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The Sociology Book

Pierre Bourdieu

Individuals are born into a particular social-class group. Each is defined by a specific lifestyle, referred to as the habitus of the group. Every social-class group has a group habitus that simultaneously defines, and differentiates it from, all the other group habitus in society. Bourdieu maintains that the habitus of an individual is made up of different types and amounts of capital (economic, cultural, and social). A person’s cultural capital is their capacity to play the culture game – to recognize references in books, films, and theater; to know how to act in given situations (such as apt manners and conversation at the dinner table); to know what to wear and how; and even who to look down your nose at. The habitus is often obvious through judgments of classification, which are pronounced about a thing, such as a painting, but act to classify the person speaking. Where one person describes a painting as nice, and another as passé we learn little about the artwork, but much more about the person and their habitus. People use these judgments deliberately to distinguish themselves from their neighbors and establish their class.
Those who talk of equality of opportunity forget that social games… are not ‘fair games’. 



Richard Sennett
Working-class children do not have the same opportunities as children from more affluent backgrounds, and those who strive to excel are seen as traitors. They are exiled from their peer groups, with a subsequent loss of self-worth. The tools of freedom are a source of indignity for them, both at school and at college, where they are looked down on for not knowing the rules and lacking in wide cultural knowledge. Their educational achievement exposes them not respect but to disdain from the middle-class people around them and they suffer a sense of failure and alienation. Society will always reward a man of talent. If a person is worthy of escaping poverty, he can do so. if he does not have the ability to make it, however, what right does that person have to complain? If you fail, you have no merit. Failure to succeed is due to personal inadequacy. In this way the inequalities of class become hidden by the widespread personal failures of working people.



George Ritzer
Control is closely linked to technology. The machinery used to cook the food served in McDonald’s restaurants dominates both employees and customers. The machines dictate cooking times, and so the pace of work for the employees; and the machines produce a uniform product so customers cannot specify how they would like their food to be cooked. The dehumanizing effects that the McDonald’s model has on both employees and customers. The employees work in mindless, production-line style jobs, often in cramped circumstances for little pay. The dominant cultural template for organizing all manner of collective and individual actions and interactions is now shaped by efficiency, calculability, predictability, control, and rationalization costs. The traditional value-base on which higher education was founded is rapidly being replaced by standardization, calculability, and so on. 



Sharon Zukin
A former industrial area of a city becomes de-industrialized and rundown. Artists are attracted to the area because of low rents and generous spaces in which to be creative. Young urban professionals are then attracted to the cool that artists create. Property developers see an opportunity to make money and buy up property. Rents increase and the artists and poor people move out; the area in turn loses its diversity and vibrancy. Gentrification and consumerism have created bland, homogenous, middle-class areas and robbed cities of the authenticity that most people long for. The pace of gentrification has sped up. What used to take decades to unfold now only seems to require a few years. The distinctiveness of a neighborhood has actually become a tool of capitalist developers – one that results in the exclusion of the characters who first gave an area its real soul. 



Antonio Gramsci
Hegemony is cultural and that it is involved in a struggle between competing class-based world views, by which is meant sets of values, ideas, beliefs, and understandings of what human beings are like, what society is, and crucially what it could be. The ruling class’s ideas, which are the dominant ones permeating the whole of society, are propounded by intellectual groups working in its service (often only partially knowingly) such as journalists who disseminate these ideas to the wider population. Constant exposure to them means that the lower classes experience them as natural and inevitable, and come to believe them. Hegemonic ideas shape the thinking of all social classes.



Herbert Marcuse
If the longed-for freedom was synonymous with choice, individuals were free as never before, because choices in work, housing, food, fashion, and leisure activities continued to widen over the decades. However, people were being manipulated by totalitarian regimes that called themselves democracies. Worse still, people were unaware of the manipulation, because they had internalized the regimes’ rules, values, and ideals. Government imposes its economic and political requirements on its people by influencing their working and leisure time. It does so by creating in people a set of false needs and then manipulating people through those needs. False need “to relax, to have fun… and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate” – the actual content of these needs (such as the latest must-have gadget) is proposed by external forces. These needs feel internally driven because we are bombarded by media messages that promise happiness if you do that or go there. In this way we begin to believe that false needs are real ones. Arts has lost its ability to inspire rebellion because it is now part of a mass media.

A typist who is made up as attractively as her boss’s daughter, or the worker and his boss enjoying the same TV programme. However, this kind of assimilation does not indicate the disappearance of classes. It actually reveals the extent to which the needs that serve the establishment have become shared by the underlying population. The result is that classes are no longer in conflict. We have lost a sense o inner truth and real need, and can no longer critique society because we cannot find a way to stand outside of it without appearing to have lost our sanity. 



Erich Fromm
Individuals were repositioned by capitalist states to become cooperative consumers, with standardized tastes, who could be manipulated by the anonymous authority of public opinion and the market. Technology ensured that work became more routine and boring.  Unless people get out of the rut they are in and reclaim their humanity, they will go mad trying to live a meaningless, robotic life.

比起现在的小孩幸福的一点是,我的童年里标准化这个概念还没有引进,小学老师上课常常信马由缰,课业负担也不太重,有很多自由自在的时间……若是一个从小就沉浸在标准化的环境中,我不知道他们要有怎样的高度自觉性才能get out of the rut.


