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Who owns disability? an investigation into the politics of representation
h [electronic resource] /
by Shelby Forbes.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
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ABSTRACT: In this thesis, I show how a community of professionals providing equine therapy to individuals with disabilities discursively make sense of their enterprise. A market metaphor illustrates how disability is constructed as the capital sustaining the livelihood of their industry. Disability is a problem-centered concept. It is generally conceptualized according to a medical model which locates disability within the individual, as opposed to understanding it in a sociological sense which accounts for structural, cultural, and communicative factors. Therapy, on the other hand, is problem-determined-it needs to explicitly determine a problem to be treated in order to sustain itself as an industry and to legitimate the services it provides. As practitioners of an "alternative" form of therapy outside of the dominant biomedical frame, members of this community work not only to validate the need for therapy in general, but also to identify and justify the "uniqueness" of the therapy practiced. In an effort to proprietize disability, these professionals are involved in a politics of representation wherein divergent modes of speaking about disability (i.e., speaking from lived experience, speaking from expertise) vie to represent-or own-disability. In accordance with a market model, members are invested, with stakes in the rights to represent disability. Discourses of development and progress, hallmarks of economic ideology, are applied to bodies by staff as a means to validate the need for their services. Continuing this notion of disability as currency, I will demonstrate how, through their talk, members of this community construct types of disability-mental and physical-as having higher and lesser exchange values with respect to their therapeutic endeavors. Power too is conceptualized by professionals as a commodity to be exchanged in transactions from therapy-provider to therapy-receiver.
Advisor: Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Who Owns Disability? An Investigation into the Politics of Representation by Shelby Forbes A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Communication College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Mariae lena Bartesaghi, Ph.D. Stacy Holman Jones, Ph.D. Michael LeVan, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 15, 2010 Keywords: Therapy, Expertise, Discourse, Power, Language, Accounts Copyright 2010, Shelby Forbes
Acknowledgments I would like to thank the members of Appaloosa Farm for allowing me to observe and participate in their sessions, and for gi ving me the opportunity to work with their organization. I would also like to thank all committee members for their detailed editing remarks. My advisor, Mariaelena Bartesag hi, Ph.D., deserves special thanks for her availability to assist me throughout the writing and editing process.
Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter One: Introduction 1 Appaloosa Farm 7 Doing Good and Making Sense: A Review of the Literature 9 Strategies for Identification: Membership Cate gorization 10 Category Contingency, Volatility & Transience 12 Registers of Representation 15 The Languaging of Expertise 17 Data & Method 20 Chapter Two: Organizing the Everyday 24 Disability as Mental and P hysical Categories: A Professi onal Hierarchy 24 The Reappropriation of Therapy 28 Chapter Three: Accounting 37 Speaking (of) Categories: Authorit y of Experience a nd Authority of Accreditation 38 Alternative Therapy as Accountable Other 41 The Self as Site of Incompetence 47 The Problem of Empowerment 49 Chapter Four: Conclusion 53 References 57 Appendices 61 Appendix A: List of Interviews 62 i
Who Owns Disability? An Investigation into the Politics of Representation Shelby Forbes ABSTRACT In this thesis, I show how a community of professionals providing equine therapy to individuals with disabilities discursively make sense of their enterprise. A market metaphor illustrates how disability is constr ucted as the capital su staining the livelihood of their industry. Disability is a problem-centered concept. It is generally conceptualized according to a medical model which locates disability within the individual, as opposed to understanding it in a sociological sense which accounts for structural, cultural, and communicative factors. Therapy, on the othe r hand, is problem-determinedit needs to explicitly determine a problem to be treated in order to sustai n itself as an industry and to legitimate the services it provide s. As practitioners of an alternative form of therapy outside of the dominant biomedical frame, me mbers of this community work not only to validate the need for therapy in general, but also to identify and justify the uniqueness of the therapy practiced. In an effort to proprietize disability, th ese professionals are involved in a politics of re presentation wherein divergen t modes of speaking about disability (i.e., speaking from lived expe rience, speaking from expertise) vie to representor owndisabilit y. In accordance with a ma rket model, members are invested, with stakes in the rights to represent disabilit y. Discourses of development and progress, hallmarks of economic ideology, are applied to bodies by staff as a means to validate the need for their services. Continuing this notion of disabili ty as currency, I will ii
iii demonstrate how, through their talk, members of this community construct types of disabilitymental and physicalas having high er and lesser exchange values with respect to their therapeutic endeavors. Power too is conceptualized by professionals as a commodity to be exchanged in transactions fr om therapy-provider to therapy-receiver.
Chapter One Introduction As an instructor, I often receive accountsexcuses, justifications, and explanationsfrom students as to why th ey have missed class. Recently, I was approached by a student, Grace,1 who offered an account for her absences. She described to me her required attendance at countle ss schoolboard meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and institutionally mandated ps ychiatric evaluations of her son. Grace presented me with attorneys letters which served as a f actual account of the schools assessment of her son as academically at risk due to a learning disability. She went on to express her frustrations in her interactions with these professionals. She felt that her testimony of her sons abilities was disregarde d, and she felt that her voice in matters regarding her son often went unheard. Though I had never received this specif ic reason for a students absence from class, it was curiously familiar. After our c onversation, I returned to my office to sort through my boxed archives of literature to locat e the article where a similar scenario was detailed. The article that I was thinking of was Hugh Mehans 1996 discourse analysis of the construction of a learning disability. Mu ch like my student, Mehan found that among three types of discourses used to describe a student, the psychologists account (i.e., a medical model) precluded two others: a cont ext-based mode of representation (i.e., a 1 This name has been changed for purposes of confidentiality. 1
social m odel based on the teachers observations of the student) and a historical one (i.e., lived experience of the students mother). After our next class, I gave Grace a copy of the article and outlined Mehans arguments and findings. I explained that speak ers have divergent m odes of representing persons, objects, and ideas. The above-mentioned modesmedical, social, and historicalare registers (Hal liday & Hasan, 1976) of repres entation. These registers are distinguishable from one another and from other forms of linguistic representation in grammatical style (i.e., comple xity of syntax), degree of formality, and jargon. The types of registers speakers employ are specialized according to the activity being described and the speakers position with respect to that activity. More importantly, however, I emphasized to Grace that these modes of representation are not only divergent, but also that some discourses are privileged over ot hers. In this way, discourses which construct and represent disability as a fact are vyi ng for the ownership of it in a politics of representation. In this thesis, I employ an economic metaphor to understand this politics of representation and to conceptu alize disability as someth ing with exchange value. Disability is the capital which sustains the livelihood of some institutions, including therapy. Therapy is predicated on the exis tence, identificati on, and location of a problemas such, it is problem-determine d (Anderson, Goolishian, Winderman, 1986). Disability is a commodity with market value, and it is essent ial that therapy-providers are the ones to represent disabilityto own itot herwise, their practice is obsolete. To extend this metaphor of disa bility as currency, I will s how how mental and physical disability have higher and lower exchange values within therapeutic settings. 2
In her 1978 article K is Mentally Ill The Anatomy of a Factual Account, Dorothy Smith likewise employs a market metap hor to explicate her us e of the concept of social organization. Specifically, she says, the economic concept of a market whic h makes possible the analysis of the activities of numbers of individuals b uying and selling as a social organization which is unintended by its participants and which produces market phenomena as an unintended consequence (p. 24). Smiths description of the unintended consequence of a market view of social organization is of special import here. In th is thesis, I will examine the means by which members of a professional community disc ursively construct di sability and how it functions to legitimize their therapeutic enterp rise. In my interactions with members of this community, informants rationales for pr oviding therapy appear genuinely altruistic. However, these professionals intentions are not necessarily what I am concerning myself with here. Rather, I am, like Dorothy Smith, inquiring into the unintended consequences of the discursive operations us ed by this group to practically make sense of, and organize, disability in therapy. Over the course of several conversati ons with Grace I began to relate her experiences with the institutional construction of disability to my own research. For the past 18 months, I have been working with a nonprofit organization, Appaloosa Farm,2 which provides therapeutic equestrian servic es to adults with disabilities. In my interactions as a res earcher and volunteer at this facility, I obser ved processes through the analysis of both talk and text similar to those described by Grace. Much like Grace 2 All names featured in this paper, including that of the facility, have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. 3
discovered, I found that the rights to represent disability and c onstruct it as fact were up for grabs. Each party participating in this co ntest was to be regarded as interested party, with stakes in the politics of representation. I seek to interrogate the stakes and interests of this community and how they affect m embers conceptual organization and presentation of disability a nd therapy within their interactions. Put simply, my work reveals how the professionals I studied perf orm their jobs as therapy-providers and maintain the social order which sanctions th e therapeutic enterprise Here I will outline not only the discursive strate gies the Appaloosa staff and volunteers employ to identify, construct, and classify a client as disabl ed, but also their purposes in doing so. *** To say something is to do something; or in which by saying or in saying something we are doing somethingJ.L Austin (original emphasis, 1962, p. 12) Austins notion (1962) of the performativ e utterance, in conjunction with Dell Hymes (2001) notion of the speech act, comprises the theoretical framework for this thesis. Like Austin, I see language as doing something. Therefore, I regard language as constitutive and consequential in relationa l dynamics of social construction. That is, language creates social realities, as opposed to simply reflecting them. Because language users are actively constructing and shaping th eir social worlds, Hymes theory of the speech act is useful to understanding language as having more than just a descriptive function. For Hymes, the speech act asks what the speaker is doing in articulating an utterance in terms of the sp eakers pragmatic goals. Pragmatic goals can be understood as the speakers interests and stakes. More than investigating a speaker s interests though, I am concerned with the means by which they protect their interests from criticism and 4
