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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #31
activist--one who takes action on behalf of causes, or in support of /
opposition to positions on controversial issues, in an effort to bring
about change. Such action
can be as an individual or in conjunction with an organization.
affirmative action -- in decision making related to offering jobs or extending other opportunities to individual applicants, preferentially favoring members of some minority group to make up for this group’s past, unjust exclusion from the chance to have certain employment, educational or other opportunities.
over a century ago, this movement spurted during the 1960s / 70s,
slackened, then caught fire in the last two decades--driven by concerns
over globalization,. In his
2007 book, The Rise of the Anti-Corporate Movement, Evan Osborne
referred to it as "increasingly influential in politics in the
United States and Europe". Believing
that multi-national corporations aim to control the world and maximize
their profits in doing so, anti-corporate activists seek to rein in
corporate power--although they differ in their prescriptions for doing
this. Some defenders of these engines for economic growth, jobs,
technological innovations, etc. charge that some critics are naive and
caught up in anti-corporate conspiracism. Osborne
is troubled by how "activists ignore the idea that politics is a
messy compromise among all sides and slide into the belief in one
all-powerful faction pulling the strings." In critiquing such books
as the 2001 bestseller When Corporations Rule the World, by David
Korten, he disputes the notion that corporate power is "a coherent
sinister force. "
androcentrism--a male-centered, male-oriented viewpoint in which human history and culture are seen and interpreted from a masculine point of view. Ecofeminists have linked this to anthropocentrism.
apathy–characterized by a person’s lack of feeling, indifference, lack of interest, or general unresponsiveness to a situation where a much greater response would normally be expected.
arbitration--a manner of settling a conflict / dispute in which the matter is submitted to an independent third party whose judgment / decision may or may not be binding on the parties involved. It is an alternative to litigation / lawsuits.
biopiracy–ripping off natural resources or traditional knowledge from indigenous people.
blasphemy-- in general, irreverence toward something considered sacred; in particular using the name of God (or other scared deity) in an insulting, contemptuous, or defaming way.
disapproval by voluntarily participating in an organized, concerted
effort against a targeted product, business or organization and refusing
to do something (buying or using a product / service, etc.)
caste system--a system of social stratification prevalent in Asia (especially India) where one's status is dictated by religion / your parents' status, etc. UNICEF estimates that related discrimination affects 250 million people.
Christianity–a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. Christians believe Jesus, a Jew who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago, to be the son of God, sent to Earth to save mankind from sin. For Christians, the cross symbolizes the cross on which Jesus was nailed to and killed. They believe that three days later he rose from the dead, and some forty days after this resurrection ascended to Heaven. Christians believe that God is a Trinity: the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Christian Church authority was originally (by the 4th century) centered in the Roman Catholic Church, headed by the Pope. Two schisms have since undermined that authority: 1) by the 14th century the Eastern Orthodox Church had completed its breakaway from Rome, and 2) the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century saw Catholicism splinter into what became various Protestant denominations.
civil disobedience–refers to a citizen’s non-violent refusal to obey a law. Howard Zinn defined it as "the deliberate violation of a law in pursuit of some social goal." Thoreau, who in the summer of 1846 spent a night in jail for his refusal to pay taxes as a protest against the US war with Mexico, wrote a famous essay with this title.
civil liberties–are individual rights typically guaranteed by democratic and sometimes by other governments in constitutions or similar legally binding documents. Their existence can be traced to efforts to limit the potential for government abuse of power and interference in the lives of individuals. Examples of particular civil liberties are freedoms of assembly, speech, and religion, and the rights to a fair trial, privacy, and to bear arms
civil liberties—ACLU = American Civil Liberties Union—There are three things these people want you to know about them: “1) We protect American values. In many ways, the ACLU is the nation's most conservative organization. Our job is to conserve America's original civic values--the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--and defend the rights of every man, woman and child in this country; 2) We're not anti-anything. The only things we fight are attempts to take away or limit your civil liberties, like your right to practice any religion you want (or none at all); or to decide in private whether or not to have a child; or to speak out--for or against--anything at all; or to be treated with equality and fairness, no matter who you are; 3) We're there for you. Rich or poor, straight or gay, black or white or brown, urban or rural, pious or atheist, American-born or foreign-born, able-bodied or living with a disability. Every person in this country should have the same basic rights. And since our founding in 1920, we've been working hard to make sure no one takes them away.”
