Link to What's New This Week. Issue for Week of April 28, 2003

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Dear Habermas
A Journal of Postmodern and Critical Thought
Devoted to Academic Discourse on Peace and Justice

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Current Issue:
Volume 16, No. 8, Week of April 28, 2003

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Latest Update: April 27, 2003

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Topic of the Week:

The interdependence struggle of agency and structural context. jeanne

The Interdependence Struggle of Agency and Structural Context

As we discussed Illusion and Reality, from the Week of April 17, 2003, issues came up from our own lived experience. This week I'll try to follow through with the issues raised. First of all, it's hard to tell illusion and reality apart sometimes. Part of growing and changing includes giving free reign to your imaginary. That means that some of our change comes from the illusions we can imagine. The greter the imaginary, the broader the illusions, and the more alternatives to seed change.

Unfortunately, the process need not be ethical. So we end up sometimes with the imaginary of a Hitler or a Hussein, and the illusion and change that result aren't pretty. Perhaps the best answer to that is to train and encourage our own imaginaries, based on a saner, kinder, world with greater social justice.

I pictured interdependence as a struggle because there is this ethical struggle that underlies our cultural and economic baggage. We tend to think of struggle between good and evil. But most of life is more complex than that. One of the basic struggles, and perhaps the central struggle in interdependence is between the agency (the right to make decisions and control one's own actions) and the structural context (the rights of the social group to which we belong, our ethnic group, our society, our tribe, our neighborhood, our family, our nation-state).

April 27, 2003: Foucault was a pessimist about subjectivity. He considered that there was no transcendent (beyond what we can know) being that was "man," but that man was the interdependence of our own agency and the struggle of that agency with the structural context. He didn't believe in continuous, developing and growing enlightenment, his quarrel to some extent with Habermas. Foucault believed that there was value for us in resisting the constraints of our institutions and the domininant discourse that has grown up around them. The struggle for Foucault was important - hope may lie in the understanding that we do have agency in that struggle. (A Wearable Postmodernism A Review of Foucault and Social Dialogue - Beyond Fragmentation. Christopher Falzon. London and New York: Routledge, 1998. Reviewed by Winifred Wing Han Lamb, australian National University.)

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New This Issue NEW for the Week of April 28, 2003
Previous Issue: Week of April 21, 2003

Announcements:

Father Adjakpe of Ghana will be visiting with us on May 21, 2003. Please be sure you've read colonization and proselytization by then for our discussions. jeanne

April 28, 2003: I've been slowly updating the Topic Index. Be sure to take a look at it. It should help us find what we need on the site.

April 16, 2003: How to Request a Letter of Recommendation Jennifer Glass' sample of a request. Don't forget to read this as a guide. It will help us both be more effective at writing good letters.

Monday, April 28, 2003: The Ongoing Saga of jeanne's e-mail:

It's working! It's working! Maybe this time, all is well. Send your e-mails. jeanne

  • Shared Discourse for Thursday, May 1, 2003

    Things I'd like you to review for Thursday, May 1, 2003, so we can all discuss them knowledgebly.

      April 30, 2003: The Nigerian Elections Comment by Angela Splane. Discussion questions not up yet.

      April 24, 2003: Conceptually Linking Obesity to Structural Context. ssay on how we blame individuals as though they were uniquely responsible for their decisions, when, in fact, the structural context plays a major role. Discussion questions included.

      • April 30, 2003: Perception of Need for Individual Control of Obsesity Comment by Raquel Burnett. Good example of how you need to correct some of your submissions to get all the concepts straight if you want an A. jeanne

      • April 28, 2003: Dominant Discourse and Obesity Comment by Jennifer Glass on people's reactions to a choice of eating healthy.

      • April 28, 2003: It's Hard to Resist Fast Foods and Oprah Comment by Deidre Collins.

      • April 28, 2003: Activity Sheet for Obesity and Culture Discussion questions included.

      • April 28, 2003: Obesity: Survey Response Rates Over Class Discussion questions focus on statistical sampling and methods. Abstract of article is included. Good practice for statistics next Fall. jeanne

      • April 29, 2003:The overweight cat From the Feline Advisory Bureau, the UK. Dear me, now my cat has to go on a diet with me. Maybe we could restructure the social context of my cat's world, too.

