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Månad: november 2015

Survey: Men playing a female character. A short look at the results.

Yesterday I created a short survey and published it on several subredits, and as comments, on Reddit. The immediate response was huge with 10 respondents the first minute; over 200 the first hour and over 4000 in 12 hours. I could not be happier.
I’ve got a number of comments from women complaining that there’s no option for them to answer why they play a female character, as have I got a number of comments from men saying pretty much the same but for when they play a male character. I will give a response to this below, but in short: I am only interested in why men play using a female character.
The idea of this study came when I was out bowling with a few friends. While talking about RPGs, and D&D, my friend said something that I’ve been quite curious about before: He likes to play a female character. There is, of course, no error in doing so – not any choice of course (this as a response to men obviously feeling judged by this survey, and I will respond to that as well), but I want to know Why this choice? Why does this create a difference, a variance, in game play for male.
I set out to create some hypothesis that I’d then would try to falsificate. These hypothesis would need to be short, concise and easy to falsificate.
Some would say that the choice is at random, or no big deal. I would say that they are wrong and that this choice is founded on something. And I want to find out why. Why is there a difference between playing with a male and a female character?
Now the method. I’ve created a survey and published it on some subreddits at Reddit and on Twitter. These survey answers would need to be complement by interviews for a discourse analysis.
The survey was design to let female participate and letting them respond to how whether or not they play as male or female, but then not being able to respond to anything else. This because I am not interested in women’s choice of sex, but still want an idea of the percentage of female respondents. So the first question was if the respondent is male, female or other. Other being designed just as female, and for both of them the survey end after that initial page.
On the next page respondents that said that they were men, could check a multitude of alternatives of why they play as female. These alternatives were inspired by comments from previous threads, as well as being constructed by me. I also added a box for them to add their own alternative, if missing, and also a text box for them to comment, in their own words, why they play with a female character.
The last page was control questions and some more info. The first being if they consider themselves being feminist. This due to Reddit, among others, being flooded with ideas that feminism is something evil. This being controlled by the question whether or not they would say that men and women are equals. Now, this question could create some confusion – some understanding it as ”Are men an women equal in today’s society” or ”Men and women should be considered equals”. To try to overcome this issue, not at all perfectly, but ever so slightly, I added a text box for them to comment on that.
I choose age as an open text field question so that I can create any kind of age group later in SPSS/PSPP (and sort out any non-integer). And the same goes for education level, where I did not want to leave some level out, and seen as they differ around the globe and not all swedes, for example, knowing that the Gymnasie is called ”upper secondary”, I could conclude that the same goes for everyone. Using digital tools, these answers can later be grouped if necessary.
Now for the results. 4096 people responded to my survey. (I love numbers like that)
3733 of these were men (91.1%), 322 woman (7.9%), and 41 (1%) responded as ’Other’
Of these 497 (10.4%) stated that they always played as female; and 1078 (26.3%) Never plays as a female.
Male being the most played sex, with 2713 (66.2%) responses and 1383 (33.8%) female.
5.1%, or 456 people use just one character when playing RPGs. 66% got more than one, but uses one mainly, and 18.9% uses more than one, but in an equal matter.
Not diving to deep into the Why play as female- alternatives, the most chosen alternatives is ”For variety” – 1522 responses (50.6%); Stuff in the game might differ – 1153 (38.4%); Rather be looking at a women – 1267 (42.1%).
When asked if the player feels most badass, while playing a male or a female, a total of 1844 responses (61.1%) said that it is the same for both.
71.2% does not consider themselves as feminist, but 81.4% state that women and men are equal.
In conclusion, the data does show some indications in relation to quite a few of my hypothesis. I does not however, end here. To begin with, this was just a pilot study and I’ve gotten a lot of comments, some helpful, of how to make the next, and real, one better. That being said, it is not a promise that there will be a new survey later on, but I might very well start with the interviews. I am unsure if this will become my master thesis, or if I’m just going to work on this outside of my thesis – or at all.
I have a LOT of comments to go trough, before I know anything for certain.
The survey is closed and I got over 4000 answers, and I could not be happier. Also I got 40 persons willing to be interviewed.
I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your participation.
EDIT: After I downloaded all the data, I changed the questions just to let people answer if they are male or female, or if they play using a male or female character.

To the survey!

