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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: Fall 2000
Reiewed: August 15, 2003
Latest update: July 30, 2004 .

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a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

achieved and ascribed status: See ascribed and achieved status


Adversarialism is a learned attitude that reflects competition and the need to "best" others. Gordon Fellman, in Rambo and the Dalai Lama suggests that our culture has become so adversarial that we are obsessively competitive, and that our cooperation with one another in our communities suffers from that compulsive adversarialsim. Fellman suggests that we need a paradigm (model) shift in which we learn to emphasize competition and one-up-manship less and cooperation and mutuality more.


TR Young's Dictionary of Critical Sociology Scroll down about an inch to " Agency, human."


Philosophical term used for "Other". "The 'Other' in the work of Michel Foucault, for instance, consists of those who are excluded from positions of power, and are often victimized within a predominantly liberal humanist view of the subject." Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought, p.181.
  • Sample from Pierre Clastres' Archeology of Violence, Semiotext(e), 1994, Jeanine Herman translation. At p. 46:
    "All cultures thus create a division of humanity between themselves on the one hand, a representation par excellence of the human, and the others, which only participate in humanity to a lesser degree. The discourse that primitive societies use for themselves, a discourse condensed in the names they confer upon themselves [Ava, men; Ache, persons; Yanomami, people; Inuit, men], is thus ethnocentric through and through . . . . It is part of a culture's essence to be ethnocentric, precisely to the degree to which every culture considers itself the culture par excellence. In other words, cultural alterity is never thought of as positive difference, but always as inferiority on a hierarchical axis."
  • alterity, jeanne's rephrasing of "cultural alterity."

    At p.64, in Chapter 4, Of Ethnocide, Clastres seems to me to be saying that "cultural alterity" is a pattern of looking at those outside our group, whatever that group might be, as inferior to our own group. Groups or societies form around many traits and beliefs. Once they do so, there is almost always someone left out, someone who doesn't fit the group's normative expectations. Those who don't fit, who aren't really included, are the Other. That is, "cultural alterity" is the process by which we define some people as included, others as excluded.

    What Clastres is saying seems to me to be that all groups have a tendency to develop normative expectations which they share, and that some people don't meet those expectations, and become Others. In addition to that, Whenever we define an In-group, we automatically create an Out-group: those who aren't included. (The theory of social movements and race and gender theory deal with these issues.) During the course of building solidarity for our In-Group, of establishing our norms and boundaries, group self-esteem and pride is nurtured by reacting against outsiders. W.E.B. Du Bois (pp. 186-7, Farganis) talks about the pain of such exclusion on the basis of his racial identification. Dahrendorf (p. 266-267 on conflict theory) talks about the need we seem to have expressed in sociological theory for consensus or a "belongingness." That need has led us to believe that if we can come to a consensus amongst ourselves, then we have achieved something worthwhile as a social group. That consensus then becomes normative and our expectations tend to be based on it. when our expectations are not met, we consider the Other who doesn't meet them "deviant," not like us, Other. So it is that our concept of Other is always judgmental, always implies a value difference in which our values are superior to those of the Other. That is what I think Clastres is saying when he says that the Other is always seen as inferior to us in our concept of hierarchy.

    It's a little like the student who said: "My parents taught me to respect everyone's beliefs about God. But then they told me that our beliefs were the right ones."

    Does that help, Araceli?

  • "Leitch, p. 23. Postmodernism: Local Effects and Global Flows"
    Have to dig out the book. Tag me. jeanne


From the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary:
  1. : of doubtful authenticity : spurious
  2. often capitalized : of or resembling the Apocrypha
  3. >synonym see FICTITIOUS
  4. apoc·ry·phal·ly /-f&-lE/ adverb - apoc·ry·phal·ness noun


1 : of, relating to, or according with the principles of architecture : ARCHITECTURAL

ascribed and achieved status:

Status which derives from who you are, not what you achieve on your own. For example, your family may be well known in town; you are ascribed the status that your family has, whether that's as "ne'er-do-wells," local big-wigs, or "the Gotti family." Such ascribed status is also assigned on class, gender, religious, and ethnic terms.

