Improvisation, Solidarity, Collectivity

The Problem of Community Building in Open Society

Societies in the first modernity relied on the dispositive of discipline. They counted on order and hierarchy, on the production of unambiguousness, on clear affiliations to nations, classes, and races, and on firm commitments. Individuals and collectives were supposed to be measured against standards of rational and interest-driven action. Fear of the irrational masses was characterized by the desire for manageability; the order of the state and factory discipline contrasted with the freedom of the market; and societal conflicts took place between clearly identifiable groups and objectively definable interests.

After 1945, the pattern of sociation gradually began to change, with far-reaching impacts.

The notion of freedom became a guiding concept—politically, culturally, and in everyday life. But compliance, as the action-related aspect of discipline, and consent, as an aspect of obedience, do not suffice in the new mode of sociation. Liberty as a pattern of sociation proves to be a model of domination that has numerous prerequisites, which pertain to appropriation and participation, to plans and counterplans, to the exact understanding of rules and how they are interpreted and developed in situations of uncertainty, and to improvisation. The emergence, gradual implementation, and costs of this mode of sociation and type of action will be presented and analyzed.

(Last modified April 2014)