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Class Notes. May 25, 2007 On Giddens and 9-11 Trust, Expert Systems, Power. Differential Power. Two results: Skew norms Familiarity of established trustworthiness among friends and intimates How is it that the first relates to differential power?. About Norms.

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class notes

Class Notes

May 25, 2007

On Giddens and 9-11

Trust, Expert Systems, Power

differential power
Differential Power
  • Two results:
    • Skew norms
    • Familiarity of established trustworthiness among friends and intimates
  • How is it that the first relates to differential power?
about norms
About Norms
  • How does Giddens talk about “norms” in Chapter 1?
    • Pre-modern societies are based on norms
    • Norms are not always specifically communicating
    • By our actions we are expressing the norms of a society
      • Shows what you believe and what you value
      • “Traditional”
  • How do norms get “skewed”
    • By acting differently
    • Individual’s desires and changes in their patterns of behavior
human motivation in security
Human Motivation (in/security)
  • When Norms get skewed, it may be for various reasons:
    • Humans forget (they are not vigilant; do not have perseverance; lose cautiousness)
    • Humans often desire to have change (by breaking out of old patterns)
    • How do you break out of old patterns?
      • Exposed to it
      • Develop a consciousness (structure allows the formation of a consciousness),
      • Will
      • Opportunity (comes from the social situation),
  • Recall that Giddens talks about these kinds of environments in Chapter One:
    • Of risk
    • Of opportunity
    • One cannot take risks without the opportunities of risk; one has to have chances to change, to break out of the normal/traditional way of doing something.
norms and differentials in power
Norms and differentials in power
  • When you face someone who represents the norm (that is, a dominant power), the people will follow
    • Norms can only change if someone presents themselves as a dominant power and then resists or opposes the current dominant conception(i.e. the norm).
    • Once others follow the resistor’s lead, then norms change
chalmers johnson 2000 blowback
Chalmers Johnson (2000): Blowback

"Blowback" is about such resistance to the dominant norm

“Blowback” is a CIA term.

It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the US government's international activities

blowback cont
Blowback (cont…)

Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution.

The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year (due to the anger of blowback).

The original (misguided) "covert operation" by the US government helped convince many people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an enemy.

blowback related to today s discussion
Blowback, Related to Today’s Discussion
  • Start with Hobbes
    • Originally there were few norms that were being followed
    • This created differentials of power
      • Some of these differentials were bad and difficult to deal with because they were arbitrary or uncontrollable; unpredictable and indefensible against.
    • Was this a good thing?
      • It was bad if the people below felt that they could not survive under those conditions
    • Related to Blowback
      • Every action has consequences
      • Every “ordering” in society has consequences
consequences and social theory
Consequences and Social Theory
  • Marx/Engels: “all human history is the history of class struggle”
    • This may be an exaggeration, but it is true that much of history has proven such differentials in power.
    • When people feel oppressed by those who have power over them, they will ultimately rebel
      • To rebel means changing norms (usually)
      • Rebels also want to change the social system otherwise the norms will stay in place (and so will the rebels)
about 9 11
About 9-11
  • Was 9-11 a case in which norms were attacked?
    • The Western value of freedom was attacked
  • Was 9-11 a case of differential power being acted on or reacted to?
    • Who had the power in 9-11?
    • Were the few Islamic activists powerful or not?
      • They sent a powerful message about power relations and philosophical differences for all time
      • This is a kind of reflexivity – at least it relates to that concept
        • The reflexivity that led them to act
        • The reflexivity that they then contributed to in all Islamic folks who challenge the Western ideals
us government s response
US Government’s Response
  • Attacked Afghanistan -- removed the Taliban from power
  • Invaded Iraq -- Saddam Hussein was funding international terrorism
  • US Government keeps attention on the terrorist situation:
    • To justify use of extra-legal measures (often foreign nationals) -- torture and interrogation; imprisonment in foreign countries (unbound by US law)
    • To interfere with privacy (of US citizens)
reasons for us actions
Reasons for US Actions
  • Why does the government keep attention on the “terrorist threat”?
    • They argue that there is an attack which will come at any time. Is this true?
    • Orwell: 1984
      • Here the US Government’s actions has clear resonance to Orwell’s dictator/government that was run by a figurehead called “Big Brother”
      • In that society, people were informed about an artificially dangerous, antagonistic outside world, in order to maintain order inside their world.
trust in the 9 11 case
Trust in the 9-11 Case
  • What does this have to do with “trust”?
    • Think about that in the current situation
  • Is the US government an “expert system”
    • In what way(s) does it mirror Gidden’s expert system?
deffi s q related to 9 11
Deffi’sQ, related to 9-11

If the meeting ground of face-work and faceless commitments are the access points of the abstract system, what is the involvement with trust in modern society?

In 9-11 where is the face-work?

As “organized” a society as the US is, there was enough social dis-connection that “face-work” could not come into play.

This lack of proper face-work created in-security

faceless commitment
Faceless Commitment
  • As societies grow more complex (even borderless) there is an increase in faceless interaction
  • But what is the “commitment” part of it?
    • That we will respect one another even if we don’t see one another
    • We are “promising” one another that we will uphold the “norms” of the society/union that we have become engaged in
      • Trust
      • An example is the Myanmar – Japan connection where a government certifies a student who will perform to his best in that foreign country. There is a relationship of trust (and promise) between countries.
      • In the case of 9-11 (security) where was this commitment?
on access points in an abstract system
On Access Points in an Abstract System
  • Access Point: meeting ground between facework and faceless commitment
    • 9-11 case:
      • Various - could be upon entry (by attackers) into the country or it could have been at the flight schools (where they trained for their mission) or at the airport they got on the plane (and where security was weak)
  • Abstract System: political and economic and moral components form the “system”
    • The attacks were on all three, linked in various ways that we can specify (given time and energy!)
trust and 9 11
Trust and 9-11

From Giddens long list of 10 points

  • Defined: confidence in the reliability of a person or system, regarding a set of outcomes or events
    • Americans were confident and saw reliability in the system
      • Before: they were very confident in their security and way of life
        • Systems of control were reliable (they thought)
  • After: they were no longer certain that they were secure and that they could trust their experts and the abstract system supporting them
concluding for this week
Concluding for this week

Risk and trust are intertwined; leading to calculations of risk (influencing human action)

This is where we will go next, thinking about complex human systems and also thinking of the power (and also powerlessness) of human agents trapped inside environments with both risk and trust