Skärmdump 2015-11-06, 11.04.43

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Symbolic classification, social constructions and asylum.

Symbolic classification is for example the political party pin on your jacket – a link to your own group. This symbolic classification doesn’t have to be political, or ideological, but something that unites a group – a “society”. However, it could be a political view or ideology, which results – as a group – in difference in moral and norms. Even if, or although, we live in a rather homogenic society, we might have some differences in the moral fibre between us. Therefore, just as Jacobsson & Löfmarck describes as an example, individual might have an different view of the depth on a transgression – if it even is considered to be a transgression from one perspective and not the other – like not paying your TV fee.

As Jacobsson & Löfmarck states, we are not “aware of our social constructions unless we go against the stream” (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, 2008, p. 206). Symbolic classification is of course not an exception of being socially constructed. Ideological views, such as either left or right extremism is a classification that makes you go “against the stream” and likely make you break – at least some – rules of conduct. For example, in Sweden we are rather social democratic with a large base of voters directly linked to that party, but also even the (center-)right wing is much more social democratic compared to what the right could look like, or base one’s ideology on in other countries, such as Denmark, the UK or the USA. The centre-left, or Social Democratic Party in Sweden might wasn’t a much higher tax rate then it’s substitutes in other national states in the west, and so does the centre-right, Moderate party compared to it’s international siblings. Evident of the Swedish right parties being much more central right (except the Sweden Democrats).

For example, we might see this being concretized currently in Sweden if we take a look on the immigration debate, or debate about asylum.1 Both the Social Democratic Party and the Moderate Party are deepening it’s politics regarding seekers of asylum – the number or immigrants in Sweden. They are both trying to get the upper hand of this crisis situation. Maybe not by the same means, but still as considering that more people are welcome and that we as, a nation, need to help out more. Now, this is still compared to other countries – at least that is the theoretical fundament, or hypothesis. But why is that? By drawing on Alexander and Jacobsson & Löfmarck this could be analyzed, or discussed, from the moral of a society. In Sweden we are more liberal and equal – both when it comes to gender and ethnicity – far from enough, and we still have a long way to go, though. We are very secular, the racism is decreasing and women are increasingly looked at as equals socially and economically. We, as a society have a common moral ground, which we use to look at the rest of the world with and here is a situation where we can, and will help with. Media, as a moral mirror, shows us pictures and informs us about the crisis of immigration in Syria and other areas every day. Concerts are held in support of raising money that will be used to help those in need. Houses are built, or existing reused, to house newly arrived immigrants – which comes in the thousands a day in Sweden. Why? Because, to use Durkheim, the freedom of one’s self, of ones body and the right for welfare and social security is sacred to us. Equality is close to our hearts.

However, as I stated above, the How we help, more specifically is still up for consideration. The Moderate party is looking at a more time limited asylum for newly arrived immigrants, while the Social Democratic Party, does not. Some say “help them ’at home’” and don’t let so many come here, while others say Welcome, and that is not working to send aid to Syria, but maybe instead to the borders of the countries that are hit the “worst” during this crisis. This is an example of the symbolic classification based on the ideological fundament of individuals – just as how high the tax rate should be, they considerer how to help, and how many to help here, at “home”.

If this all would be true, we could analyze that by using, for example, quantitative interviews, and polls. By stating which political view, political party leaning and view on for example taxes rate and standpoint in seekers of asylum we could watch the moral differences even in our society. This could also been looked at based on the media, and how they present the politics of the Swedish political parties. How the text focuses and therefore a text analysis – since the media is the mirror of the common conscience.

While the Social Democratic Party, or even the Red-green government, as well as the Moderate Party and some other in the Liberal Right political Alliance, is looked at – not completely without critique, but still more normalized and common for our moral base and norms, parties like the Sweden Democrats, are looked at with unease – that the politics that they are proclaiming is profane and unaccepted by the majority of the Swedish citizens. That this is a clash of moral – and a “swim again the stream” – at least in the media. While, at the same time, the media also shows, pr presents, results form polls showing that the Sweden Democrats are gaining followers, or sympathizers.

This could be seen as a threat to the “center”, as Alexander states it, which results in a social control mechanism – a “sanction”, as Jacobsson & Löfmarck might have put it. And also, since there are some many emotions following this crisis, that’s why it becomes so big – due to the transgression against the trend, which right now is to help, while the Sweden Democrats are unwilling to do so.


