Thursday, August 18, 2016

Which Entangle You - People, or Things?

I am studying cultural differences among different fractions of the middle class.  This is a class that has some choice about how it interacts with the world, and what kind of things it buys to live with.

I think one subculture regards other people, especially acquaintances and strangers who live nearby, as potential sources of unwanted entanglement.  They prefer if people keep to themselves.  The places we live and the things we own, by contrast, are valued because they enable us to do what we want.

Another subculture, though, sees other people, including acquaintances and neighbors, as the greatest source of interest and action in life.  The things we must own, by contrast, are a constant source of upkeep and a necessary burden.

I would welcome thoughts on this contrast, and what else it might map on to in social life.


Jennifer said...

Interesting. To complicate the matter, two questions:
1. What about animals? Cats, dogs, horses, chickens, the fellow creatures with whom we live and for whom we are responsible (in a way importantly different from my sense of responsibility for the china I have inherited from my mother).
2. Can we really categorize "the places we live" as "things"? I think of indigenous/ecological perspectives and, again, the sense of responsibility one may have for a farm or garden or forest or I suppose even a front lawn. (Okay, I'm not that interested in the front lawn; but at one point when we neglected our lawn a neighbor asked if we minded if she mowed it for us, and I realized that what we did or failed to do with our lawn affected those around us.) How does this differ in cases of community property and in cases of private real estate?
Okay, I guess that's more than two questions--have at it.

Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink said...

What also about vacation vs. normal life? I'm astonished by how many people (at least in my part of the woods - Michigan) interact with a great variety of people when they're on vacation but in their day-to-day lives interact with few people outside of their 5-10 immediate colleagues (We go from house to car to work to car to house). Are people the distraction in our normal life but the goal, along with "experiences," which usually involve people, of our vacations?

Gruntled said...

Pets, I think, are treated like family.

Vacation I am not sure about. I have heard that snowbirds are very sociable with one another, but I just don't have enough experience to know.