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Author Topic: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL  (Read 109060 times)

menlo park

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Re: The McDonaldization of Society
« Reply #120 on: June 23, 2006, 07:31:52 PM »

by Mohamed Zayani



George Ritzer's "The McDonaldization of Society" is a lucid, and, in many ways, provocative analysis of the increasing entrenchment and steady institutionalization of the logic and structure of McDonald's in almost all spheres of vital activities. For Ritzer, McDonald's is not simply in the restaurant business. Rather than an efficient, cheap, and fast meal, McDonald's offers a whole modus vivendi. This notorious chain has come to epitomize a scandalous and increasingly insistent phenomenon -- McDonaldization; that is, the ways in which the principles of the fast-food restaurant operate in an increasingly wide array of social settings (such as the work place, higher education, and health care). Contributing to the acceleration of these structural changes are several factors, the most important being: the aggressive seeking of economic interests, the pursuit of McDonaldization as an end in itself (and, in many ways, as an attachment to a traditional life style), and McDonaldization's attunement to certain changes taking place within society (namely, increased mobility, expanding needs, working parents, and technological changes).

According to Ritzer, the socioeconomic structures adumbrated by the process of McDonaldization revolve around four interconnected principles: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. In a McDonaldizing society, the pressure for efficiency -- that is, the search for the optimum means for a given end -- is enormous. This pressure calls for increasing calculability -- that is, the emphasis on quantity rather than quality -- which in turn leads to a predictability that is enhanced all the more by the creation of precise, programmable, non-human technologies. This pursuit of systematization, standardization, consistency, scientific management, and methodological operation is itself motivated by the desire for greater control over people.

Central to Ritzer's argument is Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy and the larger process of rationalization that underlies it. While for Weber bureaucracy is the model of rationalization, for Ritzer the fast food restaurant is the paradigm of McDonaldization. Both instances describe an organizational model that strives to eliminate inefficiency, irrationality, uncertainty, and unpredictability. It should not overhastily be concluded, however, that the two processes are the same. McDonaldization is not just an extension of rationalization, it is also an extreme version of it or, as Ritzer himself puts it, "a quantum leap" in the process of rationalization. Seen from this vantage point, Ritzer's project is not only an elaborate analysis of the McDonaldization of contemporary society, but also a pointed critique of the excesses of rationalization, in particular, and the legacy of modernity, in general.

While many proclaim the end of modernity, Ritzer argues for its continuing strong hold. His book takes issue with the common view that we live in an era that is radically different from the previous one: "a number of contemporary perspectives, especially postindustrialism, post-Fordism, and postmodernism contend that we have already moved beyond the modern world and into a new, starkly different society. These views imply that this book is retrograde because it deals with a 'modern' phenomenon that will soon disappear with the emergence of a new societal form. This book contends, however, that McDonaldization and its 'modern' characteristics not only are here for the foreseeable future, but also are influencing society at an accelerating rate." While other sociologists emphasize a shift in modern society from uniformity, predictability, and standardization to contingency, uncertainty, and deregulation, Ritzer emphasizes the increasing domination of a system -- that is, McDonaldization -- that is built on many of the ideas that have prevailed in industrial societies, namely bureaucratization, the assembly line, and scientific management.


On a side note .. In capitalism, the forms of happiness are constantly passed off as its content. Food is a good example: the attention lavished these days on cooking and going out to restaurants is extraordinary, and yet very little of this has to do with the pleasure of eating. Mostly it has to do with the social cachet to be gained from cultivating a refined taste in food and wine -- or to put it more indelicately, snob appeal. Instead of a celebration of eating, we get the fetishizing of food. If happiness were the main concern, then it would quickly become apparent that there are two conditions that make for a good meal good food and good company. But no attention is paid to the second of these conditions because capitalist society is organically incapable of doing anything about it. Pretentiousness and arrogance are the rule in fancy restaurants, which almost always leaves a bad taste in your mouth no matter how good the food is; meanwhile, in the fast food chains across the social divide, people mechanically eat denatured, assembly-line food in a cheerless environment where the only sign of happiness is the plastic smile on the Ronald McDonald dummy.

rosanne

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rajoo

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #122 on: June 29, 2006, 02:02:07 AM »

In the rationalized settings imposed by McDonaldization people be-have not as human beings but as functions of the system. A McDonaldized society is not just a panoptic society a la Foucault -- that is, a society that is structured around quasi-utilitarian principles and based on self-policing -- but also a dehumanizing society: "though it at least appears that people still control them, these rational systems can spin beyond the control of even those who occupy the highest positions within those systems." Because red tape can render bureaucracies increasingly inefficient and unpredictable, individuals become both confused and counterproductive. The anger and frustration generated by the inadequacies of nonhuman technologies can even lead people to undercut or sabotage the operation of such technologies.


