Originally posted on December 17, 2019 @ 2:01 PM
Sometimes in order to think differently we need a new language, semantics, grammar and semiotics. This has been acknowledged in social psychology for some time. This is how Derrida and Deluze make a point about difference (https://monoskop.org/images/8/84/Derrida_Jacques_Writing_and_Difference_1978.pdf).
Sometimes a new grammar, language and semantic can help us shift away from the burden of misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the risk in developing such a language can also add to confusion. In other words, there is always a trade-off in developing new language.
Language is often hijacked and anchored so that commonly accepted words are made meaningless. This is often done through propaganda, spin and marketing by political interests that delude people into false submission. We can learn much from the expertise of Joseph Goebbels (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/03/how-nazi-propaganda-encouraged-the-masses-to-co-produce-a-false-reality.html). Once language has been abused and made meaningless then communication becomes a political tool aligned to emotive loyalties rather than sensemaking. (If you have the time watch The Loudest Voice you will see how this works). In many ways this mis-anchoring of language has occurred in Safety such that people have lost the ability to be ‘discerning’ about Real Risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/).
In order to rescue the notion of social history, Annales historians (https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A21648873) developed the notion of ‘mentalitie’ to denote the social nature of History. During the 60s it had become clear that History had got bogged down in dates, ‘facts’ and data. As a kid I remember doing studies in History at Primary School being bored with learning dates and timelines. History was not much more than studying so called ‘important people’ such as rulers, kings, politics and despots. Such was the affect of STEM-only thinking on this discipline under the influence of mechanics, empiricism and positivism. This trend in History also led to the demise of the subject in schooling as it came to be perceived as irrelevant to education. In reality, Historiography is one of the most potent disciplines to teach critical thinking and something needed much more with the advent of ‘fake news’.
The STEM approach to History was turned on its head in the 1970s and once people understood that History was about ordinary people it became an enlivened discipline. What was once just a masculinist understanding of events had moved to become a history of ‘mentalities’ that is, the cultural anthropology about how people lived in the everyday. Feminist historians in particular began deconstructing the STEM history of the past as not much more than propaganda. Mentalities methodology (historiography) now began to focus on theories of interpretation (hermeneutics) rather than the idea that recorded data was neutral. At the same time, Theology began to apply the study of hermeneutics to the Bible with similar transformational results again, ably led by deconstructive feminists.
In Sociology and Psychology similar transformations occurred in the 1970s most notably from the discourse in embodied interaffectivity and inconnectivity ably led by Merleau Ponty and the Phenomenologists. It is from the Discipline and tradition that the idea of ‘socialitie’ was developed. Socialitie denotes the inter-body resonance and osmosis of human interaction. As Fuchs discusses, human relations, learning and social interconnection are more a-tuned to the rhythms of music than science. This is called ‘musicalitie’. A full discussion of this is here: https://www.academia.edu/30974462/Intercorporeality_and_Interaffectivity
It seems the more our world becomes consumed with objects, data and metrics, the more we shift language way from a focus on people, humans and relationships. Perhaps we need to be talking more about ‘communitie’ than ‘community’ and ‘culturalitie’ than culture in order to bring back into the discourse, the centrality of person-centric thinking and enactment.
So, at risk of further confusing the risk and safety waters, maybe we might be better of talking about ‘safetie’ than safety. Somehow we need to rescue the demonization of humans and silence on personhood in the risk and safety industry. Maybe we need a new language to help us discern what really matters rather than this constant fixation on data, numbers, counting and numeric.
Safetie is about the social outcome of how humans tackle risk. Safetie is about the social resilience we experience even though we are harmed by learning-in-life. In order to rescue the industry from STEM-only thinking, maybe we need to write and talk more about Safetie.