Este trabalho objetiva pensar sobre os lugares possíveis para a amizade a partir de um estudo sistemático da obra de Zygmunt Bauman. Tendo como ponto de partida que vivemos em um tempo no qual as relações humanas são regidas pela lógica do consumo, os laços tornam-se fragilizados, deixando em segundo plano a experiência da diferença. Através da questão do amor, entendemos que a amizade pode fundar novas formas vinculares, conferindo densidade aos laços. A dimensão escolar, ao ser pautada em reciprocidade, responsabilidade e solidariedade, pode ser um espaço no qual as diferenças podem ser vivenciadas e uma maneira de resistir ao princípio de homogeneidade colocado em prática na sociedade contemporânea.
Amizade; Relações Humanas; Zygmunt Bauman; Educação
The objective of this study is to think about the possible places of friendship from a systematic study on the works of Zygmunt Bauman. Taking as the starting point our living in a time in which human relations are governed by the logic of consumption, the bonds are weakened, leaving the experience of difference in the background. Through the question of love, we understand that friendship can establish new bonds, giving them density. By being based on reciprocity, responsibility and solidarity, the school environment can be a space in which differences can be experienced and a form of resistance to the homogeneity principle can be practiced in contemporary society.
Friendship; Human Relations; Zygmunt Bauman; Education.
Having as main reference the work of the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, the objective of this study is to investigate different places for friendship in contemporary society and the possibilities of thinking education processes from such elements.
We conducted a systematic study on the work of the author from two premises to achieve the objective. The first relates to the description of a diagnosis of the present with the goal of building and mapping an ontology. Thus, observing the relation between the present and the historicity and the crossings to which individuals are submitted becomes possible (Lopes, 2011LOPES, Rodrigo Barbosa. Imagens do Pensamento: do antropológico ao acontecimento na educação. 2011. 218f. Tese (Doutorado em Educação) - Universidade Estadual Paulista, Marília, 2011.; Santos, 2010SANTOS, Maria Fernanda Cardoso. A Ontologia do Presente e as Artes da Existência em Foucault. Saberes: Revista Interdisciplinar de Filosofia e Educação, Natal, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, v. 3, p. 88-100, dez. 2010.).
This first step points to the characteristics regarding the understanding of what the author calls “liquid modernity” and its possible effects. Such social context can be understood as an irregular territory, full of cracks and possibilities of resistance and singularities, which brings us to the second premise of analysis. This concerns the search for alternatives to the lifestyle presented in contemporary times. Thus, investigating friendship from the author’s perspective - this concept is not explicitly elaborated over the course of his work - aimed at beyond the conceptual mapping. Focusing on the possible links of human formation with school training and debating the ethical and political developments derived from such relations.
The diagnosis of the contemporary context made by Bauman highlights the traits that underlie the way of being of the individual who lives at this period. The author points that human life is marked by instability, which can be observed through five main characteristics: the crisis of the institutions, the loss of the idea of progress, the rise of communitarianism, the loss of the sense of history, and the fall of political power as a centered entity (Bauman, 2007BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Tempos Líquidos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2007.).
Characterized by the author as “solid” or “heavy”, in the first moment of modernity society was constituted from the search for order, which can be exemplified by the development of life management strategies. The author explains that
Modernity was born under the sign of this order: the order seen as a task subjected to the rational desire and to the constant supervision of everything, to a single demanding administration. Modernity dedicated itself to the task of making the world something manageable like administering it so zealously […]. Modernity proposed to eliminate the accidental and the contingencies […] (Bauman, 2008aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. La Sociedade Sitiada. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2008a., p. 40-41).
Marked by the “fluidity” or “liquidity”, the second modernity presents the loss of a sense of the possibility to organize and fully control life, which causes intense ambivalence and the feeling of instability. The potentiation of fear arises as a feeling that pertains not only uncertainty - things that require immediate attention - but also to things that we still do not know that we are not sure about. Thus, “[…] the most treacherous range of uncertainty is the one that scares us less or not scares us at all, the uncertainty of which, dangerously, we are still not sure” (Bauman, 2011aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. 44 Cartas do Mundo Líquido Moderno. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011a. , p. 87). The absence of safe references also makes room for the arising of malaise feelings. Thus, constructing a society that can appease such elements becomes important.
