The Argument Culture Essay, Research Paper
In The Argument Culture, Deborah Tannen describes our adversarial society in debates and dialogues. Tannen discusses our culture?s style of seeing issues, questions, and conflicts as having two sides that battle each other for one goal, victory. She says that not only does this argument culture or culture of critique we live in make life more challenging and alienating, it also reduces the amount of information made available to viewers or information seekers. Tannen mentions academia and our legal system in her discussion, but majority of her interpretations is directed toward the media, with her style of formidable questions and open-mindedness.
The Argument Culture is not about consideration. Tannen distinguishes that people look forward to confrontations for many reasons, as well as enjoying a good debate, and that some issues do have two sides to it. She warns against the way the culture of critique, by plummeting every issue to two sides, can destroy the tone and complexity of a discussion and even value too highly of opinions.
Tannen also discusses views on men and women about their confrontational styles and values of argument. Women are, on average, less confrontational, and so the culture of critique will value men?s contributions. Before a chorus of women thunders forth to claim that women can be just as obnoxious as men, let me assure everyone that it is not in doubt. What is also not in doubt, at least to psychologists and other people working in the fields that study gender, is that males are more confrontational than females, that males from the earliest ages get the message that a certain amount of aggression and acting out is, a pretty effective way to get attention. Opposition plays a greater role in the social lives of boys and men than of girls and women. Our tendency to make everything into a fight reflects men?s culture more then women?s.
Tannen also shows how journalism, politics, and law are all intertwined, as our culture is absorbed by an ethic of aggression by which attack is overvalued, while compromise and pacification are undervalued or even scorned.
Tannen?s message is not if we are all going to get along, rather finding a better way to do things. She suggests that traditional confrontations that have become such famous features in our lives obscure truth. Tannen is not asking people to just give up confrontations, but to diversify because we need more than one path to the goal that everyone seeks.
The Argument Culture is an intelligent exploration of challenges, issues and contradictions in our everyday lives. Using debate and dialogues as her examples, Tannen?s take home message is simply that not every interaction should be adversarial and recognizing this can get us away from the catfight mentality and closer to actual exchange of information.