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please respond to the following prompt. Your analytic memo will be due at 11:59pm on Saturday of this week, meaning on Sunday at midnight it is late, and late work will not be accepted without a valid excuse.
< < The parameters for your response are as follows: < < The response must be between 850-1150 words. Students that fall short of the required word count will receive a 10% deduction. < < You must cite a minimum of 3 scholarly sources– news media articles do not count as scholarly sources, only peer reviewed journals, books, etc. < < You must cite all sources clearly and consistently, regardless of the citation style you choose be sure to keep it consistent. < < You must include a works cited (not part of the word count) at the end. < < You response should include considerable reflection on the pertinent course terms and concepts, failing to reference these consistently throughout will result in a deduction. < < Week One Prompt < In the weekly theme, we explored an apparent contradiction; categories like race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and so on are at once socially constructed and yet every bit as real as a physical force like gravity. Citing scholarly works from your class readings or from outside of the course readings, discuss how these social constructs become real in how people relate to one another. Give clean and concrete examples. Remember, you can’t see gravity, but you can examine and point out its effects, and so it is with these crucial categories by which difference is defined. < < The Social Construction of Reality < To understand how categories of identity become so salient and exert < such control over our lives, we must first look to the process of < Socialization to examine how we know ourselves and our place in < society. Socialization is an ongoing process, which begins in the home < and continues as we come into contact with ‘Institutional < Subworlds.’ (Berger and Luckmann, 1966) Society predates us as < individuals, and we are born into an objective social structure, which < already contains an entire web of constructed meanings. We cannot < define ourselves independent of the social world. Indeed, categories such < as race, class, and gender are applied to each individual before she or he < is born, has language, or is capable of understanding what those < categories mean. < Berger and Luckmann suggest there are two forms of socialization: < Primary (in the home early life), and secondary (in Institutional < subworlds). < Primary socialization establishes some of the most fundamental < elements of belief about ourselves and the world around us. Secondary < gives us another layer through role-specific vocabularies, that further < refines our sense of self, and of morality. Berger and Luckmann claim < that although we are born into this objective social structure, we only < have a limited ability to subjectively appropriate it. This means we can < only make a constrained set of choices to interpret our world and act < differently. < The Social Construction of Difference < As social categories race and ethnicity are constructed in a way that the < individual typically has little room to choose not to identify with her or < his assigned racial category. Since they are associated with a specific set < of phenotypical features, one with those phenotypical features cannot < simply walk down the street and claim to belong to a different racial < group. Frantz Fanon’s instructive text Black Skin, White Masks (1952) < reflects on race as a social construct with great power over the < individual. In spite of his < outstanding intellectual achievements, Fanon notes that his black skin < always remained his single most defining feature in relation to whites he < encountered. He likened racism to antisemitism, stating the blackness < singularly defines the black individual in the eyes of whites, much like < being singularly Jewish defines the Jew in relation to the anti-semite. To < 1 < Fanon, these identities were totalizing, eclipsing other defining < characteristics regardless of whether an individual wants them to or not. < W.E.B. DuBois argues that because black Americans are part of an < oppressed group, they are forced to see themselves through the eyes of < whites, as well as having their own point of view–a phenomenon he < calls “Double Consciousness.” < Conversely, gender is constructed in a way that demands certain types of < behavior on the basis of the individual’s perceived biological sex. While < the individual may be able to choose to engage in behaviors outside of < the typically accepted range of gender norms, the repercussions for < doing so can be severe. Even at a young age, school children enforce < gender norms upon one another. Sociologist Barrie Thorn’s book Gender < Play (1993) presents findings of observations she did of children < interacting with each other on school playgrounds. She found that < gender socialization was an interactive, collective, peer-based process by < which gender identities were shaped. Students that did not conform to < the typical gender norms were reprimanded, and potentially ostracized. < Social class is a category of identity grounded in the practical, material < conditions in which an individual grows up. But those conditions create < and reinforce cultural difference on the basis of where one falls within < the class structure. Working class families typically struggle to impart in < their children the types of cultural norms that benefit one within the < framework of organizations and institutions. Organizational culture that < demands professionalism in the form of specific styles of dress, speech, < and so forth are often centering elite culture at the expense of working < class culture, making it more difficult for individuals who grew up < working class to join those organizations or fit in. < Complicating Things: Intersectionality as a Framework for < Understanding Identity and Difference < Though it might be tempting to make analysis of these categories easier < by analyzing each separately, Sociologists have come to the conclusion < that they are simply too intimately connected in crucial ways to do that. < The term ‘Intersectionality’—originally coined by Kimberly Crenshaw < and further elaborated upon by Patricia Hill Collins— to describe the < way in which these categories defined and reinforced one another in < different ways. Hill Collins starts by describing the way that members of < different social groups (race, class, gender) are often blind to oppression < faced by members of other groups, even as they acknowledge the < oppression faced by members of their own group. She thus says that for < Sociology to contribute to making life better for members of oppressed < populations a “new vision” of how oppression operates is needed. The < concept of intersectionality is her answer to that. According to Collins, < race, class, and gender are “distinctive yet interlocking structures of < oppression.” Each person’s position in one of these categories impact < their personal biography in a profound way, and according to Collins, < can create profound distances between people in terms of life < experience. < 2 < Collins claimed this new vision of identity and power tries to avoid < always thinking of identity as series of dichotomies, i.e. either black/ < white, male/female, etc. Rather than “either/or” thinking Collins says we < all have “both/and” identities across different categories of identity. < Collins adopts a theoretical framework proposed by her fellow Feminist < scholar Sandra Harding, who says gender oppression works along three < axes: Institutional, Symbolic, and Individual. Collins extends that < framework to include race and class-based oppression as well. Harding < and Collins point us to a larger theoretical paradigm deemed ‘Standpoint < Theory.’ Standpoint theory posits that in order to understand one’s < perspective of their place and role in society, we must examine the < intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and a host of < other categories of identity. < Collins points out that we have to look at something like the institution < of slavery, which is usually discussed as race-based oppression, as being < about both class and gender as < well. The only property owners of that time were after all wealthy, white < men. The wealth that slavery produced then only benefited a very < specific group, and thinking of slavery in terms of the black-white divide < ignores a more complex vision of how power operates to privilege or < oppress members of our society. < Symbolically speaking, according to Collins, our perceptions of gender < are race specific as well. When listing the stereotypical qualities of < masculinity or femininity, typically masculine traits such as aggression < and strength, are often interpreted as positive qualities for white men, < but something to be feared in men of color. < In the concept of intersectionality, Sociology has achieved a means of < thinking through the complexity of matters related to diversity, but also < illustrate how complicated potential solutions may be.

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