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Geographies Of Inclusion And Exclusion Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1792 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Drawing on either the race or gender literature, explore how the social construction of self and other might impact on geographies of inclusion and exclusion? The social construction of ‘the self’ is an important aspect in how we interact with people and places, the key concept of the ‘self’ facilitate with the identity of the self and other. The self is a key concept in cognitive representation of a person’s identity; it creates the distinction between the self, as ‘I’ and the (un)known other. These meaning of the self embodies one’s identity through common interest, understanding and circumstances which becomes the focus and the conscious being included or exclude in certain situations. Our relationship with ‘ourselves and others’ help us make who we are and establish how we know and see the world around us. In today’s society, ‘race’ has emerged as the one of dominant discourse of human identity; its common function is to ideologically stratify our social structure. However the terminology of ‘race’ is fluid and changes dynamically over time. This essay will illustrate how the social construction of the self creates certain situations can impact the geographies of inclusion and exclusion by the construction of the self and other. From the construction of whiteness that forms privileges of inclusion and exclusion of others to the construction of ‘blackness’ for geography of exclusions and inclusion of individuals.

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Smirnoa (2007), the use of semiotics of language, is described to be socially constructed, as it contributes to the creation for the essence of ‘the self’ but it is also about the way it constitutes by the means of the language. This shifts from the main idea of ‘what the self is’ to ‘how we speak about the self’, this is known as the self-theory formation. The self is composed by self knowledge and the identity ‘the other’ it is a comparative reflection of our opposite characteristics. With words like ‘I’, it gives a cognitive role, this role gives of the person a basic concept of themselves and it also gives us an understanding how we view others and how other individuals view us. Perry (1998). For example, the image of ‘the self’ is the agent; it is the centre of one’s personal identity, where language helps us to establish social geographies of inclusion or exclusion between people and also social divisions. In psychological terms, it is an integral part in human motivation, cognition and social positioning and identity. Smirnoa (2007), constructing ‘the self’ is central to understanding how it can create barriers of geographic inclusion and exclusion of people. The nature of the self is conceptualized as the agent and is fundamentally invisible and is linked to everything that surrounds them while “the other” is overtly obvious. Therefore the physical characteristics of ‘the other’ corporeality is seen more visible to the wider society. When we enter social interactions we pay attention to what is obvious and the constitutional character of the self remains the ‘blind spot’ for our reason. The language of the self perspective is usually represented with a mix of singular and plural tenses such as ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘me’, ‘us’, these appeals to us as an identity of social identification, these are markers of self and other and are socially constructed and arise from specifically temporal and spatial circumstances. Perry(1998)

Social construction of racial difference is an idea that potentially justifying the exploitation of one or more groups, the impact of not fitting in the norm can lead to stigmatization of individuals or groups can lead to rejection by people and even by society. The social construction of “Whiteness”, a relatively recent phenomenon, started during the colonial expansion era, Wise (2008), an example where race can be used as a mindset for those who wish to believe it holds great importance to include certain groups and exclude minority racial groups. Jackson, P.1998 The construction of “Whiteness” allows one to access resources, power and privileges; where racial ideology not only naturalizes but also socializes; it is bound into our emotions and nurtured into our childhood. Wise, T.J et al, 2008.Clearly whiteness ideology has a great influence on swaying or distorting views on an individual and the world and how it signifies who is entitled to privilege. In this case it is given the meaning ‘white privilege’, a phrase that gives the importance to words such ‘worthiness, inclusion and acceptance’. Because of these words it gives the idea of “whiteness” as an idea that ‘universalizes’ on the ‘ways to be proper’ and continuously contradicted with non-whites behaviours. Garner, 2007. Jackson, 1998 ‘Whiteness’ as an image of one’s behaviour, a symbol of status that has extended merely categories of biological construction of whiteness.

