Monday, January 5, 2009

German chicken or eggs?

Erik Kirschbaum, the Reuters correspondent in Berlin, wonders why the Germans are depressed. They are so depressed, the American said when we met him a few weeks ago, that they won't have children and invariably gasp in horror when told that he has four.

I, on the other hand, wonder why German sociologists are so obsessed with coming up with dire structural theories about society: of how structural forces in society control the humans who live in it. Think Weber and his theory about the extreme efficiency of bureaucratisation. Consider Habermas and his obsession with the public sphere that negotiates political communication within society. Or (gasp!) Luhmann and his systems theory: how different systems in the society interact with each other to run our world.

Could the two factors be connected? Are Germans depressed because these theories make them feel they have little control on their lives? Or do Germans come up with such theories because they are already depressed and can't accept that structures are made and destroyed by human inventiveness?

More on Weber:
and Luhmann:

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