Maynooth talk dec 2013

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  • As social animals Bauman notes that human beings ‘live in the company of other people’, in groups in which we interactively understand that we are greatly dependent on each other (1990: 9). To say that to live is to live with others ‘is obvious to the point of banality’, Bauman notes (1993: 146), yet it is just the taken-for-granted, ‘we hardly need to think about it’, character of living with others which endows it with its sociological importance.
  • For living amongst others is to live in what Bauman calls ‘manifold webs of human interdependency’, which have important effects on our motivations and our social behaviour (1990: 14). One important ‘product’ of this interdependency is something sociology has a special relationship with: common sense.
  • Apart from considering this special relationship between common sense and sociology, Bauman regards common sense knowledge and common sense understandings as powerful social mechanisms which can fundamentally shape our attitudes about the world in which we live. The apparent ‘power’ of common sense emerges from its general immunity to being seriously questioned. It has an effective capacity for self-confirmation; its knowledge is based on precepts which are, by its own lights, largely self-evident. Common sense understandings are maintained, argues Bauman, through repetition of the ‘routine’, and the enactment of the ‘monotonous nature of everyday life’.
  • This enactment of routine has two characteristics: it informs our common sense while being informed by our common sense. Bauman adds:
     
    As long as we go through the routine and habitualised motions which fill most of our daily business, we do not need much self-scrutiny and self-analysis. When repeated often enough, things tend to become familiar, and familiar things are self-explanatory; they present no problems and arouse no curiosity. In a way, they remain invisible (ibid.: 15).
     
  • As social beings, humans live in groups which can exert an immense ‘hold’ on the individual. Bauman says that the group ‘makes people’, and this means that resisting the important messages of the group can be a relatively hard thing to do. He claims that changing the individual which the group has created requires the ‘utmost exertion’. Abiding by - rather than challenging - the norms and values of your group is much the easiest and most unproblematic course to adopt: ‘[C]hange would require much more effort, self-sacrifice, determination and endurance than are normally needed for living placidly and obediently in conformity with the upbringing offered by the group into which one was born’ (ibid.: 24-5):
  • The contrast between the ease of swimming with the stream and the difficulty of changing sides is the secret of that hold which my natural group has over me; it is the secret of my dependence on my group. If I look closely and try to write down an inventory of all those things I owe to the group to which I - for better or worse - belong, I’ll end up with quite a long list (ibid.: 25).
  • From the fairly standard starting point that the socialisation process is an ‘on-going’ phenomenon, not limited to childhood, Bauman suggests that later socialisation can be regarded as ‘the dialectics of freedom and dependence’ [free and unfree] which starts at birth and ends at death (1990: 35). There are two important things to note here. In early socialisation, a child appears to have little opportunity to challenge the content of the social lessons she receives, and perhaps has an even smaller sense of freedom of choice with regards to ‘deciding’ the group which she is ultimately dependent upon. Thus, Bauman argues, very young children effectively have ‘no choice about family, locality, neighbourhood, class or country’ (ibid). However, the older one gets, the wider one’s choices may become; and Bauman suggests that, at last, some dependencies can become challenged and rejected, while others are actively sought and voluntarily assumed. Gordon Marshall, in his Dictionary of Sociology (Marshall 1994: 497-98) notes that the sociological study of socialisation moved on from a specific focus on primary socialisation, based on the role played by agents such as the family and school, in a recognition that the socialisation process effects people throughout their lives.
  • Even so, we are never entirely liberated from our past; perhaps our most frequent experience of social life is the experience of being free and unfree at the same time. Furthermore, while some changes may seem to be attractive, in practice they may be impossible to bring about. In respect of those cases in which change is actually possible, Bauman reminds us that ‘the costs of change are exorbitant and off-putting’ (ibid). Here, Bauman is firmly arguing that some social habits become so firmly fixed that the ‘expense of change’ may appear to be just too much to take on. There appears to be just a little bit too much to ‘de-learn’; too many established habits that need ‘forgetting’, and thus - as we age - ‘making a break’ becomes more and more impossible, unlikely and unattractive.
  • We’ll focus on the first idea
  • Maynooth talk dec 2013

