Monday, June 15, 2009

Education Rationalizes the Status Structure, Mostly

Wittgenstein has a wonderful metaphor of language as like an old city. The oldest parts are crooked, winding, organic. On top of and growing around old bits are the new, modern, rationalized parts.

I think the social structure is like that, too. There is an old, crooked organic structure based on an honor/shame culture. We see it especially at the top, with its residue in Old Money. And we see it at the bottom, where gangs and slums reproduce honor/shame warrior bands wherever bourgeois order is ineffective.

On top of this old organic structure, though, a modern, rationalized grid has been laid. The main mechanism of rationalizing the social structure is the educational system. And the main tool for creating social closure differentiating one stratum from another are educational credentials.


halifax said...

I don't remember the exact quote, but I do believe that Wittgenstein thought that the old crooked ways were more reasonable than the new rationalized language. At least, he came to believe that in his later work.

TallCoolOne said...

Gruntled is nothing if not anti-pragmatist in theory and pragmatist in practice.

What should be made of revolutions -- whether of Robespierrean or Le Corbusieran in nature -- which artificially (in the old [!] sense of the word) erase the "old" and then lay down the "new" in the same locale?