Agency is often used by respondents to capitalise on othering so that the position of the other can become imbued with value. In order to write this essay, it would be good to start by defining and explaining the concept of othering and agency; and next to explain how the aforementioned respondents use the previously mentioned strategy to resist the unequal distribution of power and how it reproduces particular social relations.
Before we start with the main topics, it would be best to classify ‘othering’ in terms that are easier to understand. By ‘othering’, we could be referring to any action (verbal or nonverbal) through which any specific group or individual begins to be classified in somebody else’s mind as “not one of us”. It is often easier and simpler to dismiss a person as less human, or less worthy of dignity and respect, than we are; instead of remembering that they are actually complex beings with emotions, ideas, motivations and many other aspects that seem subtle but actually make us who we are. When we speak of agency, Jensen (2011), defines it as the capacity to act within as well as up against social structures. Jensen also then states that he is particularly interested in oppositional agency, and that resistance is central to his analysis of othering and agency. As stated in Jensen (2011), the term ‘capatalisation’ and the verb ‘to capatalise’ are used to emphasise that the creation of capital is an active process involving agency. Jensen (2011) then continues to say that such agency is socially situated in relation to hierarchal differentiation and power. But how could the respondents in Jensen (2011) seek to capatalise on othering so that the position of the other can become imbued with value? Jensen seems to think that the position of the other can, in fact, become imbued with value if it is versioned through a hip hop iconography of black masculinity (Jensen, 2011:68). The position of the other can also become imbued with value through any personal action that the individual decides to perform. Tattoos, clothing, names or nicknames that they choose, or even photos that they post on social media could become a part of the way that respondents try to imbue themselves with value.
When it comes to respondents resisting the unequal distribution of power, we would need to try and define the ways in which they do this. We could say that the process of othering can be used by means of classing others, and also by putting them in different categories according to race and gender. We can then say that when we are speaking of othering, we are in fact speaking of judgement in the way of racism or sexism against other people who are meant to be classified as our equals. Due to this, we could easily say that othering raises concerns about the consequences of the racism and sexism produced by it, and the effects that it has on identity formation and the degradation that comes from judgement. When it comes to discourse, the people that are classed or judged are considered to be subordinates and they are offered positions as ‘others’ in this discourse. During this process, it is the person in the center, with the most ‘power’ to describe, and the other becomes displayed as inferior to the center. There is however, a refusal by the ‘other’ to occupy this said ‘other’ position. There is a refusal and a resistance by the other against the unequal distribution of power between the center (the person with ‘power’) and themselves. The other would put up a fight in order to keep their equal positon, or to gain one in the first place. When the other is placed in a position of sub ordinance, there is a possibility that they will take a stand and resist the inferiority that is placed upon them. They would refuse to be devalued and made inferior and this could come in many different forms. Often, the inferior other will react as a person from their position and treat the center as a ‘position’ instead of an individual...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document