Revolution Lullabye

November 6, 2007

CCR 735 Notes 11/6

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 4:54 am

Lindquist, Julie. A Place to Stand: Politics and Persuasion in a Working-Class Bar. Oxford UP, 2002. Chapters 1 and 5.

Lindquist performs what she calls an “ethnography of rhetoric” by investigating the rhetoric that determines the community and forms the identity of the people who are regulars at a south suburban Chicago bar, the Smokehouse. She claims that bars are understudied sites in academia and that deeper consideration of them will lend insights into how working class culture is formed and maintained. Using ethnographic methods like interviews, she looks to see how – in context – people from the Smokehouse deal with “dilemmas poseed by competiting forces of tradition and change.” In Chapter 5, “A Place to Tell It,” Lindquist deliniates the major topoi of the rhetoric of the Smokehouse: class, race, work, education, politics, and language, and argues that the discussion of these topics helps the people of the Smokehouse develop their identities as a community and form a common logic.

Quotable Quotes

“To understand the particulars of persuasion for a given culture is to understand how that culture establishes itself as culture – how it invents and sustains its mythologies and what circumstances must obtain in order for these mythologies to change – as well as to recognize that shifts in public belief are contingent upon their value in the local marketplace of ideas” (4).

Good question: “How do social structures produce the exigencies of, or conditions for, expressive practicies?” (5)

“Smokehousesrs narrate class metaphorically and metonymically through discussion of race, politics, education, language, and, above all, work. Ideologies of class are articulated not only through narratives elaborated in response to questions about class per se, but also between, through, and aroudn the edges of other themes. To draw a geography of themes in this way is to see what commonplaces Smokehousers have available to them in argument, to map the rhetorical gruodn on which Smokehousers find places to stand” (74).

 Notable Notes

She situates her study in context – with “specific communicative events” (3).

Interesting way to look at persuasion, not as a private matter, when you are trying to change someone’s own internal beliefs, but “a teleological process in which the ends are social as well as the means” (4).

Ethnographies cannot help to be in part about the ethnographer himself/herself.

Cohen, Anthony. Symbolic Construction of Community. Florence, Kentucky: Routledge, 1985. Chapter 1 & Chapter 4

Cohen’s study looks at the way in which symbols construct and define communities, especially in terms of the boundaries of communities. The boundary both defines the common features that are found within communities and point to what is distinctive in the community as compared to what is found outside the community. Symbols are general – individual people may disagree on their exact, specific description but they have a broad, common definition. Cohen debunks three myths about communities: that small face-to-face communities are more simple than larger urban ones; that communities are egalitarian; and that as communties become less isolated, they will lose their identifying characteristics and become part of the mass general culture. Cohen’s study is different from contemporary community studies because he aims to study community in context, not through theory alone.

Quotable Quotes

“Community studies were consigned for some time into an abyss of theoretical sterility by obsessive atempts to formulate precise analytic definitions…We are not concerned now with the positivisitic niceties of analytic taxonomies. We confront an empirical phenomenon: people’s attachment to community. We seek an understanding of it by trying to capture some sense of their experience and of the meanings they attach to community. Thus, moving away from the earlier emphasis our discipline placed on structure, we approach community as a phenomenon of culture: as one, therefore, which is meaningfully constructed by people through their symbolic prowess and resources” (38).

“This consciousness of community is, then, encapsulated in perception of its boundaries, boundaries which are themselves largely constituted by people in interaction” (13).

People in a community have a range of meanings attached to a commonly held symbol – “Community is just such a boundary-expressing symbol. As a symbol, it is held in common by its members; but its meaning varies with its members’ unique orientations to it. In the face of this variability of meaning, the consciousness of community has to be kept alive through manipulation of its symbols. The reality and efficacy of the community’s boundary – and, therefore, of the community itself – depends upon its symbolic construction and embellishment. This essay discusses some of the features most commonly associated with this process” (15).

“Community is that entity to which one belongs, greater than kinship but more immediately than the abstraction we call ‘society’…It is where one acquires ‘culture'” (15).

“Symbols are effective because they are imprecise” (21).

Notable Notes

Culture is formed through community.

His debunking of the “inevitable conformity” myth has some play today in the bigbox store hysteria – is it true? I don’t know if Cohen’s right about this one…is it just because we like one mass media outlet (Target) more than another (Walmart?)

Communites can adopt external symbols and then place on those symbols meanings of their own (37).

Communities have a commonality of form often, but not of content (or meaning.) The symbol is the same, but not the meaning (20).


Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: