[T]he process of ‘becoming’ a Western subject refers to its members becoming ontologized. One is not a Western subject because there exists a pre-given structure called the Western culture which imposes itself upon its members. The transformation of individuals into Western subjects is not accomplished by issuing Western identity cards. One ‘becomes’ and is made Western by being subjected to a process called Westernizing and by imagining oneself in the fantasy frame of belonging to a specific culture called the ‘West’. This imaginary, however, is not a private or an individual undertaking. It is a process that exists externally and objectively.
Since we are dealing with the Germans, who do not postulate anything, we must begin by stating the first premise of all human existence and, therefore of all history, the premise namely that men must be in a position to live in order to be able to “make history.” But life involves before everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing and many other things. The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself.
Courage consists, however, in agreeing to flee rather than live tranquilly and hypocritically in false refuges. Values, morals, homelands, religions, and these private certitudes that our vanity and our complacency bestow generously on us, have many deceptive sojourns as the world arranges for those who think they are standing straight and at ease, among stable things
Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.
—Aristotle (via philosophy-quotes)
Gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture. The term is often used negatively, suggesting the displacement of poor communities by rich outsiders. But the effects of gentrification are complex and contradictory, and its real impact varies.
Many aspects of the gentrification process are desirable. Who wouldn’t want to see reduced crime, new investment in buildings and infrastructure, and increased economic activity in their neighborhoods? Unfortunately, the benefits of these changes are often enjoyed disproportionately by the new arrivals, while the established residents find themselves economically and socially marginalized.
Gentrification has been the cause of painful conflict in many American cities, often along racial and economic fault lines. Neighborhood change is often viewed as a miscarriage of social justice, in which wealthy, usually white, newcomers are congratulated for “improving” a neighborhood whose poor, minority residents are displaced by skyrocketing rents and economic change.
Integral to queer identity is the fact that one’s life isn’t developed from or devoted to the genetic lineage into which one was accidentally born. The queer family isn’t a genetically based nuclear family. The basis of queer sex has nothing to do with the basis of heteromonogamy. The information that’s transmitted through queer sex involves the creation of the self, but not in a way that’s chemically or molecularly genetic. The privileging of the transmission of one’s DNA down through the generations is irrelevant to a queer individual, whatever “individuality” may mean in a queer context. Queers replicate through social, sexual, and creative promiscuity. We don’t reproduce, we replicate.
Despite these critiques, the popularity of evolutionary psychology in mainstream media has only increased with the rise of Internet journalism throughout the new millennium. The headline of the typical story on evolutionary psychology entices us with a question. Usually it’s a question that the writer seems to imagine we have scratched our heads about—or wrung our hands over—before: “Why Do Men and Women Talk Differently?” “Why Do Men Cheat?” “Why Do Men Find Blondes So Very Attractive?” “Why Do Men Show Off Around Women?” “Why Do Nice Girls Fall for Bad Boys?” “Why Do Women All Seem to Want Taller Men?” But some headlines are more frivolous: “Can Evolution Explain High Heels?” (Spoiler alert: it can!) Still others pose questions that we never thought to ask: “Why Do Women Have Sex?”
In each case, we are presumed to believe in the phenomenon under analysis already. All we require is an explanation, a story that tells us why we are the way we are. Ultimately, the explanation is always the same: evolution—i.e, reproductive advantage. Click on one of these stories and you will find two things: first, the results of a recent psychological study that verifies an observation about a common human behavior; and second, an evolutionary explanation for why that behavior was advantageous for our ancestors. Because their standard operating procedure is to begin from behaviors that they perceive as universal (despite the fact that blond hair, for example, could hardly be considered universally valorized), evolutionary psychologists tend to confirm received wisdom. Many EP studies tautologically assert that widely held social values are… well, widely held. Study finds that most men are attracted to women who are deemed conventionally attractive by society!
The proposed concept of gender identity and definitions of related terms sets out definitions to help develop a consistent way of measuring and using gender identity data. It was developed by Statistics NZ in consultation with other government agencies, with advice from the Human Rights Commission.
The objective is to encourage central government agencies to move towards a standardised approach, but the resulting statistical standard will not make collecting gender identity information mandatory.
We recognise there is no universally accepted definition of the concept of gender identity and its related terms. The project to develop a statistical standard for gender identity aims to enable a shared understanding of this complex topic.
Read more on New Zealand’s initiative to ask the community before setting standards for gathering gender statistics.
Exceptional American beliefs about mobility and inequality.
By Lisa Wade, PhD
The figure above contrasts the average U.S. response to various questions measuring perceptions of mobility and inequality with the average response of 27 comparison countries (from the International Social Survey Programme).
In other words, how far from the mean are U.S. citizens’ beliefs about life chances and the value of social inequality? The pink triangle is the U.S. and the orange line is everyone else. It’s a bit difficult to read (click to enlarge), so I’ll describe the data:
- About 62% of Americans think that “people get rewarded for their effort,” compared to about 35% of citizens in our national comparison group.
- About 70% of Americans think that “people get rewarded for their intelligence and skills,” compared to about 40% of citizens in our national comparison group.
- About 19% of Americans think that “coming from a wealthy family is essential/very important to getting ahead,” compared to about 29% of citizens in our national comparison group.
- About 62% of Americans think that “differences in income in their country are too large,” compared to about 87% of citizens in our national comparison group.
- And about 33% of Americans think that “it is the responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income,” compared to about 69% of citizens in our national comparison group.
Americans, then, are much more likely than the average citizen in our comparison countries to believe that individual characteristics determine success, wide gaps in income are acceptable, and the government should let them be. No wonder Americans tend to vote to cut taxes and services, tolerate unequal educational opportunity, and resist top-down solutions to inequality. They think inequality is good and that individuals will always get what they deserve.
Via the MontClair SocioBlog.