Various Seminar Texts (2)

Althusser, Louis 2000 [1971]. Ideology interpellates individuals as subjects. In: Paul du Gay, Peter Redman, Jessica Evans (Eds.) Identity: A Reader. London, Sage/The Open University, 31-38.
...there is no ideology except by the subject and for subjects. (Althusser 2000: 31)
That is, ideology exists only insofar as there is human subjectivity. In it's formulation it comes close to Mauss's techniques of the body being by and for authority.
...the category of the subject is only constitutive of all ideology insofar as all ideology has the function (which deifines it) of 'constituting' concrete individuals as subjects. (Althusser 2000: 31)
At first sight this seems tautological, but I think this means that the physical-bodily individual can constitute ideology only insofar as these physical-bodily individuals are constituted as subjects. That is, vegetative bodies don't constitute ideology because they don't exhibit subjectivity (whatever that may be, at this point).
...the author and the reader of these lines both live 'spontaneously' or 'naturally' in ideology in the sense in which I have said that 'man is an ideological animal by nature'. (Althusser 2000: 31)
Just as human beings are "cultural", "political", "symbolic" etc. animals by nature. Important part here is the spontaneity and naturality of being in ideology: it happens by itself and it is supposed to happen.
...the 'obviousness' that you and I are subjects - and that that does not cause any problems - is an ideological effect, the elementary ideological effect. (Althusser 2000: 32)
That is because we do not meet 'automatons' whose 'obviousness' as subjects is in doubt. It is remarkable that by tying ideology with subjectivity Althusser is basically saying "you cannot not be ideological", thus shattering in it's emergence any claim to be non-ideological (as some political ideologies sometimes do, as in The Anarchist FAQ).
At work in this reaction is the ideological recognition function which is one of the two functions of ideology as such (its inverse being the function of misrecognition - méconnaissance). (Althusser 2000: 32)
Recognition here is not only in the sense of recognizing who is knocking on the door by their claim "it is me", but in the sense of belief: "That's obvious! That's right! That's true!" This point is actually relevant for my study because in Montag, by going against the prohibition and doing the impermissible (reading books), transforms his ideological stance: he no longer finds the argument that books are bad because they make people sad "obvious" anymore. Thus in general terms, ideology's function, for my purposes, is the elimination of doubt, instilling the feeling of stuff being "obvious, right and true" where there may be very little justification for it.
...when we recognize somebody of our (previous) acquaintances ((re-)-connaissance) in the street, we show him that we have recognized him (and have recognized that he has recognized us) by saying to him 'Hello, my friend', and shaking his hand (a material ritual practice of ideological recognition in everyday life... (Althusser 2000: 32)
Here I enjoy the jargon of calling handshaking a "material ritual practice of ideological recognition". I remain skeptical in what exactly is ideological in greeting a friend or acquaintance, but I guess an ideological dimension could be invented to signify the different ideological fractions to which our acquaintances belong. If we conflate ideology and culture then of course we could say that greeting a foreign stranger, for example, is different from greeting fellow countrymen, even on the level of "material ritual practice" (e.g. the "how", by shaking hand, nodding the head, doing a ritual dance or whatnot). In any case now I know one way how marxists view body language: as material ritual practices.
...you and I are always already subjects, and as such constantly practice the ritual of ideological recognition, which guarantee for us that we are indeed concrete, individual, distinguishable and (naturally) irreplacable subjects. (Althusser 2000: 32)
On this I can build further my previous muddled discussion. Namely, greeting an acquaintance instates him or her as a person (here, concrete, individual, distinguishable and irreplacable subject). By recognizing the personhood of others we are, in this sense, interpellating them, constituting them as subjects. If of course follows that if we do not do this then they remain, in a sense, "automatons", homogenous and replacable "grey mice".
...all ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects, by the functioning of the category of the subject. (Althusser 2000: 33)
A little help from the dictionary. A hail is "A shout or call used to attract attention." Interpellation is a more complex term; it has definitions in philisophy (mainly Althusser), law enforcement and politics. The politics definition has something to do with the parliament (I'm not going to get into that), but the law enforcement definition is interesting: "interviewing with the goal of extracting a confession or obtaining information". In this sense it is interchangable with "Interrogation". I don't yet know how this would fit into my puzzle. The quote is worded differently, better I think, in wikipedia: interpellation is "the process by which ideology addresses the pre-ideological individual and produces him or her as a subject proper." That is, the "concrete" is switched with more exact terms ("pre-ideological" and "proper").
I shall then suggest that ideology 'acts' or 'functions' in such a way that it 'recruits' subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or 'transforms' the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other hailing: 'Hey, you there!"
