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University of Aberdeen Student Activity and Lifestyle Study at Aberdeen Based on last years success, the University of Aberdeen is continuing its survey

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University of Aberdeen Student Activity and Lifestyle Study at Aberdeen Based on last years success, the University of Aberdeen is continuing its survey investigating the lifestyle and health of its students. Last year nearly 2000 students participated in SALSA. Your participation in this years online survey only takes about 10 minutes. Please participate at your earliest convenience: [email protected] SALSA is run in conjunction with SALSA is run with the co-operation of Sports and Recreation Services Slide 2 Modern Social Order: Topics 1.Social Complexity 2.Social Solidarity 3.Modern Self 4.Modern Beliefs 5.Modern Risks 6.Modern Thought Slide 3 Social Modernity Sociology is the study of modern societies Modern societies have a typical structure (organisation): industrial capitalist economies, democratic political organisation, division into economic classes, secular culture This contrasts with the typical structure of pre-modern societies; agricultural economy, aristocratic/monarchical rule, family/clan based divisions, religious culture. Sociology developed out of the direct experience of how these far-reaching changes in social structure affected everyday life Slide 4 The Social Division of Labour Modern societies are more complex than traditional societies. Social complexity is the process through which social institutions, established ways of organising collective life, increase in number and become more specialised in what they do; the social division of labour. For instance, the family becomes concerned exclusively with childcare, religion with organising relationships with the supernatural. New institutions develop e.g. mass media. Institutions tend to be distinct from each other. In being both more complex and more fragmented than preceding societies modern societies may be more fragile. Slide 5 Modern Occupations: Professions Professions are middle class, knowledge-based occupational groups e.g. doctors, lawyers, architects. The number of professions is constantly expanding Typically, professionals claim expertise the right to practise in particular areas that are barred to the laity, non-experts. Professions are established by powerful institutions, e.g. the state. This confers on professionals the right to define public reality in areas of their expertise Slide 6 Social Solidarity: Normative Consensus A key concern of Sociology is the problem of social order that is, what holds society together. Why does it not fragment into anarchy based on self-interest? A common argument, deriving in particular from Durkheim, is that social order is maintained by normative consensus a system of rules and standards that define appropriate behaviour in a given social situation. The social fragmentation that comes with the extended division of labour typically weakens normative solidarity by reducing shared interests and experiences. Slide 7 The Modern Self: the Individual The extended division of labour and fragmentation of experience tends to encourage the sense that people are distinctive persons: individuals This supports the plausibility of Individualism: beliefs that celebrate the autonomy of the individual human being in social action and affairs Individualism encourages the separation between private and public life. Perhaps even more important it tends to hide social reality from us. Slide 8 Modern Beliefs: Secularisation The relative absence of normative consensus leads to the exclusion of values and beliefs from public life. Secularisation the process in which religious thinking, practise and institutions lose social significance is part of this process through which private beliefs are separated from our public roles. According to Weber this leads to a distinctive feature of modernity. The dominance of public decision making by value-free, rational decision- making. That is, decisions based on calculation of whether outcomes of action are efficient and effective. Berger & Luckman referred to this distinctively modern way of thinking as technological consciousness Slide 9 Rationalisation A key concept in the sociology of Weber: the increasing tendency to base decision making on considerations of efficiency, predictability, calculability and the use of non-human technologies to control people (Ritzer, G The McDonaldization of society p.18) This raises the question of whether in modern societies the creation of a stable social order is dependant on the impersonal control of human activity and the restriction of personal freedom to the private sphere of e.g. family life, hobbies, leisure etc. Slide 10 Modern Societies as Risk Societies According to A. Giddens (British; no Beard; as well as can be expected) this process has an unexpected outcome. Rational planning integrates large numbers of people, organisations and decision-making processes. This means that if something goes wrong it is likely to have major knock-on effects. Hence, modern societies are risk societies, they generate a diversity of possible dangers, hazards and futures e.g. environmental degradation, warfare, pollution U. Beck (German, no Beard, old but alive) argues that risk societies are therefore focussed on the distribution of bads or dangers e.g. job uncertainty This also affects private life re the dangers of intimacy in a society of strangers Slide 11 Global Modernity Rational planning requires the extension of systems of control. This is a major aspect of globalisation the process through which the world becomes a single place Consequently, risks and uncertainties are globally produced and distributed e.g. investment decisions relocate work and unemployment from one part of the world to another The consequences of actions and decisions can have unanticipated, wide- ranging consequences. We are affected in our daily lives by processes of which we have no knowledge. This indicates the necessity of the sociological perspective i.e. the global social system is real and has consequences Slide 12 De-Traditionalisation Globalisation can be seen as transforming how members of modern societies experience space. The experience of time is also transformed Members of pre-modern societies typically look to the past, their traditions, as guides for action. Members of modern societies typically embrace a progressive way of thinking. The past is no guide to the future which comes to be seen as open and uncertain i.e. risky. Arcadia versus Utopia. According to Giddens this leads to detraditionalisation the process through which traditions lose their authority and become objects of nostalgia Slide 13 Bureaucracy and Modern Social Order The typical modern social organization is the bureaucracy. According to Weber bureaucratic decision making is based on instrumental rationality, the selection of the most efficient means to reach a given end. It, therefore, embodies the principles of rational organisation and planning Bureaucratic organisation is also depersonalised. It is based on impersonal written rules and a hierarchy of offices; there is a clear distinction between the office and its incumbent. Official positions are filled on the basis of formal qualifications not interpersonal connections. The public world (education, politics, economy, media etc) is typically bureaucratically organised Slide 14 The Irrationality of Rationalisation However, it has been argued that rationalisation produces irrational outcomes. We have referred previously to the production of risks. Bauman identifies the destructive potential of rationalisation re e.g. modern warfare. In particular he points out how the holocaust was the product of rational planning. Rationalisation can also have irrational consequences for everyday life. Cohen and Taylor, show how bureaucratic rationality restricts human freedom to the point that apparently free areas of private life, e.g. holidays, hobbies, leisure are subject to bureaucratic control and regulation Bauman, Z. Modernity and the holocaust New York: Cornell University Press 2000 Cohen, S and Taylor, L. Escape Attempts: the theory and practice of resistance to everyday life London. Slide 15 Modernity & Thought Control The social structure of modernity affects the way we think According to Marx modern society is divided into classes, groups that differed from other groups in their relationship to the ownership and control of capital; the proletariat (workers) and bourgeoisie (owners) Each class produces ways of thinking, ideologies, systems of ideas which justifies or legitimates their particular interests e.g. the legitimacy of collective organisation versus rights of private property Later thinkers such as Gramsci and Habermas have extended this to the study of how the mass media reflects dominant class interests It can be argued that individualism (a major theme of this course) deflects responsibility for the production of social bads from social processes and institutions to persons

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