Technology is gonna put an end to the world. People are inherently stupid: they think that just because they CAN do something, they HAVE TO actually do it.

"What do you think about the Third World War?" Einstein was asked. He replied, "I don't know about the Third World War, but I'll tell you about the Fourth." They asked him, "What is it? What is it? What is it?" Einstein replied, "When you go to wage the Fourth World War, it will be with sticks and bows and arrows. We'll be back to primitive man." What the Third World War is going to bring about is complete devastation.

lejla

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #123 on: July 03, 2006, 01:44:49 AM »
Awesome Thread!

delpiero

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #124 on: July 07, 2006, 03:19:44 AM »
Wilhelm Reich and Sexual Politics

In his search to uncover and analyse the still obscure relationship between "social being" and "consciousness", the German Marxist and psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich, published his important study Massenpsychologie des Faschismus (The Mass Psychology of Fascism) in 1933, causing his expulsion from the German communist party. Reich attempted to explain Fascism broadly in the form of a bizarre political economy of sex. Elaborating on themes drawn principally from Freud and Engels, he defined fascism as a political manifestation of the psychology of the broad masses frustrated in successive and failed attempts at collective action to attain the democratisation of society in their own interests. Reich's thesis was that sexual inhibition, rooted in the authoritarian family (repressing infant masturbation and the sexual intercourse between adolescents), was ultimately the cause of the authoritarian state's structure and fascist ideology. There was more than a whiff of Saussure-like determinism in this aspect of Reich's work. Reich argued that the Freudian unconscious, characterised as the antisocial element in the human structure, is simply a secondary result of the repression of primary biological impulses by the authoritarian family which is at root of the authoritarian state. Exactly as the patriarchal authority of the father requires sexual abstention on the part of women and children in the family, so too authoritarianism and nationalism are a continuation of these repressed family ties at the level of state structures, holding back democratisation and true freedom. Even modern imperialism is liked back to inter-family rivalry characterised as "family imperialism".

According to Reich, World War I provided the crucial external stimulus to move this family repression into a new and fascist phase, as it put paid to many of the already decaying authoritarian institutions in Europe and underlay a subsequent attempt on the part of European democracies to lead humanity toward genuine freedom. Instead this process unleashed a "psychic plague" in which forces long repressed by the superficial layer of good manners and the domination of an artificial Ego, which were carried by the same multitudes that searched for freedom, cleared a path toward [fascist] action. Fascism is seen as differing from other reactionary parties in that it is championed by the masses. As a consequence it betrays all the characteristics and contradictions present in the character structure of the modern mass individual. Consequently fascism is not, as is commonly believed, a purely reactionary movement - it represents an amalgam of rebellious emotions and reactionary social ideas. Thus, for Reich fascist mentality is the mentality of the "little man," who is enslaved and craves authority and is at the same time rebellious.


Wilhelm Reich, like Freud, was a medical doctor. At first he had been interested in the physiology of sex but then, under Freud's influence, became interested in its psychology as well. But he always retained an interest in physiology and was the one of Freud's followers who took the most seriously Freud's hypothesis that there existed a material energy form called "libido" or "instinctual sexual energy" and set about trying to find it.

His break with Freud did not come over this, but over politics. Freud was an ordinary defender of liberal capitalism and wanted to keep his theories as essentially a clinical cure for certain forms of mental illness. Reich didn't agree. He felt that a free society could exist if people in general were taught to take a rational attitude to sex. This led him in 1927 to join the Communist Party, from which he was to be expelled in 1933. Reich offered an explanation as to why fascism had developed: sexual repression in early childhood. According to him, the particular form of sexual repression and family life practised in pre-Nazi Germany led to people, including workers, coming to have an authoritarian personality which inclined them to follow and be dependent on leaders, who represented the patriarchal father-figure they had been brought up to believe in and which, as a result, they had a psychological need for.

niki

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #125 on: July 07, 2006, 02:09:15 PM »

The belief that violence is a reasonable and often necessary route to achieving our aims goes unquestioned in most societies. Violence is thought to be the nature of things. It's what works. It seems inevitable -- the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today.

Walter Wink, a professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in N.Y.C., in an article first published by Bible Society's Spring 1999 issue of The Bible in TransMission, further expalains that our very origin is violence. Killing is in our genes. Humanity is not the originator of evil, but merely finds evil already present and perpetuates it. Human beings are thus naturally incapable of peaceful coexistence. Order must continually be imposed upon us from on high: men over women, masters over slaves, priests over laity, aristocrats over peasants, rulers over people. Unquestioning obedience is the highest virtue, and order the highest religious value.

In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the ideology of conquest. Ours is neither a perfect nor perfectible world, but a theater of perpetual conflict in which the prize goes to the strong. Peace through war, security through strength: these are the core convictions that arise from this ancient historical religion. The Babylonian myth is as universally present today as at any time in its long and bloody history. It is the dominant myth in contemporary America.


Exactly! Freud himself has said,

Quote
[...] men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at most defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him."

According to Freud, human civilisation is based, and has to be based, on the repression of the basic "sexual" or "instinctual" energy he believed humans to have. What happened, in Freud's view, was that this repressed sexual energy was diverted into the work which had to be engaged in to produce the things humans needed to survive and build up the material side of civilisation.

wanton

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #126 on: July 07, 2006, 02:17:57 PM »

Quote
[...] men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at most defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him."

According to Freud, human civilisation is based, and has to be based, on the repression of the basic "sexual" or "instinctual" energy he believed humans to have. What happened, in Freud's view, was that this repressed sexual energy was diverted into the work which had to be engaged in to produce the things humans needed to survive and build up the material side of civilisation.


niki, Freudian theories do not necessarily rule out a free, non-repressive society. Freud's speculation that civilisation is originally based on a necessary sexual repression recognized for its merits, it has been suggested that:

(1) only a part of this has come from the conditions of scarcity which obliged humans to work, with another part coming from living in class-divided societies where ruling classes impose an extra repression over and above that arising from natural scarcity,

(2) with the coming of automation and the like, scarcity has now been conquered. This being so, sexual repression -- that imposed by natural conditions as well as that imposed by class-divided society -- is no longer necessary. Civilisation need no longer be based on sexual repression. A free, non-repressive society is possible.

Herbert Marcuse has in fact explained why people accept capitalism -- they have been psychologically manipulated into wanting it. In other words, their basic "instincts" have been remoulded so as to fit in with capitalist society. The issue now is how will such people come to want to get rid of capitalism.

blackice

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #127 on: July 07, 2006, 07:12:05 PM »
I actually think these numbers are encouraging. Over half of law students and lawyers are NOT depressed or suicidal. Sounds fairly unalarming to me.

Besides, what's the take-home message here? Should we labor to make the study and practice of law like baking a f*king cake so that every backwoods Tom, male private part, and Oprah can practice law? Would that serve clients well?

It's hard and stressful for a reason. LAW IS IMPORTANT TO OUR SOCIETY! We have to get it right.


That's funny!

hypermoney

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #128 on: July 07, 2006, 07:37:16 PM »

[...] Second, the contingent-worth and top-ten percent paradigms create tension by generating insecurity about future employment, competition between peers, a sense that one's worth is only as good as one's transcript and resume, and that, regardless of the rhetoric of professionalism, that personal character, values, ideals and intentions are irrelevant in the practice of law. Schools with a mandatory or strongly suggested grading curve aggravate this effect by creating the impression that the institution is pitting students against each other. [...]


Capitalism itself encourages competition between individuals, pitting them against each other in a rat race for power, privilege and prestige. But we must recognize the fact that such a society is incompatible with human nature. It is an "insane society,"  a "sick society."  Erich Fromm, for example, believed that humans are the only animal species whose individual members have an awareness of themselves as separate individuals, have "self consciousness." This gives us a sense of individuality and freedom, says Fromm, but at the same time a sense of aloneness. According to him, the driving force behind human behaviour is the desire to overcome this sense of aloneness, the desire to feel part of a greater whole, the desire to be liked and accepted by other human beings.

Is it human nature to be completely adaptable or are there conditions that humans couldn't adapt to because it would be contrary to their nature? Fromm comes down in favor of the second view. Humans are social animals, and we need each other not only practically so as to collectively produce the material things we need to live but also psychologically -- we need to feel part of a group, of a community. From which it follows that any society which does not satisfy this psychological need, or which actively works to prevent it being satisfied, is incompatible with human nature. Only a society based on cooperation and community is a sane society as one which properly meets the psychological needs of human beings for a sense of belonging; not just a sense of belonging but a state of actually belonging to a real community.

