Invitation to Sociology---Chapter 6



Other Chapters:
#1... #2... #4... #5... #8

CHAPTER 6
Complete Chapter online HERE

Sociological Perspective--Society as Drama

GENERAL COMMENTS:

After painting a rather bleak picture of the individual and society, Berger is ready to indicate how this very situation is ALSO the opportunity man has to exercise freedom.. We are not interested here in Berger's ideas about the "scientific status of freedom" itself. Rather, his main point in this chapter is to reveal that "life is a stage," so to speak. In other words, our so-called prison and puppet theater is actually a drama in which we can play the roles faithfully or not so faithfully. It is here that Berger most nearly portrays a LEVELS OF REALITY approach without actually spelling it out. He becomes DIALECTICAL in his presentation. He wants to show that the external and internal controls of society are not omnipotent.

HOW?

---"The individual who is conscious of his own freedom does not stand outside the world of causality, but rather perceives of his own volition as a very special category of cause..." (p. 123)
-------THUS:
-----------l. "freedom" is NOT the absence of society
-----------2. freedom is a conscious relation to ONESELF
---------------a self-consciousness of choice
---------------i.e. as an AGENT IN CONDITIONS

---Thus, if "definitions" are coercive, we help to co-define them, helping to "trap" ourselves
---Society needs our compliance and thus, we can redefine
---Historical process reveals that social structures are NOT ETERNAL
-------Were "concocted by human beings"
-------"Since all social systems were created by men, it follows that men can also change them" (128)

---PARADOX OF SOCIAL EXISTENCE is "that society defines us, but is in turn defined by us"
---society needs. ..US in order to exist at all"
-------i.e. EMERGENCE
-------SOCIETY exists by our definition WE CAN WITHHOLD CONFIRMATION

---HOW?

l. TRANSFORMATION (129-131)
---By not giving "typical" responses
---not recognizing definitions of society/self
---"social sabotage" ---- the "ploy" (l3l)

2. DETACHMENT (132-133)
---withdrawing from society inwardly

3. MANIPULATION (133-136)
---MAKING DELIBERATE USE OF SOCIAL STRUCTURES FOR REASONS AND IN WAYS NOT NORMALLY LEGITIMATE
-------"role distance" (135)
----------going through the motions
----------no inner identification with role

THUS: We are no longer "puppets," but rather, are drama actors PLAYING a part ---WITH full consciousness of what we are doing
---thus: a TRANSFORMATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Berger's concept of "ECTASY"
---NOT a mystic idea
---IS: "the act of standing or stepping outside the taken-for-granted routines of society" (136)
-------achieving distance & detachment
-------a PERSPECTIVE ON "Society"
---Thus, "FATE"...
-------as an inevitability, is GONE
-------RATHER: is a set of factors (conditions) to reckon with (as active, self-conscious agents)
---Come to see: SOCIAL IDENTITY is not an essential part of ME/US
-------RATHER: is a convenient disguise
---"In other words, "ectasy" transforms one's awareness of society in such a way that GIVENESS becomes POSSIBlLITY" (136)

---NOT MEAN external/internal controls are absent

-------BUT NOW seen in a clearer light
-------Society is not so CERTAIN (ITS INSTITUTIONS)
-------"EVEN FICTIONS" we "believe" in
-------Much more fragile that thought
-------OPTIONS for individuals now in sight

BAD FAITH
---understanding this leads to a clear conception of our real OPTIONS
-------our FREEDOM IN CONDITIONS
---AGAIN: Bad Faith means to pretend something is absolutely necessary that in fact is voluntary
---a "flight from freedom"
---"a dishonest evasion" of the "AGONY OF CHOICE"

---KEY: THE VERY EXISTENCE OF 'BAD FAITH'...
-------reveals our freedom
-------Bad Faith IS a Choice
----------IF we can choose IT, we can freely choose authentically

---THUS: Bad Faith is the wish NOT to FACE freedom
-------is the "shadow of human liberty"
-------an attempt to escape liberty
---BUT: is "doomed to defeat"

NO CHOICE IS STILL A CHOICE
---we are "condemned to be free" (Sartre)
---"Men are responsible for their actions" (144)
---THUS: we must realize our freedom IN Society
-------in the same social situations we feel unfree
-------which "can also become occasions for freedom"

SUMMARY/CONCLUSION

---Thru ECTASY, thru becoming aware of our BAD FAITH, by facing squarely our SOCIAL INDIVIDUALITY and the HUMAN CONDITION:
-------we attain a liberation of consciousness
-------a SOCIAL KNOWLEDGABILITY

"Whatever the possibilities of freedom we may have, they cannot be realized if we continue to assume that the 'OKAY WORLD' of reality is the only world there is. Society provides us with warm, reasonably comfortable caves, in which we can huddle with our fellows, beating on the drums that drown out the howling hyenas of the surrounding darkness. 'ECTASY' is the act of stepping outside the caves, alone, to face the night" (149-150)

---That is, to be self-conscious agents in conditions, not all of our own choosing, but which are still the creation of ours and others previous actions/inactions.

THIS IS AUTHENTIC FREEDOM...the task of each of us