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Dialectic of Community and Fragmentation in Organizing for Social Change
Unformatted Document Text:  19 homeless the right way; or can we in humility become one beggar telling another where to find bread? (Field notes, 2001, p. 385) The multiplicity of discourses to which the poor are exposed can also lead to what Giddens (1991) called “ontological insecurities”. Such insecurities regarding identity can lead to strategies that aim to secure a stable identity (see Knights & Morgan, 1991; Knights & Wilmott, 1985, 1989). This loose self is open to manipulation (since the stable background of a dominant reproductive discourse is weakened) and can be “jerked” about in a system, leading to a sense of excitement and even “ecstasy” but also can be conversion prone and easily controlled by system forces (as in Baudrillard’s conception of stimulation, 1988; Deetz, 1994). Our experiences in a number of the soup kitchens address these issues directly. Without be given guidance regarding the rules of the soup kitchen we become ontologically insecure and we seek to secure a stable identity. However, when rules are sprung upon us we become open to manipulation and feel “jerked about” by the system. Our only hope is that a reprimand is all that will be received rather than being asked to leave without food. The threat of violence or the actual existence of violence also contributed to the experience of fragmentation for the poor. In one scenario a single poor man attempted to start a fight with the cook of a soup kitchen: One large gentleman who had provoked some violence at the shelter last evening started “getting into it” with the cook. He was very critical of the food and its portion size and he started to use a lot of foul language to communicate his disgust. The cook overheard his critical and unthankful comments and soon came out and told him to shut up. The tension was high. The cook was very angry and offered to escort the man out for a fight. “Do you want to go outside to fight?” the cook asked. The cook also had a few friends that appeared ready to help him. The angry provocateur then backed down and the cook returned to the kitchen turning up the music on his radio as he continued to prepare the meal. (Field notes, 2000, p. 177) In another situation the potential for violence became clear when it was realized that one soup kitchen did not check incoming homeless people for weapons.

Authors: papa, Michael., Papa, Wendy., Wasserman, Keith., Kandath, Krishna., Worrell, Tracy. and Muthuswamy, Nithya.
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19
homeless the right way; or can we in humility become one beggar telling
another where to find bread? (Field notes, 2001, p. 385)
The multiplicity of discourses to which the poor are exposed can also lead
to what Giddens (1991) called “ontological insecurities”. Such insecurities
regarding identity can lead to strategies that aim to secure a stable identity (see
Knights & Morgan, 1991; Knights & Wilmott, 1985, 1989). This loose self is open to
manipulation (since the stable background of a dominant reproductive discourse
is weakened) and can be “jerked” about in a system, leading to a sense of
excitement and even “ecstasy” but also can be conversion prone and easily
controlled by system forces (as in Baudrillard’s conception of stimulation, 1988;
Deetz, 1994). Our experiences in a number of the soup kitchens address these
issues directly. Without be given guidance regarding the rules of the soup kitchen
we become ontologically insecure and we seek to secure a stable identity.
However, when rules are sprung upon us we become open to manipulation and
feel “jerked about” by the system. Our only hope is that a reprimand is all that will
be received rather than being asked to leave without food.
The threat of violence or the actual existence of violence also contributed
to the experience of fragmentation for the poor. In one scenario a single poor
man attempted to start a fight with the cook of a soup kitchen:
One large gentleman who had provoked some violence at the shelter last
evening started “getting into it” with the cook. He was very critical of the
food and its portion size and he started to use a lot of foul language to
communicate his disgust. The cook overheard his critical and unthankful
comments and soon came out and told him to shut up. The tension was
high. The cook was very angry and offered to escort the man out for a
fight. “Do you want to go outside to fight?” the cook asked. The cook also
had a few friends that appeared ready to help him. The angry provocateur
then backed down and the cook returned to the kitchen turning up the
music on his radio as he continued to prepare the meal. (Field notes, 2000,
p. 177)
In another situation the potential for violence became clear when it was
realized that one soup kitchen did not check incoming homeless people for
weapons.


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