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Book Reviews
Rojek’s realist ontology has its limits. While Presumed Intimacy contains many an
interesting insight into what a fallen public has succumbed to, ultimately it is a work
which advocates a sociality of character over personality. For Rojek, ‘the rise of presumed
intimacy in everyday life is closely related to the triumph of personality over character in
the game of achieving attention capital and social impact’ (p. 43). In a society of presumed
intimacy we move into an ethical space where personality outweighs character and our
obligations and bonds to the other remain weak: ‘personality is a cruel and untrustworthy
task-master’ (p. 81). Philosophically, Rojek’s argument rests upon a critique of Romantic
political occasionalism, as found in Schmitt’s Political Romanticism (1986: 76–81).
Rojek decries celebrity sourced from opportunity; of people moved by ‘the occasion’ not
their principles; a celebrity where neither integrity nor constancy is found. The Romantic
ethic is one of occasionism: ‘the romantics could not play the role of the ego who creates
the world. They preferred the state of eternal becoming and possibilities that are never
consummated to the confines of concrete reality’ (Schmitt, 1986: 66). I would question
how problematic the Romantic ‘personality’ over the absolute character is. While one
could suggest the Romantic occasionist forgoes commitment and ipso facto circumvents
forging social-cultural bonds and responsibilities toward ‘the other’, what the Romantic
occasionist secures is a collective commitment to a reversibility of self and others.
Crucially, ‘we are obliged to respect the reversibility, the open potential, the creative
expressivity in others as much as we feel ourselves entitled to our own’ (Varul, 2015: 456).
While presumed intimacy seemingly threatens democracy with a tyranny, it saves us from
the tyranny of commitment which much of the 20th century suffered.
Presumed Intimacy will certainly stimulate those working in all fields of sociology as
well as politics and international relations and cultural studies. Indeed Rojek invites a
wider, interested audience. His writing is peppered with witticisms and a honed ability to
turn large ideas into succinct phrases, all the while avoiding verbiage. Deploying both
the major and neglected contributions of a diverse range of social, psychological and
political theory (from Durkheim to Milgram, to Carl Schmitt to Adorno, and more) Rojek
will find readers in all areas of the social sciences, humanities and interested public.
Schmitt C (1986) Political Romanticism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Sennett R (1977) The Fall of Public Man. New York: Alfred Knope.
Varul MZ (2015) Consumerism as folk religion: Transcendence, probation and dissatisfaction
with capitalism. Studies in Christian Ethics 28(4): 447–460.
Mark Doidge
Football Italia: Italian Football in the Age of Globalization
Bloombury, London, 2015, £45 hbk (ISBN: 9781472519191), 258 pp.
Reviewed by: Peter Millward, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
In September 1992 British TV’s Channel 4 premiered its first live Football Italia – a
weekly magazine and live match show that would broadcast Italy’s Serie A matches. Just
Cultural Sociology 10(4)
one month before, in the UK, The Premiership, was born. At that point, we were in
between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC’s dynasties in the UK, but in Italy AC
Milan, headed by President Silvio Berlusconi, were reigning supreme. AC Milan were
really good and Italian football was capturing our imagination.
As a 12-year-old boy at the time, I wondered if I should even adopt an Italian team.
In the end, I decided not to but a friend at my school in Wigan, John, certainly did. His
team were Parma. A year before his team had been Liverpool. These days I see him and
greet him with a nod and a smile at Wigan Athletic matches. Life, in many ways, has
changed. Around the time of Channel 4’s Football Italia launch, Rogan Taylor had
observed ‘[e]ven our biggest football clubs are financial equivalents of corner shops
when compared to the giants in Italy and Spain’ (1992: 193). This year Deloitte’s global
football finance reports show that teams from the English leagues account for 17 out of
the top 30 revenue-generating clubs in world football. In comparison, Italy trails a distant second with five clubs. Football in Italy – and Italy’s place in football’s global order
– has, in many ways, changed.
In his book, also called Football Italia, Mark Doidge produces a tour de force that
explains the rise and fall of Italian football, sometimes set against other leagues such as
those in England. C. Wright Mills (1959) saw the ‘sociological imagination’ as the
awareness between the relationships of personal experience and the wider society, or
biography and history. In Football Italia Doidge gives the sociological flesh to understand John’s (and my own) experiences in tandem with the changes in football finance
across the 25-year period.
