Is football culturally Marxist

The contribution of football to neoliberal hegemony using the example of autobiographical texts

Heiko Bolldorf

For some time now, there has been a debate in the social sciences about the theoretical formulation of change processes in contemporary capitalism. [1]

For some time now, there has been a debate in the social sciences about the theoretical formulation of change processes in contemporary capitalism. Often this debate is conducted with the vocabulary of regulation theory: This assumes that there are temporally successive social formations within the capitalist mode of production, which are characterized by a specific connection between the manner of capital accumulation and its normative and institutional regulation. Such formations only work if they are supported by a social consensus, the ruling class forces can convey their interests as the embodiment of the common good or, in the terminology of regulation theory, achieve hegemony.

Here part of the regulation theory follows on from Antonio Gramsci's considerations, who already worked out in the 1930s that economic changes are associated with the development of a new type of human being: attitudes, values, behavioral patterns, etc. of individuals, in short: their subjectivity, must be shaped in this way that the consensus of the ruled on rule is secured.

According to Gramsci, these subjectivity patterns are also conveyed to individuals through everyday culture, which suggests the investigation of connections between this and economic changes. An important part of everyday culture is, on the one hand, sport, especially football; another is popular literature. I therefore examined both areas together by subjecting autobiographies of soccer stars to a content analysis and comparing the results with contemporary economic models. In this article I want to briefly present my interpretation of the examined texts - after a theoretical derivation of the analysis grid.

Concepts of subjectivity in present-day capitalism

In order to be able to compare models in autobiographies of football players with contemporary economic demands on the subject, some studies on these economic ideas of subjectivity should first be presented in order to obtain a grid for the content analysis. There is currently a debate about the term “precarization”. It comes from the movement critical of globalization and has been taken up in social science (Brinkmann / Dörre / Röbenack 2006: 8), among others by Pierre Bourdieu, who understands “precarity” to mean an insecurity that has become a general permanent condition and that aims to make employees accept their exploitation to force. Fixed-term and part-time workers are particularly affected, but the high unemployment also unsettles regular workers. Precarisation destroys the ability to plan the future and thus also the willingness to be politically active (Bourdieu 1998: 97ff.). For the question of current demands on the subject, an empirical study on precarious employment relationships carried out by a research team led by Klaus Dörre is particularly relevant. In this study, an employment relationship is considered to be precarious “if, due to their work, the employees fall well below a level of income, protection and social integration that is defined as a standard in contemporary society and recognized by the majority. And gainful employment is also precarious if it is subjectively associated with loss of meaning, recognition deficits and planning uncertainty to an extent that significantly corrects social standards to the disadvantage of the employees. ”(Brinkmann / Dörre / Röbenack 2006: 17). According to this definition, precarization contains a subjective component. The study drew attention to the following forms of processing precarious employment: Precarious employees and normal employees with the fear of falling have the feeling that they have too few options for long-term life planning, which creates a mixture of uncertainty, shame, anger and resignation (ibid .: 58 ).

Social integration through gainful employment is becoming less important and is being replaced in part by new forms of integration, such as the hope of temporary workers to become permanent employees or securing the standard of living of women with low incomes through the income of their partner. However, these forms of integration are partly based on illusions and partly on resources that can quickly collapse (58f.).

There is also uncertainty in the employment relationships of many highly qualified people, but this can be compensated for by more freedom and a high degree of identification with the job. Those in precarious work do not have this option (60f.). The insecurity in the course of precariousness is often reacted to with a longing for exclusive collective identities, both among highly and low-skilled employees (82f.).

