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Re: [xmca] Lave and McDermott

I've been mucking around on the internet and came upon this interview with
Z Bauman.  What a fascinating man. At the beginning he is referring to MONO
-logic or a single mytho-logic that is destroying the public sphere. At the
end of the interview he ends with a message of HOPE that we can
re-constitute a more vibrant public sphere or what is often referred to as
"common ground"

Certainly speaks to the hope germinating in the  "Occupy Wall Street"
message to challenge the mono-logical tryanny of the debt narrative. The
video segment can be accessed at


His notion that sociologies as hermeneutical enactments have the  task  to
defamiliarze the familiar background assumptions of our mono - logic seems
appropriate to bring into the discussion of J. Williams article.


On Sun, Oct 30, 2011 at 3:28 PM, Tony Whitson <twhitson@udel.edu> wrote:

> This may be of relevance:
> Bauman, Zygmunt. 2007. /Consuming life/. Malden, MA: Polity.
> With the advent of liquid modernity, the society of producers is
> transformed into a society of consumers. In this new consumer society,
> individuals become simultaneously the promoters of commodities and the
> commodities they promote. They are, at one and the same time a, the
> merchandise and the marketer, the goods and the travelling salespeople.
> They all inhabit the same social space that is customarily described by the
> term the market.
> The test they need to pass in order to acquire the social prizes they
> covet requires them to recast themselves as products capable of drawing
> attention to themselves. This subtle and pervasive transformation of
> consumers into commodities is the most important feature of the society of
> consumers. It is the hidden truth, the deepest and most closely guarded
> secret, of the consumer society in which we now live.
> In this new book Zygmunt Bauman examines the impact of consumerist
> attitudes and patterns of conduct on various apparently unconnected aspects
> of social life politics and democracy, social divisions and stratification,
> communities and partnerships, identity building, the production and use of
> knowledge, and value preferences.
> The invasion and colonization of the web of human relations by the
> worldviews and behavioural patterns inspired and shaped by commodity
> markets, and the sources of resentment, dissent and occasional resistance
> to the occupying forces, are the central themes of this brilliant new book
> by one of the worlds most original and insightful social thinkers.
> On Sun, 30 Oct 2011, Julian Williams wrote:
> Andy, Larry
>> I was indeed 'inspired' by the Lave and McDermott article: the
>> methodology is seductive, and generative metaphor is a powerful means
>> sometimes to gain insights.
>> But what took me to that article and forced me to work with it was in the
>> end the need to understand learners' alienation from learning (and so
>> themselves) in schooling. L&M say that schools take (by force) everything
>> from the learner -  in the same way that capital takes everything from
>> labour, and gives back nothing -  and so the analogy begins...
>> Let me tell a story - I talked to a student from a well-to-do
>> stock-broker background (where expectations on him seemed high)  who got
>> into a university Physics course ... I asked him where/how he got his
>> interest in Physics... he said he wasnt really interested in Physics, but
>> he chose it because 'it would look good' on his CV/ resume and 'especially
>> from a top university like this'. This is the kind of extreme case of
>> alienation in schooling/academe that interested me.
>> But the L&M analogy is not - I found -  theoretically satisfactory: hence
>> my journey back to Marx from 1844 to 1867... If I am right then the
>> use/exchange contradiction arises not JUST (and not essentially) from the
>> forced conditions of learning in school, and the 'competition' between
>> learners etc., but from the fact that the learner is preparing themselves
>> to labour, and so they are working on developing themselves as 'labour
>> power' for the labour market, i.e. to sell themselves to capital ('labour
>> power' is the commodity-proper).  This is not just consumtpion, it is a
>> particular kind of consumption of education for a future role as exploited
>> (also exploiter) ... . I am still working on this and expect to still be
>> plodding away until ... well, for a while...
>> In the MCA paper I told how I began to find Bourdieu's work useful in
>> fleshing out the notion of 'educational/cultural capital' in the analysis
>> of schooling: I am still at this idea. I think that this 'educational
>> capital' may also have a kind of 'educational use/exchange value' type of
>> contradiction. Of course here we have a problem of terminology and it is
>> important to distinguish between Marx's analysis of commodity proper and
>> the terms Bourdieu uses for 'capital' in the cultural fields....
