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Showing posts from September 11, 2011

Adventure revisted

A post constructed from two former posts. If you look up the sociological work done on adventure, you will soon find that there is little or none. Astonishingly, it seems to hold no interest, in itself, for the sociologist. With one exception – a classic essay by Simmel. When, otherwise, the subject comes up, the sociologist views adventure in the same spirit as the tourist agency: as a category in the leisure field, requiring a guide, hotel accomodations, showers at the end of it, cameras, and flights to and fro. This is all the more astonishing in that adventurers certainly have existed. Adventurers brought down the Inca empire. Adventurers founded the Jamestown colony. Legitimists called Napoleon an adventurer for good reason – the same thing could be said for Garibaldi. So why the lack of interest? Perhaps it is because adventure, from the serious social science point of view, seems to have the irritating ability to turn the monumental into the ludicrous: it is continually shak

Totalization and me

There are a number of theories that account for and explain modernization. All tend to isolate modernization in opposition to the pre-modern, traditional or ‘natural’ social arrangements, and one can see why: to understand an object or process, one must isolate it, however artificially, in order to focus upon it and analyze it. However, the work of isolation and focus has often been reified and projected upon modernization itself, as though the old order – however one describes it – is simply swept away, as though the epistemologically clarifying gesture reflects the totalizing character of modernity. This is not to say that modernity doesn’t strive towards being the total social fact that characterizes all societies locked in the universal history of capitalism. The institutional circles of the law, money, and education, which Simmel – to an extent – saw in the Philosophy of money, or – to name three other less institutionally bound signifies - industrialization, politicization and