Explanation: It is now widely commented upon in the mass media, and by individuals when they speak together, that a sense of disconnection runs through much of personal and societal life. Over the past fifty years communities have been negatively transformed by the ravages of governmental economic and industrial policies, and the need to build more homes. Shops on high streets are becoming cafes, nail bars and living accommodation. Youth clubs and meeting places for adults have gone. Large swathes of the electorate feel they are seen only as consumers of market provided goods and services. The vulnerable are being swept aside. Challenging these trends is difficult. Vast numbers of citizens are against any hint of suggestion that society has become less able or interested in protecting the vulnerable. Other people see this, but feel disconnected from it. They connect with an idea – “Not in my name” – to cover that society is moving in a direction contrary to their wishes. However, they feel powerless against a connected up political class that seems disconnected from the electorate. In The Future of an Illusion and Civilisation and its Discontents Freud discussed the fragility of culture - civilisation’s main instrument for civilizing our basic human instincts. The disconnection in society, and between the individual and an eroding culture, seem indicative of the fragility of civilisation.
Purpose: The purpose of this webinar is to examine and explore the experience of citizens in the face of the disconnections that they experience in daily life. Many describe feeling how difficult it is to rely upon connecting with familiar institutions and ideas now that so many appear unreliable or unsafe. Is the idea of democracy and its institutions reliable? Do we feel safe as employees, homeowners, parents? Can we feel safe connecting with other people – our children, families, friends – without worrying about the safety of the hinterland around them and us? Is the current fragility of civilisation undermining our legitimate need to be contained by the society we live in?
Week by week
1 Introduction to the series. Introduce its fundamental ideas. Connections and disconnections/integration and disintegration. Paranoid-schizoid states and depressive position functioning. Civilisation and human instinctual life. The container/contained. A good culture as representing good enough parenting. The masculine and feminine/the paternal and maternal.
2 Globalisation and internationalism: Disconnection and connection. How have our economies undermined the possibility of us feeling held by a worldwide container?
3 Duties of care and safety: Do our societies protect us through the life-cycle? Do we feel safe within their borders? What social forces are being unchecked by democracy?
4 Hope and hopelessness: How does daily life feel for citizens as employees, individuals, parents? How is hope kept alive in the face of the apparent erosion of a state committed to care and safety.
5 Public service and containment: Is there a disconnection between the belief in public service and 1) the practice of individuals, 2) what is delivered through government policy? How safe are the elderly and other vulnerable groups through the life-cycle?
6 Who says no when no is necessary? Racism and other prejudices. How do the maternal and paternal functions come together to parent policy in a disconnected society?
7 The individual and the couple: What do we bring to our relationships with partners? Are relationships still havens from a heartless world?
8 The capacity for creativity in individuals and couples: How do couples become parents?
9 The challenge posed by children: How safe are they in their world outside the home ?
10 Conclusion to series: Revisiting integration and disintegration. What have we discovered ?