Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I ALMOST Feel Obliged to Post Something . . .

As here it is. Four days into the new year of 2006.

I wish I had something interesting to say that was at least semi-original. It being the case that I have nothing very fresh and new in my head, yet, I guess I can pimp someone else's work (always giving credit where due and owing.)

Or, I can revist some aspect of my on-going, never-ending inquiries into the realms of sociology and/or social psychology.

That might work for today.

And if you have been following my progress (using the term academically) here, you might just guess that I, the anti-social (amateur) sociologist might take another whack at an aspect of group behaviour.

You might be right, if you guessed that! But I will borrow a wee bit from some academics:

When Am I My Group? Self-Enhancement Versus Self-Justification
Accounts of Perceived Prototypicality

Melissa Burkley and Hart Blanton

* * * * * *

(from the sub-part titled: Self-Justification.)

Consider people who freely and knowingly choose membership in groups that later reveal themselves to be low-status. Because in-group status can influence personal status, people may feel a need to justify their membership in such groups, possibly by embracing the group identity. Evidence of a self-justification motive can be found in research showing that lowered in-group status leads to increased in-group cohesiveness (Thibaut, 1950), attraction (Turner et al., 1984) and liking (Aronson and Mills, 1959).

Another way of justifying membership in devalued in-groups may be to bring the group closer to the self by defining one’s self as a prototypic in-group member. A number of theories pertaining to in-group identification suggest this might occur. The strongest indications can be found in Turner’s extension of social identity theory, self-categorization theory (Turner et al., 1987). He used the term "depersonalization" to refer to the process whereby people perceive themselves as interchangeable exemplars of their social groups. More recently, this phenomenon has been referred to as "self-stereotyping" (e.g., Biernat et al., 1996; Simon and Hamilton, 1994; Spears et al., 1997).

Admittedly, I am using this chunk of the article as a point of depature. Furthermore, the article is not only concerned with low-status groups, but also explores the idea that people associate with and indentify with groups to in some way enhance how they feel about themselves, by considering their group as good, and by extension, themselves as good (and all that hogwash!)

Then why am I jacking the text?

That idea of "depersonalization." YECCH!

(How is that for an academic term?)

Honestly, I have (for the greater most part of my life) a native, if not at the genetic level, abhorrence for that feeling . . . no matter what word is used for the feeling of becoming less of an individual (save my place in the pecking order of my own biological family.) It is one of those things that I just do not get, on the personal, gut level (despite being able to understand at the intellectual level.)

Food for thought, I guess. I am just a one-on-one kinda guy. I might not be a happy man, but I am happy with that part of my personality, at the least!

Now if I were to write a paper or book on group behaviour it would likely be on the aspect of group behaviour I find to be most interesting (and weird):

Why doesn't the process of depersonalization always trigger defensive countermeasures, as a means of self-protection of the individuality of the self?

Maybe in the ancient past when our ancestors were barely human, the need to sublimate the sense of self and just roll along with the group was more necessary for survival? Is this some residual lizard-brain thing? Or maybe it far older than that; some residual bacterial colony thing?

Hmmm. Maybe I ought to look into applying for a grant?


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