70s

In autumn 2019 the Cosmopolitan featured a headline “Stop fighting it: the ´70s are back”. At least in fashion the 70s are still with us. Platform soles, moon boots, hot pants, all had their first appearance in the 70s. We keep seeing them in fashion shows even 50 years later. In politics, the retreat of the U.S. from Vietnam in 1972, with more than 50.000 killed soldiers from the U.S. and many more Vietnamese persons, is certainly a success of the sizable activists’ peace movement of the 60s. Willy Brandt’s kneeling in Warsaw in front of the heroes monument in honour of the Warsaw ghetto marked the beginning of a reconciliation with Eastern parts of Europe.
The oil crises 1973 and 1979 caused mass unemployment and from the beginning of the 70s “Greenpeace” started its on-site activist approach against nuclear weapons, killing of whales and dumping of toxic waste. The network of independent organisations is contemporaneous to the invention of e-mail between large so-called mainframe computers using the now common address format x@y.z. The feminist movement achieved major successes with a UN resolution to ban discrimination against women. The male dominated aggressive and excessive punk movement occurred almost in parallel. New products like the Polaroid camera for instant photos and prints, video cassette recorder, the chopper bike “Bonanza” as well as the collapsible Maclaren Buggy for children defined a lifestyle around a more mobile society. Plastic furniture, bright colours with uncommon combinations brought with it a more diverse culture. Societies exploded into different lifestyles. Some taking the new Concorde, so-called supersonic speed delta airplane between Paris and New York, whereas others walked around in “wooden clogs” as a kind of folk fashion, watched Kojak the bold police inspector, listened or sang to ABBA tunes, danced like in “Saturday night fever”. In December 1979 Pink Floyd released “The Wall” which became with 23 million sales the top seller of all 70s productions (Champ Hamish p.120). Some of these artists we can still enjoy jumping up and down on stages across the world or being honoured with a Nobel prize in literature like Bruce Springsteen.
The wild 70s are remembered for the sexual revolution, the philosophy of love and peace as well as the continued spirit of the civil rights movements (Particia Massó, 2010). The sexual revolution spurred women’s liberation just as additional exploitation by thriving borderless consumption industry. Sex sells and it sold well. The cinema and print industry cashed in on the new trends and the spreading the new trends. Social relationships became much more unstable, divorce rates increased sharply in the 70s. In response, “surviving the 70s” (DeMott, 1971) a kind of survival guide tried to give advice of how to stem the tide, largely unsuccess for some decades.
Societies continued to explore new forms of life, while some niches of conservative life styles started to shield themselves from these outrageous trends. Vasarely imitating tapestry and design invited new forms of facing your own walls. Where to go on from this liberalisation? More equal rights for all, was a claim, but it took several additional decades to achieve some of the claims. Intersectionality, viewing for example violence as an across gender, social class and ethnicity as an overall mankind issue, became a claim much later only. “All in all, it was just bricks in the wall”, a huge wall it still is. We haven’t climbed it yet.

Time2

The concept of time has been dominated by “chronometry”. We used to take a look at our more or less reliable wrist watch for orientation in time. This is a cultural practice in all societies where such devices are readily available as consumer products. Before this time, even in the Europe, church bells or the sun played the role to locate people in time (Norbert Elias on civilization). Nowadays, even in remote areas of our planet the mobile phone has taken over to assist us to organize time. In the sociology of time, we observe multiple clocks. The personal time, social time – organized through laws, collective agreements, conventions or as behavioural features of us. So-called early birds have a specific awakening response of their cortisol level in their blood. For others this is delayed. We might conclude from this that different clocks are ticking within us. The societal challenge is to synchronize them. Starting time of schooling is another phenomenon of societal construction of life courses. Starting or ending time of a school day, week, month, year, adulthood, all are determined collectively and changed from time to time. Beyond points in time, there are durations in time to consider. Life spans are socially determined. Life expectancy varies a lot by social class and education levels. Therefore, at least in retrospect and keeping the duration constant across persons, life time clocks are ticking with different speeds for us as individual persons.
In the digital age and powerful search engines based on “web crawlers” we live more than ever in a global state of mind. Awareness of “global history of history” (Woolf, 2011) allows us to add perspectives from several parts of the world to our own version of history, historiographies and histories. Collective memories are continuously shaped and recreated. Due to easy reference to chronological time a perspective following decades has become a sort of collective mind map. This influences directly or indirectly through peer behaviour and preferences our own mindsets (Blanning, 2008 p.307). From a sociological point of view decades are at the crossroads of time, period and cohort effects, potentially mixing up all 3 effects. However, statistically speaking we might apply a spline function -´ to our otherwise / linear running of time. Thick description of decades like the 60s, 70s, 80s, is common practice in our communicative practices, preferences as well as behavioural features. A dialectic co-evolution of decades, one negating the other or one decade being a synthesis of 2 other decades are part of the critical assessment of lasting contributions to history through histories (Paul Ricoeur).

Deconstruction

Deconstruction is a powerful tool or even method. Beyond imagineering, deconstruction in the literal sense means take to pieces. In most cases a physical object consists of several objects or parts. By deconstruction we attempt to understand the whole object as the sum of its parts. Before a new product or design is created, many scientists, engineers and artists start to deconstruct existing artefacts. Understanding how the object is assembled, for example, allows you to play around with pieces and maybe come up with an alternative way of constructing the object. The architecture of “deconstructivsm” has left us fantastic buildings. In furniture design there are also nice examples of deconstruction. Paris is a good place to study deconstruction (Explained), perhaps many still read Derrida there. It is a fruitful method beyond its engineering sense for example in law, literature or many other social science disciplines. If you are not mad yet, visit the MAD in Paris to see examples of deconstruction or construct your own deconstruction. Both have a dialectic relationship to each other anyway.

