Thoughts on myself and my complaint practise
I am young, white and was born into a middle-class family in the north of Germany. Based on these facts alone, I pass many marking systems, probably barely registering that they exist. For example, I started my studies right after school and even got a scholarship, I can go into a regular drugstore and find make-up that matches my skin tone and I can travel around Europe without even being asked for my passport.
To me, this sounds like the archetype of a person that could benefit from »white liberal feminism« which Sara Ahmed describes as a state “when career advancement for individual women is dependent on the extent to which they show they are willing not to address institutional problems” (Ahmed 2021: 254). Scanning my life, I see traces of »silence as promotion« – I have to admit it, although I am not proud of it. For example, I got an internship via my boyfriend’s personal, mainly male network without having to go through the company’s regular HR process. I had mixed feelings at the time: On the one hand, I really wanted to do this internship at this company, but on the other hand, it was completely against my values that no open recruitment process was taking place. I took the internship offered to me and by that I played by the rules of a mainly patriarchal system in this situation of my life, without pointing out that this system is simply not fair, especially to FLINTA*-people.
But even if I see those traces of »white liberal feminism« in my life, I refuse to categorize myself as a »white liberal feminist«. Hearing phrases like “you as a woman have the same chances of having a career as a man of your age and position”, “gendering makes the language look ugly and I don’t see the point of it” or “to me, the women I (sexually very active man) am dating, had to many sex partners already”, I need to complain and make my position in these debates clear. No matter if it is said in a personal conversation or an institutional context and even if this might cause damage to my personal position.
In several areas of my life, I feel the need to work on the transformation of institutional and systemic practices through complaint and activist work. I came to an interesting realization while reading the chapter »Complaint activism« (cf. Ahmed 2021: 283- 300). On an institutional level, I tend to skip the step of complaint, even if I know it exists, because I have had the experience that complaining, even as a group, doesn’t lead to a change. One specific example of this came to my mind: In my current study program we had an external lecturer who gave an extremely poorly prepared presentation that had not been updated in a long time, which used racist cultural stereotypes and animated us to reproduce them. Almost everybody in the class felt uncomfortable with that and we expressed that personally in the feedback session of each block seminar as well as in our teaching evaluations that were handed over to the faculty. At first, the responsible coordinators seemed concerned and said that they would have a clearing conversation with the lecturer and might not continue the cooperation. But in the next winter semester we found out that nothing had changed. The course was still held by this lecturer; the content was the same and even the final task was still the same. So, even with the lobby of about 30 students from the same program, we couldn’t stop the reproduction of institutional practices by our faculty. Experiencing being stopped by not being heard and the ineffectiveness of institutional complaint procedures – in this case, the ineffectiveness of about 30 teaching evaluations – made me realize that if I want to change something in the faculty, not complaint, but »slow activism«, as Ahmed puts it, is often my tool of choice.
Last summer, together with three current and former students of my program, I formed an initiative that wants to connect students with alumni of our program in order to foster knowledge transfer on contemporary and relevant topics. Since we cannot influence the agenda setting on the academic side, we encourage dialogue and discussion on important topics in a semi-institutional context. For example, we plan to invite students who are activists on diversity topics here in Weimar and give them a stage linked to our study program by doing so. As just explained, we experienced that a complaint about the official institution and its practices didn’t work, so we rather started activist work ourselves and developed paths partly linked to the institution by founding the initiative than continuing the complaint process.
Feeling inspired by Sara Ahmed’s »Complaint!«
Reading »Complaint!« by Sara Ahmed has inspired me to reflect on my complaint practice in several different ways, and I’m very glad I did. While reading the book, I recognized links to different areas of my life, like systemic tools and constructs I am working with, as well as personal topics that I elaborated on in my blog entries. For me, three implications have emerged from this process that shape my ways of thinking and acting with regards to complaints.
