There are a number of questions that ill be discussed in this essay such as, what do sociologists mean when they refer to something as ‘matter? What is a ‘social world? And how is a social world made secure or insecure? Also mentioned will be a number of theories and concepts, here is a few brief definitions of those mentioned in this essay. So what is meant by ‘matted? Matter is the name used for anything that can be touched or used, it can be human bodies or buildings, even objects found all around us, matter is anything that can be used to affect the world socially. What is a social world?
A social world is a concept that was introduced by the Chicago school of Sociology and is used to describe a particular area of a person’s life. For example, an organization they are part of, a working environment, even someone’s home and family. (Carter et al, 2008) Other terms that will be present in this essay will include, ANT (Actor network theory) this is one of the main frameworks that are used by sociologists when they are examining science and technology, ANT is used when looking at the specific roles that ‘Actors’ (human and non-human) play in their given networks.
For example, if we look at a supermarket as a ‘network’, the ‘actors’ loud be items such as the freezers, cashiers and tills. All these actors have a role to play in their given network, but they are often not thought about until something goes wrong, like if a cashier was not available, or a freezer broke down. The behind the scenes running of a supermarket (and most other networks) often get ‘black-boxed’ or not thought about, things that are often not thought about, such as, supermarket deliveries, tills and freezers working as they should.
These things that are often ‘black-boxed’ these are very often things that are not thought about until part of that ‘network’ break down. The last definition is that of Security/insecurity. Security can be many things; it can be personal security (both physical and financial), Psychological security (the need/want to be mentally stable/safe) or on a much grander scale, environmental security. It should also not be assumed that security means the same to everyone, what may mean security for one person, may in fact be an insecurity Of another.
Whilst looking at the role that matter plays in making social worlds secure or insecure, one of the first examples that will be used from Security: Sociology and Social worlds. Carter et al, 2008) will be the Harry Potter novels written by J. K. Rolling. For those unfamiliar with these books, they are stories aimed at youngsters but also enjoyed by adults. These books tell the story of a young boy who is orphaned as a baby and lives with his aunt and uncle in the cupboard under the stairs, until he receives an invitation to attend Hogwash’s School of witchcraft and wizardry.
The young boy – Harry, is unaware of the hazarding world which exists all around him as a result of his aunt and uncle keeping it a secret from him, He is also unaware of the true circumstances of is parent’s death. They were murdered by the great evil wizard voltmeter (Harry was always told they were in a car accident). The Harry Potter books follow Harry journey through school and his teenage years.
Even though Harry is a wizard, the books tell of Harry struggles adapting to the emotional and physical changes and struggles faced by young people today which is partly why they are so popular with youngsters throughout the world. Harry has to deal with his new found freedom from his awful aunt and uncle, a certain level Of independence, making new friends and also meeting and eating girls, to name just a few. All this has added to the growing popularity of the Harry’ Potter brand that is everywhere today.
Young readers can relate to Hardy’s issues and the books create another world the readers can subconsciously ‘escape’ too. The Harry Potter stories are a great example to show how matter can affect the social world’s people live in and can be used to demonstrate the power branding can have on the world around us. Due to the massive popularity of the books, Warner decided to capitalist on their popularity and turn them into films, and due to the movies, paraphernalia ND huge cult following, the Harry Potter franchise is worth an estimated E. Billion (Simmons, 2005). The Harry Potter franchise is a good example of the theory of ‘psycho-social’ (the psychological relationship readers have with the books) and also we can see how the franchise plays on these feelings to ‘mediate’ messages to various social and cultural groups, by looking at this franchise one can see how inner emotional security is developed and used for profitable gain. Another example of people’s insecurities being used for profitable gain which s addressed in the book Security: Sociology and Social worlds. Carter et a’, 2008) is that of Gated communities and SUBS (sports utility vehicles). Gated communities are growing rapidly in population as people are afraid of the ever growing crime rates and the large number of people living in the cities that are from different cultures and countries. These communities offer a safe haven away from crime and are heavily guarded by security guards, limited access and OCW. Most amenities are provided in these gated communities so people don’t have to leave the ‘safety net’ they have bought onto, to go shopping or enjoy a meal in a restaurant.