civil resistance—political action undertaken by an organized group involving nonviolent means to resist and challenge the authority and legitimacy of the power(s) deemed to be in the way of sought after goal(s). Examples include demonstrations, petition drives, teach-ins, strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, vigils, occupations, actions with symbolic not real world effect, etc.
civil rights--a term whose meaning is very similar to civil liberties, but with different connotations and focus on discrimination. In the United States, in the last 140 years, it has often referred to the rights granted African Americans (by the 13th and 14th Amendments) and somewhat negated by Jim Crow laws in the south. A highlight of the so-called civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Other minorities have faced similar battles with mixed results. Women (hardly a minority in numbers!) saw efforts to enact the Equal Rights Amendment fail, while activity on behalf of the handicapped bore fruit in 1990 with passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Efforts on behalf of gays and lesbians recognizing same sex marriages continue.
climate movement--There is widespread concern that current human actions (chiefly use of fossil fuel), unless changed, will lead to catastrophic climate change, While many see the resulting climate movement as a subset of the environmental movement, given its strength and focus many see it as a whole separate social movement.
community organizing, ten rules for–1.Nobody’s going to come to the meeting unless they’ve got a reason to come to the meeting 2. Nobody’s going to come to a meeting unless they know about it. 3. If an organization doesn’t grow, it will die 4. Anyone can be a leader. 5. The most important victory is the group itself. 6. Sometimes winning is losing. 7. Sometimes winning is winning. 8. If you're not fighting for what you want, you don't want enough 9. Celebrate! 10. Have fun! from Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots by Dave Beckwith, Cristina Lopez
community vs. society--the sociological distinction between two social groups, most notably made by Ferdinand Tönnies in his 1887 book Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. According to Tönnies, the former group is built around the personal, family, and neighborhood relationships and feelings of togetherness that one expects in a small place where people have direct, face to face contact. In contrast, the latter group is a loose association of self interest motivated individuals held together by formal regulation and legal framework. There relationships between people are largely impersonal: there is less cohesion and less dependence on each other. Tönnies saw the contrast embodied in his book's title when he looked first at traditional European peasant villages, then at large, modern, industrialized cities.
conflict resolution -- the act or process of settling or making an effort or attempt to settle a conflict, that is, a situation or disagreement characterized by tension, antagonism, and sides whose motives, purposes, and intentions seem totally at odds and perhaps irreconcilable. The process can involve informal discussion or a formal procedure with rules and mediator(s).
Confucianism -- an ethical system / agnostic practical philosophy based on the teachings of the 6th century BC Chinese sage, Confucius. Its key teachings include: 1) Ultimately the happiness of society rests on sincere investigation that produces relevant knowledge; 2) Happy societies are built on a foundation of disciplined individuals in disciplined families; 3) Respect for and fidelity to natural obligations, most notably to parents and family, is essential. 4) The right relationship between individuals is important, one based on sympathetic “fellow feeling”, treating those subordinate to you as you would like to be treated if you were the subordinate -- ideas which provide the basis for a Confucian Golden Rule; 5) Avoiding extremes and embracing moderation --finding a Golden Mean -- is important.
conservatism -- believing that social and political traditions should be valued and maintained, and continuing to think as you were brought up to think.
consumer protection movement--involves consumers demanding certain rights and legal protection as they consume goods and services. Beginning in the mid-1950s in the United States, by 1962 President Kennedy identified certain rights (such as the rights to safe products, and to file complaints, etc) that latter, when expanded, came to be known as The Consumer Bill of Rights. Parts of it have since become law. By 1985 the United Nations embraced consumer rights and identified eight basic rights. A USA government milestone came in 2011 with the establishment of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
cousin marriage--a way to build the internal cohesiveness and loyalty of a clan. By marrying a blood relative such as a cousin, a man's bond with his wife does not threaten his allegiance to his clan or the social fabric, rather it instead strengthens it. This practice occurs at high rates throughout the Middle East and wherever traditional societies have yet to be replaced by modern, individualistic societies.
cultural imperialism--the rapid spread of one culture to the detriment of another. Often a politically / economically dominant culture is imposed by newcomers--weakening or destroying the existing culture.
