Skip to content

An experience of commonality

September 29, 2009

Original Message
Received: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 10:35:55 AM BST
From: “John Postill”
To: […]
Subject: Re: [iDC] The difference between privacy and anonymity

Brian Holmes wrote:

…while we are increasingly socialized by the relation to fluctuating signals, still the imperative in a competitive, status-and-profit seeking society is to somehow perform your distinction, to stand out, to make a temporary difference, to be a blip in the flux. I think Sean is absolutely right: under semiotic capitalism, your ultimate and perhaps your only property is your personal name, your electronic signature. I am what I sign…. […]

The question then becomes, how to organize situations where people can experience something else? What are the places, the processes, the tool-kits of an experience of commonality?

My own ethnographic research in suburban Malaysia, social theoretical work and firsthand experience as a father and knowledge worker in provincial England lead me to a different working model. I don’t see a world of atomised selves socialised in relation to fluctuating signals where the challenge is how to experience commonality. I see not a me-centric world (Castells, Wellman) but rather a *sociocentric* world of persons operating within heavily monitored milieus (esp. school, peer group, workplace and nuclear family). Socialisation, it seems to me, still unfolds in relation to other humans operating in these same social milieus, not in blips. The weekly and seasonal cycles of school, work and holidays are still very much with us, and they continue to reproduce our social worlds and form our personal habituses.

The massive technological changes we are experiencing and the search for broader societal commonalities must be put in the context of the hugely resilient micro-collectivist (not individualist) practices that we find in schools, peer groups, families and workplaces.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: