In the works of sociological theory many theorists hold concepts of the individual versus society, though their ideologies differ tremendously we can keep in mind that their methods can be similar. A clear example of this is Marx and Dubois. Marx Dialectic method addresses class struggle; Bourgeois versus the proletariat coming to a synthesis of class struggle and capitalism; this way of thinking foreshadowed Dubois concept of double consciousness. Though Dubois did not look at class struggle on a material level, he did look at the disparity of blacks and whites and the “struggle” of the black man with in himself in relation to society. Dubois would argue that there is a race struggle and dialectic between The American white world (thesis) and the Black veil(anti thesis) contributed and equal to what is the black soul .
Dubois says that Black men (people) have double consciousness that they see themselves how other see them and the way they see themselves as an American; a black Negro, two souls. This in a sort is a Individual Dialectic. We see this same double consciousness through The “Crash” character Anthony. Anthony from my point of view is a very intelligent person. He knows and speaks of the white privilege as he speaks to his counterpart Peter. He talks of oppression and class differences throughout the movie, and is very self-aware of the hostile environment that he lives in. Anthony was fixated by his black image (veil. He was consumed with the idea of how others “white people” view him and other black Americans; but never really how he views himself, never once in the movie did he use the words “I am” or describe who he was. I think in some what he doesn’t fully understand that he being a criminal further enhances the stereotypes to which he spoke of, and what America sees and encourages to be. He forgot that maybe he could raise up against his situation.
Lets take a scene from the film; Anthony automatically notices the white woman grab her husband arm while walking down the street as blind fear; that he as a black man is perceived as dangerous. He enables his stereotype by actually stealing their car. Anthony I feel is battling being American and in a sense wanted to be like everyone else; but being a criminal because society and its stratification only allows him to be perceived as not good enough. But for him to better his double consciousness he has to see himself as not only and out cast in society but also as an insider, that black men can be “coworkers in the kingdom of culture”.
When Anthony comes face to face to Terrance J character when he attempts to steal his car, after the police chase Anthony finally realizes that it’s not only him who is targeted for being a black American But Cameron as well. It was after that he finally faced himself and his humanity , that his criminal activity is embarrassing and is in direct opposition to who he wants to be I think he learned a lesson and finally figured out his compete double consciousness.
Marx theory would apply to the character Anthony if we look at the economic stand point. The film portrays the class struggle of lower middle class and the rich. Anthony is probably engaging in criminal adherences because of the corruptive capitalistic society. Anthony is not only facing his individual identity but his economic place in the social order. He is stealing to make a living and to trying to succeed but in the process is being alienated from society and not accruing any real upward social mobility and is not able to use his passion and skill to the greatest potential because of the wide gap in class order.
Michael, I definitely agree with you on this. It is as if women were invisible to the classical theorists. When one is in the position of privilege and power, it is really easy to overlook the ‘other’ and take for granted that they’ll be there serving your needs. The fact that race and gender were not addressed by Marx, Durkheim, and Weber is a practice of what Charles Mills calls the “epistemology of ignorance.” Mills coined the phrase in his book, The Racial Contract. Epistemology of ignorance is an agreement to not know or to willfully misinterpret the world in order to maintain white supremacy. I think the epistemology of ignorance also applies to gender in order to maintain patriarchy. Actually, Mills worked with Carole Pateman on a book called Contract and Domination, and in it they discuss the domination contract which resulted in a system of racial patriarchy.
What is the Domination Contract?
The Domination Contract is analogous to Rousseau’s ‘class contract’ in A Discourse on Inequality, in which Rousseau set out to show that political inequality was not natural but rather caused by the creation of private property, and the corrupt institutions created by the wealthy to protect their interests. Sound familiar? I think Rousseau was one of Marx’s influence. Anyway, the Domination Contract is an exclusionary and manipulative contract deployed by the powerful to subordinate others in society under the pretext of including them as equals.
Mills suggests that we acknowledge the intersectionality of race, class, and gender, and start thinking in terms of a racial patriarchy, instead of the disjoined “patriarchy”, and “white supremacy” framework.
Mills’ claim is that the concept of the domination contract can be employed to overturn the ideology of the mainstream social contract theory. By overturning this ideology, we will be in a better position to address the issues (gender, racial, class issues) stemming from the scam contract.
Ideal Theory as Ideology
According to Mills:
“The preference for Ideal Theory is not a neutral methodological decision, but itself a deeply ideological one in the pejorative sense classically associated with left theory of the adoption of a set of ideas/ values/ approaches/ framing/ assumptions that reflect and reproduce the perspectives of the privileged (here, whites).”
If you’re interested in the intersectionality of race, class, and gender, you should check out Mills and Pateman.
I come across this concept in psychology known as the “Self Fulfilling Prophecy” and the “Confirmation Bias”. And I thought it would help us all in understanding Du Bois’s theory of the “Double Consciousness”.
Self Fulfilling prophecy basically says that a person will behave and act accordingly to the way he/she is perceived. Meaning that if person (A) believes or wants to believe something about person (B), that person (B) may internalize that belief and act accordingly to those beliefs.
The Confirmation Bias, or confirming to ones beliefs, goes hand in hand with the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and we end up with an endless circle of discrimination and prejudice.
I think we can really relate to Du Bois when thinking of the Self Fulfilling Prophecy, because when he speaks of viewing oneself through the eyes of another, we can really sense this terrible and unfortunate pattern.
The “Double Consciousness” theory should not be limited. Du Bois did a spectacular job introducing the concept of “Double Consciousness”, but I think that if we may dig just a tiny bit deeper, we can open our eyes to an extraordinary spectrum of unlimited consciousnesses.
I definitely think all the theorists fell short of mentioning females in any of their works because females were really having difficult times.
Although Du Bois spoke of the “African American” experience in his times, I think if we would look at the Women of that time, we would find ourselves even more in shock! Because a Woman was thought to be inferior even among White people, can you even imagine what it was like to be Black, American and Female?
So when studying Du Bois, I think we should have that in back of our minds, because it is very important not to forget that Women, especially African American Women, needed to fight twice as hard as an African American Male in order to achieve and become successful.
The Wiki assignment was something so innovative, progressive and fresh. It’s really cool when a professor assigns an assignment that isn’t black and white, that is something more out of the box and modern. That’s exactly what this was. Unfortunately, I don’t think the collaborative project was as successful as anticipated, but I think the reasoning behind that is the sheer confusion and intimidation of it all. The Communist Manifesto is such a historical document that it almost seems rude to edit it, and I think that’s where the issue and lack of involvement lied. Of course changing words here and there is doable, but actually taking out and putting new concepts into the document seemed a little harsh to me. I think the concept of the assignment was genius – to morph something so historical and vital to Classical Theory into something that the Sociology student of 2012 can understand and become one with. In my opinion, if we did something more modern and current and then transformed that into something along the ideology of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, that would have perhaps been a little bit easier. Personally, I was absolutely petrified to change anything for a) fear of it being incorrect b) fear of my peers disagreeing with it and c) thinking that the ideas/words were just fine as is. Also, it was quite confusing to keep going back to something from the beginning of the (short) semester while learning about other theorists at the same time. I think the assignment would be a lot more efficient if done in a regular semester, but seemed a little rushed for such a short summer session.
All in all, I give this assignment a B. The concept is superb and extremely innovative yet the document itself is quite difficult to manipulate under the given circumstances (time constraints, preoccupied with new theorists, lack of confidence). The pedagogy behind this though is wonderful, bringing the whole class together through technology and making it a whole group effort. A little fine tuning and it’ll be good to go! 🙂