negative evaluation. The focus of m y research is the strategies informants employ to safeguard their position as therapy-providers and as experts. I will be applying what Karen Tracy (2002) terms a rhetorical view of speech which understands talk as social action and communicators as choice makers whose actions could be assessed for practical eff ectiveness and moral reasonableness (p. 42). By describing speech as rhetorical I wish to convey the strategic and purposeful nature of talk, again underscoring how a speakers investment in the subject matter being discussed affects their discur sive presentation of it. To conceive of speech as social action means that speakers achieve things in talk. Contrary to any characterization of sp eech as just talk, speakers, through their talk, create, contest, affirm, and reify cultural norms and institutional structures. I will show empirically how talk is social acti on by featuring instances when, for example, Appaloosa members create social categories to conceptually organize their community, contest categories presumed impermeability and the activities associated with them, affirm their status as ther apy-providers and experts, and reify cultural notions of therapy and disability as bot h problem-oriented concepts. Tracys assertion that speakers are choice makers highlights the notion that they are agentive. While they may be somewhat confined by the limits of language, available to them, are conversational resources which they may employ to renegotiate their roles within interaction, and to refr ame the overall presentation of their organization (i.e., its practical effectiveness). In the case of the Appaloosa community, an example of a conversational resource invoked by these profes sionals includes constructing categorical prototypes (Lakoff, 1987) to represent the ideal kind of disabilit y, the ideal volunteer, 5
and ideal account of a thera py session. Categorical prototypes are inextricably linked to issues of m orality as they are provided as a good, preferred, and socially acceptable representation of the cate gory or phenomenon at hand. Moral reasonableness applies to the thir d chapter to be featured in my thesis. Moral reasonableness assumes that speakers wi ll offer accounts in the form of examples, personal experiences, and citati ons of qualifications, when th ey feel their practices are being assessed. Interviews are an ideal site for moral accounting in that questions, by their very nature, require respondents to work to provide rationales for how they came to their conclusions about the ways things are. My thesis is structured as follows: I have provided a preliminary introduction of the topics to be discussed, and a theoretical frame to contextualize and illuminate my analysis of empirical data in the form of in-depth interviews with staff members, ethnographic fieldnotes, and promotional litera ture disseminated by this organization. Below, I will background the facility and its espoused objectives. Then I will provide a review of literature in a section titled, Doing Good and Making Sense on the topics of the interactional construction of dis/ability and the languaging by which the status of disabled and expert is achie ved within a helping relationsh ip such as therapy. In the methods section, I account for my data, an alysis, and the methodologies I employ in generating and compiling the data. The first chapter to be featured in the discussion section is titled, Organizing the Everyday. Here, I use Harvey Sacks (1992) notion of membership categorization to show how staff members organize types of disabilityphysical and mentalinto a hierarchy. In the third chapter, Accounting, I detail a hier archy of a different kind, one 6
which is comprised of two types of registers for speaking about disabi lity. In this ch apter I analyze the processes by which members of this community secure and validate their industry. Appaloosa Farm To get to Appaloosa Farm, I travel to a rural area about 15 miles outside of the major Florida metropolitan city in which I live. About twice a week for the past year and a half, my ill-equipped two-wheel drive car has traversed several gravel roads named things like Woodstock and Crescent. My journey is marked by a series of ninetydegree turns down a dizzying path. Houses become fewer and far between, giving way to pastures of cows and abandoned rusted machinery. Nearing the farm, my view of the entrance is obstructed by a few inconveniently located pines. I turn into the parking lot featuring an abundance of handicapped spaces. Adjacent to the parking lot is a red ce dar barn with always-fresh hunter green trim. Inside the barn it is a color-coded worl d. Colors denote what belongs to whomfor example, a purple brush belongs to the horse with a purple name plate outside of its stall. Colors also signify detailed aspects of the days schedule on the dr y-erase board located in the barn breezeway. Black marker denotes th e riders name, blue marker matches rider with the instructor, and red marker cauti ons that the electrical fence is on. A mulch path leads from the barn to a la rge, oval arena. The roof of the arena is tin, and under it is a red clay floor littered with balls, hula -hoops, and horse waste. The arena has recently been equi pped with several features to make the location more accessible to people with varied abilities; for example, a lifting machine has been 7
installed in the arena so that individuals with concerns for m obility can mount horses with the ease of any other rider. A gradually-slanted wooden mounting ramp runs from the side of the fenced enclosure to a patio area complete with picn ic tables, plants, and a donation receptacle. On the patio is a free-standing shack for the restrooms, as indicated by the signs Phillies and Colts (women and men, respectively). Also located outside the restroom entrance is a plaque which reads, There is nothing so good for the in side of a person as the outside of a horse. Past the arena are the lush green grasse s of the south and west pastures where client trail rides are conducte d. When not used for trail ri des though, these pastures cater to the grazing pleasure of the farms residents. Originally founded to explor e the physical, psychological, and social benefits of therapeutic horseback riding, A ppaloosa Farm is research in action. The program services adults and children with physical and mental disabilities, and has recently demonstrated a special interest in providing th erapy to veterans (in part due to the receip t of government funding). Recognizing a paucity of programs tailored to adults with disabilities, Appaloosa Farm has incorporated the needs of this population specifically into their mission. In an interview with the organizati ons president and founder, Betty Phillips, stresses the uniqueness of he r programs clientele: so there, there really is a dearth of pr ograms that serve adults with disabilities, and, I mean, even in Alcea County ther es like six other therapeutic riding programs, and theyre all dedicated to serving kids (lines 47-49). 8
The program is facilitated by paid staff me mbers, and in larger part, by volunteers from community service organi zations, local schools, and equi ne-interested individuals. Appaloosa Farms espoused objective is to recognize ability within disability. Thus, the instructor, horse, lesson exerci ses, and volunteer side-walkers3 or leaders4 are scheduled in advance with the ride rs abilities in mind. Doing Good and Making Sense: A Review of the Literature In looking at staff interviews, professi onals interactions with clients, and analyzing this organizations marketing literature, I am investigating a helping relationship. Helping relationships include those between health care providers and patients, teachers and students, and therapy-providers and th erapy-receivers, to name a few. The helping relationship discussed in this thesis, equine therapy, is what is generally conceived of as an alternative therapy as it is considered to be out side of the prevailing biomedical frame. The first step in examining Appaloosas helping relationship is to turn to the participants involved and the discursive m eans by which the staff designate the roles which guide their interactions. The Appaloos a staff is simultaneously creating identity categories for themselvesas able-bodied, as therapy-providers, and as expertsand for program participantsas disabled and as therapy-receivers. I will show that these identity categories are transient and permeab le. Moreover, I will detail the strategies speakers use to traverse identity categories, identifying differently at times for specific 3 Side-walkers are volunteers who walk alongside the rider applying light pressure to his or her leg, depending on the riders muscular ability to grip the horse. 4 Leaders walk in front of the horse with a lead rope They are generally used in lessons when the riders ability to grip the reigns is limited. 9
purposes. O ne such strategy by which members of this community construct and traverse identity categories is th rough the process of memb ership categorization. Strategies for Identification: Membership Categorization Category work the processes of fitting persons into social schemata, or membership categorization, originated with the work of Harvey Sacks (1972). Sacks asks what goes with whatspecifically what activities are associated with what social categories. He terms this phenomenon category boundedness. Membership categorization analysis has been taken up by scholars in conversation analysis and ethnomethodology. It is appropriate and relevant to my work in that membership categorization work is a usef ul lens for examining how members of Appaloosa Farm make sense of their so cial world. Specifically, membership categorization makes visible the processes by which these professionals organize and designate the roles of commun ity members as a means to gui de their actions (i.e., the category-bound activities associ ated with each social categ ory). For example, if a member of this community is conceptually categorized as able-bodied, his or her activities are determined accordingly (i.e., this person would be involved in providing therapy, as opposed to receiving it). A caveat to this kind of sense-making though: I will show how the category-bound activ ity of therapy is reappropriated by informants as an activity associated with the cat egories of able-bodied members as well as disabled. Carolyn Baker (2004) uses membership cat egorization analysis in a way similar to how I am utilizing it here. Baker understa nds interviews as a site for category work. She writes that When we are asked to speak in some situation, as in an interview for example, we mobilize the res ources of available membership categorization devices (p. 10
164). As I h ave asserted, interview se ttings are prime sites for accounting, and membership categorization is just one of the resources available to speakers for producing an account. More than just a resource for accounting, membership categorization analysis is a means to trace members use of these categories and devicesis a means of showing how identities, social relationships, and even institutions are produced (p. 164). In Bartesaghi & Bowens (2009) analysis of interviews with Holocaust survivors for example, the authors argue that remembering is a category bound activity inasmuch as it is a claim to the epistemi c right to memory, or owners hip of a first person account. Bartesaghi & Bowen show how memory of the Holocaust is not an automatic right of the survivor, but a matter of discursive negotiati on of the survivor category itself in the course of institutional interviews, where first person accounts are granted the status of memory. Much like remembering, receiving thera py is a category-bound activity. This is because it is tied to access and is achieved by means of a discursive process of authorization. As previously established, therapy is problem-determined (Anderson, Goolishian, Winderman, 1986) and disability is problem-centered. As I will explain in more detail shortly, disability is, in prevailing medicalized representations, a social problem located within the individual. Th erapy, suggesting treatment or amelioration of these problems, is an activ ity traditionally associated with the disabled category as it provides the problem the therapeutic enterpri se needs to sustain itself. However, as I have mentioned, I identify alternative uses of therapy within informants talk. 11
Category Co ntingency, Transience & Volatility By inquiring about the means by which di sability functions as an identity category, I am investigating the intersections of disability, identit y, and community. This endeavor underscores the inte rdependency of the identity categories of ability and disability. Both require another (or a community of others) to signify. In their article Culture as Disa bility, McDermott and Varenne (1995) emphasize the relativity of ability and disability when they state succinctly, No ability, no disability. No disability, no ability (p. 332). Like so many other things (i.e., identity), social categories rely on an other to be meaningful. McDermott and Varenne (1995) similarly remi nd us of our susceptibility to be them when they caution, Failure is always ready to acquire someone (p. 344). When the criterion established is put in such broad terms, i.e., fa ilure at something, it is easy to understand how any person could be a nnexed by the ever-volatile category of disability. In other words, if failure at some task is the only requisite for inadequacy, then who hasnt been relegated to the cat egory of incompetenceof inability? In another article, The Acquisition of a Child by a Learning Disability, McDermott (1993) once more, treats disability as a predatory category. For McDermott, it was not a learning disability that was under investigation, but rather, the rhetoric surrounding disability that allowed for the placement of the child within the disabled category. Explicitly, McDermott says LD [learni ng disability] is usually assumed to be acquired by children due to some laps e in their development (p. 271). This quote touches on several issues immedi ately relevant to my work. Firstly, the quote expounds upon the notion that a distinct ion between disability and impairment 12