Another attempt to bring contemporary ideas of subjectivity to the concept is with the concept of Worker entrepreneur that Hans J. Pongratz and Günther G. Voss developed. [2] Your starting point is that formulated by Harry Braverman Transformation problem: When a company hires workers, it only buys their potential to be able to work; but this must first be transformed into work performance. Braverman still saw the ideal solution to this problem in the rigid controls of Taylorism, while Pongratz and Voss formulate the thesis that this form has lost its importance since the 1980s because further tightening of controls would lead to high costs and inhibit the flexibility of the workforce (Voss / Pongratz 1998: 137f.). With the new type of labor entrepreneur, responsibility for solving the transformation problem is increasingly shifted to the employees themselves (138). They differentiate between the following components of the labor entrepreneur: Self control means that the workers control their activities themselves, which includes, for example, personal responsibility for the continuous adaptation of professional qualifications (140f.). Self-economization means that the employees produce their labor independently and have to find buyers for them. This includes both an individual production economy (independent production of labor) and an individual market economy (independent sale of labor). The workers have always had to sell themselves, but this requirement has now reached a new level due to the existence of internal markets for workers and the fact that more and more workers are being pushed into external markets (e.g. bogus self-employed) (142f.). Operationalization means that all areas of life must be systematically geared towards the development and marketing of work capacity. With this, the whole of life is run like a business (143ff.).

They go from a term by Michel Foucault Governmentality Studies from whose ranks analyzes of the current management literature have been presented. [3] With the concept of Governmentality the claim is made to combine several components, namely Makes, Knowledge and Subjectivation. According to Foucault, power, understood as the relationship between actors who influence actions and those whose actions are influenced, whereby (in contrast to domination relationships) both positions can permanently change places, cannot be reduced to the state, according to Foucault, but permeates the whole of society most diverse ways in the form of actions that change other actions (Opitz 2007: 95f.). With regard to knowledge, Foucault rejects the idea that true knowledge is something free of power, merely suppressed by those in power; rather, truth is a product of power and itself exerts effects of power (see Foucault 1978: 53f.). According to Foucault, knowledge is subject to regularities in a certain period of time, the so-called epistemes, which themselves are neither true nor false, but rather set the conditions for what can be considered true or false (Opitz 2007: 96). According to Foucault, subjectification is also closely connected with power and knowledge: one is not a subject from birth, but only becomes one in social relationships; In particular, he rejects the idea of ​​an autonomous subject and emphasizes that the subject arises on the basis of submission to systems of rules, in particular to a socially recognized identity (Opitz 2007: 97). There is also a connection to knowledge here: the production of knowledge also produces norms and deviations and thus helps to decide who can be a recognized subject (ibid.).

The aim of the governmentality studies is to analyze forms of leadership in companies after the end of Fordism; Characteristic is the replacement of standardized mass production by the compulsion to produce an ever greater variety of products in ever smaller quantities in ever shorter time, which requires more flexible forms of work organization (Opitz 2007: 98ff.), so that the subjectivity of the workers is no more than A disruptive factor applies, but should be specifically activated and used (Bröckling 2000: 142); therefore the individual is called to manage his entire life in the form of a market (ibid .: 154). In a study from 2004, Sven Opitz traces seven techniques for achieving these goals, which are propagated in central texts of management literature (Opitz 2004: 116ff.): Flexible networks should be more innovative than rigid hierarchies (Flexibility); the self-responsible employees (Assumption of responsibility through goals) have to compete against each other (divide and conquer), always keep an eye on customer requirements (Total quality management) and have their performance continuously monitored (Panoptism and performance control), including through teammates (Teamwork). In addition, they should deviate from the norm in order to stand out among the competition, which also includes breaking with rigid gender roles and promoting ethnic diversity (Diversity management).

Overall, we have here a connection between the three components of governmentality: The aim is to exercise power by influencing actions, whereby the “leader”, because subject to the same norms, is at the same time “led”; By submitting to this exercise of power, individuals become subjects capable of action, namely labor entrepreneurs; How well they do justice to market conditions is documented in minute detail, which means that knowledge also plays a major role. I now see the following common substance in the approaches presented:

flexibility: All approaches point to the increased uncertainty and the need to react flexibly to changing requirements.

individual responsibility: Opitz refers to the recommendation of the management literature to construct responsibility, Pongratz and Voss use the terms of self-control and self-economization to refer to the high level of personal responsibility of the employee entrepreneur.

Delimitation: Pongratz and Voss and the governmentality studies emphasize the compulsion to subject all areas of life to economic calculations (“self-rationalization” in Pongratz and Voss). Non-conformism: Opitz explicitly mentions the promotion of non-conformism by referring to diversity management. Pongratz and Voss respond to the compulsion to produce one's own labor; this implicitly implies the need to be original in order to survive on the market. I also use Dörre's study of precariousness because it focuses on the spread of Forms of exclusion as a result of the increased uncertainty.

