Monday, December 18, 2006

Post-Emotionalism and the Third Way

I found out that what I tried to describe in the last few entries has a name, and it's called "post-emotionalism." I'm putting all the related entries under one label now.

"Certainly, there is evidence, for example, that over the past quarter of a century people in Britain have come to see personal relationships 'less in terms of social responsibilities and obligations and more in terms of personal resources and fulfilment.'...

It has been suggested that we live increasingly in an amoral, 'post-emotional' age, in which people's emotional responses have ceased to be aesthetic or authentic and their goals are informed by a self-centred form of survivalism. The consumer culture to which the inhabitants of Western societies are subject leads to a 'Disneyfication' of the emotions. Though people can express or 'perform' emotions, these are trumped by rational self-interest...

Post-emotionalism entails a hollowed-out form of compassion for others and a distinctively apolitical preoccupation with one's own interests and well-being, or those of one's most immediate family. It is ostensibly consonant with a Third Way approach to social policy that regards the welfare functions of the state no longer in terms of meeting needs, but of managing risks. " - Hartley Dean, from "The Third Way and Social Welfare: The Myth of Post-emotionalism"

Although people believe that everybody should be held responsible for the choices they make (and disapprove of the "dependency culture,") there is still recognition that people are vulnerable to risk and uncertainty. Dependency out of choice is not tolerated, but people realize that they might be dependent to others (and others may be dependent on them) out of bad luck.

[T]he majority –in spite of the prevalence of popular prejudices against welfare dependency- acknowledged that they themselves were at least potentially dependent beings (and/or that other people dependent on them); and that there are at least certain things to which all human beings are or should be entitled… From behind a Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ as to the extent of the risks they face, people do by and large espouse an implicit theory of social justice (Dean, 704, 705.)

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