 

Subject/Object

The 26 notions in alphabetical order may determine a subject and/or an object in a sentence. This is just the simple grammar of a language. Add a verb and we have a full sentence subject predicate object (SPO) as they say in English. In the philosophical sense the subject-object relationship is a bit more complicated. Beyond Aristotle’s objectum and subjectum, we think of Descartes “Cogito ergo sum” as the definition of the self as subject, rather than being an object of God’s will and creation. Kant then forms the couple of object and subject in the sense of objectivity and subjectivity. Pure reasoning is the abstraction of subjectivity to achieve an interpersonal objectivity. The master of dialectic thinking, Hegel, conceives an object as objective conscience and a subject as particular subjectivity. Having defined the extreme points of the spectrum makes you think about a joinder or the synthesis. Freud adds the object as result of sexual impulse. Wittgenstein then introduces a kind of hierarchy into the S/O-relationship. Objects become ultimate elements and indescribable in content as kind of basic notions. This follows the mathematical view of objects as indirect description of a mathematical object through axioms stating the basic principles governing the object and then deduce the logical consequences. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem , however, rejects this claim. This is the basis of, for example, algorithmic testing whether deductions are true or false. Condensed mathematics has relied on this testing approach as well.
A pragmatic perspective is added by Marie Gautier (p.719 “Notions”). If we want to reach an objective, we shall need others to realize it. By way of this imagination the S/O-relationship turns into an interactive relationship. Following Habermas, we might claim that the S/O-relationship is also a part of communicative action and therefore the discourse ethics. The definition of who or what is object and/or subject needs open discourse. The arena is not only the parliament, but larger audiences or the world wide web. Beware of the Luhmann systems theory, whereby for example the definition of what is a technical object is, is left to technicians, who then ponder in their self-reflective, reflexive circles amongst themselves. Techniciens in their circles tend to neglect the prime importance of society and laws to determine technological choices. Language with its constituent elements of subject, predicate and object (SPO) is one example of a knowledge system build on axioms or negotiated conventions for grasping and exchanging about phenomena. Nice, now we play around with it.
SPO => OPS.

Sound

Each society has its sound. Each person lives in her/his sound cloud or bubble. Cities are generally noisy places, Lots of traffic, mobility and moves leave sound bytes all over the place. Each city though has its own sound and spectrum of frequencies. Libraries, museums, places of worship, all build their special atmosphere due to specific sound design. The Singing Project by Ayumi Paul (Gropiusbau Berlin) created its own sound environment. Reminding us to consciously design our exposure to and experience of sound is welcome. John Cage started to build his very own language of music, similar to Schoenberg, from scratch. His writings Empty Mind explain his view and techniques a bit. Starting with silence and the time between sounds we recreate our own sound experience. Notation of it comes second in place. only for the potential to repeat the experience notation is useful. But it is only one form of conservation for posterity. Noise canceling is the amazing tool from sound physics which allows you to neutralize noise by adding specific frequencies to noise which cancel out each other. Design your personal sound experience beyond noise if you like. Nature recordings or familiar person voices allow you immersive experiences when and where we want. your home sound can be everywhere nowadays.

Action Verbs

Action words are in other words called action verbs. Each complete sentence has one. Hence, they are part and parcel of the basic construction of sentences.
“The purpose of an active verb is to create a clear, concise sentence. By using an active verb, you can eliminate unnecessary words and make your writing more direct. In addition to making your writing more concise, active verbs also add punch and clarity. They can make your writing more interesting and persuasive. Additionally, active verbs can create a sense of immediacy which is often useful in persuasive writing.  When it comes to writing, there is nothing more important than using strong, active verbs. Not only do they make your writing more interesting and engaging, but they also convey a sense of confidence and authority. In addition to being more descriptive, active verbs also add a sense of movement and action to your writing. Rather than simply stating that something exists, you can use active verbs to show how it exists. For example, rather than saying “there is a chair in the room,” you could say “the chair sits in the corner of the room.” This may seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how your writing comes across. Finally, active verbs can also help to set the tone of your writing. If you want to convey a sense of wit and humour, then using playful, lighthearted verbs is a great way to do so. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a more serious tone, then using powerful, authoritative verbs will help you achieve that.”
After the 3rd sentence this blog entry (Link) has been written by the artificial intelligence app “Neuroflash”. They promise that it is not just copy and paste, but rather written following some instructions I gave like title, table of content, style and then selected among several choices. It makes sense to me, although it is just like many other textbook entries I have found on the web. It may well serve as an introduction. Lazy journalists, priests or lawyers in case they do little research will be replaced soon by AI, who else, who is next? Big brother drafts the brave new world for us already.

U for Union

Union, understanding, undo, unknown, uncertainty, universe, urbanization, use, u-turn. All those u-words spark imagination. Additionally, the short forms of u as abbreviation for you, ur = your, youth and smartphone typing are creating for us abbreviations to communicate even faster and shorter via social media. Union is my favourite of this list for several reasons: (1) Marital union, passionate topic not only for family sociologists, (2) trade unions, as collective form to organize solidarity in and across societies, (3) European Union, the formidable tool to create, conserve and ensure peaceful developments in Europe. We have to prolong this list with the union jack, the united states, the united nations and …, please continue the list.
For me, in union I see a whole film running, a process proceeding, or persons uniting. Unionization, just like two persons deciding to pass more time together, has some magic in it. Match making is the modern term for it. No Union without reunion,  dissolving a union might be part of the process as well, as painful it can turn out to be. Most of the times we grow throughout the process. Forming a union, in all senses of the word and of all sorts of forms, is a kind of teleological urge of us as a species. We share this with many animals but have also developed strategies and weapons to force others into union. Unfortunately, no u-word without its potential to be used in the sense of abuse. Unite to defend the union of fans of unions. (Evolution of Union of Tweets own Video 12-2022). IMG_4611

T for Time

The times they are a changing“, end of blog entry T.
We live time forward, but we seem to understand it only backwards or in retrospect. Towards the end of each year, it is common practice to look back and review the last 12 months. Then we imagine what will the future be like. Our concept of time is past, present or future oriented. In classical physics we reflect this with a depiction of time on a linear axis. However, modern concepts of time include Einstein’s relativity theory, whereby in 2 different places time may run with different speed. Similarly, quantum physics allows that the causal relationship between 2 physical states is no longer observable in a logic that follows linear time. A particle may exit in 2 states in parallel. Hard to imagine, maybe, but demonstrations of these effects are found in textbooks for pupils already. Our grasping of the world around us is enhanced through scientific rigour.
Story-telling also plays with time frames. Analepsis and prolepsis are common techniques constructing a story, a film or any form or narrative. We tend to perceive chronological time even as boring. Our memory is also playing tricks with us on time scales. When was …? Additionally, we have multiple clocks ticking away. Time to submit a report, pay taxes, until the next medication or the psychological concept of “time until death”. Strangely enough, depending on which ticking clock we focus most, our behaviour is likely to change. Mobile time management tools have been created for centuries for us to handle all this jazz (call them a watch). They all have not changed our concept of time, only the precision to measure and cramp more activities or the same one faster into our daily life. Happier since? Test your self-efficacy, more general than time management! Try meditation to slow down the pace, use an app!? I started to clone myself with a virtual presence to experience the quantum effect of my life. Podcasts are played with 1,5x the normal speed now. Rhythm and music are the remaining traditional metrics of time. Even there, John Cage’s piece “silence” managed to abandon the time reference, partly at least. Okay, time is up, next letter, please.

S for Society

At least since the “Greek Polis” became a subject of science, the study of society has filled libraries around the world. To catch up with the social sciences view on society, we may start with foundations based on Max Weber, Niklas Luhmann, Jürgen Habermas, Ulrich Beck to then move on to my predilection with micro-level foundation of social theory based on work from James Coleman. The history of sociological ideas runs from the protestant work ethic, autopoiesis in systems theory, ethics of discourse and communicative action, risk management to “1 to 1 relationships” as pillars of theorising about society. 10.000 pages later on, you might still ask yourself the question: what practical knowledge have I gained from this. Well let’s see. Imagine you want to learn about a friend and whether s/he is really a friend. Nowadays we would start with an online-search to find profiles of a person (facebook, Instagram, linked-in, twitter, twitch, mastodon). When the first entries pop-up, we start to learn about interests, looks, friends and preferences of the person. In which social media the person is (or not) participating tells a lot. We start to build an image of the person and her/his networks and communities. Soon we start comparing the person’s world reference framework with our set of values and characteristics. Welcome to thinking about society in small, and interactions within society or between groups of society. Adding some solid knowledge about statistics and you’re ready to start the science of society.
Yet, so many still open questions. When talking about society, we have to think about the trend of individualisation and ways to keep society together despite increasing plurality of life courses. “Solitude versus loneliness” is as much a social as it is an individual based issue. Community-building with inclusion, staying-on and exclusion processes have to be studied in detail. The whole process of civilisation or the study of suicide has been a sociological topic since its inception by Emile Durkheim. Imagineering is an additional tool to speculate in a systematic way about the past and future of society. That’s where all the arts come into the picture as well. The history of art is full of perspectives on society, its splendour, the misery of individuals, communities and societies. An emotional starting point is a very valid starting point, the science of society then moves on to abstraction and generalisations as well. The challenge is, to capture audiences emotionally, with short reflections on society.

K for Knowledge

Readers of the sociology and/or the philosophy of science or knowledge have a hard time. Each discipline is evolving at such a high speed that is terribly hard for humans to follow more than 1 or 2 fields. Perhaps the choice of Karma instead of knowledge would have made it easier here. Alternatively, in German it is easy to find many nouns starting with a capital K. Kapital, Krieg, Kritik or Käsekuchen would have been popular, I guess. Soon I shall open the comments for suggestions for additional nouns, as part of the empirical “swarm knowledge strategy” rather than the theory-driven deductive method applied in knowledge generation on my side so far.
But wait, we are already in the middle of the unsatiable quest for knowledge. On a meta-level we would deal with the multiple ways to acquire knowledge and create new knowledge. Artifical intelligence is certainly one of the hypes at the moment. New data and new combinations of data drive us forward in the expanding universe and knowledge space. We have witnessed the disappearance of the thick printed encyclopedia in most households, replaced by specilised digital dictionaries or the network society’s shared knowledge base of “wikipedia“. Knowledge is linked to the history of ideas and Peter Burke is a prominent figure to rely on as a reference in this field. 20 years after “A social history of knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot” he published the much acclaimed: “The Polymath. A cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag” in 2020. To synthesise across the many “monsters of knowledge” over centuries is a daunting task. I like quotes like the one from Leibniz (p.77) “the horrible heap of books that is constantly increasing” and then his own continuation: “Printing, once viewed as a solution to the problem, had become a problem itself”. The whole section is devoted to information overload. Fragmentation of knowledge into disciplines and, much worse, the manufacturing of false knowledge create new challenges to knowledge. Maybe transforming the term to “knowledges” rather than knowledge is likely to capture better the differences between artificial knowledge, created by artificial intelligence and specialised algorithms, and human based knowledge. In knowledge storage we have lost the race with computers, but in deciding what are promising combinations between different fields of knowledge, we are still a wee bit ahead of the machines. Klara tell me, where is the exit, or your synthesis of the whole lot. Meanwhile I continue to read – what? books and the like.

