Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodwin (1994) - Professional vision

Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional vision. American Anthropologist, 96, 606-633.

Central to the social and cognitive organization of a profession is its ability to shape events in the domain of its scrutiny into the phenomenal objects around which the discourse of the profession is organized: to find archaeologically relevant events such as post holes in the color stains visible in a patch of a dirt and map them or to locate legally consequential instances of aggression or cooperation in the visible movements of a man's body. This article has investigated three practices used to accomplish such professional vision - coding schemes, highlighting, and the production and articulation of graphic representations - in the work settings of two professions: an archaeological field excavation and a courtroom.

First, the power to authoritatively see and produce the range of phenomena that are consequential for the organization of a society is not homogeneously distributed. Different professions-medicine, law, the police, specific sciences such as archaeology-have the power to legitimately see, constitute, and articulate alternative kinds of events. Professional vision is perspectival, lodged within specific social entities, and unevenly allocated.

Second, such vision is not a purely mental process but instead is accomplished through the competent deployment of a complex of situated practices in a relevant setting.

Third, insofar as these practices are lodged within specific communities, they must be learned (Chaiklin and Lave 1993; Lave and Wenger 1991). Learning was a central activity in both of the settings examined in this article, but the organization of that learning was quite different in each.

Examples/Evidence from the Rodney King trial testimony and archaeologists howing measurement techniques

See: http://www.professional-vision.org/research.html

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