should be made; that disability should be re garded as a social phenom enon as opposed to a biological one. McDermotts acknowledgment of the present c onceptualization of disability as a biological phe nomenon is evinced in the first half of his statement where he says that disability is acquired . Acquired emphasizes the biological or medical representation of disability as it suggests that acquiring a disability is comparable to the acquisition of any other biological deficiency, i.e., one acquires a flu virus. McDermotts phrasing of disability as characterized by a lapse further demonstrates popular conceptions of disabi lity as problem-cen tered. This lapse suggests a failure to meet a benchmark of progress, or negligence in satisfying a requisite of development. As I have articulated thus far, therapy is dependent upon disability because therapy, being problem-determined, need s something to correct in the form of a disability which is problem-centered. The reference to development anticipat es my later discussion of how the longstanding discourses of development a nd progress influence how persons regard disability. Therapy is an industry which seeks to develop bodies, and McDermotts reference to development here delineate s the connection between discourses of development and disability. This relationship among disability, identity, and community is further complicated by the notion that an individual holds multiple, simultaneous memberships within several communities and social categories. For instance, if an individual is of African descent, is sexually attracted to women, and possesses some impediment, she may choose to identify w ith all, some, or none of these so cial categories. An individuals identitiesincluding impairmentdo not organize hierarchically. Moreover, a 13
disabled identity is not the only means for identification. Th erefore, it is best to view disability as just one fragm ent of the self being presented, as opposed to a comprehensive identity that is givento thi nk of disability as an identifying characteristic rather than an (the) identity5. The identity category of disabled is fluid. Individuals not only acquire new, diverse categoriescategories acquire new, diverse members. In other words, the population comprising the identity category of disability is transitorythe class of individuals who at one moment qualify as disabled is not the same group at another moment. As standard cu ltural definitions for what count s as able-bodied and disabled continue to be renegotiate d through the terms we use and the words we speak, these categories appropriate new members accordingly (Shakespeare & Watson, 2001). Shakespeare and Watson (2001, p. 21) comment on this false presumption that impairment presupposes disabili ty as an identity noting, Any individual disabled pers on may strategically identif y, at different times, as a person with a particular impairment, as a disabled person, or by their particular gender, ethnicity, sexuality, occ upation, religion or football team. Strategically is key here, as it reco gnizes that members are agentive social actors, actively highlighti ng and downplaying identities within conversation and interaction. Karen Tracy (2001) also depicts interlocutors as purposeful and strategic when she says, people are crafting their talk to accomplish their aims given the other and the character of the situation (p. 736). C onsistent with this, I will demonstrate how 5 Appaloosa Farm founder and president, Betty Phillips, touches on disability as merely one of multiple identifying characteristics in one of her interviews. Wh en asked if and how the way she thinks about things like disability, ability, and therapy have changed since establishing the program she says, Ya know, so, so Ive kind of, ya know in my own head, gotten away from thinking about people as disabled or not, or whatever. Its kinda like yeah, shes got MS, but her eyes are blue too (lines 123-125). 14
certain id entities and moreover, certain registers, are strategically offered and withheld highlighted and downplayedin informants discourse. Registers of Representation There are several modes of representation by which social members construct disability in talk. The medical model, whic h identifies disability as intrinsic to the individual, is one of two primary means of representing incompetence. Conversely, the second means of representing disability is a social model which accounts for more systemic factors. According to Robin Smith (2001) in her essay en titled, View from the Ivory Tower: Academics Constructing Disability, the medical model which emphasizes the dis in disability, is re ndered obsolete by a social model. Disability scholars prefer the social model because it provides for a mo re ecological view of disability, accounting for societal and structural influences in addi tion to genetic ones. Like gender and race, an individuals impairment (a biological construct) is not disabling (a social construct) until society deems it so (Shakespeare & Watson, 2001). Locating impairment within persons rein forces a principle of therapy which dictates that it is an indivi duals responsibility to seek th erapyto seek correction. In interviews with Appaloosa pr ofessionals, a medical register or model is employed to justify the need for their services. Thera py becomes legitimized through discourses which identify the self as the origin of inco mpetence and as a site for development. Despite criticism of the medical model a nd the institutional framing of disability, many scholars nonetheless note its authoritative pr esence in representations of disability. For instance, Mary-Pat OMalleys (2008) an alysis of the institutional framing of disability on an Irish radio program found that radio moderators gave medicalized 15
discourse preferential treatm ent functioning to reinforce the portrayal of disabled person as other. Evidence of the medical model supersedi ng other modes of representation (such as those of lived experience) is observable as OMalley (2008) demonstrates in the different introduction of two speakers: one as a Doctor so and so, and the other as just So and so (my italics). This t ype of introduction grants the medical expert authority to converse about a medical condition and in this sense is worth listening to (p. 349). Effectively, authoritative discourse displaces those registers which are incongruent, that is, those typified by the everyday language of experience as opposed to technical jargon. However, as the speakers in both OMalleys (2008) and my study demonstrate, not all passively resign themselves to sile nce and discursive displacement. In both instances, interviewees (persons with disabilities) engage in oppositional discourse to challenge the dominant institutional frame which characterizes disability as deficitbased (Smith, 2001, p.57). In OMalleys st udy, individuals used their conversational resources (i.e., their lived experience) to challenge the status quo (i.e., the authority of the medicalized institutional frame). Instead of perpetuating the interviewers framing of disability as problematic, interviewees desc ribe their experiences with disability as relatively uninhibited. Appaloosa Farm participant and volun teer Rob Taylor, likewise challenges dominant representations of disability as problematic when says he is grateful for his disability, as it has afforded him se veral opportunitieshard ly a problematic characterization. 16
Ultimately however, in some instances, the conversational resource of lived experience ends up, as the title of OMalleys article s uggests, falling between the frames as it is incompatible to a fact-se eking, medically-oriented register (p. 355). The Languaging of Expertise Congruent with OMalleys findi ngs, Hugh Mehan (1996) states, that a particular way of representing even ts in discursive language influences, first of all, the way we think about the events represented, and, second, the way we act toward the events (original emphasis, p. 274). If we can agree about the si gnificance of language, then I think it is necessary to demonstrate, as Mehan and OMalley do, that not all persons have equal access to all registers. For Mehan, the languaging of expertise, ma rked by a technical register, indicates a superior status and a special knowledge based on long training and specialized qualifications (p. 270). Through the use of t echnical jargon and explicit references to credentials and accreditations, members of pr ofessional communities such as Appaloosa Farm are able to discursively achieve and maintain the status of expert, and are furthermore, able to validate the need for their services. In a similar vein, Murray Edelmans (1974) classic article, The Political Language of Helping Professions details the function of the specialized discourse of expertise, and it is worth quoting at length: Because the helping professions define ot her peoples statuses (and their own), the special terms they employ to categorize clients and just ify restrictions of their physical movements and of their moral a nd intellectual influe nce are especially 17
revealing of the political f unctions language perf orms a nd of the multiple realities it helps create (p. 296). The function of language w ithin the helping professi ons, including therapy, is two-fold: As mentioned above, it serves to c onstruct and validate the therapy-providers position as expert, and it obscures the politici zed interests of the parties involved. For example, as Edelman notes, by classifying an everyday activity as a medical one such as therapy (i.e., sleep thera py, talk therapy), superior and subordinate roles are established, and the inhibitions placed upon the subordinate cl ass are justified (p. 297). As the literature suggests, language in use becomes an issue of access: Who has access to the esoteric registers of expertise? Are all registers esteemed equally? I will investigate how the languaging of therapy f unctions within the Appaloosa community. In investigating the assumptions upon which Appaloosas therapeutic enterprise is founded, I adopt a position similar to that of Charles Antaki (2006) in Producing a Cognition. In this article, Antaki investigates the discursive practices a therapist uses not to discover what his client knows, but how the client comes to know it. In this way, Antaki is concerned with the production mechanisms by which interviewer and intervieweree, therapist and client, jointly produce (p. 13) phenomena, specifically, a cognition. Antakis Producing a Cognition establishes the framework from which I operate. He understands interviews not as a site for extracting hidden knowledge contained in the mind, but as a site for co -creating knowledge betw een researcher and informant. Also like Antaki, I do not evaluate the th erapists activities in terms of being good or evil, right or wrong, a priori Rather, I take discursive representations of disability, 18
power, and expertise as for ms of accounting. Accounts, as defined by Karen Tracy, are discursive processes informants employ when their actions are subject to evaluation (p.77), wherein informants provide rationales and explanations for their activities. The languagingor accountingof expertise is used to validate members raison d'tre as therapy-providers. It would be far too reductive to assume that the therapy-providers are the oppressors and the therapy-receivers the oppr essedthat therapy-receivers (individuals with disabilities) are destined to be discursi vely displaced and powerless. This is because I engage in empirical wor k, wherein I make claims from the data as opposed to presupposing them. I view power as a relationa l dynamic, meaning that it does not reside indefinitely in structures or persons. On the contrary, I believe power to be created, contested, and reified in interaction. To avoid characterizing power in such positivist and absolute terms, I refer to the work of Klaus Krippendorff (1995). He writes that power arises in languaging, can be contested in languaging, can be overcome in languaging and is, thus, embodied in the language among real people (p. 10). This is significant because it re cognizes speakers as agentive social actors and as incapable of being power-less. Following Krippendorffs (1995) observation, I will show how members of the Appaloosa community renegotiate power relations by employing discursive re sources and strategies such as the reappropriation of therapy. With respect to the social implica tions of language, I align myself with Krippendorff (1995) and Joanna Thornborrow (2 002) who contend that critical theory should be buttressed with empirical data from everyday talk. If critical theory is the only 19
