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Ethical Communication 2: Oppression


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Ethical Communication 2: Oppression

  1. 1. Ethical communication Module 2: Oppression Dr Megan Poore
  2. 2. Overview • Humanisation • Oppression and dehumanisation • Praxis
  5. 5. Paolo Freire
  6. 6. Freire •1921 - 1997 •Brazilian adult educator •Theorist of critical pedagogy •Developed literacy programs for the poor •1964 coup, imprisoned as a traitor •Exiled to Bolivia, lived 5 years in Chile •Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968)
  7. 7. Humanisation •To become more ‘fully human’ is humanity’s only true vocation •This means our being human qua human
  8. 8. Humanisation •Humans can ‘rise above’ the fight -- gorillas can’t
  9. 9. Humanisation •This is not just a whitefella thing •It transcends culture but may simultaneously be specific to it •Ie, it’s a universal, human telos for human flourishing, but may only gain expression via culture
  10. 10. Humanisation •No one authority decides this -- instead, it is a dialogical, communicative process in which we are with the world, not just in it
  11. 11. Humanisation •Again, our footy players and gorillas are in the world -- they are reactive and responsive as opposed to reflective and active •They are ‘dehumanised’ -- they have had their humanity ‘stolen’ as Freire would put it
  12. 12. Humanisation •Remember: To become more ‘fully human’ is humanity’s only true vocation •To be all we can be as humans
  14. 14. Oppression •People are dehumanised and oppressed by exploitation, injustice, violence
  15. 15. Oppression •To see or treat others as an object of knowledge (eg, ‘I know you are a trouble-maker’) and not a source of it (‘Why do I label you so?), is an oppressive act
  16. 16. Oppression •It is oppressive because it dehumanises them ... •It does not recognise their inherent humanity
  17. 17. Oppression •Happens when people and ideas are “filed away” as if they are so many ‘deposits’ in a bank •(Based on Freire’s notion of ‘banking’ in education)
  18. 18. Oppression • I know everything, you know nothing • I think, you are thought about • I talk, you listen • I discipline, you are disciplined • I choose and enforce, you comply • I act, you have the illusion of acting • I choose, you adapt • I am the subject, you are the object
  19. 19. Oppression •All of this is the very antithesis of being human •We force others to become ‘spectators’ not ‘co-creators’
  20. 20. Oppression •Freire does have answers to all of this -- but we’ll do that in the last lecture!
  21. 21. Dehumanisation •Key thesis: Oppressors are also dehumanised because they dehumanise others
  22. 22. Dehumanisation •But this dehumanisation can happen in often in subtle ways ...
  23. 23. Subtle forms of dehumanisation 1.Domestication 2.False generosity
  24. 24. 1. Domestication •Domestication is a form of oppression •It’s about making people do things your way because it suits you best ... •About wanting to change the consciousness of the oppressed (to suit me), not the situation
  25. 25. 1. Domestication •The problem with wanting to ‘domesticate’ people is that it pre-establishes a future for them •And once the future is pre-established, people get locked in -- they cannot move and cannot be learnt from •Once working class, always working class ...
  26. 26. Master Dennis Simmons. E. O. Hoppé (1922)
  27. 27. 2. False generosity •A second subtle form of oppression comes in “false generosity”... •A ‘softening of power’ that is really only about keeping the oppressed down, keeping them ‘happy’ or content with their lot in life.
  28. 28. |Any situation in which ‘A’ objectively exploits ‘B’ or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity ... — Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Ch 1
  29. 29. Domestication & false generosity •Once the oppressed have ‘internalised’ the consciousness of the oppressor (through techniques of false generosity) they become domesticated
  30. 30. Essay-writing •Essay-writing is a prime example ... •We tell you how to write an essay, you follow suit, you get good marks. •You deviate, and we punish you. •But then you become complicit in your own domestication
  31. 31. Transformative action •But there is a way out ... through transformative action
  32. 32. Transformative action •Once a person ‘knows’ reality better, they can transform it •(This comes through critical consciousness -- laterrrrrr ...)
  33. 33. Creating new situations •Simply acknowledging oppressive behaviours is not enough -- we need to “enter into the situation” of others in order to fully understand them and to transform the situation (31) •We have to create new situations through “transforming action” in pursuit of a “fuller humanity”
  34. 34. |This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them — Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Preface
  35. 35. Transformation •The oppressed must take part in their own liberation -- oppressors cannot ‘liberate’ others (ie, the oppressed) ... only themselves.
  37. 37. Philosophy is practical •It helps us ask useful questions •And find ‘best’ answers
  38. 38. Philosophy as praxis •Freire says we need to find a balance beetween activism and verbalism •This is known as praxis •No action = verbalism (“blah”) •No reflection = activism (action for action’s sake)
  39. 39. Philosophy is practical •It is common sense and has common- sense applications: •“Did I act wisely?” •“What are my motivations?” •“Have I learnt anything from you?”
  40. 40. | It is easier for a few to improve the material conditions of many than for a few to waken a great many from the hypnosis of immature emotional satisfactions. People in this situation have somehow to be taught to help themselves. Hoggart, Richard. 2008 [1957]. The Uses of Literacy. New Brunswick (USA): Transaction Publishers. p. 250. Emphasis added
  41. 41. |[t]here are other ways of being in the truth. The strongest objection to the more trivial popular entertainments is not that they prevent their readers from becoming highbrow, but that they make it harder for people without an intellectual bent to become wise in their own way.” Hoggart, Richard. 2008 [1957]. The Uses of Literacy. New Brunswick (USA): Transaction Publishers. p. 250. Emphasis added
  42. 42. Wrapping up
  43. 43. Summary •Our only true vocation is to become more fully human •To treat others as objects of knowledge, not as sources of it, is an oppressive act •Oppressors are also dehumanised because they dehumanise others
  44. 44. Summary •Domestication is about wanting to change other people's consciousness rather than changing the situation •Domestication pre-determines a future for people •False generosity is about keeping people down, making them believe they are happy with their circumstances
  45. 45. Summary •Transformative action means we enter into the situation of others so we can fully understand them •We create new situations through transforming actions
  46. 46. Thanks for coming!
  47. 47. Bonus material! Kant •The maxim of my will should be such that it to become universal law •Kant would ask, ‘What if everyone did that?’ •I just had to put this somewhere -- I might use it later ;)