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Theory and Praxis: What is action? What is political? Where is democracy?
SOC207: Lecture 10
Dr Jordan McKenzie
Lecture Overview
What is the public sphere? What is democracy?
Habermas on Theory and Praxis
The role of the public sphere as a place of both theory and practice
Debate, discourse, truth and coffee
Adorno: Negative Dialectics
Gadamer: Philosophical Hermeneutics, Horizons of Knowledge/Meaning
The Theory of Communicative Action
The Public Sphere
For Klaus Eder (2006),
“The public sphere is a space between state and society. It is neither a political institution nor a social institution, but an instance from which these institutions are observed and their meaning (especially their legitimacy) is communicated in either an affirmative or a critical way. The public space can thus be described as a third space between the state and society (Somers 1993, 1995, 2001). In this space some speakers turn to a public; media allow that these speakers are heard even beyond the presence of a public. The mass-media turn the public space into a functionally specific system of public communication which guarantees that communication in public will go on and address any issues that may be raised (Ferree et al. 2002). This idea contains two analytically separate elements: actions of a specific type which is public speaking, and a space where such talking is possible and communicable to other actors. These two elements provide the key for understanding the variation of empirical and theoretical notions of a public sphere.”

Habermas and the Public sphere
•For Habermas, the public sphere is a place for individuals to perform as citizens in the process of forming public opinion.
•Public opinion must be the result of active discourse from all members of society, and must come from the ‘grass roots’ rather than through social authorities (such as political leaders or the media)
•The public sphere is where ideas meet, are challenged, and developed into something new. Debate is both a source of motivation for political action, as well as a kind of political action.
•Requires that the people have access to open and transparent information,
•‘Only when the exercise of political control is effectively subordinated to the democratic demand that information be accessible to the public, does the political public sphere win an institutionalized influence over the government through the instrument of law-making bodies. (Habermas 1964: 49)
•Requires free and cooperative communication,
•‘Citizens behave as a public body when they confer in an unrestricted fashion–that is, with the guarantee of freedom of assembly and association and the freedom to express and publish their opinions-about matters of general interest’ (Habermas 1964: 49)
•Requires independence from economic pressures/manipulation, and exist for the common/public good,
•‘A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body. They then behave neither like business or professional people transacting private affairs, nor like members of a constitutional order subject to the legal constraints of a state bureaucracy.’ (Habermas 1964: 49)

Habermas on Theory and Praxis
•Key texts,
•Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962)
•Theory and Practice (1963)
•Theory is a necessary condition for action/praxis, facts alone cannot motivate action/praxis.
•This perspective incorporates a definition of theory that is considerably more diverse than academic or disciplinary approaches.
•The communicative turn in social and critical theory.

Habermas and the English Coffee Houses
•For Habermas, the lack of a public sphere where individuals can create discourse for questions regarding politics, philosophy and economics is of great significance to modernity.
•Although these ‘public’ forums were only open to white, property-owning males, at the time, the lack of class status was radical.
Enlightenment debates
Kant, ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784)
•“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! [Dare to know!] “Have courage to use your own reason!” – that is the motto of enlightenment.”
•The key to enlightenment is not simply the use of reason, but the right to publicly use one’s own reason without fear of persecution.

Habermas, Knowledge and democracy
•For Habermas, the rational and open discourse of a public sphere is capable of producing ‘true knowledge’.
•If discourse is allowed to flourish as an ongoing project in the formation of, and the critical analysis of ideas, then it can result in identifying political, moral and ethical truths.

Adorno: Negative Dialectics (1966)
•For Adorno, the process of critique is never complete because our perception of the world will never fully match the world ‘as it really is’.
•Therefore, theorising about the world (based upon the knowledge that we have of the world) will inevitably result in mismatches – whether they be major or minor.
•Critique is a means for minimising these inconsistencies between theories of the world, and the ‘objective’ world.

Hans-Georg Gadamer
• Truth and Method (1989) [1960]
•Historical experiences form ‘prejudices’
•“The horizon is the range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a particular vantage point” (1989: 302)
•Ricoeur, “History precedes me and my reflection; I belong to history before I belong to myself” (1990: 303)
The Theory of Communicative Action (1984)[1981]
•All communication has intention, interests, purpose.
•The speaker wants a specific reaction (agreement, empathy, anger)
•How do their speech acts achieve these goals?
•Open, honest and informed discourse can solve virtually any problem, but our communication practices act against mutual understanding and recognition.
•For Habermas, truth is not that which is impervious to criticism, but that which has best survived criticism. Therefore, as active public sphere of debate and discourse can clarify the distortions of truth in culture and ideology.
•This is a project that is never complete, but does allow for a culturally mediated approach to knowledge that cannot be reduced to relativism.
•But, Habermas is not interested in reducing sociology to linguistics. We must study real things, not just linguistic representations of those things.
•“rationality has less to do with the possession of knowledge than with how speaking and acting subjects acquire and use knowledge” (1981: 8)
Truth, ethics, action?
Kant’s categorical imperative (practical ethics):
•My actions are ethical if I am willing for them to become universal rules that are followed by all. I.e theft.
Habermas’ Communicative Turn:
•Our actions are ethical if we, as a community, hold open and transparent debates about the action that lead to a consensus.
•Therefore, Habermas develops a socially based/derived notion of the categorical imperative.
•Therefore, ‘Truth’ is not found in individual rationality. It is found in the act of communication and exchange.
•For Habermas, the public sphere is where knowledge is developed, refined and/or deconstructed.
•Meanwhile action (which is dependant upon knowledge, theory and meaning) is inspired by the public sphere whilst influencing the public sphere in a reflexive form of interaction.
•Central to the project of autonomy, is the role of the individual as citizen rather than simply a consumer, worker etc.
•Adorno, T. (1966) Negative Dialectics. The Continuum Publishing Company: New York.
•Eder, K. (2006) ‘Making Sense of the Public Sphere’ in Delanty, G. Handbook of Contemporary European Social Theory. Routledge: Oxon.
•Gadamer, H. G. (1989)[1960] Truth and Method. Crossroad: New York.
•Habermas, J. (1973) [1963] Theory and Practice. Beacon Press: Boston.
•Habermas, J. (1989) [1962] The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. MIT Press: Cambridge
•Habermas, J. (1981) [1984] The Theory of Communicative Action: Volume one – Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Beacon Press: Boston.
•Hohendahl, P. (2011) ‘Critical Theory, Public Sphere and Culture. Jürgen Habermas and his Critics’ New German Critique, No.16 pp.89-118.
•Mannheim, K. (1936) Ideology and Utopia. Routledge: London.
•Ricoeur, P. (1990) ‘Critique of Ideology’ in The Hermeneutic Tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur. Ed. by Ormiston, G. & Schrift, A. SUNY Press: New York.
•Schutz, A, (1972)1932] The Phenomenology of the Social World. Northwester University Press: Illinois.

Essay Writing Guide
Make sure you have one!
If the question has an agree/disagree or yes/no format, make sure that you take a side and make it clear from the very beginning.
Make sure that your argument specifically addresses the question. Don’t just write about the topic in general.
Write the question at the start of the essay and continually ask yourself ‘how does this paragraph help to answer the question?’. Then tell the reader your answer. Sometimes it will feel like you have to ‘spell it out’ for the reader.
You may need to give the question some thinking time before you feel that you have a clear perspective or argument. Don’t leave this to the last minute.
Avoid ‘I’ sentences. Remember that “I believe chocolate ice-cream is better than strawberry” is entirely different from saying “Chocolate ice-cream is better than strawberry”. The first is a sentence about the author, the second is about the topic. You should be doing the latter in a research essay.
Avoid words like ‘Author A believes that’, instead be firm and confident about what you are saying. Try ‘argues’, ‘states’ or ‘insists’.
Avoid words like ‘Proves’. Your findings might challenge, discredit, indicate or affirm. Saying proves suggests that your findings are going to end all other debates on the topic.

Should be the last thing that you write, not the first.
It needs to establish the argument in the first few sentences. “This essay will argue that…”.
Avoid “The Oxford dictionary defines (blank) as (blank)” as an opener. Academic terms differ from general
nes and the dictionary is not representative of the literature you have been asked to read.
Do not open with a quote unless you plan to address it in detail. (This applies to all quotes. Quotes should never do the work for you. You need to unpack them and engage with them)

Should be made up of 3-4 sections.
Each sections contains and intro sentence and a concluding sentence (like a mini essay)
Each section needs to cover a key claim that help to answer your question.
Use linking sentences
Every section needs to include a sentence that clearly links the point you are making back to the question. Ask yourself, does this help answer the question? How? If it doesn’t, then delete it.

Should have a similar format to the Intro.
Avoid introducing new ideas, the point is to summarise what you have done.
You can highlight the limitations of your essay, but avoid being too speculative or using open questions that you can’t possible answer within the scope of the essay.
Be clear, concise and confident. “I have shown that”, “This essay has demonstrated that”. Not “This essay hopes to…” or “aims to…”

Author-date Harvard in text referencing please. (Chicago is acceptable)
Absolutely no footnote referencing
Consistency is key
When in doubt, too much information is better than not enough.
Reference list should be in alphabetical order and on a separate page to the rest of the essay.

The quality of your sources will have a direct consequence on the quality of your argument, evidence and writing. Poor sources will result in a poor grade, no matter how good your writing/ideas are. You must have quality evidence.
Journal articles, books and book chapters should be prioritised above all else.
Media articles, blogs and websites can be used as examples, but not as sources. I.e. you could refer to a blog as an example of a discourse about the material. But you should not cite the blog for stats, facts or evidence.
Do not cite the lecture slides. This is lazy and the person marking your work will notice this immediately. If there is something useful in the lecture notes, then try to find it in a published source.

General advice:
Proof read your work. Get a friend to do it for you. Or, read your paper aloud to find errors.
Talk about the argument with other students or friends and see if it makes sense.
Write a plan and allocate a set number of words to each section. It is easier to write if you already know where the line of argument is going.
When proof reading, read the intro and the conclusion back to back. Do they align? Do they sound like the same essay? Do you deliver all that you promised in the Intro? And, most importantly, have you answered the prescribed essay question? The answer should be YES to all of these questions.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing. I am after your informed and well researched position, not someone else’s.

Micro-sociology: Interaction, symbolism and language
Dr Jordan McKenzie
SOC207: Lecture Three

Macro or Micro sociology?
Micro approaches:

Study society by analysing the interaction between individuals
Develops theory out of observation
Meaning, symbolism etc is understood by seeing it in practice.
Seeks to connect micro phenomena with large scale events
‘Bottom up’ or grass roots style analysis.

