Our Schizoid Culture
July 15, 2014 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Read Bain, professor of sociology at Miami University in Ohio and a founding editor of the American Sociological Review, wrote these words in 1935. We praise competition, but practice merger and monopoly…. We praise business organization but condemn and prevent labor organization…. We give heavier and more certain sentences to bank robbers than to bank wreckers. We boast of business ethics but we give power and prestige to business [disruptors]…. Everybody is equal before the law, except … women, immigrants, poor people.…We think of voting as the basis of democracy, but … seldom find more than fifty per cent of eligible voters actually registering their ‘will.'… We value equality, but tolerate greater inequality of wealth and income than has ever existed in any other society…. We drape nude statues and suppress noble books…. We try to foster participative recreation, but most of it is passive, much of it vicious, and almost all of it flagrantly commercialized…. This is the age of science, but there is more belief in miracles, spirits, occultism, and providences than one would think possible…by Debra Morris
posted by lazycomputerkids (9 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I think hypocritical is a more apt descriptor than schizoid.
posted by prefpara at 6:40 AM on July 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

Not Consistent in Word and Deed: The Story of Homo Sapiens
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:46 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

  • For Most Kids, Nice Finishes Last - "A new study holds up a mirror to America's parents. A researcher at Harvard [PDF] surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students in 33 different schools around the nation about what they thought their folks cared about most: that they achieve at a high level, that they are happy (defined as 'feeling good most of the time'), or that they care for others. Almost 80 percent of youth picked high achievement or happiness as their top choice, while about 20 percent selected caring for others. The survey also shows that about 80 percent of kids themselves rank achievement or happiness as most important, paralleling what they believe their parents value most."
  • The degradation of middle-class work - "I don't say all this to necessarily wholly deplore this change. My point is rather that there's been a huge social transformation with very little debate about its desireability."
  • Party politics & social change - "My point here isn't a partisan one. It's rather that party politics sees some things but not others. And it is often blind to very big socio-techical changes."
  • Time - "If Mr Page is right and/or if some combination of robots and a citizens basic income create a post-scarcity economy in which we are no less subject to the tyranny of the clock, this could lead to big cultural changes which we have barely begun to think about."
  • SeeChange: Video Will Be Everywhere (What Do We Want?) - "I recently finished Dave Egger's 'The Circle' which provided a good challenge to my baseline view that more transparency is good and that data protection is a futile effort. One of the systems in the novel is an easy to deploy camera that anyone can point at anything and provide a livestream. Called 'SeeChange' the promoters argue that it will provide for reduced crime, increased safety and just additional information all around. The detractors are either smeared (with planted information) or hunted down by aggressive mobs."
  • How are macro methods evolving?
  • The argument is really not about the content of models - it's about the use of math itself. One way to use math is the way physicists and chemists use it - to make quantitative predictions of stuff. The other, less ambitious, way is to use math to be precise about your ideas, to check your logic, and to explain your ideas in a universal language. The latter way isn't bad; what's bad is when you mistake the latter for the former, and take your models "too seriously." [...] So from what Cochrane saw at the NBER macro meeting, the field is becoming more literary, more stylized in its modeling, and more eclectic in its approach. To me, these all seem like manifestations of one single, underlying process: Macroeconomists are going back to the drawing board in the wake of the crisis and the recession. Not all the way back, but part of the way back. They are searching for new ideas, by making their models more conjectural and conceptual, by bringing in a mix of techniques and "out-there" ideas, and by picking through ideas from the past. It seems to me that this is exactly what good scientists do. If you are one of the people who thinks that macroeconomics is utterly compromised by dogma, politics, or non-scientific thinking, Cochrane's report should cause you to update your priors somewhat.
  • Getting inside people's frames - "It seems clear that human beings bring specific frameworks of thought, ideas, emotions, and valuations to their social lives, and these frameworks affect both how they interpret the social realities they confront and the ways that they respond to what they experience. Human beings have 'frames' of cognition and valuation that guide their experiences and actions. The idea of a practical-mental frame is therefore a compelling one, and it should be a possible subject for empirical sociological investigation."
  • Thelen on the prospects for egalitarian capitalism - "Thelen is interested in assessing the prospects for what she calls 'egalitarian' capitalism -- the variants of capitalist political economy that feature redistribution, social welfare, and significant policy support for the less-well-off. She focuses on several key institutions -- industrial relations, vocational education and training, and labor market institutions, and she argues that these are particularly central for the historical issue of the development of capitalism towards harsher or gentler versions."
posted by kliuless at 6:54 AM on July 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

Surely it can't escape notice that one of those sets of preferences are from individuals and another set are from businesses.
posted by winna at 7:40 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

What eldritch wizardry is this, soothsayer Bain? How came you to foretell the forces that would drive the lives of your great-great granchildren?
posted by etherist at 7:43 AM on July 15, 2014

Not Consistent in Word and Deed: The Story of Homo Sapiens

Oh, and one more:
We believe we are exceptional, but our flaws are common to all humanity.
posted by Free word order! at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2014

also btw...
Ask Me Anything: The Perils Of Inequality - "If I were in the White House, what would keep me up at night?"
posted by kliuless at 8:42 AM on July 15, 2014

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
posted by tspae at 9:53 AM on July 15, 2014

So the lipservice made to egalitarianism is totally nothing new, although there were some past attempts to live up to our own standards, they pretty much died with the '70s (and the Carter Administration). But then, the Ultimate Capitalist Model IS the feudalism of the Middle Ages (just substitute 'Landed Gentry' for 'Owners').
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2014

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