Saturday, September 10, 2011

What do you find so threatening?

So here you go. I have often been puzzled as to what it is about CCA that threatens your typical academic. Why is it that when presented with the idea of CCA that your "typical" Comm scholar often has a gut response of defensiveness? (Of course, I am using the label "typical" to refer to a specific representation of the average, the middle, the central tendency that occupies the status quo; and of course, there have been a number of Communication scholars who have opened up, encouraged, and nurtured some of the basic premises of CCA). For this blog though, I am going to refer to that central tendency or the mediocre average that responds from various positions of feeling defensive, articulating this response in various froms of pettiness and petty politics (Marx is so right on target when he refers to the bourgeoisie as "petty").

Yesterday, during our Hunger Coalition meeting, one of our community members who has herself experienced hunger summarized her understanding of this defensive response among bourgeoisie academics. She noted, "when we speak, it makes a whole bunch of people uncomfortable."

So where does this discomfort come from? Perhaps a lot from the threat of one's privilege being challenged, from the threat of being rendered irrelevant and being asked to be accountable to those who have historically been erased.

Because if in this instance, the hungry were to be able to speak in a way that matters, in a way that demonstrates that people who have been historically marginalized may know a whole lot more than those who sit around the table and pretend to know a whole lot hidden in their psychobabble, it would put many of our average academics out of jobs. It would raise questions such as "How do you justify spending valuable $ on ineffective policies, programs, interventions that continue to demonstrate small and unsustainable effect sizes?" "How do you justify manufacturing a bunch of BS and labeling that as utterly meaningless constructs that have absolutely zero relevance for those that you target?"

The prospect of those from the margins speaking is ultimately utterly terrifying because it stands to de-center us from the privileged positions we occupy. And this political economy of personal-structural profiteering (because come on, we all know that we profit tremendously with these incentives within petty bourgeoisie structures) perhaps underlies the responses of feeling threatened by prospects of voices from elsewhere speaking up in ways that de-center the priviege of the middle. In the next couple of weeks, I am going to spend my blogs in interrogating the academic structures, processes, and systems that are tied to these fundamental responses of "being threatened" among the middle.

No comments: