Society with fading or altered putty?

by annabraideeriksson

Spatiality / Cluster 7

Wikipedias definition of the term society is described,

The term “society” came from the Latin word societas, which in turn was derived from the noun socius (“comrade, friend, ally”; adjectival form socialis) used to describe a bond or interaction among parties that are friendly, or at least civil. Without an article, the term can refer to the entirety of humanity (also: “society in general”, “society at large”, etc.), although those who are unfriendly or uncivil to the remainder of society in this sense may be deemed to be “antisocial”.

Used in the sense of an association, a society is a body of individuals outlined by the bounds of functional interdependence, possibly comprising characteristics such as national or cultural identity, social solidarity, language, or hierarchical organization.

In our history the building of societies has been a strong foundation providing welfare, peace and technical- and cultural development. Communication, being the meaningful exchange of information between people, can gather peoples individual skills, starting processes. Communication between civitas can be seen as the operative substance in the body of society, the tool and the glue or putty forwarding the process of development. This points at our mutual dependence. Society is a group project, developing and culturing aggregated knowledge, experiences and skills. But also a pending practice in apprehension of the other. Our possibilities to see other people and other needs than our own. Without this practice or group project, sustaining the insight of the other, society as we know it would not be possible.



Today in Europe there is an enhanced hype for appraising the individual. This can be seen in life-style magazines, advertisement, working life career and demographic statistics. Our way of living is going through radical changes. The family is no longer the obvious base in society. Statistics show single households as the most common. Our way of residing is in a constant state of flux where friendship- and collective-living is becoming more common. Sloterdijk describes the one-room apartment as an architectural and topological analogue of the individualism of modern society. He also describes “..the setting free of solitary individuals with the help of individualized home and media technologies..” as a reality.  Communication among individuals is more likely to take place through the telecommunicative integration of nonassembled people than in physically meeting other people. He puts no moral judgment into this conclusion. The apartment as living cell represents the atomic level in the field of habitat conditions. The one-room apartment with its single occupant is the cellular nucleus of a private world bubble. The single bubble forms a container for the self-relationships of the occupant. The apartment serves as the stage for self-pairing. One can ask if this means that there is less or no need for meeting other people when the single life is described as an autosymbiosis, meaning that the form of the couple is fulfilled in the individual, who relates to himself as the inner other. Does the individualism of modern society mean a progression in egocentrism? Implying a preoccupation with our own internal world, where self-relevant information is seen to be more important in shaping one’s judgments than thoughts about others and other-relevant information. The societal putty, communication and practice of interdependence of individuals, the recognition of the other, seems distant in this context.

Reversing to the one-room apartment as a living cell, the built analogue of individualism and reflecting on Churchill’s often quoted words “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” Are the built, residential, one-room structures a negative agent, countering a good society or are we only facing another, differentiated way of communication and interdependence?