SOCC40H3 Lecture Notes - German Romanticism, Liberal Democracy, Cathexis

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Published on 25 Oct 2011
Writing period of mid 30’S/40’S – period of fascism
Liberal democratic society was taken for granted by many
Anti-liberal movements (communism or fascism); normal for people to think
of this happening
Liberal democracy led to worldwide depression in 30s that was supposed to
bring prosperity; a global war- was supposed to bring peace
Current idea that liberal democracy was a failed dreamed was terrifying to
Parsons; was a complete defender of that ideal
Tried to understand where the threats to the values of liberal democracy
were coming from and how he would organize our social world so we
wouldn’t be subject to those threats
Analysis of social strains that all societies are subject to
Anywhere has to deal with these issues
1. Rapid social change
-experience in moments of modern change (industrialization, etc)
-urbanization; massive amounts of people moving away from rural farms and
small towns; interacting with thousands of people who don’t know your name
-cultural and religious change; experimenting with forms of art, introduction
of science, radical poetry with topics of Satanism
-all happening very quickly
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-when that happens so quickly it can be disorienting because people don’t
have time to adjust to that
+creates free-floating aggression
-people are angry and don’t know who to blame
-anytihng that promises to provide some sense of stability and
sense of belonging can
inspire high levels of emotional commitment; something that
offers an easy way out
-in Germany most of this rapid social change happened from the
outside because
they lost WWI; which made them blame outsiders
-in 30s and 40s Germany was dominated by group called Junker
which were a land-
holding class
2. Rationalization
-more people working in democracy, less personal connections at work
-rationalizing attack on all traditional conservative ways of life; priests,
fathers being head of household, etc.
+happens at different rates within the same society
-some parts of the population that are more free and
emancipated than others
-in smaller towns and countryside’s people wish for the good old
-social conflict between the places that its happening faster and
in the places it isn’t
+leads to caricature and extremism
-free people stack attacking every tradition; will say religious
people are stupid, or
traditional ways of working have no value
-fundamentalist; absolute total adherence to old ways without
room for change; will
lump everything that seems modern together and say its bad and
remain secular
from it
3. Romanticism
-all of the above generates a widespread tendency towards romanticism
-what a psychologist would call projection, where people have all sorts of
ideals and ideas that can’t be realized in their world, so they begin to imagine
a more beautiful, pure world that doesn’t exist but that they wished they
lived in; start to live in that world
-tendency toward escapist romanticism in modern society
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