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Sociality: New Directions

Nicholas J. Long
Henrietta L. Moore
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The notion of 'sociality' is now widely used within the social sciences and humanities. However, what is meant by the term varies radically, and the contributors here, through compelling and wide ranging essays, identify the strengths and weaknesses of current definitions and their deployment in the social sciences. By developing their own rigorous and innovative theory of human sociality, they re-set the framework of the debate and open up new possibilities for conceptualizing other forms of sociality, such as that of animals or materials. Cases from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe explore the new directions of human sociality, illuminating how and why it is transformed when human beings engage with such major issues as economic downturn, climate change, new regimes of occupational and psychological therapy, technological innovations in robotics and the creation of new online, 'virtual' environments. This book is an invaluable resource, not only for research and teaching, but for anyone interested in the question of what makes us social.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-790-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Sociality’s New Directions
    (pp. 1-24)
    Nicholas J. Long and Henrietta L. Moore

    What would an anthropological theory of human sociality look like post-Strathern, post-affect theory, and post-actor-network theory (ANT)? It would certainly need to take on board the important insights and critiques that such paradigms have offered – but should also move beyond them to address their weaknesses. It would need to be able to account for the tremendous variety of forms that can be assumed by the sociality of humans – if not other entities – a variety that appears to be ever-burgeoning as new innovations in science and technology allow human beings to extend their imaginative and practical reach. It would need to...

  6. 1 Avatars and Robots: The Imaginary Present and the Socialities of the Inorganic
    (pp. 25-42)
    Henrietta L. Moore

    From time to time, particular ideas take hold in the academy and we feel closer to fully comprehending the world we live in and share with others. These ideas are most often a combination of periodizations with their attendant forms of progression, underpinned by organizing concepts which form the basis for models and guide critical thought by acting as quasi-organizing principles for certain pre-theoretical assumptions (Moore 2004). Where once we spoke of dialectics and structures of society and mind, we have now largely eschewed the world of scaffolded representations to embrace the digital, bio-informatic age where all talk is of...

  7. 2 Imagining the World that Warrants Our Imagination: The Revelation of Ontogeny
    (pp. 43-60)
    Christina Toren

    Intersubjectivity is that capacity for recursive thought that makes human learning a micro-historical process. What are its consequences for our scientific models of humankind? Primarily, it forces recognition of what Husserl called ‘historicity’ – the fact that there is no aspect of anyone’s humanity that is not historically constituted, from our genes to the very neurological processes that provide for brain function, to all our ideas of the peopled world. Historicity entails that all aspects of human being, including all perceptual processes (and thus every aspect of the world we imagine), at once evince a person’s history and function to structure...

  8. 3 Sociality and Its Dangers: Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust
    (pp. 61-82)
    Peter Geschiere

    Witchcraft sits uneasily with sociality. Of course, in a Latourian sense, witchcraft has a sociality of its own – after all, it is ‘intrinsically interactive’ (even in optima forma).¹ Yet for many it constitutes a kind of anti-sociality. Anthropologists, confronted with the tenacity of ideas on secret conspiracies by witches in Africa (and elsewhere), tended to study it as the very denial of society. Compare the famous quote by Gluckman (1955: 94):

    An Anglican anthem demands ‘See that ye love one another fervently.’ Beliefs in the malice of witchcraft and in the wrath of ancestral spirits do more than ask this...

  9. 4 Group Belonging in Trade Unions: Idioms of Sociality in Bolivia and Argentina
    (pp. 83-100)
    Sian Lazar

    In this chapter I discuss two sets of union leaders, of street vendors in El Alto, Bolivia, and public-sector workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I examine the values that underpin the development of a sense of the collectivity among them and their affiliates. Specifically, I explore two contrasting practices of collective behaviour and belonging, calledvida orgánicaandcontención. Among street vendors and other unionists in El Alto, dominant idioms of group belonging coalesce around the termvida orgánica, which translates directly as ‘organic life’, and articulates organizational life with respect both to collectivities and to individuals within a...

