The Automaton Society: On the Relation Between Anomie and Alienation

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Michael THOMPSON, William Paterson University, USA
Since the nineteenth century and through the twentieth, anomie and alienation have been associated with forms of meaninglessness, powerlessness, normlessness and a sense of social-psychological dislocation.  Contemporary culture, however, seems to evince new patterns of inclusion and assimilation to broader patterns of norms, values and social goals that socialize the self to the broader imperatives of elites and the social systems they steer.  The thesis I will explore in this paper is that we are witnessing a new form of anomie and alienation where both are now to be seen as objective pathologies of moral reasoning and forms of social belongining.  With a resurgent neo-liberal capitalism, anomie and alienation not manifest themselves as social problems in the traditional sense (crime, etc.) but rather as deficiencies in moral and political reasoning that affect their forms of critical rationality and their capacity for democratic will-formation. As a result, what I will call the “automaton society” refers to a new way of seeing how anomie and alienation can be fitted together to explain the strong legitimacy of hierarchical social orders based on voluntary forms of authority.