m eans for understanding the social world, resear chers run the risk of finding exactly what they are looking for and only that. For exampl e, if I already know that power resides in structure A, what is the point of investigation, save to conf irm the theory from which Im operating? Empirical investigations complement critical theory as a way to elaborate upon, depart from, or generate new unders tandings of the way things are. In the discussion section, I will introduce some critical theory to background discourses on development and progress, and w ill supplement this with examples of how said discourses operate and are made manifest in interaction. Thr ough the introduction of extracts of interview talk, I will show how power is made in interaction, and how informants employ discursive strategies to negotiate perceived st atus differentials. Data & Method First of all, dont worry about whether theyre [speakers] are thinking. Just come to terms with how it is that [the detail of talk] come s off. Because youll find that they can do these thingsLook to see how it is that persons go about producing what they do produce (Sacks, 1992 cited in Wetherell, Taylor, and Yates (2001, p. 52). It is important that I make explicitly clear that I am not adopting a psychological approach to my research. It is not my object ive to inquire about what members of this community think Rather, I will interpret informants talk to make claims about the social order which is simultaneously reflected in, and constructed by th eir talk. Like Sacks articulates, social interacti on is a visible phenomenonit is visible in the details of talk. 20
As such, I treat the interview as a to pic for analysis (Sarangi, 2003). From the interview, I make claims regarding the negotiation of identities by researcher and informant, and the institutional framing of th e interview setting. One of the discursive devices by which members organize soci al phenomena is through membership categorization. Membership categorization, as it is used here, is the means by which identities, social relationships, and ev en institutions are produced (Baker, 2004, p. 164). Additionally, I will at times, analyze my ow n talk within an interview as not only as an act of reflexivity (Alvesson & Skoldberg, 2009), but as a means to further my claims about the social order. Fieldnotes, five in-depth interviews with six staff members and volunteers (see Appendix A), and promotional literature disse minated by Appaloosa, comprise the data for analysis. I compiled fieldnotes from visits to A ppaloosa Farm usually occurring once a week for four hour intervals (8:00am-12: 00pm) over a period of five months. My fieldnotes were compiled while at the site on scraps of paper, and then elaborated upon immediately following the visit. I reintroduced myself to the Appaloosa community as both a researcher interested in exploring the ways in which they communicate about disability and ability, and al so as a member of the voluntee r staff. I say reintroduced because I had previously established a re lationship with some of the community members, including Appaloosa president and f ounder, Betty Phillips, when I volunteered at the facility several years ago. I also br ing an equestrian background to the research setting (I have been riding and training fo r approximately 12 years) so many community members constructed my role not only as resea rcher, but also as an extra set of hands. 21
For som e of the interviews I came prepared with an interview schedule consisting of relatively general, open-ended questions However, often this was only referenced initially as a starting off point, or not at a ll. I approached my inte rviews with a laissez faire attitude, allowing the conversation to trav erse subjects and topics as they came to the informant or me, producing an emergent interview. Interviews are speech events (Mis hler, 1986) where information is not extracted, and where interview questions ar e not the stimuli that provoke a (more or less desired) response from the informant. Ra ther, in the process of the interview, researcher and informant are co-constructi ng meaning, actively working towards shared understanding. Both parties orie nt their questions and respons es in terms of each other attempting to fit one with the other (p. 47). Given the interdependent nature of questions and responses, I will not provide decontextu alized sound bites of interview talkall responses will be situated in the context of their corresponding question. I engage in interview techniques such as backchanneling or offering minimal responses as a means to show that I am actively listening to the speaker but also to encourage them to say more. I digitally recorded and then transcribe d all interviews. I transcribe at an intermediate level of detail including in my transcripts vocalizations, nonfluencies, pauses, overlaps, and emphases on words or pa rt of a word. I prefer this model for transcription6 because it recognizes the parts of speech which the informant emphasizes via varied intonations and other paralinguist ic characteristics. I took few notes during interviews, however I used my fieldnot es to contextualize interview data. 6 The transcription model used in my research is comp arable to those of conversation analysis in that it emphasizes how questions and answers work together sequentially to in order for claims to be made, sustained, and contested. See Sacks, Schlegoff & Jefferson (1972). 22
My objectives for this thesis are dual. In addition to interrogating the speakers purposeful aims in their languaging of dis/abi lity and therapy, I am also attempting to bridge critical theory with social interact ion. In doing so, I must make a distinction between discourse as theory and discourse as a methodologywhat is known as big D and little d, respectively (Gee, 1999) Big D is comprised of theoretical and institutional metanarratives. In the case of my research, fo r example, when I refer to discourses of development as they relate to therapy, I am speaking of big D. Little d on the other hand, is discourse as it appears empirically in interactionhere, in utterances of interview talk and textual data. The Appaloosa literature featured in th is paper was given to me by an informant at the close of an interview as a means to further explicate the program she was describing. This exemplifies the interdependent relationship between talk and text. Text is sedimented talk, an institutional document ation and presentation of the ideal selfor in this case, the ideal enterprise. Much like the legal documentation my stude nt presented me with in the opening account, documentation of the ki nd featured here functions as an indexical tool. Informants refer to the organizations literat ure as a source of disembodied expertise by which they can guide, explicate, and authorize their therapeutic practices. The promotional literature analyzed here is generally marketed to corporations, military personnel and veterans, and individua ls for whom traditional avenues of therapy have proved unsuccessful, or those who seek self-exploration and adjustment (Appaloosa Farm E.A.S.E. program literature, p. 1). 23
Chapter Two Organizing the Everyday Disability as Mental and Physical Categories: A Prof essional Hierarchy My interactions with Appaloosa prof essi onals were foregrounded by one research question in particular. How do members of this community practically make sense of their enterprise? In interview talk, Appal oosa professionals refine the category of disability into two subcategories, physica l disability and mental disability. These categories however, are not symmetrical. Rather the categories of phys ical disability and mental disability are spoken of in terms of a hierarchy, with physic al disability being preferred over mental disability by Appaloosa staff. Their talk suggests that as a participant receiving therapy in their organizatio n, it is better to be physically disabled as opposed to cognitively disabled. In two separate interviews, info rmants Emily and Robyn, both Appaloosa professionals, describe a riders mental ap titude as a saving grace for his or her physical limitations. The formulation for talk of this nature goes something like this: Well (s)he cant do this because of (name the impediment), but mentally (emphasis added), (s)he is fine. This formulation ma y be observed in Emilys account of a rider, John: 87 R: Um, so ya know, about changi ng minds, in what ways, if any, has 88 your experiences here influen ced the ways you think about things 89 like disability and therapydo these things mean the same things 90 to you um, now as they did prior to your coming here? () 105 I: I think, coming out here I guess, has kinda opened my eyes how 24
106 much being in this type of e nvironment and being um (1.0), with 107 horseshow horses can help disability people. 108 R: Mm-hm. 109 I: N how they can help ya know, veterans with ya know PTSD, and 110 different suff. N how much of an influence it can really have on 111 someone. Um, I dunno, have you been a part of one of John 112 Calhouns lessons? The, the marine who 113 R: No. 114 I: He was thehes a ex-marineI m not quite sure how old he is, if 115 I had to guess Id say somewhere in his thirties. Um, but he had an 116 ID blow up n he lost half of his br[ain 117 R: [ Oh my gosh. 118 I: N then um, he can, he can function like he knows whats going on 119 around him. Um, he cant walk ve ry well. Like some of his ya 120 know, physical funct[ioning 121 R: [Mm-hm. 122 I: isnt, ya know, a hundred percent. But um, he knows whats going 123 on around him True to form, Emilys account of John describes his physical shortcomings, yet she qualifies and mitigates them with the word but in line 122, and with the subsequent testimony of his cognitive abil ity thereafter. By employing this contrast structure, Emilys pairing of physical and mental (dis)abi lities implies a hierar chal relationship. She uses testimony of Johns cognitive capability as a redemption suggesting that mental capacity, being the more important quality, trumps the physical. The contrast Emily sets up between types of ability in lines 118123 functions to salvage John from social disfunction as she attributes him with the kind of ability (mental) that is more the valuable social capital. Through her speech, Emily naturally adds emphasis to mental (line 142) and physical (line 120). Thus, the speaker distinguishes the su bcategories of physical and mental (dis)ability as separate. Yet by us ing them in conjunc tion, she constructs a hierarchy in which physical disability (as opposed to mental disability) is more esteemed. When asked about what her participation in the therapy sessions provides to her 25
personally, Em ily, as an ablebodied staff member, speaks for society in her ability to assess Johns disability: 18 I: Its just, just being in th is environmentand thats one thing I can 19 definitely say for the disabilitied individuals that it just, it kinda 20 relaxes your mind. N it just kinda helps ya calm down and filter 21 out, ya know, your thoughts, n, n everything. N thats, ya know, 22 kinda relates to the disability people where they are more open to 23 try new things or um () By speaking for individuals with disa bilities (lines 18-19), Emily is presenting herself as able-bodied, as a member of the cat egory us, which is qualified to evaluate the social category of disabled, of other, of them. The implications of Emilys speech are great in that by differentiating Johns di sabilities and abilities and organizing them into a hierarchy, she is prescribing how he should live according to the social strata in which she has discursively placed him. This format of first speaking of phys ical disability and then immediately following with testimony of cognitive ability is likewise exhibite d in Robyns (I1) story about a rider, Kate: 1 R: Can you think of any (2.0), any stories that you know, you might 2 have from your experiences here that have kinda stuck with you, 3 that made a big impression on you or anything like that? 4 I1: Impression 5 R: Anyone you worked with that you know, made a lot of progress or 6 um (1.5), I dont know, Im just trying to think of stories 7 particularly. () 20 I1: Kay, there used to be this girl, there was uh a couple, a, a older 21 couple who used to bring thei r daughter Kate. And they were 22 Gene and Barb. 23 R: Mm-hm. 24 I1: And they would ride themselves. They used to bring their daughter 25 Kate, who was probably in her thir ties, late thirties at the time, who 26 um I think she had a baby, and af ter she gave birth she had a stroke 27 shortly after. 28 R: Ohhh. 26
