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Geertz, Common Sense

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Title: Geertz, Common Sense


1
Geertz, Common Sense
2
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • Geertz seeks to understand roughcast shapes of
    colloquial culture vs. worked-up shapes of
    studied culture
  • common sense dimension of culture not usually
    conceived as forming an ordered realm

3
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • the elementary forms of religious life among the
    Australian aborigines, native botanical systems
    in Africa, spontaneous sense of design on the
    Northwest Coast, concrete science in the
    Amazon
  • traditional occupation of anthropologists to find
    out about systematized knowledge in different
    cultures

4
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense
  • immediate deliverance of experience
  • realm of the given and undeniable,
    matter-of-fact, self-evident realities
  • just life with world as its authority
  • if it rains it is common sense to step into the
    house
  • what everyone with common sense knows

5
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense
  • not a tightly integrated system but based on
    conviction by those who have it on its validity
  • common sense (problem of everyday experience,
    how we construe the world we biographically
    inhabit)
  • interpretation of experience constructed
    cultural system what leads to what
  • system of thought based on pre-suppositions

6
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense
  • Discuss Zande vs. Evans-Pritchards common
    sense (what is the underlying system?).
  • Why is it useful to look at categories that cross
    cultures (e.g. hermaphroditism)?
  • Give own examples of common sense systems
  • that have shifted historically
  • that demonstrate cultural relativity

7
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense
  • How is common sense knowledge system built?
  • What are transmission systems for common sense
    knowledge systems?
  • Give examples of how common sense can regulate
    activities of the society (e.g. economic,
    agricultural, etc.). What are the limitations?

8
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense
  • Give examples of how anomalies in the system of
    commonsense thought can be explained away?
    (Zande witchcraft)
  • Discuss each of the stylistic features
    (quasi-qualities) of common sense naturalness
    (p. 18), practicalness (p. 20), thinness (p.
    22), accessibleness (p. 24).

9
Common Sense as a Cultural System
  • common sense / everyday experience
  • categories organized into systems
  • transmitted body of knowledge
  • natural symbols
  • formalized knowledge information infrastructures
  • Why? moral order creates meaning

10
knowledge information data

7329321335white101332758
11
Introduction to Knowledge Systems
12
Introduction to Knowledge Systems
  • critical analysis of knowledge processes
  • repositioning of discourses (self-awareness,
    situated knowledges)
  • include diversity
  • civic responsibility, driving democratic change,
    balancing power
  • or what? loss of capacity for social criticism

13
Introduction to Knowledge Systems
  • how structured knowledge systems operate
  • relationship of knowledge systems to moral order
  • deviance
  • culture / nature
  • naturalizing discourse
  • memory (social, personal)

14
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • knowledge systems
  • related to post-Enlightenment epistemology
  • critical analysis of knowledge practices in
    particular time periods (discursive formations
    supported by institutions)
  • concepts ideology, hegemony
  • assumption knowledge systems are not neutral,
    they promote the interests of the ruling class
  • situated knowledge
  • personal experience
  • communities of practice and information
    infrastructures supporting information flow

15
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • history of knowledge
  • by subject? by period? as succession of
    epistemes?
  • history or archaeology of human sciences
    (Michel Foucault) avoids producing the
    traditional unity of subject, spirit,or period

16
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • history of knowledge
  • history of knowledge represented as a dynamic,
    constantly changing totality
  • shift from a traditional historical inquiry into
    what was known at a given moment to discursive
    practices that rendered something knowable
  • discursive practices are first hand evidence to
    understand what was knowable

17
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • analysis of an episteme theorization of the
    grounds of knowledge by analyzing the
    representational paradigms which organize the
    theorization
  • what could be knowable? boundary objects?
    anomalies? displaced categories?
  • episteme historically specific, dynamic field
    of representations of knowledge

18
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • episteme
  • defined in Michel Foucaults Archaeology of
    Knowledge as the total set of relations that
    unite, at a given period, the discursive
    practices that give rise to epistemological
    figures, sciences, and possibly formalized
    systems
  • Foucaults Order of Things (17th / 18th century
    shift) the problem of order as organizing
    episteme

19
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • episteme
  • episteme is multiplied by communication among
    different disciplines
  • language technology of transmission totality
    of peoples interactions ...

