Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Weak Bonds Make Spontaneous Orders Possible

In order for a spontaneous order to emerge, there has to be a predominance of weak social links over strong social links (of family, tribe, etc.). Randall Collins in The Sociology of Philosophies notes that studies show
that creative persons have a strong desire to make their own judgments; this in turn is typically related to childhood opportunities for independence and novel experience. Often too there is a period of physical or social isolation in which these young persons become introduced to a vicarious community of the mind. Their IR [Interaction Ritual] chains become detached from the local circulation of mundane culture and from its pressures for local conformity. The lowering of ritual density is a prerequisite for innovation; but it must also be linked to the intermittent support of the rituals of intellectual communities to give it content and energy. (34)
 That is, the creation of weak links allow one to participate in a particular spontaneous order. Much of what Collins says above could be equally applied to participation in a number of other spontaneous orders, from philosophy to technology, from markets to art. Naturally, different emotional energies, cultural capital, and interaction rituals are at play in other orders -- but that's precisely why we need to understand each kind in its own terms.
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