Paper 1 Scott: Power and Identity
In “Behind the Official Story,” James C. Scott argues that nearly all social interactions involve some sort of performance or script but that in cases of marked or strong power difference, the stakes involved lead to increasing levels of scriptedness (3).
For your first paper assignment, I would like you to consider how Scott’s argument about how power affects social dynamics might help us to understand identity better. In other words, how does one’s relationship to power affect the way one understands one’s identity?
There are different ways you may choose to go about answering this prompt: do power dynamics challenge or hurt one’s sense of self, reinforce or solidify it, or does it depend? If it depends, what does it depend on? Does one’s place in a power relationship create one’s sense of self, or is there a more complicated dynamic at play? How so and how can we tell? Does one’s sense of belonging to a group defined by relative power (or its lack) affect how one understands oneself and one’s identity? How so and why? To what extent, and are there limits to this? How might Scott’s discussion of theatricality or scripts come into this conversation in a positive or negative way?
To answer this question, you do not want to try to answer all of the above questions. They are merely ways to think about and narrow your focus on the bolded question.
Goals of this assignment: