Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Rhetorical Thanksgiving

One of the most ironic things about taking this class is how much it has affected my perception of the outside world. I am constantly more aware of what is going on around me and often find myself evaluating people's words and trying to define their "governing gazes." While Emig's inquiry paradigm is meant to be applied to the workplace, I often find myself applying it outside of the workplace as I am currently unemployed.

One of these such occasions was at Thanksgiving with my family. I have a rather large family with 10 uncles and 1 aunt, all on my mom's side. Any holiday where a vast majority of the family gets together is a huge event. Personalities always clash and it rarely goes smoothly.

I began to look at my family as a business or organization. Thus applying the theories I learned to my family. First off, the structure that was created through the individual agency of family members was incredibly flawed. We had become a hierarchical organization in which the oldest were the most dominant, and the youngest had little to no agency. Agency in this context would be the ability to express an uncensored opinion to the group.

Of course, being one of the younger ones I was aware of this structure and aware of the agency that was inherently mine for the taking. I utilized Emig's theory of "governing gaze" and my ability to be phenomenological to accurately and efficiently communicate with my eldest uncles.

To my surprise, I wasn't rejected and more often than not, my opinion was respected. I was able to discrusively appeal to their idea of what the structure implied. In other words, I was no longer considered just a child, but my opinion as an adult was taken and valued. For me, this is something that I had never experienced. My opinion was heard and valued, not belittled. My family is the typical structure where males are seen as "smarter" than the women, with women's opinions meaning next to nothing. I wanted to change this, because in my opinion I had a more educated opinion than the majority of my elder male counterparts.

This is something that while it seems extreme is exactly how I view most families. Most families have elders that must be respected. If you are aware of your ability to manipulate structure through your discourse, then you are in control of your own agency. In this, I was able to actively apply several theorists to my personal life to further my own agency within the structure of my family.

It felt so good.

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