G for God

God is dead, wrote Nietzsche about 140 years ago. So, is he, is she, are they? The discussion is ongoing. As science has debunked the myths surrounding birth, the jury is out as humanity is claiming freedom of choice also towards the end of life. Our cathedrals of Modernity, i.e. libraries , or Tempel of knowledge, i.e. universities, offer lots of instruction and Musea artefacts or Anschauungsmaterial to answer these existential questions. Perhaps this is just a lot of noise about “rien”, “nichts” or “Much ado about nothing“.
We might have to rethink society from scratch, starting with the definition of social backround and identity , but there are plenty of good sources to build upon, starting with basic human rights and the Schuman declaration for the construction of  Europe, rising out of the ashes. Lots of hard thinking to do, Rodin thought so, too. The thinker above the “porte de l’enfer” ready for meditation in the Musée Rodin Paris 7eme arrondisement.

F for Freedom

This choice is no surprise, or is it? Who is longing the most for freedom? People in the so-called Western world are reported to score highest in the rankings of achieved levels of freedom. However, the longing for freedom often seems the strongest in countries, or regions within a country, where elements of freedom are restricted. Then fighting for freedom becomes an intense struggle, sometimes leading to outright war or fighting back like in Ukraine. Beyond the negative freedom (free from capital punishment) there is the positive freedom to express yourself freely. Both perspectives on freedom are crucial. Being free from prosecution is often only a first step towards the goal of being free to live your way of life as you feel it. It has always been a political struggle and will remain one today as well as in future. Less consensus reigns on the topic to what extent economic freedom is a constituent part of the term freedom. Far-reaching economic inequality within societies frequently limit persons at the bottom of the distribution to fully participate in society and excercise many components of freedom like decent food, housing, health and health care. All this remains the biggest challenge for humanity for years to come. We shall need a lot more heros in the name of freedom like the famous Nobel prize winners. Fighting for freedom in a peaceful way is probably the biggest challenge for humanity also in the 21 century.

E for Enterprise

There is a new start-up scene in development in Germany. Interesting to witness the new entrepreneurial spirit. Many of the youngsters grow out of their peer community, wanting to try new ways of working and living together. The new bottom-up or grassroots form of growing a business out of a subculture seems to be an adequate response to the growing diversity of societies and easier ways of community building through online social media. Name it “reach” today, it is similar to what you previously called having a customer base. The new element refers to a blending of cultures. Learning through being online connected to the world, yes, the whole world, allows wide-spread influences from other sub-cultures, be they American, Asian or African. The young are open-minded to new stimuli like “Ikigai” from Japan and, of course, the life histories of founders and individual biographies from entrepreneurs like the legend of Steve Jobs, Apple’s legendary founder. Imagineering has become part of the movie-influenced influencers. Short clips out of a longer story build communities. The witty comment, like at school, gets more attention than the long boring story of the preacher, teacher or the mansplainer. The experience of “flow” is all around these communities and this creates the specific magic of the start-up scene. They take each other to new levels, mutually, reinforcing their preferences and life-styles. They are well aware of the risks they are taking. “Keinhorn” German short for “not an Einhorn”, the one billion value threshold for super successful enterprises taught them crucial lessons. The “ecology of organisations” which I referred to in my courses at the now renamed “Constructor University” previously “International University Bremen”, then “Jacobs University”, (let’s see what comes next?) is an important complementary research tradition to assess the “survival” of enterprises. I still recommend this University, which I quit to start new endeavors. It carries in its several “names” the important message:
start, fail, change, (repeat).

D for Democracy

Stand up for Democracy. Give me a D. Yes, we are passionate for democracy. Even if we are not singing Beethoven‘s “Ode an die Freude” every day, we are well aware that we have to defend democracy at numerous places. The essay in the New Yorker by Jill Lepore from January 2020 on the manifold risks to democracy and the way forward is a great inspiration. Democracy is always a “work in progress”. It improves and in most cases rises with the challenges. However, this demands to stay alert and wither the beginnings of threats to its functioning. Beyond the external threats, internal threats to democratic values are abound. The discursive element that is highlighted in the essay remains crucial. Debating in public is key. Transparency of arguments, reasoning and values are constituent parts of democracy. Clandestine ways of corruption, bribery and threatening of violence become apparent when fractions of society retreat from the public to form insider groups. Defenders of democracy need to speak out in public, publish they work, expose and perform their arts, challenge school curricula and be active in any policy field. This is a lot to do, but we have to prevail and rise to the continuous challenges to the democratic way of life. Too many dictators and autocrats around the world would like to see democracy fail. Worse, they work actively, like in “Qatargate” in November 2022 in Brussels to spread illicit practices of corruption. We have to strengthen our “antennas” and sensors to detect such practices. Prevention is key. Tough reactions with the force of the legal system to stop the spreading is also indicated. Let’s rise to the challenge, again and again with the latest technology.

C for Corruption

After the association of C with crises of corona, climate, consumption and the church we have to come back to one of the original links: corruption. Beyond the work of describing and analysing corruption from the time of the Roman empire to the Americas of today (Link) by Thomas Strunck, the re-reading of Niccoló Machiavelli is recommended by a number of scholars (in latin here). Also, in Asia the work and writings of Niccoló have been rediscovered (Link). “non creando in veritá le cuose nove”. It needs “una ferma experienza”. As people don’t just believe in the truth of new reasons, a firm experience of them is needed. New princes cannot just pray, they have to install a new vision or belief with force (p.25) by literally forcing persons (forzare) or “fare … credere par forza” stated in Chapter 6 of THE PRINCE. If we just complement the term force by force of persuasion, or money as surrogate for both, the writing of Niccoló speaks directly to corruption in our times.  History does not repeat itself. However, the history of ideas still teaches “some dogs old tricks” until they are found out by investigative journalism and an independent judiciary, which both did not exit at Niccoló’s time. (inspired by Chaudhuri, S. & Chakravarty, P. (2022) Machiavelli Then and Now: History, Politics, Literature. Cambridge University Press.)