  10. 5 Utopian Sociality. Online
    (pp. 101-116)
    Nicholas J. Long

    These were dark days for WhiteKnight.¹ He had been a dedicated user of the massively multiplayer online role-playing gameUltima Onlinesince the winter of 2000. Most evenings, and at least once a week, he would switch on his modem and log on to the fantasy-themed metaworld of Britannia – a world full of computer-animated creatures and landscapes, as well as hundreds of usercontrolled avatars, of which WhiteKnight was but one. The opportunities that life in such a ‘virtual world’ offered him had once felt dizzying. He could enjoy the typical pursuits of a role-playing game, such as learning magic or...

  11. 6 A Sociality of, and Beyond, ‘My-home’ in Post-corporate Japan
    (pp. 117-132)
    Anne Allison

    Rebuilding itself after the defeat of the Second World War, Japan became an economic superpower by the late 1970s. Its national lens radically changed from the militarism of empire building to the industrialism of domestic security. Citizens were now told to work hard – not to win a war but to increase prosperity at home. By toiling diligently at school, at home, and at jobs, Japanese subjects worked at once for the nation and for themselves. The country prospered and, with what was called its ‘miracle economy’, Japan gained the global prestige that had eluded it as a would-be imperial power....

  12. 7 Actants Amassing (AA)
    (pp. 133-156)
    Adam Yuet Chau

    Bruno Latour has been launching a persistent attack on the Durkheimian fetishization of the social, which unnecessarily limits the scope of investigation and understanding and has misled the so-called ‘social sciences’ down a benighted path. This article is a response to Bruno Latour’s call to deprivilege the Durkheimian social and to revive a Tardean understanding of ‘society’ as composed of not just humans as social agents but a multitude of monadic actants both human and non-human, sentient and non-sentient, organic and inorganic, material and non-material, representable and unrepresentable (Latour 2005, 2010). The core of the article is a multi-perspectival ethnography...

  13. 8 Doing, Being and Becoming: The Sociality of Children with Autism in Activities with Therapy Dogs and Other People
    (pp. 157-176)
    Olga Solomon

    A teenage girl walking a dog down a suburban Southern California street is an ordinary sight but the pair that can be seen every day in the neighbourhood where I live is not quite ordinary. Over the past ten years I have watched this girl walk this dog in the purposeful, hurried stride of a person who has things to do. During these years the dog has turned from a lanky puppy into a dignified Golden Retriever, and the girl has turned from a slightly overweight child with a developmental disability into a confident-looking, athletic teenager. She and I have...

  14. 9 Materials and Sociality
    (pp. 177-190)
    Susanne Küchler

    We are surrounded, indeed overwhelmed, by new materials which flood in upon us at an ever-accelerating rate, often unnoticed for reasons that will become apparent. Yet we know little about how they come into being and tend to disregard their importance in shaping who we are and imagine ourselves to be, even though it is becoming clear that new materials frame everyday practice more subtly than law, cosmology and religion (Ball 1997; Barad 2003). While we know on one level that the material world we live in is not a natural one, for historical reasons set out below we still...

  15. 10 The Art of Slow Sociality: Movement, Aesthetics and Shared Understanding
    (pp. 191-208)
    Jo Vergunst and Anna Vermehren

    This chapter presents reflections on the theme of sociality from a mass-participation art event in the town of Huntly in north-east Scotland in 2009. Drawing on Alfred Schutz’s notion of the ‘consociate’, our efforts are directed towards understanding the nature of sociality that the event created for the people involved in it. Two aspects should be noted: firstly, it was specifically a piece of art, and thus the involvement of art and aesthetics in sociality is of concern to us; secondly, it was art created on the move and through movement, and this encourages us to locate sociality in actual...

  16. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 209-210)
  17. Index
    (pp. 211-218)