Macro approaches:

Look for patterns and trends in society.
Place greater emphasis on structure than agency
Seeks to make generalizable claims by studying the big picture.
‘Top down’ analysis.
Values theory over pragmatism.

e. historical materialism

These characteristics are very general. Views vary between theorists.
the task of sociologists…
explain/offer causal explanation (Erklären/Positivism).
understand/to interpret (Verstehen/Interpretation)

Positivists argue that the social sciences should be modelled on the natural sciences and thus should only explain. (Eg. Durkheim, Comte)
Interpretivists argue that as human subjects – whose actions are intentional, meaningful and symbolic – are different from natural objects and that interpretation is the appropriate method. (Weber, Simmel)
Erklären or Verstehen
Interpretive approaches offer an insider’s rather than an outsider’s knowledge of the social world (Merton 1972).
For Interpretivists, social action is:

•Conventional – i.e. framed in terms of local rules; a ‘form of life’ (Wittgenstein).
Therefore, social action can be understood in terms of these local conventions/language games/forms of life.
attempt to bridge understanding and explanation.

The researcher is a part of the research. There is no ‘view from nowhere’.
Therefore the principles of the natural sciences to not apply to human societies.

Interpretive sociology

•The art or science of interpreting text, knowledge, meaning.
•Originally aimed to uncover the ‘true meaning’ of sacred texts.
•Eventually discovered that the interpreter is inseparable from the interpretation, and therefore became the practice of enhancing subjective analysis.

•The philosophy of perception.
•Aims to grasp the depth and limitations of human experience, awareness and knowledge.
•Challenges the notion that science is capable of capturing all that there is to know about people/societies.
Other Critiques of Positivism

Erving Goffman (1922-1982)
Micro-sociologist, dramaturgical sociology, interactionist sociology.
For Goffman, social life is made up of interactions that can be read as performances.

Scripts, actors, audiences etc.

learn to perform characters through positive and negative reinforcement.
Society is made up of tiny rules (like Durkheim’s social facts) that govern our exchanges and reinforces norms, values, power structures and so on.

Key text: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)
Goffman: impression management
summarize, then, I assume that when an individual appears before others he will have many motives for trying to control the impression they receive of the situation. This report is concerned with some of the common techniques that interactants employ to sustain such impressions and with some of the common contingencies associated with the employment of these techniques. The specific content of any activity presented by the individual participant, or the role it plays in the interdependent activities of an on-going social system, will not be at issue ; I shall be concerned only with the participant’s dramaturgical problems of presenting the activity before others. The issues dealt with by stage-craft and stage-management are sometimes trivial but they are quite general; they seem to occur everywhere in social life, providing a clear-cut dimension for formal sociological analysis.” (Presentation of Self in Everyday Life 1959).

Goffman: To have, to be or to maintain face
“So far I have implicitly been using a double definition of self: the self as an image pieced together from the expressive implications of the full flow of events in an undertaking; and the self as a kind of player in a ritual game who copes honorably or dishonorably, diplomatically or undiplomatically, with the judgmental contingencies of the situation.” (Goffman p31)
“the public social image people want to project, which could be lost, maintained, or enhanced through social interaction” (Scott, S 2009)

Front and Backstage
“The backstage language consists of reciprocal first-naming, cooperative decision-making, profanity, open sexual remarks, elaborate griping, smoking, rough informal dress, ‘sloppy’ sitting and standing posture, use of dialect or sub-standard speech, mumbling and shouting, playful aggressivity and ‘kidding’, inconsiderateness for the other in minor but potentially symbolic acts, minor physical self-involvements such as humming, whistling, chewing, nibbling, belching, and flatulence. The frontstage behaviour and language can be taken as the absence (and in some sense the opposite) of this”

Interpretative Approaches In Sociology:
Symbolic Interactionism
The term symbolic interactionism is usually attributed to the pragmatic philosopher and psychologist George Herbert Mead (1863-1931).
But the term ’symbolic interactionism’ was coined by Mead’s student Herbert Blumer (1900-87) who set out its basic principles: social action is the creative act of interpretation and communicated through symbols (Blumer 1969).
The term was also used by Georg Simmel in whose work it is central.

Mead: Symbolism
Mead was interested in the symbolic meaning associated with objects, words, ideas etc that play a vital role in all forms of interaction.
For example, a word can have a practical meaning, as well as several symbolic meanings that have further implications.
An object, such as clothing, can have a practical as well as symbolic meanings.

The ‘I’:
Refers to our inner self.
conscious and self-aware. It experiences emotions and feelings.

The ‘Me’:
the version the self that is presented to others. It is a representation of an ideal self.
Individuals create a ‘Me’ through knowledge of the generalized other.

The Generalized Other:
the individual’s knowledge of a culture, society, community etc.
is the perception of the preferences, values and ideals of a group.
This perception can be accurate or inaccurate depending on the knowledge of the individual.

The ‘I’, the ‘me’, and the generalized other
Not according to Mead. It is only through our interaction with others that we can know anything about ourselves.
“The individual experiences himself as such, not directly, but only indirectly, from the particular standpoints of other individual members of the same social group, or from the generalized standpoint of the social group as a whole to which he belongs . . . and he becomes an object to himself only by taking the attitudes of other individuals toward himself.” (Mead 1934/1962:138)
It is language that makes all of this possible. In particular the symbolic implications of communication.
So is this all about acting?

Durkheim on the social self
“I fulfill obligations which are defined in law and custom and which are external to myself and my actions. Even when they conform to my own sentiments and when I feel their reality within me, that reality does not cease to be objective, for it is not I who have prescribed these duties; I have received them through my education” (2014 [1938]: 20)

Hochschild on Emotion and Performing Gendered Roles
Symbolic interactionist approach
Hochschild shows how we each have specific rules and roles that shape our interactions through emotion
Emotional labour, management, regulation.

Deep and surface acting

Authenticity, Self, Identity
Gender roles

Barbalet: Resentment and class structure
What is the role of resentment in reinforcing class structure?

“Resentment is a feeling experience by social actors when an external agency denies them opportunities or valued resources that otherwise would be available to them” (1992: 153)
is experienced individually and incorporated into a sense of self, but it is also an embedded and collective dimension of social structure.

is an emotion at the macroscopic level. Not reducible to an individual state, it structures our social relationships.
Different classes have different emotion rules, systems and norms. These rules prevent movement between classes.

g. Why is it rude to ask a colleague how much they make? How would workplaces be different if employees were told how much everybody else earned?

Critical Theory: Mass Culture, the destruction of reason, Ideology and deception
SOC207 Lecture Five
Dr Jordan Mckenzie

The world wars and the
great depression
•World War one (1914-1918)
•Approximately 16 million deaths (soldiers & civilians)
•France, UK, US, Russia, Germany, Japan (approx. 70 million people involved)
•Great Depression – USA and Europe (1929-1939)
•Global economic collapse beginning in USA and spreading around the world.
•Throughout Europe unemployment doubled or tripled.
•In the US it increased by over 600%
•Effected almost every corner of the economy; agriculture, manufacturing, white collar jobs etc.
•World war two (1939-1945)
•Over 100 million people involved.
•As many as 85 million fatalities (soldiers and civilians)
•Russia, China, US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan
Post-war America and Europe
•From the end of WWII to early 1970s, North America and Europe experienced an incredible economic boom.
•Technological innovations (many of which came out of the war) resulted in dramatic growth in profits in manufacturing and agriculture.
•Suddenly, unemployment rates dropped dramatically. Living standards grew almost exponentially.
•Arguably the birth of the welfare state as we know it
•The new dominance of consumer culture
•The dramatic growth of the middleclass
•The ‘Space Race’
•For many theorists a new kind of modernity developed in the second half of the 20th century.
So where is the revolution that Marx predicted?
A Very brief history of the Frankfurt school
•Term coined by Horkheimer in early 1930s.
•Adorno became the prominent leader of the Frankfurt School in the 1940s.
•School moved to Geneva in 1933, then NY in 1935 and finally California in order to escape Nazi rule.
•The School returned to Frankfurt in the 1950s and is still operating

What is critical theory?
•If the task of theorists is to improve society, then this can only be done through a critical analysis
•The job is not to affirm the status quo, but to highlight the problems.
•Project in revisionist Marxism
•Critical theory is more of a methodology than a unified theory or perspective
•Critique as an entirely different kind of knowledge.
•Critical of Rationalisation, Critique of Enlightenment
Horkheimer, Instrumental Rationality and Reason
•The modern idea of reason is such that we consider the means to be more important than the ends. We seek to reason How/What more than Why.
•We have precise technical knowledge about how to do things, but lack the ability to understand the purpose or direction of action
•Rationality in modernity is irrational!
•Despite the perceived rationalization of reason, reason itself possess the ability to negotiate and navigate through information in order to avoid being misled.
•Rationalisation is an oppressive process (i.e. Weber’s Iron Cage)
•Reason is the ability to understand ideas without being manipulated by them (i.e. Kant)
•NB: this gets confusing as these terms are not always used consistently in this way.

•Subjective reason is “essentially concerned with means and ends, with the adequacy of procedures for purposes more or less taken for granted and supposedly self-explanatory. It attaches little importance to the question whether the purposes as such are reasonable” (Horkheimer 1947:3).
•Objective reason speaks to the relative value of the ends of action and thus provides a basis for determining what is ethical, right, and just.
Horkheimer cont.
“If by enlightenment and intellectual progress we mean the freeing of man from superstitious belief in evil forces, in demons and fairies, in blind fate – in short, the emancipation from fear – then denunciation of what is currently called reason, is the greatest service reason can render” (1947).

Horkheimer & Adorno:
The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947)
•Horkheimer and Adorno argued that the Enlightenment is a myth.
•It appears to be real, and has real consequences, but it is fiction.
•Individuals are no more enlightened or rational, they simply worship different gods.
•New gods are celebrities, money, consumerism, fame, and capitalism itself.
•The exploitation that Marx identified is now voluntarily adopted in mass culture.