Assuming that the theoretical scene I have imagined takes place in the street, the hailed individual will turn round. By this mere one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he becomes a subject. Why? Because he has recognized that the hail was 'really' addressed to him, and that 'it was really him who was hailed' (and not someone else). Experience shows that the practical telecommunication of hailings is such that they hardly ever miss their man: verbal call or whistle, the one hailed always recognizes that it is really him who is being hailed. And yet it is a strange phenomenon, and one which cannot be explained solely by 'guilty feelings', despite the large numbers who 'have something on their consciences'. (Althusser 2000: 33)
Yet a completely different explanation is imaginable. Namely, that when a policeman calls or whistles, he is directed at the individual, thus targeting the sound toward him (he will be the one who hears it the loudest). And multiple people may turn around to see where this call or whistle originates from, but only the target will make eye contact with the policeman, thus verifying that it was really him who was called. By merely hearing a call or a whistle, we are not interpellated as subjects; by hearing the call or whistle, responding to it and receiving visual feedback that the call or whistle was aimed at us, are we interpellated as subjects. This would be the nonverbalist explanation; others (psychoanalytic, perhaps?) are possible.
...ideology = misrecognition/ignorance... (Althusser 2000: 38)
Very brief, but very telling, remark.
Benveniste, Emile 2000 [1971]. Subjectivity in language. In: Paul du Gay, Peter Redman, Jessica Evans (Eds.) Identity: A Reader. London, Sage/The Open University, 39-43.
...language is in fact employed as the instrument of communication, probably because men have not found a better or more effective way in which to communicate. (Benveniste 2000: 39)
Ah, if he could only see how youtube videos and internet memes are able to communicate across language barriers.
...discourse is language put into action, and necessarily between partners... (Benveniste 2000: 39)
With the first tenet I agree, discourse is language put into action in speech or text... Yet the condition of two ontologically different partners is too restrictive; i.e. it excludes self-communication as a form of discourse.I may very well type an imaginary keyboard on the table, without producing a material expression of the discourse I have in my mind, but does that mean that, since no one aside from myself knows what I'm typing mean that it is not discourse?
Language is in the nature of man, and he did not fabricate it. (Benveniste 2000: 40)
As common sense tells us otherwise, that man indeed did fabricate language, be it from singing or gesturing, or whatever lower form of expression, this statement needs some qualifying. He means that the man of today did not fabricate it; it was fabricated through history.
We can never get back to man separated from language and we shall never see him inventing it. (Benveniste 2000: 40)
And I disagree again. People on the autistic spectrum who are "non-verbal" can be seen inventing language; it is a language of their own private worlds and "language" in the loose sense of the term (it may not have vocal or textual expression), yet it may still be used to communicate.
It is in and through language that man constitutes himself as a subject, because language alone establishes the concept of 'ego' in reality, in its reality which is that of the being. (Benveniste 2000: 40)
I am quite sure that this is not the complete picture, but I cannot imagine how we could prove otherwise without the use of language. The answer may be out there, perhaps, again, in the fields that study autism or related disabilities, but as of yet I am unaware of concrete studies. In any case, if I were to not argue against Benveniste for the sake of arguing, this claim could be taken at face value and there are numerous common sense examples where man subjects himself (self-surrenders?) to authority through language.
Language is possible only because each speaker sets himself up as a subject by referring to himself as I in his discourse. (Benveniste 2000: 41)
Here Benveniste has already argued against my counter-argument that anthropological cases of people who do not use the I category, are doing this merely for politeness or for sake of communal unity. The point is that language sets up "interior/exterior" oppositions where the speaker is always interior.
Widgren, Mats 2004. Can landscapes be read? In: Hannes Palang, Helen Sooväli, Marc Antrop, Gunhild Setten (eds). European cultural landscapes: persistence and change in a globalising environment. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 455-466.
Table 28-1. Landscape concepts.
Landscape as sceneryRepresentation
Idea (mental cosntruction)
"A way of seeing"
Landscape as institutionCustomary law
Social order, land rights
"A way of communicating, a way of acting"
Land as resourceLand use
(Widgren 2004: 59)
Here it seems that my own interest in this (sub?)field is involved with representation (the way it looks to the eye), Idea (what I know about this particular landscape), "A way of seeing" (where and how can I see), Social order (who holds power over this particular landscale, landscape as a nexus of power), land use (the functions of landscape). What these notions involve are my own guesses, but I tend to see how this course and elaboration from pedestrian dynamics pan out with my goals.
