Parallel Sessions 3
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- Full Conference papers
The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman
Memorial Explosions: 12/08, 9/11 and the Politics of Iconicity
The fear of Islamic contamination reared its ugly face in Greece when, following an altercation between police and a group of youths in the Exarcheia district of Athens in late 2008, the 15-year old Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot and killed by a police officer. The murder inflamed the Greek public to such an extent that rioting crowds in Athens, Thessaloniki and a number of European cities generated mayhem with demonstrations and extended violence that lasted for weeks. As global media discourse began to draw unsavoury comparisons with the riots of the pre-1974 political restoration, and governmental actions encouraged connections of state violence with the ethnic (Albanian immigrant) descent of the victim, the debate’s temporal coordinates became distorted. The paper places these distortions (relating to the pre-1974 junta’s anti-democratic policies and the preceding Greek civil war) in a global perspective. Greek historical idiosyncrasies are examined not as exceptional instances but as emblematic of a Western mentalité that draws upon precisely what it aspires to supersede: an archaic (masculinised) vision du monde of honour that seeks the preservation of political prestige at the expense of (feminised) ethnic difference. Critical theory’s iconic readings of Islamophobia also seem to deny the theological underpinnings of this attitude, inadvertently excluding migrant cultures from cosmopolitan understandings of ‘human’.
Palestinian Racial Subjects: Co-memory of Catastrophe and Melancholia
Memory of catastrophe, sacralised and banalised (Bauman, 2004), is a currency of the ‘confessional culture’ of ‘liquid modernity’ (Bauman 2000), and an increasingly valid social sciences theme, no longer the exclusive realm of historians and psychologists. I concur with Lila Abu-Lughod and Ahmad Sa’di that the memory of the Holocaust, after an initial silence, became so dominant a narrative of our times, particularly, but not only, in Israel, that the Palestinians could not make themselves heard over the louder story, ‘told by European Jews who stressed their alliance with the cultural and political values of the West’ (Abu-Lughod and Sa’di, 2007: 12). Yet all Israeli Jews live in the shadow of the 1948 Palestinian refugees. This paper is underpinned by this dialectic link, not an easy one to make, between the Holocaust and its implications for the Jewish state’s dispossessed Palestinian victims. Theorising Israel as a racial state (Goldberg, 2002), where what Giorgio Agamben (2005) terms ‘the state of exception’ constructs some lives as ‘bare life’ (Agamben, 1995), this paper uses Bauman’s writing on memory and the making of strangers to theorise the co-memory of the Nakba by Israeli Jews, which, I argue, is affected by unresolved melancholia for the Palestine they / we destroyed and the Palestinians they / we dispossessed.
Instrumental Ratio and the Essence of Modern Genocide
Jasna Balorda, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, UK
The world we live in seems increasingly desensitized to violence and suffering of others, even though we are more than ever before, certain in the humanity and civilized spirit of modern societies. However, thanks to the lessons of the Holocaust and the theoretical achievement of Zygmunt Bauman, we have learned that modernity can in fact provide a suitable frame for an explosion of evil such as genocide. This paper offers an overview of modern societal characteristics which create the necessary conditions for genocide to occur. As it is proposed in the work of Bauman, special attention will be given to the phenomenon of bureaucracy and instrumental ratio, which offer a relief from individual responsibility thus creating a space for crimes under the disguise of workmanship. The concept of voluntary servitude is analyzed against the
backdrop of modernity, questioning the willingness of modern human beings to prioritize humanity over comfort.
The Age of Camps?
Julian Littler, University of Tokyo, JAPAN
What is it that has brought the camp through time from a modernity freshly realized by the lowest values in human history such as slavery, colonialism and the philosophies that made these endeavors possible? A time when Japan was rising and Australia was federating. The modern states of Japan and Australia are very similar in age.
Through examining the historical example of Japan’s prison camps in occupied Shanghai at the time of Japan’s drive for Imperial power west into Asia as part of that Age’s ideals of Promethean greatness in comparison with Australia’s recent use of camps in the pacific, I hope to find a link or the continuity in the use of camps. From an age of imperial conquest and expansion to the contemporary border panic and attempts at control and over control of certain people; what is the system in place enabling or encouraging the use of the camp in terms of its functionality within the community and the state system – values, authority, and apparent norms of operation?
