Jodies [Functionalism, Marxism,Manchester School]

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sun, 18 Feb 1996 09:11:00 +0900

Gerry Waite writes,

"I think our interpretations vary (go---olly imagine if you
But I think someone just made the critical distinction--
As an Airborne-ranger-infantry type my perspective was
grossly different
from other peoples -maybe just gross-- I think the what are
being called
resistance type cadence calls are those that served to draw
people together
and form a sense of "unit" sort of like "you don't have this
anymore but
you've got the Army and each other" ---also ridicule does not
equate to resistance- often times it makes the food passable or
the punishment doable ----- later"

A good place to look for theory on this subject would, I
suggest, be the work of Manchester School British Social
Anthropologists of whom Max Gluckman and Victor Turner
are, in my mind, still the most eminent examples. A good
deal has been written about "rites of rebellion" and "rites of
reversal" that serve (so it was claimed) to reinforce the
solidarity of the groups in which they're performed by
inverting hierarchies, asserting the moral primacy of group
membership, and, through humor and emotional release,
easing the strain of conflicts inherent in the way the group is

The theory involved is basically functionalism (in essence the
injunction "Look for mechanisms that are holding the group
together") tempered by Marx and Freud (in the recognition
that competition, conflict and, ultimately, contradiction are
inherent in human life, and that all three involve people in
mystifications and false consciousness as well as occasional
real insight). For Turner, especially, this meant being careful
to look for ways in which people in ritualized contexts act out
in their behavior messages at odds with what they're saying.
These insights were, I believe, central to his methodology
(John Stevens would say his "hermeneutic"): (1) watch what
people do, (2) listen to what they say about it, and (3) treat both
your observations and what you hear as DATA to be
explained with reference to a larger social-historical context.

Now back to those Jodies. Daughter Kate reported last year
from Annapolis that some of the grosser references to rape
and napalm were suppressed when women objected to them.
That the women are there and objecting is a sign of one of
those "larger social historical contexts" I mentioned.

Carry on.


John McCreery
February 18, 1996