This is a follow-up post of my previous post on tacit knowledge, reflection and personal knowledge.
I read this paper http://flyvbjerg.plan.aau.dk/CIVSOC5%200PRINTBJS.pdf about Habermas and Foucault’s approaches with interest.
From Habermas’s view: Validity and truth are ensured where the participants in a given discourse respect five key requirements of discourse ethics:
1. No party affected by what is being discussed should be excluded from the discourse (the requirement of generality);
2. All participants should have equal possibility to present and criticize validity claims in the process of discourse (autonomy);
3. Participants must be willing and able to empathize with each other’s validity claims (ideal role taking);
4. Existing power differences between participants must be neutralized such that these differences have no effect on the creation of consensus (power neutrality);
5. Participants must openly explain their goals and intentions and in this connection desist from strategic action (transparence) (Habermas 1993:31)
The author then adds another requirement:
6. Unlimited time
These requirements of discourse ethics seem to provide useful net etiquette for social and learning networks, especially for forum discussion. Such requirements sound instrumental in discourse too, as each requirement symbolizes the importance of inclusiveness of parties, autonomy, role taking and individual identity, power neutrality, and transparence expected from participants. There are however, implications when such etiquette are implemented in networks.
First, are the etiquette adequately planned before its introduction? How about consultation, negotiation and agreement of the etiquette content with the network participants. How are the rules derived? Should the rules be based on consensus or voting by the network participants?
Second, such rules and regulations could sometimes be too idealistic for networks, if it is developed without consideration of the changing needs and motivations of the participants.
Third, as Foucault has pointed out, action is power, and so any action relating to the application of rules on the participants would be viewed as a symbolic imposition of power over the participants, which would reduce the autonomy of the participants in the networks. Is such imposition of rules and regulations desirable for the network participants? How would power be exercised in an ethical manner in networks?
Refer to previous post
So would boundary judgements be useful in network discourse? How important boundary judgements are in the networks discourse? What is important is for the network participants to be aware of the boundary judgements, as suggested, by raising questions, and thus come up with a shared understanding on what the rationales are behind the judgements of participants.
Foucault focuses his efforts on the local and context-dependent and toward the analysis of strategies and tactics as basis for power struggle.
p19 The value of Foucault’s approach is his emphasis on the dynamics of power.
So, social conflicts are the true pillars of democratic society (Hirschman 1994: 206). I think networks that suppress conflict do so at their own peril, as once conflicts are suppressed, freedom amongst the members could be lost, and so is autonomy of the networkers (participants or learners).
In a Foucauldian interpretation, suppressing conflict is suppressing freedom, because the privilege to engage in conflict is part of freedom.