Accepted Paper:

Rethinking the social in Berlin: an ethnographic study  


Akiko Mori (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)

Paper short abstract:

Based on my research in Berlin, I have highlighted the ways in which social relationships are initiated, expanded, and sustained in periods of tension. I want to explore the meaning of the social in Western thought.

Paper long abstract:

The emphasis on fragmentation, hybridization, and discontinuity in recent decades has brought the conception of society as a whole into question. Society has long been a totalizing concept in Western thought. By what means do people in contemporary conceive of their life-worlds with others?

In the course of my research in Berlin, I focused on the concept of "social," since it serves as a common ground for manifold and overlapping dimensions in life-worlds. This word is found at the core of welfare work in the realm of state policy and in the grassroots movements by self-help groups, while simultaneously referring to one's lifestyle at a personal level. People associate in their activities as tenants, as parents of nursery-school children, or as persons interested in vegetable gardening. They are inspired, or are expected to be inspired, by the sense of being social. The concept of social contributes to the establishment and promotion of relationships to others that are fragile and constantly under tension.

Highlighting the ways in which such relationships are initiated, expanded, and sustained under tension and further inquiring into what people want to have in common, I explore the meaning of the social in a contemporary context.

Panel P116
Mutual anthropology: a proposal for future equality in the discipline