Sometimes you have an older sibling who gets straight As in school. You are expected to get straight As, too. Ascribed status. You are a agood student most of the time. But for a few weeks you just take off and do nothing. Your teachers give you As anyway, because they know you are an A student - you must not be feeling well. Ascribed status.

This tells us there are two kinds of ascribed status:

  1. The status you are given completely independent of anything you do, based on the social group or groups you belong to.
  2. The status you are ascribed based on what you have done in the past. If you're an A student for a year, then you're probably going to receive ascribed A student status as you proceed in school. You don't have to prove yourself over and over as an A student. So even though you earned (achieved status) the original As, at some point you are labeled as an A student, and from then on you receive ascribed status as an A student. Same thing you are a "trouble maker," or are seen as a "slow student," or "talk too much," or are a tad to active for a near-dead classroom (we call this attention deficit now. So instead of being seen as "very, very smart and enthusiastic and energetic, you might be seen as having "attention deficity." Ah, labeling.

achieved status - this is the status based on what you do. If you perform well on a test, or turn in a good paper, you get a good grade because you did well. You achieved something as you, not as a member of some privileged or disempowered group. Unfortunately, labeling and domination and exploitation bring with them so many unstated assumptions the edges between achieved and ascribed status are often complex and obfuscated (not clear at all).

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  • to broach a subject:

    "mention or suggest (a topic) for the first time." (At p. 24 of the Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, By Eugene Ehrlich. No, I didn't buy it. It was a birthdaya present from Pat Acone. jeanne)

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    codes, language:

    Restricted and elaborated language codes. In some of the research of the 1970s the mothering techniques of black middle-class and black working-class mothers were compared. It was found that the middle-class mothers showed greater likelihood to explain to their 4-year-olds how to do a given task, then let the child carry out the instructions. The working-class mothers had more of a tendency to do the task for the child, and to give little explanation to the child. It was found that the elaborated language code used by the middle-class mothers was more likely to produce a self-motivated child.

    We need to look at research such as that on elaborated and restricted language codes to understand the need for respect in dominant discourse.


    Commodification is the turning of an object into a commodity, something that can be bought and sold, that has an "economic worth" of its own that can be bought or sold by someone other than the worker or producer of the object. One of the effects of commodification is to turn unique objects into "fungible" products. Fungible means that each one is of the same "worth" as every other one, for purposes of economic transactions.

    Examples: Land was not a commodity in Europe. There was very little excess and land and estates were passed down through families. But with imperialism, as new lands were discovered, some began to see the possibilities for commodifying land. The Spanish King paid the soldiers who conquered the Americas with land grants, so that land that had always been communally owned in the Americas became a commodity one could buy and sell on the market. Criollismo is the Spanish term for one who so receives his lands. The lands of indigenous people were confiscated, sometimes without violence, sometimes with violence, and the indigenous peoples were forced to work those lands for the new owner's profits. This is one of the forms of colonialism. Today, land in many parts of the world remains commodified.

    Another example is arts and crafts. When an artist creates a work of art, it is unique. But when the art begins to sell, and the artist and/or the art world begin to commodify the art, then we call it craft, and the artist is then less valued. What was unique is now fungible.


    A word that designates someone who received his lands from the King of Spain as reward or payment from service in the army during the Spanish colonization of Latin America. Juan Gonzalez uses the term "criollo" in Harvest of Empire.

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    "[O]ne pattern of differences pushes into the background another possible play of patterns." See Derrida's Concept of DifferAnce by Lois Shawver. Online.

    TR Young's definition of "DifferAnce"

    Dilthey, Wilhelm:

    Daniel Little's reference to Dilthey.

    dominant discourse:

    Dominant discourse is that collection of socializing influences that shape our interdependent behavior with Others. Dominant discourse includes language and culture and normative expectations across our institutions, such as family, school, spiritual gatherings, work and consumption or distribution organizations.

    Dominant discourse is "tenaciously normative, leading to TR Young's statement:

    "If radical, feminist, marxist, critical or postmodern sociology is central to your work and if you value it, you must expect to be marginalized and must expect that those threatened by it will find 'good' reason to challenge your tenure in academia."

    See also TR Young's definitions of discourse

    See also Kiesha Cheatham's discussion of "dominant discourse."

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    From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary online:
    Date: 14th century
    : an act or process of edifying.

