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The Visuals Du Jour – Raising The Global Floor or In Which I Blame Max Weber

January 31, 2010 by and tagged , , , , ,

Here is a great source of global maps for sociology instructors. Lots of variables to pick from and neat maps as a result:

This complements the following from Sociological Images:

Personally, I blame Max Weber and his protestant ethic where one’s station in life is a reflection of one’s moral worth. Americans, with their underlying puritan Calvinism, tend to interpret every type of social phenomena as equivalent to moral standing hence the lack of serious redistribution mechanisms accompanied with almost exclusively punitive policies, as Loic Wacquant has demonstrated: prisonfare for men, workfare for women.

Another extension of that idea is social Darwinism: the rich are rich because they are the superior people. How do we know they are superior? Because they are rich. So, let’s just ignore the circular reasoning here. The social standing as symbol of moral worth goes a long way to explaining the reluctance to engage with the notion of class and class-based issues, or even to deny the existence or relevance of class (to the benefit of individualist conceptions).

If you think about it, this is at the heart of Matt Taibbi’s scathing shredding of David Brooks, which represents the latest incarnation of Randoid libertarianism: only the rich create wealth so we have to allow them to break the rules otherwise, they might go Galt.

Which means, of course, that ultimately, people like Brooks do not believe in meritocracy at all (they’re social Darwinist Randoids who believe in the innate superiority of some people over others) but hold it up as useful myth.

Posted in Culture, Ideologies, Public Policy, Social Inequalities, Social Stratification, Sociology | 2 Comments »



2 Responses to “The Visuals Du Jour – Raising The Global Floor or In Which I Blame Max Weber”

  1.   Ian Welsh Says:

    That’s a little harsh, Weber wasn’t the first, or last, and his other work looked at other reasons for the industrial revolution.

    And, while many may not like it, in my opinion, culture does matter. For any sociologist to argue that culture doesn’t matter and doesn’t have an effect on economics, is to argue against the premise of their own discipline.

    Of course, societal success is not located in the individual, and it is far from entirely even based in the particular society (the place in the world system, geography, and so on matter). However, culture does play a huge role.

    Reply

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