In every reading I have had for my Social Justice Rhetorics class, the public sphere has come up again and again. It keeps come up again and again because activism is all about being in the public sphere of argumentation.
That was something that I learned this last week when I did my own research. It is not the public, private, and technical spheres of discourse as I had mentioned several weeks ago, it is actually public, private, and technical spheres of argumentation. That is a very interesting distinction.
But, with all of this discussion on the public sphere of argumentation, I wondered what role, if any, do the other sphere’s play in activism.
Two weeks ago, we read an article on how vegans often have to share their reasons for being vegan. They share, in a public setting, their private reasons for being a vegan. A few weeks, I pointed out how Autism Speaks uses the private, personal stories about their autistic children (because they are run almost solely by non-autistic people).
But I have not read anything yet that addresses how the role that the technical sphere (e.g., scientific arguments) of argumentation plays in activism. So, I started to try and find places. It’s hard to find because the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t really talking at all about science, nor was the Occupy Wallstreet. So, what role does the technical sphere play?
I can only think of one place—one movement—where the technical sphere is a must if we are to make any traction: the disability right’s movement. Because right now, it is mostly non-disabled scientists who are using the medical model of disability (the idea that disability is within the person and not socially created) to scientifically—and technically—argue for the continued use of the medical model of disability. I define non-disabled as people who use “them” when referring to disabled people, clearly drawing a line between the researcher and the disabled people they are researching.
What role does the technical sphere play in activism? It plays a pivotal role that, as of right now, the disability right’s movement does not seem to have picked up. But maybe they have, maybe there are scientists out there who are using the technical sphere to argue for disability rights, but I have never heard of them. Most of what we, as disability right’s activists, are doing is fighting the ableist science that has been done so far by non-disabled scientists using the medical model of disability.
There is a huge hole in the field of rhetoric of science and rhetoric of medicine (In essence, the rhetoric of the technical sphere) that I can see: both rely heavily on the medical model of disability and have not yet embraced or brought in a disability studies perspective. If anybody knows of any rhetorician or scientist who has done this, PLEASE tell me, because I want to read all of their stuff.
So, this was a “short” blurb about what I am pretty sure at least a part, if not all, of my dissertation.