Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Conspicuous Conflict

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Conspicuous Conflict

Article excerpt

For millennia, the human race has had the ability to manipulate its environment for its own benefit. This ability gives members of the species a feeling of power to which many of them become fixated. The more easily or effectively they can do the manipulating, the greater the euphoria and prestige they gain.

Power is a means to achieve happiness for some, but it does not equal happiness. There has been an underlying dogma in many ideas about life, society, and politics that glorifies power and prestige, urges everybody to acquire them, and promotes inequality. People seek political influence over others, more property than they need, popularity for the sake of being seen as an important figure by others, and to further the ends of their particular interest group(s). The ideology that power and prestige bring superiority, a presumably desirable end, brings about constant conflict among humans.

It is this conflict driving our species that poses a problem for me; I shall have no part in it. Regardless, conflicting groups need my peers and I to pass on their ideology to the younger generation in order to continue the vicious cycle. People are being socialized into this mode of thought from their earliest days. Escape from conflict is not an exact science, but I intend to relate to the reader my experience in doing it and my philosophies behind it.

An explanation of the ideology of power and prestige is necessary in understanding how it is a problem. Power, the ability to manipulate one's environment effectively, and prestige, the quality of being admirable enough to have influence over others, are sometimes seen as a means to happiness; other times they are considered happiness. A main element in this belief system is that it is better to have more influence, goods, or prestige than one's fellow humans. An individual's worth is not measured in itself but relative to that of another. It is not enough to be worthy; one must be worthier than other members of society. Other ideologies are often used as a disguise to hide these premises I have just mentioned. Systems, both formal and informal, are designed to perpetuate it using another ideology as a red herring. A "trickle down of 'truth'" effect takes place when macro-level agents of socialization (institutions and mass media) socialize micro-level agents (peers, family, and community), who proceed to coerce others to attach themselves to the belief system.

When I claim that the system needs my peers and I to pass on their ideology to the younger generation, it can be said that I consider the ideology to have adverse effects on humans' everyday lives. It causes "conspicuous conflict" (to be defined later) between individuals, institutions, private groups, and nations. The conflict only brings about more social and psychological problems like stigma, strain, and an illusory sense of empowerment. Value is determined by an economic system rather than by the individuals involved in a transaction. Power and prestige seekers have distorted inspiring philosophies of the past. Philosophy is actually discouraged by supporters of this ideology, as they attempt to prevent people from seeing extensively. To begin my discourse I will first discuss Mannheim's conceptions of ideology and utopia, his sociology of knowledge being relevant to my realization of my own problems and biases.


Karl Mannheim's book Ideology and Utopia (1936) was written to clarify epistemological information and create a new perspective in sociology--the sociology of knowledge. Mannheim makes some excellent points while establishing himself as an intellectual innovator. His model of a "general conception of ideology" combines the analysis of ideology with that of one's own view of the world (Tamdgidi 4). Individuals who take on this sort of thinking will understand their situations more effectively, as their new mode of thought lessens their biases (Tamdgidi 5). …

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