Adorno: The Culture Industry
•For Adorno, the manipulation of individuals occurs (voluntarily) through mass culture.
•While Nazi propaganda utilised film, music, art and celebrities to popularise fascism, capitalist ideology works in similar ways.
•And we love it!
•Artistic ventures have been commodified to the extent that they have no recognisable value beyond their ideological power and their ability to make money.
•“The customer is not king, as the culture industry would like to have us believe, not its subject but its object.” (1975: 12)
•“The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them. It drills them in their attitudes by behaving as if it were itself a customer.” (1951: 200)
•“The phrase, the world wants to be deceived, has become truer than had ever been intended. (1975: 16)
•“They force their eyes shut and voice approval, in a kind of self-loathing, for what is meted out to them, knowing fully the purpose for which it is manufactured. Without admitting it they sense that their lives would be completely intolerable as soon as they no longer clung to satisfactions which are none at all.” (1975: 16)

Marcuse: One
Dimensional Man (1964)
•How do you convince the average American that capitalism is bad for them during an economic Golden age?
•The first world has become comfortable and lazy. Depoliticised. What appears as freedom is the opposite.
•Consumerism is a distraction from terror
•“Independence of thought, autonomy, and the right to political opposition are being deprived of their basic critical function in a society which seems increasingly capable of satisfying the needs of the Individuals through the way in which it is organized.” (1964)
•Repressive Desublimation: the substitute of meaningful and dangerous experiences with safe and controlled consumer experiences

Marcuse and the revival of Freud
•Marcuse used Freudian concepts like repression, the unconscious and the pleasure principle alongside Marxist ideas of exploitation
•During times when things seem to be at their best, we must be most cautious.
•“No matter how much such needs may have become the individual’s own, reproduced and fortified by the conditions of his existence; no matter how much he identifies himself with them and finds himself in their satisfaction, they continue to be what they were from the beginning – products of a society whose dominant interest demands repression.” (1964: 5)

Fromm: Fear of Freedom (1941)
•Modern freedom leads to isolation, loneliness and detachment.
•Freedom has been constructed as breaking free from social restrictions, but it is these restrictions that offer us security, predictability and comfort.
•We are desperate for freedom, but we don’t know what it is.
•For Fromm, the willingness to abandon freedom lead to the popularity of fascism/Nazism.
•So what does freedom mean when we are unable to know the extent of our own manipulation? How can a revolution take place if we are detached from ourselves?
•What is the role of critique in social theory? Is all good theory inherently critical?
•Can Marxism be saved by reframing the place of revolution?
•Does Adorno reduce people to ‘dopes’ or are we able to engage with culture on our own terms?

The Self and Culture: Identity, reflexivity and intimacy
SOC207 Lecture four
Dr Jordan McKenzie

Lecture Outline
Beck/Giddens: Reflexive modernisation
Giddens: The transformation of intimacy

•Jamieson’s critique
Bauman on Liquid Modernity and the loss of intimacy
DuBois on Double Consciousness
Honneth and Fraser on recognition

“Moreover, any inner experiencing, through which I become aware of my own disposition, can never by itself bring me to a consciousness of my own individuality. I experience the latter only through a comparison of myself with other people; at that point alone I become aware of what distinguishes me from other” (1972: 231)
Wilhelm Dilthey

“Structure refers, in social analysis, to the structuring properties allowing the ‘binding’ of time–space in social systems, the properties across varying spans of time and space and which lend them ‘systematic form’. To say that structure is a ‘virtual order’ of transformative relations means that social systems, as reproduced social practices, do not have ‘structures’ but rather exhibit ‘structural properties’” (Giddens 1984: 17)
Ulrich Beck Continued
“The ‘reflexivity’ in ‘reflexive modernization’ is often misunderstood. It is not simply a redundant way of emphasizing the self-referential quality that is a constitutive part of modernity. Instead, what ‘reflexive modernization’ refers to is a distinct second phase: the modernization of modern society. When modernization reaches a certain stage it radicalizes itself. It begins to transform, for a second time, not only the key institutions but also the very principles of society. But this time the principles and institutions being transformed are those of modern society.” (Beck 1994: 1)

Giddens: The Transformation
of Intimacy (1992)
According to Giddens, this new reflexive era has made relationships more democratic.

•Passionate love – Universal
•Romantic love – Cultural
Relationships no longer based on reproduction, income, or tradition.

‘Plastic Sexuality’

Newfound freedoms of intimate self expression have led to new kinds of relationships.

New negotiated roles, terms, and agreements.

Lynn Jamieson: Intimacy Transformed? (1999)
Jamieson is not convinced, despite these changes she writes that “Much of personal life remains structured by inequalities” (1999: 477)
Giddens is individualising intimacy, which ought to be based on connections.

•Furthermore, to say that there are no longer power dynamics in relationships is absurd.
“While drawing on particular pieces of feminist work, there is no sustained discussion in The Transformation of Intimacy of the feminist scholarship that has subjected the interrelationships between ‘private’ and ‘public’, ‘personal’ and ‘political’ to intensive theorising and empirical exploration over the last decades” (1999: 481)
is conclusively documented that the early sexual experiences of most young people involve neither the negotiation of mutual pleasure nor a fusion of sex and emotional intimacy” (1999: 484)

Bauman: Liquid Modernity (2000)
Bauman is skeptical about all this new freedom.

•It seems to be making us unhappy
are in a period of ‘Liquid Modernity’ where social structures are ‘melting’ and ‘resetting’, but this can make society a hollow and meaningless place.
Individuals are seeking to consume relationships, rather than produce them.
Love is irrational, not calculated or negotiated according to rules.

Simone deBeauvoir: 
The Second Sex [1949]
“Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”
“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
“Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.”

W.E.B. Du Bois:
Double Consciousness
“The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second sight in this American world — a world which yields him no self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” (270)
Du Bois: The Veil
The Veil represents the distance between the experiences of whites and blacks in the work of DuBois.
The Souls of Black Folks (1903) is an attempt to allow whites to see behind the veil and into the subjective experiences of being an Other.
Why is this important?
Because for Du Bois, White people have no idea what the subjective experience of being Black involves.
It would never have occurred to them to consider it.

The Souls of White folk (1920)
Building on the notion of double consciousness, Du Bois argues that White people have no sense of ‘Whiteness’. They do not know the extent of their own privilege and therefore, cannot grasp the depth of racism.
Yet, for Du Bois, Blacks are intimately aware of this process of ‘othering’. This leads Du Bois to claim that
them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their language.” (285)
know their thoughts and they know that I know. This knowledge makes them now embarrassed, now furious!” (285)

“They deny my right to live and be and call me misbirth! My word is to them mere bitterness and my soul, pessimism… [but] I see them ever stripped, – ugly, human.” (285)
Axel Honneth: The Struggle for Recognition (1992)
Honneth argues that the self develops through experiencing recognition from others.

Heavily influenced by Hegel – the self is intersubjective.
calls this ‘Mutual self-realization’. This is a social process that we all experience. Not strictly individual.

Recognition is a cultural phenomenon, but it is not ‘merely cultural’. To deny the self through a denial of recognition is a matter of civil rights.

Therefore the symbolic denial of rights/self is an injustice on the same level as the loss of legal or political rights.

Freedom’s Right (2014). A theory of rights based in the analysis of social life, not in universality, natural justice, subjective or objective epistemologies or ontologies.

Honneth: Disrespect (2007)
Autonomy has become ‘decentered’ in modernity. This is largely the result of a distorted use of reason in social interaction.

Therefore freedom is highly problematic.

This leads to a problematic mode of self-understanding, and results in a damaging form of self limitation.
‘Decentered Autonomy’, is the notion that the individual can no longer be presumed to be “transparent to or in command of itself” (2007: 182)

Post Structuralism: Foucault, power, surveillance
Dr Jordan McKenzie
SOC207: Lecture 6
What is Structuralism?
THE SOCIAL SYSTEM – Talcott Parsons (1951)

With this work, Parsons moves away from social action to view society as a ‘system’ comprising:
personality system (motivations and needs);
cultural system (values and beliefs);
social system (roles and norms).

Social integration requires bringing these systems into alignment – e.g. individual need (for resources and rewards) must be met, but individuals must also be supplied with the right motivations and values (through socialization) to perform their roles.

Parsons: Functional Prerequisites Of All Societies And Social Systems (AGIP Model)
Adaptation (use of resources, relation to external environment)
Goal attainment (directed towards a collective goal)
Integration (coordination of parts/subsystems)
Pattern maintenance (which he also called latency) – society’s symbolic order

Foucault as a Poststructuralist
For Foucault, societies are not logical or rational, they do not abide by rules or consistent phenomena

Society can be unpredictable
Lack of cause and effect

can not assume that there are universal truths about societies or cultures.
Cultures do not evolve like ecosystems.
what should we study?

Discourse, power, genealogies, taboo, oppression.

Foucault’s Method: the Chomsky debate
Foucault is concerned with the meaning and use of terms to imply answers within social discourse.

Power is not simply a matter of control over action, but also over ideas. Further, it determines who gets to decide whether a claim is legitimate or not, what words mean and how they can have ‘loaded meanings’.

Rather than answering ‘What is human nature?’ Foucault asks ‘is there human nature’? And then ‘How has the concept of human nature functioned in our society?’
See Rabinow (1984) The Foucault Reader and footage of the debate on Youtube.

Foucault (1982: 779)
‘Shall we investigate this kind of rationalism which seems to be specific to our modern culture and which originates in Aufkldrung [Enlightenment]? I think that was the approach of some of the members of the Frankfurt School. My purpose, however, is not to start a discussion of their works, although they are most important and valuable. Rather, I would suggest another way of investigating the links between rationalization and power’
Foucault (1982: 780)
“Rather than analyzing power from the point of view of its internal rationality, it consists of analyzing power relations through the antagonism of strategies.
For example, to find out what our society means by sanity, perhaps we should investigate what is happening in the field of insanity.
And what we mean by legality in the field of illegality. And, in order to understand what power relations are about, perhaps we should investigate the forms of resistance and attempts made to dissociate these relations.”

Foucault on Power
Power is not a thing or an object.

is something that happens in all forms of interaction

Therefore, a study of power as a structural property (i.e. Marx) inevitably fails.
For Foucault, power is an aspect of every relationship

is embedded in language, sex, education, religion and health.

The ‘Micro-Physics’ Of Power
‘Power must be analysed as something which circulates, or rather as something that functions in the form of a chain. It is never localized here or there, never in anyone’s hands, never appropriated a commodity or piece of wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organization. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power […]: In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not its points of application.‘
(Michel Foucault 1980: 98)
Punishment and the Condemned Body:
Discipline and Punish opens with a vivid account of the torture and execution of Robert-François Damiens, who had attempted to kill Louis XV, on 2nd March 1757. Why?
Foucault wants to trace the ‘disappearance of punishment as a spectacle’ (Foucault 1977: 8); a process in which punishment will ‘tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process.’ (ibid: 9).
tend to view this as civilizing – cf. Durkheim’s ‘restorative justice’ with its Enlightenment faith in progress. It is just such a faith that Foucault seeks to relativize or subvert.
not progress, then what? a different modality of power and control: ‘From being an art of unbearable sensation punishment has become an economy of suspended rights.’ (ibid: 11)

Pre-Modern Vs. Modern Punishment
‘For a long time, it has been regarded in an overall quantitative phenomena: less cruelty, less pain, more kindness, more respect, more ‘humanity’. In fact, these changes are accompanied by a displacement in the very object of the punitive operation. Is there diminution of intensity? Perhaps. There is certainly a change in objective.’ (ibid: 16)
‘Knowledge of the offence, knowledge of the offender, knowledge of the law: these three conditions made it possible to ground a judgement of truth. But now a quite different question of truth is inscribed in the course of the penal judgement. The question is no longer simply: “Has the act been established and is it punishable?” But also: “What is this act of violence or this murder?”’ (ibid: 19)

Modern Discipline: The Docile Body
‘The classical age discovered the body as object and target of power. It is easy enough to find signs of the attention then paid to the body – to the body that is manipulated, shaped, trained, which obeys, responds, becomes skilful and increases its forces.’ (Foucault 1977: 136)
The body and bodily becomes not merely the object of discipline but also of new form of knowledge, of technique (think of the two meaning of the word ‘discipline’).
The body is a liability, a site of punishment and control

The Panopticon 

From Body To Soul:
Training, Self-Discipline And Care Of The Self

The Panopticon is also a technique of teaching the internalization of discipline.
was accompanied by the increasingly scientific understanding of the criminal, insane, etc. mind.
That knowledge was grounded in a mix of subjectification, division and classification (e.g. into normal/ abnormal; sane/ insane; healthy/ unhealthy, etc.).
The aim was to ‘normalize’ and ‘responsiblize’ the subject (see Nikolas Rose 1999).

