at least when our beliefs have to do with causation.  We may think that a certain mushroom causes insomnia.  We can design a simple experiment to attempt to test or validate this hypothesis: Identify two representative groups of persons; design a typical diet for everyone; administer the mushroom supplement to the diet of one group and withhold it from the second "control" group; record sleep patterns for both groups.  If there is an average difference in the incidence of insomnia between the two groups, we have prima facie reason to accept the hypothesis. If there is no difference, then we have reason to reject the hypothesis.

So what is the "social" part of knowledge creation?  In what sense does our understanding of knowledge need to be socialized? This is the key question giving rise to the various versions of the sociology of knowledge and science considered in recent posts. It is plain that social influences and social interactions come into virtually every aspect of the "naturalistic" inventory of belief formation offered above. Perception, concept formation, hypothesis formation, theory formation, reasoning, and belief assessment all have social components.The cognitive frameworks that we use, both in everyday perception and learning as well as in specialized scientific research, are socially and culturally informed. This seems to be particularly true in the case of social knowledge, both ordinary and scientific.

So we can add an additional bullet to the two provided at the start about the conditions of knowledge:
  • Belief systems have substantial social underpinnings in the form of division of labor in belief acquisition, socially shared institutions of inquiry, and socially shared (and contested) standards of belief assessment.
Here are a handful of ways in which knowledge is socially conditioned and created:

(1) We form beliefs or interpretations about the motives and reasons for other persons' behavior. These interpretations are formulated in terms of concepts and expectations that are themselves socially specific -- honor, shame, pride, revenge, spite, altruism, love.  And this is an important point: the actor him/herself has internalized some such set of ideas, which in turn influences the behavior.  This means that action is doubly constructed: by the actor and by the interpreter.

(2) We form beliefs about institutions -- the family, the mayor's office, the police department, the presidency. These beliefs are deeply invested in a set of presuppositions and implicatures, which are themselves socially specific.

(3) Knowledge gathering and assessing is inherently social in that it depends on the cooperative and competitive activities of groups of knowledge workers. These may be communities of scientists, theologians, or engineers. Disagreements are inherent in these social groups, and the embodied norms and power relationships that determine which belief systems emerge as "correct" are crucial parts of the knowledge formation process.

(4) We give weight to certain standards of reasoning and we discount other standards of reasoning.  Some of us give credence to magical claims, and we attach some evidentiary weight to statements about magical connections; others disregard magical claims and arguments. These disagreements are culture-specific. (Martin Hollis, ed., Rationality and Relativism, considers a lot of these sorts of questions.)

(5) Standards and definitions of "evidence" and "reason for belief" are socially variable and plastic. Moreover, there is likely to be more variance in these areas in some zones of belief than others. We may find more unanimity about procedures for assessing causal statements about common observable circumstances than about theoretical hypotheses, and even less for assessing beliefs about the likely effects of social policies.

"Naturalizing" and "socializing" knowledge is important because it allows us to investigate the concrete processes and practices through which human beings arrive at beliefs about the world.  The continuing challenge that the philosophy of science raises is the epistemic one: how can we evaluate the rational force of the beliefs and modes of reasoning that are documented through these empirical investigations of the knowledge enterprise?
Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

November 15 2011

02mydafsoup-01
Societas Podcast - Craig Calhoun, President » Blog Archive » Episode #8: Populism, Tea Parties and Occupations - 2011-10-28 (interview ~30 min)


// IN this second series of interviews for the podcast Societas, editorial director Paul Price gets sociologist and historian Craig Calhoun to explore the various strands of social, economic, and political change that are creating the sense that advanced capitalist societies are coming “unstuck.” Radical populism on the right and left, deindustrialization in the North and an economic boom in the South, failing financial institutions, political gridlock, the reawakening of geopolitics after the heyday of globalization, the Arab Spring: grab a seat and take a listen to the astute and balanced assessments of Professor Calhoun as he puts the apparent chaos of the moment in solid historical perspective.

