The role of suggestion in the process of socialization
Zielinski, Aleksander Milosz
Institut für Soziologie Universität Bern Bern, Switzerland
Inspired by recent work exploring the importance of the ?suggestive realm? for society (e.g. Blackman 2007, 2008; Campbell, 2006; Orr 2006) I intend to focus on a topic which has not been yet covered systematically, namely the process of socialisation. Numerous studies of the neo-institutionalist school around John Meyer (Benavot und Braslavsky 2006; Frank et al. 2000; McEneaney und Meyer 2000; Schissler und Soysal 2005; Schofer und Meyer 2005; Wong 1991) have shown that since World War II a substantial process of homogenisation has been going on worldwide in the field of education: Curricular changes around the world copy each other, enrolment patterns are isomorphic, organizational structures parallel each other etc. For Meyer (2008) the aim of this process is the education of ?world citizens?.
So far only little attention has been drawn to the process how an individual is formed into a world citizen. I propose to identify ?suggestions? as the linguistic function which facilitates this: As Laclau and Mouffe (1985) convincingly demonstrated, in a purely differential system meaning can never be fixed. That?s why hegemonial articulations around so called ?empty signifiers? have to be articulated to temporarily close such a system of meanings. In practice discursive elements are being appropriated by the rhetorical figure of suggestion: a fictional whole is being projected while at the same time the individual in question is being affectively influenced to believe/assume that a discursive element is able to close the gap between the subject and the fictional whole.
From my point of view it seems obvious that in the field of education a huge number of concepts are at work and function through suggestions. The most basic ones are humanism (the idea that everyone is a human being which includes specific characteristics while excluding the possibility of others) and masculinism/feminism (the notion that biological gender differences influence what we can or cannot do, become etc.). I intend to develop these ideas in more detail and exemplify them before closing with an outlook on possible areas for future research.