“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” —Edmund Burke
“Institutions are the rules of the game.” —Douglass C. North
In this course, first we will try to answer several questions: why is our society so polarized, and what are the roots of social conflict? Why do social groups confront each other at all, and how? Can we understand what causes violence? As Marxists have long argued, is ‘class’ the only explanatory factor? What about race and gender? By focusing on 3-dimensional matrix of class, gender, and race (including ethnicity) we will explore how social structures that nurture social conflict, polarization, and violence are shaped, how they function, and why they are sustained. Our focus will be on the intersectional nexus of class, race, and gender, as we cannot understand the issues tackled in this class if these three factors are studied in isolation from each other. In addition to the relationship between violence and conflict and these various social identities, we will also study how social ills such as inequality, unemployment, segregation, and discrimination reinforce the very same social structures that have produced them in the first place and engage the question of a dialectical reproduction of social structures.
In the second part of the course, we will examine the ways we can attempt to rewrite the rules of the game, and how we might conceivably transform social engagement on a macro as well as micro level by challenging and confronting the predominant quotidian norms that govern social interaction, cooperation, and competition.