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Facing Modernity: Ambivalence, Reflexivity and Morality by Professor Barry Smart

By Professor Barry Smart

Barry shrewdpermanent deals a wide-ranging and important dialogue of the way problems with reflexivity, ethics and ethical accountability tell social and political concept. via a serious dialogue of the `ambivalent end result' of social research, exemplified specifically by means of the paintings of Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo, Beck, Bourdieu, Goffman, Giddens, Levinas and Bauman, this booklet submits that a massive accountability of social enquiry at the present time is to have interaction significantly with the ethical problems and moral dilemmas that have arisen when it comes to modernity.

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Additional resources for Facing Modernity: Ambivalence, Reflexivity and Morality (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

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79, 28), from the particularity of familiar places, individuals have become more and more reliant on experts and professionals, have been increasingly constituted as clients or consumers of professionally organized and produced systems, services and commodities (Illich, 1978, 1985). The systems of professional expertise on which we rely, to which we are subject, and in which we are inclined to trust, until further notice, until that is increased risk-awareness, itself often triggered by expert systems, occasions doubt and uncertainty, constitute one of the two forms of 'disembedding mechanism' analysed by Giddens, the other being 'symbolic tokens', that is 'media of interchange which can be "passed around" without regard to the specific characteristics of individuals or groups' (1990: 22), without regard for persons.

I am not going to attempt to give a history of the various distinctions and differences which have been a feature of the development of sociology. I have briefly noted above some of the more common distinctions which have been employed to order the field, and they are already well enough known, if not widely accepted features of the discipline. I will merely reflect briefly upon a few responses which the absence of a governing paradigm has attracted, and I will go on to suggest that the preoccupations controversially identified as 'postmodern', preoccupations which have become a prominent feature of contemporary sociology, may ironically be more in tune with the realities of social analysis, the social processes such analyses seek to understand, and the complex forms of articulation which exist between the two, than critics have been prepared to allow.

Given the conventional sociological equation of the social formation 'society' with the geopolitical formation of the modern nation-state, transformations of the order outlined above raise questions about the appropriate subject matter or focus of the discipline, as do the growth of global or transterritorial forms of communication, the increasing migration of populations (Rouse, 1991), and the greater mobility of an increasing number of people. As subject matter, theory, and method have increasingly become matters of difference and disagreement, so the remote prospect of a shared paradigm or consensus within the discipline of sociology has receded.

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