"Domination and the Arts of Resistance" by James C.              Scott

Domination and the Arts of Resistance Hidden Transcripts James C. Scott

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
29 Jul 1992
ISBN:
9780300056693
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
269 pages: 235 x 156mm

"Play fool, to catch wise."—proverb of Jamaican slaves
 
Confrontations between the powerless and powerful are laden with deception—the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, laborers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule that cannot be openly avowed. In this book, renowned social scientist James C. Scott offers a penetrating discussion both of the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display off stage—what he terms their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, Scott examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects.
 
Scott describes the ideological resistance of subordinate groups—their gossip, folktales, songs, jokes, and theater—their use of anonymity and ambiguity. He also analyzes how ruling elites attempt to convey an impression of hegemony through such devices as parades, state ceremony, and rituals of subordination and apology. Finally, he identifies—with quotations that range from the recollections of American slaves to those of Russian citizens during the beginnings of Gorbachev's glasnost campaign—the political electricity generated among oppressed groups when, for the first time, the hidden transcript is spoken directly and publicly in the face of power. His landmark work will revise our understanding of subordination, resistance, hegemony, folk culture, and the ideas behind revolt.

"Scott argues his thesis uncompromisingly and with relentless power. From his vantage point it is easy to see through many standard illusions of social science. . . . Scott's argument is all the more persuasive for the wealth of cases he brings under his magnifying-glass and for the vibrancy and liveliness of his style. One is tempted to say that his own discourse is a revelation of that transcript normally hidden by the 'official' discourse of sociology and an example of how rich and fascinating such hidden transcripts can be by comparison with the rhetoric of pretence."—Zygmunt Bauman, Times Literary Supplement


"Likely to become a classic work of theory in the social sciences and history. Its arguments are original, subtle, clear, and accessible to readers without theoretical inclinations."—John D. Rogers, The Journal of Asian Studies


"This book offers a penetrating discussion of both the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display offstage—what is termed their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, the author examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tension and contradictions it reflects. This work will revise our understanding of subordination, resistance, hegemony, folk culture, and the ideas behind revolt."—International Journal of Psychology


"Scott elaborates his argument with a dazzling array of illustrations drawn from centuries of history and all four corners of the earth. . . . Intellectually convincing and also very moving—not something one expects to find in an academic treatise."—Paul Littlewood, Sociology


Received an Honorable Mention for the 1990 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division Award in the History, Government, and Political Science category given by the AAP


"Drawing on a dazzling array of source material, the book is a wonderful read as well as a provocative discussion of a global phenomenon of great importance. It seems destined to throw out a major challenge to the existing literature on power and domination, and to set in train a new school of research."—Anthony Reid, Australian National University


"An engaging as well as intellectually provocative book, this will be a major theoretical contribution to debates about power."—Theda Skocpol, Harvard University


"A splendid study, surely one of the most important that has appeared on the whole matter of power and resistance. It is rich in apt evidence and extremely effective and original."—Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University