A second source of support concerning a structural way of reading landscapes takes its starting point in the everyday reading of landscapes. People do read landscapes and landscape representations daily. Landscale images form an important part of the media flow. Advertisements, propaganda, rock videos, etc., all make efficient use of landscapes in conveying ideas and feelings, and thus make us of our everyday understanding and subconscious reading of landscape sceneries. (Widgren 2004: 460)
The image that "reading landscapes" conjured up in my mind comes from a TV show I cannot name (Flashback, perhaps?) where a guy could identify a specific Somalian territory merely by taking note of the climate conditions and flora on a single image. Subconscious landscape reading, or it's effective use in media is probably more related with how landscape is utilized as an illustration to contextualize some message. E.g. conveying beauty and magnificence by displaying an image of a extremely natural (untouched by people) or exactly the opposite - highly (even mathematically) organized landscapes.
Krull, Hasso 2011. Mis on luule? Vikerkaar 2011(7-8).
Loomulikult tekitab žanrimääratlustest hoidumine tublisti arusaamatusi ja teineteisest möödarääkimist, nii et viimaks jääb mulje, nagu oleks luule “luulepärasus” ainuüksi maitse küsimus: see, mis on ühe meelest luule, ei pruugi seda teise meelest olla ja vastupidi, sest kõik sõltub ainult hindaja isiklikest huvidest ja eelistustest. Kui niisugune hoiak oleks teadlik, võiks seda nimetada “žanrirelativismiks” ja tunnustada ühe võimaliku vaatepunktina. Kahjuks ei ole “žanrirelativism” aga sugugi teadlik valik, vaid pigem illusioon, mille tekitab kriitilise mõtlemise ähmasus ja abitus. (Krull 2011: 2)
"Genre relativity" is exactly the term I have been searching for when accounting for how in modern music "genres" have been replaced by "tags" (a sub-genre division of stylistic characteristics).
Just like previous text, this one was also too self-involved with it's context: the landscape article dwelled on how landscape studies is demarcated in relation to science; this one used popular science and philosophy (N. Chomsky and I. Berlin, for example) marginally to discuss the relation of poetry and politics. The notion of archepoetry seemed interesting but otherwise this text remained "empty" for me.
Šhklovsky'd text in Estonian didn't even provide one remarkable quote. Is this caused by my disinterest in poetry or am I losing touch with my mother tongue?
Eliot, T.S. 1982 [1919]. Tradition and the Individual Talent. Perspecta 19: 36-42.
...we might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for critizising our own minds in their work of criticism. One of the facts that might come to light in this process is our tendency to insist, when we praise a poet, upon those aspects of his work in which he least resembles anyone else. In these aspects of his work we pretend to find what is individual, what is the peculiar essence of the man. We dwell with satisfaction upon the poet's difference from his predecessors, especially his immediate predecessors; we endeavor to find something that can be isolated in order to be enjoyed. (Eliot 1982: 36)
This search for originality, that which least resembles anyone else, I have noticed in my readings when I happen across a word of jargon that feels like "the first usage", yet it rarely is. I was happy to find Marcel Mauss use the term habitus several decades before Bourdieu, yet I know absolutely nothing about neither's predecessors.
No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. (Eliot 1982: 37)
This is exactly what I do (with non-fiction), mainly because most of the authors I read tend to be long dead by now (R.L. Gregory, who I'm reading at the moment, died a few years ago, at the age of 95).
The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all. And emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn as well as those familiar to him. (Eliot 1982: 42)
This is very prescriptive, but at the same time telling: poets can indeed express feelings which are not actually emotions at all. In this sense poetry invents emotions.
There is a great deal, in the writing of poetry, which must be conscious and deliberate. In fact, the bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious. Both errors tend to make him 'personal'. Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of couse, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things. (Eliot 1982: 42)
Ah! What a truism.
Freud, Sigmund 1914. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Translated by A. A. Brill. New York: The Macmillan Company.
He finally became piqued and said: "Please don't make such a mocking face, as if you were gloating over my embarrassment, but help me. ..." (Freud 1914: 18)
I can only guess the face expressing superiority in knowledge Freud must have made at this moment. The rest of the two chapters merely prove that Freud was able to find repression in memory mechanisms and enjoyed word associations. Absolutely useless for my purposes.
Ginzburg, Carlo 1989. Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm. In: John & Anne C. Tedeschi (Eds.) Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 96-125.
...Scholastic motto Individuum est ineffabile (“We cannot speak about what is individual”)...
A useful phrase. This is exactly the motto (in this case propounded by psychologists) that I was arguing against in my seminar paper.
