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Discourse, meaning, and political participation
Heras Monner Sans, Ana Inés y Foio, María del Socorro.
Journal of Multicultural Discourse, vol. 4, núm. 3, 2009, pp. 297-312.
We present an analysis of part of a data-set from a three-year study called ‘Work,Development and Diversity’ conducted by a network of Argentinean public andprivate research institutions. We sought to analyze the different ways in whichstrategic planning for local development, with a participatory approach, had beenimplemented in four geographic regions of Argentina. In this article we analyzehow (1) participants in a given field of practice build strategic discursive actionsand orient their interactions guided by their perception of who is included, and inwhat aspects of the process at stake; (2) participants build discourses that shapewhat counts as reality. Our analysis shows what happens when participants cometogether, since they dispute what counts as true, valid or even real, and thesedisputes can be analyzed through discourse; what may appear to be a linguisticdetail is loaded with meaning due to the historical context in which the specificcultural terms are produced (e.g. participant, neighbor, and activist). We alsoshow that in calls for participatory action, any specific community of participantsmay impose what they determine to be true over the others. When this is achieved,one may say that they have managed to impose a certain simplifying operationover the other participants, thus making it possible for their logic to prevail, and to reduce a certain amount of complexity at play.
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