Reframing the Relations of Media, Knowledge, and Innovation in Society
Edited By Hubert Knoblauch, Mark D. Jacobs and René Tuma
Towards a Sociology of Voice: Exploring Creativity’s Hidden Resources and Constraints
Sociology of culture’s treatment of creativity and communication can be approached from many angles. In this chapter, I want to discuss what, at least in terms of systematic treatment, is one of the most neglected angles: what I will call a “sociology of voice.” A decade ago Zygmunt Bauman (2001, p. 13) wrote that “articulation of life stories is the activity through which meaning and purpose are inserted into life.” If we take “life stories” in a broad sense to cover any exercise of a human being’s capacity to give an account of herself (Cavarero 2000; Butler 2005), Bauman’s statement well expresses the principle on which my work, and particularly my book Why Voice Matters, is based. From this principle, it follows that a sociology of voice—that is, a sociology of the conditions under which people’s accounts of themselves and their lives can effectively be registered in social processes and in the organization of the social world—is a fundamental topic in sociology. Indeed developing such a sociology may enrich our account of what today’s pervasive discourses of “creativity” mean, or fail to mean, on the ground.
While the actual moment of telling one’s full life story is rare, the extent to which our accounts of ourselves are registered, and taken into account, in the organization of social life is crucial to whether the environment we inhabit is tolerable. As Paul Ricoeur (1984, p. 28) put it, “we have no...