Archive for the ‘Power’ Category
The classroom as we know it, invented by the Prussians a hundred and fifty years ago, and adopted across Europe and America as Germany rose to world power status, features a teacher sitting before a chalkboard while the pupils sit and face the teacher. As the center of attention – and the master of the environment – the teacher has absolute power, controlling, containing and managing the behavior of the students under supervision.
The power relations of education have reversed. The student can instantly summon parents – or any professional – to support any efforts to resist the teacher’s negativity. Teachers can’t throw their weight around anymore, because students can now hold those power games in check with powers of their own. The new power relations of the classroom already extend throughout the entire world. Now that perhaps a billion and a half people carry networked video cameras in their pockets, the opportunities for a sudden turning of the tables have multiplied furiously. This fundamental reconfiguration of power relations has been even less remarked upon than the sudden upswing in human connectivity. This redistribution of power comes as the inevitable consequence of our sudden omnipresence.
In The Right to Look, Nicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative decolonial framework for visual culture studies, a field that he has helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. An early-nineteenth-century concept, meaning the visualization of history, visuality has been central to the legitimization of Western hegemony. Mirzoeff identifies three “complexes of visuality,” plantation slavery, imperialism, and the present-day military-industrial complex. He describes how, within each of these, power is made to seem self-evident through techniques of classification, separation, and aestheticization. At the same time, he shows how each complex of visuality has been countered—by the enslaved, the colonized, and opponents of war, all of whom assert autonomy from authority by claiming the right to look. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.
This document presents details on the wealth and income distributions in the United States, and explains how we use these two distributions as power indicators.
Some of the information may come as a surprise to many people. In fact, I know it will be a surprise and then some, because of a recent study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) showing that most Americans (high income or low income, female or male, young or old, Republican or Democrat) have no idea just how concentrated the wealth distribution actually is. More on that a bit later.
As far as the income distribution, the most striking numbers on income inequality will come last, showing the dramatic change in the ratio of the average CEO’s paycheck to that of the average factory worker over the past 40 years.
Men appear to enjoy many advantages in society-on average they make more money, have more power, and enjoy a greater degree of social freedom than women. But many men pay a high price for the pursuit of success and power. Taking family and friends for granted, men will often let relationships take a back seat to their professional ambitions, only to ultimately find themselves with few real friends they can rely on in hard times. As a result, they turn to affairs, alcohol, and other self-destructive behaviors. Sadly, millions of men suffer untreated depression.
In this groundbreaking and provocative book, award-winning clinical psychologist Thomas Joiner makes an impassioned call for society to recognize the harmful effects that solitude can have on men. Drawing on original research done for the National Institute of Mental Health, he focuses on the particular situations that leave men rudderless. He offers advice on support systems that are most useful to men, and he offers prescriptive advice on how men can improve their lives.
Read also: Why Do Men Have a Hard Time Making Friends?
This is a transformative book. It’s the best book on American politics that I’ve read since Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others’ work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don’t have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.
The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political – the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public.
Read also: Here’s What’s the Matter With Kansas
Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class
A groundbreaking work that identifies the real culprit behind one of the great economic crimes of our time–the growing inequality of incomes between the vast majority of Americans and the richest of the rich. We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven’t. In fact, the exorbitantly paid have continued to thrive during the current economic crisis, even as the rest of Americans have continued to fall behind. Why do the “have it- alls” have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion’s share of the gains and shift the costs of their new economic playground downward, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it–until now. In their lively and provocative Winner-Take-All Politics, renowned political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects–foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top–are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics.
Here, Holmes hits upon several threads that form some of the backbone of social psychology: we tend to behave quite differently when we expect to be observed than when we don’t and we are acutely responsive to prevailing social mores and social norms.
When we decide to do something, should it matter to us whether or not someone else is watching? While theoretically, it’s easy to argue that it shouldn’t, that the same behavioral norms apply no matter what, in practice, it usually does. This goes for minor behaviors (Will you pick your nose in public? What about if you’re pretty sure no one is watching you?) as well as much more important ones (Will you hurt someone, be it physically or otherwise, if others are observing your interaction? What about if you’re fairly certain the misdeed will never go beyond the two of you?).
Many studies have shown that the answers to those questions differ significantly. For instance, people are much more likely to cheat (on an exam, on taxes, on each other) if they don’t think they’ll be caught. They are more likely to steal in a corporate environment that fosters a feeling of anonymity than in a more personal setting. And on the flipside, individuals tend to be much more generous and altruistic when someone else is looking. In game settings, divisions become much more fair, cooperation more common than any theory of simple value-optimizing behavior would predict. In the real world, philanthropic donations rise and helping and law-abiding behaviors increase.