Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

To what extent do you examine your particular struggles within a larger societal framework?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38868 points ) August 12th, 2011

Entering my first semester of PhD study, I’m rethinking the basics of sociological analysis, rereading some Pitts-Taylor, Kalifia and Deleuze and talking with others about historic moments happening in our time and, as usual, some identity politics.

Aside from the usual notion that our identity exists only when held up to mirrors (other people), those of us existing in the third-wave, post-modern circle often discuss both locatedness and non-locatedness of certain bodies, sexualities and genders. However, escaping the usual circularity between object and subject is only a dream for the privileged. To get out of the context of body being linked to nature through, for example, human-technology hybrids is something applicable to very few and even those who do ‘push the envelope’ through new radical body modification or through rethinking sex and gender must do so within existing patterns of power.

More ‘down-to-earth’ – wise, many of us face struggles on a daily basis that others would like to convince us are all about our individual destiny, fight, what have you. The more clear it becomes that societal patterns make a difference, the more likely those in power are to push the individualized approach – example: obesity is about what’s wrong with you, not about stratification of food access or access to exersise + healthcare.

So, when you consider your personal problems/struggles, do you generally think about how your particular set of identities (your race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, mental health, age, etc.) fits into a larger structure and whether you’re riding out a particular era?

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33 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Holy christ, It’s after 2:30 on a friday. I’m just thinking about do I want pizza or do I also want wings.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe LOL! Well, it’s my day off! This is what I do to relax. If it helps, there’s a Friends marathon that I’m watching. And I just made a visit to tube8.com (NSFW).

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Real answer: I don’t characterize my struggles in any particular set of parameters. It’s just my struggles.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Gonna be honest here… I don’t. Maybe I should but I don’t.

Blackberry's avatar

So, when you consider your personal problems/struggles, do you generally think about how your particular set of identities (your race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, mental health, age, etc.) fits into a larger structure and whether you’re riding out a particular era?

Yes. To some extent, it is how others perceive me that determines my place in the structure. I feel I have to fine-tune myself to be applicable to this large structure.

If this isn’t the answer you’re looking for, please clarify a bit. I also have problems deciphering the meaning, or end goal, of these questions lol.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Lightlyseared Surely you mean the ones I provided in the detail section~

jerv's avatar

I’m not drunk enough for that sort of thinking right now :D

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir there were links in the details?!!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blackberry No, your answer is on point. If you’d like, you can flesh it out more.

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, I do, in a number of areas. Just one example though… I have ADHD and while I believe that it is a real disorder, in many ways it is also simply another way of being, a certain way of thinking, a constellation of characteristics that are not valued in modern American society. There is pressure to act and be a certain way that more closely fits the norms and expectations of the society we live in. Humans didn’t evolve to sit still, in a cubicle 8+ hours a day and focus on endless minutia, and that some people have trouble doing it may not necessarily be a pathology.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe : Yes. Both. Go wild.

As to the Q, I grew up in the 60s, did higher education, and the big jump into self-as-complete-entity from self-as-part-of-family-unit in the 70s, spent most of the 80s trying to fight a system that wouldn’t work with me in order to procreate the way I wanted to and not the way I was “supposed” to, raised my child and battled cancer in the 90s, and have spent most of the last decade dancing with an entirely different type of separating dynamic from the original family. A number of those decades and endeavors involved an awareness of the bigger picture that you describe, understanding that A) My social status acquired at birth allowed me to achieve some of my goals and B) my social status acquired at birth was a detriment in some other cases.
At this point in my life I’m geo-centric, my “geo” being the boundaries of my small little world and what I can do in here to make things better for a few, who will, hopefully have a larger impact…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Interesting question, it made me think. I’m a white middle class male and haven’t ever had to deal with someone else’s prejudices, for lack of a better word, so maybe I haven’t dealt with some of the issues of trying to fit in.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@lillycoyote Exactly what I’m looking for, thank you!. @JilltheTooth That’s how my mom talks about life as well. And I really appreciate your perspective, as well – I mean it’s a wonder, isn’t it, to go through so many kind of philosophical focal points through living life over decades @Adirondackwannabe Maybe. I mean, I am certain of it.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is an interesting question. When I was pursuing a higher education identity politics, semiotics and postmodern thinking definitely informed my everyday life. Now, I’m much more inwardly focused.

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s apathy, or maybe I just gave up. Maybe it’s my depression. But now I look at the world and it’s my internal world that colors my vision, not the external world.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery I don’t think it’s age, necessarily. I mean I go back and forth on whether any of the above you mention inform my life. When I am having one of those days where I can’t stop crying, none of it matters.

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Bah, I don’t know what else to say lol.

Blondesjon's avatar

I don’t struggle. Struggling creates friction and friction restricts movement.

I flow.

tinyfaery's avatar

Agreed. I say age because when I was younger I had a sense that my life was still long and change could possibly occur. Now I have a sense that my life is coming to a close and there is nothing I can think or do to change the outside world. I’m much more selfish these days. I’m mostly worried about my internal world and my personal little bubble.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blondesjon Some struggles lead to flow. I mean, post-friction. What are we talking about? :)

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t know, I have a lot of trouble following this question and the basic premises. There seem to be a lot of assumptions built in here. In particular, I’m not altogether convinced that my identity is a construct that depends on other people, or that that’s a useful way to conceptualize my position in the world.