Alexander, J. (2003). Watergate as Democratic Ritual. In The Meanings of Social Life: A cultural Sociology. (pp. 155-177). Oxford: OUP.

Jacobsson, K. & Löfmarck, E. (2008). A Sociology of Scandal and Moral Transgression: The Swedish “Nannygate” Scandal, Acta Sociologica, 51(3), 203-216.

1This might also be relevant for many other countries in the EU today, since it’s member state has reached an agreement about accepting many more seeks of asylum – although How is still up for debate.

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Scandal-as-ritual – A comparison of Jacobsson & Löfmarck and Alexander.

Scandal-as-ritual, as Alexander sees it, is based on five factors, while Jacobsson & Löfmarck views the scandal-as-ritual by defining it: “Scandals is understood as a confrontation between various system of norms.” (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, 2008, p. 203).

Alexander’s five factors (1) there has to be consensus that an event is “polluting”, “or deviant”, by enough people – “more than a mere fragment”, as Alexander puts it; (2) “significant groups”, that is part of the consensus, has to perceive the event as a threat to the “center”; (3) institutional social controls – like in case of Watergate, the Senate – has to be “brought into play” for “this deep crisis to be resolved” – such a control also contains an instrumental force and threat to combat the pollution; (4) the social control mechanisms has be “accompanied” by a”mobilization and struggle of elites and publics” – that differs from each other and somewhat autonomous; (5) an “effective process of symbolic interpretation” – the “ritual and purification process” – a process that shows the transgressing deviation, and therefore also the threat to the sacred center, that is “increasingly” profane and impure. (Alexander, 2003, p. 157).

Jacobsson & Löfmarck, however, is rather concise about their analytic factors, or definition of scandal-as-ritual, and states, shorty, that “[s]candals is a collective outburst of outrage caused by a norm transgression – that is made public and is experienced as an offence by a norm audience” (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, 2008, p. 209). As one may see there are similarities in both of these articles presentation of what is, or how, a scandal is made. Jacobsson & Löfmarck compresses Alexander’s factors and simplifies them a bit – but I would say without that being an issue. Alexander’s factors are rather complex and also he has some difficulties actually pointing at these factors in the Watergate scandal, while using Jacobsson & Löfmarck’s definition of a scandal-as-ritual to be used on the Nannygate is positively applicable.

Alexander’s definition’s complexion is shown, for example, on the very first factor: “a mere fraction”, as compared to just an “audience” in the definition by Jacobsson & Löfmarck. Sure, one might say that both should be considered as equally diffuse, but I argue that, that is not the case since the word “fraction” implies a an actually figure, or integer, while “audience” does not. I think of this as the audience is bases on the (possible) scandal at hand. Although not non-problematic, there is a distinction in the difference. Also Alexander focuses much attention on the “center”, or the core – which is sacred, to use Durkheim’s dichotomy. There has to be a a threat of polluting this center, and control institutions that works to neutralize this threat. Jacobsson & Löfmarck doesn’t talk about a center, or a core, but something that is still sacred, which is the moral. I believe that Alexander talks about this moral when we talks about the center; the center is the moral of a society. A transgression against the moral, or the norms, is a threat on the sacred. It’s an offence, which is that Jacobsson & Löfmarck talks about. However, they don’t talk about this control mechanisms and that it has be a part of the conflict-as-ritual as a resolution, since this is a natural case of the scandal, where the ritual undergoes “certain phases” – [the] expectation, culmination and saturation point. Then “the calm returns”, but the “society has been reminded of the underlying system of values and norms” (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, 2008, p. 208).

As stated above Alexander defines the scandal-as-ritual as institutions, the law, being an necessity of the sanction, which Jacobsson & Löfmarck talks about, but instead states that the sanction is the outrage (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, 2008, p. 207).

