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The Horizontal Society

The Horizontal Society

Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Horizontal Society
    Book Description:

    Modern technology has radically and irretrievably altered our sense of identity and hence our social, political, and legal life, argues Lawrence M. Friedman in this bold new book. In traditional societies, he explains, relationships and identities were stronglyvertical: there was a clear line of authority from top to bottom, and identity was fixed by one's birth or social position. But in modern society, identity and authority have become much morehorizontal: people feel freer to choose who they are and to form relationships on a plane of equality.Friedman examines how modern life centers on human identity seen in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, and how this new way of defining oneself affects politics, social structure, and the law. Our horizontal society, he says, is the product of the mass media-in particular, television-which break down the isolation of traditional life and allow individuals to connect with like-minded others across barriers of space and time. As horizontal groups blossom, loyalties and allegiances to smaller groups fragment what seemed to be the unity of the larger nation. In addition, the media's ability to spread a global mass culture causes a breakdown of cultural isolation that leads to more immigration and heavy pressure on the laws and institutions of citizenship and immigration.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14720-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-15)

    In april 1994 unspeakable horror swept over Rwanda, a small country in central Africa. It all started after the president of the country was killed in a mysterious air crash. This accident, if it was an accident, somehow unleashed demonic violence; it seemed to act as a signal, a spark, making old hatreds burst into flame. Two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi, uncomfortably share the national space in Rwanda. In the days and weeks followed the death of the president, the capital, Kigali, and the rest of country were engulfed in looting, rape, and murder of almost indescribable...

  5. 1 The Way We Live Now
    (pp. 16-52)

    IN THE INTRODUCTION, I BROUGHT in the concept of the horizontal society. I made a few general points about where it came from. It is to say much about origins; and I will not try to fill in details or an elaborate theory to explain the world we live in. That would be beyond my powers, or maybe anybody’s powers. Clearly, whatever modern society—the Industrial Revolution, surely, and whatever createdit—is the motor force behind the developments we are discussing. Once the process got going, it fed on itself, fueled by the astonishing growth of science and technology....

  6. 2 A Revolution of Rights
    (pp. 53-79)

    IN CHAPTER I, I TALKED about some cultural aspects of our horizontal society and the general effects of these cultural aspects on social structure and political life. In this chapter, I will briefly discuss two direct (and closely linked) consequences of the horizontal society, the legal and the political.

    The first is the so-calledrights revolution.A right is a legal empowerment. In the broadest sense, we can call any legal claim a right, provided it justified and likely to win out. So, if a careless driver smashes into my car, I can collect money from him or his insurance...

  7. 3 A Wealth of Nations
    (pp. 80-119)

    ONE BASIC FACT ABOUT OUR world, so obvious that we take it for granted, is that the world is divided into countries, or to put it a shade more technically, sovereign nations. It is also obvious that nationalism generates powerful emotions and can arouse powerful political energy, and that it has caused, or been associated with, innumerable wars and conflicts, past and present.

    This chapter will briefly discuss what nationalism is, where it came from, and how national and ethnic conflicts relate to the horizontal society. One fundamental point is that nations and ethnic groups are largely an invention of...

  8. 4 Big Fish and Little Fish Nation Against Nation
    (pp. 120-134)

    IN THE LAST CHAPTER I talked about the meaning of such terms asnationandnationalismand mentioned the troubling facts about the spread of rather virulent forms of nationalism—in particular, the spread of more and more nasty little wars. A good many of these are civil wars, and many of them bring about if not mass murder then at least the ugliness and cruelty of ethnic cleansing. Some of the worst of these wars take place outside the confines of the rich, comfortable world. But what happens at the fringes is dangerous, even to that rich, comfortable world....

  9. 5 Insiders and Outsiders
    (pp. 135-152)

    IN THE LAST TWO CHAPTERS, I discussed the idea of nationalism. Whatever else it means, nationalism implies membership in, and attachment to, the nation. We discussed the meaning of the concept of the nation, some of the consequences that flow from ethnic identity, and how ethnic identity is related to the development of nations.

    We pointed out that nations both include and exclude. This means that each nation, and also the subnations and virtual nations, must address its own question ofidentity:who is, and who is not, a member? This chapter focuses on the question of membership, of belonging....

  10. 6 Citizens and Strangers Legal and Social Definitions
    (pp. 153-187)

    IN PRIOR CHAPTERS, I DISCUSSED the rise of ethnic identity and its relationship to the horizontal society, mostly in cultural and political terms. I also looked at how such categories as race are officially and legally defined. This chapter will explore, briefly, ways in which the basically subjective and cultural concepts of identity get molded into legal structures—specifically, laws of citizenship and naturalization.

    Probably all identity groups draw a line between people inside the group and people outside the group, between those who belong and those who definitely do not belong. Every group has devised some way to test...

  11. 7 Immigration and Its Discontents
    (pp. 188-221)

    IN THE LAST CHAPTER, I talked about the law of citizenship and naturalization; in this chapter I will continue with a brief discussion of immigration law and policy. The two subjects are closely connected; in a way, it is artificial to separate them.

    Politically speaking, the subject of immigration is highly charged in our times. I will briefly trace the history of American immigration law, with some glancing references to other countries. Then I will talk about how social facts, in the horizontal society, transform the problem of immigration.

    The laws and rules of immigration guard the gates of the...

  12. 8 Beyond Ethnicity
    (pp. 222-238)

    IN EARLIER CHAPTERS, I DISCUSSED how the horizontal society gradually emerged out of primal ooze. That led us to discuss one of its cultural consequences: nationalism. And nationalism, we remarked, always has at least some ethnic component. The great national movements worked to define a nationality or ethnic group, to find a homeland for that group, or, in immigrant countries, to generate national feeling, a unity, a loyalty, a patriotism, based on creed and ideology (more or less).

    For both immigrant and nonimmigrant nations, the movement of peoples generates crisis, as we explored in the last chapter. Ethnic and racial...

  13. 9 Some Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 239-250)

    IN THIS BOOK, I HAVE described what I call the horizontal society. What I mean by this term is simple. In the modern world, for a number of reasons, vertical authority has weakened: the authority of parents, bosses, heads of state, the local priest or elder—people who are above us. Modern society, compared to past societies, is much more horizontal. There is a much more important place for groups that are voluntarily formed, for groups that do not meet face-to-face but that join together through the miracles of modern technology. Of course, I did not mean that a society,...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 251-280)
    (pp. 281-298)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 299-310)