In my opinion, one of the main outcomes of studying social theory and trying to apply it to day to day life is my own transformation; some kind of intellectual growth (I want to believe) that transpires to my own practice.
The way I see the world now is very different from the way I saw it before I engaged with social theory works. My readings have been infiltrated into my mundane life. Nothing else I have studied before has had such an impact as Social theory has. It has raised my awareness of the dynamics of the world, how and why it works, which roles individuals play in creating new situations or maintaining old ones, etc. In short, how the world I interact in and belong to is and has come to be. The truth is that I see myself spontaneously analysing situations and the agents therein involved in almost every second of my life.
If Social theory hasn’t given me a new pair or eyes, it has definitely provided me with a new lens through which I can observe the world I’m contained in from a more critical perspective. I now see power forming in given situations. I find myself observing how some people are able to exercise their privilege, consciously or not, to achieve their goals, while others are subdued by their (perception of) social status, which more often than not becomes a ‘mental prison’ that is hard to escape even when you manage to climb up the ranks. I can now see how economic capital and the symbols associated with it have a crucial role in forming or preserving social structures. I now realise how the embodiment of a given cultural capital works in practice; how some people feel entitled to certain freedoms while others struggle to fit in in fields that are distant from their roots. I now can see, but it does not make it easier to understand, let alone accept.
Social Theory has almost become an obsession. It goes with me, wherever I go. It is always there to remind me of the opportunities and obstacles that are offered up to me and my role in accepting and challenging them. It has become a tool of indignation, a form of contestation that allows me to challenge the social order and the positions I occupy in it. It puts me in and takes me out of ‘my place’. It allows me to understand myself better, in the hope I am able to achieve some kind of emancipation. That is, for me, a true form of application (of social theory).
So the questions that remain are: Can you see it too? How can we help others to see it?