It’s a working man’s town power point 2


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This book is an entomology of Thunder Bay, Ontario and is written by Thomas Dunk. This presentation picked out various themes from the book.

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It’s a working man’s town power point 2

  1. 1. It’s a Working Man’s Town Male Working-Class Culture Thomas W. Dunk
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>People like us/ introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Marxism 101 </li></ul><ul><li>Leisure as resistance </li></ul><ul><li>Racism </li></ul><ul><li>Regionalism </li></ul><ul><li>Common sense </li></ul><ul><li>Activity </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul>
  3. 3. People like us
  4. 4. About the book <ul><li>“ This book describes and analyzes aspects of the culture of young white working-class men. Their culture is prosaic rather than poetic. It revolves around the local and immediate; it celebrates the ordinary, the profane – what is often referred to as mass culture. I show how this culture is intimately related to a sense of class, and how rejection of and resistance to a perceived dominant culture is expressed and deflected into non-class discourses. I focus specifically on leisure, gender, ethnicity, and regionalism, showing their relation to a preferred form of thought which is rooted in the local working-class experience.” (Dunk, pg. 3) </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Thomas W. Dunk was a professor in the Department of Sociology at Lakehead University starting in 1989 as an associate professor, until 2006 as professor and chair of the department of Sociology . </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a Working Man’s Town was first published in 1991. </li></ul><ul><li>The book is an ethnography, as Dunk immersed himself in the male working class in order to conduct field research for a two-year period of time. His research is based on an informal group of twenty-one informants. </li></ul><ul><li>Before attending university, Dunk was employed by the paper pill and two different copper mines in the Thunder Bay area. </li></ul><ul><li>We will be discussing themes throughout the book such as Leisure and Resistance, Racism, Common Sense, and Regionalism. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Marxism 101 <ul><li>Karl Marx Antonio Gramsci </li></ul>
  7. 7. Leisure as resistance <ul><li>It is important to put the story in context </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘boys’ work week defines the rest of their lives </li></ul><ul><li>Whether they recognize it or not, through their pursuits outside of work they are examples of resistance </li></ul><ul><li>What are the leisure pursuits of the ‘boys’ and the region in general? </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Watching television </li></ul><ul><li>“ In terms of number of hours spent on a given activity, watching television may be the most important.” P.67 </li></ul><ul><li>Television is often in the background accompanying many of the activities that take place in the home </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Shopping </li></ul><ul><li>“ Shopping purely as a leisure activity is more common for women than for men. Women often go shopping while boyfriends or husbands watch sports on television or go to a bar with their friends.” P.68 </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Hunting and Fishing </li></ul><ul><li>“ The typical pattern for the ‘boys’, however, was to make a couple of weekend-long fishing trips during the summer. Sometimes this was a male-only event, but wives and girlfriends often went along.” P.70 </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Drinking </li></ul><ul><li>“ Social drinking is an important part of life for the local working class, especially for young workers who do not have children and therefore have more free time and money.” P.69 </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Participatory sports </li></ul><ul><li>“ A study of communities of 1000 or more people in the region conducted in 1982 by the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation (MTR) found that forty-four percent of the sample population participated in forty-five different sports. This excludes sports which do not have a minimal form of organization, such as road hockey or sand-lot baseball.” P.70 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The eight most common organized sports in northwestern Ontario were, in order of frequency, five-pin bowling, ice hockey, golf, soft-ball, curling, baseball, soccer, and shooting.” P.70 </li></ul>
  13. 13. Sport as an analogy for capitalist ideology <ul><li>“ Values such as discipline, respect for authority, and commitment are important in any form of state. Some aspects of the structure of competitive sport, however, correspond particularly well to the ideology of a capitalist mode of production. Just as one’s location in the class structure is, according to the ideology, determined solely by competition in the marketplace, individuals or teams begin each match as equals, and winners and losers are determined by the skill displayed in competition-a clear representation of the principal of meritocracy upon which capitalist societies are supposedly based.” P.87-88 </li></ul>
  14. 14. Mass spectator sports and local participatory sports <ul><li>The difference between spectator sport and local participatory sport is that the latter is under the control of those who participate rather than the bourgeoisie who have in modern times control more and more of the professional sports realm. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Lob-Ball </li></ul><ul><li>A rendition of baseball that has rules that make it more accessible to less skilled individuals but still has a competitive edge </li></ul><ul><li>“ The game I have described is a secular ritual, a modern local version of carnival, and like carnival it is at once legitimated by and incorporated into the hegemonic culture, and constitutes a space where themes of a culture of resistance can be played out.” P. 86 </li></ul>