First, I experienced that using the »feminist ear«, as Sara Ahmed does in »Complaint!«, is a powerful tool. It creates a feeling of unity in shared experiences of complaints, even if they were stopped within institutions, and it is an option to express the complaint and get it out of your personal system. Moreover, by expressing the complaint, it can inspire others to take this as a starting point and proceed. As Ahmed explains this function of complaint: “How to help each other to get it out. What you put down, […], others can pick up” (Ahmed 2021: 298). This inspires me to talk about experiences of complaint more often and create a shared thinking space by doing so.
Further, I have found for myself at various points in my reading that I want to cultivate a critical eye on my own privileges. On the one hand, to ensure that my actions do not reproduce institutional and systemic mechanisms of oppression and discrimination as best I can, and on the other hand, to find points of contact where I can support others in their complaint processes, building a kind of a complaint collective.
Finally, I can say that reading »Complaint!« sharpened my perspective on complaint practices and their importance. During the reading process I realized that I was more conscious of complaints – my own as well as others. I want to maintain this perspective and not simply have my complaints stopped in the future by institutional mechanisms or warnings expressed to me.
Ahmed, Sara. Complaint!, New York, USA: Duke University Press, 2021.
In chapter 5, Sarah Ahmed explains how collegiality can stop complaints. According to her, colleagues are defended by superiors against complaints due to various private reasons – for example, they studied together, are friends or even a couple. Based on this, an invisible power structure can emerge that reinforces itself (cf. Ahmed 2021: 186-202).
These points made in »Complaint!« are reflected in a tool, used in the context of systemic coaching whenever clients feel like organizational structures prevent changes on a personal and a team level. Using the tool, the client is asked to create a subjective organization chart, by sketching the perceived relationship of the team members to each other. At this point, it is important to note that not the actual formal hierarchy, but the perceived and yet invisible power structures, as explained by Ahmed, are mapped (cf. BusCo Institut 2022) (Ill. 1).
Illustration 1: Invisible power structures (Based on BusCo Institut 2022)
After the client explains to the players on the map as well as their relations, the person is asked to mark alliances and coalitions. Alliances (Ill. 1) are strong bonds between two team members on the same level – for example, two students that are close friends – whereas coalitions (Ill. 1) are bonds between people on different formal hierarchical levels – for example, a relationship between a young academic and the head of a department. When dealing with alliances and coalitions as an affected person, there is one key point to be aware of: alliances can be softened by establishing a closer relationship with the people involved, but coalitions can generally not be softened or even entered (cf. BusCo Institut 2022).
It becomes obvious that in situations of harassment performed by superiors, alliances but especially coalitions are the reason why “their backs become doors; their hands become locks” (Ahmed 2021: 202), as Sara Ahmed writes. Unfortunately, since informal bonds are so strong that it is almost impossible “to tell them apart or to take them apart” (ibid.). Therefore, those whose complaint is stopped by the “human door” often have no choice but to leave the team or the organization.
Ahmed, Sara. Complaint!, New York, USA: Duke University Press, 2021.
BusCo Institut: Resource area, 2022.
Retrieved from: https://www.busco-institut.de/intern.html.
Just after I read chapter 2 of »Complaint« I went to the FLINTA*- Kampftag rally at the Theaterplatz where a young woman was courageously giving a speech on how she often does not respect her boundaries in order to please others. She even said something like: “It took me so many years of therapy to realize that I even have such a thing as boundaries.” I could relate to that. And to my mind, not expressing and advocating for your boundaries is directly related to what Sara Ahmed explains as “warnings [that are] an instruction about what you need to do in order to avoid a damaging situation” (Ahmed 2021: 70).
Especially as a young woman, I receive so many warnings that depict me as being self-damaging when I express personal boundaries, articulate my opinion or complain about institutional or societal problems. The sketch below shows me being influenced by such warnings. I wrote down a few that were still so present to me that I could easily remember them. They are representative of so many more.
Illustration 1: Receiving warnings
In this sketch, where I receive warnings, I decided to keep the warnings in my native language because I feel they have more impact on me that way
Fellow student: “Be careful not to complain too much or you’ll get a bad grade.” Grandma: “Don’t always complain or you’ll never find a boyfriend.”
