Kafka s Turbulent Society in the Trial A Durkheimean Investigation

2011-09-12
This' paper' attempts' to' co)read' two' important' figures' from'the'turbulent'times'of'Europe'during'the'late'nineteenth'and' the' early' twentieth' century:' Durkheim' (1858)1917)' and' Kafka' (1883)1924).' Both' experienced' the' World' War' I' and' its' conse) quences' during' their' last' years.' Both' were' Jewish' suffering' from' the' implications' of' their'minority' backgrounds.' Both' were' subject' to'alienating,'anomic,'and'bizarre'conditions'and'reflected'these'in' their'works.'And' both'were' searching' for'existential'meanings' for' their'life'and'their'environment.'To'our'knowledge,'almost'no'liter) ature'has'been'developed'towards'a'systematic'appreciation'of'the' relation'between'Durkheim'and'Kafka. In'the'example'of'Kafka’s'work,'The/Trial,'this'paper'examines'how' Kafka'conceives'power,'consciousness,'society'and'the'individual'in' a' turbulent' context.' The' paper' asks' what' kind' of' legitimacy' that' society' generates' in' the' consciousness' of' individuals' in' The/ Trial and' where' this' legitimacy' comes' from.' For' this' investigation,' the' paper' draws' upon' Durkheim’s' methodological' and' sociological' analysis.'The'main'Durkheimean'themes'that'are'used'in'the'paper' are' collective' conscience,' the' external' and' coercive' character' of' society,'morality,'law,'and'finally'collective'effervescence. The'paper'argues' that'an'inherent'and'powerful'morality'imposes' itself' throughout'The/Trial.'Similarly,' the'court' that' represents' the' law' has' an' intrinsic' and' coercive' legitimacy.'The key' character,' K.' seems' to' be' truly' internalized' of' this' legitimacy' even' though' he' does'not'understand'its'proper'nature.'In'fact,'Kafka'never'reveals' the'“true”'nature'of'the'court.'In'this'sense,'the'court'– and'law'– remains' an' external' constraining' force.' The' process' of' the' trial' appears'as'the'reflection'of'a'collective'conscience'against'the'indi) vidual'consciousness'of'K.'The'trial'is'an'ongoing'ritual;'and,'more) over,' this' ritual' is' the' story' of' K(afka)' itself.' Finally,' the' trial' gives' way' for' the' moments' of' collective' effervescence.' K.' experiences' the'concrete'effects'of'the'law'during'these'moments'as'well'as'in' his'daily'life'outside'the'court.'In'summary,'law'is'the'main'theme' in'the'text'and'it'represents'the'character'of'society'in'Kafka’s'per) spective.' Consequently,' following' a' Durkheimean' methodology,' this' paper'asserts' that' the' turbulent' nature'of' society'in'The/Trial can'be'understood'through'the'analysis'of'the'turbulent'nature'of' law'in'The/Trial again
Citation Formats
Ç. Topal and F. U. Beşpınar Akgüner, “Kafka s Turbulent Society in the Trial A Durkheimean Investigation,” presented at the 10th Conference of the European Sociological Association: Social Relations in Turbulent Times (7 - 09 Eylül 2011), Geneve, İsviçre, 2011, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.europeansociology.org/sites/default/files/uploads/esa2011-Abstract-Book.pdf.