"Commodities can provisionally be defined as objects of economic value." (Arjun Appadurai, "Commodities and the politics of value," in The Social Life of Things, p 3)This economic value, following Simmel, is defined as a reciprocal formation in the possibilities of exchange. "The sacrifice or renunciation that is interposed between man and the object of his demand is, at the same time, the object of someone else's demand. The one has to give up possession or enjoyment that the other wants in order to persuade the latter to give up what he owns and the former wants." (The Philosophy of Money, p 78)Read More
The idea of ethnicity is the idea of a naturalized group identity. It is usually linked, since Max Weber, to some sort of extension of the primordial idea of kinship. In this primordialist concept, group identity is a one-way process in which larger social units draw on the sentiments of family and kinship to gain emotional force.Read More
Ford's factories required a disciplined and deskilled workforce, willing and able to perform repetitive tasks on the assembly line. F. W. Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management published in 1911 had already described how labor productivity could be radically increased by breaking down each labor process into component motions and organizing them according to rigorous standards of time and motion.Read More
The Nature / = "culture.html#4"> Culture distinction is one of the most visible of those "marked" oppositions in Western culture, that attribute a superiority of one term over the other. The unmarked category is the category present to itself, the category of identity. The marked category is the category of " otherness," of value defined by another. Of course, sometimes the latter term is used in the critique of these dualisms -- held up as a superior term (perhaps under another set of conditions)...Read More
The political representative of the Dalai Lama objected to the word "victory" in a UN resolution drafted by Dag Hammerskjold in support of the Tibetan struggle with the Chinese. When asked what they would call a state of affairs in which their side won, he answered, "We do have words for that. We call that very excellent best peace."Read More
More and more of us live in what Edward Said has called a "general condition of homelessness," a world where identities are coming to be deterritorialized, or differently territorialized. In a world of diaspora, transnational culture flows, and
mass movements of populations, familiar lines between "here" and "there", center and periphery, colony and metropole become blurred.
In " Avant-Garde and Kitsch", Clement Greenberg describes a second new cultural phenomenon that appeared in the industrial West: Kitsch. For Greenberg, the new urban masses lost their taste for the folk culture of the countryside, discovered a new capacity for boredom, and set up a pressure on society to provide them with a culture fit for their own consumption. For Greenberg, Kitsch is produced by a rationalized technique that draws on science and industry and erases the values that permit distinctions between good and bad art.
According to the liberal tradition, the modern individual, at home in its private spaces, regards the public as its outside. The outside is the place proper to politics, where the action of the individual is exposed in the presence of others and there seeks recognition. (This is the notion of the political elaborated by Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition, which she calls the space of public appearance
Public space is civic space. It is the space of civil society, shared by citizens -- individuals who have aquired a public voice and understand themselves to be part of a wider community.
In foraging societies men go to war to get or keep women. Access to women is the limiting factor on male's reproductive success. The most common spoils of tribal warfare are women. Raiders kill the men, abduct the nubile women, gang-rape them, and allocate them as wives. Leaders may sometimes use rape as a terror tactic to attain other ends, but it is effective precisely because the soldiers are so eager to implement it. In fact, it often backfires by giving the defenders an incalculable incentive to fight on, and probably for that reason, more than out of compassion for enemy women, modern armies have outlawed rape. (Pinker, How the Mind Works, p. 513)Read More
In his reassesment of the "hardships" and "poverty" of hunter-gatherer societies, Marshall Sahlins describes the effect of the market-industrial system as instituting scarcity and sentencing us to "life at hard labor." (Stone Age Economics, p.4)Read More