The study begins with the mapping of the values present in the consumer society to understand how these values also start including human relations. In a second moment, we investigate how friendship can be debated having the work of Bauman as a starting point and how it would configure itself, through love, as a resistance to the lifestyle disseminated by the consumer society. This issue outstands in the analysis, since love is a condition for what the author called “pleasure of pleasures”, i.e., the pleasure derived from human relations (Bauman, 2009a). Finally, under this perspective, the link between friendship and school education will be questioned to think about the possible impacts derived from the previous discussion and alternatives to the problems presented will be drawn.
Consumer society and Binding Frailty
By analyzing the loss of parameters for life, bonds that Bauman states that, as an operative form, the current society appears as a consumer society, in which different practices are geared towards the acquisition of new and different products that appear as means of solution to daily problems and additionally, as the promise of happiness (2008b; 2009a). More than that, the acquisition of objects becomes related to the way the individual defines itself. Balestrin, Strey and Argemi (2008BALESTRIN, Viviani Giusti; STREY, Marlene Neves; ARGEMI, Miquel Domènech. A Emoção é Consumo: subjetivação e agenciamentos da vida capital. Athenea Digital, Barcelona, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, v. 13, p. 121-132, 2008. , p. 127) claim that, “[…] consumption begins to be understood as a framework, a relational fabric, not only of discourses, but of collective arrangements […]”. Seen as an expression of freedom and lightness, individuals voluntarily adhere to the values transmitted by the consumer market, which gives human relations a new ethical status. In this new version,
‘New and improved’ power relations follow the pattern of the consumer commodities market that puts seduction and attraction in the place once occupied by the normative regulation, and which replaces orders dictated by public relations and the surveillance and patrolling, by the creation of needs […] (Bauman, 2008aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. La Sociedade Sitiada. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2008a., p. 49).
In this context, the difficulties of existence can be resolved by the act of purchase and, moreover, the bonds start being located and mediated by the consumption and through temporary encounters in shopping malls. Hence, having different school spaces as one of the operators, the human education put into practice in contemporary society needs to direct the individuals very early to two basic processes: first, obedience to order and to routine as a preparation for production (Bauman, 1999aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Modernidade e Ambivalência. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar , 1999a.), and second, to become sensible to any sign of instability as the start of the search for new objects/products/commodities to remedy the dissatisfaction feeling (Bauman, 2008b).
In addition to the impossibility of putting into practice such promise of complete happiness, the consumer society generates new grounds for the relational forms on individuals, which are based on the principle of cost effectiveness. As an effect, relations become progressively frailer, in addition to the difficulty in maintaining bonds. As Bauman points out (2010aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Capitalismo Parasitário. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2010a. , p. 40-41):
In the world of liquid modernity, the solidity of things and the solidity of the human bonds is a threat: any oath of allegiance, any long-term commitment (and even more so for an indeterminate period) foreshadows a future full of obligations that limit the freedom of movement and the ability to perceive new opportunities unknown yet) as soon as (inevitably) they are introduced.
From the aforementioned quotation it is possible to reflect on the issues that derive from the bonding forms. The stronger the intensity of the bond and the longer it lasts, the greater the possibility of restricting the conduct, which evidences the absence of unconditional freedom - this panorama points to the need for the management of dissatisfaction and ambivalence. Thus, the intensity of pleasure and the pleasure of being with another is inversely proportional to the density of the exchanges.
Additionally, the cost-benefit ratio is related to the possibilities/probabilities of success derived from the action, which cannot be exactly calculated when discussing human relations. Considering the otherness, understood here as the existence of two subjects with unique features and impossible to be completely previewed in advance to the relation.
[…] If the human bonds, like the rest of the objects of consumption, do not need to be built as long-term efforts and occasional sacrifices, but something related to instant gratification, instantaneous, each wait at the moment of purchase […] thus, it makes no sense ‘to throw good money on top of bad money’ intending to save the relation, with more energy spent and not suffering with the concerns and hassles this entails. Even a small problem can break the bond; trivial disagreements become bitter disputes, small frictions are taken as signs of essential mismatch and irreparable damage […] (Bauman, 2009cBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Modernidad Líquida. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2009c., p. 174).
