January 20th, 2005


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jimbojones
08:40 pm - Soc 101 is fucking up my Christmas.
It is really, really fucking humiliating and painful to feel like your entire life is being methodically deconstructed - and found wanting - in the first few chapters of the text to a 101 level course.  This class is giving me a lot of insights, and I don't really like them much, and I like feeling this much upheaval from a course this low-level possibly even less.

Vocabulary word of the day?  Social integration.  Mine approaches zero.  I've been reevaluating a lot of my life, and my content - and discontent - with it based around the presence or lack of social integration.  I'm also coming to realize that a recently failed relationship failed, in part, because the other person is desperately lacking in social integration - and cannot use a relationship with me to fulfill that lack, and very likely has difficulty distinguishing a feeling of dissatisfaction in one from a feeling of dissatisfaction in the other.  (A large part of the reason I - reluctantly - dissolved that relationship was because of the insights this goddamn course was cramming into my skull to begin with.)

But yeah, along with reading about the theories themselves, I read about other societies in which roles are more clearly defined and people are more willing to fill them, and it just makes me... wistful.  Which is funny, because when I was a kid, I didn't want anybody telling me what role I had to fill.  But after a decade or so of adulthood, suddenly the idea of being able to rely on people in known ways to fulfill well defined roles sounds pretty goddamn comforting.  This world of shallow, impermanent relationships of convenience does have its benefits, but it also has its looming pushes to screaming neurosis.  When you're "different" in a more tradition-oriented society, yes, there is a large pressure to conform - but there is also the promise of acceptance as long as you conform in the really important ways; and in many of those societies there can be acceptance for non-conformity in ways that aren't considered functionally crucial.  On the other hand, current Western society is this gigantic, loosely bound collection of highly specialized social groups that seem to me to be LESS tolerant of difference, in many ways - sure, you're less likely to be attacked for being different, and in fact "accepting" truly astonshing ranges of diverse values and behaviors is one of the social norms - but then again, while "acceptance" in a tradition-oriented community implies integration into that community, "acceptance" in a modern context generally seems instead to mean "being given the freedom to go find your own damn group."  Which is fine as long as you can find one.  But what if you don't really fit in that well with any of the niche groups either?

Perhaps college will give me a chance at something different.  I have been cheered to discover that I'm not instantly viewed as "outsider" in the "normal" social groups in spite of my age; apparently I camouflage well - the occasional non-traditional students in their thirties recognize me as in their peer group, students in their mid-twenties assume I'm their age, and interestingly enough, the freshmen seem to frequently assume I'm their age group as well.  But I'm not quite sure which of those groups I come closest to actually fitting in, myself.  I think I'm probably a lot more like the typical grad student or young professor than I am any of the above categories of undergrad, but... I'm (at least) four years away from being anything other than an undergrad.  So I need to just, you know... try to fit in where I am.  Somewhere.  Somehow.

The damndest thing about this chronic lack of integration is, I'm not really socially awkward.  I'm not particularly shy even at my worst, anymore, and I know how to observe social norms and how to interact with people on a social basis... I just don't seem to know how to get integrated on a truly significant basis.  I am a member of a couple of social circles, but in both cases my membership seems inextricably tied to my major friendship with another member who is my "key" to that circle - like if that person moved away, the rest of the circle would just sort of automatically draw closed to me.  Not in any kind of mean way, mind you, just... automatically.  Yeah.

Sigh.

 
Current Mood: introspective and perturbed
Current Music: The Cure - Plainsong

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:



 
[User Picture] From: agentsteel53
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 05:51 pm
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What's the textbook? I should go find a copy of it.

Maybe Soc 201 has all the answers?


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 05:55 pm
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Essentials of Sociology, James Henslin.


 
[User Picture] From: agentsteel53
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 05:56 pm
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I fear sociology. Somehow I don't want it empirically proven that, indeed, people can be severe jackoffs.


 
From: (Anonymous)
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 05:54 pm
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[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:01 pm
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Well, you obviously had a shitty professor. And honestly, just reading the text is doing more for me in terms of shaking up my worldview than attending the lectures does. I have a LOT of respect for the guy who wrote this text; he did a hell of a lot of ethnological research back in the 70's, and he's clearly very capable of maintaining cultural relativism and examining the pros AND cons of various types of societies impartially. (My professor, while not a "bad professor", I don't have so much respect for - she's very clearly a conservative republican and views many, many things through the tint that those lenses place on her vision, and has no desire whatsoever to try to examine that tint itself.)


 
From: (Anonymous)
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:07 pm
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[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:13 pm
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I was more than a little surprised, myself, but while she's never said so directly, she's made it very clear in the examples she uses when discussing cultural relativism.

Of course, it might help a bit if I told you that while she is teaching Soc 101, she is more specifically a member of the Criminal Justice department, and mostly teaches its classes.


 
[User Picture] From: katyakoshka
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:06 pm
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Ghaa. Highschool was all about the lack of social integration. College was the beginning of the end of that. Post-college (largely online stuff) has drawn me into a couple solid circles, one in reestablishing ties with other alums, and the other stretching across most of the country. (And in the latter group, I, um, have, um, "hooked up," as it were, with three of them -- one was a relationship, and another a several-day fling, but... social incest at its finest, no? I guess that's one way to integrate yourself into the group.)

There are a few other circles with which I'm loosely affiliated, but I've less rapport with the group as a whole.

At the same time, I'm always a little out of step with most of the people. Sometimes it's age, or pursuits, or inclinations (like being a little on the gothy side), or even just occupation... yeah.

On the other hand, I do have some solid friendships, one-on-one. Does that count for shit?

And to completely change the subject, yeah... I hate when you come across something (school or otherwise), and it becomes like a worm virus, churning through all the thoughts and memories and evaluations, turning them inside-out, upside-down, so that your dreams echo with the ruminations following revelation, and you end up babbling to yourself at length about the newfound knowledge.

Aside: You did see the silly little meme calling my sense of humor "neurotic," right? And realize that's because I'm neurotic? Then again, this post is about your neuroses, so we're kin and crap.

But, like, yeah. Totally.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:14 pm
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we're kin and crap.
::smiles:: Thanks, Katya.


 
[User Picture] From: katyakoshka
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:23 pm
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Quite welcome. *grin*


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:08 pm
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I took quite a few psych classes but always avoided the Sociology. Now perhaps I know why.



 
[User Picture] From: sveeb
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:28 pm
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"Current music: The Cure - Plainsong"

That sent me back to Music 313: History I. Then I read more carefully and saw "The Cure" and realized it was about a thousand years later than the period I first thought of!


 
[User Picture] From: sveeb
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 06:29 pm
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This makes me a big dork, doesn't it?


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 09:11 pm
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apparently, being sad when I'm done with math homework leaves me in no position to judge you on that.


 
[User Picture] From: stpdlsr
Date: January 20th, 2005 - 10:04 pm
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And all the groups you're supposed to choose from are basically the same, except for uniform and who they dislike the most.


 
[User Picture] From: staringgoldfish
Date: January 21st, 2005 - 01:27 am
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Sociology is among the softest of the soft sciences. Very little actual fact, lotsa theory. Oh, they'll present everything as though it's fact, but it's not.

In other words, it's all open to interpretation and highly subjective.

You'll feel better next semester when you take Psych 101. Still a relatively soft science, but much more fact-driven compared to Soc. In the meantime, don't assign more worth to abstract and nearly unprovable theorum than they're worth. Road to misery, that.



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