At first, all the elements tied to orality and gesture and later even those tied to the physical characteristics of writing were thought to be irrelevant to the text. This twofold process resulted in a progressive dematerialization of the text, which was gradually purified at every point of reference related to the senses; even though a material element is required for a text's survival, the text itself is not identified by that element. (Ginzburg 1989)
Ah! Finally a worthwhile remark, concerning the ejection of bodily elements from text. This could very well be evaluated typologically: for example, a scientific text, unless it deals with bodily matters, do not make any reference to there being any bodies (or behaviour); a literary text, on the other hand, makes inevitable reference to bodies and behaviour. On a broader scale, this "purification" could be discussed in light of organicism vs textualism (but I am as yet far too incompetent in both to take up this challenge). In any case, this is an interesting problem and some light could be shed on this by Barbara Korte's Body Language in Literature.
From this text I at least gained some new words:
  • define:venatic - Of, pertaining to or involved in hunting. [jahi-, küttimisest elav]
  • define:etiological - of or relating to the philosophical study of causation. [põhjuseõpetus]
  • define:cuneiform - Denoting or relating to the wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Ugarit. [kiilkiri]
  • define:nosography - The systematic description of diseases.

Elsaesser, Thomas 2009. Between Erlebnis and Erfahrung: Cinema Experience with Benjamin. Paragraph 32(3): 292-312.
One specific entry-point can be simply stated: whereas semiotics generally regarded film as a discourse or a narrative, the turn to emotion presupposed film to be above all an event. [...] Insofar as a film engages with the world, it does so in the form of embodied knowledge, of percepts and affects, and insofar as it assigns a role to its spectators, it does so by casting them not as voyeurs or across the imaginary identification of the split subject, but as witnesses or participants. (Elsaesser 2009: 293)
This is important as it involves process terms: while discourse and narrative remain structures, an event is a process, an occurrence. Even more, an occurrence wherein the body has a marked place. The viewer is recognized as a bodily being.
The very diversity leads me to limit the possible concepts of experience I am concerned with here to three domains: embodiment - experience as immediate sensory presene and corporeal plenitude; time - experience as retrospectively constructed, temporally or discursively mediated self-possession and self-appropriateion; and agency - experience as the exposure to limits, and the recovery from extremes. (Elsaesser 2009: 293)
These are indeed valuable concepts, although all of them kind of restrictive; that is, much more could be said about each.
In line with many German late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theorists, Benjamin makes a distinction between Erlebnis and Erfahrung, the first associated with moments of sensation and the second with a more sustained texture of experience. As Martin Jay points out, 'The immediate, passive, fragmented, isolated, and unintegrated inner experience of Erlebnis was, Benjamin argued, very different from the cumulative, totalizing accretion of transmittable wisdom, of epic truth, which was Erfahrung.' (Elsaesser 2009: 294)
These notions are the reason why I found this article (and asked a lecturer on semiotics of film to retrieve it for me): they are quite reminiscent of Peirce's token and type, although a far-reaching elaboration is called for if these notions from so distant nomenclatures are to be identified so simplistically.
Limit experiences are above all limits in our sense of body and embodiment, agency and helplessness, time and its apparent irreversibility. (Elsaesser 2009: 297)
What an unexpected opposition. I thought about "helplessness" in relation to the feelings of protagonists in dystopic fiction. It didn't even cross my mind to oppose it to "agency", although it makes good sense: by "waking up" of their helpless situation of subjection to a totalitarian regime, they [the protagonists in multiple, because I have three to analyze] in fact try to achieve agency, with more or less success.
Extending her focus, one could draw on quite a range of artworks, including the films of Valie Export from the 1970s, or the subsequent generation of body artists using film and video, in order to test the spectator's somatic stamina. Such body-based performance art has emerged with special force since the 1970s - coinciding with the rise of video and the women's movement. Apart from Vienna Actionists (to whom Valie Export belonged), one could name Carolee Schneeman, Vito Acconci, Paul McCarthy, Shigeko Kubato, Marina Abramovic and Orlan. These artists foregrounded a body often in pain, or seemingly beyond pain, as it submits to repetitive, mechanical intervention or makes itself vulnerable to technological, often medical, invasion. The always implied limit here is death... (Elsaesser 2009: 299)
Actually the first time I meet Abramoviç's name in writing other than that specifically dedicated to her. When I do happen to have such free time, I should check out these other names mentioned here.
Rogers, Mary F. 1984. Everyday Life as Text. Sociological Theory 2: 165-186.