Thus, in contemporary times, it is observed that “[…] in the commercial version, the bonds are turned into commodities, i.e., they are transferred to another sphere, governed by the market and no longer capable of satisfying this bond that is only conceived and maintained by more bonds […]” (Bauman, 2009bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Amor Líquido: acerca de la Fragilidad de los vínculos humanos. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Econômica, 2009b. , p. 98). Emotional relations become liquid because they are fast; but this same process liquidates what is most real in a relation, the ability to be durable, increasing the generation of meaningful experiences for the individual.
In this sense, the development of new technologies is a response to the demands of this relational impoverishment. At the same time, they favor the maintenance of the bonds and it also pushes individuals away from face-to-face relations. Bauman (2011aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. 44 Cartas do Mundo Líquido Moderno. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011a. ) mentions that the world of liquid-modernity has a dual form of relating to the reality that can be described using the binomial online-offline. The first term indicates the condition of “being within the network” and therefore, to be able to act and interact at the same speed as the technology; the second relates to the concrete reality, outside of the virtual world.
The presence in the online universe allows individuals a protection in relation to another while increasing the possibility of avoiding displeasure, considered by the author as something within relations characterized by intensity and proximity. Although such uncomfortable sensations may occur, everything can be ended by disconnecting from the network. As Xavier and Neves (2014XAVIER, Maria Rita Pereira; NEVES, Thiago Tavares das. Por uma Vida Afetada: afetos, tecnologias e vínculos na contemporaneidade. Revista Eletrônica Inter-Legere, Natal, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, n. 14, p. 1-17, jan/jun. 2014., p. 11) state, “[…] yes, we are solitary beings, but we are also afraid of intimacy. Digital connections might offer the illusion of company without the demands and obligations of friendship. The social life online allows us to hide from others, even if we are tied to each other […]”.
Bauman claims that to strengthen the bonds, the universe of online relations needs to go through the sieve of offline relations, in other words, although there is some kind of virtual bond, it is necessary to test it in the world of practical life, full of contradictions, ambivalence and discomfort, in which people cannot be deleted or disconnected at the slightest sign of dissatisfaction. This experience is critical to the process, because the existence of the other persists in its bodily materialization, in the vision and in the expression on the face, which refreshes the moral dimension in human relations.
The author exposes this problem regarding life in large cities and states that they turned into a meeting point for the difference. Human relations, in their lone version are mediated by the strangeness and by the need to maintain a reliable distance in relation to others. This is taken as sign of danger, which makes the definition of criteria fundamental for the differences. In other words, although staying away from the differences is impossible, the different is established, where they can circulate and which measures should be taken if the rules are broken. In this sense, it is noteworthy what Bauman (2008 cBAUMAN, Zygmunt. A Sociedade Individualizada: vidas contadas e histórias vividas. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar , 2008c. , p. 46) claims:
[…] culture is the activity of making distinctions, ranking, segregating, marking borders - it divides people into categories, uniting them internally by similarity and externally separating them by difference; and to differentiate the range of conduct attributed to the humans allocated in different categories […].
In several moments of his work, Bauman (1998BAUMAN, Zygmunt. O Mal-Estar na Pós-Modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 1998.; 1999BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Modernidade e Ambivalência. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar , 1999a.; 2009bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Amor Líquido: acerca de la Fragilidad de los vínculos humanos. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Econômica, 2009b. ; 2009dBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Confiança e Medo na Cidade. Versão Ebook. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2009d.) analyzes this form of relationship, moved by the removal of the difference, which he calls “mixophobia”. The other is a danger and therefore impossible to remain completely away; the issue of safety and risk management becomes important for life policies.
[…] Since they forgot or did not bother to acquire the required skills for a satisfying life amid difference, it is not surprising that individuals who seek and practice the escape therapy face with growing horror to the prospect of confronting strangers face to face. These tend to seem more and more scary as they become increasingly exotic, unknown and incomprehensible, and as dialogue and interaction that could assimilate their “otherness” into the world of someone fade, or even start. The tendency to a homogeneous environment, isolated in its territory, can be started by mixophobia. But practicing territorial separation is the life preserver and the fuel of mixophobia; it gradually becomes their main reinforcement (Bauman, 2007BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Tempos Líquidos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2007., p. 94).
As previously indicated, the strategy of establishing safety points in relations between equals is called “communitarianism” (Bauman, 2003BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Comunidade: a busca por segurança no mundo atual. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar , 2003.). Thus, hiding on the islands of similarity ensures some possibility of getting away from the ambivalence of being with the other. According to the author, staying among equals in this situation becomes a protection in the immediate living, pushing groups with different identities away.
This question is discussed by Bauman (2009dBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Confiança e Medo na Cidade. Versão Ebook. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2009d., p. 14) by alluding to the foreigner as the materialization of what he calls “strange”:
By definition, the foreigner is someone whose action is guided by intentions that, at most, one can guess, but that no one ever will know for sure. The foreigner is the unknown variable in the calculation of the equations when the time to make decisions on what to do comes. Thus, even when foreigners are not openly attacked and offended, their presence in our field of action always causes discomfort and transforms the prediction of the effects of an action, their odds of success or failure into an arduous effort.
Therefore, the strange becomes an important concept for our discussion, considering that we are strangers to others in the same way that others are strangers to us. Furthermore, we are strangers to ourselves. In another moment, the author points that “they” - the strangers - “[…] belong to one another and form a single group, because each and every one shares the same trait: none of them is ‘one of us’ […]” (Bauman; May, 2010BAUMAN, Zygmunt; MAY, Tim. Aprendendo a Pensar Sociologicamente. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar , 2010., p. 61).
Our forms of conduct in relation to the other end up surprising us, the reverse is also true. Thus, the investigation of friendship relations necessarily goes through an ethical debate that, in turn, points to new forms of acting in the public space and its impacts on the settings of the everyday life of the school institution.
Morality and Difference
Regarding the ethical problem, Bauman reflects on the forms in which the modern society has set parameters for human relations. He points that an outpouring of a series of codes of conduct has been observed, instead of uniting people, these codes evidence the differences between them. Following laws and rules and having the conduct guided by conventions is not enough for human formation, according to the author. It is necessary to share spaces, ideas, take responsibility for what is common and dare to live with each other in the condition of difference.
This new perspective points to the moral dimension, which is defined by the unrestricted responsibility that an individual has in relation to another (Bauman, 2006BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Modernidad y Holocausto. Madrid: Ediciones Sequitur, 2006.; 2011bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Vida em Fragmentos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011b.). The denser the relations, the greater the potential to experience the emotional intensity of the existence of the other. Influenced by Levinas, Bauman states that the face of the other shows the frailty of both of those involved in the relation - this justifies the necessary moral commitment, which has love as its greatest expression.
Differentiating from romantic love, dense bonds are configured as a condition for the establishment of bonds that give the other the condition of existence and uniqueness. At the same time, love offers the necessary trust for the maintenance of the negotiated bonds. Thus,
What you wish, you want to use; ‘to consume’, to strip of the otherness, to possess or ingest - make it part of your body, an extension of yourself. To use is to annihilate the other for the sake of the own person. Love, on the other hand, means to value the other by its otherness, wishing to strengthen it, protecting this otherness, making it flourish and thrive, being ready to sacrifice his own comfort, including his own mortal existence, if this is necessary to meet this intention […] (Bauman, 2008 c, p. 208).
This type of bonding is characterized by Bauman (2011bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Vida em Fragmentos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011b.) as meta integration, which creates a type of coexistence that promotes the creation of new bonds. The meta integration serves as a backdrop for meetings that ultimately produce contexts of living territories not yet explored in the relation with the other. Thus, “[…] the ‘finding’ places a distance between the Other while he-can-be-for-himself and the Other for-what-I-am - the distance that did not exist before […]” (Bauman, 1997, p. 106). In another moment, the author claims that:
In there, in this ‘micro-social’ plane of face-to-face encounters that different traditions, beliefs, motivations and lifestyles […] facing each other in short distances and point-blank; they share routines and inevitably dialogue among themselves in a peaceful and benevolent talk, or a vexing and antagonistic way, but that always leads to familiarity and not to estrangement, contributing to the respect, solidarity and mutual understanding (Bauman, 2011aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. 44 Cartas do Mundo Líquido Moderno. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011a. , p. 205).
Thus, “[…] taking the moral responsibility means to not consider the other as a specimen of a species or a category, but as unique and, in doing so, rising (becoming ‘chosen’) to the state worthy of unity” (Bauman, 2011bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Vida em Fragmentos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011b., p. 88). Therefore, we observe that by raising and considering your condition of uniqueness, human relations provide the experiences of difference and otherness.
