Friday 1 April 2011

Phenomenology and the risk society

In today's world, everyones' experiences and the actions that arise from them are hard-wired into the things that happen, which in turn feed into our experiences. I'm tempted to say (tentatively):
Experience, maybe more than money, power or class structures, will be a key determining factor in the social transformations of the future (be they good or ill). 
This is why my primary concern is phenomenology (the study of experience). Unlike other techniques of phenomenology (e.g. Husserl's, for example), I use cybernetic tools for understanding how experience works. I think a scientific understanding of how experience works is important as we move away from an industrialized manufacturing economy towards a service-based, reflexive economy, which produces risk and where the experience of risk plays the driving role in keeping our society functioning, and the economy going.

I don't think experience has always had such a dominant role in social emergence: Power and Class could over-ride experience. In less equal societies, were the experiences of the poor worth anything? - at least to the rich? Was it only the rich who determined the patterns of social emergence? Yes.. I suspect it was. I think this is not the case now: the experience of the less wealthy is as important as the rich because everybody consumes as part of the risk economy (and the rich need the poor to consume, which they will only do if they have 'good experiences'). However, what is meant by 'rich' and 'poor' here needs deeper definition: it's not about money, but control. The means of production of risk is Capital.

I think that with Capital which is servitised (riskified?), the rich have become adept at manipulating experiences to keep the process of consumption going. I want to understand what's going on here, because it seems to be at the root of some of our deeper social problems - particularly those concerning the experience of fairness.

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