Human Rights

It is 10 years after the publication of a Ph.D. thesis on “Corruption: a violation of human rights and a crime under international law?” by Martine Boersma that at the top level of the European Parliament and the International Trade Union Congress the smell of corruption is investigated by police and judges. Following “Qatargate” (Radio France Link) this means that the persons accused of corruption, forming a criminal group and money laundering have changed their lobbying in return for accepting cash. Exploitation of workers and more than 100 deaths in Qatar was the result, due to the heat when building the stadiums for the Football World Cup which took place in 2022. Following the recommendations of Boersma corruption in this respect can be interpreted as these persons contributing to and being guilty of abusing their political positions to silence criticism and whistle-blowers, and the right for defendants to a fair trial for example. The advocacy to counter corruption with developing international human rights legislation and persecution in this respect is dearly needed now. “This line of reasoning transforms a corrupt act into a possible starting point for legal action, be it at the national level, …, or at the international level by submitting a complaint to a regional or global human rights monitoring body.” (Boersma, 2012 p.376) The International Criminal Court or “alternative such as the establishment of a permanent anti-corruption court, or anti-corruption commission to monitor compliance with the UN Convention Against Corruption should be kept in mind, as well as the possibility of setting up ad hoc anti-corruption tribunals” (p.380). Not much to add to this, act now, before the practice spreads.
Francesco Merloni wrote in his book (2019, p.132) on corruption with Italy in comparative perspective: “when corruption is defined in its wider meaning of maladministration, we are looking at a mass phenomenon which is “sub-criminal”, yet nonetheless with strongly negative implications for the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration and democracy in general.” The practice of excessive salaries of the Italian parliament (p.131) is mentioned in the list of case histories of corruption just like the international event of the EXPO 2015 in Milano with huge construction projects (LeMonde on Panzeri l’ex-eurodéputé). Learning from case studies is best practice in many business schools and probably beyond. Finally, attention should be drawn to prevention of corruption. Here the reading of Corruption and Anti-corruption by Larmour and Wolanin (2001, p.235) offers good advice. The micro-economics of corruption (pp. 119) states for example that “If expected penalties are sufficiently high, bribery is deterred” (p.126). Equally the real threat of a full and explicit audit of operations, promotions and financial transactions might deter corrupt activities. Most importantly the authors state, “the social networks approach to corruption allows the corruption investigator to conceptualise the operation of corrupt networks in terms of power flows and relationships rather than the attributes of actors. The question to be asked by the corruption investigator is not whether actor A is corrupt. The question should be, what is the relationship between actor A and other potentially corrupt actors in the network.” Re-reading some classics of sociology like Max Weber on bureaucracy, but also James Coleman’s foundation of social theory provide basics for understanding social interaction when things go fundamentally in the wrong direction. We might even need to use artificial intelligence to detect corruptive practices to shield and support the trade union movement.

State of the Union

The times they are a changing”. Currently, we witness that democracies are at multiple risks. One existential threat is, of course, war of external origin. Democracies have been perceived as often to slow to mobilize military forces sufficient to resist “Blitzkrieg”. What Nazi-Germany applied successful at the beginning took a long time and millions of dead persons to rectify. Similarly, the threat to Ukraine’s independence and liberal aspirations are threatened by Russian imperialism. The other existential threat is that of “the enemy within”. This is the conclusion by Canova (2011, p.213) when he writes on “democracy’s disappearing duties”. Whereas he has primarily in mind, that citizens need to participate more actively in the duties to democracy’s survival. These are “the duty to become informed and to vote, as well as rights and duties related to civic and/or military duties. The discussion, whether we need an army of the many or an army of specialists has shifted largely in favour of the need for specialists, simply think of cyber or drone war technology. However, the threat of the enemies from within becomes clear if we remember terrorist attacks targeted at democracies practice of free movement, free speech or art. Another centuries-old threat has come to our attention again. Corruption. The slow-motion erosion of democracies is hard to fight against as it operates not with visible tanks and weapons, but with clandestine and psychological ways of slow corrosion of organisations and institutions. Combatting corruption is even more tricky in cross-country settings like the European Union. Reference to cultural practices and exclusive or inner circles as cultural exceptionalism make it hard to introduce non-discriminatory monitoring and controlling mechanisms in democracies. Only a well-equipped security, police and judicial system can stem the risk to democracies from corruption and organized crime. It is not only a matter of state responsibility, but our democracies rely on an alert public to stand up continually for our basic values. Just singing the national and European anthem is not enough, fighting corruption is laboursome and cumbersome, particularly as corrupt circles do not refrain from using brute force and weapons (Reichsbürger, Mafia, etc.). Addressing inner and outer enemies at the same time remains high on the agenda for the surviving and thriving of democracies. The foundation ideas of the European Union were constructed by Monnet and Schuman on a sustainable democracy.  Let’s not endanger this through a sluggish response on corruption.
inspired by Canova, T.A. 2011: Democracy’s disappearing duties. In: Democratic Citizenship and War. Peled, V. et al. (eds.) pp. 199-216.

