Political relationship and narrative knowledge

political relationship and narrative knowledge

[PDF] [EPUB] Political Relationship And Narrative Knowledge A Critical. Analysis Of School balamut.info Book file PDF easily for. interest: the relation between temporality and narrative (Ricoeur, ; ). pointed out the central role of narrative in politics and of narrative analysis in . Lyotard contrasted the narrative form of knowledge, typical of the non-modern. Keywords: collaborative therapies, postmodern theory, narrative, knowledge, . He sees the process of power relations taking place when modes of inquiry try to . to the political, economic and social views of both the scientist and dominant.

The notion that learning falls within the purview of the State, as the brain or mind of society, will become more and more outdated with the increasing strength of the opposing principle, according to which society exists and progresses only if the messages circulating within it are rich in information and easy to decode. Already in the last few decades, economic powers have reached the point of imperilling the stability of the state through new forms of the circulation of capital that go by the generic name of multi-national corporations.

These new forms of circulation imply that investment decisions have, at least in part, passed beyond the control of the nation-states. Who will have access to them? Who will determine which channels or data are forbidden? Or will the State simply be one user among others? New legal issues will be raised, and with them the question: The reopening of the world market, a return to vigorous economic competition, the breakdown of the hegemony of American capitalism, the decline of the socialist alternative, a probable opening of the Chinese market these and many other factors are already, at the end of the s, preparing States for a serious reappraisal of the role they have been accustomed to playing since the s: If this were the case, communicational transparency would be similar to liberalism.

Liberalism does not preclude an organisation of the flow of money in which some channels are used in decision making while others are only good for the payment of debts.

Legitimation That is the working hypothesis defining the field within which I intend to consider the question of the status of knowledge. What is required of a working hypothesis is a fine capacity for discrimination.

The scenario of the computerisation of the most highly developed societies allows us to spotlight though with the risk of excessive magnification certain aspects of the transformation of knowledge and its effects on public power and civil institutions — effects it would be difficult to perceive from other points of view.

Our hypotheses, therefore, should not be accorded predictive value in relation to reality, but strategic value in relation to the question raised. Nevertheless, it has strong credibility, and in that sense our choice of this hypothesis is not arbitrary. It has been described extensively by the experts and is already guiding certain decisions by the governmental agencies and private firms most directly concerned, such as those managing the telecommunications industry.

To some extent, then, it is already a part of observable reality. This is as much as to say that the hypothesis is banal. But only to the extent that it fails to challenge the general paradigm of progress in science and technology, to which economic growth and the expansion of sociopolitical power seem to be natural complements.

That scientific and technical knowledge is cumulative is never questioned. At most, what is debated is the form that accumulation takes — some picture it as regular, continuous, and unanimous, others as periodic, discontinuous, and conflictual. But these truisms are fallacious. In the first place, scientific knowledge does not represent the totality of knowledge; it has always existed in addition to, and in competition and conflict with, another kind of knowledge, which I will call narrative in the interests of simplicity its characteristics will be described later.

The resulting demoralisation of researchers and teachers is far from negligible; it is well known that during the s, in all of the most highly developed societies, it reached such explosive dimensions among those preparing to practice these professions — the students — that there was noticeable decrease in productivity at laboratories and universities unable to protect themselves from its contamination.

Expecting this, with hope or fear, to lead to a revolution as was then often the case is out of the question: But this doubt on the part of scientists must be taken into account as a major factor in evaluating the present and future status of scientific knowledge.

I use the word in a broader sense than do contemporary German theorists in their discussions of the question of authority. Take any civil law as an example: Legitimation is the process by which a legislator is authorised to promulgate such a law as a norm. Now take the example of a scientific statement: The parallel may appear forced.

But as we will see, it is not. The question of the legitimacy of science has been indissociably linked to that of the legitimation of the legislator since the time of Plato. From this point of view, the right to decide what is true is not independent of the right to decide what is just, even if the statements consigned to these two authorities differ in nature. The point is that there is a strict interlinkage between the kind of language called science and the kind called ethics and politics: When we examine the current status of scientific knowledge at a time when science seems more completely subordinated to the prevailing powers than ever before and, along with the new technologies, is in danger of becoming a major stake in their conflicts — the question of double legitimation, far from receding into the background, necessarily comes to the fore.

For it appears in its most complete form, that of reversion, revealing that knowledge and power are simply two sides of the same question: In the computer age, the question of knowledge is now more than ever a question of government. Language Games The reader will already have noticed that in analysing this problem within the framework set forth I have favoured a certain procedure: To help clarify what follows it would be useful to summarise, however briefly, what is meant here by the term pragmatic.