Organised into nine main chapters, the book successfully charts the histories (in the
recent and longer-term senses) and present of football in Italy, addressing themes such as
the design, development and condition of stadiums, the policing of supporters and the
‘meanings’ of fandom. On this latter point, I particularly enjoyed Doidge’s chapter on
‘Ultras’ – a category of fans that are often mistaken in the media to be right-wing ‘hooligans’ (accepting the problematic nature of this label) – which explores their solidarities,
codes of behaviour and connections to the football clubs they support. This is not to say
that no Ultras are right wing and/or ‘hooligans’ and Doidge captures the complexities of
the terrain across the chapter. The chapter on Ultras is followed by one which is headed
‘Other Forms of Fandom’ and, if I were to be critical of this book, the collection of material on official supporters’ clubs and supporters’ trusts (although valuable in the analysis
fandom unto themselves) still only covers highly ‘committed’ types of fans. On this
point, I would have been fascinated to learn more about fans of Italian football clubs who
consume matches predominately through other modes (TV, radio, newspapers, internet/
social media etc.). Indeed, as Doidge notes, there is a sizable segment of fans of large
clubs in Italy who do not attend matches that they deem to be of lower significance. It
struck me that a deep understanding of these fans would be a really important avenue in
the sociology of cultural consumption.
Overall, Football Italia makes a strong contribution to literature on the sociology of
sport, unpacking professional football in Italy in a way that is hugely commendable.
However, Doidge’s sociological contribution extends beyond sport: his critical analysis
of collusions between the police and government (see his discussion of the Pisanu Laws
on pages 110–121, for instance) alongside the policing of football fans offers much to
Book Reviews
critical criminologists, his discussions around neo-patrimonial networks in the political
economy of football make contributions to qualitative social-network analysis and across
the book he makes multiple contributions to understandings of post-racial racism. Above
all else, though, Doidge’s monograph is a book about the practices, quirks and cultures
of both ‘high power’ and ‘everyday’ life – including football – in Italy, and it is under this
banner his research is most clearly understood and will be appreciated.
Mills CW (1959) The Sociological Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Taylor R (1992) Football and its Fans: Supporters and Their Relations With the Game, 1885–
1985. Leicester: Leicester University Press.
Hanna Katharina Göbel
The Re-Use of Urban Ruins: Atmospheric Inquiries of the City
Routledge, London, 2015, £90 hbk (ISBN: 9781138795617), 238 pp.
Reviewed by: Christian Morgner, University of Leicester, UK
Hanna Katharina Göbel’s monograph would be of great interest to a range of scholars
and professionals, particularly those interested in urban design, cultural memory, creative cities, urban planning, activism and urban sociology. This book studies the politics
of design aesthetics of former urban ruins by exploring the cultural value of buildings.
Göbel needed to go beyond both the stated and fixed everyday understanding of buildings and their uses and the concept that buildings act as a symbolic mirror of society. To
do so, she suggests using a material culture approach that requires us to understand
buildings as fluid entities. The theoretical framework that underlines such a praxeological perspective is informed by theoretical resources, as developed in actor-network theory (ANT) and science, technology and society (STS). Through this approach, her study
addresses the reuse and redesign of urban buildings based on their own cultural logic,
particularly how the ruined materials possess an atmospheric agency that enacts urban
practices. This atmospheric agency is explored through two empirical directions: 1) how
designers and urban planners make use of a city’s material leftovers and 2) how the
designs of these sites unfold in an urban agency.
The introduction is followed by five chapters, which investigate the above-mentioned
empirical direction. The first chapter discusses urban cultures and practices of reuse. In
the second chapter, there is an analysis of aesthetic experiments and cultural management within the memory of urban ruins, while the third chapter addresses the cultural
engineering of buildings as ruins. The roles of events in the history of buildings and their
locations comprise the fourth chapter, and the final chapter considers the roles of expertise and formation of epistemological objects.
The metaphor of the laboratory is used to draw attention to aesthetic agencies or urban
ruins. The example of the former parliament building of the German Democratic
Republic is used to illustrate how this palace of the Republic was transformed into a ‘fun
palace’. The notion of the ruin is employed as an ‘unbuilding’ strategy, which empties the
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