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The Visual University

Teaching sociology with images

Theory is not just about clinical logic. Jungians will say that symbolic and religious imagery is both developmentally prior to, and foundational for, rational thought. It is not surprising then to find that certain basic sociological principles correspond quite closely not only with basic religious functions, but also with students’ fantasy identities.

Below is an illustration of the difference between a visual representation and an image. The first shows in diagram form how dependency theory see the causal flows linking first and third world countries. It has the virtue of being clear and clinical, but it has no feeling. The second is an image which depicts the affective texture of the theory. It depicts the ‘feel’ of first world parasitism on the third world. An octopus furthermore is an ancient symbol which generates significant energy.

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