cultural literacy--the ability to converse fluently in an appropriate cultural context, that is with allusions to common core knowledge, using idioms, slang and communicating informally in a way that generally connects with the dominant culture where one lives
culture war—a cultural battle for dominance between social groups with highly divergent worldviews: different beliefs, values, practices, sources of information, etc. The term was first used in the USA in the early 1990s to describe the cultural divide / widespread societal disagreement between traditional conservative and progressive liberal camps with hot button issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, separation of church and state, gun laws, immigration, multiculturalism, etc. Increasingly the battle lines are between those who cynically don't believe the mainstream media, buy into charges of "fake news" and "a rigged system," embrace certain (mostly fictional) conspiracy theories to some extent, resent experts and the elite, etc. pitted against those (many with more idealistic, less cynical outlooks) who are comfortable with a society based on facts, science, professionalism, competence, meritocracy, etc where people compete on a playing field based on these things.
customs--the whole body of long-established usages, practices, traditions, rituals, and ways of behaving that have been passed on from one generation to the next. As unwritten laws they can regulate social life. Sometimes they are turned into laws.
development -- the process of improving the quality of human life, especially in poor countries. Besides targeting raising people’s standard of living, increasing their freedom (in terms of choices available to them) and creating conditions allowing for the growth of their self esteem are major development goals.
disability rights movement–seeks to improve the quality of life for disabled people. It seeks to secure equal opportunities for them and works to insure that they have the same access to participating in society that other people have. From its beginnings on the UC Berkeley campus in the early 1960s, the movement's hard work culminated in passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990. The independent living movement–based on the belief that even the most severely disabled people should be able to live in the community, rather than an institution, if they so choose–operates within the broader movement.
dispassionate–lacking in passion
dividing people, tactics used to do this -- those who fear the collective strength of people who have organized and united to form a group, often seek to exploit differences within the group and destroy its populist mission. Differences exploited often include race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class -- but fracturing can occur along many potential fault lines if outsiders are working to encourage it. After the fracturing, people who previously fully embraced populism may have moved away from it (to some extent) and toward individualism, and blame, dissension, finger-pointing, lack of trust, etc. may exist where previously they didn’t.
dowry--transfer of money / gifts from the wife's family to the husband at the time of marriage.
egoism–the belief that individual self interest is the basis for all human behavior and that this is how it ought to be.
Environmental / Green Movement--a movement that blossomed in the 1960s-1970s with growing concerns about environmental pollution and manmade destruction of natural beauty. This was greatly aided by passage of numerous environmental laws--such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Clean Air and Clean Water Acts in the USA. By the start of the 21st century it developed a political dimension with the formation of green parties in many countries, notably in Western Europe.. The chief goal of this movement is the development and maintenance of a sustainable society. It hopes to bring this about democratically by applying ecological wisdom and economic thinking that no longer ignores, but rather heavily factors in the environment. Minimizing pollution, promoting efficient use of natural resources, recycling, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, protecting biodiversity, and helping affluent western societies transition from wasteful, destructive multinational profit-minded corporate driven consumerism / globalization to more environmentally sound, ethical, socially just, sustainable economies are important goals of this movement.
equal opportunity—in a narrow sense it refers to “leveling the playing field” so that all applicants for a particular job are treated similarly without prejudice or barriers that have nothing to do with ability to perform the job. In a bigger sense it can refer to all members of a society having an opportunity to prosper based solely on their ability, motivation, hard work, etc without prejudice or insurmountable hurdles put there by entrenched “powers that be”.
ethnic group–its members share beliefs, values, traditions, customs, habits, behavioral norms, and common language, religion, homeland, history, heritage and/or race.
feminism -- associated with believing in the equal treatment of men and women, and supporting activities conducted to further the cause of women’s rights. Beginning with (successful) efforts to win women the right to vote (suffrage) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, decades later a second wave of feminism linked long perceived political inequalities with cultural inequalities. A big part of this was the women's liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s--which encouraged women to see how aspects of the male dominated societal power structure played out in their personal lives. Feminists critique gender roles in sociocultural fashion (see that term.)
feudal society--the dominant social order of the Middle Ages in Europe (and perhaps elsewhere) in which power was decentralized: resting in an aristocratic land-owning elite who provided peasants with protection and land to till in exchange for labor and part of what the land produced. The Catholic Church was heavily invested in this system: its moral authority counterbalancing the civil / military authority and associated injustice.
filial piety -- the devotion and natural obligation that exists between parents and their sons and daughters. In Chinese tradition (either Confucian or Buddhist) this refers to one’s responsibility to take care of one's parents, to honor, respect, love, and if needed support them -- not ignore, dishonor or be rebellious towards them.
