Homelessness of the Mind

We want to link identities, consciousness and social relationships and this the Homeless Mind thesis tries to do. This approach encounters structuralism (a hint of Frankfurt School Marxism - a bit like the left idealism studied in criminology) and symbolic interactionism and phenomenology, and goes something like this...

Primary carriers of meaning are the institutions which form from the economic and social base of society. Market forces, privatised and anomic social relations, work identities separated from other identities, and the anonymity of bureaucracy. Secondary carriers are urbanism and the mass media, mass education, and areas of culture and arts transmitting ideas. This leads to existentialist doubt. This has echoes of the Frankfurt School of hegemonic Marxism and structuralism. But the self looks to society...

Berger and Kellner (1974) says we live in a framework of symbols and these convey meaning, and their pattern conveys overall meaning. In other words, the individual mind interacts with society on a sybolic interface.

In the past the main overarching symbol system was religious, giving one symbolic world, affecting consciousness, but now the overarching one symbolic world has been replaced by plurality of meanings. Because life has become segmented as in the life of the city, with bureaucracy and technology - we get anonymity and privacy and the allowing of a plurality of lifestyles. However, the city norms are not confined to cities - pluralism is everywhere. Thus a once sense of encountering the same home world in every situation of life has gone. We now have a segmented life carrying different meanings as we encounter each segment.

It is possible to imagine yourself having different biographies and offering a different identity of yourself to each segment. This gives freedom, but also frustration. It then becomes up to you to make and create your own meaning through your life plan. Who am I becomes what you do through space and time. It is uncertain and may not be achievable. In the old world of overarching meaning you were given your identity, but in the modern world you get a sense of designing yourself, but within the social situations in which you find and move yourself. So it is expnsive and free, but rootless and anomic. You migrate openly through different social worlds, and use their meanings.

Yet every meaning, because it is differentiated, is relativised. Nothing has absolute truth. This means the institutionl order as a whole no longer pins together as it did, and it itself is relativised. Because you cannot locate yourself in the whole objective order, as once possible, you sufer identity crises. But as you migrate you must reflect. It is not a given order, there is choice and reflection, requiring decisions and plans. So individualism is the key - what you choose is different from what they choose.

Religion which once produced an overarching view of reality - a cosmos - and was its principle project is now privatised. Because of this breaking down, there is a secularising effect. The generality is religionless - religion is now diffused. Religion has lost its quantity of certainty, faith is made more difficult, religion escapes increasingly from the public sphere and with the loss of metaphysics we all feel more homeless.