Sunday, September 05, 2010

listening and being heard

"But speaking depends on listening and being heard; it is an intensely relational act." - Carol Gilligan

This post got started by a reading a tweet that got repeated. An interesting aspect of voice that it found resonance here :)
and will resonate elsewhere- in the thesis- but here's the roughish notes - there's a problem in writing a thesis when your mind is two chapters ahead of where you are currently writing...

But it took me on a search of google and back to Carol Gilligan's In a different voice, and I do love being able to read the pages provided by publishers.

In her writing she talked of not being heard when working in the 70's 1970s (on moral development with Kohlberg). A bit like an idea born before its time but also having different voice that just wasnt out there yet.
Now this 'resonated' with me because i had just been talking of moral development and of different voice relating a very poorly executed rendition of Gilligans critique with students last week. I had been looking at adolescence and had ditched the textbook (Berk) for its lack of respect for difference: "Delinquency peaks in adolescence" and opted instead for a New Zealand text, (see ref below)
given that many/most/almost all teenagers live lives with integrity, intelligence and good common sense. To quote Claiborne and drewery:
"Perhaps we might celebrate the competence of young people instead, as a ‘work in progress’ more in need of extension than colaapsing down to their being no cure but aging."Claiborne & Drewery (2010)

In Gilligan's writing was a fuller picture to 'seeing difference not as deviance but as a marker of the human condition'.

She says she moved away from relativism to relationship. i take this to mean a movement away from 'this is my position this is what i see, and from your position you will see it differently'; to relationship, 'this is my experience, my reality is different to your'. For myself, this suggests an ANT analysis; reals are made in relationship.

On being asked what is voice she says:
By voice I mean voice. Listen I will say, thinking that on one sense the answer is simple. it is simple. And then i will remember how it felt to speak when there was no resonance, how it felt when i began writing, how it still is for many people, how it still is for me sometimes. To have a voice is to be human. To have something to say is to be a person. But speaking depends on listening and being heard; it is an intensely relational act. (p.xvi)

Hauntingly familiar is when those spoken about have no voice, are not heard.
(Tis always a good question; whose voice is being heard.)

Often repeated is that teens are tethered to their phones (Turkle) but it is not teens who are describing it this way.
And in my data collect on youth counselling there were counsellors saying that young people would manipulate them into conversing by text instead of by calling. 20% of all texts coming in were loud and clear, for example: 'if i wanted to call i effing would have', and 'cnt i jus txt coz i don wanna be heard'.
The 'voice' moved to a different medium, it wasnt that relating wasnt wanted. On moving into this medium with young people, relating is enacted.
It connects inner and outer worlds.
To not listen is to deny the choice to relate.
"To give up their voice is to give up on relationship and also to give up on all that goes with making a choice."(xvii)

To choose not to relate in the spaces young people were/are choosing for counselling would be offensive twice over, first for not listening and secondly for disempowering choice.

Carol Gilligan further expands on what it means to have voice:
When people ask me what I mean by voice and I think of the question more reflexively, I say that by voice I mean something like what people mean when they speak of the core of the self.

It is the relational that is mediated by speech, it can also be mediated in print form; while voice in the digitally texted space of SMS messaging being used for txt counselling, is not part of a seen and heard experience of breath and sound in a rhythm of speech, this does not alter that breathing and being heard continues, that an intensely relational act is occurring.
And the costs of detachment are too great to think otherwise.

Claiborne, L. and Drewery, W. (2010) Human development; Family, place, culture. Auckland: NZ. McGraw-Hill.
Gilligan, C. (1993). Letters to readers In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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