16 January 2010

Social Status

Generalisations are hellishly slack, but they're also a useful communications tool. A simple generalised statement is heard.

Low social status contributes to poor physical and mental health.

Here's one study, on smoking, that prompted this post. The impact of internalising society's low opinion of you and those you love has long interested me. Beyond impacts of limited choice due to limited income, distance from services, etc there appears to be an issue of self-perception. Are you worth caring about? If you've internalised a negative self-image from society, how can you answer "yes" to that question?

There aren't any easy solutions to this problem. I suspect humans are naturally hierarchical, for one, and being poor commits people to survival, not challenging society's expectations. They just don't have the time and energy to climb up.

It's one of the paradoxes of poverty. It focuses you on the here and now, the current challenge of survival. You don't think of the future. This focus enables survival, but it doesn't enable change (it also allows risky, long term consequence behaviours, such as smoking). That's why path breakers are so essential. They lead people's dreams.

I guess my working rule is to respect everyone. If you don't have time to build, you can at least not tear down.

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