Capitalism is against "human nature" because it denies, and works against, this basic need. Although capitalism continually seeks to reduce us to isolated social atoms who only collide in the marketplace as buyers and sellers, the basic human need for community still expresses itself even if in distorted and perverted forms. Capitalism can try to suppress the human need for cooperation and community but will never be able to succeed.

sitvenia

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #129 on: July 10, 2006, 11:35:21 PM »

Herbert Marcuse has in fact explained why people accept capitalism -- they have been psychologically manipulated into wanting it. In other words, their basic "instincts" have been remoulded so as to fit in with capitalist society. The issue now is how will such people come to want to get rid of capitalism.


Paulo Freire in his "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" emphasizes the concept of "history full of possibilities," as well as to the notion of class-struggle. He argues for the necessity of a radical transformation of the oppressed' consciousness as well as that of the oppressor's in consequence. To this end he proposes a "teaching method," a philosophy and social theory at the heart of which is the "dialogue,' in classroom and in life. Concrete experiences discussed in class should be linked to politics of culture and critical democracy; we dialogue not for the sake of talking to each-other -- instead, we talk with each-other focusing on a particular object of observation. Dialogue means theory and practice linked together, so that it does not become either simply a conversation or an exercise in overintellectualizing.

Freire argues that the human being is a subject who acts upon and transforms the environment around oneself -- this is his or her ontological vocation. The world is to be seen as a problem, instead of a given environment in which one finds oneself into. In fact, because the human being possesses the ability to reason, he or she is able to objectify his or her existence as well, and thus is in a position to critically think about his or her place and role in the bigger picture of things. People should develop critical awareness and not allow to be reduced to passive receptacles or "containers" to be filled with pre-composed notions.

When people engage in dialogue in a way as to be able to change their consciousness and that of the others' as well, they are not in the world, they are with the world. Demythologizing is what stands at the heart of the problem-posing method that Freire argues for. To do this, to achieve praxis -- with the education process constantly remade in this praxis -- we constantly aim for a more perfect and accomplished human being, a human being always in the process of becoming, rather than being. The problem-posing education emphasizes change as opposed to permamence.

The content of the problem-posing method consists of students' view of the world involving the investigation of people's thinking where their "generative themes" are found (the latter are contained and contain limit situations, which are situations that limit people, but not in and of themselves, but rather by how they are perceived by humans at a particular historical point). The tasks these themes imply require the limit-acts which are directed at resisting and overcoming -- instead of passively accepting -- the "given." Those people who are rendered invalid and restrained by particular limit-situations will begin to act towards achieving the feasibility of the new perception -- the perception that develops once they come to understand the true nature of the limit-situations as being concrete historical dimensions of a given reality. Liberating action, thus, has to do with the way in which these themes are perceived, a process that necessitates investigation of meaningful thematics.

The fundamental theme of our historical period, domination, readily implies that of liberation as the objective to be achieved (as the themes of any era are always interacting dialectically with their opposites.) It is by means of critical thinking that individuals will be able to understand the world in totality, not in fragments, achieving a clearer perception of the whole. To this end, a dialectical method of thought, exemplified in the analysis of a "coded" situation is presented. The "decoding" on the part of students/learners will guarantee moving from the part to the whole and then returning to the parts, so that the Subject recognizes oneself in the coded concrete situation and recognizes the latter as a situation in which he finds himself, as well as with the other people; accomplished as it should, this makes possible for the abstract to be "transported" to the concrete realm, by the critical perception of the subject himself. The task of the teacher becomes the "representing" of the universe of themes to the people from whom it was initially received -- presented to them as a "problem."

For this kind of transformed consciousness to lead to revolution, a process which constantly involves critical reflection (that alone does qualify as action), actors in intercommunion are necessitated. People and leaders in solidarity will transform the reality if they think with each-other. Humanization of people, a process that necessarily implies a liberating education, is a continuous process and it can be better described as a cultural action -- with this educational, dialogical quality being present during all stages of the revolution. In contradistintion to anti-dialogical action, Freire considers the dialogical action as instrument to liberation. Through cooperation (as opposed to conquest of anti-dialogical action), unity for liberation (as opposed to "divide and rule" perpetrated by the oppressors) people and leaders will come to tranform themselves in the process of liberation and eventually find themselves in power.