For ethnomethodologists, everyday life is a textual affair based on linguistic structures and competence. Its practical situations rest on the anonymous, untraceable rules that govern language use. Everyday situation is off-centered and open-ended; in ethnomethodological terms, everyday social situation involves reflexivity and indexicality. (Rogers 1984: 169)
Thus far the author has outlined ethnomethodological movements and contrasted it with phenomenology and Barthes's literary theory (of The Text, with capitalization). This quote is a kind of synthesis of ethnomethodology and Barthes; it seems that this whole article is.
Everyday life is, then, The Text, a methodological field where reader-ethnomethodologists study members' productive (or constitutive) activities to disclose the ground rules that make those activities "visibly account-able and rational-for-all-practical-purposes." Unsurprisingly, ethnomethodological reports often appear redundant. Ethnomethodologists face, after all a single Text (everyday life) whose features are accessible through any given text (mundane social situation) considered as a methodological field in need of a careful reading. (Rogers 1984: 169-170)
This language is kind of off-putting, but at the same time makes surprisingly lot of sense. The relationship of Text and text, or everyday life and mundane social situation, is basically that of a whole and a part. This is not a clear segmentation of everyday life, but one way of looking at it. Also, jokingly, I wish "The Text" would be replaced with "Book" - a book of (everyday) life which one has to learn to read.
Moreover, Bathes's focus on The Text provides a metaphor that clarifies the ethnomethodological perspective on everyday life. At the same time, that metaphor offers an alternative to the theatrical metaphors that social dramaturgists and symbolic interactionists sometimes use. Finally, Barthes's structuralism evokes attention to alternative literary approaches to texts capable of providing sociologists fresh interpretive grounds for analyzing everyday life. (Rogers 1984: 175)
Thus, Barthes is put on alongside Mead and Goffman.
The idea of everyday life as text is attractive. The metaphor centers attention on expression and communication and, therefore, on the grounds of social action and interaction. "Text" also leads to the question of how the public and the private realms intermesh and how informal and formal discourse relate. (Rogers 1984: 175)
Damn right it is. Everyday life as text would open whole new "interpretive grounds" also in the semiotics of culture, as "text" (with its expressive and communicative functions) is the main notion of the school, but the conceptions of social action an interaction are almost wholly alien to it.
I follow Barthes in sometimes capitalizing text. The capitalized term refers to the fundamental form of written discourse; the uncapitalized version refers to any particular instance(s) of that form. (Rogers 1984: 180)
There is an explanation to capitalization in the end-notes, but it remains ambiguous for me what this "fundamental form of written discourse" is; and if I wish to apply this Text metaphor to behaviour directly, could it actually be Yu. Lotman's behavioural sphere? Most likely not, but it's an idea worth considering, as I'm still mystified by his two approaches to behaviour.
Adler, Patricia A., Peter Adler and Adrea Fontana 1987. Everyday Life Sociology. Annual Review of Sociology 13: 217-235.
...the sociology of everyday life is an umbrella term encompassing several related but distinct theoretical perspectives: symbolic interactionism, dramaturgy, labeling theory, phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and existential sociology. (Adler et al. 1987: 218)
The actors (theoretical perspectives) here are basically the same as in the last article.
Goffman's new subfield, dramaturgy, was launched with The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959). Influences by the works of Blumer, Burke, and Durkheim, Goffman offered an analysis of the individual in society which made the area of interaction the locus of reality, of socialization, and of societal regeneration. Goffman's work speaks to both roles (the nature of the self) and rules (micro-social norms). Instead of role-taking for the purpose of cooperatively aligning their actions with others, Goffman's actors intentionally and manipulatively role-play for the purpose of managing others' impressions of them. This occurs through the interaction rituals of everyday life - rituals that shape the individual's inner self by externally imprinting their rules on him or her at the same time they ensure the self-regularoty character of society. (Adler et al. 1987: 220)
This description of Goffman's dramaturgy made me wonder how, in Fahrenheit 451, society regenerates itself without proper interaction. Would telescreen lounges really uphold social reality and substitute socialization to such an extent? I also find it fascinating that rules are here described as "micro-social norms", because the relationship of rules and norms (and even roles, for that matter) has remained muddled for me: different authors claim there to be different and often contradictory relationships. And lastly, if interaction rituals ensure the self-regulatory character of society, they are, effectively, "the invisible hand". Here are some micro-bookreviews
  • The Nude Beach, by Douglas & Rasmussen (1977), offered a multi-perspective view of the complexity of feelings, motivations, rationalizations, behaviors, fronts, and micro and macro politics associated with public nudity and sexuality.
  • The Last Frontier, by Fontana (1977), explored the emotional issues, loneliness, and existential identity changes that underlie and render insignificant the rational meaning of growing old.