Watergate took two years to develop to a “full-blown” scandal, while Nannygate did immediately. Why? Well, Alexander talks about the polarization of the political climate in the USA during that time, and therefore states the factor of the generalization and consensus of the offence. Of course, Jacobsson & Löfmarck talks about the “collective outburst”, but that still, just as fraction-audience, simplifies the discourse about the scandal-as-ritual. In Sweden, there had been an election just before the Nannygate, which would reflect the polarization that Alexander talks about in USA around the same time as Watergate, and due to that polarization there was not a scandal from start; but Sweden had a polarization after the election – especially since the was an governmental shift from a social-democratic government to a centre-right one. Jacobsson & Löfmarck even talks about how possible explanations of the Nannygate’s magnitude as scandal was because of the “disappointment” of the Social Democratic Party’s election result, which they state is not an explanation of the magnitude of the scandal (Jacobsson & Löfmarck, p. 205).

Jacobsson & Löfmarck argue that it is a “sociological understanding of scandal that takes the moral upset seriously” (p. 205). That scandals can be studied sociologically by it being a “disruption of moral order”, which is sacred.1 And Nannygate was an offence by being a transgression of moral norms, namely taxes, and later on honesty – both dishonesty and fiddling with taxes is against the moral order, and therefore profane. As a result scandals “reveal the underlying societal norms” (Jacobsson, p. 205), that is our society – the center, that Alexander talks about – which is temporarily disrupted – to use Jacobsson & Löfmarck – or polluted, under threat – to use Alexander.


Alexander, J. (2003). Watergate as Democratic Ritual. In The Meanings of Social Life: A cultural Sociology. (pp. 155-177). Oxford: OUP.

Jacobsson, K. & Löfmarck, E. (2008). A Sociology of Scandal and Moral Transgression: The Swedish “Nannygate” Scandal, Acta Sociologica, 51(3), 203-216.

1Points at Durkheim’s catigorization of moral order, which is acceptable and unacceptable – sacred and profane.

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Nature-Culture Sociology; Constructivism, Realism and Molecular Biology.

MacNaghten & Urry states that they are “concerned” with the relation of sociology and nature/environment – how the latter has been focused on and “conceptualised” (MacNaghten & Urry, 1995, p. 203). MacNaghten & Urry find that “nature Is elaborately entangled and funda­mentally bound up with the social and the cultural.” (Ibid.), and describes sociology as a autonomous discipline that can be applied on other areas, such as biology or environmental studies – but that the social side of it for a very long time has been distinct. What they seem to mean is that there was a though of nature ans culture as being separated, as in the environmental realism way, and has over time moved over to a more environmental constructivistic idea, where they stay and which Lidskog talks about and I will come back to. But later the social scientist has to address for “the social impacts and implications of environmental problems”, which was initiated by natural scientists (A.a., p. 204). MacNaghten & Urry therefore talks about the social scientist’s failure of breaking the ice with the study of environmental change.

Woodgate & Redclift (1998) tries to offer a way between constructivism and realism in their article. They, to begin with, thinks that the “agenda of constructivist sociology” is too ’restrictive’, and that it needs a more ’balanced’ view of the “relationship between society and its underlying material or natural conditions” (Woodgate & Redclift, 1998, p. 7). They also state that we need to accept nature as both material and as a set of culturally generated symbols – one side “implies the other” – as without the physical environment we would have nothing to construct socially, and the constructions are the element of the social construction (ibid.). Although being more set in realism. By citing Hannigan, they state that environmental problems are materialized, not by themselves, but by constructing them, defining them, just as other social problems such as domestic violence (Woodgate & Redclift, 1998, p. 4). They then go on asking “to what extent is this a problem of their own making?” (referring also to MacNaghten & Urry), meaning that these issues are constructed socially and then not really a problem to everyone. – not necessary over time and across societies. What they mean is cited back from Lutzenhiser saying that natural science tend to ’exclude’ human behaviour, as do sociologists tend to exclude “the physical and environment” (A.a., p. 5). The environment cannot only be “represented trough social construction” but also “the creation of human activity”, which in turn affects the environment. This, according to Woodgate & Redclift, leads us to “consider not only the claims that are made against nature, but also the material transformation of nature” (A.a., p. 6).

