Epistemic Value Of National Identity Cultural Studies Essay

I define epistemological value of national individuality as the capacity of a national individuality for one to build cognition of the ego as a citizen. Existing literature sing the

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Singaporean government-constructed national individuality agrees that it bears political value to its leaders. However, does it hold epistemic value? Can it assist one to build “ true ” cognition approximately himself as a citizen?

I foremost assess the building of national individuality in Singapore by the Singaporean authorities, by understanding the authorities ‘s place as dominant discourse through Gramsci ‘s theory of hegemony, before establishingA­A­ the epistemological value of such an individuality. Second, I argue that the government-constructed national individuality is per se essentialist, unequal in stand foring the Singaporean. Such a national individuality will therefore restrict the building of cognition of oneself as a Singaporean.

However, is an nonsubjective and representative national individuality even possible? I attempt to reply this inquiry by analyzing postmodern positions on self-identity oppugning the objectiveness of national individuality. I so propose an epistemically valuable alternate agencies of understanding individuality building and its deductions on the building of cognition of national individuality by the ego through rapprochement and synthesis between the two point of views. Ultimately, I evaluate the model of Gramsci ‘s Hegemony and its impression of counter-hegemonies, and assess the functions of counter-hegemonies and hegemony in the building of a more representative and epistemically valuable national individuality.

Construction of National Identity In Singapore

A state is defined as a ‘daily plebiscite ‘[ 2 ], based on the willingness of the people to accept to the province ‘s being, its set of norms and values, through day-to-day engagement in civic activity and their continued rank in the province. While there are other definitions of state, they are frequently based on common cultural civilization and line of descent[ 3 ], and therefore turn out hard to use to Singapore ‘s instance, since Singapore ‘s history of immigrants and multi-ethnicity would barely measure up the province as a state utilizing cultural definitions of a state. A civic definition would therefore ease the apprehension of the building of national individuality in Singapore by the Singaporean authorities, one based on shared secular experiences, values and norms, instead than ethno-religious differences. How does the Singapore authorities concept such a civic national individuality? The following chapter examines the Government ‘s place as dominant discourse in society which facilitates the apprehension of national individuality in Singapore.

2.1 Gramsci, Hegemony and the Government as Dominant Discourse

Gramsci argued that political power is backed up by hegemony, attained through the airing of thoughts of the governing group to society to derive the people ‘s consent, to in bend sustain the hegemony[ 4 ], therefore moving as a self-enforcing rhythm.

Since a state is defined by the people ‘s continued consent to and civic engagement in the province, it can be said that the authorities of course has hegemony over the people. Therefore, the authorities is able usage its place of hegemony to circulate political orientations and thoughts through socialisation – the internalisation of the authorities ‘s political orientations – through establishments such as schools, which inculcates the authorities ‘s impression of national individuality in the people. Since national individuality inspires trueness to the province, any authorities finds it politically expedient to build national individuality. However, a genuinely representative national individuality should be able to encapsulate the values, norms and experiences of its people. Can the government-constructed national individuality do so?

Since any authorities policy will bear a political docket, a government-constructed national individuality therefore has political value in head, instead than epistemological value. The changeless socialisation procedure may therefore alter what one knows of oneself as a Singaporean, and bit by bit gnaw one ‘s cognition of national individuality to suit into the societal norms created by the government-constructed national individuality. One illustration of the Singaporean national individuality the authorities has tried to take or cut down has been the popular conversational linguistic communication Singlish, a assortment of English mixed with Chinese, Malay and Indian words and idioms. As Stephan Ortmann points out, “ For many Singaporeans, Singlish has become a ‘badge of individuality ‘ ” .[ 5 ]However, the authorities has on countless efforts disparaged and opposed the proliferation of Singlish, as it does non suit into their development programs, through runs such as a countrywide Speak Good English motion, advancing English and curtailing the usage of Singlish. Such actions taken by the authorities highlights the eroding of civilization through the procedure of socialisation which limits what one knows of himself as a citizen of Singapore to what the government-constructed national individuality narrates.

The following chapter uses the Asiatic Values as a instance survey to demo the epistemic jobs of a government-constructed national individuality.

3.0 The Asiatic Values and jobs of Essentialism

3.1 The Asiatic Valuess

The Asiatic Values are a set of values that includes obeisance to authorization, intense commitment to groups, and submerging of single individuality in corporate individuality[ 6 ], which the authorities invariably expouses as common features of Asians. It has attempted to incorporate these values into national individuality, through the “ Shared Values ” , foremost conceived as portion of Singaporean individuality in 1988 by the so Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Goh Chok Tong. The cardinal shared values are listed below:

A· State before community and society above ego

A· Family as the basic unit of society

A· Community support and regard for the person

A· Consensus, non conflict

A· Racial and spiritual harmoniousness[ 7 ]

It serves as a continuance and institutionalization of the Asiatic Values discourse that the Government had embarked on earlier in the 1980s.[ 8 ]Immediately, epistemic jobs arise. How are these values purportedly “ shared ” by all citizens of Singapore?

