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November 17, 2006


The One We’ve Got by His Balls accused us of a) not knowing what power is, b) not knowing that we don’t know, and c) certainly not being able to trace its definitions.

“Are you going to blog this class?” I said no. I lied. Sortof. I meant "no" at the time. Things change, although I am still not going to blog “the class.” I’m gonna blog me in the class. Hot damn it feels good to be able to measure my own progress in de-piousification! (Yeah yeah, it’s been a long time coming. FYI – it’s not about you!) I’m still as self-righteously intent on reproduction as I’ve ever been, however I am much clearer that I’m interested in the cultivation of skills rather than duplication of choices.

Durkheim on power: the result of multiple actors behaving consensually. Social justice language, which typically frames (all) interaction in the dichomotous terms of oppression based upon social identities, understands this power in terms of collusion. My own frame of group relations broadens the basis of collusion from stereotypes of identity to include the huge range of roles (socialized, resistive, psychological, interactional) that persons take up in groups. I'm in mind of those who argue that WAR (conflict) is the most sophisticated form of social cooperation.

The tricky art of critical discourse analysis offers a means by which to trace the patterns of cooperation/collusion in conflictual social interaction. Durkheim's distinctions among force, authority, rule, and control add a framework for making sense of particular junctures in a group's discourse when the moves of cooperation/collusion can be brought into view.

Force: going along with the general will rather than one's personal/selfish will. "Durkheim, following distinctions made earlier by John Stuart Mill, used the idea of forced versus natural division of labour to illustrate an aspect of social power. The hierarchy of society is natural if individuals tend towards occupying the positions that they are best suited to. It is forced if there are barriers to people entering positions other than their abilities." (Hierarchical power)

Authority: "the right to enforce obediance." Authority is legitimized by law.

Rule: the functional harmonization of law and morality in society. Robert Merton says, "Functions are those observed consequences which make for the adaptation or adjustment of a given system, and dysfunctions, those observed consequences which lessen the adaptation or adjustment of the system. There is also the empirical possibility of nonfunctional consequences, which are simply irrelevant to the system under consideration."

Control (gleaned from the wikipedia site on Durkheim): how social order is maintained (based upon Durkheim's 1893 work The Division of Labor in Society). Control theory has grown from Durkheim's study, Suicide, published in 1897. Control theory brings to mind Tuckman's stages of group development.

Posted by Steph at November 17, 2006 11:22 AM


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