Arguing for cultural theory and sociology
A friend of mine recently posted this on Facebook:
This is absolutely priceless and needs to be shared -- apparently from a bona-fide sociology paper, which a friend is translating: "We string these keywords on the conceptual wire of individualisation with the aim of proposing a possible interpretation of otherness and strangeness in the context of second modernity". I laughed so much I'm actually crying. Anyone out there with experience of decoding bullshit?
Someone responded with an attempt at decoding this:
We're thinking about how people feel weird in the age of social networking.
But mostly people were pretty rude about the quote. I have a lot of sympathy with this urge but I also wanted to defend this against the physicists who were prepared to laugh and scorn before thinking. The first point I made was that it's relatively cogent compared to an example Terry Eagleton gave of the worst sort of writing in cultural theory:
The in-choate in-fans ab-original para-subject cannot be theorized as functionally completely frozen in a world where telelogy is schematized into geo-ography.
That's... not a good thing. But I went on to say some people could reasonably say it's just jargon and that it's hubris to expect a lay-person to read a sociology or cultural theory paper and expect to understand it: the same person wouldn't have the same expectations of a chemistry paper. E.g. 'otherness' and 'second modernity' are pretty well discussed ideas and just because they don't light-up as concepts you know doesn't mean they're nonsense.
I don't expect a fruitful discussion or to change anyones minds. If you want to know you have to read. Facebook paraphrasing is no substitute for study. It's the same with people, really.