In this first interview, Calhoun explains the similarities and differences of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements and locates their antecedents in the long history of social movements in the U.S. //

( complete quote from the introductory note)
Reposted by99percent 99percent

November 13 2011

02mydafsoup-01

New book by Michel Rosenfeld on Pluralism | "Political Theory - Habermas and Rawls" - habermas-rawls.blogspot.com - 2011-11-13


New book by Michel Rosenfeld on Pluralism


Law, Justice, Democracy, and the Clash of Cultures

by Michel Rosenfeld

(Cambridge University Press, 2011)

320 pages

Description

The Cold War ideological battle with universal aspirations has given way to a clash of cultures as the world concurrently moves toward globalization of economies and communications and balkanization through a clash of ethnic and cultural identities. Traditional liberal theory has confronted daunting challenges in coping with these changes and with recent developments such as the spread of postmodern thought, religious fundamentalism, and global terrorism. This book argues that a political and legal philosophy based on pluralism is best suited to confront the problems of the twenty-first century. Pointing out that monist theories such as liberalism have become inadequate and that relativism is dangerous, the book makes the case for pluralism from the standpoint of both theory and its applications. The book engages with thinkers, such as Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Rawls, Berlin, Dworkin, Habermas, and Derrida, and with several subjects that are at the center of current controversies, including equality, group rights, tolerance, secularism confronting religious revival, and political rights in the face of terrorism.

Content
[preview]

Part I. Liberal Justice and Fleeting Specters of Unity

1. Reframing Comprehensive Pluralism: Hegel versus Rawls
2. Equality and the Dialectic Between Identity and Difference
3. Human Rights and the Clash Between Universalism and Relativism

Part II. E Pluribus Unum?

4. Spinoza's Dialectic and the Paradoxes of Tolerance
5. The Clash Between Deprivatized Religion and Relativized Secularism
6. Dworkin and the One Law Principle

Part III. Can Pluralism Thrive in Times of Stress?

7. Rethinking Political Rights in Times of Stress
8. Derrida's Deconstructive Ethics of Difference Confronts Global Terrorism
9. Habermas's Discourse Ethics of Identity and Global Terror
10. Conclusion: the Hopes of Pluralism in a More Unified and More Fragmented World

Michel Rosenfeld is Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. He is Co-Editor (with Andrew Arato) of "Habermas on Law and Democracy: Critical Exchanges" (University of California Press, 1998).

Related papers by Michel Rosenfeld:
* The Rule of Law and the Legitimacy of Constitutional Democracy (pdf, 2001)
* Spinoza's Dialectic and the Paradoxes of Tolerance (2003)
* A Pluralist Theory of Political Rights in Times of Stress (2005)
* Habermas's Call for Cosmopolitan Constitutional Patriotism in an Age of Global Terror (2006)
* Derrida's Ethical Turn and America (2006)
* Equality and the Dialectic Between Identity and Difference (2006)
* Unveiling the Limits of Tolerance (2010) [w. Susanna Mancini]

See also a panel discussion between Michel Rosenfeld, Jeremy Waldron, Tracy Higgins and Ruti Teitel on "What is Human Rights? Universals and the Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (pdf, 1999).

[...]

November 10 2011

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Ein Politker der CDU kann bei einer Aussage über die Linke sehr gut wissen, welche Zeitung darüber auf welche Weise berichten wird. Diese eingespielten Regeln führen dazu, dass man als Leser oder Zuschauer ein permanentes Déja-vu-Erlebnis hat. Irgendwie hat man den Eindruck, dass man das alles schon einmal erlebt hat, wenn auch nicht ganz genau so, aber auch nicht ganz anders. Und obwohl sich alle Beteiligten darüber informieren können, dass es sich so verhält, weshalb bei vielen eine Ernüchterung ob solcher Mechanismen die Motivation zum Weitermachen gefährdet, geht es einfach so weiter. Also auch dann, wenn die Strukturen der Reproduktion durchschaut werden, kann daran nichts geändert werden, solange das Dispositiv, das alle relevanten Vorentscheidungen durch seinen Filter schon getroffen hat, weiter funktioniert.