Of course, the meaning of the utterance has to be understood, but that is a general condition of communication and does not aid us in distinguishing the different kinds of utterances or their specific effects.

The university is open because it has been declared open in the above-mentioned circumstances. That this is so is not subject to discussion or verification on the part of the addressee, who is immediately placed within the new context created by the utterance. Actually, we could say it the other way around: They can be modulated as orders, commands, instructions, recommendations, requests, prayers, pleas, etc. Here, the sender is clearly placed in a position of authority, using the term broadly including the authority of a sinner over a god who claims to be merciful: The pragmatics of prescription entail concomitant changes in the posts of addressee and referent.

Of a different order again is the efficiency of a question, a promise, a literary description, a narration, etc. Wittgenstein, taking up the study of language again from scratch, focuses his attention on the effects of different modes of discourse; he calls the various types of utterances he identifies along the way a few of which I have listed language games. What he means by this term is that each of the various categories of utterance can be defined in terms of rules specifying their properties and the uses to which they can be put — in exactly the same way as the game of chess is defined by a set of rules determining the properties of each of the pieces, in other words, the proper way to move them.

It is useful to make the following three observations about language games. The first is that their rules do not carry within themselves their own legitimation, but are the object of a contract, explicit or not, between players which is not to say that the players invent the rules. The third remark is suggested by what has just been said: This last observation brings us to the first principle underlying our method as a whole: This does not necessarily mean that one plays in order to win.

A move can be made for the sheer pleasure of its invention: Great joy is had in the endless invention of turns of phrase, of words and meanings, the process behind the evolution of language on the level of parole. But undoubtedly even this pleasure depends on a feeling of success won at the expense of an adversary — at least one adversary, and a formidable one: This idea of an agonistics of language should not make us lose sight of the second principle, which stands as a complement to it and governs our analysis: The Nature of the Social Bond: The Modern Alternative If we wish to discuss knowledge in the most highly developed contemporary society, we must answer the preliminary question of what methodological representation to apply to that society.

Simplifying to the extreme, it is fair to say that in principle there have been, at least over the last half-century, two basic representational models for society: An illustration of the first model is suggested by Talcott Parsons at least the postwar Parsons and his school, and of the second, by the Marxist current all of its component schools, whatever differences they may have, accept both the principle of class struggle and dialectics as a duality operating within society.

The idea that society forms an organic whole, in the absence of which it ceases to be a society and sociology ceases to have an object of studydominated the minds of the founders of the French school. In the work of contemporary German theorists, systemtheorie is technocratic, even cynical, not to mention despairing: The true goal of the system, the reason it programs itself like a computer, is the optimisation of the global relationship between input and output, in other words, performativity.

Even taking into account the massive displacement intervening between the thought of a man like Comte and the thought of Luhmann, we can discern a common conception of the social: This is the function of the principle of class struggle in theories of society based on the work of Marx.

What guides Marxism, then, is a different model of society, and a different conception of the function of the knowledge that can be produced by society and acquired from it. There is insufficient space here to chart the vicissitudes of these struggles, which fill more than a century of social, political, and ideological history. We will have to content ourselves with a glance at the balance sheet, which is possible for us to tally today now that their fate is known: Of course, certain minorities, such as the Frankfurt School or the group Socialisme ou barbarie, preserved and refined the critical model in opposition to this process.

The sole purpose of this schematic or skeletal reminder has been to specify the problematic in which I intend to frame the question of knowledge in advanced industrial societies. For it is impossible to know what the state of knowledge is — in other words, the problems its development and distribution are facing today — without knowing something of the society within which it is situated. And today more than ever, knowing about that society involves first of all choosing what approach the inquiry will take, and that necessarily means choosing how society can answer.

One can decide that the principal role of knowledge is as an indispensable element in the functioning of society, and act in accordance with that decision, only if one has already decided that society is a giant machine. Before discussing the narrative methods in cultural anthropology, it should be pointed out that historical narrative has a place in evolution- ary science Mayr A goal in evolutionary science is to find historical narratives that explain how something evolved.

political relationship and narrative knowledge

Thus a historical narra- tive can be an evolutionary hypothesis. It becomes proven knowledge only when alternative narratives are rejected as inconsistent with observations. Philosophically speaking evolutionary theory brings narrative back into sci- ence as a special kind of hypothesis.

Literary Criticism, Sociology, and Psychology A narration is a story, and stories are the heart of literature. When narra- tive concepts have jumped out of their strictly literary corral and entered the social sciences, literary theorists were puzzled Kreiswirth Why have narratives become so popular among people who say that their goal is not story telling?