    And "to edify" is:
    2 : to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge; also : ENLIGHTEN, INFORM.

    elaborated language code

    In the elaborated langage code explanations are given in detail and the situational context is explained. For example, a mother will tell her child, "Please stop, making that noise, dear. I can't hear Aunt Grace when you do that." Research has shown that such explanation enables the child to understand the request and to thus predict more accurately when similar situations are encountered how to handle them.

    The restricted language code is one in which communication is minimal, sometimes even in jargon the whole group understands, with little or no elaboration and no support to a child for greater understanding and control of his/her environment. Sometimes professional jargon plays a similar role as restricted language and tends to exclude those who are not privy to the jargon. Also, with those on whom a code of silence has been imposed as they have been dominated, the restricted language code serves as a barrier to the oppressed making any significant gains against those who have oppressed them.

    Consider Freire's codes of silence, and the codes of silence of young women from Women's Ways of Knowing.

    An early study of Black mothers of pre-school children found the elaborated language code to be more frequently used in the middle class, and the restricted language code more frequently used by the working class.




    1. : "a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind"
    2. : a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of mankind; specifically : any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment"

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    "designating movable goods, such as grain or money, any unit or part of which can replace another, as in discharging a debt; interchangeable." from The Quintessential Dictionary

    Sample of the use of fungible in discussing agency and structural context.

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    good faith:

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    "The concept of hegemony was most notably used by the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, as a way of explaining how the ruling class in a capitalist society managed to impose its ideology on the mass of the population - most of the time without recourse to force. Thus the belief system of bourgeois capitalism could be communicated through the arts and the media, which could present the principles of that ideology as ideals to be aspired to by the general population - or, more simply, as the 'natural' order of things (it is 'natural' for humans to compete, etc.). The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought, p.275.

    This dictionary is a very good reference tool, particularly once you have some basic familiarity with these theorists. It does a good job of connecting the early theorists to recent re-interpretations.

    From the Routledge Dictionary also, at p. 275: Gramsci's concept of hegemony was used by Louis Althusser to suggest that hegemony served to indoctrinate "the ideological principles of the ruling class" so effectively " that the population no longer even recognized that it was being indoctrinated."

    Postmodernist interpretation (ibid.): Marx's theory of historical necessity "dictated that the working class eventually ought to have risen up against its exploiters; hegemony explained why it generally did not, but in so doing cast doubt on the validity of the classical Marxist conception of historical necessity itself."


    political hegemony (fwd) by Klocke Brian V. 14 November 2000. Says Klocke: "this is the best theoretical article I have ever read on the topic! Even though it was published last year, I was struck by its utility in providing insightful applications to the current discourse around the election spectacle!"
    hegemony in Terms of Art dictionary at Okanagan University College

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    January 30, 2003: Illucutionary discourse is discourse in which people come together to try to understand each other's positions. They agree to listen in good faith to what the other has to say. And they agree to use their expertise to help the other clarify what his/her position is. Their willingness to help one another to understand the basis and goal of each others' validity claims does not mean that they actually agree with what the other is saying. It means that they are trying in good faith to understand, so that they can respect each other in their differences and construct an environment for themselves in which they can live with one another without violence, hatred, and killing.

    This concept is drawn from Maria Pia Lara's Moral Textures, a Mexican Philosopher. I may have distorted her idea slightly. I am not a philosopher. But the definition I give above is one that works for us in our attempts to understand peace and social justice, and it is the one we have come to use in practice. jeanne


    This first definition is taken from Greg Heath's presentation at a conference at the University of Huddleston. It can be accessed at the abstract section on Constructing Identities
    I'll summarize it later. But we needed something up quickly.

    Greg Heath
    Reclaiming the Radical Imagination

    In this paper I discuss the "radical imagination", as so defined by Castoriadis, in his Paper The Discovery of the Imagination. Castoriadis claims the "radical Imagination" has been discovered twice in the history of philosophy, first by Aristotle in the De Anima and then by Kant in the Critique of Judgement, but then that it has been curiously "forgotten". I will argue that the radical imaginary needs to "remembered" or re-established to understand identity and being. What the radical imaginary can do is provide continuity to understanding of subjectivity of identity and the objectivity of being in the world.

