Kastman Breuch puts forward a vision of “post-process” that is broader than the “anti-process” theory it had seemed to become. She argues that although many post-process theorists critiqued the dissemination of process theory as the commodification of writing, true process theory had no such belief in writing as a “thing.” Her working of post-process liberates the theory from its overemphasized interpretation of commodified process; however, to my recollection and review, she doesn’t seem to refute or disagree with the claim that the commodification of writing is damaging to the activity. She argues that “this commodification of process should be considered as a slip and not a fall” (107), an argument that certainly has less than positive connotations for commodification.
We get a very different view (seemingly) from David Russell. He believes in processes of writing, not the process. The danger in writing instruction comes not in the commodification of a process but in one process’s overgeneralization as the process. To avoid that danger and advance the discipline, Russell calls for further research into activity systems, their genres, and the development of materials/tools that meaningfully communicate between systems. This development entails the commodification of writing:
“But we can realize our potential—broaden our network of influence—only if we know more about (involve ourselves as a discipline with) writing processes in many social practices, many systems of activity, many genres. And we must effectively commodify and disseminate that knowledge, that history of involvement.” (Russell 87)
For Russell, commodification is necessary for different activity systems to communicate (85). No one person can fully digest everything from a discipline, let alone disciplines we don’t specialize in, so we can only access different information in commodified forms—packages.
These two views on commodification differ in their judgments of commodification and composition. Kastman Breuch acknowledges the commodification of process and implies it’s a bad thing (“a slip”). Presumably, it should stop, but that’s not the focus of her article. Russell believes we should actively pursue commodification of writing processes. What’s the deal?
Q: Is there a difference in the way Kastman Breuch and Russell are talking about and using the term “commodification?” Are there good and bad kinds of commodification?
Q: Is commodification the creation of something to teach where Kent argues “there is nothing to teach?” If so, how?