Authors: Wehling, Peter
Title: Social Inequalities Beyond the Modern Nature-Society-Divide?
Other Titles: The Cases of Cosmetic Surgery and Predictive Genetic Testing
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: Due to the accelerated dynamics of scientific and technological modernisation over the last few decades, the sharp and unambiguous categorical distinction and separation between "nature" and "society" that has been essential for the selfperception of Western modernity is increasingly subject to erosion or even dissolution. The article aims to explore the possible consequences of this blurring of boundaries with regard to the generation, social perception, and justification of social inequalities in "reflexive modern" societies. Using the examples of cosmetic surgery and predictive genetic testing, current tendencies of a seemingly paradoxical "renaturalisation" of inequality are outlined: contrary as well as parallel to the modern programme and promise of a "denaturalisation of society" (Jürgen Habermas), "natural" characteristics such as physical appearance or genetic constitution are gaining importance in terms of social distinction and discrimination. One should, however, not fail to see that this renaturalisation is not simply a revival of older (if by no means definitely overcome) forms of social inequalities based on (presumedly) natural collective categories (sex, race, ethnicity and so on). Rather, a hybrid, scientifically and technically manufactured human "nature" becomes a medium of novel forms of "individualised" discrimination: physical characteristics are no longer ascribed to certain groups or people as their inalterable natural qualities, but are increasingly conceived of as open to fashioning and therefore as socially achieved by the individual person. For this reason, the new inequalities "beyond" the modern nature-society divide are apparently not considered fundamentally illegitimate or "pre-modern". What seems to be needed in present-day societies is the establishment of new, socially accepted regulations and boundaries for the complex and intertwined dynamics of denaturalisation and renaturalisation of the social.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/26726
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-8479
Issue Date: 2005-07
Publisher: Technische Universität Dortmund
Appears in Collections:Issue 1

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
wehling-sti-2005.pdf78.3 kBAdobe PDFView/Open


This item is protected by original copyright



All resources in the repository are protected by copyright.