folklore -- the body of customs, stories, sayings, jokes, games, legends, oral history, myths, superstitions, etc that relate to the life and spirit of a particular population or group and make up the oral tradition of that culture.
fundamentalism, the poor and social justice-- the failure of the government to do much for improving the plight of the poor has resulted in those people in many parts of the world turning instead to religious fundamentalist groups--particularly Islamic-- for help. As William Dalrymple describes it, "...much of the Islamists' success in Pakistan and elsewhere comes from their ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting Westernized elites."
gender roles-- behaviors and characteristics that are the norm for each gender in a particular society. Those prone to conformity can fall into certain stereotypical roles by societal expectations. This sociocultural view, bolstered by recent research, claims this is damaging to both men and women. The opposing biological determinism position says that these gender roles are products of evolution, and links them with differences in physical abilities, brain lateralization, and hormones.
giraffe—a term that first came into widespread use in the 1980s to refer to heroic individuals who “stick their necks out” in working for the common good and meaningful change.
goal oriented behavior—refers to the clear envisioning of some outcome, objective, or purpose, and then diligently working toward making this a reality. Debate centers on whether certain individuals make such repeated use / are so preoccupied with this behavior that it constitutes a character trait, or whether people occasionally go through states where they have an extreme focus on just one particular goal but are otherwise not so inclined.
gun control--proponents advocate bans on certain weapons (including military style semi-automatic rifles, handguns), restrictions on gun purchases, and registration of all guns. While typically not contesting legitimate gun use for hunting, they cite studies that connect firearm availability with increased domestic violence and homicides.
human rights struggles--what a particular minority or group discriminated against has to go through to finally win rights or be granted concessions / accommodations by the majority. In this regard in American history we can note struggles for 1) an end to slavery, 2) native American tribal survival, 3) immigrants' rights, 4) women's rights, 5) worker's rights, 6) child labor laws, 7) rights for the mentally ill, 8) an end to segregation, 9) civil rights, 10) affirmative action, 11) farm worker rights, 12) rights for handicapped people, 13) gay and lesbian rights, etc.
hunter-gatherer society--one in which people derive their sustenance from wild plants and animals, and often (seasonally or otherwise) move if necessary. Before the domestication of these resources, beginning over 10,000 years ago, all humans lived in such societies.
incest taboo--the nearly universal cultural prohibition of close relatives mating or marrying.
indigenous people--in 2004 the United Nations provided the following definition: "Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system." ." By 2020, the World Bank estimated there were 476 million indigenous people worldwide in over 90 countries.
indigenous people rights, from UN Declaration—these two articles were adopted on 9/13/2007: article #11: “. Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies, and visual and performing arts and literature.” And article #12 “. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains”
individualism -- a social philosophy and belief system that places individual interests and rights above those of society , and individual freedom and independence above any social contract obligations
intractable conflicts -- conflicts that are particularly difficult to resolve because they involve complex issues, communication difficulties, and deep-seated, often unacknowledged differences in worldviews.The people on opposing sides often feel threatened by the other side -- indeed they may feel that their sense of identity, cherished beliefs or way of life is being attacked. Besides involving conflicting worldviews, typically such conflicts also involve material goods, resources, or involve some concrete real or potential impacts on people and their environment -- impacts that are threatening.
jihad–an Islamic term, linked to religious duty, which seemingly has two meanings: 1) spiritual (greater) jihad: refers to striving in the way of Allah, promoting Islam, fighting injustice, and nonviolent religious struggle; 2) (lesser) jihad of the sword: holy war against the enemies of Islam aimed at defending and expanding the Islamic state.
justice -- implementing what is just, defined in various ways as being reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc. For some, justice is intimately connected with fairness, a connection with three dimensions: equal treatment, the degree to which exercising freedom and liberty is to be allowed, and reward for contributing to the common good .
justice, scales of–a metaphorical scale—imagine a rod with two pans attached at each end hanging down perpendicular to the rod, with the midpoint of rod sitting on a pivot point—that can be used to weigh the strength of arguments for or against some appeal to the rule of law. They are linked to the Roman goddess Justitia--often depicted holding them in one hand, and a sword—representing the power of reason and justice—in the other.
labor union–an organization of workers whose purpose is to promote and advance its members’ interests with respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions. The power of organized labor in America peaked in the mid 1950s when 31% of the work force belonged to either a craft or industrial labor union. By 2019 it had declined in America such that only 10.3 % belonged to unions, although in Canada (30%) and some Western European countries it was relatively stronger
law: civil vs. criminal--the former refers to the means by which individual rights are protected, the latter with offenses that harm (or potentially could harm) the entire community. In civil cases the responsibility for demonstrating harm and seeking remedy lies with the individual affected; in criminal cases the state must pursue violators and seek remedy--which may be imprisonment.
law: private vs. public--the former involves relationships between individuals (including corporations), the latter with issues involving the state and welfare of society (including penal law, and regulatory statutes, etc.)
law, rule of–
lawsuit--a comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual or legal entity seeks a legal remedy. Such legal action is initiated by the plaintiff who complains (petitions) that he / she / it has been harmed / suffered a loss by failure of the defendant to act in accordance with the law.
leadership--the capacity to lead, influence, and affect the behavior of others. Charismatic leaders motivate and inspire others to accomplish (sometimes extraordinary) things that they otherwise wouldn't do. Such leaders communicate their vision and attract followers by infusing them with energy and eagerness for undertaking a particular mission.
leveling mechanisms--customs and social policies that serve to reduce differences in wealth between members of a society.
liberalism–a rational, tolerant, generous, hopeful orientation that emphasizes individual freedom from restraint. Liberalism is often associated with progressive social change. A July 2020 oped in The Economist summarized it as follows: “Liberalism thrives on a marketplace of ideas, so diversity has a vital role. Liberalism does not fight power with power, which risks replacing one abusive regime with another. Instead it uses facts and evidence, tested in debate, to help the weak take on the strong. Liberalism is all about progress, including putting right its mistakes—and there have been many, especially over race , including finding reasons to accommodate imperialism and slavery. That is one reason why, in the 250 years in which it has been influential, humanity has seen unprecedented material, scientific, and political gains, as well as extension of social and political rights.”
liturgies--customary rites used in public worship by religious groups, or sequences of words / actions that are part of political events, ceremonies, rituals.
lobbyist--a person paid to act on behalf of a particular corporation, union, organization, etc. in aggressively promoting their agenda to elected representatives or those in positions of power in governments. In some democracies, (like the United States), lobbyists help funnel campaign contributions to politicians--which often subvert the will of the people critics charge.
meme--a theoretical unit of cultural information such as an idea, particular behavior, story, etc. that propagate from mind to mind guiding human cultural evolution, in analogy with genes carrying genetic information, propagating from organism to organism and guiding biological evolution. Whereas genes are transmitted in reproduction, memes are most fundamentally transmitted through imitation.
misogyny -- hatred of women.
moral obligation -- the feeling of being bound to act or behave in a certain way given one’s acceptance of some moral code or set of rules.
multiculturalism--an orientation in which blending of cultures / cultural diversity is seen as beneficial to the larger society / nation since it creates societal cohesion.
myths--stories about divine beings, heroic human figures, animals, and nature that can hold an important place in the worldview of a particular people by providing explanations for certain beliefs, practices, natural phenomena, etc. Myths are part of all sacred traditions. Creation myths, which attempt to explain how the world began, are especially popular.
nativism -- refers to a policy or belief system in which native inhabitants or some traditional culture is favored over immigrants or mixing of cultures.
non-violence–both a moral philosophy and practical political strategy which rejects the use of violence to bring about social or political change. It provides an alternative to both passivity and violent action, advocating instead other means of popular struggle such as civil disobedience, boycotts, consciousness raising, etc. Power, according to non-violence theory, depends largely on the cooperation of others. Non-violence recognizes that, ultimately, the power of those in positions of authority depends on the consent and cooperation of those they wield power over. Thus, one strategy employed by non-violent protestors is the deliberate withdrawal of this consent in an effort to invalidate the authority they find oppressive. Great proponents of non-violence include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.
non-violence and passive resistance—non-violent resistance fundamentally is harmless to people or property but it can involve vigorous action; passive resistance refers to doing nothing.
oral tradition-- a way of transmitting history, customs, laws, etc from one generation to the next without writing down anything. This is done through stories, songs, poems--that is using spoken words. As time passes--and generations of story tellers put their own stamp on an ancient story-- what is passed on can slowly change. In his book, The Day Before America, author William MacLeish, notes, "...The oral way can be far more flexible than the written...Literates, it seems, must break with their past to change their worldview. Mnemonists simply bend it."