      • Comparison to European attitudes:
        "EUROPEAN ATTITUDES ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: The March supplement of the journal Public Health Nutrition details the results of a 1997 survey of 15 European countries regarding consumer attitudes about physical activity, body weight and health. The survey also measured prevailing self-reported levels of activity and body weight/heights. The full articles and abstracts are available at the Public Health Nutrition website, . Although the information is not about the U.S. population, it can be useful when developing consumer surveys and comparing results. [Thanks to Rich Killingsworth, CDC, for this article.] Article titles: "Methods used to conduct the pan-European Union survey on consumer attitudes to physical activity, body weight and health," JM Kearney, et al.; "Regional, demographic and national influences on attitudes and beliefs with regard to physical activity, body weight and health in a nationally representative sample in the European Union," A Kafatos, et al.; "Relationship between attitudes to health, body weight and physical activity and level of physical activity in a nationally representative sample in the European Union ," BM Margetts, et al.; "Physical activity levels and body weight in a nationally representative sample in the European Union," MD Vaz de Almeida, et al.; "Stages of change towards physical activity in a nationally representative sample in the European Union," JM Kearney, et al.; "Variables independently associated with self-reported obesity in the European Union," JA Martínez, et al.; "Recent body-weight changes and weight loss practices in the European Union," R Lappalainen, et al.; "Body image perception in relation to recent weight changes and strategies for weight loss in a nationally representative sample in the European Union," S McElhone, et al.; "Perceived benefits and barriers to physical activity in a nationally representative sample in the European Union," H-JF Zunft, et al. Public Health Nutrition. March 1999, 2 (1a)."

        Couldn't locate articles. You could try. jeanne

      April 25, 2003: Spring, Illusion, Reality, and Pointillism: Who's Seurat? A spring photo in the L.A. Times that brings us face to face with the challenge of how effectively we are arming ourselves with a liberal arts education, and how that will affect us in our lives and careers. Discussion questions included.

      April 26, 2003: Mandy Unverszagt and Jeanne Play with Pointillism and Icons Essay and illustrations conceptually link visual play to illocutionary understanding.

      April 26, 2003: Review essay on "Foucualt, feminism, and questions of identity" Requested by Nancy Romero. Not yet finished. April 26, jeanne.

      April 27, 2003: Denise Vokoun requested that we include discussions this week on abuse. That's a big topic. Here are some sites that will give you a sense of the many phases of abuse that concern us. From these maybe you can pick more specific issues. Meanwhile check the Topic Index on Abuse.

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  • Sociology of Reality
    Class Page for Sociology of Reality Up soon.

  • Theses

    • April 24, 2003: Berthena Kemp: No new material. Restructuring Berthena Kemp's thesis.

    • April 24, 2003: Carolyn Ibekwe: No new material.

    • April 24, 2003: Charles Barlow: No corrections submitted. jeanne

    • April 24, 2003: Jolie Gibbs. Has entire first draft of thesis in on disk. Abstract and start of chapter 1. Working on Chapter 2. Up soon. jeanne

    • April 24, 2003: Patricia Hamilton. First section in as hardcopy. We need to get it into Word. Beautifully written. Needs structural context and visual support. jeanne

    • April 24, 2003: Millie Coulter. Hello, Millie. Where are you?? jeanne

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Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

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Theoretical Musings for Us by Us

  • Modern Social Theory: General

    • April 26, 2003: The Web Pages of the Research Practice Certificate The Notttingham Trent University. This is an excellent resource for those who are trying to put together a paper or presentation. Clear. Simplified. Coherent. Consists of Module A: Research Support and Module B: Texts from Lectures in the Programme. This site will lbe of use to you in several classes next Fall.

    • April 26, 2003: Doing Theory Good and clear explanation for those who are trying to put together a theoretical background for a paper or presentation. This is one of the support pieces in Module A above.

    • Foucault:

      • Nancy Romero asked that we discuss Jana Sawicki's "Foucualt, feminism, and questions of identity," in The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, at pp. 286 - 313.

        April 27, 2003: Added new material. Review essay on "Foucualt, feminism, and questions of identity". This is a difficult article because it assumes that you are comfortable with several theorists, and at the same time the basic theory propounded by Foucualt and by feminist theorists, and the theoretical issues of identity. I've try to give you some background on all this. And then I've added a couple of articles by undergraduates (at elite universities, please note) to give you an idea of what you might expect from fellow undergraduate students on these issues. Discussion questions included.

      • April 26, 2003: Foucault and Feminism: Reevaluating Traditional Criticisms By Stephanie Jenkins. Emory University. PDF file. Agora, Volume 3, Issue 1 (Summer 2002).

      • April 26, 2003: Theory versus Analytics of Power -The Habermas-Foucault DebateBy Jason W. Cato, University of California, Berkeley. PDF file. Agora, Volume 3, Issue 1 (Summer 2002).

      • April 26, 2003: Latina Identity and the Perils of Femininity By Kathryn Blythe Everett, Texas A&M University. PDF file. Agora, Volume 1, Issue 1 (Summer 2000).

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        Notice that several of the above articles were published online by Agora. Do you know what "agora" means? Consider the relationship between "agora" and "fora."

        Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

        Here's how Agora describes itself:

        "Agora aims to provide undergraduate researchers with the opportunity to publish their work and experience the valuable process of constructive review. Students are also given the chance to work for an online journal by participating in editorial decisions. These goals aid the general progress of undergraduate research by spotlighting the fact that post-graduate study is not the only venue for important inquiries in the humanities. Our mission is to make the journal consistently meet high standards of creative scholarship."

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    • Dominant Discourse and Oppression in the Public Sphere

      • April 26, 2003: Dominant Discourse on Appearance By Denise Vokoun. Judgmental comments on whether or not a woman shaves her legs recognized as localized normative expectations, largely out-of-awareness and insensitive in a global society.

    • Global Trade Issues

      • April 26, 2003: McCurrencies: The Big Mac Index April 24, 2003. From The Economist print edition. I went in search of this article from an issue of the Economist. It tells you about the world's currencies in terms of the Big Mac index. That means that they record periodically what a Big Mac costs here in the US (average price) and compare that to what the Big Mac costs in many other countries, translating all the currencies into their equivalences in US dollars. There are several inter-related articles that you can access free on the Economist web site. Designed to make the understanding of world currencies a little easier.

    • Health

      • April 27, 2003: National Women's Health Information Center Government resource.

      • April 28, 2003: Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists' Index In case you need a laugh to help with the end-of-semester stress. I liked the Animation: Just click on it. jeanne

      • Culture and Obesity A lesson plan for high school. But lots of the material is important to know and share.

      • April 29, 2003: The Healthiest Diet of All On Viva Guides. Found throguh a search on obesity on the UK.com.
        "Make no mistake, you and your diet are being manipulated by the vested interests of a consumer society which has no real interest in health but a preoccupation with profit. You don't have to be part of it and can start right now by taking responsibility for your own health and go vegetarian. In the process you will help to bring an end the obscenity of factory farming, help to diminish the onslaught which is killing the world's oceans; you will begin to offer hope to the world's starving and the environment will start to recover. It is one of the most important actions you can take in a world which is in frighteningly rapid decline, much of it caused by livestock production, fishing and fish farming."

    • The Wealth Gap

      • April 27, 2003: The Tax Cut: Whose Is Bigger? By Sloan, Newsweek's editor. Backup."Bush taunted dissident Republicans last week about their ‘little bitty’ tax cut and stood on a tank. Talk about phallic locker-room imagery." Left/center perspective.

      • April 27, 2003:Reality Check: Tax Relief and Economic Briefing Room California-specific predictions. The Heritage Foundation Site. Right perspective. Lots of graphs.

      • April 27, 2003:Tax Fairness Is in the Eye Of the BeholderBy Charles Wolf Jr. Originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Compares the equal unfairness in paying down the national debt. Good article. jeanne. Discussion questions later.

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      Lived Experience: Narratives

      KIDS' Stuff

      Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework National PTA. National Education Association. Link added April 13, 2003.

      New for Kids this Week:

      • April 28, 2003: Culture and Obesity A lesson plan for high school. But lots of the material is important to know and share. A good for choice for sharing with younger family members. On DiscoverySchool.com. I couldn't find the activity sheet, so I made one up:

        Jane Tiffany Melanie
        It's at Activity Sheet for Culture and Obesity.

      • April 26, 2003: Jacob Lawrence and Visual Rhythm Shooting Gallery. Walker Art Center Project. Be patient. The rhythm will build slowly and culminate with Jacob Lawrence's painting, Shooting Gallery. For more fun, explore the whole project of the Tool Kit. On the ArtsConnected site.

      • April 25, 2003: Phillip Greenspun's Web Page on His Visit to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles The photographs are well worth the time to wander through them. He gives a good sense of what the Getty is like, and includes David Hockney's Pearblossom Hwyin one of his shots. There are also some neat shots of Disney-type characters. Interesting non-illocutionary discourse included under comments. See a good example of the interdependence struggle of agency and structural context.

      Art Shenanigans

      • April 25, 2003: Pointillism and Seurat

        Spring photo by Robbin Goddard / LATimes

        Que Seurat, Seurat

      • "A photographer tries to capture this seemingly pointillistic scene of yellow wildflowers, purple lupine and orange California poppies covering the hillsides off Gorman Post Road in the Grapevine area of Interstate 5. For updates on wildflower sites, call (818) 768-3533. (Robbin Goddard / LAT)" April 25, 2003.

        Do you know what pointillism is? Do you know who Seurat was? And how on earth does this all fit into the Sociology of Reality? Link to Spring, Illusion, Reality and Pointillism: Who's Seurat?

        Mom or Jesus by Mandy Unverzagt

        Mom or Jesus? by Mandy Unverzagt
        A Pointillist Portrait

        Link to Mom or Jesus? Essay on playing with art, using Mandy's pointillist portrait.

      • April 26, 2003: Web Projects at the Walker Art Museum PostModern Art. Far out. Many, many links to explore. Some delightful. Visit when you need a reprieve from studying. jeanne