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Author Topic: The Big Sort  (Read 1473 times)
baf
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« on: October 30, 2009, 09:38:39 PM »

When was the last time you changed your mind on something important? (Andrea Batista Schlesinger).

Some of you may be familiar with the expression "the Big Sort" : a demographic phenomenon by which we are now moving, concentrating, sorting ourselves by belief. The trend is more and more obvious in our neighborhoods, our coffee shops, the blogs we choose, the supermarket we buy our food at... you get the picture. We like hanging out with like-minded folks; not the ideal situation for growth through debate and discussion. Disagreement and differing views (when handled with respect and maturity) lead us to question our values and beliefs.

It is encountering the unfamiliar that prompts us to question

In this vein, let's welcome, even cultivate members with different views, views that we may even find unpalatable. So far, I see a lot of left wingers here (I'm one of them). Isn't it time we open up to new challenges and perhaps even have our minds changed, or nudged just a bit on something important?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 09:41:43 PM by baf » Logged

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DannyO
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2009, 01:06:31 PM »

I hadn't heard of "The Big Sort" before today, and honestly, I find the concept surprising, if not astonishing.

There may be segments of the population who are "sorting" themselves, and perhaps if you're a member of one of those segments, this phenomenon is much more noticeable.  But I still find it hard to believe.

I think there are fewer reputable, well-esteemed, trusted sources for news and other information about the world than ever before, and I believe that this trend is accelerating.  We all watch the same news (those people who watch the news) and read the same papers (ditto) and browse the same web sites.  There used to be four newspapers in my area, but now there's really only one.  Every channel has a news show, but everyone watches the same few.

Everyone watches the same movies, listens to the same music, watches the same shows, reads the same books.  (some of us are weirdos and read things that aren't Oprah's book of the month or on the best seller lists... but us weirdos read those books too)  The kids in Bangalore are watching MTV and CSI, the kids in Beijing are listening to U2 and laughing at SNL.  Turn on the TV in Moscow, Manila, Madrid, Mexico City and maybe even Mogadishu, and even though you might not understand what anyone is saying, but you'll recognize the advertisements and the storylines.

So, while we may be sorting ourselves in some ways, in many other ways, we're all in a cultural blender set on puree.
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WS
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2009, 02:23:42 PM »

I believe this is indeed a problem - but on the other hand I have always lived in areas where I was out of step with the politics of my neighbors and the people surrounding me. In some ways I would like nothing better than to find a little artist's community with a bunch of like-minded people. I have been a lone for SO long. I do hate that we can't get along with each other these days, though!
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baf
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2009, 07:30:50 PM »

Good points, Danny and WS,

WS, if you need a "breather" swing by this mountain valley and we'll go hang out at the Banff Centre of the Arts ,-)

Danny, you're right in the sense that we are part of a global village now, with the great equalizer called "internet". However, it's been observed in election results and in relocation choices, that we are becoming more and more polarized and fixed in our ideologies. When I write "we", I include Canadians since we are typically a tamed down version, a few years behind our American counterparts when it comes to social and demographic trends.

Experts that know these things inform us that the number of "landslide counties" (counties in which a candidate wins by 20 percentage points or more) have doubled between 1976 and 2004, from a quarter of the population to half. Voters are polarized more and more by region. People are relocating based on belief and lifestyle choices: to be in places that serve the food they like and offer the church services they prefer. The result is a growing number of ideologically homogeneous neighborhoods, regions, states. The same trends are evident in how we are congregating online. We are self-segregating on blogs that speak to our political leanings. The issue here is that we are presented with fewer opportunities to think beyond our frames of reference. I would like to see this site become home to honest, unemotional  debate whereby ideas might be stretched, challenged and perhaps horizons widened. and the ability to arrive at a consensus cultivated. Seems to me that this process is in need of practice if the ideal of "democracy" is to survive.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2009, 09:38:33 PM by baf » Logged

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WS
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2009, 08:49:35 PM »

I second the honest and unemotional and raise you with fact-supported discussion!  Cool
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DannyO
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2009, 03:05:11 AM »

Experts that know these things inform us that the number of "landslide counties" (counties in which a candidate wins by 20 percentage points or more) have doubled between 1976 and 2004, from a quarter of the population to half. Voters are polarized more and more by region.

I don't know if you get gerrymandering in Canada like we do here, but that certainly accounts for some of it here in the US.

