Sangria Girl Soars in Bloomington

The living room of the eleventh floor apartment in graduate student housing has the air of place accustomed to lively debate and rough teasing. Good Neighbor Sergei barely escaped to his own apartment with all of his fresh whiskers. He was double-teamed by Sangria Girl and Tatiana to go ahead with a practice presentation to colleagues this Friday. Sergei’s topic is wicked cool: how a social movement in Spain was created against a government policy on dam-building, through the proactive merger of seeking out embracing persons with the resources to complement a burgeoning discourse of resistance and critique. His study seems to me to be “language as action and performance” in the real world: discourse as &emdash; simultaneously &emdash; outcome and effect.
Sergei’s hesitation stems from the quantitative bias of his department. He has not (yet?) run an envivo content analysis, nor hitched his analysis to a single theoretical foundation. Rather than framing discourse as an independent variable (apparently a traditional approach in economics &emdash; or is it violin?!), Sergei wants to pose discourse as a dependent variable. A functionalist emphasis on controllable experiments with imposed (and necessarily limited) boundaries resists the interpretive move of how people manage the complex range of factors that influence both the conditions of daily life and their (perceived and actual) range of motion/choices within those conditions.
Sangria Girl, in the meanwhile, just rocked some of her peers with a report on effects of an experimental “game” that community participants described as life-changing. What happens when science in the lab is shifted to application in real human lives? From the campesinos perspective, the arrival of a development team with its “external” aims and objectives is simply one more variable in their own routines of community survival. How they are “internally” affected must be the result of interaction between their own ambitions and claims for the present and future with the opportunities presented (or closed off) by the institutional initiative.
Tatiana’s personal library was an asset to our comfortable conversation over wine and chips. Social Movements and Organization Theory (2005) popped up, and was I ever tickled to find Vangie listed in the references! (2001. Complicating Gender: The Simultaneity of Race, Gender and Class in Organizational Change(ing).” Center for Gender in Organizations Working Paper No. 14; and with Creed Briefing Paper on Working Across Differences Project, both for the Center, Simmons School of Management, Boston.) Not only this, but Tatiana also wanted me to take it easy (!) on the EU “newcomers” when I return (as I earnestly hope) next year to interview Members of Parliament on their uses of interpreters/conceptions of interpreting. Bulgaria apparently doesn’t have what I’ve heard experienced EU interpreters describe as a “culture of interpretation.” Spain is a different story. Sergei studied in Catalonia for some time, where he could understand Catalan but never learned to speak it because in conversation his interlocutors consistently code-switched to Spanish and on exams he was allowed to write in Spanish. Ah….perhaps I’ll soon be recruiting them to my cause, eh? ­čÖé
Note to self, re: etiquette: Sangria Girl did not complain when I ate half her dinner without offering even a bite of mine. (For shame!)
Research Note from the blog: Adequate Information Management

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