Classroom Interaction Anthony Giddens Cultural Studies Essay

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Anthony Giddens is a British sociologist and is famous for his theory of structuration. Giddens uses logics of interpretational sociology to interpret sociological theories. Anthony Giddens famous work includes theory of structuration, relation between micro and macro environments in the society, locale, self identity and modernity.

One of the many works of Giddens discuss about a term locale. Locale refers to any setting or area ideal for social interaction (Giddens, 1979). He describes about the human tendency of communication pertaining to time and space. He describes the integrative activities of individuals in a particular locale, such as a classroom (Giddens, 1979). Locale, according to Giddens is a physical setting which binds all collectives in a defined area. The classroom locale takes up a physical form in the place it exists (Giddens, 1979).Giddens focuses more on physical and face to face interaction in a locale rather than a subject approach of interaction. Interaction in a classroom must emphasise on co-presence of teacher and pupils with relation to time and space distanciation (Giddens, 1981).

Giddens considers school in a contemporary society as a typical topological device for studying time-space relationship. He describes the time- space movement to be reversal rather than linear as stated by Hagerstrand. Accordingly, he describes the classroom pictorially as in the figure below:

Source: Adapted from Giddens, 1981.

The lines depict time-space movement and degrees of elongation of the boxes indicate time spent by individual in specific locale. C represents cinema, H represents home and S represents school. Giddens describe school as a power container which is distinct from outside environment, away from daily activities. He describes school as modern disciplinary organization and the spatial position of teacher and pupils as tightly organized and disciplined. The power house functions by maintaining discipline through strict policies and surveillance (Giddens, 1981). Studying many of the routine conversations in a school, Giddens describes the teacher to be authoritative, strict and ordered. Teacher ensures directive control in the class and expects order and discipline through their gestures and conversation. The attitude of a teacher to laugh and converse about worldly matters is an indication of cooperative work in a class. Over authoritativeness of any teacher with strict discipline is highly resisted by pupils.

Interaction in a class is mostly strict, disciplined and ordered which takes place face to face. The nature of conversation is direct supervision relating to time space. Schools are separated distinctly from any outside locale and monitoring of teacher-pupil conversation regularly is a difficult task as the supervision of teachers is indirect and rare (Giddens, 1981). The spatial arrangement of pupils in a class enhances direct face to face conversation between the teacher and pupil and most of the conversation is strict and orderly functioned. Conversation of the pupils in absence of a supervisor tends to be more informal and occasional. Pupils tend to spend their maximum time in school in supervision of teacher under direct authority (Giddens, 1981). The example of class room atmosphere and conversation is best to describe space-time relationship.

Taste and Consumption- Bourdieu

Pierre Felix Bourdieu was a French sociologist. His investigations mainly focused on social, cultural and symbolic aspects of society. His work emphasized on concepts of habits, field and violence to reveal the strength of power relations in modern life. He opposed the western philosophy of tradition. Bourdieu explains the theory of class fractions by the concepts of social, economic and cultural characteristics. Society encourages symbolic factors and regards these factors to be ideal weapon to achieve distinction (Bourdieu, 1984). He explains that cultural capital is a determining factor for differentiating classes across the society (Bourdieu, 1984). Bourdieu explains that people inherit cultural attitudes from their elders and preach the same to the generations following them.

He explains the indications of food, taste and cultural presentations are influenced greatly by socio-economical capital of individuals (Bourdieu, 1984).All these typical characteristics inculcated from the beginning of childhood form a basis of choosing food tastes. The tastes depend on class of the people and are different for different class of people in the society. Each fraction of class has varied tastes and their consumption depends on their position in the society (Bourdieu, 1984). Each fraction of people has their own magnitude of consumer interests and posses their own aesthetic criteria in consumer related interests (Bourdieu, 1984). Taste is defined as a social pleasure or a sense of one’s interest in a particular thing. Different preferences arise according to different ways of acquiring material in the nature (Bourdieu, 1984).

He describes taste as a cognitive feature of an inner self of individual and embodied on social structure and circumstances. This forms the basis of unnatural or rejected tastes. The same factor is a basis of taste rejection or intolerant sick attitude towards the taste of fellow mates in the society (Bourdieu, 1984).

Bourdieu further explains the factors of priority and class in common day to day choices such as selection of food, clothing and furniture. He explains that these things tend to be different for everyone in routine life and special occasions (Bourdieu, 1984). During special occasions human beings tend to change their tastes according to the society to reflect their feelings towards class. The meals served and furniture displayed during any special occasion forms as a basis for reflecting lifestyle of an individual (Bourdieu, 1984). All of them try to change their likes and dislikes according to the society covering them.