Power As A Technology
Foucault traces the emergence of modern social scientific disciplines – criminology, scientific management, medical hygiene psychology, sociology – back to the period (late 17th century) when knowledge-based techniques of bodily control were emerging.
The social sciences emerged alongside, and in close association with, the two central, and intimately linked, institutions of modernity: the state and the market (e.g. as Cameralism and Polizeiwissenschaft):

‘These [techniques] were always meticulous, often minute, techniques, but they had their importance: because, they define a certain mode of detailed investment in of the body, a ‘new micro-physics’ of power; and because, since the seventeenth century, they had constantly reached out to ever broader domains, as if they tended to cover the entire social body.’ (Foucault 1977: 139)

While these techniques may have been perfected in institutions (prisons, mental hospitals, workhouses) they can be applied elsewhere: schools, factories, etc.
The Subject and Power
is not power but the subject which is the general theme of my research. (1982: 778)
sum up, the main objective of these struggles is to attack not so much “such or such” an institution of power, or group, or elite, or class but rather a technique, a form of power.

This form of power applies itself to immediate everyday life which categorizes the individual, marks him by his own individuality, attaches him to his own identity, imposes a law of truth on him which he must recognize and which others have to recognize in him.” (781)
“The conclusion would be that the political, ethical, social, philosophical problem of our days is not to try to liberate the individual from the state and from the state’s institutions but to liberate us both from the state and from the type of individualization which is linked to the state. We have to promote new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of this kind of individuality which has been imposed on us for several centuries.” (785)
“In effect, what defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action which does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on existing actions or on those which may arise in the present or the future. A relationship of violence acts upon a body or upon things; it forces, it bends, it breaks on the wheel, it destroys, or it closes the door on all possibilities. Its opposite pole can only be passivity, and if it comes up against any resistance, it has no other option but to try to minimize it.” (789)

Theorising Gender
SOC207 Lecture Seven
Dr Jordan McKenzie

A (very) brief history of Feminism: the First WAVE
•The First Wave can be understood through the campaign to permit women to vote.
•Australia 1908, Soviet Union 1917, Britain 1918, France 1944.
•Also about university access for women.
•In a broader sense, the first wave was concerned with citizenship.

Second wave feminism
•This era is typically associated with the 1960s women’s liberation movement and argued for reproductive rights, greater working/pay equality, the no fault divorce, and the prosecution of domestic violence and ‘rape in marriage’.
•The idea of gender as a socially constructed phenomenon is central to this movement.
Third Generation
•Involved radical and separatist movements, as well as more mainstream feminist figures.
• Anti-pornography campaigns.
•Continued pursuit of access to safe abortions, equal pay and political representation.
•Development of and disagreements with Queer theory
•Ongoing debates about sex work and prostitution. Sexuality as empowerment or oppression.
•Engaging with (either for or against) post-modern and post-structuralist theories.

Fourth Generation
•Greater emphasis on the pluralities of gender
•More recently, the debates about the existence of rape culture and ‘slut shaming’ have become central.
•Trans rights are more central in debates about feminism
•Increasingly common for men to identify as feminists
•Yet gender is still highly political
•NB. The existence of 4th wave remains somewhat contested.

Some Key Terms
•Sex: Biological characteristics (hormones, genitalia etc)
•Gender: Social/cultural representations of masculinity and Felinity.
•Both are traditionally understood as a Male/Female binary, though there is considerable evidence that neither Sex or Gender are limited to two options.
•i.e. Fausto-Sterling: The Five Sexes
•The influence of sex on gender is still contested
•There is a broad spectrum of approaches

Biological Essentialism
•An essentialist gender model would suggest that gender is just another word for sex differences.
•People are born with certain traits, they do not learn them.
•Therefore, someone might say that specific characteristics are ‘naturally feminine or masculine’
•Ie. Jordan Peterson: believes that men and women are fundamentally different…

Judith Butler: Gender as Performance
•Gender is performative is to argue that gender is “real only to the extent that it is performed” (Gender Trouble 1990).
•‘it is unclear that there can be an ‘I’ or a “we” who had not been submitted, subjected to gender, where gendering is, among other things, the differentiating relations by which speaking subjects come into being . . . the ‘I’ neither precedes nor follows the process of this gendering, but emerges only within the matrix of gender relations themselves” (Bodies that Matter).
•“Gender is an impersonation . . . becoming gendered involves impersonating an ideal that nobody actually inhabits” (interview with Liz Kotz in Artforum).


“The question that preoccupies me in the light of recent global violence is, who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? And, finally, what makes for a grievable life? Despite our differences in location and history, my guess is that it is possible to appeal to a “we,” for all of us have some notion of what it is to have lost somebody. Loss has made a tenuous “we” of us all. And if we have lost, then it follows that we have had, that we have desired and loved, that we have struggled to find the conditions for our desire.
This means that each of us is constituted politically in part by virtue of the social vulnerability of our bodies—as a site of desire and physical vulnerability, as a site of a publicity at once assertive and exposed. Loss and vulnerability seem to follow from our being socially constituted bodies, attached to others, at risk of losing those attachments, exposed to others, at risk of violence by virtue of that exposure.” (Butler 2003, 10)
Mary Holmes (2000) writes
“Definitions of what is personal associate it closely with the domestic or ‘private’ sphere and all that supposedly belongs within it. Women, bodies, sex, emotions and intimate relationships have been separated from the political world. Politics is defined as public, objective and rational – all qualities usually associated with masculinity. The public political sphere has traditionally been where men made decisions about what is ‘the common good’ (Benhabib 1987; Pateman 1988). Rejecting traditional definitions, feminists proclaimed that ‘the personal is political’.” (2000: 305-306)

“Crucially, if – as Judith Butler (1993) argues – power is not exercised from a single privileged location, but, rather, is practised and reworked in a diverse range of sites, then forms of power come to be seen as incomplete and potentially riven with gaps, slippages and inconsistencies. While Butler rightly sees a transformative political valence to this, one must be alert to the possibility that seemingly progressive modalities of gender politics will also be marked by points of unevenness, rendering them potentially open to unforeseen inegalitarian consequences and re-articulation within conservative forms of gender discourse. Taken together, these theoretical interventions foreground the unevenness and variability of constructions of gender hierarchy in different contexts.” (Dean 2012: 284)
Luce Irigaray:
Psychoanalytic Gender Theory
•Irigaray is an interdisciplinary thinker who works between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and linguistics.
•She writes to expose the hidden position of women or woman from philosophy, psychoanalytic theory and structural linguistics and uses these discourses as methodologies.
•Irigaray deconstructs the binaries of Western thinking by looking at how masculinity and femininity are present in these meaning making relations.
•Her conclusion is that woman is nature, matter and emotion giving a  subordinate position in relation to masculinity. Women can only have a subject position as a reflection of man.
•Her larger aim in this process is to instantiate an actual sexual difference.
Irigaray: difference and indifference
‘If we continue to speak the same language to each other, we will re-produce the same story. Begin the same stories all over again. Don’t you feel it? Listen: men and women around us all sound the same. Same arguments, same quarrels, same scenes. Same attractions and separations. Same difficulties, the impossibility of reaching each other. Same … same…. Always the same. If we continue to speak this sameness, if we speak to each other as men have spoken for centuries, as they taught us to speak, we will fail each other. Again. … Words will pass through our bodies, above our heads, disappear, make us disappear. Far. Above. Absent from our- selves, we become machines that are spoken, machines that speak. Clean skins envelop us, but they are not our own. We have fled into proper names, we have been violated by them. Not yours, not mine. We don’t have names. We change them as men exchange us, as they use us. It’s frivolous to be so changeable so long as we are a medium of exchange.’
•When Our Lips Speak Together’ Luce Irigaray And Carolyn Burke (Trans)  Signs, vol. 6, no. 1, women: sex and sexuality, part 2 (autumn, 1980), pp. 69-79

Key questions:
•How should gender be understood/applied/incorporated in contemporary social theory?
•Does the acknowledgement of gendered ‘othering’ require us to rethink all social theory?
•Or can we apply what we know now to classical ideas?
•If modernity has a history of dividing people into binaries, can we say that other binaries (race, sexuality, disability etc) are a result of the same theoretical problem?
•Are progressive views about gender inequality necessarily linked to deconstructing gender binaries?

Globalisation or Multiple Modernities: Reflexive Modernization and its alternatives
SOC207 Lecture 9
Dr Jordan McKenzie

What is Globalization?
While there is no single agreed upon definition, the different approaches can be distinguished over the matter of the When, What and Where of Globalization.
Today we will look at two specific approaches:
•Globalization from economics/capitalism (Wallerstein)
•Globalization from changes in culture, communication and the nation state. (Ritzer)
•In the first approach, globalization is a few centuries old, in the second it is a post-WW phenomenon.
But what do they have in common?
•Globalization can be defined as “the rapidly developing and ever-densening network of interconnections and interdependencies that characterize modern life” (Tomlinson 1999:2).
•A redefinition of time and space (what Giddens labels ‘Time-Space Distanciation 1981)
•A redefinition of the role of national borders/governments/economies.
•New forms of identity formation and community
•Macro theory and grand theory, but often contain micro elements

Immanuel Wallerstein (1930-)
The Modern World-System (1974, 1980, 1989)
“as a social system, one that has boundaries, structures, member groups, rules of legitimation, and coherence. Its life is made up of conflicting forces which hold it together by tension, and tear it apart as each group seeks eternally to re-mold it to its advantage. It has the characteristics of an organism, in that it has a life-span over which its characteristics change in some respects and remain stable in others.” (Wallerstein 1979: 229)

The Core:
•The developed world (United States, the wealthier European countries, Japan etc)
•These countries have highly levels of education and comparatively low levels of manufacturing.
•Control the majority of wealth
The Periphery:
•The developing world (Africa, parts of Asia)
•These nations produce the majority of natural resources, but the wealth is exported to foreign ownership.
•Poor working conditions, low levels of education.
The Semi-Periphery:
•The in-between countries (the less wealthy parts of Europe, South America)

George Ritzer (1940-)
The McDonaldization of Society (1993)
Globalization is not simply about capitalism and economics, but also Americanisation.
Glocalization: the merging of local and global culture.
Something (glocalizing) Vs Nothing (grobalizing)!Ritzer_001.jpg

Something and Nothing
Nothing: “a social form that is generally centrally conceived, controlled, and comparatively devoid of distinctive content”
•Void of history, stable meaning etc
•Typically Americanised
Something: social forms that are “generally indigenously conceived, controlled, and comparatively rich in distinctive substantive content”
•Values based on local, unique culture/tradition.
•New ways to value old things
Consumer Culture is the gradual substitution of something for nothing
Some key questions
Aside from Where, What and When:
•Does globalisation affect all places equally?
•Is globalization the same as westernization?
•Who benefits from globalization? Who are the winners and losers?
•Does globalization create homogeneity or heterogeneity?
For decades the debate focused on whether globalization was happening at all. This debate seems to be over, and the sceptics lost.
Civilization or Civilizations?
Modernity or Modernities?
“Civilizations refer to the cultural modes of interpretation that first arrive with the onset of writing and which interact with particular processes of state formation to produce distinct complexes that are more than national patterns but are also never contained within geopolitical units.” (Delanty 2010: 48).
“There is a further and crucial element to this. Civilizations develop not in isolation from each other but in interaction with others.” (Delanty 2010: 49)
Further reading, See: ‘The Many Americas’ (2010) Jeremy Smith & Japanese Civilization (1996) Eisenstadt
The Problem?
“a distinctive understanding of civilization in the singular can be reconstructed from classical sources: it centres on growing control over nature, the development of a broad spectrum of human abilities and ways of relating to the world, and the differentiation of socio-cultural frameworks for corresponding activities” (2006: 230)
“What we term globalization today is nothing more than a greatly accelerated scale and intensity of global interconnectivity that commenced with the emergence of the major civilizations. It may be the case, and it is Eisenstadt’s thesis, that this is leading to a new kind of civilization, which in his view is disproportionally influenced by western civilization and is global in that it is not rooted in any one civilization.” (2010: 50)

How can we think of the distinction between civilization in the singular vs the plural? What are the benefits?
Weber’s research can be seen as an early attempt at civilisational analysis.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)
To this day, capitalism has not developed the same way in all places.
Arnason: Civilisational analysis as a critique of evolutionary theories of modernity.
“The plurality of civilizational patterns, with their respective dynamics of internal differentiation and historical transformations, casts doubt on evolutionary conceptions of social change.” (2006: 232)
“The civilizational approach, as defined by Eisenstadt, takes a broader view of culture and its role in social life, but it is also designed to avoid cultural determinism: the interpretive dimension is an opening to indeterminacy. Eisenstadt goes on to argue that although this civilizational dimension is an integral aspect of human societies in general, it has throughout much of human history been ‘embedded in the concrete institutional organizations of collectivities without being the object of specific institutional formations or bearers thereof’ (ibid.: 35).” (2006: 232)

Johann Arnason
“But the cases that exemplify this privileged model also illustrates the difficulties faced by research programmes in this field: decisive progress could only be made through comparative inquiry on a scale that calls for extensive cooperation of historians, sociologists and area specialists. In other words, civilizational analysis needs interdisciplinary work of a hitherto unprecedented kind.” (233)
Antinomies: divergent and contradictory characteristics of modernity
Arnason, in reference to the antinomies as the cultural problematic of modernity,
“At its most radical, their mutual exclusion entails the negation or neutralization of the unrestrained reflexivity with which Eisenstadt equates the modern breakthrough: only thus can they achieve the closure needed to establish separate projects with ideological and institutional implications. Their antagonistic uses of shared cultural sources mark them as modern alternatives. But by the same token, the articulation and the interplay of antinomies define modernity as a new kind of civilizational formation.” (2006: 239)

Eisenstadt: Modernity as a New Civilisation
•Does late/post modernity mean the end of a shared concept of civilisation in the West?
•Can we get around the problems of labelling an era after modernity (such as ‘post’) by thinking of modernity as the formation of a new civilisation?
•What does this mean for the concept of civilization?
“the modern transformation can plausibly be described as a restructuring of the relationship between civilization in the singular and civilizations in the plural, but in such a way that the new openings to diversity have a more direct bearing on the common ground and are therefore more mutually contested than at comparable junctures in the past. This would seem to leave us with two possible interpretations. Modernity might represent a civilizational transition, with the structure of a new balance between unity and plurality still open to theoretical and practical dispute. But it could also – and this hypothesis seems more challenging – be seen as a civilizational paradox, in the sense that its cultural premises break through civilizational boundaries in a previously unknown fashion, yet remain too indeterminate and adaptable to conflicting interpretations for the idea of one distinctive civilization to be applicable. Modernity would thus be both more and less than a civilization.” (Arnason 2006: 240)
•Arnason, J. (2006) ‘Civilizational Analysis, Social Theory and Comparative History’ in Delanty, G. Handbook of Contemporary European Social Theory, Routledge, Oxon.
•Delanty, G. (2010) ‘Thesis Eleven: Civilizational Analysis and Critical Theory’ Thesis Eleven, 100:1 pp. 46-52.
•Eisenstadt, S. (2000) ‘The Civilizational Dimension of Sociological Analysis’ Thesis Eleven, 62:1 pp.1-21.
•Knöbl, W. (2011) ‘Contingency and Modernity in the thought of J.P. Arnason’ in European Journal of Social Theory, 14(1) pp.9-22.
•Weber, M (1905) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

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Hochschild, AR 1983, ‘Feeling management: from private to commercial uses’, in The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp89-136.


What is Modernisation? Part 2: Capitalism, Labour, Reification and the end of tradition
Dr Jordan McKenzie
SOC207: lecture two
•The Enlightenment:
•Philosophical, intellectual and scientific revolution to overthrow religion and tradition as the source of truth and knowledge.
•Darwin and the Origin of Species
•Secularization of government and law making
•Liberty, Fraternity and Equality!
The Industrial Revolution:
•Mid 1800s
•Major social shift from small farming communities to factory work in big cities
•Arguably the birth of the metropolis (money, government, bureaucracy, transport etc.)
•Restructuring of Public and Private Spheres.
•Shifts in divisions of labour

Capitalism and Modernity
•Capitalism is a process that demands change. Capitalism requires constant growth, development and renewal.
•It relies on the kinds of bureaucracy and rationality defined last week.
•It requires a state, a currency, and a legal system. But it can also be hostile toward these systems.
•For Marx and Engels, this inevitably results in exploitation.
•“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Marx & Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party 1848
Capitalism: A Definition
•A system of production and exchange operating on a continual basis in which goods (commodities) are produced in order to be sold on a market with the aim of maximizing profit. Capitalism is founded on the private ownership of the “means of production” and work is organized via the labour contract in which wages are exchanged for work.

Capitalism: As Revolution and as Rationalization
•Capitalism is also revolutionary force against tradition which destroys the old (feudal) order of society.
•Capitalism is a continually revolutionary force which never rests and acknowledges no limits, whether geographical or normative, to its activities – what Josef Schumpeter referred to as “creative destruction” (1942).
•Capitalism is a force for secularization and for what Max Weber called the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world (our “sober senses”).

Capitalism, Efficiency and Specialisation
•“I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776).

Durkheim: The Division Of Labour in Society (1893)
•For Durkheim, the division or specialisation of labour is not inherently bad. It is a part of modernisation.
•But we have shifted from a Mechanic to an Organic society.
•For Durkheim, modern life increasingly involves a forced division of labour where people are have no choice over the nature of their skill set.
Small communities, people have a great deal in common (language, religion, education etc.), people possess a wide range of skills, and while community bonds are strong, people are not dependent upon one another for their basic needs.
Large cities, people are highly dependent upon one another, but are individualistic, have specialised skills, little in common with one another (aside form having to obey the same laws & rules)
Durkheim: On Suicide (1897)
•Arguably the first ever empirical sociological study
•Do suicide rates vary according to religion/nationality?
•Yes. Therefore there are social (not just individual) factors.

Marx: Exploitation of the Worker
•“The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.” [1844]

Four Kinds Of Alienation: Marx

•From Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844): Alienation of of the worker from
•The product of labour
•The act of production within the labour process
•Man’s species being
•Estrangement of man from man

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935): Women and Economics (1898)
“The labor of women in the house, certainly, enables men to produce more than they otherwise could; and in this way women are economic factors in society. But so are horses.” (1898/1998:7)
“The horse, in his free natural condition, is economically independent. He gets his living by his own exertions irrespective of any other creature. The horse, in his present condition of slavery, is economically dependent. He gets his living at the hands of his master; and his exertions, though strenuous, bear no direct relation to his living. . . . The horse works, it is true; but what he gets to eat depends on the power and will of his master. His living comes through another. He is economically dependent.”

The Corset and False Consciousness
“Put a corset, even a loose one, on a vigorous man or woman who never wore one, and there is intense discomfort, and a vivid consciousness thereof. The healthy muscles of the trunk resent the pressure, the action of the whole body is checked in the middle, the stomach is choked, the process of digestion is interfered with; and the victim says, “how can you bear such a thing?” (1898: 216)
“But the person habitually wearing a corset does not feel these evils. They exist, assuredly, the facts are there, the body is not deceived; but the nerves have become accustomed to these disagreeable sensations, and no longer respond to them. The person “does not feel it.” In fact, the wearer becomes so used to the sensations that when they are removed,— with the corset,—there is a distinct sense of loss and discomfort.” (ibid.)
Capitalism And Rationalization
The ‘Old’ And The ‘New’ Economy
•The ‘old economic order’ asked “How can I give, on this piece of land, work and sustenance to the greatest possible number of men?”
•The new capitalist economy asks: “From this given piece of land how can I produce as many crops as possible for the market with as few men as possible?” (Max Weber 1948 [1906]: 367).
•The rent/profit distinction. With the latter the maximization of profit becomes and end in itself (Weber); from ‘use’ to ‘exchange’ value (Marx).
Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)
•For Weber (in contrast to Marx), rather than make everything conform uniformly to its inner logic, capitalism must take different forms, and thus has different effects, in distinct contexts.
•In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber asks ‘Why were the Protestants ‘better’ at capitalism’?
• Less guilt regarding wealth inequality
•The importance of following a personal ‘calling’
•BUT, wealth should not lead to idleness, luxury or greed. Rather welath ought to be gathered for its own sake as proof of hard work and success.

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Text Box
Hochschild, AR 1983, ‘Feeling management: from private to commercial uses’, in The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp89-136.


What Is

(Was ist Aufkliirung?)


Today when a periodical asks its reader� a question, �t does so
in order to collect opinions on some sub1ect about which every­
one has an opinion already; there is not much likel_ihood of
learning anything new. In the eighteenth centu�, editors pre­
ferred to question the public on problems that did not yet have
solutions. I don’t know whether or not that practice was more
effective; it was unquestionably more entertaining.

