Sunday, October 10, 2004

Questions about Talk and machines

1. Is Orr's treatment of talk and discourse and narrative undertheorized? He writes about the place of discourse and narrative, of storytelling, to these technicians, yet he ignores a lot of research on discursive practices and narratology. How might this effect his conclusions? How does it effect his treatment of the place of discourse in the work environment?

2. While it is clear that Orr refers back to Geertz's work, how does he envision his ethnographic processes within the context of these methodologies? How does he approach fieldnotes? What method of data (audio tape) transcription does he use? Why? While he is taking his fieldnotes, what interactions between his subjects does he miss? Why didn't he take post-field work interviews with the participants? What cognitive processes and/or thoughts did he miss because they weren't articulated?

3. "white-hatted wrench-slingers" (160). This notion of the technicians as rescuers reminded me of a great ethnographic study by Ann Dyson - Writing Superheroes - about early elementary students who construct themselves and their place in the classroom community by writing and acting out "stories" they write about superheroes (X-Men, Ninja Turtles, etc). The children, like these technicians, position themselves within their world in a way that often valorizes them.

I guess this isn't really a question as much as a comment. Or maybe it is part of a question. Does this indicate some sort of human need to be important within the context of one's life? Is it a way to find power in a world that renders us powerless? Are these workers able to demonstrate (at least to themselves) that they are more than just cogs in the corporate machine?

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