This article introduces the concept of dialectic icons: public figures who feature in contentious and polarising political discourse. The inflammatory quality of dialectic icons and their role as highly mediated symbols of conflict creates long-lasting emotional energy among audiences, who cluster in ideological camps as a response. However, these audiences can also actively and directly engage in and shape these discourses, particularly through social media. Examples of the public discourse about quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests illustrate how the controversiality, newsworthiness, interactivity and visibility of dialectic icons ultimately contribute to social polarisation. By focusing on dialectic icons as proxy battlegrounds for public audiences, this article establishes a useful concept for gaining fresh insights into collective meaning- and truth-making processes.
In January 2023, Anders Rhiger Hansen visited Lund University to talk to Max Koch about sustainable welfare, human needs, social inequality and a little bit about Bourdieu. The message from Max was clear: politicians need to drop the idea of green growth and instead define a safe and just operating space to determine what can be done within this space. His sociological approach combines Marxian and Bourdieusean traditions, and he recommends that the Consumption and Society community investigates consumption in combination with processes of production, for example by engaging with critical political economy approaches such as the French regulation school or the Frankfurt School. According to Koch, the survival of the planet requires holistic approaches that would transform society and its exchanges with nature, based on principles of degrowth and on a scale that we have not yet seen.
Many people have been labelled with psychiatric ‘diagnoses’ such as ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’. That was one of the labels that was bestowed on me, amongst others, incorrectly. This poem speaks to what I experienced.
Industrially produced mass culture has the reputation of being uniform and monotonous, leaving hardly any room for originality and creativity. In stark contrast to this concept, other theorists of popular culture emphasise the increasing individuality of mass culture made possible by the increasing opulence and leisure time of the working masses followed by the marketing of consumer goods and services. Using the American automotive markets and the Soviet fashion industry as examples, the article addresses the role of fashion in promoting individuality in modern consumer culture questioning both Horkheimer’s and Adorno’s analysis of culture industry and Bourdieu’s analysis of the ‘down-to-earth’ taste of the working class. Critical Theory was right in referring to the culture industry, fashion included, as promoting pseudo-individuation, but not right in downplaying the role of the individual judgement of taste. Bourdieu was right in arguing that the social groups with little cultural and economic capital have hardly any role in challenging the legitimate taste, but not right in arguing that their taste is not an aesthetic taste at all. In analysing the relation between the individual and the social, or the particular and the general, in modern culture, one should pay more attention to the social formation of fashion, operative in consumer goods markets. The reconciliation between the individual and the social that fashion offers is real enough but takes place only provisionally and in a socially conforming manner challenging neither the social formation of fashion nor the general social order of the capitalist, commercial society.
COVID-19-related social lockdowns had profound consequences in all aspects of social life, yet technology’s role in mediating relationships during lockdown has received little attention. Drawing on a survey of 565 young adults in the UK, we used mixed methods to explore (a) differences in technology use by people in serious romantic relationships (cohabiting vs. living apart together), casual relationships or single; and (b) how COVID-19 influenced long-term, serious relationships. For participants in a serious relationship, technology was used as a strategy to facilitate ongoing communication, enabling partners to achieve ‘intimacy from afar’. Qualitative analysis revealed five reasons (more free time, navigating lockdown restrictions, greater boredom, desire for love and miscellaneous) for online dating profile usage changes. People in serious relationships perceived deeper intimate bonds, boundary issues, less physical intimacy, difficulty with lockdown separation and greater negative impact because of COVID-19. Limitations and implications are discussed.
The Progressive Era was a time of tremendous growth in the US higher education system. Framed by Critical Race Theory, this chapter explores how the prevailing hierarchal ideologies of the time led to the biased evaluation and closure of Black medical schools, as well as the marginalisation of Black medical professionals. The chapter links the historical racial discrimination in education to the contemporary healthcare disparities and distrust in Black community.
I wrote this improvised piece in response to the UK government’s delay in the release of their Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 report. Findings from the report identified disproportionately higher BAME mortality rates from COVID-19. The delay of this report to the backdrop of a revival of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activism after the death of George Floyd compounded issues surrounding everyday racisms. Fear among UK officials of nationwide anti-racist uprisings because of glaring disparities in the report were highlighted. Perhaps the biggest irony of all was that the very services that were supporting the public during this terrifying pandemic, such as the NHS, were mostly made up of BAME employees. BLAME the BAME reflects my racial frustrations with us as a nation state amid narratives of Brexit, COVID-19 and BLM – all compounded by the delay of this report and the confirmation of being othered.
Whether denied, derided or determined to overcome it, COVID-19 has impacted many lives in ways that we are only now beginning to witness, as we move from old configurations of normality and adapt to new realities, be it flexible ways of working and learning or working to change social systems. This conclusion summarises the reflections from the preceding chapters, and ends with a call to develop and maintain critical, anti-racist, decolonial and intersectional approaches that acknowledge the complexities and affects of diverse lived experiences in long COVID society.
This book addresses the prejudices that emerged out of the collision of two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism.
Offering a snapshot of experiences through counter story-telling and micro narratives, this collection assesses the racialised responses to the pandemic and investigates acts of discrimination that have occurred within social, political and historical contexts.
Capturing the divisive discourses which have dominated this contemporary moment, this is a unique and creative resource that shows how structural racism continues to operate insidiously, offering invaluable insights for policy, practicend critical race and ethnic studies.