That said, I guess my answer is: rarely. I do not think it is very useful to place my struggles within a larger, existing framework. I am not even sure what that would mean. The only example I can think of is, sometimes I think about how being a woman in science is different from being a man in science. Or, as you can see from a lot of my recent questions, I am very interested in how men and women experience, communicate about, and use sex differently. But already there in two sentences I’ve gotten away from how that corresponds to my personal struggles. I just don’t really follow what this is getting at.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia Of course, all the assumptions made in the detail section are up for debate. After all, this is what the field of sociology is all about. I will say that I don’t see how one’s identity isn’t validated by others (whether negatively or positively) if you are around other people. Further, I don’t know if it is useful to place your struggles in a larger context, though it may be, given the struggle. If you think you’re discriminated against based on how you look to people because they don’t like your gender identity disturbing their worldviews, it is helpful to find others that that kind of thing happens to and learn how, historically, that’s always been the kind of thing that happens to many people. As to what my question is getting at, there is no one thing I’m looking for, just conversation.

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_BeauvoirFurther, I don’t know if it is useful to place your struggles in a larger context, though it may be, given the struggle.” Yeah, a good example is realizing one of your struggles may not be as bad when compared to the many struggles of others?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blackberry That’s definitely useful, indeed. Yesterday, I read how close to a billion people on this planet don’t have access to clean water and I mean, that’s terrible.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir It would make it kind of difficult to fluther when most of your time is spent trying to survive. We take a lot for granted in this country.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I went with just pizza, no wings.

incendiary_dan's avatar

As a working class wage slave, mixed-race male, I give it thought from time to time. I try to pay attention to when both privilege and prejudice impact my circumstances. I’m not always sure about that. And as a descendant of peoples subjected to genocide in the past 500 years (and the past 10,000, really), I tend to frame a lot of my goals for self- and community-sufficiency in terms of minimizing and reversing certain aspects of ongoing cultural and physical genocide in the context(s) I live in, just as much as I think of it in terms of empowering the economically disadvantaged.

incendiary_dan's avatar

In terms of my anti-civilization stance, that’s forced me to evaluate numerous, seemingly benign issues in regards to a more radical and enviro-cultural standard. Having a more functional knowledge of non-agricultural societies than most Westerners, I don’t tend to take certain things as a given. It’s also made me much more critical and even suspicious about claims made by experts and officials, since there are certain types of propaganda so ingrained in civilized culture that even the people saying it don’t realize the falsehood. Again, those certain assumptions about life and “progress”, particularly as the idea of progress is often used as a veil for inhumane actions and genocide.

I think if I go much further, it’ll get ranty. Maybe later. :)

CWOTUS's avatar

So, when you consider your personal problems/struggles, do you generally think about how your particular set of identities (your race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, mental health, age, etc.) fits into a larger structure and whether you’re riding out a particular era?

Well, sure. Doesn’t everyone?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CWOTUS No, I really don’t think they do.

linguaphile's avatar

Uhm…I think about my life, roles and issues in the larger societal framework frequently. First reason is… I was trained to be an advocate at age 12–17, grew up to work in advocacy, come from a very, very tiny community with its own strong culture (less than .5% of Americans are members to varying degrees in my community), deal with the “Powers that be” everyday and my community is at an insanely high chance of being eradicated. Our voice is really small, and unfortunately, there’s not enough cohesion within the community itself—I fear we will self-destruct because of the lack of cohesion.

I deal with the fact that what is happening to my community today is what the Whites did to the Native Americans in the 1920’s-1960’s, what they did to the gays from the 1920–1990’s—it wasn’t okay to do it to them then, but somehow it’s okay and justifiable to try to eradicate or dilute my community. Ilive with being told frequently that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m “fooling myself” or “behind” or “don’t really understand.” It’s funny that people who live outside my community are deciding whether my voice is valid. Tsk.

I was trained to be an advocate… it’s something I believe in and feel strongly fighting for, so I do think of the larger societal framework often, not just for my community but for how I fit into the larger picture, how it affects me, how I affect the system, etc.

Symbeline's avatar

Wow that’s damn interesting. I never thought about being conned like that, as that one example you gave; obese people got problems they have to rule out themselves, instead of mooching help from the government. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, just my own silly words. (before I forget them) Makes so much sense though. (assuming it’s true, which I wouldn’t doubt; so much power sits upon a throne of lies and deception)
That kinda reminds me of when you’re little and get bullied, and when you talk about it to someone, they dismiss the whole thing by saying that the bullies are more scared of you than you are of them.
Am I getting any of this right?

As far as I go with this kinda stuff, well I’m easy influenced and put my trust into too many places and words. You know, cuz it’s there and rules like the Roman Empire. However, I’ve been betrayed and fucked up the ass enough times to have come to realize that a lot of shit is bullshit. I can now easily dislocate myself from general consensus and its intent as described in your question. Think on my own and assess stuff without outside factors but self experience, observation and logic, which is based on something Einstein had theories about, or something. (which I guess all originate FROM outside factors, so I still be fucked) However, that I find no faith in which to put my conclusions into always brings me back to square one, ultimately. Did I get any of this lol?

Wut widall dem complicated questions the night? XD

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