Self, Culture and Society
October 9 , 2013
“The dominant ideology… provides the ready references, the rules of thumb, the directives to the eyes and ears
of its members. It is the glue that holds institutions together, the medium that allows members of the population
to interact, predict events, understand their roles, perform adequately, and … strive to achieve the kinds of goals
most appropriate to the maintenance of any particular social organization” (Marchak, P.2)
▯The dominant ideology: maintain a social organization.
Definition, author’s name
Elaboration and illustrations from the text, or your own
Issue of important?
Concepts go together ( link them)
• Acquiring the language of “the social sciences”
• Giddens on modernity (‘room’ of Sociology)
▯PreModern (Gauguin: Where do we come from?), Post Modern?
▯ Discontinuity or ‘breaks’ with social institutions
• Marchak: what is ideology? (‘Room’ of Political Science)
▯ Dominant/Subordinate Ideology
▯ Types of political ideology: Conservatism, Socialism and Liberalism (Gauguin: What are we?)
• McNeil: Mythistory (‘room’ of history)
▯Mythistory: one person’s truth is another’s myth
▯The role of history, myth and the historian
▯‘Holmberg’s Mistake’ (Mann)
▯a way to recognize the variety of ways on what has happened, however, these perspectives conflict
with one another.
Giddens and Modern Sociology:
• What is ‘modernity’? A preliminary geographical and temporal answer: It “Refers to modes of social life
or organization which emerged in Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which
subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence” (P.1).
• Some have characterized our current era as ‘postmodern’ on basis of economic criteria (‘postindustrial
society’) or epistemological ones (‘poststructuralism’), but Giddens rejects this: “we are moving into [a
period] in which the consequences of modernity are becoming more radicalized and universalized than
Modernity is “Discontinuous” with what came before it
• He presents his “discontinuity” interpretation of modernity through a critique of “evolutionary view”
and dominant standpoints in sociology
• Evolutionary view: genetic makeup of the past determines the new social forms
• Discontinuity: modern modes of life and social institutions have distinct ‘genetic’ makeup
▯Economic (feudalism vs. capitalism, industrialism)
▯Political: the modern state that “corresponds “ to it ▯Cultural: from religion and faith to science/reason
▯Transformation of preexisting social orders: ‘the city’ and ‘bureaucracy’ (Weber)
• There is a political break between the premodern and modern. The pre modern was focused on the
divine power, the king. That form of political organization was transformed in 17 century Europe. Civil
wars in England, early 1640 over the sovereignty of the king in Parliament. Various changes in the state
as a apparatus in organizing life.
• One cultural change, instead of repealing to religion, the shift to a rational understanding.
• Transformations of preexisting orders. We might see modern cities growing out from ancient cities (I.E:
Athens) “Look the city just evolved around it, but the mode of life is very different from the modern
city” You can use Weber to make the distinction, traditional modes of life relied on traditional types of
bureaucracy and modern modes of life rely on modern day bureaucracies.
Doubleedged Character of Modernity
• Discontinuities: pace of change, scope of change, and nature of modern institutions.
▯E.G: Subsistence vs. Surplus production
• Economic organization of life ( one key main different between modern and traditional modes of living)
• ‘Dark side’ of modernity; Marx (?), Durkheim ‘optimists’, Weber a pessimist: ‘bureaucracy crushes
creativity and autonomy; (P.7).
▯Giddens might mean that Marx is optimistic because another society would follow. Weber was
pessimistic because of the dehumanization, great impact on creativity and individual autonomy. They
did not see the possibilities of our modern political associations resort to totalitarian rules and
possibilities. These totalitarian ways were not aspirations; instead it was something built into the
• All three saw the degrading consequence of work on individuals, BUT NOT:
▯Totalitarian possibilities within existing social institutions
▯‘Industrialization of war’ : how much money does the world spend on military, industrial complexes?
Why can’t we put every child in school instead?
Sociology and Modernity:
• Institutional diagnosis
Marx: Capitalism thesis (economism?)
Durkheim: Industrialism thesis (social harmony?)
Weber: capitalist industrialism thesis (rationalization?)
• Giddens: these aren’t mutually exclusive: “Modernity .. is multidimensional on the level of institutions”
▯These views are not inclusive. Modernity is multidimensional on the level of institutions.
• Social as a ‘bounded system of social relations’
▯Social relations, they are distinct but they are related. In order to have an understanding of the society
you need to have a relation of the structure.
• Relation between individual and society as a ‘double hermeneutic’
Social scientific concepts ‘break’ with everyday understandings but can also ‘reenter’ the ‘everyday’.
▯What do social scientist do? What social scientists do is different from a natural scientist would do.
Social scientists, in their construction of theory can have an impact on how we understand things that are
going on in society.
Marchak: Ideology and Social Organization
• How do we make sense of social organization through the ‘welter of our daily experience’? • How do we understand and explain “what is going on” in society?
• We ‘experience’ our social reality ‘through a screen of assumptions, beliefs, explanations, values, and
unexamined knowledge” (p.1) or “through the screen of ideology’
• Ideologies help to organize, interpret and evaluate events, the rightness (or wrongness) of social
arrangements (e.g. “structure of power)
▯Ideology is how we make sense of our everyday world, how we make sense of social organizations of
our everyday society. Ideology is all about our everyday understanding of society. Marchak says that we
experience society through a screen.