(of course, gerrymandering wouldn't be possible without some underlying partitioning of the kind you describe, but it doesn't have to be very strong)

People are relocating based on belief and lifestyle choices: to be in places that serve the food they like and offer the church services they prefer.

This may be more of an effect in rural or "spread-out" areas than in urban areas.  I can walk to half a dozen churches and synagogues, and if I jump in my car I'm no more than ten minutes away from more than I can count.  There's probably some denomination I can't find around here, but my guess is that it would have to be so small that it wouldn't register on demographic statistics...

So, for me, religion and ideology played very little part in my choice of neighborhood (except we didn't want to live in nearby Lexington, because their school board appears to be insane).  But there are definitely parts of the country where I wouldn't want to live; places where my family would be treated differently just because of our diverse appearance.  But that doesn't pin me down to one neighborhood--almost any urban setting would be fine, and quite a few more rural settings as well.  But there are some places, mostly in the deep south, that I don't think would be welcoming.
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Sonya Self
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2009, 01:14:50 PM »

 
Quote
So, for me, religion and ideology played very little part in my choice of neighborhood (except we didn't want to live in nearby Lexington, because their school board appears to be insane).  But there are definitely parts of the country where I wouldn't want to live; places where my family would be treated differently just because of our diverse appearance.  But that doesn't pin me down to one neighborhood--almost any urban setting would be fine, and quite a few more rural settings as well.  But there are some places, mostly in the deep south, that I don't think would be welcoming.
    Danny, I do live in the South and I am by far as different as I could be from the people here.  You would be surprised to see how acceptable people are here.  I have many friends ,mostly Bulgarians, but there are some from other countries too,  spread all over this country and I have to tell you that the way I feel welcome here none of them does. I don't know if it is the fact that I am too different and almost exotic, but some of my friends would like to point out that I am Bulgarian, almost bragging with it.
    The greatest thing about this country is the unlimited options to chose where do you want to live and what do you want to do.
There is always room for close minded people and there is always room to be different. One thing I don't like about the American schools here that they try to unify the kids and teach them to blend to it in to be the same. I took me a while to teach my kids that being different is good. It was easier for my daughter and my son still tries sometime to fit in and blend. I think big help for him was living in Germany and seeing how degrading the unification is and how important is to be different.
     
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WS
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2009, 04:22:18 PM »

Sonya,  Здравей, как си

I grew up in the South and am glad to hear you feel welcomed. I think part of the problem with this desire to be like everyone else comes from the children themselves and I'm really not sure why!  There is a huge desire here amongst teenagers not to stick out and to fit in I wonder if they are rebelling against their parents' rebelliousness!

WS

...
    Danny, I do live in the South and I am by far as different as I could be from the people here.  You would be surprised to see how acceptable people are here.  I have many friends ,mostly Bulgarians, but there are some from other countries too,  spread all over this country and I have to tell you that the way I feel welcome here none of them does. I don't know if it is the fact that I am too different and almost exotic, but some of my friends would like to point out that I am Bulgarian, almost bragging with it.
    The greatest thing about this country is the unlimited options to chose where do you want to live and what do you want to do.
There is always room for close minded people and there is always room to be different. One thing I don't like about the American schools here that they try to unify the kids and teach them to blend to it in to be the same. I took me a while to teach my kids that being different is good. It was easier for my daughter and my son still tries sometime to fit in and blend. I think big help for him was living in Germany and seeing how degrading the unification is and how important is to be different.
     
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Sonya Self
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2009, 04:52:31 PM »


I grew up in the South and am glad to hear you feel welcomed. I think part of the problem with this desire to be like everyone else comes from the children themselves and I'm really not sure why!  There is a huge desire here amongst teenagers not to stick out and to fit in I wonder if they are rebelling against their parents' rebelliousness!

 
    Здравей WS,

     I don't know if it is only that. I that case my kid would have want to fit in and be the same back in Bulgaria too. But there was not the pressure of fitting in, or blend. I remember growing up, I did not have to go through any of what my kids did. High school  and college were breeze they were the best time of my life. And believe me was I different.  Yes when I was in elementary it was different but come on, look at my picture...it is kind of understandable. Even my own parents thought;I am not going to make it.
 What I want to say is, America is the biggest melting pot in the world and at the same time is loosing the one of best things I think this country was found on; The differences, people are coming from all over the world, different cultures, religions, believes and we should not try to make them be like us we should encourage them to share their differences and learn from them. 
    Recently, friend of mine /yes Conservative by political view/ was complaining that President Obama wants people to keep and be proud with their cultural roots, religions and believes, and I can't understand that. I am coming from outside and I can't understand why so many Americans see this as threat and intrusion.
     
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CWO3ROBBIE
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2009, 10:23:25 PM »

I'm not sure that this "Big Sort" phenomenon is really anything new. What I am going to do is go off and think about this and add my two cents tomorrow.
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baf
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2009, 09:01:32 AM »

Robbie,
I look forward to your musings on the subject... after all, you are a travelling troubadour these days!  What kind of places make you want to stick around?  What about the folks you meet along the way, do they tend to be alike by area or a great big mish mash of variety? Happy wandering to you  Wink
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WS
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2009, 10:35:32 AM »

Sonya said:...     I don't know if it is only that. I that case my kid would have want to fit in and be the same back in Bulgaria too. But there was not the pressure of fitting in, or blend. I remember growing up, I did not have to go through any of what my kids did. High school  and college were breeze they were the best time of my life. And believe me was I different.  Yes when I was in elementary it was different but come on, look at my picture...it is kind of understandable. Even my own parents thought;I am not going to make it.
 .... Recently, friend of mine /yes Conservative by political view/ was complaining that President Obama wants people to keep and be proud with their cultural roots, religions and believes, and I can't understand that. I am coming from outside and I can't understand why so many Americans see this as threat and intrusion.
     
   I understand - I too was one of those high-schoolers that wanted nothing to do with the streamlining of personality. I hated the way others wanted to be sheep, so maybe it is a generational/cultural thing. Educators are saying that teens want to be like their friends, but maybe that is because their parents are SO controlling and concerned with what others have that they naturally move away to friends to find standards. I do know as a third generation Czech, that the first generation tends to cherish the traditions, and often the second wants to blend in and then the third is left out in the dark with little knowledge of their former culture because the parents want to be all American (that could relate to particular generations also.  While I agree that the variety of traditons makes the US richer, I do worry about too much adherence to one's sub-group. When you look at Bosnia and the constant warfare between the Serbs and the Croats. We Slavs have never been too good about melting. (Pan -slav movement included!)
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stillgoing
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2009, 12:22:30 PM »

I hadn't heard this had a name and it seems to re-happen after every election or so.

Here's link I found to PEW Research on this, interesting stuff.

http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/trends_detail.aspx?id=31688
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baf
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2009, 04:08:45 PM »

Here's link I found to PEW Research on this, interesting stuff.

http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/trends_detail.aspx?id=31688
[/quote]

Interesting and easy to read link, Stillgoing, thanks! Having a common definition is always a good starting point  Smiley
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CWO3ROBBIE
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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2009, 10:27:43 PM »

I hadn't heard this had a name and it seems to re-happen after every election or so.

Here's link I found to PEW Research on this, interesting stuff.

http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/trends_detail.aspx?id=31688
SG, Thanks for the link. I have always thought that of all the think tanks, PEW is the most unbiased.
On this particular subject tho it appears they are more oriented toward education differences. I am concerned about religious and ideological groupings.
I lived in Loudoun County Virginia from 1987 until last year.  For about 10 years Loudoun grew rapidly. How rapidly? For five years in the 90s it was the fastest or second fastest growing county in the entire US. During most of the 90s there was a declared effort by the conservitive groups to get as many of their friends and associates as possible to move to that area.  Entire towns were built and most of the people who moved to them were conservitives. The president of the Homeschooling Defense Organization Founded Patrick Henry College in Purcelville, VA. The mission statement of the college is to educate and get bright young christian conservitive people involved in government. I won't go into much detail here, but be aware that every year the college gets bigger. They now have most of the first 3 or 4 graduating classes working on and around Capital hill. I'm talking about Capital hill in DC. The only set back for them has been the rapid growth of the whole DC area. A lot of people who were not politically involved moved into the county and then turned out to vote for the democrats in the previous couple of elections. However the trend seems to have reverted back this time. I do know all this first hand because My ex-wife was very involved in trying to stem the coservitive tide and I was involved in a few of the debates and many council and board of supervisor meetings with her. So, the "Big Sort" does have more than one face.
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