Woodgate & Redclift does, however, also cite Dunlap & Catton stating that “deconstruction does not render the environment any less real” (A.a., p. 7; emphasizes added). That everything is actually socially constructed and that there is nothing before the social moment, but moving onto even discusses that an constructivistic approach also is critical of the realists. This, by referring to Buttel, is presented as the knowledge of the environment is not a ’mirror’ of the natural world, but a social observation. (A.a., p. 9). What they are concerned with is the material part of the nature or environment, meaning that a stone is a stone in the realism way, but that we still do a sociological observation of this material and define it as being a stone. (A.a., p. 8, Realism). Or, like they talk about later, the “difference between natural ecosystems and those that have been modified for the production of food” in agriculture by human society (A.a., p. 9).1 By linking “ecological understanding with mainstream sociological though”, Woodgate & Redclift, shows that society and human conditions ’bears’ the structure and provide context to the relation between society and nature (A.a., p. 18). That there is like self-evolving circle between society and nature.

Lidskog, on the other hand, tries to ’alleviate’ the dichotomy between (environmental) realism an constructivism. Environmental realism is the attempt to bring ecology into sociology. However, nature do have an impact on us as a society as well, and nature has a social space of interpretation (Lidskog, 2001, p. 129). Lidskog also states the the lack of progress in the overall, global, transformation against a more environmental friendly development, the idea of a sustainable development with less environmental problems is “deeply embedded” in our modern society’s fabric. If no changes in our social fundamental and structures are made, the problems will instead increase (A.a., p. 113). The problem is, therefore, the neglected “social dimension when discussing environmental problems.” (A.a., p. 114). Referring to a number of authors, Lidskog brings up ’re-naturalization’, but then states that, that would be “anything but unproblematic” (A.a., p. 115). Nature has been increasingly contested and has created these to “main parties” that are realism and constructivism, where Lidskog adds that there is a need, and by using his article, to critically discuss the need of ecological aspects “in the sociological analysis of environment” (Ibid.) – also by pretty much as MacNaghten & Urry does, by using them as juxtapositions.2 Lidskog states that the issue with environmental constructivism is that the focus in sociology “should be on the social processes”, meaning “ecological awareness does not have any necessary reference to conditions in the natural environment” (A.a., p. 119). Environmental problems are constructed by “individuals and organisations” that define them. Environmental issues doesn’t ’derive’ from a simple an neutral view of reality, but by adding the risk as it what it means for us as a society – the focus of what social process that makes us think, or ’perceive’ nature as “ecologically damaged” (Ibid.). The realism part, according to Lidskog is the argue of a ’re-naturalaziation’ of society – this because that “society’s ecological basis needs to be taken into consideration by sociology” (A.a., p. 117).

Lidskog sees environmental realism as a interdisciplinary of human ecology, while environmental constructivistic science is within the area of sociology (A.a., p. 120). This, practically, means the “saving of the Earth” in realism, and finding a solution as a culture and society in constructivism. About environmental realism Lidskog says:

“Environmental realism offers an ecological framework for examining societal-environmental interactions which implies that social phenomena have to be examined in conjunction with phenomena on other levels” (A.a., p. 121).

MacNaghten & Urry talks about “modernity” and “human exceptionalism”, and their constituted relationship of humans and nature. It is especially presented by the use of the word ’juxtaposition’ – I would say, since it creates a contrast point of nature and society, while the constructivism standpoint is funded on them being intertwined. Although talking about these two ’transformations’ from the materialization of nature, to the construction of it (MacNaghten & Urry, 1995, p. 205). MacNaghten & Urry describes how sociology may help to ’illuminate’ social differences in views of the environment, and how it can be ’evaluated’; how, and what, the issues has been seen as over time and in different societies, for example (A.a., p. 210). They mean that sociology has a lot to offer the studies of the environment, that not necessary may be explained or, rather, analysed and approached – this by relating environmental issues to the culture and policies of a given society, or period of time. This is, as they put it, a contrast to the naïve realism that puts most value on being subjected to the mote scientific view – that the issue get clearer because our scientific knowledge develops it, pushes it forward – being cumulative. Their last element of their discussion is the role of the environment as being the “structural formation and cultural transformation” of our societies (A.a., p. 214). In their conclusion, MacNaghten & Urry talks about ’space and time’, and relate this into this juxtaposition that is nature and society by stating the nature is timeless, while society is dynamic in the sense of it changing over time:

“[S]ocial time involves change, progress and decay, while natural phenomena are either timeless or can operate with a conception of reversible time.” (A.a., p. 217).

