Thursday, April 12 2007

Categories, Classes and Groups

Well, in my first post I promised that I'd tie everything together into one big picture.  I must then start tying things together with the post where I promised I'd tie everything together.  Damn those meta-narratives. 

One thing that always struck me when reading blogs is how often I would come across a blog that frequently covered two or more seemingly unrelated topics that were both interests of mine.  Stephen den Beste and's own Pixy Misa were both bloggers I started reading because of an interest in politics.  I was pleasantly surprised to find both had interests in anime.  I don't see a particular direct correlation between political interest and anime, and most of the indirect correlations (age, education, etc.) would lead me to believe that most Western otaku would have a different set of political leanings (something that tends to bear out on other rare occasions when politics and anime combine).

It became interesting, then, to try to look for similar small-scale correlations outside politics and to speculate on what could cause such correlations.  Its kind of a group version of Seven Degrees of Megumi Hayashibara (or Kevin Bacon, if you prefer.)  For example, politically one might guess that Heinlein fans might tend to be more Jeffersonian in foreign policy outlook, based on the combination of respect for the military and small-l libertarianism in his works.   Can we connect then Heinlein fans to anime?  Heinlein had a healthy respect for technology and progress, so Heinlein fans are likely to be technophiles.  Perhaps that's the next link in the chain.  Heinlein also had, shall we say, differing social mores.  Anyone who has watched anime can say the same applies to Japanese culture.  Perhaps that's the next link.  It's not that the links are deterministic.  One could easily take the overly wrought environmentalism of some recent anime and guess that anime fans would be progressive.  And we still haven't looked into whether den Beste or Pixy Misa are Heinlein fans.

How does all this tie into the big picture of human society as a whole?  Considering the big picture is a snapshot of little pictures over time, we can examine the big picture by looking at trends in group dynamics, and we can examine particular facets of the big picture by choosing a subset of groups to examine.  If we choose to examine society as a whole through the lens of  racial, ethnic or religious groups we may miss trends that show up in  the group dynamics of other types of groups.  Also note that so far I haven't described myself as a member of a racial, ethnic or religious group.  Individual identification is no longer as tied up in those types of groups as it once was.  We will eventually then have to look at how technology and culture have changed group dynamics.

For the record, I'm ethnically American, with ancestors of primarily mixed German, Irish and English descent, and I'm Roman Catholic.

Posted by: Civilis at 07: 26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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