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

Editor's Note: Beyond the Dissociative Disorder and Hypnosis of Rigid Disciplinarity

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

Editor's Note: Beyond the Dissociative Disorder and Hypnosis of Rigid Disciplinarity

Article excerpt

The Winter 2011 issue of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge includes nine, theoretically engaging graduate student papers: six from a course in Applied Sociological Theory (Soc. 605) taken during the Fall 2010 semester at UMass Boston, a paper on the philosophy of the self and architecture from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and two master's theses in psychology from Bangor University, UK. These papers from diverse 'disciplinary' origins or locations insightfully contribute, in both manifest and latent ways, to the application and enrichment of the Millsian sociological imagination.

"From the time I wake up in the morning, until I go to bed at night"--writes Alison M. Ireland in her article entitled, "Five Doors, Three Cameras, and A Dead Bolt: How Fear of Crime Is Filling Our Prisons and Consuming Personal Liberty"--"everything I do is recorded and potentially monitored.... The websites I visit are recorded. My children and I are recorded in the elevator in our building and then again in the parking garage as we load into our car. If we decide to go into the library we are taped and the books we borrow are logged. At the grocery store, gas station, recreation center, and school, we are recorded.... If you find yourself in my apartment, it means you have gone through five locked doors, and passed on average three video cameras" (p. 2). In the course of her study, Ireland applies her sociological imagination and various sociological theories and concepts to explore the nature of personal privacy and "fear of crime"--her own and those of others alike--in relation to public issues involving racial profiling and mass imprisonment in the US amid a troubling global context of fear mongering, especially following the tragic 9/11 events. When considering how the personal, subjective, and the broader, public, objective conditions interact to make the culture of fear and insecurity possible, Ireland notes: "Objective reality acts upon us through institutions we ourselves create by the process of habitualization. All of the precautions we take, locking our doors, installing call boxes on college campuses, giving undergraduates rape whistles, issuing color coded terrorist threat levels, body scans at airports, and carrying pepper sprays contribute to the objective reality that the world is a dangerous place, a fearful place" (p. 5; bold in the original).

Following a similar theme of how our social realities are constituted through the habits we perpetuate in our everyday lives, Julianne S. Siegfriedt, in "Congratulating Conscious Choice: Exploring Society and the Self through Marriage and Divorce," critically reflects on her own experience of marriage and divorce to problematize the taken-for-granted attitudes we often hold toward them--subjecting her own personal life as well as its broader social context to in-depth theoretical scrutiny within a Millsian sociological imagination framework. Toward the end of her analysis, when examining the parallel she finds between her awakenings to her experience of marriage and divorce and the story of the movie Awakenings, she writes: "Similar to how patients were awakened out of their catatonic state, or the way in which Dr. Sayer was awakened to new appreciations of his personal and social world (e.g., asking the nurse Eleanor for a cup of coffee at the end of the movie), I feel I have been awakened from the previously rigid state of conceptualizations of marriage and relationships" (p. 62). She adds, "I am sure that I will experience many similar 'awakenings' in my life where I stop and analyze why it is I think in a certain way or am doing a particular action. It is my hope that I can remain awake and not fall back into the catatonic state of sleep as the patients in the movie found themselves in" (Ibid.). In other words, what Siegfriedt questions in the course of her personal and broader sociological self-reflections is not whether to seek marriage or divorce in the future per se, but the affirmation that as a human being she has a right to have a conscious voice, and choice, in making such important decisions, despite the long-standing habitual patterns of socialization and public opinion constraining the individual in such matters throughout the life-course. …

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