>> Larry - I agree that 'values' is what is at stake here ...
>> julian
>> ______________________________**__________
>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] on
>> behalf of Larry Purss [lpscholar2@gmail.com]
>> Sent: 30 October 2011 16:55
>> To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Lave and McDermott
>> I want to address one particular aspect of the article from page 282 on
>> the
>> "methodology" that Lave & McDermott engaged in their analysis of
>> schooling.
>> Williams wrote,
>> "This is a pure metaphoric analysis with the economy as the SOURCE and
>> education as the TARGET domain.... L & M call it a GENRE of translation,
>> but GENERATIVE metaphor is also close. Generative metaphor generally
>> benefits from a dialectic between source and target domains and is by no
>> means a one - way transfer of meaning."
>> L & M's  methodology therefore is a genre of translation or text analysis.
>> A hermeneutical process of interpretation of economic objects from one
>> domain transferred into another object domain of learning. This
>> translation
>> process is attempting to generate insight into the contradictions between
>> two distinct aspects of economic narratives within the source domain
>> and translating this economic contradiction into  the narratives of USE
>> and
>> the narratives of EXCHANGE [currency, credentials, grades, MEASUREMENTS,
>> etc] within educational discourse. This process of translation does point
>> to the DOMINANT metaphor [and myth] that has colonized our current
>> intersubjective relationships and generates a particular FORM of valuation
>> that alientates the person from their own needs [yearnings] and also puts
>> the person in a PARTICULAR form of COMPETITIVE intersubjectivity with
>> others. The fundamental value questions
>> "What do I owe the other?" &
>> "What do we owe the other?"
>> IS fundamentally a question OF VALUES. Epistemology and practice
>> [knowledgeability] become colonized by a single  mono LOGIC of EXCHANGE
>> VALUES that is like a black hole that gravitationally pulls all
>> alternative VALUE genres into its orbit.
>> I agree that this genre of USE and EXCHANGE contradictions does express
>> the
>> DOMINANT genre of globalization, but is it monolithic?  Are there
>> alternative genres with alternative metaphors that can escape the orbit of
>> metaphors of exchange and explore alternative notions of value that answer
>> the question "What do I {we} owe  the other?" in ways that explore VALUES
>> that speak more directly to the yearnings of the heart as expressed by
>> Bellah in his book "Habits of the Heart". A value narrative that
>> re-visions
>> the public sphere and "common ground" and needing to be VALUED in our
>> humanity as central to our notions of what we owe the other.
>> Williams article, in my reading, does capture the centrality of our
>> current
>> arrangements of alienated labour but I want to explore alternative
>> narratives that IMAGINE relationships and a SOCIAL ETHIC that calls for
>> answers and responses in genres of dialogical communication [speech and
>> text and artifacts] that call for deepening our narratives of instrumental
>> USE values and EXCHANGE values into genres of dialogue and communication
>> within common ground.
>> I hope the Occupy Wall Street movement,  does not get locked into the
>> exchange genre of redistributing the 1% wealth to be more equally
>> distributive. This leaves the narrative in the realm of exchange values.
>> Can we possibly move the conversation to notions of "common ground" as a
>> fundamental re-visioning of the question "What do we owe the other?"
>> Schools are only one activity institution that needs to engage with this
>> re-visioning our SOCIAL ETHIC to move beyond exchange values. William's
>> article points to the challenges of moving beyond debt narratives [that is
>> now global] and may require vision [and "faith" as meaning making in a
>> future alternative] where we answer that what we owe the other is to build
>> places where the person's yearnings for fellowship and security are
>> recognized as best expressed within a radically new value genre.
>> Larry
>> On Sun, Oct 30, 2011 at 6:36 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> Andy
>>> I appreciate these opening comments on this months article for
>>> discussion.