Corruption

There is an extensive literature on corruption in the social sciences. However, the evil practice continues to ruin personal lifes, institutions and countries. Psychologists put corrupt persons in the psychopath life trajectory (Link) or explain corruption as result of the triad of personality traits for persons scoring high on not only psychopathy, but also on narcissism as well as  Machiavellianism (Link).  Some important lessons derive from a fast reading of the scientific literature. (1) Corruption develops over a period of time. The creed for ever more power seems a strong driving force. (2) Some personality traits are more likely to deteriorate into corruptive behavior and (3) institutions need to monitor carefully leadership practices and guard against abuses of power already at small instances like threatening with violence or dismissal. (4) Countries can do a lot to limit corruption through adequate legal systems, most notably through a truely independent judiciary as well as the need of investigative journalism to accompany potentially illicit behavior. All this comes at a cost, but without it democracies are at high risk. The European Union has to strengthen its defences in this respect to remain a credible institution, just as much as a great number of Member States. Not only the World Bank or OECD need to be monitoring countries, but we all need to be better equiped to read the early signs of corruption.  Whistle blowing and the protection of these persons is part of an effective anti-corruption system. Early signs of “nepotism” and “favoring of friends” in the workplace are easy to identify, but taking measures against it, needs firm committment on the part of advisory boards, colleagues at work or other interested parties like stakeholders or investors in case of private firms (wirecard) . (Link to NZZ).

Du sollst mehr lesen

In unseren hektischen Zeiten, kommt so ein Aufruf immer passend. Statt Reisen kann ja auch online erkundet werden. Alles bildet, heute multimedial versteht sich. Dennoch lässt es sich wunderbar statt im stillen, heute kalten, Kämmerlein in öffentlichen Bibliotheken stöbern oder recherchieren. Die Bibliothèque nationale de France hat dazu eine alte gute Stube renoviert und richtig herausgeputzt. Die Kathedralen der Moderne in Stockholm, Brüssel mal flämisch, mal frankophon setzen auch bereits auf Zugänglichkeit für alle. Das Konzept war bereits in Paris in den aufgestellten Büchern, der Bibliothekstürme der BnF präsent. Begehbare Bücher samt Garten, Ausstellungen und Treffpunkten ziehen viele Besuchenden an. Mit dem historischen Standort Richelieu im Zentrum von Paris nahe Chatelet ist eine neue Dimension entstanden. Ob es gelingen wird, Touristen zu Lesenden und zu Lernenden weiter zu entwickeln, bleibt eine wichtige Frage für das Überleben unserer Kulturen und Demokratien. Neben der zur Schaustellung von Büchern gibt es auch Zugang zu neuen Medien und ein Set für virtuelle Realitäten zu Ausstellungen moderner Künstler seit dem Impressionismus. Die Verknüpfung von Kunst-, Geistes- und Architekturgeschichte mit aktuellem Design (neue Designerstühle) ist gelungen, Probesitzen eingeschlossen. So erschließen sich neue Traumwelten und harte Realitäten in einem Zug.

Sparen na klar

Die Apelle zum Sparen von Gas wirken. Das zeigt die Statistik der Bundesnetzagentur. Der Verbrauch im außergewöhnlich kühlen September war noch auf der Durschnittslinie der Verbräuche vorheriger Jahre, aber der sehr warme Oktober (LeMonde 29.10.22 berichtet bereits von 6° über dem Mittel in Frankreich) hat uns zu einer deutlich geringeren Verbrauchszahl für Gas für Haushalte und Unternehmen kommen lassen. Entsprechend purzeln die Gaspreise (TTF in Amsterdam). Mal sehen, ob das bei den Verbrauchenden auch ankommen wird. “Sparen, kann ich”. Das könnte das Motto des Winters werden. Manche Verhaltensänderungen reagieren nicht nur auf Preissignale, wie der Mainstreamökonom uns gerne glauben lässt, sondern eben auch auf Apelle. Okay, ich bekenne mich dazu. Bei mir ist der Waschlappen und warme Pullover auch wieder aus den tiefen des Kleiderschranks hervorgekommen. Sparen für die Freiheit ist doch ein edles Ziel. Mal sehen wie lange wir alle das Durchhalten werden. Zur Motivtion lässt sich der Gasverbrauch in D bei der Bundesnetzagentur aktualisieren. Der deutsche Wetterdienst sammelt die Daten für Durchschnittstemperaturen. Der Oktober war ca 3° wärmer als längerfristige Durchschnitt.

Quelle Bundesnetzagentur zuletzt abgefragt 14.11.22

Lange Schatten

Bestimmte Ereignisse im Leben von Menschen werfen lange Schatten. Das ist ein viel beforschtes Thema (z.B. critical life events research). Einen frischen Blickwinkel aus autobiografischer Perspektive ergänzt Andreas Fischer mit seiner autobiografischen Erzählung “Die Königin von Troisdorf“. Er steht buchstäblich im langen Schatten seiner Großeltern, Eltern, Tanten und Onkeln. Mit viel Details widmet sich der Autor den Nachwirkungen von Kriegserfahrungen seiner Familie, hauptsächlich denen des 2. Weltkriegs auf die Psyche. Das Schweigen zu den oft traumatisierenden Kriegserfahrungen schafft neuerliche Barrieren, die in die Gegenwart fortwirken. Verbindugen zwischen den Generationen lassen sich erzählerisch gut darstellen, insbesondere das Sich-ineinander-verschränkende der Beziehungen und Erfahrungen. Dabei gibt es Kernschatten und Halbschatten, aber selten klares Licht auf Geschehnisse. Einzig die langen Nachwirkungen werden offensichtlich. Dabei könnte anstelle des Schweigens der Generationen zu den eigenen Erfahrungen und denen der (Groß-)Eltern durch Berichten im Familienzusammenhang vorzüglich als Lernkontext für alle und nachkommende Generationen dienen. Nach den vielfach gescheiterten Aufklärungsversuchen der 68er- Generation, hatte sich eine neuerliche Schweigewelle ausgebreitet, die erneut zu brökeln scheint (vgl. Henri-Nannen, vielfach Straßennamenänderungen). Bis zur Kriegswende 1942 wurden große Pläne geschmiedet (damals schon in Verbindung mit einer Besetzung der Ukraine S. 215-6). Das nachwirkende Trauma besteht wohl neben den vielfach beschriebenen direkten Kriegsverletzungen auch in dem Zerborsten der euphorisierten Zukunftsträume der Kriegsgenerationen aller Altersklassen. Aus Kindheitsträumen wurden offensichtliche Illusionen oder gar tiefsitzende, externalisierte Enttäuschungen. Verdrängte Schuldfragen und Wahrheitsverweigerungen mussten über Jahre aufgearbeitet werden. Die abgekürzte Entnazifizierung hat die Länge der Schatten innerhalb der Gesellschaft und der Familien nur vergrößert. Halbschatten ist eben nur halb im Schatten und schon halb im Licht. Bildquelle: http://didaktik.physik.hu-berlin.de/material/forschung/optik/anfangsoptik/schatten.htm

