Wednesday, September 28, 2005

symbolic violence

I was doing a little reading on narrative analysis and came across a new concept...symbolic violence. This term relates to behaviour whereby one party is asserting that what matters to the other party is inferior and therefore the other party is inferior. I guess this really comes into play when we are examining our stories and storytelling for their moral value. If we understand that a lot of learning occurs through storytelling and other dialogic means, then the respecting of the value of the inherent moral content, worldview, or cultural context of the story is essential to the respecting of the speaker and our capacity to learn or create meaning from what we hear. By devaluing the moral/cultural/symbolic content of the story, the perpetrator does violence to the speaker and the speaker's culture. Interesting.

This article is full of interesting goodies, like this...
How does the act of storytelling work dialogically, not so much to claim others’ recognition for the self’s authenticity, but rather to fashion that authenticity out of recognitions that the story provides for? How are dialogical relationships both the topic of the story, its content, and also the goal of telling the story, its process? Again, authenticity is interpersonal. Before Taylor’s emphasis on dialogue comes the classic statement of Mikhail Bakhtin (1929/1984), writing on Dostoevsky: "To portray the inner man…was possible only by portraying his communion with another. Only in communion, in the interactions of one person with another, can the ‘man in man’ be revealed, for others as well as for oneself" (p. 252). Stories, as dialogue, do not present a self formed before the story is told. Rather in stories the person "becomes for the first time that which [she or] he is–and we repeat, not only for others but for himself [or herself] as well" (p. 252). Narrative analysis can show how that process of becoming "for the first time" works, even as the analysis itself is another stage in this on-going process.


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