Consumerism and Sustainability
Lamppost with Black Fish
This article is about lampposts, eyes and belonging. In this work, I have thought of lampposts as human eyes since they are part our body. According to Hans Belting, we transform things in images with our body. How is it possible to bring to Brazil a black fish engraved in a lamppost seen by the River Thames? It is unthinkable. It could only survive as an image. Images – or lampposts – have the power of fixing people and places that, otherwise, would evade in time. However, lampposts are not extraordinary. Moreover, in our current society and in our travels in the world, our eyes need to consume unusual things and images. Consuming as belonging – as superficially as it can be. This paper is a way of expressing a personal image about the complexity of images that constitutes culture. It represents both a struggle and a painful attempt to reconcile my own view about moving and the reality of the globalized world.
Forcing a market society into being: The destructive dynamics of moral restructuring in neoliberal Uganda
Jörg Wiegratz, University of Sheffield, UK
This paper is on the process of neoliberal moral restructuring in Uganda since 1986, when the 1981-86 guerrilla war ended and the current ruling party, the National Resistance Movement rose to power. It maps out the effects of neoliberal reforms on the moral economy of the country, as exemplified in the study of rural market dynamics. Field research suggests that the cultural (coupled with the political-economic) dimension of rapid reform has negatively affected the relationships and trade practices in the economy. Since the onset of liberal economic reforms, face-to-face rural trade practices have been characterised by higher levels of ‘malpractice’ and a change in their form. In general, the changing moral and political economy in the country since 1986 has led to increasingly unconstrained moneymaking, in which those with social, economic and political power pursue their self-interest almost without regard for the costs to others. Related to this was a focus on quick profits with little regard for quality or for longer-term considerations. This self-interest was being rationalised, supported and justified by a new set of neoliberal orientations, norms and discourses that increasingly govern Ugandan economy and society, as they increasingly govern life in other countries undergoing neoliberal, and they bring with them undesirable consequences (which, in turn, further affect the moral restructuring process and the malpractice trend). Neoliberal Uganda in the late 2000s is furthermore characterised by a spread of destructive norms and ‘malpractices’ also in other sections of the society that have been ‘modernised’ according to neoliberal prescriptions. Many interview respondents, and a growing public debate, invoked ideas like ‘moral degeneration’, ‘moral decay’, a ‘rotten society’ and ‘kiwaani&rsquo (‘fake’). The changes and trends described in this paper seem difficult to ‘reverse’.
Consumption Perception in Turkey within the Context of Globalization
The phenomenon of consumption is located at the heart of capitalist development. The consumption’s multidimensionality and its effects on capitalism’s sustainability increase the importance of “consumption perception.” Within this context, the consumption is a phenomenon, which undergoes change historically. The projections of social structure changing throughout the development of capitalism also show themselves in the consumption arena. Nowadays, Marx’s “alienation” concept has expanded to include the consumption arena.
Turkey went into an articulation effort to the globalisation process in the 1980s. The effects of change in the economic policy, which was brought to agenda together with the 24th January Decisions, reflected on the social arena and played an important role in the development of “consumerism” as a culture. The fact that half of Turkey’s population is under the age of 28.8 is a factor that has speeded up this development.
This study aims to assess the consumption perception changing in the phase of globalisation within the case of Turkey. Within this context, globalisation and consumption interactions in sustainability of capitalism are included in the first part. In the second part, approaches in regards to what phenomenon of consumption means today will be presented. In the last part, the questionnaire study carried out in order to determine the consumption perception will be assessed by evaluating Turkey’s economic and social structure having changed after 1980 will be evaluated.
Reflexivity in a Globalised Society
Claudia Megele, A Sense Of Self, Charity Organisation, UK.
This paper addresses the nexus between individual and social reflexivity of risk society and the processes of individualisation, fragmentation and polarisation in post-modernity and suggest that these are complementary and self-reinforcing processes whose negative effects are accentuated by hyper-reality. I argue that hyper-reality has created a dissonance between our conceptions, perceptions and lived experiences exacerbated by short sighted government/social policy founded on commodification and Mc-Donaldisation of life and social-politics within the logic of a ‘free market economy’.
