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Created: December 17, 2001
Latest update: December 17, 2001

Transforming Discourse

On Friday, December 7, 2001, Natashia Turner wrote:

Subject: Final for Special Topics 395: Transforming Discourse

I am only enrolled in special topics now, because I dropped sociology of law due to class conflicts. I learned several different concepts this semester, which I will now attempt to explain. We had an interesting semester with the terrorist acts and all.

First I will start with theories. Theory is where it all starts. Usually people have theories of how they believe things should be done. This is put into policies, which are theories formatted with guidelines for the rest of us to put into practice. The problem arises because of fundamentalist views that their ideas are correct, and they force them on others which is an example of dominant discourse.

jeanne's comments
Natashia, this is a good example of putting the concepts learned into your own words. It's a good way of describing the theory, policy, practice continuum. You are mixing together a number of concepts: theory, policy, fundamentalism, and dominant discourse, but you are doing it very reasonably.

I think you should modify "the problem arises because of fundamentalist views that their ideas are correct . . ." to "one problem arises" because there are many problems as we move from theory to practice. And careful when you use a "they" without an antecedent. Who? They? You could change the sentence to "Fundamentalists present one problem in the theory to practice continuum."

And I like the way you connected this problem to "dominant discourse." I wouldn't have thought of that. But you're right. If the fundamentalists have the power to control and enforce their perspective, then their views do become the dominant discourse because their perspective is enforced normatively. And dominant discourse could be defined as normative expectations for beliefs and attitudes.

See also fundamentalism.

Even the dominant usually upper class (economically, politically, non-minorities) falls a victim of this, the controlling group. You asked should we transform discourse if it will change dominant discourse? I believe through an exchange of ideas (discourse) we can shed light into a bigger pool where everyone's ideas aren't always heard. I believe through dominant discourse we can try to stop war.

jeanne's comments
There are some problems with this notion. I think you indicated them in the question as you stated it: Should we transform discourse? Dominant discourse at this time in the US tends to be strongly adversarial. That would not help us stop war. We would need to embrace Gordon Fellman's paradigm shift towards mutuality. That might help us stop war. See also adversarialism, definition of.

Recall that the focus of Transforming Discourse has been on shifting paradigms, enlarging our perspective, recognizing the "Other."

When you ignore people's ideas and push your fundamentalist actions upon them, I believe that causes war. I have learned that because of the way society is structured by classes we are separated and in steady conflict. By transforming discourse, we can better understand each other and show respect for others.

Natashia Turner, spc topics