Dad: ”Don’t engage in political activism in Weimar – it could be dangerous.”
Ex-boyfriend: “Why are you always so bitchy? It’s not that bad. I don’t like you like that.”
Ahmed, Sara. Complaint!, New York, USA: Duke University Press, 2021.
In the passage “Following procedures”, Ahmed describes how complaint processes are often represented as flowcharts that show how a complaint is recorded, seriously investigated and addressed, whereas actually making a complaint feels circular, confusing and messy (cf. Ahmed 2021: 31-39). Explaining reasons that lead to being blocked, not being heard, or realizing that even the complaint process is discriminating, she illustrates how undergoing a complaint process regularly causes feelings of being filed away or functioning as a testimony and fosters the need to complain even more.
To illustrate how a supposedly linear complaint process actually turns out to be a confusing and confounding systemic cycle, I extracted the arguments made by Ahmed in the passage “Following procedures” and developed a Causal Loop Diagram based on them. Causal Loop Diagrams are a system-theoretical method that allows to capture complex systemic relationships. By connecting variables, which in this case are Ahmeds points made in “following procedures”, with each other and adding positive and negative polarities, cause and effect loops are obtained. The formed causal loops either have a balancing or reinforcing effect on the initial situation, with respect to the main variable of the system (cf. Mabin et al 2006: 37 ff). In this case, I chose the perceived need to make a complaint as the main variable (Ill. 1, blue variable).
Illustration 1: Systemic loops of complaint (Based on Ahmed 2021: 31-39)
Generally, Causal Loop Diagrams help to capture and understand complex interrelations and unveil underlying structures and motives of a system (cf. Mabin et al 2006: 37 ff). However, as shown in the illustration, the complaint process as explained by Sarah Ahmed, can not be mapped in a clear and understandable way, because it holds loops of systemic blockage, frustration and disorientation.
As Ahmed describes it:” What leads you to make a complaint is what makes it hard to complain” (Ahmed 2021: 35). Looking at the loops mapped in the illustration, it becomes clear that this feeling – being pressured to undergo a painful complaint procedure to complain about something painful that has happened to you – constantly reinforces the perceived need to make a complaint (Ill. 1). Just one loop seems to have a balancing effect on the feeling of having to complain: It is the feeling of being heard (Ill 1, pink loop). But although this might at first make the complainant feel like the core problem that caused the complaint is being recognized and addressed, it must be noted that this feeling does not necessarily mean that the needed actions to change something are really being performed. This rather frustrating finding, expressed in the illustrated “systemic loops of complaint” underlines the following quote from Sarah Ahmed:
“Complaints end up referring to complaints; you have to keep dealing with what is not being dealt with; yes, once you start the process, it is hard to get out”. (Ahmed 2021: 37).
Ahmed, Sara. Complaint!, New York, USA: Duke University Press, 2021.
Gurule, Donna. Systems Thinking: Causal Loop Diagrams. 2018.
Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgnBSdcxPD0.
Lannon, Colleen. Causal Loop Construction: The basics. n.d.
Retrieved from: https://thesystemsthinker.com/causal-loop-construction-the-basics/.
Mabin, Victoria J.; Davies, John; Cox, James F. International Transactions in Operational Research. Jan2006, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p33-57.
|Big gratitude to all those enthusiastic people that have made complaining such a rewarding activity.|
T.Kalleinen & O.Kochta Kalleinen
Opening the door of the radical wardrobe
From the very beginning of my professional complaining career in winter 2021, I traveled with the book of S.Ahmed and my little diary through everyday situations. At first, I took advantage of the Complainitivism blog to store there everything I could not in other places. Safe-travels blogging. I embraced the chance to hang out in the cheap hostels in Cairo, my WG in Weimar, and different flats and places I inhabited since that stimulated my writings. I remember most of my life I was so loud in complaining, loving it, and hating it simultaneously. On the other hand, it was such a good tool to protect not just me, but also somebody who could be bullied due to no voice. It means transforming the voice into something useful instead of using it for something that empowers the ego. Me, the protector, the rescuer – the one that provides space, I pictured. It already happened – entering the world of displeasure through the texts, and diving into the whole new world of complaining as art practice. There was the moment when the book divider cut Sara Ahmed’s piece in half, somewhere around Occupied spaces in Part IV, and I felt precisely the task I had – to take care of the voices pragmatically instead of theoretically. To give complaints somewhere to go and open the door. The same day I decided to propose a project called Bauhaus Complaints Choir.
