CapitalismEducationO.O.P.S.Theory & Practice

O.O.P.S. vs M.O.O.C.s: Midterm Report, Part 2

The O.O.P.S. courses Rethinking Capitalism and Feminism, Capitalism and Social Transformation share a critical understanding: capitalism, as we are experiencing it, is undesirable and not the only political economy possible. They also both analyze how major social problems are directly linked to the present order of capitalism, from sexism, to racism, to climate change, and much more. While my Social Condition course shares a critical approach with these two courses, it is with a significant difference. The critical focus has not been specifically on capitalism, even as my students and I have been examining existential and political conditions of social continuity and transformation that are clearly connected to the present state of the political economy. …

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CapitalismEssaysSex & GenderTheory & Practice

OOPS versus MOOCs

I first thought of writing this post over a year ago as a follow up to my piece “Against the Educational Uncertainty Principle.” I was struck by the way that recent interventions to address the various dimensions of higher educational crisis have made matters worse. MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, are a particular case in point. As I wrote then:

“I worry about magical solutions: MOOCs, substituting television for face to face inquiry, even though using the web to strengthen educational practices makes sense to me. …

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EssaysRaceTheory & Practice

The Social Condition and the Ghetto

Jeffrey Goldfarb and Iddo Tavory (recently joined additionally by Tim Rosenkranz) have been trading pieces in this forum toward sketching the outlines of an existential sociology based on a concept they call “the social condition.” The social condition, if I understand them correctly, is the intrinsic potential for our lives and our projects to come up against impasses. Borne from the complexity of our existences as social beings, it is the impossibility of overarching, unproblematic narratives. It is the inevitably of indeterminacy and irreconcilability. …

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CapitalismEssaysTheory & Practice

Consumption and the Social Condition

“In a series of posts, Jeff Goldfarb and I [Iddo Tavory] have been sketching an outline for the study of the social condition — the predictable dilemmas that haunt social life. We argue that one of the core intellectual missions of sociology is to account for the ways in which social patterns set up these dilemmas that actors experience as crucial for their lives and how they define themselves.”

I have been following this inquiry into the social condition for a while, and I suggest that it will help to further understanding this condition if we take seriously the daily dramas of consumption, both as comedy and tragedy. “Say Yes to the Dress” is one of these social dramas, based on the very premise that buying a wedding dress really matters, that people do not make their consumption decisions lightly. …

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