This week, Harris explained the different aspects of taking an approach in academic writing. One of the concepts that especially stuck with me was the concept of reflexivity. Harris describes reflexivity as “those moments in a text when a writer reflects on the choices that she or he has made in taking a certain approach or in making use of a particular term” (85). He also notes that a key part of this method is to re-mold or re-shape a writer’s work when expanding on your own views. When I read that, I rethought the way I read and write about the works of Giddens—I tend to argue and protest his views, but I’m going to try and re-style them instead to keep with the theme of reflexivity.
In the section of Giddens we read, he brushed heavily on how our basic sense of trust and the way we form relationships have evolved with modernity. I found it particularly interesting when he spoke about the development of friendships, particularly in the world we live in today in contrast to a different era in modernity. On page 118, he describes pre-modern friendship as “means of creating more or less durable alliances against particularly hostile groups outside.” In their world, friendship ensured a likelihood of survival from attack; in our world, friendship means having emotional support and having people to make memories with. This really got me thinking about how the development of seemingly mundane things over time—like the military, or communities, or schooling—have completely transformed words such as “friend” or “socializing” and “neighborhood”. In addition, even more change has happened on this front since 1990 when this text was written. How has the creation of Facebook and Instagram transformed the meaning of “friend”? How have anonymous posting sites (for instance, YikYak) shifted our sense of basic trust?
One particular theme Giddens presents that I want to reflect on is his presentation of the relationship between security, basic trust, risk, and travel. He claims, “Abstract systems have provided a great deal of security in day-to-day life which was absent in pre-modern orders” (112). In some aspects, this is very true. I tend to think of air traveling as exciting, as cosmopolitan, and even as glamorous. While traveling in 2014 is nowhere near as difficult as it was in 1014, one’s security is always at stake—just in different means. I probably won’t have to fend off a pack of wolves or an enemy tribe (or any of the other dangers pre-modern travelers faced) on my flight to Cancun this summer, but my security is will be tested in different measures. How many news reports have I seen about airport security breaches, passengers traveling with highly infectious diseases, or about TSA agents gone rogue? We place our basic trust—and lives, for that matter—in strangers we believe are “experts” in their field as well as in the fellow passengers we are traveling with. While modernity and technology has undoubtedly made travel easier, I believe that security is always at risk; the terms of that “risk,” however, are constantly evolving with the changes in modernity.