    The radical imagination will be distinguished from the more familiar type of imagination in that it is present, not just in the category of epistemology, but in the category of ontology and is necessary for the attribution of being to both self and to the objects of experience. It is an autonomous capacity of the soul to create images in thought and sensation so that the soul might, as it were, receive and by thus receiving, give being to the thought or sensed objects.

    It will be argued that the radical imagination provides the basis for establishing that we are self-instituting beings. Following Kant, it will be maintained that the self is not a given in reflection, but created through the imagination of autonomous, reasoning beings in an intersubjectivity. And, it will be further argued, that if we do not comprehend this originatory principle of self-consciousness we are doomed to see the self, as well the other, as alien or foreign.

    imaginary, comparison with imagination

    jeanne's definition of imaginary:

    Because "imaginary" is a term of technical jargon in many disciplines, I have given here my own rough approximation of a definition. This is what I mean when I use the word; others in the various disciplines may not agree.

    It seems a little frivolous at first to use a new word, imaginary, when we had a perfectly good word, imagination, to start with. But the imagination has everyday connotations, many of which do not fit the specific use to which we are putting the word imaginary. Imaginary, for me, applies to a facility to perceive the real world in all its complexity in some way not imagined before. Milton Rokeach, in The Open and Closed Mind, devotes an entire chapter to explaining our difficulty with seeing solutions to problems when unexpected steps are involved. The example Rokeach uses is one of a bug, Joe, trying to get out of a maze. When the problem is presented in a book, as is normal, it is very hard for us to imagine Joe jumping up and over the maze. That is because we have learned to seek two-dimensional solutions in which Joe turns east or west, north or south, but not up into three-dimensional space. Our imaginary, our ability to see whole new ways to approach the problem, is constrained by our normative expectations that solutions to such problems will be two-dimensional.

    As I recall Rokeach's work, his primary recommendation was that awareness of such limitations in our thinking will guide us to seek alternatives more readily. That fits in with Jonathan Lear's concept of "knowingness," which describes our discomfort with ambiguity, and our tendency to substitute certainty or "knowingness," which constrains us usually to dominant discourse, or "what everybody knows."

    In conclusion, the "imaginary," for me is the facility to distance oneself from the normative expectations of the dominant discourse, thus freeing oneself to gain totally new perspective of the "real world."


    From Merriam-Webster's Online Collegiate Dictionary:

    1. : relating to or situated in the interstices where:
    interstices is defined as:
      Date: 15th century
    1. a : a space that intervenes between things; especially : one between closely spaced things b : a gap or break in something generally continuous
    2. : a short space of time between events
    So "left/right and all the interstitial perspectives" refers to all the prspectives found in between the two extremes of left and right.

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    The placing of one concept or object next to another, often for purposes of comparison.

    Webster's Online Dictionary definition of juxtaposition

    The verb is "juxtapose." To juxtapose is to "place or set or put side by side, place parallel, place near, bring near; compare, put alongside; pair, partner, match, collocate." (From Rodale's The Synonym Finder, 1978 Edition, p. 621.)

    Example of juxtaposition in use.

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    language code

    legal positivism

    "Legal positivism is the thesis that the existence and content of law depends on social facts and not on its merits. The English jurist John Austin (1790-1859) formulated it thus: “The existence of law is one thing; its merit and demerit another. Whether it be or be not is one enquiry; whether it be or be not conformable to an assumed standard, is a different enquiry.” (1832, p. 157) The positivist thesis does not say that law's merits are unintelligible, unimportant, or peripheral to the philosophy of law. It says that they do not determine whether laws or legal systems exist. Whether a society has a legal system depends on the presence of certain structures of governance, not on the extent to which it satisfies ideals of justice, democracy, or the rule of law. What laws are in force in that system depends on what social standards its officials recognize as authoritative; for example, legislative enactments, judicial decisions, or social customs. The fact that a policy would be just, wise, efficient, or prudent is never sufficient reason for thinking that it is actually the law, and the fact that it is unjust, unwise, inefficient or imprudent is never sufficient reason for doubting it. According to positivism, law is a matter of what has been posited (ordered, decided, practiced, tolerated, etc.); as we might say in a more modern idiom, positivism is the view that law is a social construction. Austin thought the thesis “simple and glaring.” While it is probably the dominant view among analytically inclined philosophers of law, it is also the subject of competing interpretations together with persistent criticisms and misunderstandings."
    legal positivism Stanford enclyclopedia of philosophy.


    A leit-motif is a theme that runs through a work, drawing the reader's or the listener's or the viewer's attention by it's repetition, thus providing both a cohesion and a handle for the memory of the work. Example.

    linear thinking:

    "By this is meant any ordering of concepts which is sequential between (or within) subdivisions but contains no loops linking non-proximate elements in the sequence."
    From Non-linear Agendas and Linear Thinking

    logical positivism:

    logical positivism, also called "logical empiricism."

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    A ludicrous or humorous misuse of a word. See Vocabulary Discourse Forum: malapropism
    Definition provided by Valencia Ross, October 29, 2000.


    A fairly clear definition is offered by a course syllabus for an honors course at UCLA:

    "Director: Richard Creese, Writing Programs

    This course studies the early and middle 20th century's attempt to find, construct, or reconstruct "deep significance." Modernism was the revolt against industrialization, rationality, science, urbanization, industrialization, materialism--in a word, against the modern. The Modernists sought ways to counter their disillusionment with 20th century history with the hope that significance might be found somewhere beneath the grim, modern surface. To complicate the Modernists' program was a rejection of conventional notions of religion. If they were not materialists, neither were they usually spiritualists. It is this search for significance somewhere between materialism and religion which defines Modernism.

    First, we shall establish the modern world view, which Modernists were reacting against. We shall then examine the Modernism of D. H. Lawrence, W. B. Yeats, and Virginia Woolf and artists and architects discussed by Robert Hughes in The Shock of the New.

    The course will conclude with a look at Postmodernist writers such as Karen Tei Yamashita, and Nabokov, to see how they critique, attack, and parody the Modernist project in their novels. We shall also look at Modernist and Post-Modernist art and plays by Pinter and Frank Chin.

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    From the Rouetledge Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought:

    "Edward Said's path-breaking work, Orientalism, (1978); leans on Foucault's discussion of knowledge/power as well as Jacques Derrida's insistence that we should 'deconstruct' certain privileged binary oppositions. The words for 'Orient' and 'Occident' derive simply from Latin words for sun rising (orients) and sun setting (occidents). Orient and occident are thus by nature entirely relative to the positioning of the observer (for inhabitants of Tokyo the sun rises in the East over Hawaii). However, as Said explains, a huge and ancient historical regime has taken this necessarily mobile and relational positioning and reduced it to a fixity, specifying, for example, the 'Near", 'Middle' and 'Far East' posed in opposition to a supposedly originary point in Europe.

    "Placed at the imaginary centre, Europe claims to be a subject able to know the 'Orient', the entire non-Western world, as an object, so exercising power over it (in his epigraph to the book, Said cites Marx: 'They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented') . . . ."

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    "painterly - A painting technique in which forms are created with patches of color, exploiting color and tonal relationships. The opposite approach is known as linear, in which things are represented in terms of contour, with precise edges.

    "Examples of painting in this manner:

    "Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926), Grainstack, Sun in the Mist, 1891, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See Impressionism."

    "George Wesley Bellows (American, 1882-1925), Steaming Streets, 1908, oil on canvas, 38 3/8 x 30 1/4 inches (97.5 x 76.8 cm), Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA. See Ashcan school."

    "Works by Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929), and Susan Rothenberg (American, 1945-) are also painterly, while the linear style is typical of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519), Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965), and Keith Haring (American, 1958-1989)."

    From ArtLex

  • paradigm:

    "Paradigm: Greek: paradeigma = pattern, model, plan. In the philosophy of science, the word refers to the general framework within which one works. Th. Kuhn argued that there is progressive evolution of paradigms in physics and society; each more encompassing than those coming before. Postmodern philosophy of science holds that, rather than one final encompassing paradigm, there can be any number of 'paradigms of knowledge' depending upon the human interests which inform each. Both nature and society are so complex and so interconnected while humans are so creative, any number of paradigms, each with some truth value, can be constructed. In sociology, a "social paradigm" refers to the kind of society under construction. Again, there can be many. There have been between 3000 and 4000 cultures in human history; Capitalism is one such paradigm and socialism quite a different one." From TR Young's Dictionary of Critical Sociology


    "Positivism is a system of philosophical and religious doctrines elaborated by Auguste Comte. As a philosophical system or method, Positivism denies the validity of metaphysical speculations, and maintains that the data of sense experience are the only object and the supreme criterion of human knowledge; as a religious system, it denies the existence of a personal God and takes humanity, "the great being", as the object of its veneration and cult. We shall give a brief historical sketch of Positivism, an exposition of its fundamental principles, and a criticism of them." From The Catholic Encyclopedia/


    privilege as defined in Mann and Zatz, Images of Color, Images of Crime.

    privileging subjectivity:

    privileging subjectivity Notes from December 1998.



    psychphysical anchor in reality:

    I picked this term up in the early seventies from Jones and Gerard's Advanced Social Psychology, as part of an understanding of attitude change and persuasion techniques. One of our concerns is usually that we are not failing to understand what others around us are thinking of the same pitch or argument. This is part of our tendency to conform to the dominant discourse of our group, so that we will not discover ourselves to be "outliers" or "different" from our group in ways that might lead to social unacceptability and coercion. If everyone else gave the student an F, we'd like the reassurance that our inclination to do so is not markedly divergent from what others have given. Of course, if we were planning to give that student an A, then we might have to consider the unstated antecedents of those grades. (The Solomon Asch studies on conformity.)

    The psychophysical anchor in reality is a good description of the process we go through to help give ourselves a sense in how aligned our assessments are with those of the rest of the group. We'd like to be sure that we're part of the "50,000,000 Frenchmen who can't be wrong." Of course, those 50,000,000 Frenchmen were wrong when it came to colonization and empire, just as we might be now. But the psychophysical anchor in reality doesn't tell us who's right, just who's in consensus with whom.

    Example in how we gauge our feelings and reactions to America's attack on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

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    adj. describing the "pure and concentrated essence of anything; the most perfect embodiment or manifestation of a quality of a thing . . . In the Quintessential Dictionary, at p. 347, we find the following example: "Senator Hubert Humphrey emerged as the best, i.e., the QUINTESSENTIAL spokesman for the Democratic apaproach to such questions. (W.F. Bucklley Jr., Execution Eve and Other Contemporary Ballads, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1975. p.264.)


    Daily; everyday. In the Quintessential Dictionary, at p. 350, we find these examples:
    "There is something democratic and enlivening in their [the "beat" writers'] celebrations of "our quotidian inspired lives," the beauty of common speech, the intrinsic artfulness of the mind's first thoughts, and, finally, in their indignation at the forces that obscure these potentials. (P. Parisi, Review of Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation," by John Tytell, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/10/76, p. 19)


    "Science fiction regularly shows us humanity in trouble. Mutants, monsters, alien intelligences and creeping plant life all figure the possible end of a human world, but they also suggest something more quotidian, less apocalyptic: a change of life, a suspicion that humanity itself has simply been mislaid or thrown away in some recent corridor of history. And in this light science fiction seems less a marginal or extravagant form of fiction than a caricatured version of what is going on all over the place. (M. Wood, Review of Plus, a book by Joseph McElroy, New York Times, 3/20/77, Section 7, p. 6)

    A Dear Habermas Example:

    "Quotidian" in Day of the Dead

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    real world

    Michael Briggs asked the other day what I meant by "real world." That would pretty much depend on the context in which I used it, but we were talking about ways in which the structural violence of rules and laws can cross over into actual violence, that is violence with the intent to harm a specific "Other" when the "Other" voices a validity claim that the rule, regulation, or law is harming him/her by refusing to consider his/her "difference." What I would mean by "real world" in that context is that the categories recognized by the rule, regulation, or law are inflexible, and that in the real world, that is in the complex context of everyday life, the claims of those who don't fit the normative expectations of categorization must be heard in good faith also.

    Martha Minow does an excellent analysis of "rights" law on this basis. She speaks of the unresolvable tension between recognizing the difference, of say those with Spina Bifida, so that their special needs may be taken into account and recognizing the importance of denying any difference. Women face this dilemma over preganancy leave. If they demand pregnancy leave as a "right" because of their difference from men, then that is used to support the prejudice of inequality and less beneficial treatment than that given to men. There's a famous California case in which a woman demanded the right to work in the field because supervisors could only be promoted from actual field work, and as an officer worker she would never have been able to get the higher pay for supervision.

