Monday, March 13, 2017

zizek: (phatic) violence -- review

There is a lot of recycled material in this book and a lot that is off the point altogether. So a typical Zizek book. The one idea I found interesting is his explanation of street protests that turn violent, as well as the kind of thing that went on in Paris in 2005, as 'phatic' violence. That is to say, it serves the sole purpose of saying 'I'm here' and 'we're talking'. But Zizek doesn't take it far enough because in fact the phatic requires two interlocutors and its purpose is to keep open the lines of communication. So the obvious point he missed is that the police response is also phatic. By brutalising the protestors, they too are saying 'I'm here' and 'we're talking'. Moreover, if this in fact the case, then this type of protest action will not bring change because it is a routine exchange. -- from a three-star review of Violence, 2009
This is (perhaps) similar to what's going on in Netherlands recently.

Brainstorm: I wonder if this could be connected with Bordieu's symbolic violence, variously:
“the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity”
“[a] term for the imposition on subordinated groups by the dominant class of an ideology which legitimates and naturalizes the status quo: see also dominant ideology”
Certainly a "status quo" seems roughly to be a phatic kind of thing, insofar as it provides a basis for communication.

Here's an abstract that offers an applied look at these issues:
Government policies and financial imperatives have fostered growing heterogeneity in student bodies in UK and Australian higher education (HE), but the underpinning logic of practice in these long-established social fields is far slower to change. Drawing on empirical evidence from case studies in each nation, this paper examines the tensions between the espoused and enacted values of the academy in relation to the widening participation and internationalisation agendas. We describe the research sites, their relationships with their respective fields of power and the experiences of participants as inhabitants of these HE fields. We highlight the struggles to secure relevant capital, acts of symbolic violence occurring at both institutional and programme levels and the resultant impact on individual positions and trajectories within the fields. Finally, we consider the extent to which the established practices in HE, which naturally preserve the dominance of the dominating factions, are likely to shift to enable it to genuinely enact the social conscience it espouses. 

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