[...]
Sprechblasen zweiter Ordnung #piratenpartei | Differentia - 2011-11-10

September 12 2011

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Part of the uniqueness of the present crisis is therefore its abstract mode of destruction. The scope of what is possible in the future (and increasingly in the present) is narrowing in a way that isn’t immediately apparent in our daily actions. So while the welfare state plays an important role in moderating the phenomenological experience of crisis, the abstract structures of contemporary existence are shifting in just as significant ways. The objective forces of economic crisis require an outlet for their effects, and while government programs have managed to disperse some of this force, the remainders are winding their way through our global economy. In the words of James Galbraith, the current crisis may be significant not for its overt destruction but instead for “the pall it casts over life.”

[...]
On the Abstraction of Contemporary Crisis | The Disorder Of Things - 2011-09-12

September 08 2011

02mydafsoup-01

“Traditionalist” Islamic activism | The Immanent Frame - Barbara D. Metcalf - 2011-09-07


This essay is one of nearly three dozen original contributions to be included in
10 Years After September 11, a forthcoming digital collection being produced by the Social Science Research Council. In the days immediately following 9/11/01, the Council invited a wide range of leading social scientists to write short essays for an online forum. Ten years later, these same contributors have been asked to reflect on what has changed and what remains the same. The result is an extraordinary collection of new essays to be posted later this week at SSRC.org, with contributions from Rajeev Bhargava, Mary Kaldor, David Held, Olivier Roy, Saskia Sassen, Veena Das, Richard Falk, and many others.—ed. 

September 01 2011

02mydafsoup-01

The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight « | You Are Not So Smart - 2011-08-21



[...]

(Y)ou are succumbing to the illusion of asymmetric insight, and as part of a flatter, more-connected, always-on world, you will be tasked with seeing through this illusion more and more often as you are presented with more opportunities than ever to confront and define those who you feel are not in your tribe.

[...]

August 20 2011

02mydafsoup-01

Why Net Censorship in Times of Political Unrest Results in More Violent Uprisings: A Social Simulation Experiment on the UK Riots by Antonio Casilli, Paola Tubaro :: SSRN | annot. by oAnth-miscellaneous 2011-08-20 at Scoop.it

Following the 2011 wave of political unrest, going from the Arab Spring to UK riots, the formation of a large consensus around Internet censorship is underway.

 

=============================

// oAnth - 2011-08-20

 

The link to the study is in my case blocked by a firewall.

In the German article at netzpolitik.org (see here via Twitter) you may find further links. The basic study is available as pdf (given here below).

 

------------------------------------------

 

https://twitter.com/#!/02mytwi01/status/104649085587431424

 

RT @netzpolitik - () Warum Internetzensur zu gewaltsameren Aufständen führt. http://t.co/D4DV27a // #study Civil Violence Model #pdf #humsci

 

------------------------------------------

 

Civil Violence Model - Study by Joshua M. Epstein

- http://www.pnas.org/content/99/suppl.3/7243.full.pdf

Source: papers.ssrn.com

August 16 2011

02mydafsoup-01
There is a clear and reasonably uncontroversial basis for a simple theory of justice that all nations/cultures can accept. This is grounded a few core values about human development and is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Millenium Development Goals, and other founding documents of the United Nations. This conception emphasizes several key values:
  • equal worth of all persons
  • value of freedom
  • value of democracy and self-determination
  • the injustice of hunger, lack of education, lack of healthcare
  • the injustice of capricious arrest and state violence (illegality)
These values provide a basis for steering our core institutions and practices in the direction of greater justice: whenever it is possible to reform institutions and practices in ways that enhance one or more of these factors, we should do so.

[...]
UnderstandingSociety: Global justice 2011-08-15
Reposted bykrekk krekk

August 12 2011

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Why social media bring democracy to developing countries and anarchy to rich ones?

O sublime hypocrisy of European mainstream media! The same technologies that a few months ago were glorified for single-handedly bringing down dictators during the Arab Spring, are now at the core of an unprecedented moral panic for their alleged role in fuelling UK August 2011 riots. In a recent post, Christian Fuchs rightly maintains:

And, o! exquisite refinement in the ancient art of double standard: the same conservative press that indignantly deplored dictators’ censorship of online communication, now call for plain suppression of entire telecommunication networks – as unashamedly exemplified by this piece in the Daily Mail.

[...]

Is a social media-fuelled uprising the worst case scenario? Elements for a sociology of UK riots  | Antonio A. Casilli - BodySpaceSociety - 2011-08-11 
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