Ethical Communication 3: Democracy


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Ethical Communication 3: Democracy

  1. 1. Ethical Communication Module 3: Democracy Dr Megan Poore
  2. 2. Overview Dewey • Despotism • Democracy (mutual interests, free interaction) Mannheim • Laissez-faire, totalitarianism • Democracy (shared values, freedom, variety
  4. 4. Moving on ... •And out of a deficit model (oppression) to an enabling model (democracy)
  5. 5. John Dewey Democracy and Education (1916)
  6. 6. Intro •We’re going to look at Dewey’s concept of democracy •Again, he uses common terms in ways that are slightly different from the common understanding •And again, you have to draw the links yourself between this and how we communicate with others
  7. 7. Intro •But in order to understand his concept of democracy, we need to understand how he views despostism •Because his view of democracy is in natural opposition to that of despotism •He is talking about societies, but I want to shift the focus to communication practices
  8. 8. Despotism •Despotism I: Lack of common interests •Despotism II: Separation
  9. 9. Despotism I: No common interests •Despotic societies (or communication strategies) promote an interplay between dread and hope •Dread of consequences -- “avoiding pain” •Hope of reward -- “attaining pleasure”
  10. 10. Despotism I: No common interests •People do not “operate on their own account” but only in response to dread and hope -> no common interests •Stimulation-response :(
  11. 11. •It’s about looking out for ‘number one’ •Thus, there are no common interests, no common values, no “free play back and forth” •In such a form of communication we ‘educate some into masters, others into slaves’ Despotism I: No common interests
  12. 12. •In common with Freire (oppressors are also oppressed -- because they are dehumanised) ... Despotism I: No common interests
  13. 13. |The evils thereby affecting the superior class are less material and less perceptible, but equally real. Their culture tends to be sterile, to be turned back to feed on itself; their art becomes a showy display and artificial; their wealth luxurious; their knowledge overspecialised; their manners fastidious rather than humane. — John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Ch VII, 1, I
  14. 14. •Lack of diversity means lack of novelty and lack of challenge to thought •This prevents “the interplay of experiences” •It prevents full and human communication Despotism I: No common interests
  15. 15. •But it doesn’t have to be as obvious as the Nazis •Dewey says that we become alienated from others when we don’t have a personal interest in them and their success •And cannot participate fully in this form of social life, of communication Despotism I: No common interests
  16. 16. •A bit like Marx’s concept of the alienation of labour ... innit. Despotism I: No common interests
  17. 17. Despotism II: Separation •This occurs when one group (or person) shuts out another in order to serve their own interests •Its main purpose is to protect oneself and one’s interests, not to “reorganise and progress through wider relationships” •It’s anti-progressive
  18. 18. Despotism II: Separation •This leads to selfish ideals and isolation •The problem? Contact with others would necessitate some kind of reconstruction, reconstitution, readjustment or shift of consciousness of either the group or the self -- not always welcome!
  19. 19. Trans •But Dewey puts forth some counterpoints to the despotism nurtured by dread and hope and separation ...
  20. 20. Democracy •Democracy I: Mutal interests (vs dread) •Democracy II: Free interaction (vs separation)
  21. 21. A caution: Democratic education •We have to be careful not to confuse this with ‘democratic’ forms of government •For Dewey, democracy cannot be present when there is an “external authority” •Democracy is ‘voluntary’ •It is a form of “associated living, of conjoint communicated experience”
  22. 22. •Transcends culture •But may only find expression in it A caution: Democratic education
  23. 23. Democracy I: Mutual interests •People must have an equal opportunity to give and take from others •This builds common understandings, values, experiences •All of this is good for our common humanity
  24. 24. Democracy I: Mutual interests •Dewey argues that the more important the interplay of interests are to each other, then the more interested we become in “deliberate and systematic” communication ...
  25. 25. Democracy II: Free interaction •It’s about “numerous and more varied points of contact” with others •Variation is highly valued in democratic communication because it exposes us to diversity of intellectual, cultural, political ‘stimuli’, which, in turn, allows us to be consistent
  26. 26. |...each has to refer to his own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own, [which is] equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity. — John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Ch VII, 2
  28. 28. Karl Mannheim Diagnosis of Our Time (1943)
  29. 29. Karl Mannheim •Born Hungary,1893; Died London, 1947 •Founder of sociology of knowledge •Fled the Nazis in 1933 and settled in Britain •Taught at the LSE •Most famous work Ideology and Utopia (1929)
  30. 30. Diagnosis of Our Time (1943) •Written during World War II •Questions of right and wrong and of the ultimate purposes in life were highly visible
  31. 31. Democratic planning •In order for society to develop, there must be some form of planning •I’m going to substitute ‘planning’ for ‘communication’
  32. 32. Democratic communication •Difference between 1) communicating for conformity and 2) communicating for variety (cf Dewey’s mutual interests) and freedom (cf Dewey’s free interaction) •The latter is democratic communication
  33. 33. Democratic communication •Recall Dewey when we said that the more important the interplay of interests are to each other, then the more interested we become in “deliberate and systematic” communication ...
  34. 34. Democratic communication •Democratic communication should have the courage to agree on basic values and develop a rigorous attitude towards values-creation •The opposite of this is ‘laissez-faire’ liberalism
  35. 35. |Laissez-faire Liberalism [mistakes] neutrality for tolerance. Yet, neither democratic tolerance nor scientific objectivity means that we should refrain from taking a stand for what we believe to be true or that we should avoid the discussion of the final values and objectives of life. — Karl Mannheim, Diagnosis of Our Time, Ch 1
  36. 36. Democratic communication •‘Laissez-faire’ liberalism is easy to support when there aren’t imminent threats. •It’s easy not to enter fully into someone else’s experience when things are going OK. •How interested are you in this?
  37. 37. Democratic planning •It’s easy to mistake neutrality for tolerance when there are no pressing threats ... •When things are going along OK ... •But what if you were facing something completely unprecedented in human history?
  38. 38. The crisis in valuation •Again we can ask, why do we communicate? •Totalitarian communication strategies perpetuate their own ideology
  39. 39. The crisis in valuation •Are we communicating solely to convince people of our own point of view? Of our own ideologies? •Ideologies do not permit other points of view; philosophy does
  40. 40. A third way •But there is something between totalitarian attitudes towards how others should live and laissez-faire liberalism where ‘anything goes’ •This is democratic pattern of communication or communication for freedom
  41. 41. A third way •Democratic communication is dynamic and needs variety •In this communication, the “spontaneous integration of consensus on different levels continually takes place” •ie, in a very clever way, we are back to Dewey, where we share mutal interests in an environment of free interaction :)
  42. 42. Wrapping up
  43. 43. Wrapping up •Despotic communication strategies force an interplay between dread and hope and separate people •There leads to a lack of diversity, lack of full human communication, lack of potential for shifts in consciousness
  44. 44. Wrapping up •But democratic communication isn't just about accepting everything that others say •Mannheim says we cannot be either totalitarian or laissez-faire in our interactions with others
  45. 45. Wrapping up •We need to ask, are we communicating for conformity? Or for variety? •Democratic communication is dynamic and needs variety