3.2 The Epistemological Problems of Essentialism

This can be seen as a job of essentialism, the position that the individuality common to members of a societal group is stable and more or less unchanging, since it is based on the experiences they portion.[ 9 ]This stable and unchanging kernel of individuality is frequently based on generalisations and the epitomizing of a individual axis of an individuality as common and unequivocal of members in that societal group, in this instance the Asiatic Values and Singaporeans. For illustration, Singaporeans are purportedly held to hold “ Asiatic Valuess ” : to esteem authorization, uphold the household, and happen it inappropriate to vouch single rights over the public assistance of the group.[ 10 ]

However, do these values apply to all citizens of Singapore? One key epistemic job of essentialism is the inclination to disregard historical alterations and rubric over internal differences within a group by favoring merely experiences that are common to everyone,[ 11 ]overlooking the single experiences of the people in favour of general experiences of the state. While this is true politically valuable, is it epistemically valuable for the people? Can such an individuality aid one to build “ reliable ” and nonsubjective cognition of the ego as a Singaporean citizen?

The socialisation procedure through which such a national individuality is constructed disseminates such values and affect one ‘s cognition of national individuality, and shapes one ‘s values to “ suit ” into the Asiatic Values. Even if such values are non applicable to one ‘s perceptual experience of national individuality, the socialisation procedure through assorted establishments such as schools and media will suit their cognition of nationhood into the government-constructed impression of state.

This will convey about the phenomena known as “ ideological consensus ” , a status in which the opinion group ‘s thoughts are slackly recognized and reproduced by the governed as portion of their “ natural world of mundane life ” ,[ 12 ]in which 1 ‘s cognition of national individuality easy distorts itself to suit into the “ world ” that the dominant authorities discourse has created.

The “ Asiatic Valuess ” can therefore be seen as hegemonic discourse, the dominant discourse in society, which attempts to stamp down the counter-hegemonies, opposing experiences and political orientations contrasting the hegemonic discourse, for illustration Singlish, and understate the importance of these counter-hegemonies in one ‘s cognition of national individuality, bit by bit restricting what one knows and concepts of national individuality to that of the dominant discourse.

The impression that there is an nonsubjective, unchanging kernel of national individuality is therefore debatable, as it is unequal in accounting for single experiences, and so deaf-and-dumb persons such experiences through socialisation, doing one ‘s apprehension of cognition of national individuality to be limited by what the government-constructed national individuality narrates.

4.0 Possibilities of Representative National Identity – Postmodernist Positions

So far, I have assessed the jobs of the government-constructed national individuality based on the impression that such an individuality is unequal for its citizens. This suggests that there is an “ reliable ” and nonsubjective individuality out at that place, one that encompasses all the differences in experience, one truly representative of its citizens. However, is this even possible?

Postmodern positions bring up jobs of the objectiveness of the ego itself. Hill states that “ since unconscious, societal, ideological and cultural forces permeate consciousness, the ego is decentered and dispersed ”[ 13 ], intending that the impression of an reliable Centre of idea is non-existent, and all ideas are influenced by societal phenomena and prevailing political orientations. In consequence, a national individuality itself serves no epistemological value. Since a national individuality seeks to stand for the battalion of egos in the state, the impression that the “ ego ” is itself invariably altering seems to expose the demand for national individuality, since national individuality will ever neglect to account for alterations and differences which themselves are invariably altering. As Paula Moya asserts, “ societal and cultural individualities, it is argued, are likewise fabricated because the egos they claim to denominate can non be pinned down, fixed, or definitively identified, ”[ 14 ]intending that any loop of national individuality will turn out inadequate in explicating experiences and norms shared by the state ‘s citizens. Moya goes on to claim that:

“ Inasmuch as the desire to place ourselves and others remains complicit with positive premises about a to the full cognizable universe — a universe that can be described, hierarchized, named, and mastered — individuality as a construct will function oppressive and reductive ideological maps. Under this position, to talk of individualities as “ existent ” is to naturalise them and to mask the constructions of power involved in their production and care. ”[ 15 ]

Moya ‘s claim suggests that any effort in seeking for an aim or “ reliable ” individuality will needfully confront jobs of cut downing single differences of experiences, itself relative to the societal and power constructions of the society, to simplistic claims, and therefore, any national individuality in the postmodern point of view can non truly stand for the people.

Any national individuality, as understood by postmodernists, will therefore be unable to assist one concept any cognition of the ego as a citizen of the state at all, since the impression of ego is driven by societal forces and invariably altering. There is in fact, no existent national individuality, and therefore no cognition can be gained from national individuality.