    1. 1. Growing Up as Animal Harming Animal Lovers: Sociology and Animal Use. A Presentation for NUIM Maynooth Veggie Society. 1 December 2013 Dr. Roger Yates
    2. 2. Draw a “farmyard scene.” 2
    3. 3. Draw a “farmyard scene.” 3
    4. 4. Draw a “farmyard scene.” 4
    5. 5. Draw a “farmyard scene.” 5
    6. 6. sociology …the study of human society, the study of human behaviour how human beings learn to be “social actors” how human beings learn social rules, norms, values and their “culture” [cultural speciesism] 6
    7. 7. social animals Bauman… o Human beings “live in the company of other people,” in groups in which we interactively understand that we are greatly dependent on each other (1990: 9) o To say that to live is to live with others “is obvious to the point of banality” 7
    8. 8. Zygmunt Bauman Bauman says (1990: 7) that sociology is about investigating how humans are “locked together” in society Locked in “a web of mutual dependency” 8
    9. 9.  “manifold webs of human interdependency”  common sense (common sense knowledge) 9
    10. 10. CSK  common sense knowledge: powerful social mechanisms which can fundamentally shape our attitudes about the world in which we live  common sense understandings are maintained through repetition of the “routine,” and the enactment of the “monotonous nature of everyday life” 10
    11. 11. Bauman (1990: 15)  As long as we go through the routine and habitualised motions which fill most of our daily business, we do not need much selfscrutiny and self-analysis  When repeated often enough, things tend to become familiar, and familiar things are self-explanatory; they present no problems and arouse no curiosity. In a way, they remain invisible 11
    12. 12. the power of social groups  groups can exert an immense “hold” on the individual  Abiding by - rather than challenging - the norms and values of your group is much the easiest thing to do  “Change would require much more effort, selfsacrifice, determination and endurance than are normally needed for living placidly and obediently in conformity with the upbringing offered by the group into which one was born” 12
    13. 13.  The contrast between the ease of swimming with the stream and the difficulty of changing sides is the secret of that hold which my natural group has over me; it is the secret of my dependence on my group. If I look closely and try to write down an inventory of all those things I owe to the group to which I - for better or worse - belong, I’ll end up with quite a long list 13
    14. 14.  Bauman suggests that later socialisation can be regarded as “the dialectics of freedom and dependence” which starts at birth and ends at death  In early socialisation, a child appears to have little opportunity to challenge the content of the social lessons she receives  However, the older one gets, the wider one’s choices may become 14
    15. 15. never entirely liberated from our past  free and unfree at the same time  with respect of those cases in which change is actually possible, “the costs of change are exorbitant and offputting”  too much to “de-learn”  “making a break” becomes more and more impossible, unlikely and unattractive 15
    16. 16. Bauman… The central question of sociology, one could say, is: in what sense does it matter that in whatever they do or may do people are dependent on other people; in what sense does it matter that they always (and cannot but) live in the company of, in communication with, in an exchange with, in competition with, in cooperation with other humans beings? 16
    17. 17. Social thought – sociology – can offer a different way of thinking about society e.g. it can….  Identify the social in the individual  Identify the general in the particular 17
    18. 18. Living amongst others… living amongst others is to live in what Bauman calls ‘manifold webs of human interdependency’, which have important effects on our motivations and our social behaviour (1990: 14). 18
    19. 19.  Common sense understandings are maintained through repetition of the ‘routine’, and the enactment of the ‘monotonous nature of everyday life’.  familiar things are self-explanatory; they present no problems and arouse no curiosity. In a way, they remain invisible 19
    20. 20.  the group ‘makes people’  changing the individual which the group has created requires the ‘utmost exertion’  ‘Change would require much more effort, self-sacrifice, determination and endurance than are normally needed for living placidly and obediently in conformity with the upbringing offered by the group into which one was born’ 20
    21. 21. The contrast between the ease of swimming with the stream and the difficulty of changing sides is the secret of that hold which my natural group has over me; it is the secret of my dependence on my group 21 ‘the costs of change are exorbitant and off-putting ’
    22. 22. othe older one gets, the wider one’s choices may become 22

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