Just recently, I had the opportunity to reunite with an old group of friends. Following about an hour of catching-up, we easily fell into a more substantial conversation, discussing morality, mortality, and religion. As always, these abstract topics caused us all to attempt to explain increasingly intangible concepts until, finally, we were left in unresolved silence. I saw this phenomena echoed in the text’s Santa Claus analogy, in that we all began the conversation unified by a core belief system but concluded as individuals, shaped by our wordless understanding of the unexplainable. Just as the text argues, without a practical basis for exploration, we’re left only with the distortion that results from personal bias. Of course, we only set out to entertain and learn from each other rather than prove anything, but I think it’s relevant to note how easily even a group of well-connected, similar people rely on defined guidelines to stay in-sync.
Somewhat similarly, the video “Understanding Why We Take to the Streets” illustrates a correlation between unity and a narrowly focused common goal. With a shared, quantifiable end goal like government action, many different people seem to find it easier to identify with one another. Therefore, it makes sense that successful sociological research must be governed by well defined scientific standards, reflecting the manner in which we understand personal relation.
“Understanding Why We Take to the Streets” also raises the question of a human propensity (perhaps even a need) for connection or belonging in a group setting. Even those of us who take pride in being a hermit, recluse, or loner feel the need to agree with others. We often define ourselves by our more general belief systems, particularly those in regard to morality. It seems to be of the utmost importance to us to “stand for” or represent something, and these group causes are curiously linked to our unique sense of identity.
I once utilized sociological research in a project wherein I aimed to determine the origins of a nationwide increase in microbreweries. In studying the retailers’ methods of promoting regional identity with their products, these researchers determined that the rise in craft beer culture was linked to a public interest in identifying with their town or city. Similar to farmer’s markets and consignment stores, microbreweries were revealed as a younger generation’s response to a rapidly globalizing culture. Those interviewed expressed a sense of rootless angst in our modern society. Because national support of any one belief or cause has become nearly impossible, younger generations sought to take pride in a smaller, more focused local identity.
Basically, I’m very interested in how people seem to always find a way to be a part of something focused in order to make sense of their existence. In uniting based on our similarities, we actually foster diversity.