20
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • constraints
  • a range of fields in a given historical moment
    demonstrates a set of discursive practices common
    to all the fields
  • constraints and limitations imposed on a range of
    discourses in the human sciences and other
    knowledge practices

21
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • post-Enlightenment epistemology
  • modernity ideas of progress, science, nature
    (as logical and ordered), reason
  • reflected in the discourse of science and
    technology (technocriticism Haraway)

22
Origins of Knowledge Systems
  • studies of science and technology
  • focus on nature / culture / discourse /
    infrastructure (bureaucracy, institutional
    contexts for the circulation of knowledge)
  • dichotomy of nature / culture (cf. Haraways
    natureTM or nature as not nature and cultureTM
    )

23
  • Instead of a search for the perfectly
    proportioned image containing the 'soul' of the
    knowledge to be remembered, the emphasis was on
    the discovery of the right logical category. The
    memory of this system of logical categories and
    scientific causes would exempt the individual
    from the necessity of remembering everything in
    detail ... The problem of memorizing the world,
    characteristic of the sixteenth century, evolved
    into the problem of classifying it
    scientifically.
  • (James Fentress and Chris Wickham, Social Memory,
    1992, 13)

24
  • In the late 18th century, science becomes
    established as cultural apparatus, in the form of
    materialized semiotic fields.
  • (Haraway, Modest Witness_at_Second_Millennium)

25
The Laboratory, or, The Passion of
OncoMouse(Lynn Randolph 1994)
From Donna Haraways, Modest_Witness_at_Second_Mille
nnium.FemaleMan _Meets_OncoMouseTM), 46.
26
  • Knowledge Structures the link between of
    knowledge production and social control
  • production of knowledge and handling of knowledge
    in organized systems (information
    infrastructures)
  • how institutions such as bureaucracies moderate
    this process
  • how process affects individuals
  • analysis of sites of struggle over representations

27
Knowledge and Society
  • knowledge and power, ideology, hegemony

28
Knowledge and Society
  • constraints and limitations inherent in knowledge
    systems (Foucault)
  • hegemony (Gramsci)
  • critiques of ideology and culture (Marx-Engels
    Marxist critics Georg Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci,
    etc.)

29
Knowledge and Society
  • hegemony (Gramsci 1930s)
  • ability in certain historical periods of the
  • dominant classes to exercise social and
  • cultural leadership and by these means, rather
  • than direct coercion of subordinate classes, to
  • maintain their power over the economic,
  • political, and cultural direction of the nation

30
Knowledge and Society
  • hegemony binds a society together without the use
    of force, under the leadership of the dominant
    classes
  • how achieved? manipulations of images and
    meanings institutions as producers of sense,
    knowledge, and meaning
  • hegemony operates by winning of consent for
    unequal class relations

31
Knowledge and Society
  • consent is achieved in the realm of consciousness
    and representations
  • a totality of social, cultural and individual
    experience is capable of being made sense of in
    terms that are defined, established and put into
    circulation by the power bloc

32
Knowledge and Society
  • consent is achieved in the realm of cultural
    agency of institutions
  • the state, the law, the educational system, the
    media, the family are prolific producers of
    sense, knowledge, and meanings
  • organizers and producers of individual
    consciousness, institutions are taken as
    impartial or neutral, representative of everybody
    (no apparent reference to class, race or gender)

33
Knowledge and Society
  • consent is achieved in the realm of cultural
    agency of institutions
  • institutions shape the knowable, and hide the
    fact that they are shapers of knowledge (they are
    ideological)
  • institutions are sites in which hegemony can be
    established and exercised if captured or
    colonized by a power bloc

34
Knowledge and Society
  • consent is achieved in the realm of cultural
    agency of institutions
  • power bloc finds allies in professionals and
    managers and intellectuals of various kinds
    (subaltern classes for Gramsci) who perceive
    their interest as congruent to or identical with
    those of the dominant group

35
Knowledge and Society
  • Results? Hegemony naturalizes what is
    historically a class ideology, and renders it
    into the form of common sense
  • Power is exercised not as force but as authority
    cultural aspects of life are depoliticized
    ideology is naturalized
  • Culture may be seen as mode of domination and
    liberation (cultural studies)

36
Knowledge and Society
  • critiques of ideology and culture
  • analysis of culture in terms of its relationships
    to a mode of production and its specific social
    formation (Marx-Engels Marxist critics Georg
    Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci)

37
Knowledge and Society
  • critiques of ideology and culture
  • capitalist mode of production structure
    political, legal and cultural institutions of
    their time
  • culture is a form of superstructure which
    articulates the interests and ideologies of those
    who control the economic base of society
    (reductionism, economic determinism)

38
Knowledge and Society
  • critiques of ideology and culture
  • contribution of cultural analysis analysis of
    art, literary form and ideology
  • reading of cultural texts as expressions of
    social experience and ideology
  • recognition that institutions are involved in
    distribution of power in society
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