Sunday, September 2, 2007

Trained to see the difference

In one of the posts below, I was talking about how I was trained to recognize certain traits as valuable in a work of art. I'm reading Beverley Skeggs book about "Class, Self, Culture" and she put this thought I had in a very nice form:

"...differences (and inequalities) are produced, lived and read" (2004: 4).
Throughout our upbringing, we are taught to ascribe meaning to things. Eating food from the ground is yakky, later on it's just not healthy. Rap has no musicality in it. Having a mom and a dad is the balanced way of growing up. Sex means a woman and a man. And so on.

We rarely spend time thinking about the morality of such explanations, or perspectives, as Skeggs calls them. The underlying system of values which makes us label something as good/ bad, attractive/ disgusting is not given or universal. It is a social process, closely related to power relations in that society.

She says: look for what hierarchy the value you ascribe implies; look for how that hierarchy is connected to your position and your interests; look for how this moral hierarchy sets borders and thus produces differences as bad. I think I like these hints for understanding difference.

(Photo: by fotologic).

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