Ortega (1999ORTEGA, Francisco. Amizade e Estética da Existência em Foucault. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal, 1999., p. 140) mentions this process by pointing that “[…] the ethical relation that emerges from meeting the other in its absolute otherness destroys the sovereignty of the I. The ethic will act as a project-to-subjectiveness. Encountering the other puts the selfishness of the self in question and tricks the intentionality of the subject”. This is because:
[…] My moral duties to love partner multiplies and grows as a result of my love. I am responsible for the effects of my love […] My love has consequences, and I accept them along the new and increasing responsibilities arising […] (Bauman, 1997BAUMAN, Zygmunt. Ética Pós-Moderna. São Paulo: Paulus, 1997. , p. 124).
In this context, the other cannot be dissolved in the many, a widely spread process in contemporary times. It needs to be cared for and cultivated from emotional relationships that might, in the end, enhance the growth and development of new bondings. This is the dimension in which we can insert our analyses on friendship.
Friendship and Educational Experience
As a definition, friendship can be understood as a type of bond characterized by density, loveliness, and especially, by the difference. Friendship cannot be taken only as a number of friends in virtual communities or sporadic meets in bars. Also, it cannot be seen in the formation of a group of similar people that pushes those who show themselves or are perceived as different away. Therefore, we believe that there is a specificity in the concept of friendship from the reflections conducted in studies on Bauman. On this question, the author states that:
Precisely because we are willing ‘to establish friendships and deep companions’, and we look forward to that more vigorously and intensely than ever, our relationships are full of sound and fury, full of anxiety and perpetual high alertness. We are willing to do that, since friendship bonds are […] our only ‘[social] escort in the turbulent waters’ of the world of liquid modernity […]. The helping hand of a loyal and trusted partner, ‘until death do us part’, the hand that you can count that will be readily and willingly extended when necessary - what the islands offers to potential castaways or what an oasis offers to people lost in the desert - we need those hands and we want to the have them - the more of them around us, the better... (Bauman, 2009aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. A Arte da Vida. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2009a., p. 170-171, author’s emphasis).
Therefore, friendship becomes a kind of confrontation, and its configuration implies a continue exercise of experiences with/of the other that goes beyond mere coexistence in the same geographical and/or virtual space. Friendship bonds can offer a security spot amid fluidity and ambivalence to which individuals are exposed in contemporary times. The reason for this is that in the current context, being with others does not necessarily means sharing a symbolic world, permeating common issues from the trade with different people.
We believe that Bauman characterizes friendship relations from love. This leads to a form of moral relation marked by the density of bonds and not only by the condition of being with the other, but mainly the to be-for the other. In other words, it implies an understanding of a relation mediated and limited of One to the Other and that can be expressed by an “[…] acting because of the Other” that leads us to the dynamics of responsibility, or as the author says, “responsible for my responsibility” (Bauman, 1997, p. 106).
The development of the moral being necessarily goes through this experience with the other, who cannot be considered as a generic being, but possessor of singularity. The author states that “[…] the otherness of the other is equivalent to its uniqueness; each face is unique and exclusive, and this uniqueness defies the endemic impersonality of the norm” (Bauman, 2010bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Legisladores e Intérpretes: sobre modernidade, pós-modernidade e intelectuais. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2010b., p. 66).
Thus, friendship comes to a real confrontation with homogeneity. For this reason, it is possible to point out that friendship is a relation that could break formats, “[…] breaking any socially constructed forms, dropping any socially woven garment, placing it in front of the other as a face and not a mask, and in this process, with your own bare face” (Bauman, 2011bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Vida em Fragmentos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011b., p. 87, emphasis added by the author).
The idea of mixophilia comes from this. If mixophobia is related to the removal of the Difference, mixophilia indicates the opposite: a relation of friendship with Difference, proximity and confrontation of life policies that undermine the bonding to the Other. Arruda (2008ARRUDA, Patrícia Cabral. Cidades Líquidas. Sociedade e Estado, Brasília, UnB, v. 23, n.2, p. 469-476, maio/ago. 2008., p. 474) explains that such position is marked by the “[…] strong attraction for difference, a desire to merge with the diverse because it is interesting or fascinating […]”. In other words, friendship involves an advance that implies the merging with the one that shows itself differently through their exterior condition.
The construction of spaces to experience the difference is necessary to start this process. The public space is a scenario of attraction and repulsion, of differences and negotiations, which allows the formation of life at every moment. These are places where the lifestyle can achieve more satisfactory forms from ethical, political and community points of view.