  • In P. Adler's (1981) book, Momentum, he analyzed the dynamics of self-reinforcing excitement and depression caused by momentum-infused individuals, groups, and masses.
  • Using an organic perspective, Kemper (1978) [A Social Interactional Theory of Emotion] has emphasized how the power and/or status inherent in social relationships influence body chemistry.
Hochschild (1979, 1983) discussed the types of "feeling rules" which are structurally mandates onto interaction and relationships through social guidelines. People then try to make their feelings coincide with these rules by doing cognitive, bodily, or expressive "emotions work." Emotion work can be commercialized when it is co-opted by business, leading to a "commoditization of feeling." (Adler et al. 1987: 225)
Firstly, I am very interested if "feeling rules" has anything to do with Ekman's "display rules" of emotional expressions. And secondly, in a baffling way, in Fahrenheit 451, the State has commoditizised feeling: everyone must be happy! Oh, and "display rules" are explicitly mentioned in Shott's (1979) article "Emotion and social life".
Shott, Susan 1979. Emotion and social life: A symbolic interactionist analysis. The American Journal of Sociology 84(6): 1317-1334.
In this paper, I shall attempt to show that one sociological perspective, symbolic interactionism, is particularly well suited for the explication of the actor's construction of emotion and the part certain feelings (which I shall call role-taking emotions) play in social control. The socialization of emotion, also, will be discussed, using a general sociological (and anthropological) perspective that is part of symbolic interactionist theory but not unique to it. (Shott 1979: 1318)
Welp, symbolic interactionism is related to social psychology, so it is a very likely theoretical perspective to investigate such matters. The role of emotions in social control is especially interesting, as this might lead up to one of today's "weird" disciplines, politology of emotion.
Before I begin this exposition, however, a defintiional note is in order, given the variegated welter of definitions of emotion. In this paper, I shall use Schachter's (1971, pp. 23-24) conception of emotion as a state of physiological arousal defined by the actor as emotionally induced: Hence, two elements - physiological arousal and cognitive labeling as affect - are necessary components of the actor's experience of emotion. Pain and sexual arousal will not be considered here: they are physical sensations often accompanied by emotions but not equivalent to them. In addition, i wish to note that, unlike a number of writers, I shall use the terms "affect," "emotion," "feeling," and "sentiment" as semantic equivalents. (Shott 1979: 1318-1319)
Okay, so the author's definition of emotion is kind of superficial, but if more exact terms are needed I have Caroll E. Izard's "Patterns of Emotions and Emotion Communication..." at my disposal. It is important to take note of the self-labeling aspect of emotional experience here, as it excludes outside observers identifying emotion. Whether emotions are fully internal matter of whether physiological arousal's bodily expressions can indicate to outside observers even more exaclty the nature of emotion (e.g. facial expressions of emotion which we do not see ourselves performing) is a problematic field. I do agree that pain and sexual arousal are not emotion, although some people tend to think or say so in everyday discourse.
Human behavior is emergent, continually constructed during its execution (Blumer 1969, p. 82). The meaning of an act is somewhat volatile, since acts are interpreted continuously (by the actor and others) while being carried out. Consequently, human conduct is actively constructed and cna be transformed in its making through reinterpretation and redefinition (Hewitt 1976, p. 48). (Shott 1979: 1312)
This is where, I think, "everyday life as text" metaphor would get into trouble: text is more discrete and static while actual behaviour is continuous and changeable.
Social structures and normative regulation are the framework of human action rather than its determinant, shaping behavior without dictating it. Structural features (culture, systems, stratification, roles, etc.) shape behavior only insofar as they influence the situations that are the setting of action and provide the symbols used to interpret situations; they do not determine human conduct (Blumer 1969, pp. 87-88) (Shott 1979: 1312)
I know it is not smart to "quote quotes" so to say, but Blumer's book is available in Tartu and it is very possible that I will happen to read it in the future (Hewitt, in the last quote, I have already read). This quote is important because the cultural influence on behaviour are quite ambiguous, to say the least, and this is one way of looking at it.
...physiological arousal alone does not constitute an emotion; what is required, in addition, is the belief that some emotion is the most appropriate explanation of a state of arousal. (Shott 1979: 1322)
Here the remark about labeling is elaborated: this "appropriate explanation" does seem to be culturally formed; I am tempted to call it "registry of emotions" or even more metaphorically, "emotional code".