paternalism-- a system in which adults are treated in a fatherly way like children, with their conduct regulated and their needs met. Typically in exchange for this care, the authority expects loyalty and that those receiving the care will accept their relinquishing of personal control.
patriarchy / patriarchal society—social system dominated by men in positions of power, decision-making, leadership and moral authority. In some cases it can extend to include the domination, exploitation and oppression of women. Some use traditional male / female attributes to include environmental destruction as part of a negative critique of a patriarchal society; some lament male domination of human society has led to “the rape of the Earth. ”
personal responsibility, accepting -- Before an individual can overcome some personal difficulty or solve a personal problem, he or she needs to acknowledge that the difficulty or problem exists, by saying something like, “This problem is mine and I must solve it”. In this context, taking personal responsibility means that you don’t ignore difficulties or problems, expect others to solve them for you, or shift the blame to others. In a family or social context, taking personal responsibility can mean voluntarily limiting your choices or restraining yourself for the good of the family, tribe, village, community or whatever. Richard Critchfield refers to this as “the freedom to choose self responsibility”.
communication techniques--with respect to the nature of what is communicated, a Yale University
research study found that 1) messages should not appear to be designed
to persuade; 2) both sides of arguments should be presented, with the
"wrong" argument being refuted; 3) if two people are to speak,
one immediately following the other, going first is preferred (based on
the primacy effect from psychology);
4) if two people are to speak, with a time delay in between,
going last is preferred (based on the recency effect from psychology).
pluralism--a societal state in which people of diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds all live together, both preserving aspects of their heritage and traditions and living together under the same national government.
police—a government department established to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime. The image of USA police department work and those doing it ranges the whole gamut, from smiling easy-going male and female, racially diverse shirt-sleeved and shorts dressed cops on bicycles joking peacefully with relaxed members of the community, to military style operations (some even are equipped with tanks) and SWAT teams lead by older males in riot gear confronting suspected criminals in tense, often violent situations. Opinions of cops held by those in the communities they operate in span the whole range from mostly good, honest guys, even unselfish public servants, doing what can be a difficult job, to corrupt, inherently violent, trigger happy, bigoted people—many of whom might otherwise have found themselves on the wrong side of the law but, wanting a sense of power over others, they decided to become cops. Hopeful—perhaps wishful thinking oriented—people lacking in cynicism felt most cops fit into the first category with only a very few “bad apples”; cynics feared more cops belonged in the second category than the first. By mid 2020, after a series of highly publicized police operations unfairly and tragically targeted African Americans, USA calls for police reform had never been louder.
populism–Idealistically is related to appreciation of "the people," their heroic struggle, and their potential to unite and claim the political power that their numbers suggest they have to oust the self-serving elite who rule. The preceding can connect with either the first or both of the following and give the term two different meanings: 1) use of appropriate, persuasive language in political appeals to com-mon people; 2) a social and political movement in which diverse groups bridge their differences and come together to work for meaningful change. Practically speaking many so-called populist politicians are actually demagogues!
pro-choice vs. pro-life —names of the opposing movements in the battle over a woman’s right to an abortion vs. anti-abortion forces. Partly due to pollsters wanting to minimize use of emotionally-charged language and overcome difficulties in writing questions to gauge public sentiment, some feel the two opposing sides should be referred to as “abortion rights” and “anti-abortion.”
propaganda -- broadly speaking, information that is designed and disseminated as part of a concerted effort to influence what individuals believe or want, and manipulate public opinion and desires.
protest—a public demonstration aimed at showing disapproval for some idea, action, law, etc. As such it functions to provide feedback to “powers that be” that something isn’t right and change is needed.
primogeniture--refers to one being the firstborn child, or a system in which that child--or the eldest son--exclusively inherits family property and wealth.
Protestant work ethic -- an ethic based on self reliance, hard work and frugality being the path to salvation that has been important in shaping post Reformation western (especially American) society of the last five hundred years. Thus, ingrained in my people’s heads, since their earliest childhood, were sayings like “God helps those who help themselves”, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”, “A penny saved is a penny earned”, etc. Only recently has a consumption ethic begun to seriously compete with, some would say replace, this work ethic.
rebel -- According to Albert Camus, a rebel is someone who says no and yes simultaneously. He says “No, I’m not going to take it anymore -- this has gone on long enough!”. But in doing that, he says yes to working in solidarity with others to rectify whatever situation he finds intolerable. And, as Camus, puts it, “Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that, somehow and someway, one is right.”