Bauman (2009bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Amor Líquido: acerca de la Fragilidad de los vínculos humanos. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Econômica, 2009b. ) claims that this space provides the encounter of multiple perspectives that indicate different forms of understanding a given reality, i.e., being with the other in a place of trades that allows the fusion of horizons. It must be noted that this process is not definitive, but a converging point that tends to generate new disagreement, this being the motor of development and human learning.
It is in this moment, which is understood by the search for meaning and interpretation - which implies a certain loss of centrality of the I as the bearer of truth - that the other becomes comprehensible. It allows “[…] making itself to be understood - and thus facilitating an exchange between lifestyles - and opening itself to communication of worlds of meaning that would remain closed” (Bauman, 2010bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Legisladores e Intérpretes: sobre modernidade, pós-modernidade e intelectuais. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2010b., p. 198). Through dialogue and interaction, it is possible “[...] to assimilate the otherness to the own world” (Bauman, 2010cBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Mundo Consumo: Ética del Indivíduos em La Aldea Global. Buenos Aires: Paidos, 2010c. , p. 103).
Unlike bonding forms specific to communitarianism - based on the search for similarities and the removal of differences -, Bauman (2009bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Amor Líquido: acerca de la Fragilidad de los vínculos humanos. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Econômica, 2009b. ) states that the development of communitas1 1 Translator’s note: communitas is a Latin term used to refer both to an unstructured community in which people are equal and to the spirit of community itself (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communitas). is necessary, a result of this coexistence process between the different who act from common issues. Therefore, a renewal of the political sense that comes from human relations happens. The resumption of trade in common spaces for the development of strategies to face the local problems occurs in the communitas. The formation of a participatory policy at the expense of targeting such issues for the private field observed from modernity.
Despite being affected by the consumer society, the school can become a place of resistance to its lifestyle in a moment of frail human relations. The school space might offer conditions for the reflection on the ethical standards imposed by the logic of the market, while reinserting feelings of solidarity and cooperation back into human relations.
At this point, we enter in school education. Bauman (2010aBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Capitalismo Parasitário. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2010a. ; 2011a) indicates many changes observed in educational processes starting in the twentieth century. The author claims that in other periods the school functioned as a ballistic missile directed since its launch to a specific purpose, and the task of the educator is to avoid the loss of the previously drawn direction.
However, this type of perspective does not make sense nowadays. The training is continuous and without a place or temporality to end. This uncertainty about the path to be taken will favor the enclosing of education to the market logic, the knowledge is also transformed into a commodity to be acquired throughout life.
[…] to be of any use, education and learning must be continuous and extended for the entire life. No other form of education and/or learning is conceivable; “training” people or personalities by means other than a continuous and eternally unfinished training is unthinkable (Bauman, 2009dBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Confiança e Medo na Cidade. Versão Ebook. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2009d., p. 157-158).
Knowledge also has its status changed for this reason. Having a brilliant memory or a large amount of accumulated knowledge is no longer needed. The ability to operationalize knowledge is what it is at stake, which, in a world in constant update of information, implies forgetting. This impacts the form of how individuals learn and in the position of the educator in the context of school work.
Identifying such point as another link present in the consumer society, Bauman (1999bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Globalização: as consequências humanas. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 1999b. ) states that:
The necessary reduction of time is best achieved if consumers cannot pay attention or concentrate the desire for long periods on any object; i.e., if they are impatient, impetuous, unmanageable and above all, easily ‘incitable’ and if they easily lose interest. The culture of the consumer society involves forgetfulness especially, not learning […] (1999a, p. 89, emphasis added).
The paradox of the meaning of education is found here. On one hand, it is understood as the maintenance of a symbolic and historically built social structure; on the other hand, it has been shown as the annihilation of the perennial, of the things that last for a long time, which ends up putting in question the sense of commitment to the human world. Thus, if school education itself adopts the values of consumer society, in which it is a commodity with an expiration date, what does it have to offer to the new inhabitants of this context in which it corrodes? It seems that very little. Thus, what comes to the foreground is the sense of a continuous crisis experience, without horizon of resolution in a short period of time.
We observe that the performance of the educator in a field that requires frequent updates leaves the relation to be established with the student in the background. The teaching performance gets stuck in an instrumental dimension, focusing on the teaching problems. For example, failures in educational-instructional methods or the forms of family and/or community interaction of their students.