Spitzel

Warum der Tagesspiegel bei meinem früheren alteingesessenen Zeitungshändler “Spitzel” hieß, ist mir lange nicht klar gewesen. Ein ungutes Gefühl bei den gelegentlichen Käufen ist geblieben. Das Schimpfwort “Springerpresse” war schlimmer und “Lügenpresse” ist eindeutig ein Pressefreiheit misachtendes Statement. Der Unterschied zwischen Meinungen, wie und welche Meinungen in der Presse erscheinen kann verzerrt sein. Im großen und ganzen können wir mit unserer Presselandschaft in der globalen Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie noch zufrieden sein. Das Sinken der Zeitungslesenden um ca. 50% in den letzten 20 Jahren ist zwar recht dramatisch, aber hat vielfältige Gründe. Wenn aus Berichterstattung zunehmend Meinungs- oder Stimmungsmache wird, werden Personen, die Informationen suchen sich an andere Medien halten.
Es ist verständlich, Printmedien brauchen andere Finanzierungsquellen als Abos und Laufkundschaft (Grenze irreführende Werbung). Den “local turn” der Lesenden bei gleichzeitig Qualitätsbewusstsein bei überregionalen Zeitungen, was Auflagen steigen lässt, hat der “Spitzel” vollzogen. Da Überregionalität in Deutschland kaum mehr zu erreichen ist, begibt sich der “Tagesspiegel” auf die “Spitzel”-Variante. Mit 12! lokalen Teilen allein in Berlin gibt es fast für jeden Bezirk einen Spitzel. Diese Person berichtet meistens Trivialitäten aus dem Bezirk, erreicht aber wahrscheinlich, wegen dem alternativen Bezahlmodell (à la Google, Facebook etc. mit gezielterer Werbung + viel Eigenwerbung) und nur scheinbar kostenlos, eine breitere interessierte Öffentlichkeit. Gezielte high impact Werbung wird so ermöglicht.
Was heisst das konkret? Naja, auf einen Artikel zu Milieuschutz und Gentrifizierung folgt dann eben eine gezielte Werbung, die als Info getarnt daherkommt. Die vielen Spitzel vom Spitzel spielen das Spiel kräftig mit, indem sie Gentrifizierung als “Kampfbegriff” versuchen zu diskreditieren, obwohl es in der wissenschaftlichen Literatur z.B. der Stadtsoziologie + Geografie  weltweit ein analytisches Konzept ist (Ursprung).
Der Treppenwitz der Berliner Geschichte ist dabei, dass Fahrstühle, die in Berliner Altbauten eingebaut werden leider für Rollstühle oft zu eng sind und meistens erst auf einer 1/2 Etage starten.  Genau, sie stoppen dann auch wieder eine 1/2 Etage niedriger oder höher, da sie wegen der Treppenhäuserkonstruktion in U-Form eigentlich nur außen angebaut werden können. Wir sollten also die Spitzel mal mit Gehhilfen, Rollator, Rollstuhl oder Kinderwagen solche Aufzüge benutzen lassen, damit eine objektive, nicht von möglicher verdeckter Werbung getriebene Berichterstattung erfolgt. Ich empfehle einen Besuch beim Orthopäden oder Osteopathen, um frühzeitig auf die Gelenke zu achten, mehr aber sollten wir das Körpergewicht (Obesity in EU) im Blick haben. Vorbeugen war schon immer besser als Heilen mit teuren Hilfsgeräten. Das gilt auch für faire mediale Bericherstattung. Noch mehr Spitzel in immer kleineren räumlichen Einheiten braucht wohl keiner, oder? TagesspiegelAuszug aus: Tagesspiegel Leute Tempelhof/Schöneberg vom 14.6.2022. Nur zu, machen sie “was mit Medien” aber richtig, nein auch nicht mehr so wie Henri Nannen. Radiobeitrag dazu. Hier.