I attribute the rampant ‘reactivity’ rather than ‘reflectivity/reflexivity’ in the age of ‘reflexive modernity’ to the need for incessant enchantment mandated by a culture of consumption, suggesting that we must adopt a ‘positive relativity’ and a ‘positive risk-strategy’ to harness the enormous potential of new opportunities offered by post-modernity, within the context of risk society, through a redefinition of societal and individual roles and responsibilities based on ‘spontaneous moral impulses’ founded on ‘individual responsibility for the other’, and a re-conceptualisation of the balance between structure and agency founded on dynamic reflexivity that leads to an enhancement of ‘life-politics’.
Renewing Politics and Civil Society
Bauman and the Radicalisation of the Citizen’s Basic Income Debate
Ian Orton, International Social Security Agency, Geneva, SWITZERLAND
The Citizen’s Basic Income [CBI] is a proposal of an economic right, which would be administered as a guaranteed universal and unconditional cash transfer. Many consider it to be a visionary and emancipatory proposal that could radically reconfigure the human condition. In recent years the proposal has advanced rapidly up the political agenda and it is now supported by a number of UN institutions, and its logic currently informs a number of middle-income countries’ social development programmes. Bauman has also backed the proposal (see: In Search of Politics) as a means for rejuvenating the polity and removing insecurity from our lives. This paper will critically evaluate his strategy for operationalising the proposal. His argument explores the tension between various means of advancing the proposal (i.e. a position of instantaneity/immediacy versus varying velocities of gradualism/piecemeal approaches). This has ramifications for the CBI movement itself and wider questions of political change.
The Paradoxical Policies of the Social Support Act: Redefining Relations between Government, Non-Profit and Civil Society in the Netherlands
The paper reports on the effects of the Social Support Act (Wmo) in the Netherlands. The Wmo connects to a discourse of ‘social citizenship’ (Marshall, 1950). It resembles the current European political interpretation of citizenship: stressing self-responsibility for the personal living, fighting against a presumed over invasive welfare state and implying a shared responsibility of citizens in their communities and organizations in society (Van Ewijk, 2010). Data was collected on the basis of two surveys (2007-8 / 2009-10, N = 772) and in-depth interviews with stakeholders and case studies in the realm of social care and welfare. The samples included voluntary organizations and professional non-profit institutions. Contrary to the objectives of the Social Support Act, the results show that a ‘revitalization’ of the civil society – in terms of a contribution to social goals and policies – remains a far stretch whilst professional entities thrive under the new governmental élan.
Wasted Lives – Shifting Concepts of Inclusion
The recent structural reforms of the labour market and social policies carried out by the German government focus on inclusion of the unemployed into the labour market. The new line of thought underlying these reforms however leads to further exclusion: Concepts of “the redundant” and “the unemployed” are replaced by modern ones, which embrace different ideas e.g., on responsibility, usefulness and the subject’s interrelationship to the state.
The paper focuses on civil society actors who speak on behalf of the excluded. The new dominant concepts regarding unemployment put further obstacles in the way of these actors. Many claims on behalf of the unemployed lose their justification and new accusations against welfare recipients arose. The actors analysed in this paper partially adapt to the new line of thought and create spaces for their claims. But civil society’s claims for inclusion soon reach their limits: They all too often contradict dominant concepts of inclusion.
Teachers work after class.
John Pardy, Faculty of Education, Monash University, AUSTRALIA.
Drawing on Bauman’s historicity of class in Memories of Class (1982) this paper argues that class continues to be reenacted in contemporary forms of schooling in Australia. This, in Bauman’s terms is the ‘afterlife of class’, whereby those historically not at school are now being schooled through an ‘applied learning’ curriculum.
Teachers work in this non-academic applied learning schooling involves teaching subjects such as Personal Development and Work Related Skills. Using empirical accounts of these teachers work it is revealed that such programs ostensibly tackle the consequences of class divisions and schooling. Through selective processes of enculturation and moral regulation teachers work on students in order that they sink or swim in liquid modern times.