We believe that the school and/or specifically, the classroom, might have as function the revitalization of the sense of common space, which provides the experience of otherness, difference and learning. This is because, as a place, it does not belong exclusively to any of the subjects’ present, it can potentially belong to all. Therefore, we believe it is an interstitial space. By being empty it appears as a between, i.e., a potential space new and different forms of action can be tried and put into practice by singular individuals in reciprocal acting. Places without owners or hegemonic and authoritarian actions are characterized by not belonging to a few, but are likely to volunteer as a space with the mark of all. Such places, as Foucault points out (1986FOUCAULT, Michel. De Outros Espaços: conferência proferida por Michel Foucault no Cercle d’Études Architecturales, em 14 de Março de 1967. Traduzido do inglês por Pedro Moura. Diacritics, Baltimore, v. 16, n. 1, primavera 1986. Disponível em: <Disponível em: http://www.historiacultural.mpbnet.com.br/pos-modernismo/Foucault-De_Outros_Espacos.pdf
>. Acesso em: 21 jun. 2016.
http://www.historiacultural.mpbnet.com.b... , p. 3), “[…] link themselves to each other, but contradict every other […]”. Shortly, they are spaces of difference in which different possibilities of encounters could be established. Here we find a fertile field for the development of an ethic of friendship.
In this space for the unforeseen - understood as the space of the other - it is not possible to anticipate what will happen. As Bauman explains (2011bBAUMAN, Zygmunt. Vida em Fragmentos. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar , 2011b., p. 93), “[…] there is no script written, and actors conceive the plot as they act, each being their own director […]”.
Therefore, instead of being a place of knowledge centered only on the educator, the school becomes a space of the between knowledge, a real stage for encounters in which different subjects act. Permeated by interests, affections and exchanges, this zone of encounters establishes possibilities to meet other life forms beyond the axis of each living creature/collective. In an interview to Pallares-Burke (2004), Bauman claims that:
[…] From my point of view (and from experience), being ‘out of place’, at least in parts of our being, to not completely agree, to express disagreement and dissent, is the only way to safeguard our independence and freedom. Being ‘inside’ but partially ‘outside’ is also a way of preserving the freshness, the innocence and the blessed naivete vision […] (Pallares-Burke, 2004PALLARES-BURKE, Maria Lúcia Garcia. Entrevista com Zygmunt Bauman. Tempo Social. São Paulo, Universidade de São Paulo, v. 16, n. 1, p. 301-32, jun. 2004., p. 313).
At this encounter of the different, school education acquires another function beyond the transmission of historically built knowledge. The space in which these encounters happen is the space of the Other. However, we can say that by leading the way where the written and prescribed are not found as a form of building new bonds and strengthen those who are already present, we offer enriched and unique human bonds, beyond the widespread homogenization materialized in contemporary times.
Throughout this study, we pointed to new possibilities of actions of the educator within the school context. However, this does not mean that the school is unrelated to the hegemonic assumptions of the consumer society, which has the weakening of human bonds as one of its effects.
Although necessary, the coexistence with others has become increasingly difficult. The encounters start to happen far less frequently and in increasingly restricted groups. If the knowledge of the self must go through the knowledge of the other, we reached a context in which life becomes a restricted phenomenon with impoverished experiences.
Regarding the teacher-student relations, although it brings the presence of difference within, it is based on previously established patterns of trades and to the encounters, established as reference for the pedagogical practices and commonly maintained by the hierarchical distance between the holder of knowledge and the place to deposit it. Therefore, the crystallization of the parameter - i.e., the standardization - becomes an important element for the analysis of pedagogical relations. Thus, the experience of an ethic of the friendship is closely related to updates on the ability to engage with the other, i.e., to be affected and modified in/by the relation.
The importance of the search for different perspectives that might indicate paths of resistance to the process of homogenization and elimination of difference - other - in human relations is justified. We understand that the mapping of a place for friendship in school education must go through the recognition of the school reality, and not as a prescription and/or code of conduct to the educator, becoming a task to be developed by different actors in the micropolitics of the daily school relations.
Translated from portuguese by Tikinet Edição Ltda.
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Translator’s note: communitas is a Latin term used to refer both to an unstructured community in which people are equal and to the spirit of community itself (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communitas).
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