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Lecture

HIS242H1 Lecture 2

4 Pages
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Department
History
Course Code
HIS242H1
Professor
Deborah Barton

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Description
HIS242H1S 14/01/14 2: MODERN SOCIETY AND THE CHALLENGE OF THE IRRATIONAL •Imperialism was woven into everyday life in Europe o Transformed the world •Imperialist revolution very violent •Classic imperialist critique by Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) o Conrad was a critic (felt it was corrupting for people with boundless power) but criticized by people saying that he was being racist himself (Achebe essay in 1975) •Intellectual history o Connected to imperialism o Question of the role of ideas in human history • Do ideas drive events? Do they have transformative powers? Are they simply the results of the reflection of the material conditions? • The ideas are not mutually exclusive  Social Darwinism: did sScial Darwinism drive imperialism, or was it a result? (both - in itself a force, but also a justification) •Modernity and the irrational o 19th-20th c: dramatic rapid social changes: emergence of the modern world • Growth of population, urbanization, bureaucratization, centralization of power, industrialization (all grouped under MODERNIZATION) • Society of organization • Conditions that shaped intellectual responses; tried to share, understand, critique, and change the world (writers, artists, philosophers, scientists, etc.) o Flowering of social sciences in this period (sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology) • Helped people cope to this new way of life • Ex: serfs freed in Russia in 1861 • Women now working in cities, factories, as maids and dancers, singers, and prostitutes o Intellectuals tried to understand the shift in society by adapting the mdoel of natural science & systematic analysis of observable social data •Sociology: how societies pull together under stresses and changes (viewed as both opportunities and dangers) o Created positive responses and opportunities, but also anxieties and disorientation o Comte • Scientific progress led to the idea that human development is always progressing (positivism) • Scientific discovery in 2 steps:  Metaphysical  Positive • Society like nature, development can be measured; accumulation of useful knowledge • Catholic church viewed humanities as unchanging o Durkheim • Modern life and urban growth had uprooted traditional values in a negative way (Growth of crime, alcoholism and prostitution) • Believed rapid uncontrollable growth of large cities destroyed morality that had bound them to traditional societies HIS242H1S 14/01/14 • Quantitative study on suicide: stresses and strains of modern life affecting more people • Social problems could be solved if they were studied in a systematic, scientific manner o Max Beiber • German father of modern social thought • Objective and value-free science society to guide the way to the future • Contemporary trends towards bureaucratization of the state, government, etc.  Believed these were victories; success of enlightenment rationalization  Social stratification • Worried that the advancing age would lead to state officials ignoring social ideas  The "Iron Cage of Modern Life" • Cultural attempts to depict, critique, understand and change the modern world o Revolution taking place in the modern world prior to WWI • Artistic movements growing, challenges coming from individual artists o Pissarro • French impressionist, known for depictions of the countryside • 1890s: began to depict urban scenes (crowded streets, bridges, etc.)  Theme that he took up was transformation & movement (embodied nervous energy and an uncontrollable crowd) • Art opened up new communication links with the audience o Kandinsky • Base
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