Within the limits set by social norms and internal stimuli, individuals construct their emotions; and their definitions and interpretations are critical to this often emergent process. Internal states and cues, necessary as they are for affective experience, do not in themselves establish feeling, for it is the actor's definitions and interpretations that give physiological states their emotional significance or nonsignificance. (Shott 1979: 1323)
This is the general conclusion of symbolic interactionist approach to emotions.
Role-taking sentiments are of two types: reflexive role-taking emotions, which are directed toward oneself and comprise guilt, shame, embarrassment, pride, and vanity; and emphatic role-taking emotions, which are evoked by mentally placing oneself in another's position and feeling what the other feels or what one would feel in such a position. Reflexive role-taking feelings entail considering how one's self appears to others or the generalized other and, unless experienced emphatically, are directed toward oneself. Thus, they are, in effect, emotional self-conceptions. Both reflexive and emphatic role-taking emotions, as I shall attempt to show in this section, are significant motivators of normative and moral conduct and, hence, facilitate social control. (Shott 1979: 1324)
This is a worthwhile distinction.
Social control is, in large part, self-control. Because people can view themselves as others do, social control can operate in terms of self-criticism, exerting itself "intimately and extensively over individual behavior [and] serving to integrate the individual and his actions with reference to the organized social process of experience and behaviour in which is implicated" (Mead 1934, p. 255). The generalized other is particularly important for this kind of social control, since it is the means by which the attitudes of the community or group are incorporated within individuals and influence their thinking and conduct (Mead 1934, p. 155). (Shott 1979: 1324-1325)
I have to say I did not notice these remarks myself when reading Mead's Mind, Self, and Society. Too bad, because these are exactly the themes I tried to approach in my seminar thesis: what I called self-censure (aften Schefflen), and behaviour influenced by social situation or reference group.
Clifford Geertz (1973, pp. 401-3) has described another "affective regulator," lek, while he considers the msot intensely emphasized sentiment used for social control in Bali. It is a feeling that, I think, can be usually classified as a reflexive role-taking emotion. Lek is an emotion akin to stagefright, "a diffuse, usually mind, though in certain situations virtually paralyzing, nervousness before the prospect (and the fact) of social interaction, a chronic, mostly low-grade worry that one will not be able to bring it off with the required finesse" (Geertz 1973, p. 402). The fact that lek is of little importance in American society (we do not even have a word for it) is further evidence for the cultural shaping of affective experience. (Shott 1979: 1326, footnote 11)
This reminds me of the role of adrenaline in social interaction (something I should look into someday).
Baldwin, John D. 1988. Habit, Emotion, and Self-Conscious Action. Sociological Perspectives 31(1): 35-57.
A nontrivial portion of human conduct is based on habit, including such sociologically important behaviors as customs, rituals, moral practices, personal mannerisms, and style. (Baldwin 1988: 36)
That is, "habit" is another way of looking at sociocultural phenomena, especially repetitious and routine activities.
Those who have analyzed habit usually define habitual activities as stable response patterns that are learned through multiple repetitions until they become nearly or completely automatic responses to certain classes of stimuli. Some habits are learned via conscious meditation; but others are acquired without any awareness. Habits that are developed and perfected under conscious guidance often drop below the level of consciousness after they become overlearned and well adjusted to environmental conditions. Well-learned habits are often performed so spontaneously and naturally that they may be spoken of as being "second nature" - in contrast to the biologically programmed responses that are our "first nature." (Baldwin 1988: 38)
This cluster of definitions may become useful in formulating semiotics of everyday behaviour as the acquisition of meaningful and/or functional habits.
Mead described a variety of acquired habits, such as walking, bike riding, playing musical instruments, doing daily routines, and performing those habits that maintain social institutions. (Baldwin 1988: 41)
In this sense acquired habits are similar to Mauss's techniques of the body.
After citing Thomas and Thomas's famous dictum that people's actions are "very much determined by how they define the situation they find themselves in," Denzin states: "This proposition, which assumed wide-awake, cognitively self-reflexive individuals" reveals "a fundamental bias in interactionist research which may be termed the 'overly reflexive' or 'overly cognitive' view of man" ([1980] p. 252). This highly cognitive view can bbe seen in the constructionist theories of emotions developed by Shott (1979)... (Baldwin 1988: 47)
Firstly, I am quite aware of the "definition of the situation" perspective, which goes back to Goffman and even Benjamin Lee Whorf (if I remember correctly; referring to the gasoline barrel example). In any case, it is doubtful if people are very reflexive of the definition of the situation; in Goffman it rather appears as an analytical device. Secondly, the last article I read (Shott 1979) is here dismissed as being overly cognitive (for example, the understanding that a physiological arousal becomes an "emotion" only when labeled as such).