29 I1: So sheher vision, shed always say she couldnt see. And you 30 could tell mentally that she still had, had a couple things going on. Like Emilys account, Robyns follows suit by first describing the riders physical deficiency and then offering a compensatory de scription of her mental status (lines 2930). The difference here however is that the hi erarchal relationship of these two qualities is not as obvious in Robyns use of them; for instance, she does not use a word like but or however to qualify her accoun t of the riders di sability as Emily does. The order in which the descriptions of physical and mental (dis)ability is presented though, makes the hierarchy implicit and nonetheless present. Robyn first speaks of the riders physical disability and then couches and situates it with subsequent testimony of cognitive ability (mentally is emphasized in line 30). And though having only a couple things going on is hardly considered praise, it is still acknowledgement of ability as opposed to disability. An interesting phenomenon is occurring in both Emily and Robyns interviews. Both individuals offer exemplary stories of participant prototypes (Lakoff, 1987) to do the work solicited by my question, and to ma ke sense of their practices. Within these interviews, both participants, John and Kate, serve as prototypes representative of the category of ideal client. As I have shown, this categor y is typified by a physical disability as opposed to a cognitive one. Thes e participants are also prototypical in that prior to an event which caused their disa bilities, they were engaging in socially productive activities with th eir bodies: John contributed to society via his military service, and Kate, by giving birth. Before the tragic events that contributed to their disabilities, these par ticipants were social ly valuable for their productive societal contributions. By attributing them with soci al capital in the form of mental ability, 27
Appaloosa professionals are attem pting to c onstruct these participants as socially valuable once more. In an earlier paper on my initial work with the Appaloosa community, I titled the piece Making the Invisible Visible. Visibility, as it relates disability, is inextricably bound to the therapeutic enterprise; before therapeutic intervention can occur, a professional evaluation of the problem (i.e., th e disability) to be tr eated must take place first. Mental disability proves difficult for the therapeutic intervention by Appaloosa professionals because the limits of the p roblem or disability cannot clearly be demarcated. By privileging physical disabi lity in their inte ractions, Appaloosa participants are favoring the ki nd of disability which is per ceived as most responsive to their therapeutic practices. What is more, is that the contingency of the categories of ability and disability, physical and mental, is underscored by the in formants interview talk. These categories (ability/disability, physical/mental) are not pres ented without explicit reference or at least allusion to its counterpart. These findings t hus provide support for the popular assertion made by much of the extant literature on the subject which contends that the social categories of ability and disability are valued in relation to each other. In other words, it is the tension that exists between these two categories which ma kes them meaningful. The Reappropriation of Therapy By asking the question, What criteria must one meet to qualify him or her as a member of the disabled or able-bodied class? I am adding another dimension of complexity to the membership categories of dis/ability. For some, it may be tempting to identify those members of the Appaloosa community who receive therapy as members of 28
the dis abled class, and the providers of the therapy as represen tatives of the able-bodied class since therapy is a category-bound activ ity typically reserved for disabled. The logic implicit in helping re lationships (Edelman, 1974) argues something similarthat the individuals who help are also those who are able to help. Enticing as such logic may be, much of what appears in members in terview talk proves this to be reductive and false. In his 1972 On the Analyzability of Ch ildrens Stories Harvey Sacks outlines the notion of category-boundedness as it pert ains to membership categories. Sacks employs a generative view of language wherein the noun (i.e. mother, baby) evokes an appropriate verb or category-bound activity (i.e., picks the baby up, and crying, respectively). For Sacks, the category-bound activ ity of crying is in extricably linked to the social category of baby, and the cat egory-bound activity of picks the baby up goes with the category of mother. Sacks analyzes the statement The baby cried. The mommy picked it up as an exemplar of cat egory-bound activity for th e reader can infer that it is the babys mommy who picked it up as the activity itself is bound to the category of mother. The concept of category-boundedness is integral to understanding the reappropriation which occurs through informants talk. Typi cally, therapy is a categorybound activity which is associated with th e category of disabled, implying an asymmetry wherein only members of the disabled category ar e the receivers of therapy. However, members of the Appaloosa community use therapy as an activity in which able-bodied volunteers partic ipate, in addition to riders with disabilities. 29
Across several of the informants interviews, there are marked references to the needs of staff being met via their particip ation and membership within the Appaloosa community. When questioned about a comment she previously made concerning staff and volunteers satisfying their own needs via therapy, Betty Phillips, Appaloosa president and founder, cites the following motives for th eir participation: the genuine desire to perform community service, atonement for so me sin, and diversion for those who are in between jobs or do not work. The most noteworthy aspect of Bettys contribution, though, is what follows. She says theres so mething really therapeutic about helping other people (line 33). Here she has appropr iated the term therapeutic, which is traditionally reserved for or associated with the disabled class, and used it in reference to able-bodied persons. As a result, she has refu ted any line of thought which dictates that the receipt of therapy goes (to use the langu age of Sacks) with the membership category of disability exclusiv ely, and vice versa. Similarly, in the course of interview, Robyn (I1) and Maria (I2), recount their own reasons for volunteering at the farm and specu late on the reasons of others. Many of the reasons proffered overlap with those listed by Betty; these include filling idle time and providing a distraction amidst em otional turmoil. Also congrue nt with Bettys interview, is the same alternative use of the word therapy used by Robyn: () 25 R: Um, so you do thinkwhat kind of needs do you think are 26 met by the staff and volunteers? 27 I1: Um, I think maybe one thing, sometimes you get people who may 28 be lonely, um dont have a lot of you know, social network, family 29 to rely on. And they come out, and they ride the horses, and you 30 get to know them, and I think we become their frien[ds 31 R: [Mm-hm. 32 I1: too. And they kind of use it as a psychological therapy, you know 33 they can tell us their problems 30
By reclaiming therapy for ability in addition to disability, Appaloosa professionals are further blurring conceptual boundary lines. In a later interview with Betty Phil lips, she acknowledges the limits language imposes upon her. Betty articu lates that though she does not subscribe to binary views of ability and disability, she is forced to use these terms for ease of c onversation (line 16): 6 R: Um I guess one of the major que stions that Im kinda running 7 that keeps coming up in my mi nd like while Im here n when I go 8 home and do journal entries, um, how has the way that you think 9 about, uh, concepts like disability and therapyhas that changed 10 at all, like, with your experien ces here prior to your establishing 11 this facility? 12 I: (Indiscernible talk) 13 R: Or, has it stayed the same?Or 14 I: Um, ya know, I kinda gotten to where (1.5) in my head and in my 15 heart, I really dont (1.0) look at people as disabled or able-bodied. 16 I use those terms more for ease of conversation So what is to be done? Are speakers wit hout agency when it comes to matters of linguistic paradoxes? I argue, as does Karen Tracy (2002), that speakers have resources available to them to (re)negotiate the entailmen ts of their linguistic choices. Resources of are conversational devices which allow speakers to gain the turn to talk, to provide a compelling account of a phenomenon, or to cons truct themselves as a reputable source. In the introduction, I described my student s dealings with her sons school, and her presentation of attorney letters. This documentation serves as a conversational resource for my student in that she is able to refer to an external source, a factual account (Smith, 1978) in which her son has been historically constructed as disabled, and she is furthermore, better equipped to account for her absences. 31
The resource being discussed here is reappropriation, wherein Appaloosa informants reclaim a term. In the case of the Appaloosa community, professionals (re)associate an activity traditionally rese rved for one population (i.e., disabled population) with another (i.e., able-bodied). When asked about what the program provi des to the able-bodied volunteers, Betty (I) continues: 82 I: Um, ya know, its occurred to me over the years that, that people volunteer 83 for a variety of reasons 84 R: Mm-hm. 85 I: And some people are, are genuinely looking to perform community 86 service 87 R: Mm-hm. 88 I: Now there may be some interesting reasons behind that. Ya know, maybe 89 theres some (2.5) sin theyre atoning for. Or, or maybe theyre just civic90 minded and, and high on that Maslows hierarchy of ne[eds 91 R: [Mm-hm. 92 I: and feel like thats something that they should do to be a good person. 93 R: Yeah. 94 I: Or simply because its the righ t thing to doto give back to your 95 community. 96 R: Mm-hm. 97 I: But, you get all kinds of other peop le out there that are in transition (1.0) 98 places in their lives. Theyre divorced recently, and theyre lookin for 99 company, ya know, hopin to meet ne w friends and make a new social 100 circle () 115 I: Um, and then other times, um, theyre between jobs. 116 R: Mm-hm. 117 I: Um, and looking to fill some tim e. Or theyre (1.0) lonely, umWeve 118 R: got a few women whose husbands work and they dont 119 R: Mm-hm. () 122 I: But I think also, its the culture out at the farm too that people like. That 123 its always healing to help others. 124 R: Mm-hm. 125 I: Ya know? And no matter what you got going on in your life, whether 126 things are good or not so good, or just okay, theres something really 127 therapeutic about helping other people. 32
Specifically, I want to draw attentio n to the very last line, 127, where therapeutic is used to describe the participation of able-bodied volunteers. Reappropriation of therapy is a reoccurring theme addr essed by several informants across several interviews. The consequences of reappropriating therapy in this way are profound. The notion of therapy is traditiona lly predicated on a strictly as ymmetrical practice, with the therapy-provider exclusively imparting the expertise and instruct ion for engaging in therapy, and the therapy-receiver, exclusivel y participating and r eceiving therapeutic benefit. However, as exemplified by Bettys talk, therapy is redefined as a non-expert practice wherein volunteers are simultaneously facilitating and receiving therapy. Bettys talk also constructs therapy as an id eally temporary phenomenon, specifically, as a transitory life phase (line 97). By speaking of therapy in this way, Bettys speech invokes a discourse of progress and development histor ically tied to the instituti on of therapy. Bettys speech indicates an assumption that once a participan t has achieved the status of developed, or has demonstrated sufficient progress, the therapeutic intervention can be determined successful and is thus, no longer needed. In other words, therapy exists as a temporary service. In my later chapter on accounting, I detail how notions of development and progress function in Appaloosas marketing liter ature. Contrary to what is occurring in Bettys interview, I cite critical theori sts Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer who argue that it is impossible for individuals to ever attain the status of developed. By regarding development as a vanishing horizon, I illustrate how this particular discourse 33
ensures the livelihood of the th erapeutic enterprise in that bodies are never developed, and bodies continue to provide the p roblem therapy needs to survive. Although Betty presents therapy as a sy mmetrical practice, inherent in the interview and the symmetry is a hierarchy. I used Lakoffs (1987) no tion of prototype to explicate my discussion of the categories of mental and physical disability as a hierarchical constructs. Here too, the concept of categorical prototypes is useful to understand Bettys construction of the ideal or prototypical volunteer. In lines 82-85, Betty creates a contrast between the volunteers who participate for a variety of reasons and those who are genuine. This contrast is founded on the assumption that some of the volunteers purposes for particip ating are not genuine, and Betty, as an expert is qualified to discern the difference. Thus, the ap pearance of symmetry itself is not genuine in that it is internally hi erarchical; though there may be a semblance of symmetry between volunteers and participan ts, within the category of volunteers itself, there is apparent asymmetry. Appaloosa staff member, Cherry, also addr esses therapy in terms of a transitory life phase (lines 62-64), and sh e identifies another party (lin e 52) receiving therapeutic benefit from the program in addition to the able-bodied volunteers a nd participants with disabilities previously described. 045 R: Mm-hm. Do you find em talkingtrylike, do you find that a lot of the 046 people that come out there are, are coming out there ALSO for the social 047 aspect then? Talking to you a lot 048 I: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Talking about th ings that they do or things that they 049 have done, or ya know, something they saw on TV, something theyre 050 doin in school 051 R: Mm-hm. 052 I: Yeah, I do. I think a lot of it, and a lo t of it is, is social for their caregiver 053 as well because they ge t to (1.0) relinquish care for just a few minutes n 34
