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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Political Psychology as Social Aesthetics.

In this sense, political psychology cannot be separated from psychology in general. In both cases we participate in the generation of form.

La sociedad mental

However, because these forms enter society in significant ways, reflexive attention must be given to what it is we create. Mechanical forms, which are common to the field and to society generally, contribute to a condition of social alienation; in contrast, the form of a game is more closely related to the spontaneous creation of community.

But there are, surely, some social psychologists who do not touch on political themes in their work, and who nonetheless cannot be qualified as apolitical or de-politicized. There is in their ways of doing things—of understanding and acting in the world—even a certain radicalism that sometimes is not noticed by political psychologists proper. This view may seem to be all-inclusive, but it is not.

For most psychologists, it seems, the status quo—in both society and science—is by and large acceptable; there are only small flaws to correct. In contrast, a political psychology defined in the present way implies a discipline with deep knowledge of itself and wider interests than those of its own discipline e. In this sense, to refer or not to refer to political themes is irrelevant, because that does not define political psychology.

Rather, it seems that doing the kind of social psychology that deepens the discipline and its sensitivity to broader social concerns is, ipso facto, doing political psychology. Sooner or later, one will come to understand that such a psychology can contribute to some form of a better society. Hence, it can be said that doing political psychology does not consist of dedication to societal transformation, but consists of doing precisely psychology.

To stop doing psychology and dedicate oneself to politics is valid and sometimes even urgent, but that is not doing political psychology. From Critical Psychology to Social Aesthetics In my view, the principal way to better a society is by doing a better social psychology. Therefore, critical social psychologists are often dedicated to matters of text, conversations, narratives, and all kinds of linguistic modalities through which social reality is constructed.

It can be said that this psychology of discourse is indisputable, because anything said against it is part of the discourse itself, and consequently agrees with it. It is true that the chhristlieb, scientific, and positivistic psychology uses a much more rigid and dogmatic logic, whereas the logic of critical social psychology is more creative.

Ironically, the natural sciences and the practice of the scientific method that characterizes them are capable of producing almost anything except meaning: They have produced a rich array of products but not meaning. And perhaps the injustices to which they have contributed are as well the collateral product of the absence of meaning. Meaning does not inhere in specific words, but resides in form.

It is probable that language is an inescapable aspect of communal life, but language is not capable of producing that which is not language, that is, of producing that which precedes it or exceeds language Ricoeur, —a reality that is not duplicated by its contents.

Formal literature provides an example: The meaning resides in the form; it is not logical, but aesthetic. In any case, given the way society has been considered as a text for example, in the work of critical social psychologysociety can also be considered as a form Simmel, I should point out that when I speak about aesthetics, there is no necessary reference to art or beauty.

The only relation that exists between an aesthetic science and art is that art is an activity dedicated to produce forms voluntarily, whereas society is constituted by involuntary forms, unintentional, such as customs, habits, movements, spaces, etc. The form can be defined as that which is presented to the subject observer or participant as a whole unit and only secondarily in terms of components or elements; its nature essence or reality is not rooted in any of its features but in the insoluble entirety of them all.


Form cannot be described or explained, because that would be equal to destroying it. For example, any game is a form, because the player experiences it as a unity without fissures. In contrast, to explain the game—its rules, field, objectives, etc. Also, elegance, sadness, uneasiness, stress, astonishment, etc. Forms are not perceived, but felt. As can be seen, the examples of forms are names of feelings and emotions.

This is so because forms cannot constitute a logical and rational knowledge, but rather a sensitivity to the world. Summing up, the aesthetic can be understood as that which is not logical or linguistic.

From a logical perspective, society is often conceived of as a multiplicity of messages and message exchanges. Attention is thus paid to the contents of the communications, their constructions of the world, and to their results. An aesthetic perspective does not pay attention to the construction or contents but is interested more in the style or forms of appearance: It is not worried by the results, but by the forms.

In social aesthetics, those events that seem to belong to political psychology—such as electoral behaviors, population characteristics, parliamentary debates, or elec- toral advertising—are considered in terms of activities, situations, and objectives that share their form with the non-political domain.

For example, electoral criteria of democracy have the same quantitative form as economic productivity, and the successful staging of a political speech has the same form as a mediocre rock concert. Certainly, there are no aesthetic reasons to separate political happenings from everyday happenings; they both develop within the same forms and sensibilities. Approaches to Form There are many ways of conceptualizing forms of societal life.

For many purposes I find it useful to distinguish among four basic forms by which society and its knowledge are constituted. These include language, nature, time, and space. Space consists of all places, coordinates, locations, positions, orientations, etc. In addition to these distinctions, it is also helpful to consider forms in terms of their degree of articulation—the extent to which their component parts are separa- ble.