Is there something more in narrative? There has been some effort in literary analysis to claim that narratives create a special form of rational knowledge that is different from scientific knowledge Fischer ; however most literary analysts are reluctant to grapple with the idea that stories somehow impart knowledge, because a good story can be pure fiction.

Literary analysts traditionally have not been concerned with the truth of stories. They are interested primarily in structure and form.

political relationship and narrative knowledge

The origin of the social science interest in narration lies with linguistic phi- losophy rather than with literature. Linguistic philosophy developed the idea that knowledge was basically a symbolic construction Cassirer Following in the wake of linguistic philosophy, American sociology de- veloped the idea that reality was socially constructed Berger and Luck- man The concept of narrative has been used to describe the master construction plan that frames the interpretation of social behavior.

The in- terpretive framework is seen as residing in an entity, society.

The beliefs and values of a society are summarized as a story, a cultural myth. The myth is then used to explain behavior. In this system, reality is a myth, and individual interpretative frameworks are confused with models of external reality. Social behavior is guided by one master narrative. A leading proponent of narrative sociology, David Maines, writes: Narra- tives are cultural frames and ideologies that prefigure some sto- ries insofar as group beliefs and values contain already-articulated plots.

Bruner, a primary architect of narrative psychology, draws heavily on the constructionist branch of social-psychology. Not only is narrative a cognitive structure, it is eminently social, given to the individ- ual by his or her culture, or social milieu. This viewpoint gives culture the power to control the way that people think.

One can see a concern with education in this philosophy. Bruner is an educational psychologist, and education aims to write cultural knowledge on the blank slate of the inno- cent mind. Blank-slate psychology has been severely criticized by Pinker It denies that the human mind brain has any inherited organi- zation other than a willingness to absorb whatever culture gives it. This attitude defies scientific data and even common sense, but was a guiding principle of many social sciences in the twentieth century.

In his view culture is almost a thing that preexists outside of the human mind. Let me return now to the original premise — that there are specific domains of human knowledge and skill and that they are supported and organized by cultural tool kits.

Rather, we must accept the view that the human mind cannot express its nascent pow- ers without the enablement of the symbolic systems of culture. These narrative methods clashed with traditional cultural anthropology that fol- lowed a scientific tradition. Boas aimed American cultural anthropology in a scientific direction.

However two things began to divert it: The overwhelming public desire for tales of exotic places made it possible for good anthropological writers to publish narrative material that had limited scientific value and yet have it accepted as anthropology by uncritical audiences. Margaret Mead was a prime ex- ample. Her books are superbly crafted works of non-fiction and were ac- cepted as paradigms of anthropology by an uncritical mass of admirers.

Anthropologists who understood the principles of scientific knowledge were willing to produce material for uncritical audiences and consequently they created a popular impression that cultural anthropolog- ical knowledge was narrative in nature. It is ironic that a person with a scientific dedication would write a book that had more literary value than books written by anthropologists proclaiming a more textual style of anthropology, but this is often the case.

Natural scientists are usually astute observers and are able to describe an experience bet- ter than self-proclaimed writers. A group of my undergraduate students once went to hear Chagnon lecture at the University of Michigan.

They came back very disappointed. They said that all they saw were projec- tions of computer printouts. This was not what they expected. No one seemed to raise the issue of whether or not anthropology was dedicated to generating nar- rative knowledge.

At this moment in history, everyone assumed that it was. Perhaps they should have chastised his readers for reading too much about it. Thus the cultural anthropologists who arrived after World War II had to live with the public conception of cultural anthropology as narrative.

Most did not challenge this conception of their work but were not guided by it. Perhaps we have to look at the political economy of cultural anthropol- ogy to understand how narrative knowledge became involved. Scientists 16 have always found that writing popular pieces is more remunerative than writing scientific reports Snowso there was a financial incentive to writing popular narratives of anthropological field work.

Especially in cultural anthropology, who was to say that a narrative was not contributing something to anthropologi- cal knowledge. In fact, narrative accounts of contact with people living in other cultures had often been a source of data for cultural anthropological theory, particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second process that put cultural anthropological knowledge into a narrative mode was an interest in the knowledge of pre-literate people, which was naturally narrative.

He recorded ethnographic texts objectively as part of native culture. His interest in the mental aspects of culture followed the German Volksgeist tradition which saw each culture as having a distinctive world view Ku- per This was carried forward by his student Ruth Benedict whose work crashed on the rocks of empirical validation by failing scientific tests of reliability and validity.

