Archive for the ‘Power’ Category
Bruno Latour. This article starts with a paradox: when an actor simply has power nothing happens and s/he is powerless; when, on the other hand, an actor exerts power it is others who perform the action. It appears that power is not something one can possess – indeed it must be treated as a consequence rather than as a cause of action. In order to explore this paradox a diffusion model of power in which a successful command moves under an impetus given it from a central source is contrasted with a translation model in which such a command, if it is successful, results from the actions of a chain of agents each of whom ‘translates’ it in accordance with his/her own projects. Since, in the translation model, power is composed here and now by enrolling many actors in a given political and social scheme, and is not something that can be stored up and given to the powerful by a pre-existing ‘society’, it follows that debates about the origins of society, the nature of its components, and their relationships become crucial data for the sociologist. It also follows that the nature of society is negotiable, a practical and revisable matter (performative), and not something that can be determined once and for all by the sociologist who attempts to stand outside it (ostensive). The sociologist should, accordingly, seek to analyse the way in which people are associated together, and should, in particular, pay attention to the material and extra-somatic resources (including inscriptions) that offer ways of linking people that may last longer than any given interaction. In the translation model the study of society therefore moves from the study of the social as this is usually conceived, to a study of methods of association.
The Politics of Misinformation is a critical examination of how and why the public has confidence in political progress and innovation even though most change is superficial. Concentrations of social and economic power produce illusions that create the impression of beneficial social change while erasing the possibility of such change. Language, bureaucratic authority, law, political parties, science, and other social institutions help to produce images that mislead both non-elite and elite, creating the appearance of rational democracy while at the same time obscuring structural inequality, discouraging critical evaluation of political policy, and thwarting involvement in democratic politics.
Our common assumption is that the acts of Homo sapiens are basically rational and that mistakes in reaching conclusions are the exception. On the contrary, mistakes are so common that rationality is probably the exception. The Marxist concept of false consciousness, meaning an erroneous assumption about the sources of one’s own thought, applies to the elite as much as to the masses. Political actions influence our well-being continuously and deeply and because they harm us in many instances, perhaps more often than they help us. Comforting illusions that protect us against despair and protect the status quo against effective protests are readily created and disseminated. The illusions are normally believed because it would be hard to live without them. Recent history reaffirms the illusions. They are partly a legacy of the nineteenth century, with its dramatic industrial revolution and its high-minded revolutions in France and in America acclaiming individual liberty and political independence. But the twentieth century, with its world wars, genocides, and other horrors, has been marked by regression rather than progress. The illusions are a fundamental instance of symbolic politics; they build an impression of beneficial social change even while typically erasing the possibility of change.
Rising social, political and economic inequality in many countries, and rising protest against it, has seen the restoration of the concept of ‘class‘ to a prominent place in contemporary anthropological debates. A timely intervention in these discussions, this book explores the concept of class and its importance for understanding the key sources of that inequality and of people’s attempts to deal with it. Highly topical, it situates class within the context of the current economic crisis, integrating elements from today into the discussion of an earlier agenda. Using cases from North and South America, Western Europe and South Asia, it shows the – sometimes surprising – forms that class can take, as well as the various effects it has on people’s lives and societies.
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?