Monday, January 14, 2008

Week 2, Day 1

Foucault and Giddens,

I thought that this was the most interesting of the shared areas of the pieces assigned.

The way that the texts speak to one another began resonating (for me personally) when on page 69 of the Giddens piece he refers to a "Duality of Structure" in terms of power. Giddens contends that most theorists divide power into either a form of imposition of will or a community well where common interests or ideologies flow. He would connect the two in a means of recognizing that power is inherently connected to choice, or in his terms "human agency" (92).

What struck me was the way that Foucault took power beyond dialectics or semiotics. On page 114 of truth and power Foucault relates that history can not be contained by dialectic analysis as it is more complex than what he refers to as the "Hegelian Skeleton", or by the form of language which has a calming effect. Rather war is the metaphor that Foucault sees as the best means of communicating the concept of history. This discussion is born from another discussion on the dichotomy of event and structure. Where structure is conceived as the "thinkable", the event has difficult to capture (113-114).

More important, to my way of thinking, is that dichotomy's and dialectics are binary systems. Foucault rejects the binary to claim the complexity of war. Giddens, on the other hand, embraces the binary system to provide the "Duality of Structure". By utilizing binary systems Giddens is chained to two-way streets, instead of exploring broader boulevards, cross-roads or interchanges. On page 93 Giddens states that "Power relations...are always two-way..." which vacates the multi-dimensionality of human existence in my opinion.

As an example, identity is a complex multi-dimensional situation where power plays out in many forms. As an American Indian my race can both limit and empower me. The ways that my race operates as a hub for information transmitted cannot be captured by a two-way metaphor, rather it emanates information that is accepted and retransmitted while (as an individual) I mirror other signals from my Tribe, ATNI, NCAI and other organizations. Each of those facets of my American Indian identity then performs transmissions of their own. As these signals bounce around NDN Country they are altered slightly by the lenses of those receiving them. Each of these signals is multiplied as each facet of my identity is transmitted.



kristin said...

Again, thanks for the engaging post. It's funny, going back to Giddens (post-dissertation) I don't find him nearly as useful as I once did. Strange how things change. And I think a lot of it has to do with exactly what you point out: "By utilizing binary systems Giddens is chained to two-way streets, instead of exploring broader boulevards, cross-roads or interchanges." In many ways, I like Giddens concept that we reinscribe the structures that often oppress us, but his whole concept of agent and structure is premised on a subject/object split. There was awhile where I was obsessed with Plato's concept of the chora (essentially the space in between where forms materialize), but it's just so much easier to theorize from a place of subject/object....sigh.

In any case, thanks again for your thougths.

Shawn said...

Thank you,
As I have moved along my own academic path I still have alot of affection for Marx. His writing style and perspective still resonate for me all these years later. Foucault is my new favorite. His ability to avoid taking definitive positions is encouraging in such a binary world.

Thank you again for your comments.