The importance of football

Now it must be shown why there could be connections between football and the economic models described. Here I summarize my conclusions from the social history of football [4] in a few points:

Proximity of football to the world of work: Workers' enthusiasm for football is often explained by the proximity of this sport to the world of work. This is a first indication that guiding principles are conveyed in football that correspond to the requirements of the economy. In 1970, Gerhard Vinnai wrote that in business and football, quantitative measures dominated (profit vs. number of goals); the individual is interchangeable in both areas, and the Tayloristic division of labor is also being introduced in football (Vinnai 2006: 16ff.). In 2006 Vinnai admits a certain one-sidedness of his analysis at the time and points to moments in football that are not simply a reflection of the world of work: “Sporting successes tend to be predictable, but not to the same extent as, for example, the output of industrial production processes [. ..] Even the most perfect athletes cannot always master the round leather with their feet [...] The players should not only keep the ball under control as much as possible, they also have to be aware of the often surprising actions of their teammates and Hire opponents, which can not always succeed. That is why during a football game there is always a back and forth between the opposing teams, which is associated with a build-up of tension and the release of tension through successful or unsuccessful actions. ”(VII). Here, a similarity between football and the economic models presented above is indicated, where the necessity of dealing creatively with uncertainty is also emphasized.

Football and the Fordism Crisis: Gerald Hödl proves with many figures the extent of the commercialization of football (Hödl 2002: 14f.) And attributes this to the crisis of Fordism: In the industrial sector the rate of profit fell from 1973/74; the capital has found new investment opportunities in the service sector and thus also in the football industry (ibid .: 14). This suggests the question of whether contemporary economic models are also conveyed through football. Vinnai also suggests this: “The more sport is permeated by the laws of the capitalist market, the more sport turns into work. Top footballers become sellers of their athletic performance as a commodity that they offer football entrepreneurs for sale [...] Today, top players no longer only have to sell their athletic skills, they also have to be able to present themselves as a person [...] ]. ”(Vinnai 2006: VI) This is reminiscent of the worker entrepreneur.

Nation and gender in football: On the one hand, Brändle and Koller analyze several games in football history in which nationalistic demarcation against the opponent was promoted (Brändle / Koller 2002: 131ff.); on the other hand, they represent the tradition of male dominance in football and the prevailing ideals of masculinity (ibid .: 207ff.). As far as subjectivity in contemporary capitalism is concerned, in view of these traditions it could be that football also mediates the forms of exclusion identified by Dörre; on the other hand, there could be a break with these traditions (in the sense of “diversity management”).

Football and the struggle for hegemony: At times there was a split between civil and workers' football (Brändle / Koller 2002: 169ff.), Which differed significantly in their values; so the star cult was frowned upon in collectively oriented workers' football. One could therefore understand football as a field of struggle for hegemony in the Gramsci's sense, which also includes a new image of man.

The importance of popular literature

I can also follow Gramsci in justifying my preoccupation with popular literature. His “prison notebooks”, which were created in fascist custody, contain a multitude of reflections on culture, art and literature. In essence, Gramsci calls for an art that is connected to the thinking and feeling of the masses and gives it expression and criticizes artists who tend towards elitism: “What must be of more interest to an artist, the approval of the 'nation' for his work or that of the 'Intellectual elite'? [...] The fact that the question has been asked and will continue to be asked in this form indicates as such a historically determined situation of separation between intellectuals and nation [...] because the contact with the nation, with the people is absent due to the fact that the 'content' of feelings in art, in the cultural world, is detached from the deep currents of popular-national life ”(Gramsci 1987: 136f.).Only art that is connected to the masses can fulfill the role that he ascribes to it, namely the field of struggle for hegemony, for the establishment of a new way of life and a new type of human being: “that art is always tied to a certain culture or civilization and that one in the struggle for the reform of culture has come to the point of changing the 'content' of art, working on creating a new art, not from the outside [...] but from the inside, because the whole person changes, insofar as himself change his feelings, his perceptions and the circumstances of which man is the necessary expression. ”(Gramsci 1991ff .: 2037). In view of this understanding of art, it is logical that Gramsci should deal intensively with popular literature. He writes that literature must meet aesthetic criteria as well as address the concerns of the masses; otherwise trivial literature is preferred to art literature (ibid.). He considers the study of commercially successful literature to be important because it provides information about the feelings and world views that predominate in the majority of the population (Gramsci 1987: 134).

