“The diffusion of responsibility is the phenomena whereby one considers that one is less responsible for some action when others are present- they absorb some of the responsibility or another might even be perceived to take it all, for example in cases where an authority is present. The government is not only not the bystander it wants us to think it is, but it has the knowledge and power to act so is responsible nevertheless. Public intellectuals, including social scientists, need to reinforce this idea or things will never change and we similarly act as irresponsible deferrers of responsibility. Those individuals responsible for disability assessments that label dying people fit for work, cut their benefits, and might as well just kill those they assess, should be vilified until held to account. As an extreme example, but using the same logic, if we don’t hold these people to account, then the Nazis who “just drove the trains” are not culpable for their role in the holocaust.” … More The Responsibility of Public Intellectuals in Holding Governments to Account | The Diffusion of Responsibility in Bureaucracy | The Connection Between the Holocaust & Welfare Cuts | Dedicated to Hannah Arendt
“The idea of a “Hereditary Meritocracy” is provocative and not dissimilar from, albeit a quite reductive form of, one of the main ideas by our favourite Frenchman Pierre Bourdieu- we in the advanced economies of the world, although not subject to the arbitrary inequality of hereditary transmission of power legitimised by divine right, are still far from the ideal world in which “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life”. Actually, the transmission of power and privilege is still quite arbitrary, largely hereditary but now it is disguised in other forms… If we really want to (I can’t believe I’m going to quote Thatcher!) “let our poppies grow tall”, then we need to accept the reality that some of those poppies are getting extra fertiliser and some are born in the shade. ” … More Hereditary Meritocracy Is Not Meritocracy | Critical Commentary of The Economist
“Content warning: This article contains discussion of childhood neglect and abuse.
[…] I can’t recall much of my mother apart from her occasional emotional abusiveness such as screaming at me that I would “end up just like [my] father” when I misbehaved. The only real stability in my life then came from my maternal grandparents and school, the latter of which not exactly stable […] As a child, I didn’t understand that what I went through then was tantamount to abuse […] lack of consistency and abuse has led to maladaptive behaviours symptomatic of my mental health diagnosis, and in Bourdieusian terms, negative cultural capitals- especially in the way I failed to develop my independence or learned “learned helplessness”.” … More The Psychic Landscape of Social Class & My Cleft Habitus | Part 5: Abuse & Neglect; Embodying Negative Cultural Capital
“In summary, I do not have the same social position as others I work with so cannot, as with my experiences as a fast-food worker, objectify my experiences in the same way. Just as the ethnographer experiences the world of the research subject through his own categories of perception and dispositions (his habitus) and so can never truly experience the subjective world of the subject they research, I would be trying to see the world of the working-class (in this case more specifically “precariat”) worker through more middle-class eyes (my class position is difficult to articulate as will be explained later in the main series).” … More The Limits of Reflexivity | How Class Mobility Impedes Your Ability to Research
“For the earlier parts of childhood, we were fairly middle class in the sense that I don’t remember ever going hungry, living in a comfortable suburban area where I would play outside with other children on our street. Culturally however I was fairly deprived compared to more middle class children in that, although I showed an interest in certain culturally valued pursuits, my parents did not have the propensity to invest in my education further […] I sometimes lived with my maternal grandparents […] It was probably most during these years that I was inculcated with values of hard work, gratitude, self-reliance and thrift. Although not exactly poor, my grandparents probably inherited these values from their parents […] success might have motivated me to adopt a more industrious attitude to my schoolwork if not for the following years not affording me the stability I needed to focus…”
In this article I have begun to explore how I came to possess a scholastic disposition and certain values which I have been able to exchange and convert into different forms of capital that have allowed me to be socially mobile. … More The Psychic Landscape of Social Class & My Cleft Habitus | Part 3: Gaining the Scholastic Disposition
“[…] Social class even effects the ways we think and feel. […] the education system is a key point of socialisation and education as an institution, along with the family, is one of they most significant experiences which develop everyone. […]working-class children internalise an understanding of their low academic achievement as pathological, which in Bourdieusian terms translates to them accepting and valuing symbolic mastery, which is required for academic achievement, as privileged over practical mastery. They come to accept the doxa, the orthodoxy, that academic achievement makes one worth more and so on one level misrecognise that their acceptance of this doxa perpetuates its privileged value which keeps them in a dominated position by reproducing general class relations, and on another level, they understand this which is why it leads to class based bullying.” … More The Psychic Landscape of Social Class & My Cleft Habitus | Part 2: Class-based Bullying, Fear & Envy
“This article is a critical commentary, hopefully also comically polemical, on an article by Dylan Riley, professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, written in the new journal Catalyst in Spring 2017. I think his article does an injustice to Bourdieu and those scholars that have continued to develop his sociology. It is an extremely long and thorough, although still not as thorough as it could be, article which I hope succeeds in at least combating Riley’s criticisms, many of which seem almost slanderous to me. I hope this article also provides a decent introduction to Bourdieu’s sociology for anyone interested. ” … More In Defense of Bourdieu | Critical Commentary on Dylan Riley’s “Bourdieu’s Class Theory” in new journal: Catalyst by Jacobin Magazine
“Using dramaturgical analysis, we see here how the actors need to perform convincingly enough that the audience doesn’t have the illusion of the overall interaction shattered- this is called impression management. Here, positive affect is a goal of the corporation because it increases profits but this extra work, which Arlie Hochschild labels “emotional labour” isn’t considered renumerable work.
This emotional labour not only compounds the exploitation of the worker, as they produce more surplus value for their employer, but it is a more obvious example of the alienation caused by capitalism.” … More The indignity of service work | My experiences as a fast-food worker | Part 6
“[Diane] Reay points out how some sociological theories consider class identities consist of the practices and accounts of such practices done by members of a class, but she believes that how members of a class think and feel about those practices is a key, yet overlooked, feature of class identity. […] there is a psychic economy implicit in the reproduction of social classes whereby social class causes psychic effects which contribute to the reproduction of class, which cause psychic effects on that class that reproduce it again, and so on. […] Reay shows how experiences [of school] might not show explicit knowledge of social class, but at least an implicit understanding about class differences which effect their attitudes and practices. [In this series] I will also be reflecting on some of my own experiences of school as I think they have effected my own thoughts and practices.” … More The Psychic Landscape of Social Class & My Cleft Habitus | Part 1: Introduction
“I believe that the uncritical acceptance of such methods is a result of the inculcation of values of propriety and the normalisation of examination (practices which are so generalised in modern society, they led Foucault to call it “the disciplinarian society”). Having eyes upon you, whether of the state or one’s employer (in reductionist terms, both can easily be conceived as collaborators in class domination, hence enemies/dominators of the working class and so indistinguishable in that regard) is just a part of daily proletarian life in contemporary British society.” … More The indignity of service work | My experiences as a fast-food worker | Part 5