At the same time, even among highly articulated forms, those in which the elements are not perceived or sensed as separate can be distinguished from those in which separation is dominant. For example, in the case of language, there are novels that are so well constructed that they seem to approximate an uninterrupted flow, whereas other novels seem more like an unconnected series of paragraphs. In the former case, the elements are not perceived separately but are dissolved in the unity of the form.

With respect to articulation, it may be said that what has been called sense or meaning would be a form whose unity is maximum, whose component parts are so completely integrated that it is not possible to distinguish among them.

It is not even possible to distinguish the observer from the form itself, because he or she has also become integrated into the form. Political Psychology as Social Aesthetics The Mechanical Society For the purposes of exploring a range of problems currently confronting society, I find it especially useful to think in terms of a mechanical form.

Here the component parts, even though they operate effectively in tandem, are not integral parts of each other. For example, in an elementary machine there are gears, levers, etc. In mechanical forms, the parts are so distinguished that there is no human participant; the human subject then becomes only an external observer to the form. That is, the observer does not really belong to the form, and thus is not truly interested in what happens to it except as its outcomes are useful to the observer.

La Melancolia Pablo Fernandez Christlieb – [PDF Document]

The idea of the neutral scientist who observes measurements of cause-and-effect relations is based in this form. As we commonly find, people are every moment busily occupied by countless activities, such as going to the office, having appointments with their colleagues, attending work meetings, and so on; besides, they must make phone calls, send faxes, answer e-mails, and navigate the World Wide Web; they must also meet, say hello, talk, and relate themselves with many people, and thus go to restaurants, cafes, and other locales for socializing.

On occasion they must also take the car to the mechanic, go to the gas station, visit the doctor, go to a bank, go to the supermarket, and exercise in the gym.


To distract themselves from all that bustle at the end of the day, they go to the movies, the theater, a bar, and so on. As we increasingly find, the weekends increasingly resemble the business of the weekday. All these events, so common to any present-day city, imply enormous move- ment from one place to another.

Modes of transportation cars, escalators, elevators, planes, trains, buses, and so on as well as the communication media including phones, computers, television sets, movies, and newspapers become increasingly rapid and more effective. As a result, there is nothing that can be known deeply or that can be understood intimately Halbwachs, There is an increasingly superfi- cial knowledge of life.

Paralleling the way that people change from one place or activity to another, they also change objects.

La Melancolia Pablo Fernandez Christlieb

One desirable activity in contemporary culture is to purchase things in the largest possible number: Because of the physical impossibility of accumulating these objects menyal, and because the reason for purchase is not so much the use of the object as the symbolic value of the purchase itself, manufacturers have begun to develop objects with a short life-span. These objects may be ephemeral in different manners; some are objectively disposable lighters and penssome go out of fashion dresses and ornamentsand some become obsolete as improvements are made computers and television sets.

Because of the rapid transience of objects, users cannot connect with them meaningfully. Within a world that is permanently escaping, in which all reality is virtual and ephemeral, sociesad become useful as a form of memory. If people cannot recount all their actions, they can count their outcomes.

Dociedad the qualities of the objects, cheistlieb, and places are evanescent, one of the few things that can be conserved from the passing parade are the amounts, the data, the registers, the numbers, and the statistics. People can know if they are intelligent and successful, for example, because they can make a balance of the amounts of dhristlieb made, places visited, people known, clients obtained, products sold, and mates acquired.

It is in this sense that we can appreciate why statistics constitute a new form of knowledge. Knowl- edge based on quantities is also the kind of knowledge that is produced by measuring christlien such as clocks, speedometers, IQ tests, and bathroom scales. The individual is not a subject but an object among other objects.

Again the sense of emptiness is accelerated.

When activities follow one another without close links, when all locations are successively left behind, and when objects are being discarded as they are acquired, society takes a form that has no integration among its parts. Society is made up of pieces that effectively operate with respect to other parts, but that nonetheless are separated lq each other. It is a mode of articulation that cannot be seen nor experienced as a unit; the general complaint of the sociedaad individual is exactly this: In these circumstances, people can effectively observe the movement of the daily world, but cannot feel it.

From this perspective, the pervasive sense of isolation and meaninglessness in the culture can be well understood.

Where individuals become external observers of their own relations, they cannot be full participants in them. They can be witnesses of their own loves and antagonisms, but not actors of them. Within this domain of individualism articulated but isolatedit is not surprising that people speak of feeling empty.

From the perspective of social aesthetics, it may socjedad said that the society is empty and uninhabited.

La afectividad colectiva – Pablo Fernandez Christlieb • BookLikes (ISBN)

It is a society with great order, production, and movement, but empty of participants. Because any form requires, by definition, someone to contemplate or experience it, a society with no one inside must lack sense. Toward Alternative Forms of Being: The Game Given the ills of a society in which the form of the machine has become increasingly pervasive, how can we move on? What alternatives are available? In my view it is helpful to consider an alternative form of social action, one that may be viewed as the game.