In summary, it can be said that Gramsci regards popular literature as a field of struggle for hegemony, which underlines the importance of its analysis for understanding social change (e.g. the emergence of new images of man in the context of post-Fordist capitalism). The struggle for hegemony requires looking for progressive starting points in evaluating it. When analyzing the autobiographies of football players, one should not only ask about correspondences with economic models, but also about breaks and contradictions, about connections to mass needs that could possibly be turned against the existing conditions.

Selection of the empirical material

Now it has to be justified which books are to be subjected to a content analysis. For reasons of space, I have limited myself to three autobiographies in my work; In order to have the most current data available, they should have appeared in German in 2000 or later. In order to determine whether the models to be found have international distribution, i.e. whether they shape current capitalism beyond the national framework, it should be about players from different countries, whereby I only come from the five leagues leading in terms of turnover and image (England, Italy , Spain, Germany and France) select [5] (see Hödl 2002: 16f.), Since here football is most clearly a capitalist branch of business; In addition, I limit myself to men's football, since women's football, due to its subordinate position, is a field that needs to be treated separately. In addition, differences in social origin and image of the players should be recognizable. If, despite all these differences, similar models with a clear reference to economic models are represented in all books, this would corroborate the thesis that economic conditions ultimately shape other spheres; if I did not find such similarities, this would indicate that non-economic factors have at least the same weight. A certain variation in the named characteristics of the players therefore promises an increase in the informative value in any case. From this point of view, the following books seem worthwhile:

Germany: Stefan Effenberg, "I showed it to everyone" (2003). There is only one reference to Effenberg's origins in the book itself: “My father was a bricklayer and had to get up at five o'clock every morning. My mother Margrit worked part-time as a commercial clerk in the office of a scaffolding company. ”(Effenberg / Mendelin 2003: 14). According to the Dahrendorf model from the 1960s [6], the family belongs to the working class (Geißler 2002: 117f.); Today bricklayers are among the professions with the largest proportion of the “working poor” (Strengmann-Kuhn 2003). A study of the sociology of work states that Effenberg embodies “an extreme form of cynical egoism” (Boes / Trinks 2006: 319).

England: David Beckham, My Life (2003). About Beckham's origins it says: “Little David started at the bottom. As the son of the kitchen fitter Ted and the hairdresser Sandra, he started out playing in the less sophisticated parts of London ”. [7] This indicates a similar material standard of living as with Effenberg. The cover text of Beckham's image reads: "He is considered the role model for a whole generation: since Beckham, romance, tenderness and body awareness have not contradicted strong masculinity." (Beckham / Watts 2003) This is a contrast to Effenberg's " unscrupulous selfishness ”: Beckham is presented as a soulful, modern man who breaks with traditional gender roles.

France: Zinédine Zidane, who dances with the ball (2005). Regarding Zidane's origins, it says: “It happened in the 1960s when a family named Zidane moved from their home country Algeria to seek their new fortune in Marseille, France. A few years later [...] mother Zidane gave birth to a son who was named Zinédine. Little 'Zizou' grew up in the problem area of ​​La Castellane and found his great love there as a child: football. ”[8] Due to the migrant background, Zidane's origin contrasts with the other two players. Regarding his image, it is said: "The most expensive and best player in the world stands for ball art and modesty." [9] Zidane's image contrasts with Effenberg's “cynical egoism” and Beckham's self-portrayal.

I also choose these books because they are very successful players and the books can therefore be assumed to have great audiences.

