Welcome to Thoughts on Theory, a blog about classical sociological theory. Here you will find information and highlights on some of the classical sociological theorists themselves, as well as thoughts and illustrations of how their theories still play out in the social world today.
The image displayed at the top of this site which depicts a busy street scene is an example of Georg Simmel’s theory of blasé attitude. Blasé attitude is addressed in Simmel’s “The Metropolis and Mental Life” as he examines the struggle for individuality in modern societies. The metropolis, or the urban environment, transforms the nature of human interactions in that they are less personal and more transitory. The city dweller is less emotionally tied to his surroundings and encounters, which, as Simmel argues, is how the city dweller survives and protects himself or herself from being overwhelmed by the intensity of city life. This idea is of course contradictory: in order to maintain individuality in the metropolis, one must shut his or herself off from emotional ties and meaningful interactions. Thus, I think that the idea of blasé attitude is also tied to Simmel’s theory of the duality of society in which people are both a product of their interactions and at the same time strive to maintain their individuality.
I believe the banner depicts the blurred, fast-paced and often impersonal “nature” of the metropolis. Often in modern society, in order to pursue our own individuality, we shut ourselves off the world around us. The interactions and relationships we do have are often less personal and more fleeting. Even while we strive for individuality, we are shaped by the conditions of the social world around us.