Was mit Medien

Wenn wir Jugendliche nach ihren Berufsvorstellungen fragen, antworten viele ich würde gerne was mit Medien machen. Okay, Daddeln als Beruf ist vielleicht nicht schlecht und in der Tat, wir brauchen viele medienbewertende, kontrollierende, kurz medienkritische Menschen. Meistens lautet eine Präzisierung dann, naja was mit sozialen Medien. Aber, was sind denn soziale Medien im Gegensatz zu unsozialen Medien. Mark Zuckerberg hat das „Framing“ für sein Medienimperium gut hinbekommen. Sozial ist daran der ideale Grundgedanke jede/r könne mit jedem nach Kontaktanfrage sich austauschen. Werbung und Mobbing haben bereits die Oberhand genommen und aus den sogenannten sozialen Medien werden vielfach höchst unsoziale Konsequenzen sichtbar. Nicht erst seit den letzten Jahren versuchen die anderen Medien, auch zu sozialen Medien zu werden. Skandale, dass von Unternehmen gekaufte Artikel publiziert werden. Sponsoring von Beiträgen erreicht oft mediale Verbreitung, ist aber eigentlich verdeckte Werbung.
Aber was sind denn unsoziale Medien? Medien, die nur über eine unsozial hohe Paywall erreichbar sind, könnten wir als unsozial bezeichnen. Das träfe dann auf die öffentlich-rechtlichen Medien zunächst genauso zu wie auf privatwirtschaftlich organisierte Medien. Freibeträge oder Gebührenerlass bei den öffentlich-rechtlichen Medien können sozialen Ausgleich schaffen. Anders bei den sogenannten Printmedien, die ja auch immer mehr versuchen, sich zumindest ein wenig den Touch zu geben, auch so etwas zu sein, wie soziale Medien. Nur wenige Zeitungslesende fragen sich noch beim Bäcker: kaufe ich heute eine Zeitung einer verantwortlichen Art, 2€+X oder doch ein Graubrot in dünnen Scheiben?
Wenn sich dann jedoch herausstellt, ein Mitherausgeber, Dr. Josef Joffe von „Die Zeit“, warnt einen Firmenchef vor kritischer Berichterstattung und schreibt bis vor kurzem weiter Kolumnen in einer Regionalzeitung „Der Tagesspiegel“, früher lokal genannt der Spitzel, dann sind die Selbstreinigungseffekte der notwendigen, unabhängigen Presse nicht mehr hinreichend. Die veröffentlichte Meinung weniger Personen darf nicht mit der öffentlichen Meinung der Vielen gleichgesetzt werden.
Bei den Römern hieß es noch „panem et circenses“. Aus gebt ihnen „Brot und Spiele“ ist für viele Lesende schon Brot oder Spiele geworden. Neue soziale Medien brauchen wir und ja Jungs & Mädels macht was mit Medien, vielleicht Mediensoziologie. https://www.die-zeitungen.de/forschung-studien/zeitungswerbung/https://www.die-zeitungen.de/forschung-studien/zeitungswerbung/

Renovieren

wie das Verb sagt, renovieren ist ein Tu-Wort. Da wird meistens ganz schön viel getan. Bleibt die Frage, wieviel selber machen und wieviel Unterstützung wird mobilisiert oder zugekauft. Wichtig ist, sich im Klaren zu sein, Renovieren ist ein Prozess und der kann dauern. Oftmals oder immer, länger als geplant. Dieser Blogbeitrag plädiert deswegen bereits vor Beginn des Renovierens einer Selbsthilfegruppe mit entsprechender Denomination beizutreten oder lokal, vor Ort, eine solche Gruppe zu gründen. Aber langsam, warum renovieren Menschen eigentlich? Zu Pfingsten könnten einige glauben, es hätte ihnen der heilige Geist eingeflüstert, andere sind davon überzeugt, es kann nur Teufelswerk sein. Gemeinsam ist beiden Sichtweisen, das eine gehörige Portion Fremdbestimmung mit im Spiel ist. Handwerkliche Tätigkeiten mit ihren Überraschungen und Planungsunsicherheiten im 21. Jahrhundert prägen den Prozess.
Warum noch lassen wir uns aufs Renovieren ein? Wir wollen es schöner, besser oder praktischer in der Zukunft haben. Und dann sind da auch die berüchtigten Rosen in Nachbars Garten. Energiewende, Unwägbarkeiten des eigenen Alterns, Inflation, Investition sowie Hochglanzbroschüren liefern viele Argumente endlich mal mit dem eigenen Renovieren anzufangen. Hören sie sich dann unbedingt die vielfältigen Geschichten von Renovierungsarbeiten anderer Personen an. Okay, es wird länger, teurer, oft ein bisschen anders als geplant. Den Soziologen interessieren beispielsweise die Aushandlungsprozesse, intrafamiliär oder mit Geschäftspartnern. Auch die Veränderungen der Zufriedenheit über den Prozess hinweg, böten ein unterhaltsames Forschungsprogramm. Alle 2 Wochen fragen wir, wie zufrieden sind sie mit Handwerkern, Partnern, Telefonhotlines, Baumaterial, Terminvereinbarungen, Bauausführungen? Sie können die Fragen beliebig fortsetzen. Was waren ihre größten Überraschungen? Notieren sie alles und bringen sie es zur nächsten Sitzung der Selbsthilfegruppe mit. Gerne auch etwas Anschauungsmaterial in Bildern oder emails beilegen. Sie werden sehen, das erleichtert ungemein und beim nächsten bevorstehenden Renovieren sind sie viel entspannter. Auch für ihre Webpages und -spaces geeignet.

Homepage-Sicherheit

Gewalt Training

Wöchentlich wiederholt sich das traurige Spektakel. Gewalt im Umfeld von Fußball ist kaum mehr wegzudenken. Auf 2 Seiten Sport in der Zeitung heute nur eine kleine Randnotiz kein Artikel, kein Kommentar. Ist ja alles nur Spaß, die wollen doch nur spielen. Weit gefehlt. In Berlin mit noch 2 Bundesligavereinen ist dann jede Woche Heimspiel und die Bahnhöfe werden zu Risikozonen, Straßen im Umfeld der Stadien sowieso. So wird seit Jahrzehnten die Verrohung der Gesellschaft trainiert. Früher nur samstags heute an fast allen Wochentagen. Wollen wir wirklich den totalen Fußball? Total verrückt die Welt, von den Kosten und Schäden, die die Allgemeinheit trägt mal ganz abgesehen (Nachtrag aus Süddeutsche vom 7.3.21 Randale in Mexiko – Gewalt stoppt Mexikos Liga). Viele Vereine sind sogar als gemeinnützige Organisationen bei uns deklariert. Ob das bei den Prämien noch gerechtfertigt ist, interessiert nur wenige Steuerexperten. Früher hieß es, wenn Du richtig reich werden willst, gründe eine Religion, ne kleine Sekte tat es auch. Heute gründen/kaufen wir einen Fußballverein oder Champions- Fußballverband.

Meldung Aus Tagesspiegel 17.2.2022 S.17