The human individual holds the ultimate position of importance to ethnographic research. Undeniably, no aspect of anthropological study escapes the contact of a person, whether as a subject forming a data point in the research, as an informant providing wider arrays of information and perspectives, or as an ethnographer though whose lens the final analysis must be drawn. Yet, the nature of the individual as a concept in itself lacked critical examination throughout the modern history of the social theory. From Cartesian metaphysics, to Fichte's formulation of the psychological ‘I', to the plethora of early anthropological theorists, the self remained a real and definite social atom, reified as a solid foundational core in the empirical approaches of the social scientist.
[...] lorna rhodes' Total COnfinement Lorna Rhodes undertakes a distinctive study of imprisonment from Foucault with Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison. With a traditional ethnographic methodology, Rhodes examines several prisons in Washington State, concentrating on the specific prison element of the control unit (the maximum security area within a larger prison facility). In an attempt to comprehend the community of the prison, Rhodes interview not only prisoners and guards, but also the legion of administrative personnel, psychologists, counselors, educators, and general staff involved in and impacted by the policies governing imprisonment as an institution. [...]
[...] This effort to rationalize the prisoner mindset appears to dehumanize prison community interactions to permit use of stable paradigms in modern prisons. Rhodes suggests that tensions develop from this effort to clinically modernize an institution so thoroughly imbued with human interaction, leaving no ultimate conclusions for understanding imprisonment beyond the impossibility of universal application of singular models. The modern self, for Rhodes, is a reified concept constructed by efforts at rationalizing identity. Whereas original mission of the nineteenth century prison [was] to the shape of experience” in order to shape the inmate's consciousness,” the modern prison expects the prisoner exercise rational self-regulation in response to disciplinary shaping” (Rhodes 2004:63). [...]
[...] However, in recognizing a cognitive anthropological approach by the ethnographer, a theory of personhood becomes apparent. The cognitive anthropology of Dammer contains common ideas with preceding ethno sciences, with linguistic anthropology, and with ideas of native anthropology. As culture is assumed inexplicable on any terms but its own, the approach necessitates a search for underlying logics within a community that permit an understanding of cultural phenomena. These underlying structures serve as the basis for social understanding in cognitive theory, forming points of reference in cross-cultural comparisons and in study of cultural dynamics, since cultural changes happen within the paradigm of the systemic logic. [...]
[...] In reading the study as an essentially postmodernist work, a theory of the nature of the individual develops within the social criticisms, presenting another interesting idea of personhood. The postmodernism of Rhodes most clearly expresses itself in the constant reflexivity utilized in the examination of garnered material. Inmates describe the despairing loneliness and boredom of the prison cell as promoting their deviant behaviors (occasional acts of rebellion or disobedience), and these explanations are accepted without attempt to uncover any underlying form. [...]
[...] Until social philosophy matures adequately for understanding the future of personhood in cultural theory, ethnographers are left with mere shadows of the self with which to contend in their analyses. works cited Dammer, Harry 1994 Piety in Prison. Ann Arbor: Bell & Howell Foucault, Michel 1995 Discipline and Punish. New York: Random House Garland, David 1986 Discipline and Punish: An Exposition and Critique. American Bar Foundation Research Journal 11 (4):847-880. Rhodes, Lorna 2004 Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison. [...]
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