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ETHN 14: Introduction to Asian American Studies Department of Ethnic Studies & Asian American Studies Program California State University, Sacramento Week 4 Session 1 Key Theories and Concepts
Last Time • Described the idea of experience from a phenomenological perspective. • Introduced an interdisciplinary framework that we will use to explore racialized experiences in the United States, with special focus on the Asian and Pacific Islander American experience.
Today • Define and discuss power, culture, social structure, and identity
Phenomenology • Phenomenology studies structures of conscious experience from the first-person point of view. • Scholars who work from a phenomenological orientation are concerned with the relevant conditions of “experience,” or what shapes experiences.
Experience and Ethnic Studies • In ethnic studies and related fields, the notion of experience is often central to how researchers analyze complex social dynamics. • African American Experience • Chicana/o Experience in Post-World War II United States • Deaf Experience • How the industrial revolution altered the working class American Experience • The experience of Asian American gay men • The experience of high school drop-outs
Power (Robert Dahl - Yale) In “The Concept of Power” Dahl focuses on the variety ways “A” gets “B” to do what “A” wants. He uses the term “influence terms”: • Rational Persuasion - Telling the truth and explaining why someone should do something. • Manipulative Persuasion – Lying or misleading to get someone to do something. • Inducement – Offering rewards or punishments to get someone to do something. • Power- Threatening severe punishment to get someone to do something. • Coercion – Power with no way out. • Physical Force – Backing up coercion with use of or threat of bodily harm.
Power (Steven Lukes – NYU) Luke’s Three Dimensions of Power in Power: A Radical View: • 1-dimensional power: We can see power in action. We can observe conflict between interests. • 2-dimensional power: When conflict is not obvious and remains unresolved. Less powerful group’s issues don’t reach the agenda. • 3-dimensional power: When less powerful people have internalized the idea that they are less worthy or important.
Notes on the Third Dimension • Focus in Ethnic Studies: Who controls how we understand reality, objectivity, and accepted truth? This third dimension focuses on the power to shape the dominant ideology, or a set of beliefs. • Select scholars who contribute to this conversation: • Antonio Gramsci: Cultural hegemony – focus on how power is embedded in what becomes “common sense,” accepted truth, and unquestioned knowledge. • Michel Foucault: knowledge/power – focus on how knowledge shapes power. Power is discursive. That is, it is transmitted through the various knowledge structures in society. • Howard Zinn argues that historians need to use their understanding of the past to advocate for a better future. • History as a vehicle for more than just documentation of the past • Emphasizes the relationship between power and the telling of history.
Elements of Social Structures • In general this is a term that refers to the inter-relationships of institutions. Philosophy and sociology provide key thinking on this concept. • From a sociological perspective, social structure Refers to the linkages between complex social forms that reproduce themselves such as governments, the family, human languages, universities, hospitals, business corporations, and legal systems. • Institutions are organizations or systems of organizations that consist of embodied structures of different roles.
Culture • Culture is talked about in a variety of ways in numerous disciplines. For the sake of our course, we will adopt this definition (Nieto, 2012): • Culture is ever-changing. Culture is: • represented by values, traditions, social and political relationships, worldview • shared by a group of people • and bounded by a combination of common history, geographic location, language, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and other dimensions.
Identity • Identity: how we understand ourselves in relation to others. • Some key dimensions: • Identity is fluid and is shaped by social context. • Identity is imposed and selected. It is both how we see ourselves and how others see us. • Identities are marked in terms of race and ethnicity, class (socioeconomic status), gender, ability, and sexual orientation. People who study identity are often concerned with the body as the unit of analysis. • We will focus on the “intersections” of these collective identities, or how different markers of identity intersect and shape one another. • Identities have social and materials consequences.
Dimensions of Identity • Identities is fluid and is shaped by social context. • Identity is imposed and selected. It is both how we see ourselves and how others see us. • Identities are marked in terms of race and ethnicity, class (socioeconomic status), gender, ability, and sexual orientation. People who study identity are often concerned with the body as the unit of analysis. • We will focus on the “intersections” of these collective identities, or how different markers of identity intersect and shape one another. • Identities have social and materials consequences.
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To Prepare for Next Session • Reading Notes on Okihiro and Maeda