Something itchy decisively and loudly screams from the bodies of these young people – I thought after the first Complaintivsm live session. Emotions and openness were splashing the walls of the institution, group therapy as if nothing will exist after it. The respect for my wonderful colleagues, it is my true pleasure to share the walls with them, while pretending that the walls do not exist. How will we proceed? How to root out the issues we mentioned there and eradicate the origin of the problem? This was the basis for the cabinet I imagined creating. The place of the singing drawers, a closet full of thoughts. The words that gravitate towards the reform and aim to dissolve the complex procedures.
BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) is an experimental chorus aiming to structure and coordinate the complaints within the institution. While giving a space for the voices of the students, professors, and all employees of our university, I and my colleague Margarita Garcia decided on creating the lyrics out of the complaints we receive. Making a complaint within the institution often requires reflecting on it. BCC is a cabinet for both institutionally and privately held complaints. Allof them are welcome. The music follows the dynamics of the writings, combining global, indigenous, dispossessed, classic, and experimental.
I must share a sort of disappointment regarding the response within the BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) open call, that weirdly hurt me. My fragile ego was mixing the anger, protest, sadness, and actual result of the call. For weeks there was no complaint on the form. I wondered what is the problem? There must be something standing between a person who is about to voice their displeasure and me building a cabinet and waiting for it. Is there a bug in the system, a mistake in the approach?
‘’Hey Nadja, this rocks. ‘’
‘’Bravo, I hope you get a lot of complaints.’’
‘’This is such an important project! ‘’
‘’Girl, this is what this university needs.’’
…but no complaint was appearing on our form, nor being dropped in the mail. No letter, no notification, no displeasure. It might be that I have made a piece of marketing, a product, and lost its actual objective on the way. One person even texted me that she would like to participate, but she really does not have anything to complain about. Even an apology followed this statement. I was feeding the air, the social media, and idea, but not the people, I suppose. On the other hand, there was this question: Are we so overwhelmed with the individual, inner complaints that the task to complain somewhere else, outside, feels like one more errand? I do understand this. I do not blame. I am, myself, having way too many on my list.
However, some complaints made BCC’s idea fight for its existence in my head, still taking the failure as the legitimate and integral part of the process. At some point, the letters started appearing – the response came from the crowd.
“If you have to complain because of failed processes, you have to enter yet more failed processes.”
If I am about to create a real cabinet for the complaints, I should take care of it in the best possible way. I have to learn from the empty spaces in the form, as much from the filled ones. Moreover, it is just the beginning of BCC’s radical wardrobe, and the door has just opened.
Valituskuoro: Who sings the things?
Valituskuoro: Who sings the things?
The world of diverse voices amazes me. From the collective art performances to the theater stage happening, I was always a big devotee and admirer of this kind of noise. Except for the melody of the crow, I am in love with complaining as a sport of choice. Therefore, I started searching for enthusiasts in the same field.
In the Finnish vocabulary, there is the expression “Valituskuoro (literally ‘’Complaints Choir’’) and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. In my research, I found the two names that are taking this expression seriously.
It is my true pleasure to introduce the artist duo Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen and Tellervo Kalleinen, Helsinki-based contemporary artists working with cinema, installation, performance, and events. In their practice, they attempt to merge the languages and approaches of several disciplines, such as film, performance, game design, experimental education, facilitation, social architecture, and alternative economies. They construct situations and invite people to join her for collective adventures.
Complaints choirs took place in primary schools, streets, churches, villages, and big cities… Complainers started their movement worldwide. Better said, they occupied spaces.
