Tag: society (page 1 of 27)

Four forces that constrain our actions

‘Pathetic Dot’ is not a great name for a theory, and the diagram on the Wikipedia page isn’t the best, but Christina Bowen reminded me of it during an introductory conversation yesterday.

I can’t find it again quickly, but this also reminds me of a discussion I saw about how credit scores can exert almost as much unseen social control over people in the West as very visible social control mechanisms in more authoritarian countries.

The pathetic dot theory or the New Chicago School theory was introduced by Lawrence Lessig in a 1998 article and popularized in his 1999 book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. It is a socioeconomic theory of regulation. It discusses how lives of individuals (the pathetic dots in question) are regulated by four forces: the law, social norms, the market, and architecture (technical infrastructure).

Lessig identifies four forces that constrain our actions: the law, social norms, the market, and architecture. The law threatens sanction if it is not obeyed. Social norms are enforced by the community. Markets through supply and demand set a price on various items or behaviors. The final force is the (social) architecture. By that Lessig means “features of the world, whether made, or found”; noting that facts like biology, geography, technology and others constrain our actions. Together, those four forces are the totality of what constrains our action, in fashion both direct and indirect, ex post and ex ante.

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The theory can be applied to many aspects of life (such as how smoking is regulated), but it has been popularized by Lessig’s subsequent usage of it in the context of the regulation of the Internet.

Source: Pathetic dot theory | Wikipedia

Our range of legible emotions is being constricted

A typically thought-provoking piece by L. M. Sacasas which, ironically, I’ve got plenty of time to read, process, and react to after getting up ridiculously early this morning!

It’s interesting to read this from a UK context, after an enforced mourning period after the death of the Queen. This piece definitely speaks into that context, about the “range of legible emotions” being “constricted”. After all, you weren’t even allowed to hold up a blank sheet of paper in public.

The rhythms of digital media rush me on from crisis to crisis, from outrage to outrage. Moreover, in rapid succession the same feed brings to me the tragic and the comic as well as the trivial and the consequential. So, it’s not just that I do not have the time or space to think deeply. I also do not have the time or space to feel deeply. I skim the surface of each emotional experience, but rarely can I plumb its depths or sound out its meaning. Consequently, I lose something of the richness of the emotions and miss out on their appropriate consolations. I feel enough to be overwhelmed and depleted, but I cannot inhabit an emotional experience long enough to see it through to its natural fulfillment with whatever growth of character or richness of experience that might entail.

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The policing of other’s emotional expressions is one sign that the discourse is colonizing our emotional life. Such policing tends to generate an artificiality of (usually negative or critical) emotional expression, and conditions us to avoid certain (usually positive or earnest) emotional expressions. Under these conditions, emotional life is stunted. The range of legible emotions is constricted. Complex or subtle emotional experiences are overwhelmed by the demand for intense and uncomplicated emotional expressions.

Source: Impoverished Emotional Lives | The Convivial Society

Image: DALL-E 2 (“policing emotions, in the style of Leonid Afremov”)

Brexit Britain = hungry kids

As a former teacher, I almost cried reading this. Can someone with some authority and leadership stand up and say not only was Brexit a terrible idea, but the current government’s fiscal “strategy” will absolutely break this country?

Children are so hungry that they are eating rubbers or hiding in the playground because they can’t afford lunch, according to reports from headteachers across England.

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One school in Lewisham, south-east London, told the charity about a child who was “pretending to eat out of an empty lunchbox” because they did not qualify for free school meals and did not want their friends to know there was no food at home.

Community food aid groups also told the Observer this week that they are struggling to cope with new demand from families unable to feed their children. “We are hearing about kids who are so hungry they are eating rubbers in school,” said Naomi Duncan, chief executive of Chefs in Schools. “Kids are coming in having not eaten anything since lunch the day before. The government has to do something.”

Source: Schools in England warn of crisis of ‘heartbreaking’ rise in hungry children | The Guardian