054 sit back n read a book or 055 R: Yeah. 056 I: or whatever. So it benefits both. 057 R: Um (2.0), well I was thinking thatone of the things Im thinking about is 058 you know (1.0), theres the obvious needs being met of the riders, but I 059 I think ayou know, Im st arting to realize that a lo t of the volunteers and 060 staff are meeting their needs like yo u said. Um, do you see that a lot with 061 the uh other staff and volunteers? 062 I: I do, I do. It seems to be that a lot of volunteers we get are at an odd place 063 in their life. Uh, theyre either in between uh jobs or (2.0) just left a 064 relationship, a longterm relati onship, n theyre just looking for 065 something to (2.0), something to do, something physical to do to take their 066 mind off it. Um, it also is a, is a good way to give back Its something that 067 people can do. They dont have to give financially they can just give of 068 themselves and give their time and it really is, a a good, a good feeling. 069 R: Yeah. 070 I: Youyou get just as much, I th ink, out of it as the riders do. 071 R: Mm-hm. 072 I: You make a lot of good friends out there. 073 R: I know, I know. Really. 074 I: Good, good group of people. By identifying participants caregivers ( lines 52-56) and able-bodied volunteers and staff (lines 62-68) all as parties re ceiving therapeutic be nefits, Cherry is interactionally renegotiating the category-bound activity of therapy as strictly an activity for disabled persons. Reappropriation is predicated on language-in-use. In her text, Feminism & Linguistic Theory, Deborah Cameron (1992) resists subscr ibing to a strictly deterministic view of linguistic differences between men and women as a means to explicate womens social inequities. She advocates changing m eanings of words through changing how they are used, focusing on what semiotician Ferdin and de Saussure (1986) has popularized as the parole function on language. Language-users can act to alter thei r social realities by taking back or reappropriating words and ch anging their meaning in talk in interaction. Cameron illustrates the concept of reappropriation through the introduction of the 35
pejorative dyke. In her di scussion, she details how so m e lesbian feminists have reappropriated this word in their interactions by using this term as a positive label. To change the implications of language in terms of the realities it creates, one must direct attention not to how it operates out of context, but rather, to how language functions as talk in interaction. I argue that the reappropriation perfor med by Appaloosa members through their talk resists constructing indivi duals with disability as other as they shift therapy from an activity for the other, and use it to describe their own par ticipation within the program. This reappropriation however, is a dual-reappropriation in which therapy is applied to persons with disabilities, but also to volunteers, specifica lly a certain sect of volunteers. As exemplified in her interview, Betty applies therapeutic benefit to those volunteers whose purposes are genuinely al truistic, and whose participation is not temporary. Therapy is reappropriated as a category-bound activity for prototypical volunteersgood peoplewhose purposes qua lify them as proper ministers of therapeutic services. 36
Chapter Three Accounting In this chapter of my thesis, I i nvestigate speakers accounting work, or the offering of rationales as a means to explicate, justify, and ma ke sense of their professional work. Accounting, as previously discussed, occurs when speakers provide explanations for their practices when they pe rceive them to be under evaluation (i.e., in an interview setting, Lyman & Scott, 1989). Regarding how accounts function discursively, Richard Bu ttny, in his 1993 text Social Accountability in Communication outlines several aspects of the accounting pr ocess, three of which I believe will be especially instructive here. First, Buttny claims: Accounts involve talk designed to recast the pejorative significance of action, or ones responsibility for it, and there by transform others negative evaluations. This transformative function is the most distinctive feature of accounts as a discursive practice (original emphasis, p. 1) Secondly, Buttny describes accounts as a prime means for excavating implicit cultural knowledge about tak en-for-granted assumptions (p. 2), and for making it explicit. Lastly, Buttny contends that while most pe rsons, as members of a culture, are held responsible, or accountable, for such assumpti ons and are taken to be versed in folk knowledge, some individuals remain exem pt from accountability. These excluded individuals are children or th e disabled. This lack of accountability, he points out, is 37
indicative of the individuals status or category of personhoodas a not yet competent member or adult (pp. 3-4). As I have pr eviously argued, Appaloosa professionals as experts are held accountable to speak fo r those whose status as members of the disabled category renders them incompe tent to account for their experienced knowledge of disability. Buttnys summary illustrates the strategic and purposeful nature of accounting. Speakers utilize this discursive operation to, as he says, t ransform potentially negative evaluations of their practice into positive ones. In this se ction, processes of accounting include providing experiential testimony, explicitly citing cr edentials, qualifications, and affiliations. It also means locating impairment within the individual as a means to safeguard Appaloosas therapeutic practices from possible scrutiny. Speaking (of) Categories: Au thority of Experience and Au thority of Accreditation Within interview talk, two means of cat egorizing authorization were employed by Appaloosa staff: the authority derived from liv ed experience, and that which is conferred through institutional degrees and statuses Different informants and different conversations give preferentia l treatment to both modes, strategically employing the discourse as the situation and other calls for it. Within the Appaloosa community, speaker s imply a simultaneous esteem of both authorities of experience and authorities of accredita tion. In light of such practices, one is reminded that the realities of this commun ity are not constructed in irreconcilable absolutes with one type of authority being va lued more consistentl y. Rather, through their speech, members move back and forth be tween these two poles of authority. 38
Rob Taylor, both a participant receiving therapy for his multiple sclerosis (MS) and a staff member on the board of directors, discusses the ways in which he has been sought out for his lived experience of MS. R obs firsthand knowledge of his disability and the treatment (therapy, pharmaceuticals) of it, make him a highly desirable spokesperson for several parties, including: Appaloosa president and founder Betty Phillips, pharmaceutical re presentatives, and fellow MS patients. When asked about his experiences as both a volunteer and a participant, Rob recounts different instances (f undraisers, publicity events, city council meetings) when he was solicited to speak on the organizations behalf. Additionally, when asked if he thought that his unique position afforded hi m a certain degree of credibility, Rob (I) agrees enthusiastically and then proceeds to compare his experiences as Appaloosa spokesperson to those as a grassroots representative for pharmaceutical companies: 1 R: Um, so do you think theres some level of um (2.5), credibility 2 because you are participating? () 5 I: Oh yeah. 6 R: So you can testify firsthand? 7 I: Right. I mean its (2.5) like w ithwell Im also um (1.0) a patient 8 advocate for a drug comp[any 9 R: [Mm-hm. 10 I: called Paxin (?)type of neuroscience. 11 R: Mm-hm. 12 I: And also for Medtronic, for the pump. 13 R: Uh-huh. 14 I: And (2.0), when Im talking with people, I dont really think of it 15 as you know, putting myself out there. But then my reps, the drug 16 reps, ((indeterminable speech)), the pump reps. You know, theyll 17 be like, We can stand up there and talk (1.5) about everything the 18 pump do[es 19 R: [Mm-hm. 20 I: but having you be there (2.0) is more importantalmost more, 21 more important than what we say. 22 R: Why do think that is? 23 I: Well its because people ar e lookingyou know (1.5), theyre 39
24 always sorta (1.0) jaded. Es pecially, you know, withand Ill say 25 from an MS perspective, theyve heard so many drug reps 26 R: Mm. 27 I: telling this does this, this does this. But if they can hear somebody 28 who is actually on the, the drug (1.0), it holds a lot more weight. 29 R: Mm. 30 I: And Betty, with here, Betty is very conscious toand it may not 31 always be me 32 R: Uh-hm. 33 I: but, of putting forward (1.0) the riders. Well you know, when 34 people ask to come out to do newspaper 35 R: Mm-hm. 36 I: or TV, or whatever. She is going to (1.0) put the part icipants first. () 42 I: Shes more focused on letting pe ople see that there are real people 43 here 44 R: Mm-hm. 45 I: that are being aff ected in a positive way. Robs speech identifies a desire for his authority of experience from three parties (categories of authorization): the pharmaceutical reps (lines 14-17), fellow MS patients (23-28), and Appaloosa president and f ounder Betty Phillips (lines 30-43). However, although the last of these part ies mentioned, Betty, is represented in Robs talk as a proponent of an authority of experience, she appeals to a contrary model within her own interview. Wh en asked how the facility came to be, Betty describes the steps she took towards establishing the program, including getting her Ph.D. She concedes that although obtaining her doctorate was not necessary, she believed it helped grant her and the program a degree of credibility with respect to donors and grant administrators (lines 28-29). Additionally, late r in the interview when asked to describe the fundraising workshops the farm conducts, Betty expresses excitement about Appaloosas affiliation with the university. She says, Yeah, not to mention, that well have the credibility of U of X (line 163). Thus, through her talk, Betty has constructed 40
an associative relation ship between the word credibility and institutional representations of authority (i.e., a degree, the university). The difference between Robs portrayal of Betty as a champion of the authority of experience and that which is valued with in her own talk (an au thority of accreditation) may be accounted for by noting that Bettys sp eech implies an external pressure. For instance, her first comment about getting her PhD may be interpreted as her estimation of the kind of authority valued by others, sp ecifically donors and grant administrators. Though Betty may be engaging in what OMalley (2008) terms oppositional discoursediscourses of experience, disc ourses which challenge the status quo within her community, this community nonetheless exists within a larger social milieu. And as recent studies suggest (OMalley, 2008; Mehan, 1996), this social milieu is dominated by a medical model wherein institutional discourses reign supreme. Alternative Therapy as Accountable Other The equine therapy practiced at Appaloosa is what is generally conceived of as outside the dominant biomedi cal paradigm consisting of exercise therapy, psychotherapy, and talk therapy. Aware of the status of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) as alternative or other within the prevailing biomedical model, informants do accounting work (including employing regist ers typified by refe rences to accreditations or firsthand testimonies) to legitimize their therapeutic practices. Libby, Appaloosas weekend barn mana ger, acknowledges the therapy practiced at Appaloosa exists outside of the prevai ling medical model when she contrasts the equine therapy featured at th e facility with more conventio nal therapies such as talk therapy: 41