Another example is The Resistance Revival Chorus from New York that introduces themselves as activists exploring music and musicians exploring activism. RRC is a collective of more than 60 women and non-binary singers, who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance and to uplift and center women’s voices. Chorus members are touring musicians, film and television actors, Broadway performers, solo recording artists, gospel singers, political activists, educators, filmmakers, artists, and more, representing a multitude of identities, professions, creative backgrounds, and activist causes. And we have now the BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) that exists in specific time and space. We are students, designers, artists, filmmakers, supervisors, tutors, professors, activists, protesters, everyday people. We are the diverse voices of a particular context and we aim to voice up.
Say complaint – and there I am, building my professional complaining career.
To participate in the Bauhaus Complaints Choir, please enter here.
Sincerely, informally, with the pleasure. Yours,
“Mind the Gap” is the motif of the first illustration in Sara Ahmed’s book “Complaint!”, page 30: In a view from above, the lettering “MIND THE GAP” is embedded in a floor mosaic on the edge of a train platform; the train tracks can still be seen at the upper edge of the picture. The caption is: “The gap between what is supposed to happen and what does happen.”
This sentence refers to Ahmed’s observation of complaint processes on the same page of the book: Here, something does not coincide, namely that which is supposed to happen by means of a complaint in accordance with the policies and procedures and that which actually happens. There is a gap between the two, the should and the is. This gap is “densely populated” (p. 30), says the continuous text above the illustration, it should be paid attention to: “To mind the gap is to listen and learn from those who are experiencing a process.” (ibid).
“Mind the Gap” is the safety notice that can be seen at London Underground stations and heard as an announcement, a warning to passengers not to fall into the gap between the platform and the threshold of the tube. “Mind the Gap” is also the slogan of the London Student Feminists at the University of London, but here with a call to value and promote gender difference. One phrase, two applications, two meanings: one to pay attention to the gap in order to overcome it, the other to pay attention to the gap in order to acknowledge it. Ahmed’s variant combines both the warning and the expression of respect: to take care of the gap means first to recognize it, then to acknowledge it.
That this message is visualized with the black-and-white illustration of the London Underground at Victoria station, where subway stations meet at different levels of elevation and construction, indicates Ahmed’s interest in the operational level of her topic, “Complaint!” How do which (cultural, institutional, linguistic) techniques meet, how can they be connected or made connectable without leveling their differences? How can differences not be ignored, how can differences be recognized as differences without stigmatizing them into difference? How can closures (of gaps) take place without closing them, but keeping them unclosed? “Mind the Gap” means with Ahmed: notice and respect the gap.
„Mind the Gap“ ist das Bildmotiv der ersten Abbildung innerhalb von Sara Ahmeds Buch „Complaint!“, auf Seite 30: Zu sehen ist in einer Ansicht von oben der, in ein Bodenmosaik eingelassene Schriftzug „MIND THE GAP“ an einer Bahnsteigkante; am oberen Bildrand sind noch die Zuggleise zu sehen. Die Bildunterschrift lautet: „The gap between what is supposed to happen and what does happen.“ (Die Kluft zwischen dem, was geschehen soll, und dem, was tatsächlich geschieht.)
Dieser Satz bezieht sich auf Ahmeds Beobachtung von Beschwerdevorgängen auf der gleichen Seite des Buches: Hier fällt etwas nicht in eins, und zwar dasjenige, was mittels einer Beschwerde in Übereinstimmung mit den Richtlinien und Verfahren geschehen soll, und dasjenige, was tatsächlich geschieht. Zwischen beidem, dem Soll und dem Ist, klafft eine Lücke. Diese Lücke sei „dicht bevölkert“ („densely populated“, S. 30), heisst es im Fließtext oberhalb der Abbildung, ihr solle Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt werden: „Sich um die Lücke zu kümmern, bedeutet, zuzuhören und von denjenigen zu lernen, die einen Prozess erleben.“ („to mind the gap is to listen and to learn from those who experience a process.“, ebd.)
