public/private transcripts

I can’t say that I’ve found Bourdieu “riviting,” as Lisa did. I’m working my way through the interviews but needed to shift gears, so I read the background piece by James C. Scott. (Confession: first time ever.)
I am enthralled. Scott’s analysis fits right in with

Smith (Paula’s class) and the debates we’re engaging in Stephen’s class, all of which boil down (in my mind) to agency ~ not just the theoretical concept of it, but grounded, real-life examples of its practice.
Scott frames an analysis of “thick” and “thin” versions of hegemony, critiquing the thick version in similar fashion to Smith’s critique of Harvey and Sassen for reifying economic and/or technological determinism. Scott’s targets are Bourdieu and Gramsci. His focus is to understand “how the process of domination generates the social evidence that apparently confirms notions of hegemony” (1990: 77). He builds his case around several concrete instances of resistance, and the simple fact of the sheer volume and persistance of resistance in multiple and varied forms ~ which, if ideological hegemony was as powerful as Bourdieu, Gramsci and others proclaim, logically shouldn’t happen.
Scott focuses on the public transcript and the ways in which subordinates operate within its terms in either strategic or practical ways, noting that from the outside we can’t determine the degree of consciousness about the appearance of conformity and docility; only the hidden, private transcript can reveal this. He presents a “third alternative” to the discursive production of apparent submission: “that subordinate groups have typically learned, in situations short of those rare all-or-nothing struggles, to clothe their resistance and defiance in ritualisms of subordination that serve both to disguise their purposes and to provide them with a ready route of retreat that may soften the consequences of a possible failure” (96).
In support, Scott provides tangible evidence that peasants and other revolutionaries typically operate within the boundaries of the (so-called) dominant ideology, using it’s own logic in attempts to subvert it to their own purposes. For instance, quoting Field, “Naive or not, the peasants professed their faith in the Tsar in forms, and only in those forms, that corresponded to their own interests” (italics in original, in Scott 1990: 98).
I’ve started the other assigned article; it’s denser. Maybe I’ll return to Bourdieu now. I wasn’t reading the interviews with this notion of public/private transcripts in mind, so that might liven it up for me a bit. Perhaps I haven’t yet been “hooked” because I didn’t have a “something” that I was looking for…?

One thought on “public/private transcripts”

  1. Yes, I think the issue of agency has been a recurring sore point, if you will, for social analyses of oppression from various left persuasions. The traditional Marxist account of capitalist society has an underclass

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