Jean Baudrillard
There is so much information in the modern world that we cannot absorb it all and work out what is really happening. The media simplifies things for us, deciding what to make real; the replication of certain images and stories leads us to accept them as reality. The things and the events of the physical world – in their unexplained, unpackaged form – are no longer accessible to us. All complexity has been lost. We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. For instance, we prefer to sit in a cinema and enjoy the hyperreal experience of a family reunion than go to one of our own. On screen it is more colorful, noisy , and complete, it seems so true. Our own lives pale by comparison. As virtual reality increases, we accept what is given. There is no longer a requirement for systems or things to be rational, just to work well, or be operational.



Harry Braverman
The amount of training required to operate factory and office machinery often takes only a matter of minutes or, at most, a few weeks. While general levels of educational achievement have increased among the workforce, the experience of work even more frustrating, or lacking in fulfillment, because opportunities for individuals to utilize and apply the knowledge obtained from their schooling simply did not exist. Greater educational achievement can lead to a far more acutely perceived sense of alienation. By the degradation of work is the decline in the number of jobs that require a worker to conceptualize and execute a task. Firstly, knowledge and information of the entire labor process is known only to, and closely controlled by management and not the workers. Second, the worker performs his set task in the total division of labor on a need-to-know basis. Workers are kept completely in the dark about the impact of the tasks they perform and about the role these tasks play in the overall labor process. Third, empowered by knowledge of the total labor process, management is able to control in highly exacting ways what it is that each individual worker does. As the total range of skills possessed by workers diminishes overtime, so in turn their value decreases. Workers can be paid less because the tasks they perform are increasingly menial and unskilled. 



Arlie Russell Hochschild
New service industries require workers to possess emotional resources. Because women are stereotyped as more emotional these industries are heavily gendered towards a female workforce. Women workers are asked to act in ways that create positive emotional states to help ensure future custom. Under capitalism, human emotions are commodified in processing people, the product is a state of mind. Even the most personal aspects of individual selfhood – our emotions, feelings and affective life are turned into commodities and exploited by the capitalist market in order to make profits. The fusing together of the attendants’ private sense of selfhood with their public self, the roles they played as attendants was liable to lead to emotional and psychological burnout. Second, often occurred. Even if individuals actively engage in strategies aimed at self-preservation, the net result is the same. They feel increasingly alienated from their innermost self and their emotions too.



Karl Marx
Economic hardship prevents most people from achieving comfort and true happiness in this world. Religion distorts this reality and encourages people to work hard, passively accept their log, and endure suffering. Religion provides false hopes and says that true happiness can only be attained in the heavenly afterlife. Although it provides solace, religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world.



Michel Foucault
Governing by fear and violence is much less effective than employing more subtle forms of control, such as defining limited choices or using disciplinary institutions like schools to guide the behavior of individuals. In this way, self-control becomes linked to political rule and economic exploitation. In neo-liberal thinking (its emphasis on the individual and the destruction of community bonds), the worker is viewed as a self-owned enterprise and is required to be competitive. It relies on the notion of responsible, rational individuals who are capable of taking responsibility for themselves, their lives, and their environment, particularly through ‘normalizing technologies’ – the agreed-upon goals and procedures of a society that are so obvious that they are seen as normal. In the 21st century these include behaviors such as recycling, losing weight, being involved in the neighborhood watch schemes, or stopping smoking. People govern themselves and others according to what they believe to be true. For instance, many societies view monogamous heterosexual marriage as the correct environment for bringing up children, and the truth is established in many ways, from cultural artifacts to government discourse on family values.



Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles
The best predictor for a child’s future is the economic status of parents, rather than academic achievement or intelligence. Although the explicit curriculum is about equality of opportunity, education’s prime role is not to teach the skills needed in the world of work, but to instill into children the hidden curriculum. Working-class children are taught their place in society and learn that qualities such as working hard, deference, punctuality, and following orders are prized, while creativity and independent thought are not valued. This maintains the economic status quo, which needs industrious, uncritical employees. The dominant class is able to define its culture and values as superior and this shapes what is taught, thus people learn to respect things perceived as upper class and deride those considered working class. For example, working-class children might be taught that classical music is superior to popular music, and that it is too difficult for them to understand, whereas middle-class children are taught how to appreciate it. In as similar way, middle-class children are taught the qualities that will enable them to become leaders. So, lower-class children face systematic bias against them in the system.



Michel Foucault
The confession has become one of the most valued ways to uncover truth in our society. It has become widespread and is now part of family life, relationships, work, medicines, and policing. The compelling promise of the confession is that the more detailed it is, the more we will learn about ourselves, and the more we will be liberated. A person who has experienced trauma is often told that re-telling the experience will have a curative effect, but this will to truth is a tactic of power that can become a form of surveillance and regulation. Confession does not reveal the truth, it produces it. We are obsessed with emotion in the modern age. Experiences and emotions that were once though normal, such as depression and boredom, are now believed to require treatment and medical intervention. The supposedly therapeutic culture leaves society feeling vulnerable. In confession, we give power to experts (priests, therapists, doctors) to judge, punish, and correct us. The confessor suffers an endless cycle of shame, guild, and more confession. 



Ann Oakley
House work is exploitative because it is low-status work that is assumed to come naturally to women, also because it offers little opportunity for creativity or self-fulfillment. Housework is work directly opposed to self-actualization. Even 40 years later women are still doing most of the house work, despite engaging more in paid employment.




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