Gated communities also provide a good example of ANT and of things being ‘black-boxed’. In this example the actors are the guards, CATV, security systems that are in place and the network is the community itself. The running of the community is what gets ‘black-boxed’/ taken for granted, often not thought of until something happens and the security of the network collapses. Also it can be assumed that the ‘security blanket’ of the gated communities can feed people’s fear of the ‘outside’ world.
Without the added security found in these immunities how often do the residents venture outside the gates? This can lead to social exclusion, which could in turn make the residents easier targets for crime when they do leave. If criminals know the kind of people that live in such communities generally people who are well off, and then they could possibly be targets of muggings etc. The example of gated communities is also another good example to show the psycho-social, the fear for their physical safety and their want/need to be protected.
SUBS are another example of brands feeding peoples fear for safety and security being used for refutable gain. SUB’S are advertised as heavily secure, boasting a large number of security and safety precautions, such as extra air bags, panic alarms, locking devices, some models can even be modified with even more safety precautions such as bullet proof glass, bomb proof frames…. This vehicle is popular with celebrities and country officials including the president of the United States due to their extensive safety features and reputation.
The fear people have of the world around them today and their personal safety is heavily exploited by these popular brands. The advertisements in the USA for SUBS say that these vehicles are “defensive capsules against the threat of catastrophic terrorism” (Graham cited in Watson, 2008) using statements such as the one quoted above, these brands are again feeding on people’s fears for physical safety. Owners of Sub’s take fewer precautions than drivers of non Subs due to the vehicles being heavily advertised as ‘safe’ G. C.
Repairable a psychological consultant to automakers was quoted as saying “many consumers feel safer in Subs simply because their ride height makes “[their passengers] higher and dominate and look down (sic). That you can kook down [on other people] is psychologically a very powerful notion . ‘i This and the height and weight of Subs may lead to consumers’ perception of safety (Wisped, accessed 2014) Figures from Federal safety authorities show that almost 100 children aged up to 4 years were killed in driveways or car parks between 2001 and 2010 -? about 10 per year-? and more than 500 kids were seriously injured over the same period.
This has led to safety authorities ordering all SUBS to be fitted with rear view cameras inside by 2018. (Online, accessed 2014) Whilst it is commonly known that SUBS are evilly equipped with safety precautions, it also needs to be remembered that not everyone is protected by these features. In the textbook it is mentioned that an accident occurred in California between a SUB and a Toyota saloon, the driver of the saloon was killed outright, while the driver of the SLIP walked away with a slight injury to her shoulder. Ares, cited in Watson, 2008). Looking at the example of Subs and the dangers they pose, it can be assumed that sometimes the fear people have for their own physical safety can far outweigh the need to think of the safety of others as well, This s backed up by the ever growing popularity of these ‘monster size trucks, and whilst the companies selling these vehicles keep feeding the fears of the consumers, the amount of these vehicles on the roads are going to keep Increasing.
It is clear to see by looking at the examples drawn from the DADDY course book and discussed in this essay that matter does in fact play a huge role in making social worlds secure and/or insecure. The Harry Potter Brand, Subs and gated communities all play their parts in exploiting the insecurities of people and their need for security, for their own profitable gains.
The psychological feelings towards the Harry Potters stories are good examples to explore issues of the social worlds, security and the psyche, and the Gated communities are good examples Of how people’s fears of the world around them and of people who are ‘different’ than them will fuel them to live their life a particular way, whilst the Sub’s could be used to discuss the fears people have about terrorism and physical danger and their need for added protection. Overall matter has a huge role in making social worlds secure and insecure.