The doorway to success was open to another student of Boas, Margaret Mead, who conduced smaller-scale tests of cul- tural theory. Since it was difficult to reexamine field work done in remote locations to make sure that her data and theoretical conclusions were cor- rect, which they were not Freemanher ethnographic contributions could be wrapped in beautiful narrative with great popular appeal. An interest in the mental aspects of culture were picked up in a later attempt to see into the mind of man through an analysis of his or her 3 The Freeman-Mead controversy has generated much commentary in anthropological literature and need not be belabored here.

The point made here is that her writing was good narrative, if not good anthropology, as evidenced by the controversies that it stirred up. This was an important means by which narrative knowledge was legitimated within anthropology.

I conceive, then, of anthropology as the bona-fide occupant of that domain of semiology which linguistics has not already claimed for its own, pending the time when for at least certain sections of this domain, special sciences are established within anthropology. Symbols were put into binary opposition and then resolved in a structure that was intellectually satisfying, something that Saler has char- acterized as digitizing Unfortunately it produced little that could be tested.

In this system, the narrative knowledge of natives was elevated from a story to a structure that resembled the structure of a scientific theory. It used symmetry in an aesthetic fashion that brought to cultural anthropology a beauty previously seen only in works of art and music, such as those of Mozart.

Perhaps the most important injection of narrative knowledge into an- thropology came from the meta theory of Clifford Geertz. He felt that this was the most advanced sort of knowledge that could be achieved in cultural anthropology. In florid language he describes the work of the ethnographer as follows: In so doing, he turns it from a passing event, which exists only in its own moment of occurrence, into an account, which exists in its inscriptions and can be reconsulted.

The sheikh is 4 Semiology, is the study of signs, both individually and grouped in sign systems. It includes the study of how meaning is made and understood. It is the meaning of the speech event, not the event as event. Thick description is tale telling, with a license to interpret what other people say.

Primitive narra- tive has always had this license. Narrative matured when scholarly, scien- tific, and legal frameworks placed restrictions on narrative communication to control how interpretations were made within it. The doctrine of thick description, if it can be called that, rebels against the bounds of such civ- ilized discourse and issues a creative license to the narrator to return to unconstrained primitive modes of interpretation in recording experience.

Although Geertz attempts to set bounds on the interpretations, thick de- scription is clearly a narrative technique. The bounds exist in a tense and conflicted space opening toward greater knowledge of the informants mind but closing down to the need to verify the observations. The quotation from Ricoeur is not identified. The first is the need for theory to stay rather closer to the ground than tends to be the case in sciences more able to give them- selves over to imaginative abstraction.

Only short flights of rati- ocination tend to be effective in anthropology; longer ones tend to drift off into logical dreams, academic bemusements with for- mal symmetry. The results of the post-Geertzian deluge of narrative is described by Sidky The shift toward narrative ethnographies of the particular entails the substitution of critical thinking and systematic and rigorous analysis with impressionistic anecdotal accounts. Nar- ratives and anecdotes do not enhance knowledge.

They are thick with bias and fulfill strictly ideological functions aimed at swaying audiences by appeal to emotion rather than evidence Dawes, Narratives, storytelling, and poetry are in fashion and it appears that they are here to stay; and anthropol- ogy may yet make it as a literary field.

But are storytelling and reciting poems anthropology? They required the precise recording of volumes of speech and complex formal methods of teasing meaning structures from the words in order to maintain scien- tific objectivity. It was far far easier to let the human brain do its familiar work. The anthropologist re- ceived the narrative and added meaning to it through interpretation. Since the people they were studying used narrative to communicate their own culture to each other, why should not the cultural anthropologist use the 20 same method?

They were communicating the same mental aspects of the culture. Thus, the use of narrative knowledge was legitimized in cultural an- thropology. Perhaps narrative knowledge would have existed comfortably along side of scientific knowledge inside cultural anthropol- ogy had not its practitioners proclaimed that they had discovered a new, better form of cultural anthropology than what was being wrought by the scientific tradition.

Scientific Knowledge Knowledge stored in external memory is evolving in a different direction. Externally stored knowledge does not degrade with time like knowledge in biological memory.

The Postmodern Condition by Jean-Francois Lyotard.

Since the mental content of external knowledge exists outside a single human memory, it can be worked on and refined by many persons. Written knowledge can be made unambiguous, so that it does not need interpretation. It can be made more explicit by defining symbols in external form. It can be tested over and over again by many people under many conditions.