„Achten Sie auf die Lücke“ lautet der Sicherheitshinweis, der an den Stationen der Londoner U-Bahn zu sehen und als Durchsage zu hören ist, ein Warnhinweis an die Passagiere, nicht in die Lücke zwischen Bahnsteig und Türschwelle der U-Bahn zu fallen. „Mind the Gap“ lautet auch der Slogan der London Student Feminists der Universität London, hier allerdings mit dem Aufruf, den Unterschied der Geschlechter zu wertschätzen und zu fördern. Ein Satz, zwei Anwendungen, zwei Bedeutungen: die eine, auf die Lücke zu achten, um sie zu überwinden, die anderen, die Lücke zu achten, um sie anzuerkennen. Ahmeds Variante kombiniert sowohl den Warnhinweis als auch die Respektbekundung miteinander: Sich um die Lücke zu kümmern, bedeutet zunächst einmal, sie zu erkennen, um sie dann anzuerkennen.
Dass diese Botschaft mit der Schwarz-Weiss-Abbildung der Londoner Underground im Bahnhof Victoria visualisiert ist, in dem U-Bahn-Stationen auf unterschiedlichen Höhenniveaus und in unterschiedlicher Bauweise aufeinander treffen, deutet auf Ahmeds Interesse für die operative Ebene ihres Themas „Complaint!“ hin: Wie treffen welche (Kultur-, Institutions-, Sprach-) Techniken aufeinander, wie können sie aneinander anschließen oder anschließbar gemacht werden, ohne ihre Differenzen zu nivellieren? Wie können Differenzen nicht ignoriert werden, wie können Differenzen als Differenzen anerkannt werden, ohne sie zur Differenz zu stigmatisieren? Wie können Verschließungen (von Lücken) stattfinden, ohne sie zu verschließen, sondern sie entverschlossen zu halten? „Mind the Gap“ heißt mit Ahmed: Beachte und achte die Lücke.
Beschweren oder Ertragen
Ich hatte eine Menge Gefühle, als ich das zweite Kapitel “ON BEING STOPPED” (Ahmed 2021: Complaint!) las. Wenn man unzufrieden ist und sich beschweren will, wird man oft von jemandem davon abgehalten: Beschwere dich nicht, die Konsequenzen werden schwerwiegend sein. Das kommt in China aufgrund der traditionellen Kultur und des Einflusses der Bildung häufig vor.
Einige Sprichwörter, über die wir oft sprechen: “以和为贵。Yi He Wei Gui.” “大事化小，小事化了。Da shi hua xiao, xiao shi hua liao.” “吃亏是福。Chi kui shi fu.”
“以和为贵。Yi He Wei Gui.” bedeutet, dass es am wichtigsten ist, dass die Menschen in Frieden miteinander leben. Konflikt vermeiden.
“大事化小，小事化了。Da shi hua xiao, xiao shi hua liao.” Bedeutet: Wenn es einen Konflikt gibt, lass die Situation nicht wachsen. Lass den Konflikt stattdessen allmählich abklingen. Wie kann man ihn reduzieren? Zum Beispiel zeige ich zuerst Großzügigkeit und mache Zugeständnisse. Dann wird sich die Person, mit der ich im Konflikt stehe, auch zurückziehen. Wenn wir alle einen Schritt zurücktreten, wird der Konflikt reibungslos gelöst werden. Natürlich ist das der Idealzustand. In der Realität ist es möglich, dass andere dich stärker unterdrücken, nachdem du nachgegeben hast.
“吃亏是福。Chi kui shi fu.” Es geht darum, den Leuten zu sagen, dass sie eine bestimmte Einstellung entwickeln sollen. Wenn es Ungerechtigkeiten gibt, versuche nicht zu streiten oder zu kämpfen, sondern lerne, geduldig zu sein. Wenn du diese Geduld lernst, kannst du eine Menge Ärger vermeiden. So kann das Leben glücklich werden.