In any event, in line with this custom, in November 1784 a
German periodical, Berlinische Monatschrift, published a response
to the question: Was ist Aufkliirung? And the respondent was

A minor text, perhaps. But it seems to me that it rn�rks the
discreet entrance into the history of thought of a question that
modem philosophy has not been capable of answering, but that
it has never managed to get rid of, either. And one that has
been repeated in various forms for two centuries now_. FromHegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheirner �r
Haberrnas, hardly any philosophy has failed to c?nfr?nt this
same question, directly or indirectly. What, the_n, is this eve�tthat is called the Aufkliirung and that has determined, at least m
part, what we are, what we think, and �hat_ we �o today? L�t
us imagine that the Berlinische_Monatschrift still exists a_nd that i; is asking its readers the question: What is modern p�ilosoph�.
Perhaps we could respond with an echo: modern phil_osop�y isthe philosophy that is attempting to ans�er the 9ueshon raised
so imprudently two centuries ago: Was 1st Aufklarung?

* * *

Translated by Catherine Porter.

What Is Enlightenment? · 33

Let us linger a few moments over Kant’s text. It merits attention
for several reasons.

1. To this same question, Moses Mendelssohn had also replied
in the same journal, just two months earlier. But Kant had not
seen Mendelssohn’s text when he wrote his. To be sure, the
encounter of the German philosophical movement with the new
development of Jewish culture does not date from this precise
moment. Mendelssohn had been at that crossroads for thirty
years or so, in company with Lessing. But up to this point it
had been a matter of making a place for Jewish culture within
German thought-which Lessing had tried to do in Die Juden­
or else of identifying problems common to Jewish thought and
to German philosophy; this is what Mendelssohn had done in
his Phiidon; oder, Uber die Unsterblichkeit der Seele. With the two
texts published in the Berlinische Monatschrift, the German Auf­
kliirung and the Jewish Haskala recognize that they belong to the
same history; they are �eeking to identify the common processes
from which they stern: And it is perhaps a way of announcing
the acceptance of a common destiny-we now know to what
drama that was to lead.

2. But there is more. In itself and within the Christian tradi­
tion, Kant’s text poses a new problem.

It was certainly not the first time that philosophical thought
had sought to reflect on its own present. But, speaking sche­
matically, we may say that this reflection had until then taken
three main forms.

• The present may be represented as belonging to a certain
era of the world, distinct from the others through some inherent
characteristics, or separated from the others by some dramatic
event. Thus, in Plato’s The Statesman the interlocutors recognize
that they belong to one of those revolutions of the world in
which the world is turning backwards, with all the negative
consequences that may ensue.

• The present may be interrogated in an attempt to decipher
in it the heralding signs of a forthcoming event. Here we have

34 · Truth and Method

the principle of a kind of historical hermeneutics of which Au­
gustine might provide an example.

• The present may also be analyzed as a point of transition
toward the dawning of a new world. That is what Vico describes
in the last chapter of La Scienza Nuova; what he sees “today” is
‘!a complete humanity … spread abroad through all nations,
for a few great monarchs rule over this world of peoples”; it is
also “Europe .. . radiant with such humanity that it abounds
in all the good things that make for the happiness of human
life.” 1 , .·,

Now the way Kant poses the question of Aufkliirung is en­
tirely different: it is neither a world era to which one belongs,
nor an event whose signs are perceived, nor the dawning of an
accomplishment. Kant defines Aufkliirung in an almost entirely
negative way, as an Ausgang, an “exit,” a “way out.” In his
other texts on history, Kant occasionally raises questions of or­
igin or defines the internal teleology of a historical process. In .,
the text on Aufkliirung, he deals with the question of contem­
porary reality alone. He is not seeking to understand the present
on the basis of a totality or of a future achievement. He is looking
for a difference: What difference does today introduce with re­
spect to yesterday?

3. I shall not go into detail here concerning this text, which is
not always very clear despite its brevity. I should simply like
to point out three or four features that seem to me important if
we are to understand how Kant raised the philosophical question
of the present day.

Kant indicates right away that the “way out” that charac­
terizes Enlightenment is a process that releases us from the status
of “immaturity.” And by “immaturity,” he means a certain state
of our will that makes us accept someone else’s authority to lead
us in areas where the use of reason is called for. Kant gives
three examples: we are in a state of “immaturity” when a book
takes the place of our understanding, when a spiritual director
takes the place of our conscience, when a doctor decides for us
what our diet is to be. (Let us note in passing that the register
of these three critiques is easy to recognize, even though the
text does not make it explicit.) In any case, Enlightenment is


What Is Enlightenment? · 35

defined by a modification of the preexisting relation linking will,
authority, and the use of reason.

We must also note that this way out is presented by Kant
in a rather ambiguous manner. He characterizes it as a phe­
nomenon, an ongoing process; but he also presents it as a task
and an obligation. From the very first paragraph, he notes that
man himself is responsible for his immature status. Thus it has
to be supposed that he will be able to escape from it only by a
change that he himself will bring about in himself. Significantly,
Kant says that this Enlightenment has a Wahlspruch: now a Wahl­
spruch is a heraldic device, that is, a distinctive feature by which
one can be recognized, and it is also a motto, an instruction that
one gives oneself and proposes to others. What, then, is this
.instruction? Aude sapere: “dare to know,” “have the courage,
,the audacity, to know.” Thus Enlightenment must be consid­
ered both as a process in which men participate collectively and
as an act of courage to be accomplished personally. Men are at
once e_lements and agents of a single process. They may be
actors m the process to the extent that they participate in it; and
the process occurs to the extent that men decide to be its vol­
untary actors.

A third difficulty appears here in Kant’s text, in his use of
the word “mankind,” Menschheit. The importance of this word
in the Kantian conception of history is well known. Are we to
understan� that the entire human race is caught up in the proc­
ess of Enlightenment? In that case, we must imagine Enlight­
enment as a historical change that affects the political and social
existence of all people on the face of the earth. Or are we to
understand that it involves a”thange affecting what constitutes
the humanity of human beings? But the question then arises of
knowing what this change is. Here again, Kant’s answer is not
without a certain ambiguity. In any case, beneath its appearance
of simplicity, it is rather complex.

Kant defines two essential conditions under which mankind
can escape from its immaturity. And these two conditions are
at once spiritual and institutional, ethical and political.

The first of these conditions is that the realm of obedience
an_d the rea� �f- the use of reason be clearly distinguished.
Bnefly charactenzmg the immature status, Kant invokes the fa-

36 · Truth and Method

miliar expression: “Don’t think, just follow orders”; such is,
according to him, the form in which military discipline, political
power, and religious authority are usually exercised. Humanity
will reach maturity when it is no longer required to obey, but
when men are told: “Obey, and you will be able to reason as
much as you like.” We must note that the German word used
here is riisonieren; this word, which is also used in the Critiques,
does not refer to just any use of reason, but to a use of reason
in which reason has no other end but itself: riisonieren is to reason
for reasoning’s sake. And Kant gives examples, these too being
perfectly trivial in appearance: paying one’s taxes, while being
able to argue as much as one likes about the system of taxation,
would be characteristic of the mature state; or again, taking
responsibility for parish service, if one is a pastor, while rea­
soning freely about religious dogmas.

We might think that there is nothing very different here
from what has been meant, since the sixteenth century, by free­
dom of conscience: the right to think as one pleases so long as
one obeys as one must. Yet it is here that Kant brings into play
another distinction, and in a rather surprising way. The dis­
tinction he introduces is between the private and public uses of
reason. But he adds at once that reason must be free in its public
use, and must be submissive in its private use. Which is, term –
for term, the opposite of what is ordinarily called freedom of

But we must be somewhat more precise. What constitutes,
for Kant, this private use of reason? In what area is it exercised?
Man, Kant says, makes a private use of reason when he is “a
cog in a machine”; that is, when he has a role to play in society
and jobs to do: to be a soldier, to have taxes to pay, to be in
charge of a parish, to be a civil servant, all this makes the human
being a particular segment of society; he finds himself thereby
placed in a circumscribed position, where he has to apply par­
ticular rules and pursue particular ends. Kant does not ask that
people practice a blind and foolish obedience, but that they adapt
the use they make of their reason to these determined circum­
stances; and reason must then be subjected to the particular
ends in view. Thus there cannot be, here, any free use of reason.

On the other hand, when one is reasoning only in order to

What Is Enlightenment? · 37

use one’s reason, when one is reasoning as a reasonable being
(and not as a cog in a machine), when one is reasoning as a
member of reasonable humanity, then the use of reason must
be free and public. Enlightenment is thus not merely the process
by which individuals would see their own personal freedom of
thought guaranteed. There is Enlightenment when the univer­
sal, the free, and the public uses of reason are superimposed on
one another.

Now this leads us to a fourth question that must be put to
Kant’s text. We can readily see how the universal use of reason
(apart from any private ehd) is the business of the subject himself
as an individual; we can readily see, too, how the freedom of
this use may be assured in a purely negative manner through
the absence of any challenge to it; but how is a public use of
that reason to be assured? Enlightenment, as we see, must not
be conceived simply as a general process affecting all humanity;
it must not be conceived only as an obligation prescribed to
individuals: it now appears as a political problem. The question,
in any event, is that of knowing how the use of reason can take
the public form that it requires, how the audacity to know can
be exercised in broad daylight, while individuals are obeying as
scrupulously as possible. And Kant, in conclusion, proposes to
Frederick II, in scarcely veiled terms, a sort of contract-what
might be called the contract of rational despotism with free rea­
son: the public and free use of autonomous reason will be the
best guarantee of obedience, on condition, however, that the
political principle that must be obeyed itself be in· conformity
with universal reason.

Let us leave Kant’s text here. I do not by any means propose
to consider it as capable of constituting an adequate description
of Enlightenment; and no historian, I think, could be satisfied
with it for an analysis of the social, political, and cultural trans­
formations that occurred at the end of the eighteenth century.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding its circumstantial nature, and
without intending to give it an exaggerated place in Kant’s work,
I believe that it is necessary to stress the connection that exists
between this brief article and the three Critiques. Kant in fact

38 · Truth and Method

describes Enlightenment as the moment when humanity is going
to put its own reason to use, ‘Yithout subjecting itsel� �o a�y
authority; now it is precisely at this moment that the critique is
necessary, since its role is that of defining the conditions under
which the use of reason is legitimate in order to determine what
can be known, what must be done, and what may be hoped.
Illegitimate uses of reason are what give rise to dogmatism and
heteronomy, along with illusion; on the other hand, it is when
the legitimate use of reason has been clearly defin�� in i!s �rin­
ciples that its autonomy can be assured. The critique is, m a
sense, the handbook of reason that has grown up in Enlight­
enment; and, conversely, the Enlightenment is the age of the

It is also necessary, I think, to underline the relation between
this text of Kant’s and the other texts he devoted to history.
These latter, for the most part, seek to define the internal te­
leology of time and the point toward which history of ��manio/
is moving. Now the analysis of Enlightenment, defmmg this
history as humanity’s passage to its adult status, situates co_n­
temporary reality with respect to the overall movement and i�s
basic directions. But at the same time, it shows how, at this
very moment, each individual is responsible in a certain way for
that overall process.