The case studies in the light of the question

Interpretation of Stefan Effenberg's autobiography

flexibility: The requirement of the individual to deal with frequently changing conditions is represented very sharply in Effenberg's book. So the individual has to maximize his success by changing clubs: “I felt that I had achieved everything in Munich, nothing more was possible, there was no improvement. That's why I didn't want to extend my contract. ”(Effenberg / Mendelin 2003: 177) and take risks:“ Really great managers know that they can only get ahead if they go all out. ”(104). Overall, an individual is required who is in constant motion and is dynamic without limits, because every standstill can lead to missing opportunities for optimization.

individual responsibility: Effenberg also clearly represents the requirement of the individual to deal independently with changing conditions. This is already shown by the quotations listed under flexibility: Here assessing opportunities and taking risks are tasks of the individual himself. Effenberg also paints the picture of a hostile world in which one can only rely on one's own strength. This includes reference to adverse conditions - starting with material shortages in the family: "We were not poor, but it could not be said that we children grew up with a golden spoon in our mouth." (14).

Delimitation: Effenberg represents the compulsion to subject all areas of life to economic calculations. Private life is seen as a resource for professional advancement: “In retrospect, this marriage was the best step I could take at the time. If I had stayed in our flat share with Jörg, I would probably have made a passable Bundesliga player, but nothing more. I probably wouldn't have made the big career, the jump to FC Bayern Munich. ”(56). On the other hand, the benchmark of performance optimization is used in private relationships - on page 53, for example, he gives a woman a grade.

Non-conformism: Effenberg poses as a rebel, to whom social rules mean nothing (“At some point I got so fed up with basic military service that I threw the chunks down”, 17) and who has no respect for authorities (“I was also the only one who did it dared to look up against Franz Beckenbauer ”, 75). On the other hand, he regularly adapts to rules again so as not to endanger his career ("Okay, I said to myself, I'll accept the punishment and do the thing, even if it's difficult. I got myself back, and..." I wasn't in the mood for even more stress. ”, 59). This shows that it is a non-conformism in line with the market, as recommended by the management literature.

Exclusion: Effenberg practices exclusion in various forms. He repeatedly devalues ​​entire groups of people. He expresses himself sexist when he describes sex as “riding on” women (88) and calls for benefit cuts for allegedly lazy unemployed people (182). This speaks in favor of Dörre's thesis that the widespread economic uncertainty triggers the downside of a longing for stable collective individuals that can only be maintained by excluding groups that do not belong to them.

Interpretation of David Beckham's autobiography

flexibility: There is agreement with Effenberg here. According to Beckham, opportunities not only have to be seized, but also anticipated: “Great strikers don't stand still. They are already moving, anticipating their chance before anyone else sees that something is going on at all. ”(Beckham / Watt 2003: 322) A certain amount of uncertainty is even an incentive:“ In retrospect, this uncertainty was the best thing could happen to me. I knew that they wanted me, but it was also clear to me that I would have to prove myself over the course of the next four years. "(Ibid .: 55)

individual responsibility: At Beckham, too, a high degree of personal responsibility is ascribed to the individual. This can already be seen in the passages cited under flexibility: The use of opportunities and dealing with uncertainty must be done by the individual himself. He also has to actively work on his personality in order to be successful, for example making sure that he gains self-confidence: "You look at your buddy, and he seems to be up to the task [...] and if she eventually gets you look, you also exude confidence. It is an energy that concentrates in the dressing room minutes before kick-off. "(318)

Delimitation: As indicated in the last point, Beckham strives to reconcile non-economic areas of life with professional requirements. For example, the family gives him strength for his professional life (“every time I saw the two people who mean the most to me, it gave me a huge boost and charged my batteries. Then I came back to Old Trafford [10] and could have uprooted trees. ", 180f.) and is involved in the creation of his self-confidence (" although Victoria has strengthened my self-confidence in every respect. ", 26).

Non-conformism: Beckham is about staged deviations from the norm, which he tries to keep within a framework that is in line with the market. His maxim here is: “However, I take the point of view that all great players have their rough edges. And it is precisely these that make their personality different from the average. "(93) With Beckham, the deviation from the average is mainly achieved through violations of male gender stereotypes, for example by emphasizing his soulful side:" Quite a few who read these lines , may then think I'm a softie. But that's just how I am. ”(124) On the other hand, he defends disciplinary rules in football and emphasizes that compliance with them is important for his career:“ There is one thing that drives United and the players in the club in particular. You know that you mustn't let yourself go because there is always someone just waiting to take your place. ”(76) From this I conclude that Beckham's nonconformism is a marketing strategy in the sense of Diversity management (see above).

