Category: Intimate citizenship

Quoting Humanisms

We are all the same race: the human race.

 

I recently found this image and slogan: it was new to me.

I found it on an interesting site for for scholars researching the queer diaspora:

You can find this at:

Queer Migration Research Network  (Click)

http://queermigration.com/

(I have tried to approach the photographer – but no success yet)

So here is the image – and the quote:

Sexualities

  Sexualities: The lastest double issue has just been  published               VOLUME 15: NO 5 and 6 SEPTEMBER  DOUBLE ISSUE   Introduction Nicola Smith &           Working Outside the (Hetero)Norm?  Lesbian, Gay, Mary Laing                 Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Sex Work  (1559 words) Katy Pilcher               Dancing for Women: Subverting Heteronormativity…

Quoting Humanisms

‘First of all, he said, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you”ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view..until you climb into their skin and walk around in it…. (page 41)

Harper Lee,  To Kill a Mockingbird


Love, Loss and Laugher: Visions of Alzheimer’s

The work of the sociologist –photographer Cathy Greenblat  has aimed to show the ‘active’ nature of Alzheimer’s across the world; and how ‘good care’ can be crucial in creating situations to enable a better life for people with Alzheimer’s.  As she remarks: As a social scientist, I know how much expectations influence achievement, and I…

How to be Gay: book review

How To Be Gay By David M Halperin Belknap Press Hardback 978-0-674-06679-3 pp534 £25.95 To be published 30th August 2012 And reviewed by Ken Plummer in Times Higher Education Supplement THES  23rd August 2012 ______________________________________________________________  This is a delightfully puzzling book. The author, David Halperin, originally a classical scholar is eminent in the field of queer…

John H. Gagnon and William Simon.

Where does the drama get its materials? From the unending conversation that is going on at the point in history when we are born’. Kenneth Burke

John Gagnon and Bill Simon were amongst the towering intellectual influences of my early life. I read them throughout the 1960’s. They taught me that:

 “ (1) Sexual conduct is entirely historically and culturally determined; (2) the meaning of conduct does not reside in a reading of the bodily activity of individuals; (3) sexual science is historically and culturally determined in equal measure ;(4) sexuality is acquired, maintained, and unlearned in all of its aspects and is organized by social structure and culture, and (5) gender and sexuality are both learned from of conduct and are linked differently in different cultures.  (John Gagnon: The Interpretation of Desire p136 ID).

John Gagnon and William Simon

My first encounter with John was with the sociologists Michael Schofield who introduced me to him in 1970 in Wayland Young’s House – 100 Bayswater Road. He subsequently became the external examiner of my PhD, he visited Essex in 1984 (when I also met Cathy Greenblat), and I visited his hosting university Stony Brook in 1985. I first met Bill many years later at Santa Barbara in 1987 where we were both teaching summer school. I also met Lynn his wife. Together we had a wonderful summer together and Bill introduced me to the music of Andrea Marcovici.

John and Bill are both amazingly strong intellectuals in the best sense of that word.

They studied at Chicago in the mid 1950’s. Subsequently John went to the Kinsey Institute and Bill joined him a little later (with a Hugh Hefner grant).  They worked ‘crazily together’ till 1968; and then wrote the book Sexual Conduct by 1973. By this time they were also getting new career structures – John at Stony Brook, Bill at Houston (and- as it happens- with new partners and families).  But after Sexual Conduct, they remained friends: you could always see them together at conferences; but the critical moment was over. Their intellectual lives moved on differently. We must all be grateful that they spent those five years together at Kinseyland. Without the right time, the right place, the people mix would this have happened.

John writes in his biographical essay:

Two senses of the world that I know Bill and I shared. First, was a certain view of our lives as accidental and contingent, lives that could have turned out quite differently; and second, a recognition of our marginality to the larger sociological profession as advanced by the Graduate Program in Sociology at the University of Chicago and recorded by the official historians of the department and the discipline…..   …. P287 SC 2

 They were, of course, writing before Foucault’s influential work (though as John has remarked when he encountered Foucault: “What Foucault does is too texty; its too parochially French..  he is not very new except to folks who are  not well read in history and the other social sciences’……. P280  Together John Gagnon and Bill Simon were a powerhouse of ideas. Here is a potpourri of some of their ideas in axioms:

Therefore, the authors reject the unproven assumption that “powerful” psychosexual drives are fixed biological attributes. More importantly, we reject the even more dubious assumption that sexual capacities or experiences tend to translate immediately into a kind of universal “knowing” or innate wisdom – that sexuality has a magical ability, possessed by no other capacity, that allows biological drives to be expressed directly in psychosocial and social behaviors.  Pyschosexual Development 1969

 In any given society, at any given moment in its history, people become sexual in the same way as they become everything else. Without much reflection, they pick up direction from their social environment. They acquire and assemble meanings, skills and values from the people around them. Their critical choices are often made by going along and drifting. People learn when they are quite young a few of the things they are expected to be, and continue slowly to accumulate a belief in who they are and ought to be throughout  the rest of childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Sexual conduct is learned in the same ways and through the same processes; it is acquired and assembled in human interaction, judged and performed in specific cultural and historical worlds.  John Gagnon Human Sexualities 1977: p2)

 All conduct is scripted , and ..scripting theory is not merely to be applied to sexual conduct, but to all social conduct’ ID P136  Orig 1991

 No Play Without A Script : We see sexual behavior therefore as scripted behavior, not the masked expression of a primordial drive.  Pychosexual development 1969

 We have allowed the homosexual’s object choice to dominate and control our imagery of him……..(we will) only begin to understand [ through]… those complex matrices wherein  most human behaviour is fashioned’….. Formulation, 1967.

 There was no magic in the world… The world is no longer enchanted, and it cannot be enchanted again. And the search for enchantment in sexuality must end in failure……. SSp284

 The critical posture to maintain is that the future will not be better or worse, only different’. P233 SC2. P233.

 It is abnormal to think scientifically. Most thought processes, as you go through the world, are impressions and fragments and pieces. You have to create an environment in which linear and highly coherent thought can go forward; you find a quite room, you close the doors, you turn on your computer, you look at the screen, you type. You pretend there is nothing else going on in your head. But that describes a specialized environment of a very specialized form of thinking…… SSp280

The most important permanent truth about sexuality is that there may be no important truths about sexuality that are permanent … all discourses about sexuality are ultimately discourses about something else; sexuality rather than serving as a constant thread that unifies the totality of human experience, is the ultimate dependent variable, requiring explanation more often that it provides explanation’ (Postmodern Sexualities 1996:142; xvii)

Imagining Better Worlds For All : Opening Imageries and Poetics

Everard Longland: Butterfies-Escape-The-Web(2011)

Over the coming weeks I am hoping to put together  some short pieces about a better world.

I have for some time been concerned about the failures of the modern world and our endless critique of it.We need some sense of a positive future thinking.

Although I am no simple utopian, I do like the idea of ‘thinking forward’ –  of Dreaming of a Better Social World for All.

Something has gone terribly wrong with our current values of markets and money.

The following captures a little of  what I think. It was presented at my British Sociological Presidential Lecture at the British Museum in October 2011. 

I am against a world riddled with the values of the market place
I need Cosmopolitan Hope – a dreaming forward-
in a world of often unbearable darkness.

I need Wisdom – experience and science ands art-
in a world of chaotic complexity.

I need Empathy- my bridge to the others –
 in a world of monologic terrorism.

I need a Human Flourishing  – a potential developed for all-
in a world of wasted lives.

I need Social Justice for all- a fairness and freedom and equality-
in a world ruled without justice

I need Meliorism – those practical actions
which will make the world a better place.

Above all: recall the golden rule:
Treat others as you would be done by.

And Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

 

Table: Dreaming of a Better Social World: In Defence of Social Values over Economic and Nationalistic Values  (in process)

Feature of Society and People to be developed Value Literature ‘Enemies’ to question & challenge
Hope; Melioration; Progress Progress; cautious optimism Science Fiction
UtopianismPhilosophers
Despair, nihilism
Role taking, empathy & dialogue Sympathy The Empathic Society; Dialogic ethics, Recognition theory, Monologic Terrorism; lack of empathy; a certain blindness in human beings
Altruism – concern with others Compassion, kindness & care Feminist Care TheoryThe Compassionate Temperament CrueltyViolenceSelfishness
Justice, Democracy and Social Rights Fairness, Freedom, Equality The Philosophies of Justice and Human Rights Authoritarianism; Tyranny of others, Elitism, Scapegoating, Bullying….Slavery, the Unfree, Unjust. Unequal
rights denied
Human Flourishing ‘The Good Life’ & ‘The Virtues’ Human Capability Theory with Rights and Flourishing Neglect, ExploitationDenial of opportunities,Incapacitation. Societies based on economic values centrally.
Cosmopolitanism Acceptance of differences Cosmopolitan theory/ Difference theory NarrownessEthnocentrism
Humanitarianism Societies based on caring for the others The Humanitarian Society Cruel, violent, genocidal societies
Wisdom Experience– both historical and personal;Science – both hard and soft;Imagination – both limited and unlimited Confucius and all the ‘wise thinkers across cultures and throughout history Folly , Stupidity (which is not the same as ignorance); Blind science, blind rationality.

 

Coming Tales

        1. The Hopeful Society
        2. The Empathic Society
        3. The Kind, Compassionate Society
        4. The Just and Rights Society
        5. The Flourishing for all Society
        6. The Wise Society
        7. The Humanitarian Society

Generations

How long is a man’s life finally?

Cyril E Power: Whence and Whither

A thousand days or only one?

One week or a few centuries?

How long does a man’s death last?

And what do we mean when we say, “gone forever”?

-Brian Patten, So Many Different Lengths of Time (2007:154)

If you need cheering up, you can see Brian Patten speak this poem wandering around a graveyard!  Link to Brian Patten here


My most recent work has been concerned with worrying about time and generations. You can find some of this writing  in the Generational section of Selected Articles

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present,
All time is unredeemable.

T.S.Eliot Burnt Norton

CyrilPower (1872-1951) : Whence and Whither

Intimate Citizenship

INTIMATE CITIZENSHIP  Today I have started a page which will hopefully  slowly piece together some of my writings and thoughts on this idea ( Go to: Selected Writings/ Intimate Citizenship).   I first recall thinking of the idea walking along a beach in Santa Barbara in the early 1990’s as I was completing Modern Homosexualities…

Article: My Multiple Sick Bodies

Below is my most recent article published in April 2012. It is my first published piece based on my illness. MY MULTIPLE SICK BODIES: SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM, AUTOETHNOGRAPHY AND EMBODIMENT   Ken Plummer   Published in Bryan S Turner ed.  Routledge Handbook of Body Studies 2012: Routledge p75-93   What happens when my body breaks down…

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