Social Engineering in the 1790s

by Kieran Healy on January 5, 2004

A choice bit from Juliet Barker’s gigantic Wordsworth: A Life.

Tom Wedgwood was a committed philanthropist and Godwinian. Anxious to do his part for the furtherance of mankind, he had, in correspondence with Godwin, determined to devote a portion of his wealth to the education of a genius … Wedgwood had come up with a scheme. The child was to be protected from contact with bad example and from sensory overload by never being allowed to go out of doors or leave its apartment. The nursery was to be painted grey, with only a couple of vivid coloured objects to excite its senses of sight and touch. It was to be surrounded by hard objects to continually ‘irritate [its] palms’ … A superintendent [would] ensure that the child connected all its chief pleasures with rational objects and acquired a habit of ‘earnest thought’.

Wordsworth, to his credit, was not impressed by this plan.

Rawls round-up

by Micah on January 5, 2004

There’s been no shortage of Rawls talk in the blogosphere over the last week or so.

Warning: lots of Rawls-related (but otherwise un-related?) stuff to follow.

[click to continue…]

Social-science parody

by Chris Bertram on January 5, 2004

I’m always keen on parodies of social-scientific writing and “this one from John Adams at spiked-online”: , complete with typologies, weird and complicated diagrams and so on, reminded me of Daniel Bell’s “The Parameters of Social Movements: A Formal Paradigm”, from the “Dwight Macdonald collection”: I “mentioned”: a while back. Great stuff! (via “A&L Daily”: )

Tony Soprano as management icon

by Chris Bertram on January 5, 2004

Lucy Kellaway in the _Financial Times_ (my favourite columnist but subscribers only) reveals that:

bq. A new year and a new type of management hero: Tony Soprano, foul-mouthed, bullying mob boss from the telly. Tony has just had a leadership book written about him, putting him on a par with Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, General George S. Patton, Moses, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Jesus, all of whom have been sucked dry for their last management lesson. But with _Leadership Sopranos Style_ , Deborrah Himsel has taken the genre into fictional territory for the first time (that is if one gives Moses the benefit of the doubt). Ms Himsel, whose day job is vice-president of organisational effectiveness at Avon Products, explains her unusual choice of subject as follows: “Tony’s . . . results orientation and empathy are certainly at the heart of his leadership gestalt.”