This paper argues that class as a sociological concept, continues to spill and seep into contemporary experiences of schooling. Further it addresses questions about teachers work by asking, what sorts of subjectivities are made through ‘applied learning’? How does class affect schooling in liquid modernity? Applied learning signals an application to the self, for the self as someone who applies them self. Teachers work in this context it is argued has shifted where the focus of contemporary schooling is on a tailored self, sartor resartus (Carlyle, 1901). Selves clothed and re-clothed in class.
Globalization, Risk and Uncertainty
Globalization and diversifying patterns of migration
Milos Debnar, Kyoto University, JAPAN
In this presentation, I will focus on how the processes of globalization and individualization impacts international migration. However, to develop non-deterministic understanding of migration and it’s influence on post-migration situations, I will not discuss any of the mainstream migration flows but usually overlooked and understudied ‘individualized migrants’, who can be characterized as not being part of channeled migration systems, their reasons are not solely economic and their migration is based more on concatenated contingencies then rational choices. For the case study, I have chosen Czechs and Slovaks living in Japan as an representative example of individualized migration. Furthermore, my results show that those migrants do not choose to form or join ethnic groups (homogenous or amalgamated) neither they do not fully culturally assimilate into the host society. However, as I argue, rather than being function of low number or ethnicity, this is closely interconnected with their individualized migration pattern.
From Uncertainty to Emergency: Space, Segregation, Control
Sonia Paone, University of Pisa, ITALY
The attacks on the World Trade Center are the images that mark the new millennium fall into a permanent state of emergency. The aim of my paper is to explore the relationships between state of emergency and production of space. In order to underline how state of emergency can reshapes the social dimension of urban life, I will discuss some paradigmatic examples of provisional spaces, characterized by mechanisms of control, segregation and confinement: the emergency plague hospital (Lazzaretti) in the early Modern Italy, the French foyer for migrant workers in the fifties and sixties, the European immigration detention centers for irregular immigrants and asylum seekers. The risk tied to the logic of emergency is that the need to tackle the emergency is often transformed into a rhetoric justification for the creation of spaces intended as provisional and transitory, that became permanent space of segregation.
A ‘new’ politics of authenticity?
Andrew Wallace, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
The opening up of sites of governance, or ‘publics’ (Newman and Clarke 2009), through which new citizenships are being forged, opportunities for individual and community ‘empowerment’ are being constituted and meanings of government are being rearticulated has received fresh impetus from the UK’s new coalition government and its mobilizing of pervasive discourses of political and democratic crisis, cultural profligacy and an infantilized social. The call for a ‘new’ politics of authenticity and trust allied with a ‘big society’ of responsibilized individuals and territories invites us to consider the impact on the citizens who will valorize these projects. This paper discusses how social agents ensnared in conflicting, politicized governance spaces, negotiate and manage the expectations that beset them when they are considered not just ‘ordinary’ individuals with needs, values and relationships, but ‘active’ agents of social transformation. Lurking ominously in the background is the conditions of
poverty, exclusion and neglect that structure and shape the lives of so many of these newly ‘active’ individuals.
‘Not a society yet’: order and ambivalence in the Garden City
Tan Soo-Yean, SIM University, SINGAPORE
Modernity struggles between order and ambivalence (Bauman). This struggle is manifested in Singapore society, previously through its ideologies, debates over out-of-bounds markers for citizen political participation and more recently, in proposed ‘double-barrelled race listings’ for children of mixed-race parentage, in the name of a more precise reflection of multicultural heritage.
Examining this manifestation, this paper hopes to contribute towards an understanding of systematic forces that confront current modernities, especially as modern states aspire towards a well-ordered and regulated life. The erstwhile pursuance of a pragmatic ideology or economic instrumental rationality (proclaimed as non-ideological) together with a simultaneous harnessing by the state of its ambivalent impact, are explored, as are implications of self-statements of Singapore being ‘not a society yet’ (similar to the Thatcherian claim that there is no such thing as society). Amid variants of pragmatism and neoliberal strains in global society, we reflect on risks for individual and society.