Tuesday, September 13, 2005

One big butcher shop

This book got me very excited about my proposed research interests, which, phrased in terms of this article, is to consider how high tech corporate America can be one big butcher shop. I am interested in exploring how certain organizational structures coax employees into very specific "subject positions" (pardon the theory speak--I am still looking for my theoretical framework and research methods), complete with stratified, often gendered stances toward technical content (expert/developer/innovator versus uninitiate/supporter/implementer), means of envisioning agency and advancement, and formation of workplace identities, etc. I can't get away from the notion of gender performance being important to all this, although don't ask me to articulate why in any coherent way (yet). So, I'm really excited about Lave & Weger's description of learning as the "historical production, transformation, and change of persons" (51). In the margin of my copy, I kept scribbling impatient notes wanting to hear more about the stop-gaps--the things that impede legitimate peripheral participation. I thought it was interesting how they described the strategic components of ineffectual apprenticeships, i.e., entry-level butchers are made to merely wrap the meat to speed production along (strategic, even a little malicious), and their workspace is also placed where they can't view what the experts are up to (this may have been incidental? maybe not).

Speaking of which, I have a question. Would someone like to talk to me about what the authors are doing with the concepts of invisibility and visibility on pages 102-3: "In focusing on the epistemological role of artifacts in the context of the social organization of knowledge, this notion of transparency constitutes, as it were, the cultural organization of access...thus, the term transparency when used here in connection with technology refers to the way in which using artifacts and understanding their significance interact to become one learning process...there is an interesting duality inherent in the concept of transparency. It combines the two characteristics of invisibility and visibility: invisibility in the form of unproblematic interpretation and integration into activity, and visibility in the form of extended access to information." Okay, no need to type out the whole book here, but maybe we can talk about this passage, if others find it a little confusing too. I understand the definition of transparency (at the top of 102), but further on, the discussion confuses me. I still have about 20 pages of reading left to do, and the clarification I seek may be waiting there.


Blogger Anthony M. said...

The relationship of these ideas to the idea of gender performance was really exciting to me too, and just as hard to articulate (see my crappy post for proof). In one sense, I feel like LPP is more general, more broadly applicable. But at the same time, it is more narrow because it is about social groups which are smaller and in which participation is less mandatory. In L and W's terms, Judith Butler's argument, as far as I can tell, is that becoming members of the group "human beings" requires us to learn to act male or female. That is, each one of us, to the extent that we have identities as members of the human race, part of our legitimate peripheral participation in this group is that performance of gender.

And you mention "stop-gaps... that impede LPP", but what I'm wondering if it makes sense to say that LPP is ever impeded. Would L and W say that LPP can only happen in different ways depending on circumstances....?

5:05 PM  

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