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Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts [Hardcover]

Jc Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

7 Nov 1990
Confrontations between the powerless and the powerful are laden with deception - the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, labourers, 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, the author, a social scientist, offers a 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, the author examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects. The author 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (7 Nov 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300047053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300047059
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,424,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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First Sentence
IF THE EXPRESSION "Speak truth to power" still has a utopian ring to it, even in modern democracies, this is surely because it is so rarely practiced. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent! 15 Nov 2011
By Nestle
In contrast to much of the academic literature out there, this book is well written and the author has taken great care to explain and illustrate every position.
In this book Scott examines the relationship between the powerful and the subordinate.
Scott invites us to look hehind the performances of compliance that subordinates (slaves, untouchables, labourers, etc.) lay on for the dominant, to the hidden transcripts of resistance. The book visits those places and events where subordinates are free to speak their mind and perform acts of defiance, no matter how small.
He also examines the public performance of deference itself. An example of one of the many interesting points he makes: when this performance is in close conformity with how the dominant group would wish things to appear, it provides convincing evidence to them for the hegemony of their values, and even serves to justify their domination.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James C. Scott's Domination and the Arts of Resistance 11 Nov 2000
By Michael Auterson - Published on
Spanning the entire globe and covering over 1000 years of human history, James C. Scott's Domination and the Arts of Resistance is an intellectual odyssey into the relatively new field of subaltern studies. It is also an intellectual oasis for historians and general readers of history who have become disillusioned with the traditional historiography of power relations and resistance among dominate groups and subordinate groups. Indeed, Scott's use of folklore, speeches, ballads, literary theory,linguistics, and public ceremonies, e.g., parades and political rallies, greatly adds to the works of other innovative historians of culture, domination, and resistance, e.g., Scott gives the works of Michel Focault, Hayden White, Dominick LaCapra, and Natalie Zemon Davis, to name a few, new perspectives for cultural analysis. Perhaps of greater importance is Scott's examination of what he describes as "public" and "private" transcripts,i.e., dialogue among and between the dominate and subordinate groups. Furthermore, Scott puts great emphasis on the "infrastructure" of power relationships among the respective inner "communities" of theweak and the strong. In short, what goes on behind the scenes, away from the public eye, reveals the true nature of what Scott labels as "masks of power", which are, in effect, merely public performances designed to placate both dominate and subordinate groups. This absorbing work will certainly be influential for future generations of historians, anthroplogists, political scientists, and sociologists.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good text/dreadful copy 15 May 2013
By dolphin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Scott's 'Domination' is a modern classic from which anyone could learn to read the 'transcripts' which both sides of an unequal relationship use to maintain status. Theoretical, but also practical.

However, amazon's seller sent me a supposedly 'Used - Good' copy that was on its fourth round, apparently as a used college texctbook, highlighted multiple times, with a spine falling apart -- worth 50 cents at best. BEWARE!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Fascinating 13 April 2014
By Robert Kall - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want to get some insights into the power, domination and how the public and private scripts are used and how they affect the balance of power, this is an extraordinary book
5.0 out of 5 stars Resistance without being murdered 19 Sep 2013
By Passionforlife - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Loved this book on Domination and the Arts of Resistance, and how as Humans we express our hatred of the authorities who rule over us. Most of the big shots ignore this resistance because they don't care and they don't understand how it all works. This is a great book on the psychological benefits of being out of step with oppressive authority no matter where it is.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious, but accessible 10 Mar 2006
By Richard James - Published on
I got "domination" for a class, which does not tend to bias me in favor of liking a book. However, I have tentatively enjoyed reading it. It is a serious, scholarly book, but the topic is engaging and the case studies and historical examples cited are always interesting. I think that the author supports his complex thesis very well, and I would recommend this book to people who want to read something serious about race and culture.
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