Since the 1860s, the Chinese were one of the largest non-European and non-Polynesian ethnic groups immigrating to New Zealand. Yee (2003). The Chinese were a visible minority that did not fit into the image of the ‘better Britain’ and were excluded from political discourse and were socially marginalized. In recent years, Chinese migrants and other ‘new Asian immigrants’ are the visible growing new arrivals migrating to New Zealand due to economic privilege from their home land. Yee (2003) In the case of the Chinese, for more than 130 years since their arrival they are still the archetype of ‘alien or the other’ or the ‘quintessential outsider’ in New Zealand society. Yee, (2003). In the case of many migrants seeking employment in New Zealand, many still experience a point of discrimination, especially those of Asian backgrounds. Wilson et al (2005). This can range from the early stages of the selection process, where their submitted CVs are often disregarded in the short listing process. It is predicted prior to research; having an ethnic sounding name would raise the “ethnic penalty” for job applicants. Wilson et al (2005), their research on the bias in short-listing of employees, their findings means New Zealand employers pays particular attention for the cues of ethnic sounding names on CV which includes name and migration status. This often eliminates any opportunity for employment, in the hopes of many migrants and those with ethnic sounding names. In the hopes to combat this system, many Asian job seekers are turning to anglicize their names, even their last names, all together. Wilson et al (2005), with research findings in comparison with UK and the United States have also concluded ethnic Asian other ethnic minorities are the most disadvantaged groups when compared to the “White” population, even with the same qualification and work experience. According to Wilson et al (2005), an experiment was conducted with a fictitious job seeker with a “white” name; the results were given a call for an interview and names that were perceived as ethnic were not. There are number rationales to this discrimination, as ethnic names may indicate a problem with assimilation, discomforts in stereotypical situations and pronunciation difficulties. Wilson (2005) This is also the used by many Maori Christians where their surnames are also anglicized for the same purpose. Whatever the situation, whiteness and the promotion of ‘the self’ play a critical role in this situation of inclusions and exclusions in New Zealand.

The process of a black identity formation can be oppressively real and even definitive for many people; racial stereotypes based on ideologies from past history can be still seen in today’s media. Imagines of blacks depicted as violent criminals reconnecting with the image associated with savagery due to their pathological nature. Wise et al (2008). Whilst the heroes are ‘respectable’ we see ‘the whites’ representing the pinnacle of European culture and development. Historical ideologies, binaries and discourses on race were once seen as part of an essentialist view on how to construct racial ideologies. The ideologies of race not only create our identities but it can be manipulated and influence society through common sense and embodied into our societal minds. Ideology challenges human awareness through binaries and can influence and reinforce political actions. The power of generalization through stereotyping and ideology allows individuals to obtain information of others to make judgements and representation about people and situations, where it allows people to fill in the blanks in the absence of a ‘total picture’. The image of the Maori race has been stereotypically labelled as the Black/other through stereotypical labelling that has (re)formations of Maori identity through the media. Wall(1997). During colonial eras, ‘Blackness’ has been used to construct the Maori race, since European settlers first contact with Maori, use of the western racial system was used to classify and construct Maori identity. After 1850s, the Maori race was considered a threat to society and racial representation was re-imagined as the brute savage of society which is still represented in the media. These dominant binary logics have negative impacts and delimited Maori individuality on geographies of identity as well as geographies on politics and the wider society and this often suppresses any other opportunities and results in exclusion. Wall (1997)

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The process of understanding the self and other is crucial to society and how it influences the geographies of inclusion and exclusion in the world we live in. As we know, history of race has been largely based on cultural constructions and is a means for justification for social, cultural and political circumstances. However, as mentioned above, embedded ideologies, discourse, binaries can help us interpret the world around us it can positively or negatively typecast a person/race and this can rationalize mistreatment and disharmony based on the meanings we attribute to these physical and cultural differences. Whilst a person is subjected to underprivileged treatment based on the assumption such as stereotyping and other beliefs to construct a person/race into categories of self and other.


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