Exclusion: Forms of exclusion as in Effenberg cannot be found in Beckham. On the one hand, he expresses his respect for the performance of other players and coaches instead of devaluing them: "The boss understands more about football than few others." (261) On the other hand, he emphasizes his distance from self-praising, as Effenberg does: " Nowadays, young players sometimes think that as soon as they sign with a club, they are in the nest. There was no such thing in our generation. And if someone had thought of it, Eric would have driven these nonsense out of us as quickly as possible. "(66)

Here we have a different type of post-Fordist subject than with Effenberg. It is based on one's own ability and not on self-promotion, combined with the devaluation of others.

Interpretation of Zinédine Zidane's autobiography

flexibility: This topic plays a role for Zidane in two contexts: On the one hand, he emphasizes the need to show particular commitment as captain of the national team (Zidane / Franck 2005: 55); this indicates the need to react flexibly to changing game conditions. On the other hand, he formulates the maxim to give everything in order to achieve your own goals: “I am very proud to have been born and raised in my neighborhood. I have internalized what they say there: You always have to do everything possible to achieve your goals. ”(Ibid .: 83) This can be read as an invitation to constantly strive for higher goals, never to stop at what has been achieved, i.e. to be flexible and dynamic .

individual responsibility: Zidane emphasizes the importance of personal effort for personal success. He emphasizes several times that he had to work particularly hard because of his migration background, e.g. on p.83: "Yes, I had to work twice as hard because I was an immigrant child." Gives strength that leads him to success: "Our strength is there: it is in ourselves." (52). Here too, the image of a subject emerges who knows no real limits because it has an indestructible core that it just has to believe in.

Delimitation: Private life is seen as a professional resource because, according to Zidane, the family has made important contributions to his career: "He admires his father very much [...]. What I am is his merit." (80) This However, it seems to fall to him and is not presented as a self-dependent achievement of the individual, whose task is rather to provide private life with little leeway in addition to the job. In principle, however, the private is subordinated to the professional, which Zidane regards as inevitable (68f). Other areas must also be managed professionally, such as emotions: "If a player intimidates you [...] you'd better stay in the locker room, because you have no chance of winning." (164)

Non-conformism: At Zidane, this is mainly in the form of creativity. He is proud of the ingenuity of street football in his neighborhood (102). On the other hand, however, he understands that there is no place in professional football for the creativity of street football (159); He usually does not protest against authorities such as father or head coach, but expressly praises them in many places (see above under Delimitation, 80). All of this suggests that Zidane's nonconformity is also a marketing strategy in the sense of the Diversity management acts. Unlike Effenberg and Beckham, he chooses his immigrant background in order to attract attention.

Exclusion: Even with Zidane there are no forms of exclusion like with Effenberg. He neither devalues ​​whole groups of people nor the performance or personality of individuals. Rather, he emphasizes his modesty several times ("This noise, this unrest around me ... That doesn't suit me. I am treated like a star, although I wanted to live as inconspicuously as possible ...", 68) and praises it Express performance of others (“Áimé Jacquet, that's a really great man.”, 32).

However, this can also be interpreted as a marketing strategy. Since he uses his immigrant origins to attract attention in the market, relying on tolerance is his recipe for success.

Conclusion: the relationship between social and artist criticism

In summary, it can be said that all three books contain moments of post-Fordist subject requirements. This supports the thesis that economic changes are also an important framework for cultural spheres such as sport and popular literature. They are expressed in the thinking of all football players treated, despite the differences in their nationality and image.The fact that football itself has long been organized as a capitalist branch of business should help mediate between economy and football.

On the other hand, the results of this study confirm Gramsci's thesis that patterns of interpretation are conveyed in the cultural field that contribute to the hegemony of the ruling powers. Popular figures such as soccer stars can represent economic demands more credibly than managers, who are seen by parts of the population as greedy for money and who can more easily be accused of arguing in this way out of self-interest. In the case of autobiographies, there is also the fact that the stars appear open and honest (they report frankly about their private lives) and dominant models appear as a product of authentic experience.

