Their logic is infinitely regressive—prioritizing individual position means distinct viewpoints are incommensurable, so debate devolves into endless identity categories at the expense of actionable research to change social relations
Moore and Miller 99 [Rob, Cambridge, Johan, University of Cape Town, “The Discourse of Voice and the Problem of Knowledge and Identity in the Sociology of Education,” British Journal of Sociology of Education 20 (2) p. 199-200]
The pedagogic device (Bernstein, 1990) of voice discourse promotes a methodology in which the explication of a method's social location precludes the need to examine the content of its data as grounds for valid explanation. Who says it is what counts, not what is said. This approach favours an ethnography that claims to reveal the cultural specificity of the category--the 'voice' of membership. What is held to be the facts, to be the case, is only so-and can only be so-from a particular perspective. The world thus viewed is a patchwork of incommensurableand exclusive voices or standpoints. Through the process of sub-division, increasingly more particularised identity categories come into being, each claiming the unique specificity of its distinctive experience and the knowledge authorised by it. The consequence of the abolition of the knowledge boundary that follows from the epistemological theses of postmodernism is the increasing specialisation of social categories (see Maton, 1998). Maton describes this process of proliferation in terms of the way such 'knower' discourses, ... base their legitimation upon the privileged insight of a knower, and work at maintaining strong boundaries around their definition of this knower-they celebrate difference where 'truth' is defined by the 'knower' or 'voice'. As each voice is brought into the choir, the category of the privileged 'knower' becomes smaller, each strongly bounded from one another, for each 'voice' has its own privileged and specialised knowledge. The client 'knower' group thus frag- ments, each fragment with its own representative ... The procession of the excluded thus becomes, in terms of the privileged 'knower', an accretion of adjectives, the 'hyphenation' which knower modes often proclaim as progress. In summary, with the emergence of each new category of knower, the categories of knowers become smaller, leading to proliferation and fragmentation within the knowledge formation. (ibid., p. 17) As Maton argues, this move promotes a fundamental change in the principle of legitimation-from what is known (and how) to who knows it. The device that welds knowledge to standpoint, voice and experience, produces a result that is inherently unstable, because the anchor for the voice is an interior authenticity that can never be demonstrated, only claimed (Taylor
, 1992; Siegel, 1997; Fuss, 1990, 1995). Since all such claims are power claims, the authenticity of the voice is constantly prone to a purifying challenge, 'If you do not believe it you are not one of us' (Hammersly & Gomm, 1997, para. 3.3) that gears down to ever more rarefied specialisations or iterations of the voice category; an unstoppable spiral that Bernstein (1997, p. 176) has referred to as the 'shrinking of the moral imagination . As Bernstein puts it, 'The voice of a social category (academic discourse, gender subject, occupational subject) is constructed by the degree of specialisation of the discursive rules regulating and legitimising the form of communication' (1990, p.23). If categories of either agents or discourse are specialised, then each category necessarily has its own specific identity and its own specific boundaries. The speciality of each category is created, maintained and reproduced only if the relations between the categories of which a given category is a member are preserved. What is to be preserved? The insulation between the categories. It is the strength of the insulation that creates a space in which a category can become specific. If a category wishes to increase its specificity, it has to appropriate the means to produce the necessary insulation that is the prior condition to its appropriating specificity. (ibid.) Collection codes employ an organisation of knowledge to specialise categories of person, integrated codes employ an organisation of persons to specialise categories of knowledge (Bernstein, 1977, pp. 106-111). The instability of the social categories associated with voice discourse reflects the fact that there is no stable and agreed-upon way of constructing such categories. By their nature, they are always open to contestation and further fragmentation. In principle, there is no terminal point where 'identities' can finally come to rest. It is for this reason that this position can reappear so frequently across time and space within the intellectual field-the same move can be repeated endlessly under the disguise of 'difference'. In Bernstein's terms, the organisation of knowledge is, most significantly, a device for the regulation of consciousness. The pedagogic device is thus a symbolic ruler of consciousness in its selective creation, positioning and oppositioning of pedagogic subjects. It is the con- dition for the production, reproduction, and transformation of culture. The question is: whose ruler, what consciousness? (1990, p. 189) The relativistic challenge to epistemologically grounded strong classifications of knowl- edge removes the means whereby social categories and their relations can be strongly theorised and effectively researched in a form that is other than arbitrary and can be challenged by anyone choosing to assert an alternative perspective or standpoint.