  16. 16. Lob-ball as resistance to the lived realities of the ‘boys’ <ul><li>“ Lob-ball, at least the way it is played in the ‘boys’ league, de-emphasizes the competitive nature of the game.” P.92 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The object of the game is to have fun…” P.92 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The insistence on having fun is also an affirmation that the point of work should be the enjoyment of life, rather than production for its own sake. Enjoyment denied in the labour process becomes an obsession in the realm of leisure.” P. 93 </li></ul><ul><li>Being part of a team or part of a group activity counters the way they are individuated in their work lives </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s good to get out and do things with other people. It makes you feel like you are part of something.” P.91 </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>In a recent conversation I had with a friend who plays in a lob ball league during the summer explained his participation as an escape; an escape from work and from the mundane realities of his everyday experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>These constructs reject the notion of sports reproducing the capitalist ideology, thus the idea of resistance is played out. </li></ul>
  18. 18. The resistance at play between work and leisure pursuits for the ‘boys’ <ul><li>Dominant culture is focused on puritan morals such as discipline, respect for authority, and commitment : the boys celebrate fun </li></ul><ul><li>In the labour market they are individuated; in their leisure time they seek group activities </li></ul><ul><li>In everyday life they are buffeted by economic forces and authoritarian structures; through the lob ball team they emphasize human interpersonal relations based on friendship rather than necessity. </li></ul><ul><li>The formal and impersonal principles of market exchange rule in the larger world; the group emphasizes generalized reciprocity. Lob ball is a signifying practice through which the boys try to construct a different world based on cultural themes denied in the dominant discourse and economic structures in which they are imprisoned. P.94 </li></ul>
  19. 19. The system is in no way undermined by the ‘boys’ activities <ul><li>All but two teams in the league have corporate sponsors </li></ul><ul><li>Economic investment is necessary for participation, uniform costs, gloves, shoes, league fees, travel costs </li></ul><ul><li>“ Even though one can read lob-ball as a ritual expression of resistance to the dominant economic and ideological features of the social formation in which the ‘boys’ live, it is enmeshed in a thoroughly capitalistic set of structures.” P.95 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The basic collective idea that underlies their culture is enclosed within economic and ideological structures which render it a defensive reaction against the wider world rather than an opening into a possible future.” P.100 </li></ul>
  20. 20. Working Class and Leisure <ul><li>While working class individuals appear to have freedoms, they are never actually removed from production. </li></ul><ul><li>Their ‘free’ time is contained within a set schedule, thus limiting scale and scope of freedom </li></ul><ul><li>The evidence suggests that as a result of their relationship to work and production, the working class utilize their freedoms to engage in ritual practices that (whether the individuals recognize it or not) reject the notions of the capitalist modes of production—to an extent </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘Boys’ are seeking something they are denied in their day to day realities </li></ul><ul><li>Simply by having choice in leisure pursuits resists the dominant narrative in that choice is not often perceived as an option in the working class’ working lives </li></ul>
  21. 21. Race, Ethnicity, and Regionalism in Working-Class Culture
  22. 22. <ul><li>Ethnicity among whites is important to the Boys only as a source of endless joking. </li></ul><ul><li>-Finns revolve around the idea that they drink a lot. </li></ul><ul><li>-Eastern Europeans are ridiculed for their supposed lack of intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>-Italians were stereotyped as extremely emotional. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Historical Context <ul><li>The working class was fractured along ethnic lines and the division of labour between industries was to a large extent based on ethnicity. </li></ul>
  24. 24. English people worked for the railroad.
  25. 25. Finns and French Canadians composed a large portion of the labour force in the forestry industry.
  26. 26. Construction work was an Italian activity.
  27. 27. Eastern Europeans worked for freight sheds and performed other kinds of heavy manual work.
  28. 28. Scottish people worked for the elevators.
  29. 29. The Image of the Indian in Contemporary Thunder Bay <ul><li>Native people are the one group for whom biological and cultural ancestry is a stigma with important social ramifications. </li></ul><ul><li>For the Boys, and for many white people in Thunder Bay and in north-western Ontario as a while, the most important racial and ethnic distinction today is between whites and Indians. </li></ul><ul><li>The Indian is perceived as an “inferior other” against whom whites define themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Indians are clearly at the bottom of the hierarchy in both material and ideological terms, have become symbols of the domination of local whites by external </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>First Nation people were often blamed for destruction of burning the bleachers in the baseball diamond even though, no one saw in action wreaking the baseball diamond. </li></ul><ul><li>There were places that the working boys did their best to avoid places that were known that a lot of First Nation would frequent. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>-Native women were the ONLY women that the Boys would not mix. People who lived with and married Natives were thought to be “hard up”. </li></ul><ul><li>-First Nation women were viewed as “easy” or “loose”. </li></ul><ul><li>-If a white man were to go on a date with a native woman, they (men) were known as “slumming”. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Six ways that First Nation people are viewed in Thunder Bay. <ul><li>1. The noble savage : </li></ul><ul><li>-honest to a fault </li></ul><ul><li>- hardworking </li></ul><ul><li>-physically tough </li></ul><ul><li>-able to complete successfully with nature on its own terms </li></ul><ul><li>-intelligent </li></ul><ul><li>-skilled in practical matters </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>2. The backward simpleton : </li></ul><ul><li>-The poor sod who, try as he might, is incapable of improving him/herself. </li></ul><ul><li>-The simpleton is to be pitied as much as liked. </li></ul><ul><li>-Fate has dealt him or her a cruel blow. </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>3. The Indian that is the victim of external forces. </li></ul><ul><li>-The boys view this person as victims of forces that they have no control over. </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>4. The degenerate, uncivilized Indian who has no morality and is not concerned to develop any morality. </li></ul><ul><li>-The boys view this kind of Indian negatively in ethical terms and views them as socially inferior. </li></ul><ul><li>-The degenerate Indian is seen as responsible for his/her own situation. </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>5. The welfare bum , lazy, shiftless, and living off of other people’s labour. </li></ul><ul><li>This Indian is seen as taking advantage of the system. </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>6. Indian women are seen as victims as opposed to the degenerated Indian man. They are represented as “easy” in sexual terms. </li></ul><ul><li>-Native women are viewed as social inferiors. </li></ul><ul><li>-Very easy sexual targets. </li></ul><ul><li>-White men do not date native women when looking for a long-term relationship. </li></ul>
  38. 38. My own thoughts: <ul><li>Since It’s a Working Man’s Town was written in 2003. Things have not changed very much. </li></ul><ul><li>Racism against First Nation people is very much alive in Thunder Bay. </li></ul><ul><li>My own experiences: </li></ul><ul><li>-During the time that this graffiti took place, I heard of a few stories of native women having beer bottles thrown at them while simply walking on the street. One lady had to crawl under her car for protection. A student quit university course to go home because she did not feel safe. </li></ul><ul><li>-Followed around in stores to ensure I don’t steal anything. </li></ul><ul><li>-Being told, “You are articulate” when I go to the doctor’s office. </li></ul><ul><li>-Waiting in line while other people get served first even though I have been waiting in line. </li></ul><ul><li>-“Status Card” Signs: Please show your status cards at the BEGINNING of transaction because we are unable to accept your status card at the end of the transaction. </li></ul><ul><li>-First Nation kids are treated different... </li></ul>
  39. 39. Social Class in First Nation Groups
  40. 40. Traditional Hierarchy of First Nation People: <ul><li>The Indian Act determines who and who is not a status Indian. </li></ul>
  41. 41. The Hierarchy of Indians: Who is more Indian? Are you Indian enough? The Hierarchy of Aboriginal people .
  42. 42. REGIONALISM “ What makes Thunder Bay different? How is it different from other cities?” “ It’s a working man’s town. Everybody carries a lunch bucket here. That’s what it’s like in northwestern Ontario” (2003:45)
  43. 43. STILL ???
  44. 44. POLITICS OF THE HINTERLAND Politics of Extraction Politics of Frustration Politics of Parochialism
  45. 45. “ In a reactive mode, local knowledge is celebrated to the point that critical self-reflection is ruled out” (2003:54)
  46. 46. The ‘Local’ Whites
  47. 47. “ Multiculturalism does not recognize the structural basis of social inequality in class relations. The state’s focus on ethnicity means that those who are no longer ‘ethnics’ are assumed to be part of the middle class…” (2003:131)
  48. 48. “ They celebrate their own cultural values and vigorously reject those they feel are promoted by the power bloc. But they do so by emphasizing their own difference and superiority over the most visible ethnic group in the region” (2003:131)
  49. 49. “ The ‘Indian’ is established as a symbol through which the Boys establish their own moral worth and their difference from the perceived power bloc” (2003:102)
  50. 50. Where do the Boys belong?
  51. 51. Common sense
  52. 52. What is common sense thought? <ul><li>“… not to be understood as an underdeveloped precursor to scientific thought but as a structured paradigm for making sense of the world.” (Dunk, pg. 133) </li></ul><ul><li>Natural, practical, and obvious knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Referred to as down-to-earth thinking as opposed to theory. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no formal method or schooling for producing common-sense knowledge, implying that it is accessible to everyone. </li></ul>
  53. 53. How do ‘the boys’ use common sense thought? <ul><li>The boys believed the ‘obvious’ answer and did not understand when others created questions or tried to confuse the issue. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘obvious’ answers often reflected their opinions about First Nations people, women, and southerners. </li></ul><ul><li>The boys believed the obvious to be true, and so in their world, it was the truth. No questions were asked, as it would suggest a more scientific knowledge approach, and would show them as being naïve. </li></ul>
  54. 54. What does common sense mean in relation to class? <ul><li>Dunk suggests that the male working class culture is defined greatly through resisting “other” ways of living or thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>Common sense thinking, or anti-intellectualism is easily relatable for most working class men, and provides the group with its own way of thinking. It creates a division between those whose lives are controlled by mental labour and those whose lives are controlled by manual labour. </li></ul><ul><li>Common sense thought provides the male working class with an individual defining factor, and by doing so, provides them with some control over their lives. </li></ul>
  55. 55. Free write <ul><li>Consider the following question </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your pen on the page, writing, for 1 entire minute </li></ul><ul><li>Once complete, turn to your neighbour and share your experience </li></ul><ul><li>We will then bring the discussion back to the class as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>How have you experienced or witnessed class play out in Thunder Bay? </li></ul>