The hypothesis I should like to propose is that this little text
is located in a sense at the crossroads of critical reflection and
reflection on history. It is a reflection by Kant on the contem­
porary status of his own enterprise. No doubt it is not the f�st
time that a philosopher has given his reasons for undertaking
his work at a particular moment. But it seems to me that it is
the first time that a philosopher has connected in this way,
closely and from the inside, the significance of his work with
respect to knowledge, a reflection on history and a particular
analysis of the specific moment at which he is writing and be­
cause of which he is writing. It is in the reflection on “today”
as difference in history and as motive for a particular philo­
sophical task that the novelty of this text appears to me to lie.

And, by looking at it in this way, it seems to me we may
recognize a point of departure: the outline of what one might
call the attitude of modernity.

What Is Enlightenment? · 39


I know that modernity is often spoken of as an epoch, or at least
as a set of features characteristic of an epoch; situated on a
calendar, it would be preceded by a more or less naive or archaic
premodernity, and followed by an enigmatic and troubling
“postmodernity.” And then we find ourselves asking whether
modernity constitutes the sequel to the Enlightenment and its
development, or whether we are to see it as a rupture or a
deviation with respect to the basic principles of the eighteenth

Thinking back on Kant’s text, I wonder whether we may
not envisage modernity rather as an attitude than as a period
of history. And by “attitude,” I mean a mode of relating to
contemporary reality; a voluntary choice made by certain people;
in the end, a way of thinking and feeling; a way, too, of acting
and behaving that at one and the same time marks a relation of
belonging and presents itself as a task. A bit, no doubt, like
what the Greeks called an ethos. And consequently, rather than
seeking to distinguish the “modern era” from the “premodern”
or “postmodern,” I think it would be more useful to try to find
out how the attitude of modernity, ever since its formation, has
found itself struggling with attitudes of “countermodernity.”

To characterize briefly this attitude of modernity, I shall take
an almost indispensable example, namely, Baudelaire; for his
consciousness of modernity is widely recognized as one of the
most acute in the nineteenth century.

1. Modernity is often characterized in terms of consciousness
of the discontinuity of time: a break with tradition, a feeling of
novelty, of vertigo in the face of the passing moment. And this
is indeed what Baudelaire seems to be saying when he defines
modernity as “the ephemeral, the fleeting, the contingent.” 2
But, for him, being modern does not lie in recognizing and
accepting this perpetual movement; on the contrary, it lies in
adopting a certain attitude with respect to this movement; and
this deliberate, difficult attitude consists in recapturing some­
thing eternal that is not beyond the present instant, nor behind
it, but within it. Modernity is distinct from fashion, which does

40 · Truth and Method

no more than call into question the course of time; modernity
is the attitude that makes it possible to grasp the “heroic” aspect
of the present moment. Modernity is not a phenomenon of
sensitivity to the fleeting present; it is the will to “heroize” the

I shall restrict myself to what Baudelaire says about the
painting of his contemporaries. Baudelaire makes fun of those
painters who, finding nineteenth-century dress excessively ugly,
want to depict nothing but ancient togas. But modernity in
painting does not consist, for Baudelaire, in introducing black
clothing onto the canvas. The modern painter is the one who
can show the dark frock-coat as “the necessary costume of our
time,” the one who knows how to make manifest, in the fashion
of the day, the essential, permanent, obsessive relation that our
age entertains with death. “The dress-coat and frock-coat not
only possess their political beauty, which is an expression of uni­
versal equality, but also their poetic beauty, which is an expres­
sion of the public soul-an immense cortege of undertaker’s
mutes (mutes in love, political mutes, bourgeois mutes … ).
We are each of us celebrating some funeral.” 3 To designate this
attitude of modernity, Baudelaire sometimes employs a litotes
that is highly significant because it is presented in the form of
a precept: “You have no right to despise the present.”

2. This heroization is ironical, needless to say. The attitude of
modernity does not treat the passing moment as sacred in order
to try to maintain or perpetuate it. It certainly does not involve
harvesting it as a fleeting and interesting curiosity. That would
be what Baudelaire would call the spectator’s posture. The fla­
neur, the idle, strolling spectator, is satisfied to keep his eyes
open, to pay attention and to build up a storehouse of memories.
In opposition to the flaneur, Baudelaire describes the man of
modernity: “Away he goes, hurrying, searching …. Be very
sure that this man … -this solitary, gifted with an active imag­
ination, ceaselessly journeying across the great human desert­
has an aim loftier than that of a mere flaneur, an aim more
general, something other than the fugitive pleasure of circum­
stance. He is looking for that quality which you must allow me
to call ‘modernity.’ … He makes it his business to extract from

What Is Enlightenment? · 41

fashion whatever element it may contain of poetry within his­
tory.” As an example of modernity, Baudelaire cites the artist
Constantin Guys. In appearance a spectator, a collector of cu­
riosities, he remains “the last to linger wherever there can be a
glow of light, an echo of poetry, a quiver of life or a chord of
music; wherever a passion can pose before him, wherever natural
man and conventional man display themselves in a strange beauty,
wherever the sun lights up the swift joys of the depraved animal.” 4

But let us make no mistake. Constantin Guys is not a fla­
neur; what makes him the modern painter par excellence in Bau­
delaire’s eyes is that, just when the whole world is falling asleep,

he begins to work, and he transfigures that world. His trans­
figuration does not entail an annulling of reality, but a difficult
interplay between the truth of what is real and the exercise of
freedom; “natural” things become “more than natural,” “beau­
tiful” things become “more than beautiful,” and individual ob­
jects appear “endowed with an impulsive life like the soul of
[their] creator.” 5 For the attitude of modernity, the high value
of the present is indissociable from a desperate eagerness to
imagine it, to imagine it otherwise than it is, and to transform
it not by destroying it but by grasping it in what it is. Baude­
lairean modernity is an exercise in which extreme attention to
what is real is confronted with the practice of a liberty that
simultaneously respects this reality and violates it.

3. However, modernity for Baudelaire is not simply a form of
relationship to the present; it is also a mode of relationship that
has to be established with oneself. The deliberate attitude of
modernity is tied to an indispensable asceticism. To be modern
is not to accept oneself as one is in the flux of the passing
moments; it is to take oneself as object of a complex and difficult
elaboration: what Baudelaire, in the vocabulary of his day, calls
dandysme. Here I shall not recall in detail the well-known pas­
sages on “vulgar, earthy, vile nature”; on man’s indispensable
revolt against himself; on the “doctrine of elegance” which im­
poses “upon its ambitious and humble disciples” a discipline
more despotic than the most terrible religions; the pages, finally,
on the asceticism of the dandy who makes of his body, his
behavior, his feelings and passions, his very existence, a work

42 · Truth and Method

of art. �odern �an, for Baudelaire, is not the man who goes
off to discover himself, his secrets and his hidden truth; he is
��-e man who �e� to inven� h��elf. This modernity does notliberate man m his own bemg ; 1t compels him to face the task
of producing himself.

4. Let me add just one final word. This ironic heroization of
the p_resent, th�s transfiguring play of freedom with reality, thisascetic elaboration of the self-Baudelaire does not imagine that
these have any place in society itself, or in the body politic.
They can only be produced in another, a different place, which
Baudelaire calls art.

I do not pretend to be summarizing in these few lines either the
complex_ historical event that was the Enlightenment, at the endof �he e1g�teen�h century, or the attitude of modernity in the
various guises 1t may have taken on during the last two cen­

I have �een seeking, o� the one hand, to emphasize the
e�tent to which a type of philosophical interrogation-one that
s�ul�neously problematizes man’s relation to the present, man’s
historical mode of being, and the constitution of the self as an
autonomous subject-is rooted in the Enlightenment. On the
other hand, I have been seeking to stress that the thread that
may connect us with the Enlightenment is not faithfulness to
doctrinal elements, but rather the permanent reactivation of an
attitude-that is, of a philosophical ethos that could be described
as a permanent critique of our historical era. I should like to
characterize this ethos very briefly.

A. Negatively

1. This ethos implies, first, the refusal of what I like to call the
“blackmail” of the E�l�ghtenment. I think that the Enlighten­
ment, as a set of political, economic, social, institutional, and
cul�r�l events on which we still depend in large part, constitutes
a privileged domain for analysis. I also think that as an enter-

T What Is Enlightenment? · 43

prise for linking the progress of truth and the history of liberty
in a bond of direct relation, it formulated a philosophical ques­
tion that remains for us to consider. I think, finally, as I have
tried to show with reference to Kant’s text, that it defined a
certain manner of philosophizing.

But that does not mean that one has to be “for” or “against”
the Enlightenment. It even means precisely that one has to
refuse everything that might present itself in the form of a sim­
plistic and authoritarian alternative: you either accept the En­
lightenment and remain within the tradition of its rationalism
(this is considered a positive term by some and used by others,
on the contrary, as a reproach); or else you criticize the Enlight­
enment and then try to escape from its principles of rationality
(which may be seen once again as good or bad). And we do
not break free of this blackmail by introducing “dialectical” nu­
ances while seeking to determine what good and bad elements
there may have been in the Enlightenment.

We must try to proceed with the analysis of ourselves as
beings who are historically determined, to a certain extent, by
the Enlightenment. Such an analysis implies a series of historical
inquiries that are as precise as possible; and these inquiries will
not be oriented retrospectively toward the “essential kernel of
rationality” that can be found in the Enlightenment and that
would have to be preserved in any event; they will be oriented
toward the “contemporary limits of the necessary,” that is, to­
ward what is not or is no longer indispensable for the consti­
tution of ourselves as autonomous subjects.

2. This permanent critique of ourselves has to avoid the always
too facile confusions between humanism and Enlightenment.

We must never forget that the Enlightenment is an event,
or a set of events and complex historical processes, that is located
at a certain point in the development of European societies. As
such, it includes elements of social transformation, types of po­
litical institution, forms of knowledge, projects of rationalization
of knowledge and practices, technological mutations that are
very difficult to sum up in a word, even if many of these phe­
nomena remain important today. The one I have pointed out

44 · Truth and Method

and that seems to me to have been at the basis of an entire form
of philosophical reflection concerns only the mode of reflective
relation to the present.

Humanism is something entirely different. It is a theme or,
rather, a set of themes that have reappeared on several occa­
sions, over time, in European societies; these themes, always
tied to value judgments, have obviously varied greatly in their
content, as well as in the values they have preserved. Further­
more, they have served as a critical principle of differentiation.
In the seventeenth century, there was a humanism that pre­
sented itself as a critique of Christianity or of religion in general;
there was a Christian humanism opposed to an ascetic and much
more theocentric humanism. In the nineteenth century, there
was a suspicious humanism, hostile and critical toward science,
and another that, to the contrary, placed its hope in that same
science. Marxism has been a humanism; so have existentialism
and personalism; there was a time when people supported the
humanistic values represented by National Socialism, and when
the Stalinists themselves said they were humanists.

