In 1967, Howard S. Becker gave a widely discussed and polemical presidential address entitled “Whose Side Are We On?” Here he introduced the idea of the hierarchy of credibility. Briefly reviewing the article, I suggest a little of how the world has moved on since then. The core of my analysis links symbolic interactionism to ideas of narrative power, narrative inequality, and narrative othering, sketching out a frame of generic forms of narrative power: domination, exclusion, negotiation, and resistance. I stress the dynamics of the subordinated standpoint and narrative othering. Drawing from a wide range of empirical examples where these processes are featured, I suggest many of us tacitly work with such ideas in our studies. I end by returning to Becker’s question—Whose side are we on?—and answer: the side of humanity. Just what we mean by humanity raises contentious value claims, especially in these post-human times. But understanding our humanities and the value challenge they pose provides the necessary prerequisite for answering Becker’s question. From this, political action can flow, and a politics of humanity can be cultivated.
SOURCE: ““Whose Side Are We On?” Revisited: Narrative Power, Narrative Inequality, and a Politics of Narrative Humanity.” 08 August 2019.
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