>>> You wrote,
>>> "The student-teacher relationship is *not *a /customer-service provider
>>> relation/. A school is a place for the production of labour power
>>> (inclusive of all the social relations presupposed by labour power, not
>>> just know-how!), not accumulation of capital"
>>> Your cautionary tale or comment on metaphors as images that "capture" the
>>> imagination.
>>>  I wonder if these metaphorical images may then expand and develop and
>>> transform into a single mono logic which colonizes our actual concrete
>>> social relations into its mytho-logical orbit. Mytho logic as
>>> hermeneutical
>>> narratives [traditions, texts]  that constitute or in*form our actual
>>> social relations.  Metaphors as "vehicles" for a particular mytho
>>> logic. Capital and debt hermeneutical notions colonizing the multiple
>>> dialectical productions of labour power under a single mytho logic.
>>>  Terms
>>> such as human "capital" which are meant to critique the "debt" mytho
>>> logic
>>> becoming captured within the orbit of this one particular mono logic.
>>> Andy, your experiment of taking Marx's  "depth" analysis within
>>> social relations of commodification and then ABSTRACTING the FORM but
>>> altering the metaphorical CONTENT as having unintended consequences.
>>> This is a way of glancing back to our earlier discussion of the "debt"
>>> mytho logic and the occupy wall street movement as expressing a yearning
>>> [motivation] for a new mytho logic that no longer has the debt "exchange
>>> VALUE" mono logic as a single pervasive text. Our "personalities" express
>>> MIXED motives that can no longer be subjugated to a single mono logical
>>> Larry
>>>  On Sun, Oct 30, 2011 at 2:46 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>> wrote:
>>>  And attached is Episode 2, Julian Williams' article.
>>>> "Toward a Political Economic Theory of Education: Use and Exchange
>>>> Values
>>>> of Enhanced Labor Power"
>>>> Andy
>>>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>> The current MCA article for discussion is aPeter Jones' commentary on an
>>>>> earlier MCA article by Julian Williams, which in turns develops the
>>>>> ideas
>>>>> of Lave & McDermott's reading of Marx's 1844 immanent critique of (Adam
>>>>> Smith's 1776) theory of political economy. A long thread! I will
>>>>> confine my
>>>>> comments here to Lave and McDermott's article, by way of background to
>>>>> the
>>>>> issues taken up by Williams and Jones in successive issues of MCA.
>>>>> About 30 years ago, I was interested in the foundations of mathematics,
>>>>> in particular Marx' study of mathematics, and I tried an exercise
>>>>> somwhat
>>>>> like Lave & McDermott's. I took the first page of  Marx's /Capital /and
>>>>> made a word substitution in it (basically making the commodity
>>>>> relation a
>>>>> metaphor for a mathematical equation) and was very pleased with the
>>>>> result.
>>>>> Fortunately, the idea went no further than a discussion over coffee
>>>>> with
>>>>> Cyril Smith, and I never tried it again. Nonetheless, I learnt from the
>>>>> exercise, in much the same way I think people learn by writing a haiku
>>>>> or
>>>>> putting their ideas in verse. By subjecting an idea to some extraneous
>>>>> but
>>>>> rigid discipline, one forces oneself to more closely examine the idea,
>>>>> and
>>>>> in an objectified kind of way, which can give fresh insights. In this
>>>>> sense, I can see that the group that read Marx's 1844 essay "Estranged
>>>>> Labour" and substituted "labour" with schoolwork, a.k.a. "learning,"
>>>>> would
>>>>> have learnt a great deal about Marx's approach and deepened their
>>>>> already-sophisticated critique of modern schooling. But I think the
>>>>> result,
>>>>> when written out, carries as much confusion as clarity, and at worst
>>>>> could
>>>>> promote a very formal and superificial understanding of Marx's
>>>>> approach and
>>>>> serve to undermine the very deep critique of formal education that
>>>>> these
>>>>> writers have produced. Because (as I see it) confusion only gets
>>>>> compounded
>>>>> as the paper goes on, I will confine myself to one metaphor from early
>>>>> in
>>>>> the paper. After that, the mixture of profound understanding and
>>>>> radical
>>>>> confusion I found too much to cope with.