Aufgrund dessen ist unsere erste Reaktion auf eine ungerechte Behandlung, dass wir uns damit abfinden und Konflikte und Ärger vermeiden. Wenn jemand in einer solchen Situation steht, raten viele Menschen davon ab, sich zu beschweren. Sie werden Ihnen viel über die schlimmen Folgen erzählen, die nach einer Beschwerde auftreten. Und sie glauben, dass sie dabei weise und erfahren sind. Aber einige von ihnen haben vielleicht gar keine Erfahrung, sondern sind einfach von der traditionellen Kultur beeinflusst. Beschwert man sich also weiter, nachdem man diese Rückmeldungen erhalten hat oder nimmt es einfach hin? Schwer zu entscheiden.
Zwei Zitate aus dem Buch “Complaint!” lauten:
“you are being encouraged not to complain, to “let it go” by resolving things in some other way or by hop- ing for some other resolution.” (S. 72)
“A complaint is heard as making waves, as stopping things from being steady.” (S.77)
Beschwerden bei Institutionen
Dem ersten Abschnitt der Lektüre von MIND THE GAP! (Ahmed 2021: Complaint!) kann ich nur zustimmen. Es erinnerte mich an viele ähnliche Erfahrungen. Es ist nicht einfach, eine Beschwerde einzureichen, und es kann viel Zeit und Mühe kosten. Wir müssen eine Menge zusätzlicher Vorbereitungen treffen, vor allem, wenn wir eine Beschwerde gegen eine größere Organisation einreichen wollen, z. B. gegen eine Regierungsbehörde, ein großes Unternehmen oder eine Universität. Obwohl es bei all diesen Organisationen eine Beschwerdestelle gibt, ist das Verfahren in der Regel recht kompliziert. Oder es gibt eine lange Wartezeit, bis man es fast vergessen hat.
Ich erinnere mich an einen Vorfall in China vor einigen Jahren, er wurde durch eine Fernsehserie bekannt. Die Fernsehserie hieß “Ren Min De Ming Yi” und war seinerzeit sehr beliebt. Es ging um den Prozess, in dem sich Menschen über Regierungsstellen beschweren. Das Fenster der Beschwerdestelle war sehr niedrig und überhaupt nicht ergonomisch gestaltet. Die Beschwerdeführer mussten also eine sehr schwierige Körperhaltung einnehmen, um mit dem Personal im Inneren zu kommunizieren. Diese Haltung führte dazu, dass die Person im Inneren überlegen wirkte (wie auf den Bildern unten zu sehen).
Außerdem konnte es sein, dass sich eine lange Schlange bildete, bevor man das Fenster erreichte. Dies nahm bereits einen Großteil der Zeit und Energie in Anspruch. Und doch musste man in einer so unbequemen Position kommunizieren, dass man es wahrscheinlich keine fünf Minuten aushalten konnte. Aber es konnte eine halbe bis eine Stunde dauern, um Unterlagen vollständig einzureichen. Und dann musste man nach Hause gehen und warten, bis man eine Nachricht für den nächsten Schritt erhielt. In einer solchen Situation hat die Person, die sich beschwert, vielleicht schon ein- oder zweimal aufgegeben. Es war wirklich eine schreckliche Erfahrung und sehr anstrengend. Der Prozess war sowohl eine psychische als auch eine physische Folter. Aufgrund der Ausstrahlung der Fernsehserie wurden diese Fenster inzwischen entfernt.
Dies ist nur ein Beispiel oder vielleicht nur eine Art von Schwierigkeit, die bei der Bearbeitung von Beschwerden auftritt. Und in der Tat gibt es wahrscheinlich Tausende von ähnlichen Schwierigkeiten wie diese. Daher ist es für eine Einzelperson sehr schwierig, sich bei einer Institution zu beschweren, und die Einzelperson wird immer die schwächere Partei gegenüber der Institution sein. Es ist nicht einfach, eine erfolgreiche Beschwerde einzureichen. Zwei Zitate aus dem Buch “Complaint!” lauten:
“It’s messy and it’s cyclical: you file the complaint, this process happens, which can cause another complaint.” (S. 37)
“Complaints end up referring to complaints; you have to keep dealing with what is not being dealt with; yes, once you start the process, it is hard to get out.” (S. 37)