154 R: What is the um (1.0), the talk ther apy that you were contrasting this kind 155 I: MM. 156 R: and youre like, this is not talk therapy, what is that? 157 I: Well you know like when people say like, I go to counseling? 158 R: Mm-hm. 159 I: Or II go see a th erapist? And theyor you think of the typical shrink 160 R: Mm-hm. 161 I: Um, of layin on a couch 162 R: Mm-mm. 163 I: Ya know, and you talk out your problems 164 R: Mm-mm. 165 I: And they say, Well, whyd you do th is? And why did Its not, its not 166 about that. 167 R: Okay. 168 I: Its not about talki ng, its about using the HORSE as a professional. And 169 its about the person experiencing something with the horse. Libby recognizes her therapeutic practices as different from a traditional form of therapy, i.e., talk thera py, in lines 168-169 specificall y. This strategy sets up the accounting work she does later in the extract where she positions herself as a participant in talk therapy as a client recovering from an eating disorder (lines 190-191). By disclosing her involvement in talk therapy, she is removing personal accountability and attributing herself credibility when she cri ticizes it in this extr act in lines 160-161, 163, and 164. Within these lines, Libby constructs ta lk therapy as a passi ve endeavor (i.e., layin on a couch, line 161) where clients talk out problems (line 163). Libbys speech is predicated on a pejorative characteriza tion of talk as just talk, as without consequence, or more importantly, without result This same stereotype of talk therapy is present a few lines later in lines 220-225. Once more, Libby portrays talk therapy as passive (sit there, line 221) and as not progressing to wards a purposeful outcome (blah, blah, blah, line 221): 186 R: What do you think each provides? Wh-that maybe the other doesnt ? So 187 what do you get out of talk therapy and what do you thinkI know its 42
188 hard to say what others get out of EAP, or what, what do you get out of 189 EAP as a facilitator? 190 I: Yeah, well I mean, I can aI kinda did EAP on myself. Um, Im 191 re-recovered from an eating disorder. 192 R: Mm-hm. 193 I: And my first year that I my, the five months that I worked here before I 194 left for school, I wa s in outpatient treatment 195 R: Okay. 196 I: So during the week, um, four days a week. So I was kinda doing EAP on 197 myself in a, in a, in a sense. 198 R: Mm-hm. 199 I: In a very broad sense of the term. 200 R: Okay 201 I: Um, I was playing with the horses, I was doing things, I was doing natural 202 horsemanship, I was learning how to communicate with the horses which 203 was helping my commun ication. So I think that th-the difference for me, 204 between the talk therapy, was that a lot of times when you go into EAP, 205 youre not aware that theres an issue Some people have that problem 206 when they go into talk therapy, but more so, in my opinion 207 R: Mm-hm. 208 I: in EAP youre not aware that ther e is an issue, or that theres any deeper 209 issue. 210 I: Okay. 211 R: You think that its ju st that you cant communicate. 212 R: Mm-hm. 213 I: Well, thats not re ally an issue. Its why cant you communicate? 214 R: Mm-HM. 215 I: Is mywhat I wanna know 216 R: Underlying cause 217 I: What dwhy do you think you cant communicate? Wha-what do you 218 think the reason is? 219 R: Mm-hm. 220 I: Ya know, the underlying cause. But in talk therapy you sit there and you 221 talk about all these things, and I cant communicate, and blah blah blah. 222 And you know the perand my therapis t shell take notes, n um, shes a 223 Christian counselor, and shell say ya know, Well I knowI keep 224 seeingI keep hearin you say this same thing over and over again. I 225 dont, I dont understand why youre saying that. Ya know like? Though Libby sets up a contrast structur e between traditional talk therapy and EAP by outlining their differences and talk therapys shortcomings, at the same time, she reinforces the principles of traditional psychotherapy as a means to validate her own therapeutic practices. In lines 208-209, she mentions that EAP is instrumental in that it 43
gets at an underlying issue. Traditional psycho th erapy such as talk therapy is predicated on this notion of an underlying, hidden, i nvisible issue. Capitalizing on popular conceptualizations of the mind as a cont ainer (Potter & Puchta, 2007) which holds concealed information, the therapeutic enterprise positions itself as expert asserting that with the intervention of the therapist or ther apeutic practice, this clandestine information may be extracted, made visible, and in turn, corrected. Related to the notion that an expert is necessary to identify the hidden underlying issue, Libby identifies the participant as entering the therapeu tic setting with a problem (lines 204-209), effectively designating the origin of in competence with the individual and not necessarily his or her ther apeutic interactions. Sh e validates the need for her enterprise as she cons tructs the individual entering the therapeutic encounter as initially and potentially unaware of his or her problem (lines 205-209). What Libbys speech implies is that via the participation in EAP, the client is made aware of his or her problem through the facilitato rs expertise and guidance. Libby establishes professi onal expertise as an EAP th erapy-provider alternatively when I pursue the previous distinction sh e has made between traditional and nontraditional therapy (i.e., talk therapy and equine-assisted psychotherapy). 171 I: So, by doing that you have people um (4.0)In MY opinion, I actually go 172 to a talk therapist. I do talk therapy, but Im also out here sand Im also 173 certified. So for me to do EAP (2.0) it might not necessarily benefit me 174 because I know exI can sit th ere and psychoanalyze whats going on. Libby structures three claims in a succe ssive order to estab lish authority with respect to the type of therapy she is pract icing and providing. Firs t, she states that because of her expertise as an EAP professional, it would not work on her. Then, she discloses that she is recovered from an eating disorder, and has practiced EAP on 44
herself. Yet, while she does self-facilitate EA P, she still participates in traditional therapy. Once more, Libby emphasizes that because of her expert ise and knowledge of equine-assisted psychotherapy, it w ould not prove successful for her. Elsewhere in her interview, Libby ma kes a point to audibly emphasize the credentials and qualifications of the therapy providers. This again, provides an example of Appaloosa staff utilizing accounts of accreditation which function to validate the alternative therapy practiced by their community. When asked to explain what equine-assist ed therapy is, Libby starts by saying that Ive just been certified (line 45) which serv es a dual function to one, position herself as a expert, and two, mitigate any inaccuracy about the subsequent claims she is about to make. For example, when asked about he r use of the pronoun we in her accounting of the E.A.S.E. sessions, she responds: 129 I: The licensed mental health counselor a nd the equine specialist. 130 R: Okay. 131 I: So, or the licensed certified addi ctions professional, thewhatever the 132 licensed, certified pe rson is that yo[ur 133 R: [Mm-hm. 134 I: Im on the mental health side. By offering institutionalized examples of accreditation (i.e., certifications and licenses), Libby is attempting to legitimize and affirm her status as therapy-provider and the status of the a lternative therapy practiced at the farm. Similar accountability of expertise (lin es 71-73) is done in an interview with Appaloosa staff member, Emily. Also si milar to Libbys accounting, is Emilys construction of this type of therapy as different (lines 7577) or alternative. 65 R: And youI think you said the other day that when I asked you what you 66 wanted to do, um, once you graduatedif you were gonna continue 45
67 school or education, didnt you say that this was ayou were considering 68 this as a career option? () 71 they wanna get better in. And Ive al ways played sports my entire life so I 72 kinda always thought maybe Id ya know, go towards physical therapy, n 73 like athletic rehab[ilitation 74 R: [Mm-hm. 75 I: or something like that. And um, agai n like I said, this type of WORLD, I 76 guess you can put it, um, I mean its a whole different lifestyle, its a 77 whole different, ya know, wa y of life I guess you could say. By offering experience with a traditional form of th erapy (lines 71-73, lines 212-213), Emily is positioning herself as qualified to speak on the benefits an oppositional therapy like equine therapy. This contrasting between traditional physical rehabilitation and the therapy practiced at A ppaloosa Farm, is done la ter in the interview when Emily describes a participants progres s (lines 221-228) with equine therapy, and lack thereof with conve ntional therapy: 206 R: so what does it provide to you personally as an able-bodied person? 207 I: Um (1.5)I mean, does that just mean riding in in general? Or this, this 208 facility, this place i[n 209 R: [Um 210 I: specifically? 211 R: Maybe just riding in general for the first 212 I: Um, well for me, with I mean, be tween college n, n softball n, n my 213 physical therapy myself, its ju st (1) riding is very relaxing. 214 R: Mm-hm. 215 I: Its very (1.5) um, I mean, whethe r its for ten minutes, or whether its for 216 ya know, two hours. 217 R: Mm-hm. 218 I: Its just, just being in this environmentand thats one thing I can 219 definitely say for the disabilitied in dividuals, that it just, it kinda relaxes 220 your mind. N it just kinda helps ya calm down and filter out, ya know, 221 your thoughts n, n everything. N thats, ya know, kinda relates to the 222 disability people where they are mo re open to try new things or um, 223 wherelike that John Parsons g[uy 224 R: [Mm. 225 I: his mom had said, um hes donehe s worked with a ce rtain therapist for 226 four YEARS, and just coming out he re for a few we[eks, she can already 227 R: [Wow. 228 I: see a night and day difference just between the two t ypes of therapies. 46
The them e of self reliability is a reoc curring discourse within the therapeutic setting. In lines 221-222, Emily describes the clients degree of openness as a prerequisite for the efficacy of therapeutic in tervention. The responsibil ity of the client to be open to therapy is reinforced, servi ng to protect any negative evaluations of the success of the therapy provided. If the client neglected to demonstrate marked progress or development, in spite of participation in therapy, it can be defended that responsibility lies with the client for his or her inability or unwillingness to be open. In other words, lack of openness on the clients behalf functi ons as an explanation for possible failure. This is just one more means by which the ther apeutic enterprise is discursively protected from negative review. The Self as Site of Incompetence Discourses of development and progress are plentiful in the marketing literature for Appaloosas E.A.S.E. program, or Equine Assisted Self Exploration. Take for example, the line featured on the front page of the brochur e which reads, The horses innate ability to sense that which is incongruent between the outward self and the inner self creat es a powerful tool for self -exploration and adjustment. Here the self is responsible for iden tifying his or her incompetence (selfexploration) and correcting his or her deviance (adjustment) through therapy. Identifying the self as the site of incompet ence is problematic because such leaves the discourses which construct persons as deviant or disabled unquestioned. In his 1977 chapter on Docile Bodies Michel Foucault articulates that the emphasis on the correction of deviance stems from a concern for productivity and the 47
individuals contribution to society. W ith respect to Appaloosas marketing literature, participating constructively (productively?) in relationships is a reification of this discourse. Therapy may be interpreted as an institutional discourse which seeks to reform deviant (disabled) bodies. Ho rkheimer & Adorno (1972) concern themselves with the intersections of docile bodies and the Western conceptua lization of development. They assert that the notion of development is a normalizing discourse so ingrained that it is now fit to develop bodies. Development, as it is conceived of in Eurocentric societies, is positive. By extension, practices which devel op bodies (i.e., therapy) are regarded as positive. The very premise of development though is that those nations, bodies, persons who are in the process of developing will never attain the status of developed. Though the status of developed is unobtainable, the industri es of developing persons such as those of therapy continue to thri ve. By what means do the professionals of helping communities such as Appaloosa Farm establish and sustain their livelihood? I contend, as does Murray Edelman (1974), that such an accomplishment is achieved through the languaging of the practice: Such a society can survive, and maintain its frustrating institutions, only as long as it is possible to manipulate the disconten ted into conformity and docility and to isolate or incarcerate th ose who refuse to be rehabilitated. The helping professions are the most effective contem porary agents of social conformity and isolation. In playing this political role th ey undergird the entire political structure, yet are largely spared from self-criticism, from political criticism, and even from political observation through a speci al symbolic language. (p. 310). 48