Are the books dealt with now to be reduced to their contribution to the reproduction of the existing, or are points of contact visible for overcoming the prevailing conditions? In order to answer this question, the breaks and contradictions that appear in the evaluation of the empirical material must be further investigated. In particular, a sharp contradiction between individualism and collectivism becomes apparent in all three players treated. On the one hand, the image of a free, self-responsible individual without limits to the ability to act is created; on the other hand, this free individual is constantly required to adapt - breaking the rules must never go so far that they endanger professional success. So none of the players is really about individual self-determination, but about submission to an identical standard, namely success in the market and the ability to sell well there. This framework must not be questioned, which contradicts real individual self-determination, which would include the possibility of changing social conditions: “This means that one can only speak of subjective freedom to the extent that the individual is not limited to existing social ones Living conditions is capable of acting, but also about the Conditions of ability to act themselves has, so this one to overcome the restrictions of action given therein: This is the only way to do it Capacity to act ‚Under‘ conditions not by the Unavailability of the conditions themselves restricted again, ultimately withdrawn. “(Holzkamp 1985: 354) Leo Kofler already points out that bourgeois individualism destroys individual freedom and individual differences because the individual has to subordinate his development to the competitive security of material survival (Kofler 1967: 190). The bourgeois individual is free from personal relationships of domination, but has to survive on his own in competition and does not have the social relationships - which, however, would be a condition of his freedom. Individual freedom repeatedly turns into bondage as long as production is not consciously planned by everyone, but hits the individual with the force of quasi-natural laws. Cultural products such as the autobiographies analyzed take up the unfulfilled desire for more autonomy, but render it ineffective by submitting to a capitalist market logic. Therefore they make a contribution to the stabilization of the prevailing conditions: they convey the illusion that individual freedom can be realized by each individual qua subjective decision without having to strive for a social change.

The French sociologists Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello have dealt with the appropriation of demands for freedom by contemporary capitalism (Boltanski / Chiapello 2006). You start from the distinction between two types of criticism of capitalism: The Social criticism direct themselves against exploitation and inequality that Artist criticism against the suppression of individual freedom (ibid .: 82). The artists' criticism represented by the 1968 movement was appropriated by capitalism by breaking down hierarchical forms of control in the companies themselves and relying more on the autonomy of employees (541f.). The authors emphasize that the expectations of more self-determination through these new forms of work have not been fulfilled, but new constraints have replaced the old ones (462ff.): In group work, for example, colleagues would become the supervisory body; Employees are directly exposed to customer requests, etc. The price for more autonomy is increasing uncertainty; often the only reward for exertion is not being fired. Boltanski and Chiapello therefore advocate a new approach to social and artist criticism: Flexibility must be regulated so that it does not ultimately conflict with personal freedom. For example, they demand the right to allow more time to pass between different projects (508f.). Here a correspondence can be seen between the autobiographies discussed and current economic developments: In both cases, the demand for more autonomy is turned around in the form of a market and made ineffective. It follows that current capitalism must address needs that it ultimately cannot meet. They must therefore be picked up and turned against him - and, as indicated by Boltanski and Chiapello, through a stronger connection between demands for freedom and demands for equality; the necessity of a conscious social control of the economy for the realization of more freedom should be increasingly pointed out.


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[1] This article is the short version of a diploma thesis in sociology at the Philipps University of Marburg.

[2] For an empirical test of this concept see Pongratz / Voß 2003; for the criticism and the answer of the authors see this. 2004.

[3] For a criticism of the approach, see Rehmann 2007.

[4] In detail: Brändle / Koller 2002; Pfister 2002.

[5] I limit myself here to Germany, England and France.

[6] Effenberg was born in 1968, see Effenberg / Mendelin 2003: 11f.

[7] Accessed: August 12, 2008.

[8] Accessed: August 12, 2008.

[9] Accessed: August 12, 2008.

[10] Manchester United Stadium, H.B.

This article was published in line no. 78, June 2009