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SOC203 March 25, 2013 George Simmel: “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903) 1. “The Web of Group Affiliations” (1908)  A structural argument, we have seen this type of argument in Durkheim  Social actions are explained through the social location  If one lives in a location with loose or strong social networks, it illustrates their personality  The web of group affiliations written after Simmel’s paper  Argues two types of networks, dense and loose  We act differently amongst different groups of people 2. Freedom of movement + Romanticism = unique, noble substance of person valued  Freedom of movement is associated with the 1700s; this a time where people are expected for freedom of geographic movement – social and physical mobility  In the 1970s came the cult of Romanticism where each individual has a noble soul that sets them apart; a special characteristic that sets us apart 3. Humans are differentiating creatures  Makes a universalistic claim in which it applies to all human beings  Humans are differentiating creatures, picks up small changes, small contrasts, what attracts us is the deviance from the norm  169 – the psychological basis.. man is a differentiating creature, we are put together that way  Simmel says we are different and put together naturally like that – the whole point is that if we take these human beings and plunge them in the modern society (noises, sights, lots of people, a constant change) which bombards them with stimuli you’re going to affect the personalities of humans o Depends on how much of a change is in life, there will be certain consequences by putting people in the city 4. The city: loose networks + culture of objectivity  Loose social networks and also treated in an anonymous fashion  Culture of objectivity – could be contrasted with the culture that are attentive to qualitative differences between things o Simmel would say we are objectified that we are interchangeable objects in a bureaucracy i.e. at a bank you are only a customer just like anyone else which you are interchangeable and treated like everybody else o Simmel talks a lot about money and the culture of objectivity – the money economy is a feature that moves towards objectivity where trades are interchangeable and no different than any other o Must talk pay more attention to the qualitative differences 5. Consequences for personality: (in prof’s own words) – what people like  Intellectual o Opposite to emotionality, a certain hardness to personality o Calculations o Indifference to others, a matter of factness o Money depersonalizes o bureaucracy  Blasé o We’re differentiating creatures where we pick up on difference; when a baby is raised in the country side and goes into the city we are bombarded and difference stimuli o Simmel says we reach a point where we can’t react anymore where we are over stimulated o “the lack of rest between hard rapid sensation” o We are different but become saturated of sensi
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