Re: foucault on slavery and politics --Psych/physical tools?

From: Andrew Babson (
Date: Tue Mar 22 2005 - 18:30:04 PST

Mike- looking over my mesaage I probably should have been more specific-
with the l.a. stuff I was thinking more of 2-4 year olds. Then I would
just redirect to my last q's, and connect with what you seem to be
saying- i.e., that breaking away is not just about adolescence (though
it was the first thing I thought of).

Going back at Iraj's post- I think also of some of the kids in the K-12
charter school I used to work for in Ohio. As an online public school,
it is an interesting example of rebelliousness against local school
districts that in turn attracts rebellious parents and/or kids that want
something different and in some cases, better. A 5th grader attending a
public online school deprives the local district of its $5000 allotment,
and sends a message that either the kid, the parent or both are
perfectly happy with rejecting the accepted mode of schooling. Parents
are still in charge up to a certain age, and thus the decision makers
about where their kids go to school, but I think once in the online
environment, perhaps kids these days are in their element, and enjoy a
kind of freedom and power from parents and adults because of their
superior techno-fluency.

Mike Cole wrote:

>The analogy to language acquisition is probably not accidental, although I would
>not restrict it to adolescence. In the work on Nicaraguan sign
>language, there is firm evidence that in order to progress beyond home
>sign, kids need to be brought together and if they are, each succeding
>"generation" (in quotes because it can be new kids coming into the
>school where deaf kids have been gathered) it is the young kids who
>take the complexity of the language beyond home sign to a pidgen to a
>creole and (I am pretty certain, if the right social circumstances
>prevail) to a fully developed sign language like asl.
>On Tue, 22 Mar 2005 17:33:41 -0500, Andrew Babson <> wrote:
>>When I think of breaking away, I think of adolescence. I suppose two
>>questions are when does this process begin, and what constitutes a clean
>>A couple of things come to mind. First, the phrase "must be enculturated"
>>conjures an image of kids being fed culture by some discrete and knowable
>>agent. I know it doesn't sound useful to say "culture's in the air"- but I
>>think avoiding a reference to specific culturizing agents is important.
>>Sperber et al.'s research on how our brains are wired to do certain things
>>with the cultural information we're exposed to is meant to specify how
>>universal and relative cultural similarities and differences happen. The
>>analogue to this is lanaguge development, in that kids learn languages-
>>acquire lexicons, grammars phonologies, etc.- and correct their own mistakes
>>without much help from those around them. So, enculturation happens. But
>>though it will happen, like language acquisition, whether we like it or not,
>>the extent of the exact roles of species-wide traits, personal genetic
>>makeup and environmental factors are still unknown.
>>The second thing that comes to mind is the usefulness of rituals. Van
>>Gennep's model of the rite of passage- separation, liminality and
>>reintegration- was explored by Victor Turner, who discussed the feelings of
>>otherness and togetherness of initiation groups. There is a connection to
>>Levi-Strauss's bricolage here, too, in that rituals might bea kind of
>>"tidying up" of the loose ends of experiences. Rituals put a boundary to
>>things, make the inchoate whole, give meaning to meaningless experiences-
>>irnoically through acts which in themselves have no social meaning outside
>>the ritual context (e.g. dance around in a circle, clap three times, etc.).
>>So, the breaking away is facilitated in some way by the initiation ritual.
>>Perhaps this is why people look the other way when college teenagers do
>>"power hours" or the Skull and Bones rituals are guarded so secretly-
>>rituals are gleanings of meaning that solidify life transitions and breaking
>>away. But I'd like to know what other people think- what about breaks that
>>are less clean, that take place less drastically and/or less systematically?

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