Of human bodies in scientific communication and enculturation
How do students become enculturated and come to enact culture in ways that are new to them? This study probes the dialectical processes of enculturation, the central aspect of which is the role of human bodies in communication. For students, as for any individual, culture exists in terms of action possibilities that presuppose their intelligibility to and communicability with a generalized other. The body is crucial in enculturation because it concretely articulates possibilities in communication that exist in a generalized way at the collective level; it is through their bodies that people make available these possibilities to another as well as to oneself. This study articulates four aspects of the body in enculturation. Firstly, bodies concretely realize cultural possibilities to others. Secondly, as bodies are engaged in configuring materials and themselves, the possibility increases for contradictory understandings to be revealed. Thirdly, to resolve contradictory situations, the bodies enact new possibilities that have been available but were not salient. Fourthly, the body of a culturally more competent person makes new action possibilities available to newcomers. We conclude that culture is made available to and appropriate in concrete, material ways rather than through some mysterious process of transferring mental structures.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2008-06-01