Social location: what people mean

Social location: what people mean

I know too many people who keep quiet about politics and social justice because they?re afraid they?ll say the wrong thing and offend somebody. I bet you know people like that too.

And I?m not an expert on this stuff. I don?t always have the right language to dive into the tough topics that dominate my news feed. But I do have Google, and the determination to find people with reliable and diverse voices who are already writing about issues that the rest of us need to understand so badly.

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When discussions of privilege or discrimination come up, it is only a matter of time until someone of privilege says, ?you?re seeing things that aren?t there.? First, we have a name for that; it?s called being delusional. Second, it?s unlikely that people of color, women, gender-sexual minorities, etc. are all suffering from the same collective delusion. So if it?s not a mass collective delusion, then how can two people see things so differently?

The answer lies in how our social location (i.e. our gender, race, class, sexuality, etc. and how it relates to everyone else?s statuses in our community) affects our experiences. As a heterosexual man, I am likely unaware of the harassment or discrimination women and the LGBTQ community face. Unless I see it happen right in front of me or hear about it happening, then I will likely be totally unaware it?s happening at all. The point is, if someone tells you that they have had experiences that are totally different from your own, that doesn?t mean they are false.

Go read it all: So, You?ve Been Told You Need to ?Check Your Privilege.? Now what? by Nathan Palmer

As an academic from a working-class background, I often struggle with the wall which is cut to the form of middle-class norms of communication, language, dress-code, and individualism. With a large percentage of my students being first-generation and/or working-class, this helps me understand many of their obstacles entering the academy and figuring out the landscape and where the landmines are located. Of course, being a woman at the front of the classroom also affects not only my approach, but how students view me and frame my presence.

At the same time, my whiteness, able-bodied status, and U.S. citizenship can often prevent me from recognizing the daily microaggressions that students of color, students with disabilities, or immigrant students face. My full mix of privileges and marginalized identities undoubtedly impact not only my pedagogical choices, but also how students experience me.

Go read it all: Educators are People, Too: Reflecting on Social Location in the Classroom by Kim Case

Social location is a concept that is often introduced at the beginning of introductory courses in sociology. It helps students who are new to the field of sociology begin to understand the relationship between the course content and their own lives and social experiences. Social location is defined as the social position an individual holds within their society and is based upon social characteristics deemed to be important by any given society. Some of the social characteristics deemed to be important by U.S. society include social class position, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion and so on. Sociologists argue that the social location of an individual profoundly influences who they are and who they become, interactions with others, self-perception, opportunities and outcomes.

Go read it all: Social Location from socl120

Create a map of your own social location to share with students. To do this, consider all the aspects that inform who you are ? race, family, gender, religion, ethnicity, education, social class, attitudes, interests, passions, responsibilities, beliefs, concerns and so on. Focus on the present, not the past or the future.

Go read it all: Express Yourself: Crafting Social Location Maps and Identity Monologues by Amanda Christy Brown & Holly Epstein Ojalvo

The groups people belong to because of their place or position in history and society. All people have a social location that is defined by their gender, race, social class, age, ability, religion, sexual orientation, and geographic location. Each group membership confers a certain set of social roles and rules, power, and privilege (or lack of), which heavily influence our identity and how we see the world.

Go read it all: Glossary from Cultural Safety: Peoples? Experiences of Oppression

So go read all of these! And let me know what has helped you understand social location (links and powerful quotes also appreciated).

For more roundups, check out my main list of stories. And if you found this helpful, I?d appreciate a clap!


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