Pluralism and Individualism: Links and Videos

Just in time for your weekend viewing: links and videos on leadership, space negotiation, and consumerism in contemporary plural societies.

1.

Inset from Carrol Grady's "Baby Quilt for Samuel Joseph" (2009)

Inset from Carrol Grady’s “Baby Quilt for Samuel Joseph” (2009)

Nilofer Merchant, in Time and Gawker columns on board-level diversity at social technology companies:

Innovation is a direct result of openness to new ideas. The key is to design for differences of perspective and world views so you can have a better chance at new ideas.

“All innovation is a derivative of ideas and especially new ideas,” added Merchant, who serves on the boards of both public and private companies. “What [the companies are] saying is I’m gonna work under my same old, same old. And same thinking leads to parrot ideas, which ultimately leads to failure.” 

2.

Aryeh Cohen explains why he’s conflicted about Israel’s Women of the Wall, a group of observant Jewish women who’ve been protesting their sometimes forcible exclusion from prayer at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (the Kotel ha-Ma’aravi):

This is the beginning of the story of the modern Kotel, out of which grows the story of the women of Women of the Wall, who demand equal ritual access to it. The silences in that historic story prevent me from praying at the Wall and from supporting the women who want to wear tallit and tefillin when they pray there. —Aryeh Cohen

Cohen’s concern reminds me of Native American/Indian and immigrant activists in Canada and the US who argue that new immigrants inherit the settlers’ burden to reckon with the cultures that the emergent United States displaced and that remain marginal here.

3.

Image via Nomad Nation

Image via Nomad Nation

Adam Curtis’ four-part documentary, The Century of the Self (2002), charts the evolution of individualism through the 20th Century by describing the influence of Freudian psychology on modern public relations and politics.

Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew led PR to shift toward correlating commercial products and symbols representing consumers’ emotions, desires, and irrational beliefs about themselves.

Adam Curtis: What Bernays had created was the idea that if a woman smoked, it made her more powerful and independent, an idea that still persists today… It meant that irrelevant objects could become powerful emotional symbols of how you wanted to be seen by others.

Peter Strauss: Eddie Bernays saw the way to sell product was not to sell it to your intellect, that you ought to buy an automobile, but that you will feel better about it if you have this automobile. I think he originated that idea, that they weren’t just purchasing something, but they were engaging themselves emotionally or personally in the product or service… That was his contribution.

This Vimeo link contains all four fascinating episodes, “Happiness Machines,” “The Engineering of Consent,” “There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed,” and “Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering.”

Run-time is just under four hours, so budget about an hour for each.

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