By A. S. Suetin

ISBN-10: 0713431237

ISBN-13: 9780713431230

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Example text

But contemporary sociology as well as society seems to have opted for the facile explanation that we have overcome the “constraints” of previous generations as well as social theories. ” The word “choice” has also permeated popular culture and advertising. Supposedly, the contemporary consumer has unprecedented choices in deciding upon phenomena ranging from Internet sites and brands of toothpaste to marriage partners and politics. But if we turn to the everyday life of the common man, it becomes apparent immediately that the doctrine of choice is specious.

For example, one must invariably sign a contract in order to purchase a cell phone, appliances, automobiles, homes, access to web sites, as well as gain access to credit cards. Most often, the purchase of a consumer good, such as a cell phone or cell phone contract, is predicated on having credit, so that the consumer is constrained by several contracts simultaneously. The contracts are always lengthy, complicated, and, to the common man—incomprehensible. One does not need to conduct a sociological study to conclude that most people, most of the time, click “I agree” to terms and conditions without reading them fully.

But here again, Weber and Durkheim diverge. Weber is a pessimist, and offers no clues as to how we may exit the iron cage. Durkheim seems to be more optimistic, in that he leaves open the possibility that successive waves of “collective effervescence” will re-enchant the world. Formerly “profane” phenomena are “revivified” and made “sacred” anew, even if they are not the same sacred objects, ideas, and representations from previous generations. To phrase the issue differently, Weber seems to follow Nietzsche in condemning the Enlightenment as a trap which disenchants the world and disembowels charisma (Weber’s rough equivalent of Durkheim’s “sacredness”).

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