Reading Response – Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 12.55.58 AM

This reading response will be comparing a journal article by a professor of sociological theory and general sociology Werron, published in 2015 “Why do we believe in competition?”. A speech in a research journal by an American writer and cultural anthropologist Bateson, “The Myth of Independence and Competition” which was published in 2016. And another journal article “Rhetoric and Competition” by Hutcheon, a university professor in the department of English.
In the content of Hutcheon’s article, the main argument made was that working together as a team would benefit us much more than competition, in other words working against each other. She even stated in her journal article that our society, more specifically our academic community, should push to be a more positive environment. As she states in the article that rather than the audience asking questions to grasp a deeper understanding on a topic, the audience asked questions  that “were always posed as aggressive attacks..” on “..the speaker’s argument” And that it has become a setting in which to people “attack has meant survival”.
Then again, as Bateson’s article was in a research journal, it was structured in the form of a speech, on which can be assumed that she may have presented the speech in front of a live audience. Her main argument was Bateson’s argument was very similar to that of Hutcheon’s. As both Hutcheon and Bateson have a call to action towards their audience. Both scholars persuaded their audience to migrate to a mindset where society worked interdependently, as opposed to individualistically. To these two scholars, competition was an unnecessary part of the society, and that more could be done with cooperation instead of competition.
And on the other hand, Werron did not view competition either way as a positive or negative to the society. He mainly expanded on how competition had changed over the years. Werron’s way of structuring his article was to reach very far back into history of how competition became and the meaning and practice of competition has evolved over time. By using quotes from dictionaries that he had to translate, to building onto studies that other researchers had found out about, he was able to support his view and his claims on modern day competition. I personally thought his way of formatting his article was slightly harder to follow through to get to his main points. Though he was very thorough in the way he gave explanations after important terms, and the way he had multiple sources supporting each of his claims.
This then led me to question to what extent does competition drive us? And is there a way to measure how big a roll competition really plays out in our society This really made me wonder how much competition really impacted our lives.
And how much of our lives are spent competing against others. 
As a person who does not see themselves as competitive, I am still pushed to compete with others. Many examples can be pulled from school. It does not matter how much I dislike presenting in front of a class and it does not matter how much I dislike taking exams. We are constantly being compared to our peers, through such ‘competitions’. And how well we do in a competition seem to label us.  It is an unquestionable norm in our society that we need to take part in such activities. It is as if society expects us to be competitive, even starting at ages where we do not know what competition is and when it holds no meaning to us. Because to society, without competing against each other how will people know your strengths? And how else would people know who has the skills they want in order to recruit to become part of a bigger community.
Bringing the topic back into how competition is actually defined, although all three of the scholars had their articles surrounding the topic of ‘competition’, there were different takes on what the actual definition of the word ‘competition’ meant. They seemed to have different views on how this competition was affecting our society, academic communities and even down to the smallest of interaction between people. 
It can be compared that competition was seen in a way they felt that harmed the society, and that we could live without it. For Bateson, she saw competition as nothing but a powerful illusion. She pushed forward her argument that we should work and see ourselves as part of a bigger community, rather than working as individuals. She brings culture (American as well as some European countries) into the causes of independence and competition. She suggests that through changes in culture and the way they ‘train’ people to behave and think, the world could be a place which more cooperation and less competition.
Hutcheon’s use of ‘competition’ was similar to Bateson’s, in that they both believed that cooperation over competition would benefit the society and drive society forward.
On the other hand, Werron really saw the bigger picture of what competition was as part of the society. Gathering from his perspective, competition was an inevitable part of how society functioned as a whole.  As it could potentially have different meanings given that they are under different circumstances, and under different fields of studies.
And these conclusions had led me to think to what extent do our environment shape the way we define competition?

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s