07 SES 03 B, (Emergent) Pedagogues' Views and Habits on Social Justice
The paper is an ethnographic study and it focuses on reasoning and attitudes of public servants working in various offices (like Office for children protection, Employment Department) that provide help, assistance or supervision to people in social exclusion. Decisions of these bureaucrats are based on law, ministerial rules and follows official standards. At the same time it contains a lot of interpretative effort. As reality is always more colorful than the law and directives can predict these public servants have to put extra efforts that mediate between the reality and the directive. They apparently base that on certain tacit principles. The key principle that seems at work in studied interviews is what we call „the pedagogical principle“. The fundamental folk concept here is the concept of work. The concept of work has two basic meanings – it is a subsistence resource and a moral code. The moral code says that work makes better people. It seems that the moral meaning of work has primacy here. Actually, there is also a competing principle - the austerity principle, which says that public money should not be wasted, which is often raised but it seems that it is ultimately subjected to the pedagogical principle of moral work. As interviews show, these bureaucrats admit that any work (even if it is entirely superficial and economically absurd for both the society and the working subject) is better that unemployment. So when these public servants speak about „pulling one‘s weight“ its not meant in terms of sharing tax burden but rather in terms of peculiar moral exchange with semi-religious sense. It is as if for morally satisfactory state of things everybody is required to offer or sacrify something. And it is work what is the sacrifice that everybody has to offer. What is at stake here is not money but the sacrifice that is being offered on the body of the person in terms of the time and suffering spent during the working hours. So the meaning of the work here is not economical but religious where work is the ritual that must be publicly done and documented.
Methods This paper builds on 8 years long anthropological reserach (2008-2016) conducted in an area in Czech republic with extensive social exclusion problems related mainly to large Roma minority settled here. Two main topics of the research were Roma attitudes towards education and Decision making processes of help providing professionals. Our research is fundamentally based on ethnography, consisting mainly of informal semistructured interviews and participant observation. During the particpant observation we participate in casual conversations that allow us to observe the sentiments amidst the public, watch local potitics and relationships in practice. Interviews for this paper were conducted with directors and empoyees of responsible Child protection service and unemployment office in the city. All the transcribed and recorded qualitative data were analysed using approaches closery inspired by grounded theory techniques (Hammersley, Atkinson 1983) - , new ethnography - concepts of domain analysis (analysis of units of cultural knowledge – Spradley 1980) and cognitive semantics (analysis of metaphors – Lakoff, Johnson 1980). Our theoretical framework that informs analysis and interpretation is based in part on cognitive anthropology and cognitive linguistics (Strauss, Quinn 2003; Lakoff 1990; Holland, Quinn 1987) and in part on Gregory Bateson‘s concept of Eidos and Ethos (Bateson 1958).
We expect to uncover what drives decisions of responsible public servants working in the area of social exclusion in cases where interpretative effort is necessary. Our research shows that their reasoning is driven primarily by the pedagogical principle.
References Bateson, Gregory., Naven. California: Stanford University Press, Stanford 1958 Hammersley, M., Atkinson, P. Ethnography. Principles in Practice. London and New York: Tavistock Publications, 1983. Holland, D., Quinn. N. (Eds.) Cultural Models in Language & Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Lakoff: G. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1990. Lakoff, G., Johnson, M. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1980. Spradley, J.P. Participant Observation. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980.
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