>>>>> But before beginning, Marx did also have ideas about public education,
>>>>> and http://www.marxists.org/****archive/marx/works/subject/**<http://www.marxists.org/**archive/marx/works/subject/**>
>>>>> education/index.htm<http://**www.marxists.org/archive/marx/**
>>>>> works/subject/education/index.**htm<http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/subject/education/index.htm>>has
>>>>> some of these.
>>>>> Early on, the authors refer to a section in /Capital /which is often
>>>>> cited in this context. The point Marx is making is that a teacher in a
>>>>> private for-profit school is in exactly the same position as a
>>>>> wage-worker
>>>>> in a for-profit factory. In this context, the schoolkids are the
>>>>> consumers
>>>>> of their services, not the labourers. But Lave and McDermott see that
>>>>> when
>>>>> Marx says it makes no difference whether it is a school or a sausage
>>>>> factory, that this shows somehow that the students are "like" wage
>>>>> workers.
>>>>> Later the authors say that "production in education might be more akin
>>>>> to
>>>>> what Marx calls distribution in political economy." I tend to agree
>>>>> with
>>>>> the authors that a central function of public education is the sorting
>>>>> of
>>>>> youth into well-credentialed future-productive workers and failures
>>>>> destined to low-value labouring. That is how labour power is produced.
>>>>> But
>>>>> making the analogy of this to the separation of the labourers from
>>>>> their
>>>>> means of labour and the sundering of society into two classes, wage
>>>>> labourer and capitalist, is perverse. Bourdieu had a good theory of
>>>>> "educaional capital" but in fact the word "capital" is a misnomer in
>>>>> Bourdieu's work, or at least it has a different meaning than it had for
>>>>> Marx, and cannot be derived by metaphor or generalisation.
>>>>> I have written too much already, and must stop. Dialectics means taking
>>>>> relations *concretely*. So when Marx began /Capital /with an analysis
>>>>> of
>>>>> the commodity relation, he was able to unfold the whole of economic
>>>>> life
>>>>> out of the commodity relation because of contradictions inherent in
>>>>> *that*
>>>>> relation. If we abstract the *form *of the argument and insert
>>>>> materially
>>>>> different terms, as if we were looking at a theorem of Boolean symbolic
>>>>> logic, in which the indiuvidual terms are utterly without content, then
>>>>> what results may be pleasing to Alain Badiou, but not to any Marxist or
>>>>> serious educationalist, I think.
>>>>> Metaphors work because the source and target domains are homologous in
>>>>> some respects but *not iin others*. Care must be taken in using
>>>>> transformations of this kind. The student-teacher relationship is *not
>>>>> *a
>>>>> /customer-service provider relation/. A school is a place for the
>>>>> production of labour power (inclusive of all the social relations
>>>>> presupposed by labour power, not just know-how!), not accumulation of
>>>>> capital, except in the case of the private education factories, which
>>>>> are
>>>>> incidentally also profit making enterprises.
>>>>> These comments were by way of introduction. Julian Williams took his
>>>>> inspiration (I believe) from Lave and McDermott's study, and the MCA
>>>>> paper
>>>>> which results tackles the question concretely.
>>>>> Andy
>>>>> mike cole wrote:
>>>>> Here is the Outlines article that starts the sequence leading to Jones.
>>>>>> I
>>>>>> believe the Williams piece has been posted.
>>>>>> mike
>>>>> --
>>>> ------------------------------****----------------------------**--**
>>>> ------------
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/****toc/hmca20/18/1<http://www.tandfonline.com/**toc/hmca20/18/1>
>>>> <http://www.**tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/**1<http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1>
>>>> >
>>>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>>>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.****aspx?partid=227&pid=34857<http://www.brill.nl/default.**aspx?partid=227&pid=34857>
>>>> <http**://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?**partid=227&pid=34857<http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857>
>>>> >
>>>> ______________________________**____________
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> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK  DE  19716
> twhitson@udel.edu
> ______________________________**_
> "those who fail to reread
>  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
>                  -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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