I relate this to a part from the documentary The Unbelievers (2013), starring Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. Near the end of the documentary Krauss holds a lecture during some kind of global atheist science symposium-thing, where he speaks about science and science theory; more specifically Krauss talks about the theory of evolution, as for example, does not care for the future or the past, since that is not what a theory is – at least not for natural science. Evolution just is; it’s an explantation of our species and how we became, as animals, what we are – how life evolved. But, Krauss states, while evolution can’t see into the future of a species’ needs, our human minds can. And I think that this is rather telling for what also MacNaghten & Urry talks about; that natural science explains our world as it is, without the values and ability to seek the need – either for our past, present or future – but we, as humans in a society and with culture, are. Just like
MacNaghten & Urry states at the end: “culture has been necessary to rescue nature” (A.a., p. 218).

Maybe from ourselves.

The shift in molecular biology that Rheinberger talks about is in short the way of using medicine for understanding, which leads to medical help, has moved onto rewriting – creating: “With DNA technology, molecular biology has turned, in less than twenty years, from a mode of discovery into a praxis of invention.” (A.a., p. 256). Or that biophysicist, biochemists and alike has gone from watching molecules in test-tubes and see the reactions occurring in the organism that are analysed, to construct the objects and molecules carrying instructions.; the “organism itself is turned into a laboratory” (A.a., p. 252). To make changes in our DNA, hence construct new ways for our life’s to keep on going -. perhaps without need of medical help in the future.

“Molecular biology is joining forces with the human genetics counselling system, the medico-technical complex, the biotech industry and forensic medicine and in doing so will institute a new medical paradigm: molecular medicine.” (Rheinberger, 1995, p. 254).

The focus is healthy genes. (A.a., p. 254). “Will medicine become a practice of tailoring molecules?”, Rheinberger asks. The discourse of this ’genetic scripture’ imposes on our perception of ’the living’ (A.a., p. 255).

“it will replace the technology of big instruments in diagnostics and in therapy with the more subtle, direct, and causal technology of molecular screening, replacement, and transformation of bits of the genetic text.” (Ibid.).

The social parts of diseases, or rather diagnoses, might also change as a result of genetic manipulation. Stigmatized ’diseases’ as ADHD, Aspergers syndrome and even forms of cancer, might be decreased – both medically and socially – although if happens less, the stigma could get worse.

What comes along with these developments is also a question of “who will shoulder the responsibility”? (A.a., p. 256).

By manipulating DNA we could do a whole lot of things to us as a species – both ecologically/genetically as well as socially. What we wish for in humans and other animals, socially and culturally, is transferred and constructed in DNA (A.a., p. 257). The current discussion of genome is ’subverting’ the “perception of history” where there previously has been a clear distinction between natural history and social history (Ibid.). We have today the means and technology of changing what we perceive as less good into what we perceive as more socially accepted – “to change our natural history”; what Rheinberger means as “the natural condition of mankind itself will turn into a social construct” – resulting in making even less “good sense” (ibid.).

Rheinberger moves on discussing how “[t]here will be unintended inventions, and there will be unintended consequences from intended inventions.” (A.a., p. 258). As technology changes, and develops, so will that it means to me ’normal’ and ’not normal’.

Aggression, which is considered to be less charming in our society as many other characteristics could possible be removed from our genome. Agrees, which might have been an advantage in our past – and might be in a future we know nothing about – but isn’t really a necessity in our current society. Aggression, which I would say is linked to the social contract that Thomas Hobbes talks about; life being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” – a “war of all against all” – as the natural state (Hobbes, 1651), might be obliterated with a manipulation our or genome. Maybe even making us create a new social contract – or at least using our social contract to create a ’more evolved’ human species; a homo mitiores.3 I mean that the social contract, that we now live in with our societies and states (although Hobbes not really liked the idea of the State) could instead pave the way for a new natural order based on that initial social contract that came to be from the old natural order, that was brutish and short – violent. And with less aggression, which is looked on shamefully and as something non-wished for, the natural state could get less, or not at all, brutish and violent (and short) and instead much happier – by nature. An artificial nature, but a new nature still. A social contract that construct and constitutes a nature and not the other way.

Rheinberger ends his article with stating the the new technology of genetic modification results in an even more entangled, or rather as he states it: “ nature and culture, biosciences and medical practices, genes and disease, can no longer be disentangled” (Rheinberger, 1995, p. 261; emphasize added) – they are instead indeed ’amalgamated’ as ’hybrids’ of them all. Meaning that one can no longer “distinguish between nature and culture” (Ibid.).

