French sociologies of the quotidianPresentation Transcript
French Sociologies of the Quotidian
From Dialectical Marxism to the Anthropology of Everyday Practise
Encountering the Everyday
The Scope of the Text
- Henri Lefebvre: Marxist humanism and dialectics
- Cause Commune: uncovering the infra-ordinary
- De Certeau’s theory of everyday practise
- Michel Maffesoli’s ritual of passive resistance: the persistence of the social
Henri Lefebvre sociological theories of the quotidian in France
‘ Critique of Everyday Life’
was an indispensable reference for the several approaches to the quotidian in France.
Keywords (Lefebvre) Alienation, The festival, Society of directed consumption, Unalienable human residue, Total man, Transformation, Mystification, Moment, False Consciousness
Lefebvre’s Threefold Aim: -to establish the primacy of dialectical reason for understanding ‘impure’ everyday life as part of totality -to combat the subjugation of the proletariat by ‘demystifying’ it and rekindling the class solidarity needed to effect change -to observe and analyse those facets of human reality that are ignored by the disciplines the better to prepare the transformation of eveyday life.
Mystified consciousness; the contradiction between belief and fact, perception and reality.
‘ How is it precisely that we lived’ 1- the critique aims to reconstitute daily existence as it is lived and perceived, in particular by women 2- the critique should describe the components of an ordinary day which understood socially 3- the sociologist asks what traits leisure and sociability take on in different national context 4- the critique attempts to reintroduce a distinctive style or ‘art of living’ rooted in the popular solidarity and the village or urban festival
Cause Commune ; the interdisciplinary journal The aim of the journal was to open the way for an ‘antropology of modern man’ and an ‘investigation of everyday life at all levels’ They uses reverse antropology. Anthropologists are trained to interpret minute cultural elements whose meaning is not readily apparent. Cause Commune’s point of entry for reverse cultural analysis was the ‘ infra-ordinary’, a realm of existence which, like background noise, goes all but unnoticed precisely because it is unremarkable. They emphasize undisclosed signification in an anaesthetized realm of spectacle.
‘ the unnoticed will regain meaning only if we prove ourselves able to be astounded by it’ Perec’s technique; -Estrangement by which the banal reverts into the unexpected -The need for the minute description and classification of ordinary objects and gestures -The conviction that the act of describing the world undoes its familiarity to produce wonderment
De Certeau’s Theory of everyday practise His aim was to uncover the inherent yet unseen ‘inventiveness’ of everyday life. He maintains that subjects invariably find room for manoeuvre in the non-dominated everyday. In contrast to the burdensome strategies that emanate from institutions, the ordinary practise of the weak are tactical. Tactics amount to seizing the opportunate moment the better to subvert power relations, like in the case of assembly-line worker.
Michel Maffesoli’s rituals of passive resistance -individuals cynically bound to enjoyment (hedonism) The will to enjoyment of the masses is a sign of robust social health, not of depravity or ignorance. To experience pleasure in the here and now is a means of coping with human finitude but also of debunking ideologies that emphasize sacrifice -as a theatrical space within which the masses cynically assert a healty distance from ideologies. (active passivity) His celebretion of the present translates to disaffection from the political and from a meaningful, shared future.
De Certeau Maffesoli They both view cunning as what defines the operative mode of ordinay actor. But; - De Certeau conceives everyday practise as a structural responce to the rational programming of the everyday - Maffesoli evokes an ethical need for outsmarting natural and social constraints.
Singularity of his approach: -The sociologist’s object is not how things should be, but how things are or appear to be. -Rather than prescribe, Maffesoli limits himself to describing a chaotic, imperfect sociality. -In contrast to the future oriented possibilism of Lefebvre, he decouples the present from past and future
***In the French context, -there is a productive tension between empricism and theory which is unresolved -the events of May 1968 mark a watershed in the orientation of everyday life sociology.