Bourdieu gives an example of diet of children across the society. He reveals that children who belong to lower classes of the society tend to be more interested in food that is heavy fatty and cheap which helps in filling the stomach. They treat food as the means to serve the purpose of hunger and nothing more than that (Bourdieu, 1984). On the contrary, children of high class families are thought to eat original, exotic and nutritious food to fill their appetite. People of higher classes focus more on health, built and nutrition of the body and inculcate slimming habit in their lifestyle (Bourdieu, 1984). This example demonstrates the difference of taste amongst children in different classes of society. While the poorer give importance to hunger, the richer give more priority to luxury.

Bourdieu’s theory of practice in relation to power

Bourdieu investigated the importance of practices and body in the modern world. He opposed the rational choice theory which describes the working of social agents. He opposed the beliefs of people that social agencies do not act according to the economic and rational criteria. He stressed that social agencies work according to practical logic and habit (Bourdieu, 1984). He believed that modern world is a complex network of many fields which are formed on the basis of hierarchy. He supports the theory of conflict proposed by Marx and stated that conflicts in each field take place as a result of social characteristics of the field which are not dependant on economic relations of the fields (Bourdieu, 1984). He proposed another theory of habitus which defines the action of social agents. It focused on the strategies developed by these social agents to meet the demands of social world they live in. These strategies are logical and practical.

Bourdieu defined his principles on cultural production in two books namely, The Field of Cultural Production (1993) and The Rules of Art (1996). He describes cultural production on basis of capital, field and habitus in these books. His work focuses on sub-fields of culture and production of art and literature. The work gives a broad understanding of classical traditional sociological principles with science, law and religion (Bourdieu, 1984). He did not believe in revolutionary transformations as a cultural produce since the moments depend on positions in cultural field. Bourdieu defines language in this context as a mechanism of voicing power.


Invasion of the life world by the system imperatives of money and power- Habermas

Jurgen Habermas is sociologist whose work focused mainly on public sphere (Habermas, 1981). Habermas describes three institutional criteria for development of public sphere. The criteria remain common for many topical orientations (Habermas, 1981). These criteria are:

Status Disregardation: All the institutions should tend to disregard their status to preserve social intercourse and status equality.

Common concerns: The public’s concern of certain critical problems remains unsolved and private people defined the problematic cultural product according to their own will to exhibit their authority. Thus common concerns of the domain have to be resolved in terms of public.

Inclusivity of public: Even if certain topics of discussion re exclusively away from public, public should always be involved and immersed in discussions as long as the concerns could be addressed by the educated members. The issues should be generalised to public and every deserving person should have equal rights to participate.

These criteria enable the development of public (Habermas, 1981). The emergence of the public sphere was appreciated thereby creating resources to publishing enterprises, discussion forums and newspapers. This leads to separation of public sphere from government bodies and access of economic and social resources by the public. This collapse made media to be turned as a tool of political forces and a source of advertising political strategies rather than medium tool of information (Habermas, 1981). Gradually, these forces emerged out free from both the economy and state, leading to growth of capitalistic economy policy and led to polarity of economy by uneven distribution of wealth. The purpose of creating a public sphere was lost in due course of time and the economy was ruled by capital forces.

During, this period influence of media grew up and was used for manipulation of power. The public was pushed away due to innocence and mass media grew up roaring and structured the economy once again. Communication flow was now possible only through mass media and the battle over the influence and control of media is fought till date. Continuing battle of public could not reveal the strategies of media (Habermas, 1981).

The key concern of habermas colonization thesis is that the organization was based on money and power rather than the mutually agreed principles of social integration. Due to this failure, system started growing in advanced capitalistic society with the reign of bureaucracy and state administration. This reign lead to rationality of life world interactions (Habermas, 1981). The effect of money and power created distortion and lead to more conflicts and tensions in relation to lifestyle, culture and identity. The colonism effect slowly leads to feminism, conformation of youth groups and many environmental effects destroying the nature of its rich resources (Habermas, 1981). This further leads to financial and racial crisis of the system effecting peace and growth of society (Habermas, 1981).

There were many measures proposed to solve the crisis of the colonization effect, impact of legal intrusion of welfare, impact of mass media and impact over everyday life, these measures include newness in theoretical level of subject and shift of conflict from capital labour to system friendly life world (Habermas, 1987). The institutional criteria which were earlier defined by Habermas was reframed and they include hegemonic dominance, exclusion of public, Bracketing inequalities and related issues, dissolution of common concerns problem (Nancy Fraser, 1990).

Habermas public sphere failure was criticised over many years and Nancy additionally created a separate group for marginalized groups away from the public sphere and named it as counter publics or subaltern counter public (Nancy Fraser, 1990). Additionally, she offered a modern look to public sphere by improving the society form conflicts of money and power. She shifted the repressive mode of domination studied by habermas to a hegemonic mode. The rule by power and money was also shifted to rule governing ideals (Nancy Fraser, 1990). The concept of heteronormativity was introduced to place people who fall outside male and female category of gender. The main reason for the introduction of this group was identification of rights peculiar to this class of people (Nancy Fraser, 1990).