Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quotes From Murphy's "Rationality and Nature"

I am currently reading Raymond Murphy's book Rationality and Nature -A Sociological Inquiry Into a Changing Relationship for my environmental sociology course this fall and for a paper I am writing on the rationalization of beekeeping and the possible irrational, unintended consequences such rationalization has had on honey bees. In this work, Murphy extends Max Weber's analysis of the rationalization of modern societies in order to create what Murphy calls "an ecology of social action." (p28)

I am still in the midst of this work, sorting out definitions and distinctions but it seems to have important implications for my own research on honey bees. At least since the mid 1800s, beekeeping in the United States has been typified by the ongoing formal, and instrumental rationalization of apicultural techniques. Modern apiculture strives to develop the most efficient means possible (formal rationalization) to achieve particular goals which are primarily concerned with "the pleasure of our own human species" (p 21) " and not the honey bees themselves (instrumental rationality). ... [T]his process of rationalization has been based on the erroneous premise of a plastic natural world and the unattainable goal of mastering nature" (p 26). All this results in "ecological irrationalities" which may well include the declining health of honey bees forced to live in an environment" increasing artificial" (p 21).

I will need to expand on and develop these ideas further, and honestly assess how useful Murphy's extention of Weber's analysis is to understanding the problems facing beekeepers and their collaborators, honey bees.


Marcy said...

Of course man's interference with their natural environment has everything to do with the problems facing beekeepers! Keep up the good work!

Staci Siler said...

Some things to consider.. proven: wax allows greater convection of temperature through comb - having interesting consequences (cooling for summer, heating for winter), also bees 'chew' through the mid-rib during winter months to rotate from warm to cold and back while in cluster.. can't chew through plastic (study done by a fellow in one of the clubs I belong to in association with Clemson University). If you want, I can look up his name and link you to the information if he has posted it.

Abelisto said...

Please Staci, I'd like the link.

Staci Siler said...

I am sorry my response was so long in coming, I didn't see your request for the link. I sent a copy of this to Mr. MacFawn so he can respond himself if he has time.