SOCB47H3Y - Lecture 1 - 05-08-2012
Read Chapter 1 unpacking the centre
Read Chapter 2 thinking about power
**Assignment 1 (in class)**
Chapter 1 Unpacking the centre
it lays out the framework for how to read the book, what is their projects? We've seem
absent minded and goofy but we must pay attention to the intro chapters, road map on
what happens next. This is the way the book is organized, compass, key points, bold certain
things. We should engage with a textbook because it provides a road map for the rest of the
Everyday practice as an important entry point for the organization of pattern. If you think
about what you've done so far up to 1:30, you thought about coffee, cereal, you texted your
friend, makeup, this textbook will tell us that all those things we do, how we present
ourselves in public are embodied by power of presence in our everyday lives. It's effective
because for the bulk of the time we're fairly happy doing our business and we rarely think
that our lives are organized by power. Our personal life is organized by structure and power
relationships and trying to figure out how that organizes us. We're talking about practices of
common place that we take for granted.
Everyday practices and the social organization of power
1)Everyday practices are a part of peoples commonplace and taken for granted activities
2)Everyday practices reflect, reproduce and at time challenge power relations
Connection with everyday and social connection of power. Marx and Foucault have different
instances of power. It's important to really understand these two competing approaches
and theories of power. Depending on how you understand the power, your answer to what
is the connection of me drinking my coffee to the social organization of power will differ
depending on what perspective you take.
How class, gender, age are everyday practices taken for granted. We inhabit these locations,
how does social location, gender, class, age as a social location, how is that reflected in and
taken for granted?
Why are certain patterns facilitated? Why are all commercials on tv geared toward you
buying more and eating more like fast food? Why are certain practices discouraged? And
discouraged takes the meaning of how something is discouraged differs from a Marxist
versus the Foucauldian perspective. Why is making meals at home for family discouraged?
Marx would say we work 14 hours, we're tired, no! We don't want the meal, the kids don't
want it; this is quite materialized. Foucault would say discursively discouraged, fast food
stuff is a symbolic discouragement versus materialistic discouragement. It all depends on
your theoretical point of view. Marx focuses on the materialistic side and Foucault focuses
on what is normalized as a good.
Who benefits from this way of organized everyday practices? If we assume power is
embedded in everyday practices like social inequality, who benefits from this? Unpacking the centre: how to approach the study of power?
1)Study the center not the deviant or marginal
so most textbooks of social inequality analyze the deviant not the centre which means that
when people talk about social inequality in exclusion; the non white people; if we want to
understand power, we should study the "controlling" power not the deviant. Most deviant
don't start with the center so for instance they study the poor not the wealthy, gays and
lesbians as opposed to heterosexuality. When you focus on the deviants, you're studying
social inequality from the social order. You're not questioning the structure of power, you're
studying the excluded, why those don't have power. If we take the case of race you have the
option of studying racism. When you focused on racialized groups, you don't question
whiteness, it's a norm, no one asks when we look at parliament or the campus, majority are
white. Studying the center. What is it that grants privilege to whiteness? When you focus on
homosexuality and ignore what it means heterosexuality, you make the homosexuality the
problem to be explored. The textbook starts like this.
2)focus on patterns of social inequality not just stratification
Look at the overall structure of power, they look at the way in which the society is
organized and stratified structurally. The social relationships, the way we relate to each
other, produce and reproduce this thing that is a structure. We focus on social inequality
which means we're focusing on social relationships. Stratified theorists looks at the broad
structure. Something that is divided by an hierarchy, just the structure, we want something
to explain that. For instance, city council or Canadian parliament stratified by ethno-
linguistic groups or race. When you look at social inequality you are looking at social
relationships as reproducing this power structure.
3)explore the taken for granted features of dominant forms of social organization
What is the centre? The centre is a position of social advantage like being wealthy like being
straight. We have to go back to our concerns around race, class, gender, age. It's a
standpoint which isn't just about straight, white, and wealthy, it's a perspective where you
see the world through that social location. It's maintained through unmarked and unnamed
practices. When in the book they talk about unpacking the centre they mean
a) ID positions of social advantage
white, 25-55 years of age, etc. Where do we see these social advantages? How did they come
to get these things?
b) understand the standpoint of those that occupy the centre
c) unmarked and unnamed
4)locate yourself vis-a-vis "the centre"
The centre is complex because you can simultaneously occupy positions in the centre and
the margins like being heterosexual and middle class. So the centre is not a person
occupying the center all the time but parts of you that fit in the centre and parts of you that
aren't in the centre. Your social location changes overtime. 10 years from now you might
find yourself in a wealthy form. You might be heterosexual but after a horrible marriage