religion, definitions of--one of those difficult to define terms. In his classic, The World's Religions, Huston Smith defines it broadly as "a way of life woven around people's ultimate concerns" or more narrowly as "a concern to align humanity with the transcendental ground of its existence." Synthesizing, and building on these, religion can be defined as involving beliefs, behaviors, feelings and devotion or obligation to faith in the divine or what is held to be of ultimate importance. Two narrower definitions are: 1) the worship of, and service to, God or the supernatural, and 2) a belief system associated with traditionally defined or formally institutionalized ceremonies or rituals.
rites of passage--culturally defined activities that celebrate transition between life stages--many mark a change in social or sexual status. Examples: ceremonies connected with childbirth, baptism, puberty, marriage, death, etc.
ritualism vs. legalism--the contrast between these two orientations is highlighted by two societies: one in which people are excessively devoted to ritual versus another in which people are excessively devoted to conforming strictly to the law. The contrast was of interest to Confucius in ancient China. Of people in the former type of society, he wrote, "Lead [them] with excellence...put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously. In the latter type of society, he complained, "External authorities administer punishments after illegal actions--so people generally behave well without understanding why they should."
sacred Christian tradition--Catholic ---according to the second Vatican Council, 1962-65 it can be summarized by follows: " Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2: 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort."
separatism--the belief in (or associated movement) the idea that a particular group (defined politically, ethnically, religiously, socially, etc.) should separate or isolate itself from a dominant group they have coexisted with. Desire for independence and autonomy is typically the motivation for seeking this change. Examples include black separatism in the USA, Quebec separatists in Canada, Basque separatists in Europe, the 17th century Pilgrims, lesbian separatism, etc.
sexism--when one needlessly differentiates, discriminates, or even hates based on a person's sex.
integrating vs. reducing–in studying organized wholes where a hierarchical multi-level structure exists, consider two contrasting strategies: integrating or synthesizing and moving from lower level to higher level vs. reducing as part of an analysis and moving from higher level to lower level. The first of these approaches takes a more "wholistic" view, the second a more "reductionistic" one
social justice—refers to 1) a relationship between individuals and society in which people have what is just, defined in various ways as being reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc; 2) if the condition described above does not exist, then taking steps to make it so. In practice, in affluent Western societies, seeking social justice is concerned with seeking a fairer distribution of wealth and privilege, equal opportunity for all, ending unfair discrimination or exclusion, and providing a safety net for the especially vulnerable. It can also involve recognizing / rewarding those who contribute to the common good more than those who behave in more self-serving fashion.
social movement, eight stages of a successful one—the following rendering of this comes from Bill Moyer: 1) a critical social problem exists, but despite this recognition a steady state / business as usual environment prevails; 2) the failure of official institutions to deal with the problem is established (working for change through normal channels fails); 3) ripening conditions for change as stress continues to build in the system; 4) take off: helped by some triggering event, public awareness of the problem grows dramatically; 5) activists perceive failure—after high hope there is an identity crisis of powerlessness as movement goals are still unmet; 6) majority of public opinion is with the need for change, as is public opposition to the power holders' policies; 7) success: the problem is resolved as prescribed by the movement or in a way satisfactory to movement ; 8) continuation / moving on
social norm -- behavior patterns seen so often that they are eventually recognized as pretty typical and are used to characterize the society as a whole and become the standard to which to compare other behavior.
solidarity—with respect to people involved in fighting the “powers that be” in what they see as a just cause, a solid commitment to both the cause and each other
strike--may refer to 1) a work stoppage at an industrial plant, company,
performing organization, or public institution organized by a labor
group in an effort to win concessions from management for workers.
Often, instead of working, strikers will set up a picket line to
call attention to their protest and cause further disruption--which
those supporting or sympathetic to the strike may refuse to cross, or 2)
a refusal to perform or do something as a means of protest. In
this category are prison strikes, student strikes, hunger strikes, etc.
superstition -- a position or belief, often with roots in cultural or religious tradition, held despite what could be characterized (by someone not holding the belief) as lack of supporting justification or evidence
terrorist--one who engages in terrorism, another one of those difficult to define terms since "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Most definitions of terrorism include 1) use of force / violence, 2) such acts are designed to instill fear / terror, and 3) political / ideological goals are behind these acts. Some definitions also stress that the acts are unlawful and that innocent civilians are indiscriminately targeted.