    "Real world" comes into this, Michael, when we begin to recognize the complex stories of the men and women, of the physically disabled and the non-disabled as they compete for what we have ordained to be limited resources. I say "ordained" it is our dominant discourse, our normative expectations, that lead us to believe that it is OK for others to starve while we live well. Critical theory, postmodern theory, postcolonial theory all tend to stress the injustice and inhumanity of such a dominant system by stressing the complexity of the "real world" in which there are many perspectives, many claims to our limited resources, some of which are never heard in good faith.


    Thing-making. Or maybe thing-ifying, or turning something as complex as a relationship into an object to be commodified and exchanged. (Like selling your own mother.) Taking an abstract idea and turning it into an object, as though it had real substance in a real world.

    Gyorgy Lukacs was the theorist who introduced the term. Jonathan Turner, The Structure of Sociological Theory, 6th edition, at p. 553:

    "Lukacs blended Marx and Weber together by seeing a convergence of Marx's ideas about commodification of social relations through money and markets with Weber's thesis about the penetration of rationality into ever more spheres of modern life. Borrowing from Marx's analysis of the "fetishism of commodities," Lukacs employed the concept of reification to denote the process by which social relationships become "objects" that can be manipulated, bought, and sold. Then, reinterpreting Weber's notion of 'rationalization' to mean a growing emphasis on the process of "calculation" of exchange values, Lukacs combined Weber's and Marx's ideas. As traditional societies change, he argued, there is less reliance on moral standards and processes of communication to achieve societal integration; instead there is more use of money, markets, and rational calculations. As a result, relations are coordinated by exchange values and by people's perceptions of one another as 'things.' "

    restricted language code

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    social fact



    Spivak speaks of subaltern as a term properly belonging only to those who have no voice. In "Can the Subaltern Speak?: Speculations on Widow Sacrifice", Spivak differentiates carefully those for whom the hegemonic dominant discourse offers no support and no understanding in the sense that the voice of the subaltern never really enters the stage of dialogic utterance where there is any aspect of good faith hearing.

    The concept of being able to speak is very close to that of having no recognized voice, but Spivak accentuates the difference:

    "Subaltern," Spivak insists, is not "just a classy word for oppressed, for Other, for somebody who's not getting a piece of the pie." She points out that in Gramsci's original covert usage (being obliged to encrypt his writing to get it past prison censors), it signified "proletarian," whose voice could not be heard, being structurally written out of the capitalist bourgeois narrative. In postcolonial terms, "everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern -- a space of difference. Now who would say that's just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed. It's not subaltern" (de Kock interview)."
    Read further in an Emory University glossary of Spivak's terms, under Subaltern.

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    transparency: Term that has become increasingly popular since the Enron scandal in describing what's wrong with the business practices of major corporations. Often top executives, like Jastrow at Enron, plan secret deals in which they manipulate funds to their own advantage. These deals are not recorded. Officers who should know about the financial transactions do not, and the executives involved skim millions from the corporations. One of the proposals, in addition to watchdog committees in government, is that there should be more "transparency." That is much less corporate business should be conducted in secrecy, and corporations should reveal their transactions openly at least to their shareholders. To the extent that we know the transactions are taking place, we the public and/or the shareholders might be able to exert significant influence.

    We have used the term in talking about the "transparency" of grading. That is, students should have access to explanations of precisely what learning is expected for grades, and should be given explanations of how editing their work after some correction could bring up their grades. That would mean that students could trust more effectively, and see the direct links between what they have written and what needs to be written to improve their work. It's labor intensive. That means we teachers have to work a lot harder. But it does work better than the traditional system. jeanne February 10, 2003.

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    unstated assumptions

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    1. the language or dialect of a country.
    2. the everyday (quotidian) speech of ordinary people."
      (From The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, 1997 Edition, p. 185.)

    Example of vernacular in use.


    Verstehen: Teaching Essay

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    Waiting to Go Up

    Specialty Dictionaries Online
    Landow's Postcolonial Terms
    Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
    TR Young's Dictionary of Critical Sociology
    Words of Art Excellent dictionary.
    A Veritable Trove of Dictionaries Philosophy.