The warp and weft of politics in the digital age

Just came across the above article, right after reading about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at today’s briefing. This is truly a surreal time to live in and I am barely processing.

As I already confessed on this blog a few years ago, I don’t like all my writings equally. The 2015 Eonsoju paper is among the ones closer to my heart, and I have been thinking a lot about the following passage this evening.

[…] Moreover, [Friedmann (2011: 127)] poses a further question as follows: on the one hand, civil society may rise up in protest against the state and its agents while, conversely, the state’s helping hand is needed, for example, for improving life in local communities. How is this contradiction resolved in both theory and practice?

A possible resolution of this contradiction can be found in Maffesoli’s (1996) work, where he identifies two different aspects of social order and labelled them as ‘the social (le social)’ and ‘sociality (la socialité)’. As an aspect of modernity, the social is based upon a mechanical structure of political and economic organisation. Consequently, it is constructed by social leaders and ‘imposed from above’. Individuals, therefore, need not play any particular part in this vertical structure. Sociality, on the other hand, is the order of post-modernity and is inherent in the social interactions of everyday life. Sociality requires individuals to perform social roles and cooperate with others in a horizontal flow.

An example of the social would be accessing educational institutions as the principal source of knowledge. If people exchange knowledge among themselves in preference to formal education, they are inclined to sociality. Likewise, if citizens expect their state to compensate each individual for a natural disaster, they are dependent on the social, whereas those who choose to rely on helping hands within their immediate communities are depending on sociality.

The tension between the social and sociality is ‘not new but has always existed with each one being more or less prominent depending on the character of the epoch’ (Kidd, 1999). […]

[…]

Not only does Maffesoli highlight the competing yet coexisting dynamics between the vertical threads of institutional structures and the horizontal threads of networks of individual citizens and groups, he also points to how people now seem to turn their backs on the former and instead look for meaning and the ability to survive in the latter (Kidd, 1999). […]

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