ANTH 120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Pierre Bourdieu, Grammar, Jargon

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18 Jan 2020
Anth. 120 Week Fourteen Lecture Notes
Agency and Structure: Language and Power at Work
Why look at institutional settings?
Work - worldview - habits, are shaped here
Talk, tools, and interaction with others are primary shapes of our worldview and
Habitus: From Pierre Bourdieu related to our habits but encompassed our
perspectives on the correct ways to behave and perception of what
happens around us, shaped by current events but relies on past
Ex 1: Putting Language to Good Use in Healthcare
A medical care challenge - patients often arrive with more than one ‘concern’, at
outset patients typically bring up just one concern, physicians ‘anything else’
questions often come late, patients leave with ‘unmet concerns’.
What is it about the way talk is organized that leads to unmet concerns?
Acute care visit structure: Studied by Bird and Long in 1976.
Greeting - problem presentation - data gathering - diagnosis - treatment -
A possible solution: train doctors to solicit additional concerns, etc.
Polarity: A phrase can have positive or negative based on key word choices which carry
positive or negative polarity
Positive polarity: ‘some’ ex: I have some samples
‘Some’ isn’t usually a word connotated to absence
Negative polarity: ‘any’ ex: I don’t have any samples
‘Any’ is a word we use when talking about absence
Preference: Indicating in the questions intentionally or unintentionally what the preferred
response would be or what it’s most likely be
‘No’ preferring questions, no often linked to any
‘Yes’ preferring questions are more like statements turned into questions
Basically all in the way a question is framed
Data collection: Visits were transcribed and analyzed based on coding questions they
designed. Looking at if the physician asked the, when they asked, what was the question
form, what was the patient’s response, and did they report unmet concerns after the
Findings: Relative to nonintervention cases asking the ‘something else’ question
eliminated 78% of unmet concerns. Asking the anything else question could not be
significantly distinguished from the control condition. Asking didn’t lead to longer visits
didn’t lead to longer visits or unanticipated concerns getting mentioned.
Conclusion: Patients unmet concerns can be dramatically reduced by a simple inquiry
framed with the positive polarity SOME question. Both the learning and implementation
of the intervention require very little time.
Structure and Agency
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Institutions are structural systems and these structural systems both
afford action (including speech) and constrain action (including speech)
Agency: Socioculturally mediated capacity to act
Not equivalent to free will, simply the capability of acting which can come
at various degrees
Not equivalent to resistance or anti-hegemony
An example of this are SOFI’s here at Geneseo that allows commenting on
instructors and their feedback but constrained in what you could possibly say,
use a likert scale.
Example: the institution of marriage
Historically: always between man and woman
Now: between two consenting adults
Changes in the structure of the institution
Affects things like taxes, parentage for children, legality for many things,
Preceded by changes in the DOXA (Bourdieu)
DOXA: That which is taken for granted and is common sense, things that
go without saying
Professional vision
‘Seeing is… a socially situated, historically constituted body of practices
through which the objects of knowledge which animate the discourse of a
profession are constructed and shaped.’ (Goodwin)
A form of habitus
How do we see the natural world?
Archaeologists use a Munsell chart to categorize soil color and thus help
understand how old something is and the context in which it was found for
that age
Rodney King Case
1992 LAPD stopped a 25 year old black man Rodney King after a car
chase, multiple officers were present and several repeatedly kicked and
hit Mr. King with batons, the incident was caught on video by a neighbor.
The first of similar incidents to be widely publicized.
Four officers stood trial and were all acquitted and was the trigger for
what was called the “LA Riots”
How did the police get off?
Jurors socialized to police vision related to the appropriate use of
Called ‘expert’ witnesses who taught juror to ‘see’ the video in a
particular way by talking about actions in a particular way.
Professional jargon of ‘escalation’ and ‘deescalation’
Radically reorganized jurors perception of officer’s actions as
within a protocol
Final exam 8:00 - 10:30 next Thurs.
The Power of Professional Speech
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