Early in his article Rheinberger refers to Bruno Latour stating that the microbiology is to take over the medical ’realm’ (A.a., p. 250), giving the example of “urban sanitation” with swept across Europe; a proof of where a (nature) scientific finding moves away from the laboratories and into the society (hence to be studied, as an effect, socially). Rheinberger’s talks about this ’misunderstanding’ that Louis Pasteur’s finding was meant for “applied microbiology promised prevention of illness, not cure” (A.a., p. 250; emphasis added). This misunderstanding, according to Rheinberger, might surface with the possibility of “molecular takeover” of medicine, which is about healthy genes, and not cure – also for the whole population.

About this ’whole situation’ I tend to think about what would be an effect in an contentiously develop genetic manipulation technology – would there be a new social class of people with “perfect” genes, where other social classes would fall behind due to – what it actual – natural degradation; meaning that you get older. Working class people, who might be in the need of a better fundamental for hard physical labour, might be the one’s without the concept and without the financial way of paying for such treatment, while those in a higher social class might be more able to pay for genetic treatment that maybe falls into the grouping of aesthetics. What I mean is that while people in working class might give birth to babies with more stigmatized conditions, because of worse living conditions like different more-or-less poisonous chemicals at work, they might not be able to pay for such treatment, while those who do not work in, or with, poisonous chemicals do have the financial ability to pay for such treatment. Think of “correcting” “bad” mutations, like a missing limb, while still a fetus. Without treatment – either a genetic one, or a later surgical one – there would be a cost. Of course if not an established medical care like in Sweden or Canada, but USA where such a case of medical care is, and would be, much worse.

Same goes for another example: metabolism. It is known that many over weight people are also a part of the lower socio-economic class – too much sugar and too less exercise, both witch are linked to a cultural and social habit. A genetic manipulation could possible set the path for a new kind of metabolism where sugar would no longer be transformed, and stored as fat in our bodies. Pretty much creating a genetic mutation that let’s us eat more and exercise less (but that it would still be needed,though).

Both of these examples, and many more that could be presenter, would present a sort of proof of what biomedicine and medical sociology would move over to from today’s approach of curing actual illnesses; where tomorrow they either might be treated before even being an illness at all and therefore no need for a cure, and instead pushing our species to another evolutionary – though artificial – level. Market, companies, of artificially grown hearts, lungs and other organs. Or cancer treated on a molecular level,which means no chemo, or even any type of symptoms, or other syndromes, at all.

Where we are in an period of time where we are able to change our composition, what makes us us. Is it the natural path of our evolution to change our evolution? ’Inherit genetic diseases’ might be out the door with the new technology, that gives us a tool to remove them early from life of individuals. No more would parents have to go to the doctor with their kids for other things than accidents, since everything else already has been taken care of genetically. Maybe no longer we would have to use antibiotics, and therefore we would no longer need to be afraid of the resistance against antibiotics (A.a., p. 254).

Couples could go to the doctor and try their DNA with each other – seeing if they are a match, or if something would have to be done with possible kids they have in the future. As well as genetic diseases that is common in one of their families – or both.

All this, however, would need, as I stated above, a look at whom has the responsibility, and how would we legislate this since we now, with this technology, move from understanding life to rewriting it.


Lidskog, R. (2001). The Re-Naturalization of Society? Environmental Challenges for Sociology. Current Sociology, Vol. 49(1), 113-136.

Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan.

MacNaghten, P. & Urry, J. (1995). Toward a Sociology of Nature. Sociology, 29(2), 203-220.

Rheinberger, H-J. (1995). Beyond Nature and Culture: A Note on Medicine in the Age of
Molecular Biology. Science in Context, Vol. 8(1), 249-263.

Woodgate, G. & Redclift, M. (1998). From a ’Sociology of Nature’ to Environmental Sociology: Beyond Social Construction. Environmental Values 7. 3-24.

1Compare MacNaghten & Urry’s part about the environmental damages is due to human activity – mainly our consumption. (MacNaghten & Urry, 1995, p. 212-214).

2Which Lidskog also uses as term later on in the article (A.a., p. 123).

3Not necessary a correct Latin translation, but a less aggressive human – a milder species.

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