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Devadasis Organizing for Social Change: Discourses of Power and Resistance
Unformatted Document Text:  Devadasis Organizing -- 10 development all of which served as ongoing principles of continuity for development as a dominant discourse (Pieterse, 1991). Several utterances and concepts gained currency within the dominant discourse of development, mostly originating from the framework of alternative development. These include participation, democracy, empowerment, and environment, among others. These concepts and an interest in their numerous discursive formations emerged as a critique of the dominant paradigm (Rogers, 1976; 1978) in the research tradition within communication called “development communication,” leading to what is now identified as “organizing for social change.” The focus within research in organizing for social change is the scholarly analysis of the communicative dimensions of organizing people through grassroots institutions for social change. As such, organizing for social change entails an intersection of organizational communication and development communication. The present study adopts the perspective of discourse as a system of representation and discourse as a system of language and practice. Resistance and Discourse Social change organizations such as grassroots cooperatives and communal collectives are “principal sites of meaning and identity formation where relations of autonomy and dependence, power and resistance, are continuously negotiated amongst competing interest groups” (Mumby, 1997, p. 345). However, much of recent research has provided a romanticized view of these social change organizations when they are really principles of ongoing discourses of social change facilitated by disciplinary practices of the government. In fact, much of the social change research does not question the role of the state 14 or the discourses produced by the state to sustain the social change organizations. Current research even tends to valorize agency. Such valorization is probably one of the limits of reflexivity in research (Escobar, 1992b) because as subjects in the research enterprise we ourselves are decentered due to the multiple discursive fields we occupy, including personal/professional interests, academic publishing guidelines, and the ties with funding agencies. 15 14 Future references to the state signify the nation-state, an imaginary political community, modeled after the political systems of Western countries. See Anderson (1983) for detailed discussion. 15 Everett (1997) disagrees with authors such as Ferguson (1990) and Escobar (1995) on their view of development as a “subject-less” process, arguing that although many of the effects of development as a discourse are unintended by the actors involved, the justification for leaving agency out of development accounts is inadequate. This position is, nonetheless, supplied earlier on by Giddens’ (1984) theory of structuration and his critique of Foucault (Giddens, 1982, p. 218-225). Giddens argues strongly against the notion of a subject-less history and sees the reproduction and transformation of social forms in the dialectical relationship between individuals and social structures. During a personal communication, Raymie McKerrow clarified that it is neither. He clarifies that subjects as decentered are not subject-less nor lose agency. The power of their agency comes from outside them. They are not originators but are not therefore powerless.

Authors: Kandath, Krishna.
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Devadasis Organizing -- 10
development all of which served as ongoing principles of continuity for development as a dominant discourse
(Pieterse, 1991).
Several utterances and concepts gained currency within the dominant discourse of development, mostly
originating from the framework of alternative development. These include participation, democracy, empowerment,
and environment, among others. These concepts and an interest in their numerous discursive formations emerged as
a critique of the dominant paradigm (Rogers, 1976; 1978) in the research tradition within communication called
“development communication,” leading to what is now identified as “organizing for social change.” The focus
within research in organizing for social change is the scholarly analysis of the communicative dimensions of
organizing people through grassroots institutions for social change. As such, organizing for social change entails an
intersection of organizational communication and development communication. The present study adopts the
perspective of discourse as a system of representation and discourse as a system of language and practice.
Resistance and Discourse
Social change organizations such as grassroots cooperatives and communal collectives are “principal sites of
meaning and identity formation where relations of autonomy and dependence, power and resistance, are
continuously negotiated amongst competing interest groups” (Mumby, 1997, p. 345). However, much of recent
research has provided a romanticized view of these social change organizations when they are really principles of
ongoing discourses of social change facilitated by disciplinary practices of the government. In fact, much of the
social change research does not question the role of the state
14
or the discourses produced by the state to sustain the
social change organizations. Current research even tends to valorize agency. Such valorization is probably one of
the limits of reflexivity in research (Escobar, 1992b) because as subjects in the research enterprise we ourselves are
decentered due to the multiple discursive fields we occupy, including personal/professional interests, academic
publishing guidelines, and the ties with funding agencies.
15
14
Future references to the state signify the nation-state, an imaginary political community, modeled after the
political systems of Western countries. See Anderson (1983) for detailed discussion.
15
Everett (1997) disagrees with authors such as Ferguson (1990) and Escobar (1995) on their view of development
as a “subject-less” process, arguing that although many of the effects of development as a discourse are unintended
by the actors involved, the justification for leaving agency out of development accounts is inadequate. This position
is, nonetheless, supplied earlier on by Giddens’ (1984) theory of structuration and his critique of Foucault (Giddens,
1982, p. 218-225). Giddens argues strongly against the notion of a subject-less history and sees the reproduction
and transformation of social forms in the dialectical relationship between individuals and social structures. During a
personal communication, Raymie McKerrow clarified that it is neither. He clarifies that subjects as decentered are
not subject-less nor lose agency. The power of their agency comes from outside them. They are not originators but
are not therefore powerless.


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