Discourses of development ar e lik ewise presented in a list of objectives featured on page 3 of the pamphlet. The bulleted objective for program participants reads Develop and implement effective skills to carry out normal responsibilities and participate constructively in relationships. Th e individual with a disa bility is constructed here as otheras deviantas incapab le of exacting normal activities. The Problem of Empowerment Constructing individuals with disabilities as deviant and incapa ble is essential to the livelihood of the therapy industry as it le gitimizes the need for expert therapeutic intervention. Empowerment, as it is addressed by informants in their talk, is the means by which this therapeutic intervention occurs. In discussions of empowerment, the focus remains on the individual with a disability, ye t via the therapy-providers expertise, the individual can undergo development. Empowerment perpetuates positivist con ceptualizations of power as it implies that power is something to be hadsom ething someone (the expert and therapyprovider) can give to another (the individual with a disability and therapy-receiver). To exemplify how empowerment works to keep the therapy-provider an authority, I will introduce an extract from an interview w ith the Appaloosas barn manager, Libby. When asked to explain her use of the term equine-assisted psychotherapy, Libby offers me the following hypothetical account: 47 I: So this is just the best example I can give of what its about. Um, he 48 comes in, and um, we know that hes got anger management issues so why 49 dont we give him a halter and a lead rope, and ask him to go (2.0) get his 50 favorite horse outta pasture, and brin g it to us. And we stand, ya know, in 51 the pasture, n (1.0) we watch hi m go out n he might say, Well I dont 52 know what a halter is and a lead rope, whwhat, how do I use this? 53 R: Mm-hm. 54 I: Wh-well how do I put it on? And we say, to the best of your ability . So 49
55 its about empowering the person. 56 R: Mm-hm. 57 I: Um(1.0), its about allowing them to learn how to pr ocess whats going 58 on. So all the sudden he comes up n hes irritated with us cuz we didnt 59 tell him how to do it and hes mad 60 R: uh-huh 61 I: and he doesnt wanna be there puts the halter on wrong and the horse 62 starts getting all fidgety and mad 63 R: Mm-hm 64 I: and runs away and starts buc king and all the hor ses get upset. It is significant that Li bby presents this account as the best example (line 47). She provides an account of a therapy session gon e wrongthe client is frustrated at his inability to complete the task. Libby justif ies the intervention of therapy personnel by describing how the client was incompetent or unable to complete the task assigned to him. By first constructing the client as devia nt, she is able to justify and legitimize the need for therapeutic intervention and expert ise. The assumptions presented in Libbys talk are as follows: On his own, the client is incapable of executing the task. However, with the aid of the therapyproviders, and the empowerment they provide through their services, he will succeed. The direct reported speech Libby uses exemplifies these assumptions in hyperbole; note how in lines 51-52 and 54, the c lient is portrayed as ignorant and quick to anger via the dramatization of the direct re ported speech Libby uses. Libbys subsequent use of directed reported speech which is intended to represent the words of the therapyprovider is by contrast, without stutter or question, and is su ccinct and collected (line 54). This directed reported speech of the hypotheti cal therapy-provider, to the best of your ability, suggests that the therapy-provider knows what abi lity is and can introduce such knowledge to the client. 50
Empowerment as it used by Li bby, suggests a donor-deficit model (Airhehenbuwa, 1995; Dutta, 2008) of therapy wherein the therapyprovider imparts knowledge, expertise or sophistic ation to the subordinate rece iver, i.e., the disabled program participant. When Libby describe s her function in the therapy session as allowing them to learn how to process whats going on (line 57), she affirms the role of therapy-provider as the one who gives, w ho facilitates or deve lops an ability. The discourse of therapy in terms of individual empowerment also appears in the Appaloosa E.A.S.E. program marketing li terature. Under the heading Self Efficacy, one of the listed benefits of E.A.S.E. includes, Empower ing an individual to take on challenges in other areas of their life (p. 2). Further down on the same page, the initiative Become empowered to expand your pe rsonal comfort zones (p. 2) is detailed. Such accounts of empowerment do two things: one, they suppose that power is something to be given and received, and more importantl y, that the individual receiving power is the program participant and person granting it is the therapy-provider. In other words, discursive representations of empowerment authorize the therapeutic intervention by constructing power as a commodity to be gi ven and received. And if the intervention were not to work, the discourse of empowerme nt would be obsolete. Thus, in accounts of empowerment such as Libbys, professionals must identify the individual as the source of incompetence to explicate and validate any instances in which the therapeutic intervention was unsuccessful. That way, the pr oblem does not lie with the institution or its discourse, but rather, with th e client. By continuing to discursively construct the client as the site of incompetence, Appaloosa professionals are ensuring that the efficacy of their therapeutic practices, in addition to their expertise, is exempt from interrogation. 51
Much like disability is cons tructed in social interacti on, so too is the need for therapy. Therapy, and the discourses surrounding it, such as those of the developm ent of bodies, and progress, are evaluated positively and are thus left largely unquestioned. As demonstrated in the program literature on the ty pe of therapy practiced at this facility, discourses of empowerment and progress legi timize the need for th e therapy-providers expertise. Such discourses characterize pow er as a product which the therapy-provider possesses, and which, upon participation within the therapeutic setting, the therapyreceiver and client may eventually be gr anted. Empowerment becomes the prerequisite for the clients progress. By constructing power as something to be owned and traded, professionals work to make their enterprise ne cessary. This is of particular importance as their therapy, which is traditionally regarded as alternative or other within a dominant biomedical frame, is scrutinized for its effec tiveness (i.e., in terms of clients progress). Karen Tracy (1997) asserts that the implicat ions of research should be practical. My findings suggest very practical means for reevaluating the therapy industry. By inquiring about what the speaker or therapyprovider is trying to accomplish via the discourses he or she is employing, one eff ectively disables the taken-for-granted dominant discourses of dis/abil ity and therapy. In this paper, I demonstrate professionals aims in constructing disability as an intrin sic identity characteristic. I demonstrate the strategic purposes of characterizing disabili ty as such, including the primary purpose featured in this paper: safe guarding the therapy industry. 52
Chapter Four Conclusion The objective of my thesis was to in terpret professionals presentation of dis/ability in therapy through the analysis of talk and text as a means to interrogate largely unquestioned assumptions about the social order. As members of a culture, these professionals are tacitly versed in implicit assumptions regarding the way things are, assumptions which guide their interactions within this community, which contribute to their sense of self as therapy-providers, and which influence the practices in which they participate daily. My descriptions of these assumptions as implicit and unquestioned should not suggest however, that this bank of cultural knowledge with which each member is equipped is inaccessible. On the contrary, knowledge of dis/ability, therapy, psychology and matters of the mind, philanthropy, moralit y, and conceptions of power are all made manifest and done in interaction. In my second chapter, Organizi ng the Everyday, I demonstrated how understandings of dis/ability, therapy, psychology, philanthropy and morality were addressed by Appaloosa professionals in their talk, and in their organizations promotional literature. More importantly, I detailed their purposes for presenting and organizing these topics in the ways they did. Disability was bifurcated into hierarch ical subtypes of mental and physical by informants in order to (re)produce productiv e bodiesa claim which reinforces the 53
necessity of their therapeutic enterprise. Ps ychological notions of the mind as hidden from non-expert observation were also present wi thin this hierarchal construction in that the presumed invisibility and limitlessness of me ntal disability posed a potential threat to the measurable efficacy of therapeutic inte rvention. Assumptions regarding philanthropy and morality were also implicit in professiona ls categorical organization of community members and their activities. A morality of philanthropy was constructed in staffs presentation of the ideal volunteer, in the enumeration of genuine motives for volunteering, and in staffs self-positioning as experts qualified to make such assessments. Conventional premises of psychology, including the representation of mind as a container hosting concealed information, we re also featured in chapter three on Accounting. Here, these assumptions about psychological workings served as the means by which Appaloosa professionals validated the need for therapy. By characterizing the client as unaware of an underlying problem, professionals secure the need for expert intervention in order to di scover and treat the issue. Though Appaloosa staff account for departures between traditional therapies (such as psychotherapy and talk therapy) and those practiced within their community, they nonetheless employ the assumptions upon which traditional psychology is predicated for their own purposes. Finally, the topic of power though inescapably pr esent in all my previous chapter discussions, is explicitly addressed by pr ofessionals talk and their organizations literature in the form of empo werment. The prefix em of empowerment is instructive in that its meaning, to put into, denotes a transfer of resources from one party to another. To empower then, is to put power in to another, suggesting that this power was 54
not always already present in the recipient. This understanding of power proves useful to Appaloosa professionals in that they deploy this logic of power relations to legitim ize their status as experts, and the stat us of their alternative therapy. The dangers of presuming that power re sides in structures and persons without consideration to the assumptions involved in such conclusions, is that such a practice makes renegotiating inequities difficult. The fact of the matter is that persons are incapable of being power-less because power is not something to be had, traded, or owned. In other words, power operates as capital not in the market exch ange of it (i.e., in the therapeutic encounter), but in the langua ging of it, which functions to sustain the interests of certain indus tries such as therapy. Similar to power, disability is another immaterial resource which professionals seek to proprietize through their talk. Th erapy is a problem-determined enterprise, meaning that it needs to locate and identify a problem to treat in order to legitimize the services it provides. Disabili ty is represented predominantly in a biomedical model as problem-centered. It is regarded as a biological construct inherent to the individual, as opposed to a social construct tied to cultural notions of normalcy. In this way, disability supplies therapy with the problem it needs to sustain itself as a help ing industry, and as a result, professionals are interest ed in the right to represent di sability. As shown in chapter three on Accounting, Appaloosa professionals simultaneously work to construct themselves as experts worthy of the owne rship of these rights and to discredit competitors (i.e., traditional therapies such as talk therapy). Questioning assumptions about power, a nd the social phenomena Ive mentioned above, is essential to altering so cial inequities. To change in equities one must first, trace 55
and interrogate the assumptions upon which they are founded. Once the implications of these as sumptions are explicitly delineated, one can take action to renegotiate their entailments in everyday life (through reapprop riation, for instance). Essentially, the task which I have hoped to accomplish here, and which I encourage others to adopt in research and in praxis, is to make the invisible visible. 56
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Appendix A: List of Inform ant Interviews Interview with Emily, an Appaloosa staff member. Conducted on March 9, 2009. Duration: 21 minutes. Interview with Robyn and Maria, Appaloosa volunteers. A joint interview conducted on April 21, 2009. Duration: 29 minutes. Interview with Betty Phillips, Appaloosa founder and president. Conducted on February 9, 2009. Duration: 43 minutes. Interview with Rob Taylor, Appaloosa partic ipant, and member of the organizations board of directors. Conducted on Ma rch 19, 2009. Duration: 37 minutes. Interview with Libby, Appaloosa staff member. Conducted on October 28, 2009. Duration: 46 minutes. 62