Monday, January 30, 2017

In-n-out is not just for burgers!

In and out is not just for burgers, it is also for groups! Sociologists use the terms ingroup and outgroup to refer to groups that you are either a member of or not a member of. It is much easier to feel attached to the groups you are a part of and feel judgmental about your outgroups.

To illustrate this, today we separated the class into two different groups. Each group made a list of reasons why the other group was wearing what they were wearing. Every time I do this lesson, the reasons break down into judgments against the other group. For example:

This was a lesson about in-groups and out-groups. In discussing the different groups that makeup society, we see that there are in-groups and out-groups. An in-group is a group that you are a part of. You have membership in it, and because of that, you feel aligned to the group and you have ownership in it. By contrast, it becomes easier to judge the out-groups, or the groups you are not a part of. As this semester goes on, be mindful of the groups that we talk about that you are not a part of. You must make a conscious effort to understand these groups. Try to become conscious of your judgments so that you can also consciously work against them. Watch this video clip about the famous "Angry Eye" classroom lesson done in the 1960s by teacher Jane Elliot. Think about how you may have judged out-groups in your own life. Also, think about how you become allied and bonded with your in-groups. Can you see how this happens in society? Can you think of examples in your own life? video You can watch the whole video at Frontline's website.

And there is an updated version of this.  Jane Elliot returns to do the experiment with college kids.  It is called Angry Eye.  Here is the link to watch it on mediacast.
I think that the point of sociological mindfulness is becoming more aware of others and part of that awareness is an understanding of how we may have portrayed that group in our own minds.  So understanding the idea of in-group/out-group dynamics is easy but applying it to ourselves is the challenging part.  In this TED talk by Sam Richards, he explains how understanding outgroups might lead to a radical experiment in  empathy.  Check it out:

Now think about your own life.  What are your in groups?  What are the outgroups that you could become more aware of, more empathetic to?

1 comment:

  1. I thought the activity and the mini - movie clip were both interesting. When we were divided into groups, each one kept judging each other based on what they wore. Many things were said, but most of it was because we didn't have an open mind. Since I was in the "colored t-shirt" group, some people said things like, "they're depressed with their own lives". Not only does this happen in classrooms, but it can happen in friend groups as well. There are some groups at school that I want to be a part of, but I'm too scared to be a part of because I'm not good enough or I'm not dressed the right way. Then I think about the friends I have and realize how lucky I am, because there are some people that come and go, but true friends stay forever.