Music Politics


In addition to being one of my favorite Yaz tunes:

I discovered today that it’s also a sociology term

Sociologists have a very useful concept: the unmarked category.  An unmarked category is present when the category is considered so normal or ordinary in a particular context that it goes unnoticed.  The category is the default setting in regard to social expectations, and it in a sense remains invisible precisely because it’s so dominant.  Being black in Boulder is a marked category, which means (white) people won’t see a man picking up trash, they’ll see a black man picking up trash.  They see something, so they say something.

For example, if you had asked a lawyer in 1960 to name three characteristics that every current Supreme Court justice shared, it’s very likely the lawyer would not have mentioned either race or gender.  In other words, we notice characteristics we don’t expect to see much more than characteristics we assume will be present.  (The typical NBA fan will probably not notice the race of the players on the court if they’re all black, but would be almost 100% certain to notice if all, or even a large majority, of the players were white).

What “identity politics,” so-called, has done is to slowly and painfully and partially transform being a white man in America into a marked category.  And makes a lot of the people who have become white men rather than members of society’s invisible default category very uncomfortable.  And when people get very uncomfortable, they often get mad at whoever they blame for making them feel that way.  And then they vote for Donald Trump.

(LGM is a superb blog and you should read it daily)

By Paul Hubbard

Computer engineer from San Diego. Obsessed with hardware, software, timekeeping and elegance.

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