Category: Sociology

A ‘creative’ economy. Again. (Or is it?)

Time for the annual celebration of the value of the UK’s creative industries.

“From Art to Architecture, Film to Fashion, British talent leads the world”

“The UK’s Creative Industries, which includes the film, television and music industries, are now worth £76.9 billion per year to the UK economy.”

Strange to mention the creative activities with some kind of cultural or artistic bent, but not to flag up the ‘creative’ sector which accounts for almost half of that £76.9bn figure – ‘IT, Software and Computer Services‘.

More here.

“Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future”

Hans de Zwart discusses the present and future of surveillance and privacy, including some tips on how to hide:

So what can you do to escape ubiquitous government surveillance? We know how Obama tries to do it. Whenever he is outside the US and needs to have a private conversation or read a secret document he will go to a special hotel room that has an opaque-walled tent that constantly emits noise.

More here.

Disrupting Progress

When did ‘innovation’ stop being a dirty word? How does progress occur?

The eighteenth century embraced the idea of progress; the nineteenth century had evolution; the twentieth century had growth and then innovation. Our era has disruption, which, despite its futurism, is atavistic. It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence.

More on ‘disruption’, and the power of a tidy narrative, from Jill Lepore at the New Yorker.

Couldn’t get arrested?

I woke up the next morning and Fox News was reporting that unknown suspects had vandalized City Hall. I went back to the entrance and handed the guard my driver’s license and a letter explaining what I’d done. Several police officers were speaking in hushed tones near the gates, which had been washed clean. I was expecting them to recognize me from eyewitness descriptions and the still shots taken from the surveillance cameras and immediately take me into custody. Instead, the guard politely handed me back my license, explained that I didn’t have an appointment, and turned me away.

Bobby Constantino explains the difficulties of getting arrested in Brooklyn further here.

Whistleblowing as cohort effect?

At foreignpolicy.com, Charlie Stross considers generations, loyalty, work and surveillance:

Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism. Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents’ post-Westphalian nation-state. The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century. But if you turn the Internet into a panopticon prison and put everyone inside it, where else are you going to be able to recruit the jailers?

More here.

O tempora o mores

A neat digest from xkcd of worries about the pace of modern life here, including the following from 1907:

Our modern family gathering, silent around the fire, each individual with his head buried in his favourite magazine, is the somewhat natural outcome of the banishment of colloquy from the school.

Meanwhile, one hundred and four years later,

…when parents do view programmes with their children, only 15% use them to start a conversation. A fifth say they sit in silence with their children.

(Data from the ‘Hello Campaign’ reported here.)

Not enough sociology?

At thetangential.com, Jay Gabler responds to the recent n+1 editorial ‘Too Much Sociology’:

…sociology has provided many explanations for the rise of sociology, among them Émile Durkheim’s theory of functional differentiation and Max Weber’s theory of rationalization. Durkheim and Weber both predicted that as a society, we would increasingly come to see ourselves in rational—that is, scientific—terms. In other words, we would increasingly come to understand our society in sociological terms. Unlike Marx’s predictions, that one has come true.

More here.