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Private Worlds and Public Lives - Essay Example

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For example, we may just consider enormous transformation of our perception of the physical distances in the world where today a person can travel half a globe within half a day, or to almost instantaneously establish a communication link with any part of the Earth. Even though these achievements of mankind are seemingly purely technological, they simultaneously exert a great influence on cultural and social aspects of our world views. In this connection, one of the spheres that has been significantly changed in the last hundred years and which in one way or another pertains to the realms of cultural, moral, social, and political concerns is the general distinction between public and private parts of our being. The observation of this crucial principle belongs to the list of the most important social prescriptions in most societies, and its violation consequently constitutes one of the most harshly criticised deviations. With these points in mind, we can try to examine changes that have occurred in private and public attitudes to certain issues in the last hundred years with the hope to better understand the nature and scope of the larger transformations that are happening with our society and the humanity in general as the result of the fast pace of progress, which is on one hand generated by humans, but of the direction and prospects of which we on the other hand are not fully aware. As the issues in relation to which we can trace changes of public and private attitudes during the last century or so we can choose the sphere of public and private leisure spaces, serving as a good illustration of how the notions of public and private as such can be contrasted and mixed, and the issue of what implications new technology and the coming of the information society have on the distinction between them.
Before we move to the examination of changes in public and private attitudes in relation to the mentioned issues, we should overview the essence of the public versus private distinction, which belongs to the list of fundamental methodological approaches in sociology and offers a helpful, even though often relative, reference point for many research purposes (Stolzenberg 2003, pp.328-332). One of the most evident definitions of private and public might seem to be that private is something connected with our own psychological phenomena and with material aspects of our immediate bodily experiences, while public is related to those environments where people coexist, where rules of conduct are externally imposed and regulated, and where phenomena take place that make sense only in the group context (Weintraub and Kumar 1997, pp.182-203). However, from the point of view of the sociological theory of social constructionism 'the private' refers not only to psychology and 'the public' not only to larger scale processes of societys functioning, but rather both notions reflect ways in which individual and group levels co-operate and mutually create reality the way we perceive it. That is why important focuses of the social constructionism are micro, or private, and macro, or public, sociological levels of societies functioning, processes of institutionalisation, and their transformation into ubiquitous traditions. Thus, social constructio ...Show more
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Summary

The dynamics of change in the modern world is so astonishing in many areas that it can be stated absolutely safely that most of us in the end of our lives will be able to say that during our childhood, maturity, and old age we lived not in the same world, but actually in many different worlds…
Private Worlds and Public Lives
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