Collins, Randall 1981. On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology. American Journal of Sociology 86(5): 984-1014.
Microsociology is the detailed analysis of what people do, say, and think in the actual flow of momentary experiences. Macrosociology is the analysis of large-scale and long-term social processes, often treated as self-subsistent entitites such as "state," "organization," "class," "economy," "culture," and "society." In recent years there has been an upsurge of "radical microsociology, that is to say, empirically detailed and/or phenomenologically sophisticated microsociology. Radical microsociology (Garfinkel 1967; Cicourel 1973), as the detailed study of everyday life, emerged partly from the influx of phenomenology into empirical sociology and partly from the application of new research techniques - audio and video recordings - which have made it possible to study real-life interaction in second-by-second detail. (Collins 1981: 984)
Thus, nonverbal communication is a microsociological field, and searching links with Power, State, and Culture are attempts to bring it into relaton with macrosociology: e.g. "What will the detailed study of everyday life reveal about the social systems?"
This radical microsociology, under such labels as "ethnomethodology," "cognitive sociology," "social phenomenology," and others, cuts in a number of different directions. The direction that I would argue is most promising for the advance of sociology as an empirical science is not the phenomenological analysis of concepts but the emphasis upon ultradetailed empirical research. This detailed micro-analysis offers several contributions fo the field of sociology in general. One is to give a strong impetus toward translating all macrophenomena into combinations of micro-events. A microtranslation strategy reveals the empirical realities of social structures as patterns of repetitive micro-interaction. Microtranslation thus gives us a picture of the complex levels of abstraction involved in causal explanations. (Collins 1981: 985)
These terms are very interesting. Birdwhistell's research, for example, could justly be called "ultradetailed empirical research", as he did in fact study nonverbal interactions in second-by-second detail. Microtranslation, could very well designate my own study, as I am viewing the totalitarian social system as consisting of micro-interactions. In a manner of speaking, I am tracing the somatic etiology of ideological resistance.
Another contribution of radical microsociology is its discovery that actual everyday-life microbehavior does not follow rationalist models of cognition and decision making. Instead, social interaction depends upon tacit understanding and agreements not to attempt to explicate what is taken for granted. This implies that explanations in terms of norms, rules, and role taking should be abandoned and that any model of social exchange must be considerably modified. (Collins 1981: 985)
This agreement is basically what is upholding social interaction as such: "don't question the way things are." In a sense, the protagonists in dystopic fiction get into troubles exactly because they abandon this agreement and search for a way out of their suffering.
There are several advantages in translating all sociological concepts into aggregates of microphenomena. The first point is epistemological. Strictly acquaintances, whose solidarity is an end in itself as far as its members are concerned. (Collins 1981: 997)
This comes very close to the multidisciplinary approach to ideology propunded by van Dijk. Very close indeed.
The most basic emotional ingredient in interactions, I would suggest, is a minimal tone of positive sentiment toward the other. The solidarity sentiments range from a minimal display of nonhostility to warm mutual liking and enthusiastic common activity. Where do such emotions come from? They originate in previous experiences in IR [interaction ritual] chains. An individual who is successfully accepted into an interaction acquires an increment of positive emotional energy. This energy is manifested as what we commonly call confidence, warmth, and enthusiasm. Acquiring this in one situation, an individual has more emotional resources for successfully negotiating solidarity in the next interaction. Such chains, both positive and negative, extend throughout every person's lifetime. (Collins 1981: 1001-1002)
Ah! This paragraph is valuable on its own terms, but it also sheds light on the "coalition" between Montag and Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451. Their relationship remained short and platonic, but positive and built on nonhostility and warm mutual liking.
Persons become powerful (or "charismatic") when a dramatic event, usually involving success in a conflict, makes large numbers of people focus on them. The widespread and rapid circulation of their new reputation gives them the self-reinforcing power of commanding the largest, and therefore dominant, coalition in that society. Conversely, powerful persons usually fall because of dramatic events - scandals or defeats in conflicts - which suddenly circulate their negative reputation. (Collins 1981: 1008-1009)
I'm not exactly sure, but this seems to be what happened in Huxley'd Brave New World with "the savage". I don't know the conflict he overcame, but he did gain the following of large numbers of people.

On a final note, I have suspicions that Cloak's statement "all macroevents have microexplanations" in The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication has something to do with this article. In the grander scheme of things this long and dense article could actually be one of the bases for my BA thesis. I could replace emotional contagion with Morris's communization and build a semiotic framework on the work laid out here. This of course would necessitate a lot of work, but would also be greatly worth it.


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