terrorist or freedom fighter?—often, how you view a person working for change and what you call him depends entirely on your political views. In this regard consider the case of Farouk Abdel-Muhti (1947-2004) in New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack. Born in 1947 in Ramallah, in what was then Palestine, Farouk was one of millions uprooted by the war accompanying the founding of Israel in 1948. Growing up a stateless refugee, traveling from one country to another, he finally settled in New York City in the 1970s. After many years working as a political activist on behalf of Palestinian rights, in April 2002 he began hosting a radio program featuring interviews with Palestinians living in Israeli occupied areas. While doing that, NYC police and INS officers raided his apartment, entering without a warrant looking for weapons and explosives. Detained in late April 2002, subjected to extensive interrogation and often denied food, Farouk spent two years in various jails, his health deteriorating. Even while being taken to health clinics he was kept handcuffed and shackled. Finally released in April 2004, Farouk died three months later. He was never charged with a crime. (adapted from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! program of July 22, 2004)
top down vs. bottom up–contrasting approaches to bringing change, solving problems, structuring interaction (compare centrally planned economies, market based ones), etc. The former typically involves a very small number of people (sometimes even just one person) at the top setting policy that works its way down through various levels of organization to ordinary people at the bottom. The latter approach typically involves ordinary people at the bottom finding that something works, a groundswell of enthusiasm develops--or in a more modern context something goes viral on the internet--and eventually word of this development reaches all the way to the top. Here is another summary: top down: within a government or organizational power structure...assemble the experts and smartest people to understand a particular problem have them study the situation, produce a report, and legislate or implement it! bottom up: within a community of dissatisfied individuals...identify each other, share visions, organize, set goals, have meetings make this grassroots people power work to bring change at state, national level
traditionalist -- adheres to the religious traditions of the Catholic church, probably the oldest continuously functioning organization that maintains traditions (see sacred Christian tradition--Catholic)
trickster, the--from the folklore and mythology of various diverse cultural traditions, the trickster is a spirit or figure who is typically linked with disorder, mischief, and chaos. Ancient Europeans have linked the trickster with gods like Prometheus, Hermes, and Dionysus, while Native Americans have connected him with foxes, ravens, coyotes, etc. For this latter group tricksters were often clowns who made them laugh--something they deemed a prerequisite before they could properly commune with what they considered sacred. In general, tricksters have been associated with bringing change--sometimes initially disruptive, painful and unwanted, but ultimately a positive cultural development. Modern analysts of the civil rights movement in 20th century America have interpreted Rosa Parks' 1955 refusal to give up her seat at the front of the Montgomery bus as a trickster tale.
tribe--a social group whose members are linked by family ties or common ancestors. Often tribes consist of many smaller clans. Before the founding of nation states, human social structure was predominantly tribal. Today some use the term to refer to any indigenous society.
union busting--aggressive, sometimes brutal, practices employed by management to prevent employees from joining labor unions, or to break strikes / destroy the power of unions which get in their way.
value judgment-- comparing either something concrete (person, object, etc) or something abstract (quality, principle, etc) to some idealized standard. A value judgment is what bridges the gap between “what is” and “what ought to be”. Closely related is the act of valuing, which can be thought of as choosing (from alternatives) and taking appropriate action to acquire something (concrete or abstract) or hold onto it.
values -- abstract qualities, principles, beliefs, or aspects of behavior that a person or a whole society holds in high regard after making value judgments.
wage and wealth inequality --a gap in pay between the sexes or those of different ethnic groups exists in many parts of the world For example, in the U.S., despite passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, which makes it illegal for employers to pay men more than women doing the same work, by the start of the 21st century, women made only 76% as much money as men. The inequality is even worse when white and black income and wealth are considered. In 2020, USA black males on average earned only 51% of what white males were paid for the same work. And USA white family net wealth exceed that of black families by 41 times!
whistle blower—a worker, former worker, or other member of a corporation or organization who reports misconduct to the management or others in a position within the organization to rectify the situation. Typically the misconduct involves breaking the law and threatens the public interest or environment. In some countries, laws prevent corporations or government agencies from firing individuals for their whistle blowing.
wise use movement -- a movement led by people who feel that the government has no right dictating what private landowners can and can not do with their land. The movement, linked to the “Sagebrush Rebellion” in the western U.S. -- which also involves public land management concerns, grew out of increasing frustration with laws containing environmental restrictions, protecting endangered species, limiting development, etc. “Wise use” refers to a philosophy about how land should be developed, a philosophy supposedly based on common sense.
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