5.0 Decisions

5.1 Accommodating Differences: Synthesis

Both essentialist and postmodern positions posit different jobs on the epistemological value of national individuality. The essentialist claim that national individuality is defined by a few nonsubjective values limits what one knows approximately oneself as a citizen of a state. On the other manus, the postmodern position asserts that there is no national individuality, and no ego to talk of. One can therefore ne’er know about himself or build epistemically valuable cognition approximately himself as a citizen, since individuality and ego are invariably affected by societal forces, political orientations and power constructions.

I nevertheless wish to repossess the impression of individuality as epistemically valuable, albeit non of the nonsubjective nature, by measuring the two positions of national individuality to suggest an option to understanding national individuality.

While an essentialist claim limits the building of cognition of national individuality to certain cardinal values, these values are non wholly unrepresentative, but are instead unequal in explicating one ‘s being as a citizen of Singapore. There is therefore some sense of unachievable “ genuineness ” in such a national individuality. What implications does this hold? It suggests that there is some sense of “ reliable ” national individuality out at that place, something one can systematically work towards. Postmodern claims of political orientations and power constructions can so supply one with the model through which one can understand and work towards a more “ reliable ” building of national individuality.

Postmodern claims present jobs of locating an nonsubjective ego and individuality, due to changeless being of societal forces, political orientations and power constructions. However, instead than accept that national individuality is unable to bring forth cognition of any kind, I in bend accept these jobs and supply a methodological analysis through which 1 may still build cognition of the ego through national individuality. While one may ne’er cognize about a “ genuinely nonsubjective ego ” , renegotiations of national individuality through differing societal forces, political power constructions and prevailing political orientations can let one to build cognition of national individuality through inter-subjectivity, the corporate subjectivenesss of the people, influenced by the really societal forces postmodernists point out to be debatable. Such societal forces will be accepted and acknowledged as a factor for national individuality and the built-in subjectiveness of such an individuality, to possibly “ approximative ” towards an “ reliable ” and genuinely representative individuality.

By understanding the jobs of post-modernity and accepting its incapableness of bring forthing nonsubjective cognition, one can go on to build cognition of national individuality, albeit of an inter-subjective nature.

5.2 Gramsci ‘s Framework of Hegemony, Counter-Hegemony and the Construction of National Identity

I propose an reading of Gramsci ‘s theory of hegemony in the Singaporean context as a conceptual model on how inter-subjective national individuality can be formed, and how it can come close towards an “ reliable ” individuality. Gramsci speaks of hegemonies as non the exclusive authorization in society, but the dominant 1. There will ever be A­counter-hegemonies, viing political orientations and point of views opposing the dominant hegemony -that is, the authorities ‘s discourse- groups with “ opposing world-views ” invariably contending to derive hegemony, which leads to changeless renegotiation of hegemony between the people ‘s counter-hegemonies and the leaders. What function does these minor narrations, the counter-hegemonies, drama?

Understanding the valuable nature of both hegemony and counter-hegemonies in the cognition of national individuality, I interpret both the point of views of counter-hegemonies and hegemonies as constituents of the hegemonic model in the building of national individuality, each with their ain subjective readings of national individuality. For illustration, while the dominant discourse by the Government on national individuality sees Asiatic values as portion of Singaporean individuality, legion counter-viewpoints out at that place views the Singaporean individuality otherwise. One illustration is the impression of kiasu ( literally translated as “ scared to lose ” ) , the fright of losing out, which refers to the strong philistinism and individuality in Singaporeans,[ 16 ]a popular reading of national individuality that runs contrary to the official authorities version of national individuality.

While both emphasize different facets of national individuality, none can be genuinely representative of the people or let one to build “ reliable ” cognition approximately oneself as a Singaporean. However, they are both subjective constituents of the hegemonic model. Through reading of these subjective constituents of national individuality, one can possibly come to cognize a more “ reliable ” inter-subjective version of national individuality, which allows one to build epistemically valuable cognition of oneself as a citizen of Singapore.

The building of cognition of national individuality is therefore done non merely by the Government, but besides by counter-hegemonies. Each plays a function in building of inter-subjective cognition of national individuality.

Such conceptual model proves expedient in one ‘s apprehension of inter-subjectivity and national individuality as changeless discourse between the government-constructed national individuality and single experiences of the led, invariably affected by societal forces and power. This leads to changeless renegotiation of national individuality, in the procedure doing it more representative of the single differences within the state, and approximative towards an nonsubjective national individuality.

5.3 Ending notes

I argue that an inter-subjective national individuality, one capable of narrating some signifier of societal truth, understood through Gramsci ‘s hegemonic model and counter-hegemonies, may let for changeless renegotiation of individuality between the people and the authorities, to organize inter-subjective cognition of national individuality. While it may non be the most epistemically valuable, it provides some middle-ground between the conflicting point of views of essentialism and post-modernism.

Word Count: 2999

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