The results of these tests can also be stored in external memory and communicated widely. The invention of printing and other means of mass symbolic communication made the refinement of this knowledge much more rapid. Now personal computers and the Internet are accelerating the pace of refinement, although one has to recognize that they also allow the dissemination of narrative and gossip as well.

The refinement of externally stored knowledge being transmitted in cul- tural channels eventually led to science, which has proven to be very useful in creating wealth, political power, and even the overall improvement of human life. This was particularly true once the Industrial Revolution got underway. Medical science has led to fantastic curative systems. Economics has improved the efficiency of businesses and national economies.

The so- cial sciences have helped to create more humane political systems and to solve social problems. The systematic objective approaches of the sciences have created and encoded knowledge that is put into practice much more efficiently than narrative knowledge.

They have done so by making use of external memory and by developing special intellectual skills. It does not vary from individual to individual. It must be valid for all. It must be understandable with shared intellectual structures such as objective language and mathematics. It must be organized so that it can be retrieved, and so that the limits of its applicability are apparent.

It must be correctable so that it can be reexamined and modified as necessary to maintain its validity. The value of scientific knowledge to cultural anthropology is known and need not be restated here.

Science consistently appeals to self-correcting epistemolog- ical foundations Lett, Put differently, science is a systematic, self-correcting mode of generating knowledge Kuz- nar, This explains the astonishing growth of knowl- edge in every field of investigation, including the study of hu- man cognition and behavior and the operation of sociocultural systems, to which the scientific approach has been systemati- cally applied for a length of time Harris, The adaptive advantage of such new forms of knowledge is proven by the rapid human population growth accompanying them.

Figure 3 summa- rizes these changes in culture. It puts narrative and scientific knowledge into an evolutionary framework. The vertical dimension represents the evolution over time and the horizontal dimension represents sequential processes within culture. The leftmost column indicates cultural evolu- tion with the earliest cultures at the bottom and the more recent ones at the top. The other columns represent the results of different biological and cultural processes.

The Form of Memory column shows the type of memory used to contain cultural knowledge, biological human memory for 22 the low-energy cultures and external memory for cultures that have the technology for writing and storing symbolic forms. The Knowledge Mode column shows the type of knowledge being created by culture. The Catalog column contains the common terms used to describe the knowledge types.

The Refinement Process column contains the human activity that confirms and refines the knowledge. The Product of Refinement column contains the common term for the outcome of knowledge refinement.

political relationship and narrative knowledge

Finally the Worlds Created column summarizes the type of cultural knowledge that is created. Narrative knowledge in pre literate cultures creates a world of myth. In lit- erate cultures it creates a humanistic and moral literature. Scientific knowl- edge, found only in literate cultures, creates philosophical structures such as mathematics and philosophy and a vision of a naturalistic world. The success of narrative knowledge in anthropology is based on its in- stinctive attractiveness.

It does not require the skills of working with exter- nal memory which are poorly evolved in the human brain since they have become important for survival only recently in evolutionary time. Narra- tive knowledge fits well within a culture that produces large quantities of news to sell in a journalistic market place. Unfortunately it does not give rise to new testable theory about human cultural behavior because it is not following the discipline of science.

Science can provide a critique of the social order much more powerful than the critiques of postmodernism. It is more powerful because it does not pretend to approach anything like an absolute good. It simply tries to be universal and verifiable. Neverthe- less the accumulated scientific knowledge created by literate cutlures has done far more to mitigate oppressiveness of literate cultures than all the scholastic narrative knowledge that they have also created.

Lacking the self-corrective features of scientific knowledge, narrative knowledge lends itself more easily to the creation of myths, political ideologies, and oppres- sive dogmas, and therefore has little of offer by way of moral superiority.

On epistemological grounds, there is no reason for cultural anthropol- ogists to choose between narrative knowledge and scientific knowledge.

Cultural anthropologists should assess their forms knowledge against to the goals that they wish to achieve. If they wish to become writers, TV producers, dramatic teachers, or advis- ers to politicians, the narrative mode is very attractive.

If they wish to contribute to a trans-cultural heritage of useful, theoretically integrated, knowledge that is recognized in modern civilizations as a foundation of cultural wealth, then they should get into the scientific mode.

If they sim- ply wish to communicate their experiences with living in another culture, the narrative mode is acceptable. However, such communications almost always fail to produce any testable theories and often lead to diverse in- terpretations that cannot be integrated into a more universal knowledge.

The real problem for cultural anthropology is in explicitly recognizing, dis- cussing, and teaching the nature of these fundamental modes of knowledge production without fighting over academic territory. References Benedict, Ruth Patterns of Culture. A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge: Russell Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.

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