Archive for the ‘Power’ Category
Critical aspects of political psychology should be a rich territory for a critical study. Politics, government, and citizenship are aspects of work that usually develop debates and critical analysis, but academic political psychology is, so far, very cautious or not much interested in those fields. There are, however, political psychologists that do very interesting work about such processes. Marx and Engels’ works are increasingly well-known among those who are ‘critical’ in political psychology, and the same can be said of the work of Gramsci, Lukács, and those working in the tradition of the Frankfurt School as well as those who use Foucault’s ideas. Social constructionism, for example, was quickly embraced by the psychological community, even if many only did lip service to it. I have concentrated on ‘power’ in this chapter because it concerns politics and is an important phenomenon through which to advance social equality, fairness, and respect. These aims of critical work confront the naturalization of the idea that power can only be on one side of society, which has the natural capacity to impose ideas and norms on everyone else. Asymmetrical power and its social, economic, and psychological consequences are political as well as political-psychological problems.
For us, the dominant, ubiquitous, mainstream version of community psychology discussed, which is widely claimed by its proselytizers to: promote wellness; liberate; promote social justice; and to ‘empower’, is actually, as Seedat et al. assert, characterized by ‘discriminatory approaches’, ‘hegemonic and epistemological domination’, and ‘an accommodationist position seeking greater influence within the mainstream fraternity’ and does not challenge the ‘restrictions and outcomes imposed by exploitative economic arrangements and dominant systems of knowledge production’, instead drawing on the mainstream Anglo-Saxon positivist modernist psychological disciplinary tradition, literatures, and frames of reference, rather than critical ones. It is problematic in all the above respects but, compared with Marxist and Foucauldian versions, most problematic because it is a re-inscription of a superficially liberalized version of the mainstream psy-complex, ‘the heterogeneous knowledges, forms of authority and practical techniques that constitute psychological expertise’, with its origins in the United States, indeed, a version of psy which may turn out to be integral to governmentality through subjection and compliance in the twenty-first century under a neoliberal order.
Society is self-organising or re-creative in the sense that new emergent structures result from interactions of actors, these structures enable and constrain actions and stimulate further practices. Political self-organisation is a reflexive process where political agents co-ordinate their actions in such a way that political power structures emerge and are differentiated, these structures enable and constrain political activities and stimulate further political practices. Power and the establishment of collective decisions are central aspects of the self-organisation of politics. In the modern State system laws are the most important power structures that stimulate political practices. The modern State consists of two subsystems (the system of rule and the system of civil society), it is organised around the competitive accumulation of power. Central features of the modern state include the regulation of economic autopoiesis, it organises and defends the autopoiesis of society within a bounded territory by making use of the monopoly of the means of coercion, it organises the self-observation, self-containment and self-description of modern society and is a meta-storage mechanism of social information. The Postfordist mode of development of society that is based on economic globalisation and transnationalisation has changed the role of the state. Actors such as transnational corporations, non-government organisations and non-profit organisations are gaining increased importance, the structural coupling between the economy and the State is becoming more rigid in the direction where the economy influences the state system, parts of the welfare system are either shifted to the mode of economic autopoiesis or to the system of civil society. Postfordism is shaped by an increase dominance of economic autopoiesis over political, cultural and life-world autopoiesis. This doesn’t imply a “weak state” or the end of the nation state, the latter transforms its functions and answers with measures of re-organisation to the increased globalisation and complexity of the world. Self-observation, self-containment and self-description are altered by the nation state in such a way that the closure of society increases although the openness of the world economy grows.
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.