From this, we must not conclude that everything that has
ever been linked with humanism is to be rejected, but that the
humanistic thematic is in itself too supple, too diverse, too in­
consistent to serve as an axis for reflection. And it is a fact that,
at least since the seventeenth century, what is called humanism
has always been obliged to lean on certain conceptions of man
borrowed from religion, science, or politics. Humanism serves
to color and to justify the conceptions of man to which it is, after
all, obliged to take recourse.

Now, in this connection, I believe that this thematic, which
so often recurs and which always depends on humanism, can
be opposed by the principle of a critique and a permanent cre­
ation of ourselves in our autonomy: that is, a principle that is
at the heart of the historical consciousness that the Enlighten­
ment has of itself. From this standpoint, I am inclined to see
Enlightenment and humanism in a state of tension rather than

In any case, it seems to me dangerous to confuse them; and
further, it seems historically inaccurate. If the question of man,
of the human species, of the humanist, was important through-



What Is Enlightenment? · 45

out the eighteenth century, this is very rarely, I believe, because

the Enlightenment considered itself a humanism. It is worth­

while, too, to note that throughout the nineteenth century, the

historiography of sixteenth-century humanism, which was so

important for people like Saint-Beuve or Burckhardt, was always

distinct from and sometimes explicitly opposed to the Enlight­

enment and the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century

had a tendency to oppose the two, at least as much as to confuse

In any case, I think that, just as we must free ourselves from

the intellectual blackmail· of “being for or against the Enlight­

enment,” we must escape from the historical and moral con­

fusionism that mixes the theme of humanism with the question

of the Enlightenment. An analysis of their complex relations in

the course of the last two centuries would be a worthwhile proj­

ect, an important one if we are to bring some measure of clarity

to the consciousness that we have of ourselves and of our past.

B. Positively

Yet while taking these precautions into account, we must
obviously give a more positive content to what may be a phil­
osophical ethos consisting in a critique of what we are saying,
thinking, and doing, through a historical ontology of ourselves.

1. This philosophical ethos may be characterized as a limit­
attitude. We are not talking about a gesture of rejection. We
have to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to
be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and
reflecting upon limits. But if the Kantian question was that of
knowing what limits knowledge has to renounce transgressing,
it seems to me that the critical question today has to be turned
back into a positive one: in what is given to us as universal,
necessary, obligatory, what place is occupied by whatever is
singular, contingent, and the product of arbitrary constraints?
The point, in brief, is to transform the critique conducted in the
form of necessary limitation into a practical critique that takes
the form of a possible transgression.

This entails an obvious consequence: that criticism is no

46 · Truth and Method

longer going to be practiced in the search for formal structures
with universal value, but rather as a historical investigation into
the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to rec­
ognize ourselves as subjects of what we are doing, thinking,
saying. In that sense, this criticism is not transcendental, and
its goal is not that of making a metaphysics possible: it is ge­
nealogical in its design and archaeological in its method. Ar­
chaeological-and not transcendental-in the sense that it will
not seek to identify the universal structures of all knowledge or
of all possible moral action, but will seek to treat the instances
of discourse that artictt!ate what we think, say, and do as so
many historical event_§/ And this critique will be. genealogical
in the sense that it will not deduce from the form of what we
are what it is impossible for us to do and to know; but it will
separate out, from the contingency that has made us what we
are, the possibility of no longer being, doing, or thinking what
we are, do, or think. It is not se�king to make possible a meta­
physics that has finally become a science; it is seeking to give
new impetus, as far and wide as possible, to the undefined work
of freedom.

2. But if we are not to settle for the affirmation or the empty
dream of freedom, it seems to me that this historico-critical at­
titude must also be an experimental one. I mean that this work
done at the limits of ourselves must, on the one hand, open up
a realm of historical inquiry and, on the other, put itself to the
test of reality, of contemporary reality, both to grasp the points
where change is possible and desirable, and to determine the
precise form this change should take. This means that the his­
torical ontology of ourselves must turn away from all projects
that claim to be global or radical. In fact we know from expe­
rience that the claim to escape from the system of contemporary
reality so as to produce the overall programs of another society,
of another way of thinking, another culture, another vision of
the world, has led only to the return of the most dangerous

I prefer the very specific transformations that have proved
to be possible in the last twenty years in a certain number of
areas that concern our ways of being and thinking, relations to

What Is Enlightenment? · 47

authority, relations between the sexes, the way in which we
perceive insanity or illness; I prefer even these partial transfor­
mations that have been made in the correlation of historical
analysis and the practical attitude, to the programs for a new
man that the worst political systems have repeated throughout
the twentieth century.

I shall thus characterize the philosophical ethos appropriate
to the critical ontology of ourselves as a historico-practical test
of the limits that we may go beyond, and thus as work carried
out by ourselves upon �urselves as free beings.

3. Still, the following objection would no doubt be entirely
legitimate: if we limit ourselves to this type of always partial and
local inquiry or test, do we not run the risk of letting ourselves
be determined by more general structures of which we may well
not be conscious, and over which we may have no control?

To this, two responses. It is true that we have to give up
hope of ever acceding to a point of view that could give us access
to any complete and definitive knowledge of what may consti­
tute our historical limits. And from this point of view the theo­
retical and practical experience that we have of our limits and
of the possibility of moving beyond them is always limited and
determined; thus we are always in the position of beginning

But that does not mean that no work can be done except in
disorder and contingency. The work in question has its gen­
erality, its systematicity, its homogeneity, and its stakes.

(a) Its Stakes

These are indicated by what might be called “the paradox
of the relations of capacity and power.” We know thatthe great
promise or the great hope of the eighteenth century, or a part
of the eighteenth century, lay in the simultaneous and propor­
tional growth of individuals with respect to one another. And,
moreover, we can see that throughout the entire history of West­
em societies (it is perhaps here that the root of their singular
historical destiny is located-such a peculiar destiny, so different
from the others in its trajectory and so universalizing, so dom­
inant with respect to the others), the acquisition of capabilities

48 · Truth and Method

and the struggle for freedom have constituted permanent ele­
ments. Now the relations between the growth of capabilities
and the growth of autonomy are not as simple as the eighteenth
century may have believed. And we have been able to see what
forms of power relation were conveyed by various technologies
(whether we are speaking of productions with economic aims,
or institutions whose goal is social regulation, or of techniques
of communication): disciplines, both collective and individual,
procedures of normalization exercised in the name of the power
of the state, demands of society or of population zones, are
examples. What is at stake, then, is this: How can the growth
of capabilities be disconnected from the intensification of power

(b) Homogeneity

This leads to the study of what could be called “practical
systems.” Here we are taking as a homogeneous domain of
reference not the representations that men give of themselves,
not the conditions that determine them without their knowl­
edge, but rather what they do and the way they do it. That is,
the forms of rationality that organize their ways of doing things
(this might be called the technological aspect) and the freedom
with which they act within these practical systems, reacting to
what others do, modifying the rules of the game, up to a certain
point (this might be called the strategic side of these practices).
The homogeneity of these historico-critical analyses is thus en­
sured by this realm of practices, with their technological side
and their strategic side.

(c) Systematicity

These practical systems stem from three broad areas: rela­
tions of control over things, relations of action upon others,
relations with oneself. This does not mean that each of these
three areas is completely foreign to the others. It is well known
that control over things is mediated by relations with others;
and relations with others in turn always entail relations with
oneself, and vice versa. But we have three axes whose specificity
and whose interconnections have to be analyzed: the axis of
knowledge, the axis of power, the axis of ethics. In other terms,

What Is Enlightenment? · 49

the historical ontology of ourselves has to answer an open series
of questions; it has to make an indefinite number of ii:1-quiries
which may be multiplied and specified as much as we hke, but
which will all address the questions systematized as follows:
How are we constituted as subjects of our own knowledge?
How are we constituted as subjects who exercise or submit to
power relations? How are we constituted as moral subjects of
our own actions?

(d) Generality

Finally, these historico-critical investigations are quite spe­
cific in the sense that they always bear upon a material, an epoch,
a body of determined practices and discourses. And yet, at least
at the level of the Western societies from which we derive, they
have their generality, in the sense that they have contii:i-ued �o
recur up to our time: for example, the problem of the relatlon�h1p
between sanity and insanity, or sickness and health, or crime
and the law; the problem of the role of sexual relations; and
so on.

But by evoking this generality, I do not mean to suggest
that it has to be retraced in its metahistorical continuity over
time, nor that its variations have to be pursued. What must be
grasped is the extent to which what we know of it, the forms
of power that are exercised in it, and. the experience_ that “‘:ehave in it of ourselves constitute nothing but determined his­
torical figures, through a certain form of problematization that
defines objects, rules of action, modes of relation to onesel!.
The study of [modes of] problematization (that is, �f what_ 1s
neither an anthropological constant nor a chronological varia­
tion) is thus the way to analyze questions of general import in
their historically unique form.

A brief summary, to conclude and to come back to Kant.
I do not know whether we will ever reach mature adulthood.

Many things in our experience convince us that the historical
event of the Enlightenment did not make us mature adults, and
we have not reached that stage yet. However, it seems to me
that a meaning can be attributed to that critical interrogation on

50 · Truth and Method

the present and on ourselves which Kant formulated by reflect­
ing on the Enlightenment. It seems to me that Kant’s reflection
is even a way of philosophizing that has not been without its
importance or effectiveness during the last two centuries. The
critical ontology of ourselves has to be considered not, certainly,
as a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent body of knowl­
edge that is accumulating; it has to be conceived as an attitude,
an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we
are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the
limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the pos­
sibility of going beyond them.

This philosophical attitude has to be translated into the labor
of diverse inquiries. These inquiries have their methodological
coherence in the at once archaeological and genealogical study
of practices envisaged simultaneously as a technological type of
rationality and as strategic games of liberties; they have their
theoretical coherence in the definition of the historically unique
forms in which the generalities of our relations to things, to
others, to ourselves, have been problematized. They have their
practical coherence in the care brought to the process of putting
historico-critical reflection to the test of concrete practices. I do
not know whether it must be said today that the critical task still
entails faith in Enlightenment; I continue to think that this task
requires work on our limits, that is, a patient labor giving form
to our impatience for liberty.


1 Giambattista Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico, 3rd ed., (1744),
abridged trans. T. G. Bergin and M. H. Fisch (Ithaca/London: Cornell
University Press, 1970), pp. 370, 372.
2 Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans.
Jonathan Mayne (London: Phaidon, 1964), p. 13.
3 Charles Baudelaire, “On the Heroism of Modern Life,” in The Mirror
of Art: Critical Studies by Charles Baudelaire, trans. Jonathan Mayne (Lon­
don: Phaidon, 1955), p. 127.
4 Baudelaire, Painter, pp. 12, 11.

s Ibid., p. 12.