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Our Positions Give Us Our Perspectives

Social positions give us the eyeglasses through which we look at the world. People define the world according to where they are located (socially).

Boss versus employee

Wealthy versus poor

Upper middle class versus the working class (blue collar)

Our status position may also influence how we look at the world in general. Not only does a corporate executive see the corporation differently from the man or woman who works on the assembly line, but the executive probably has a different view of government, capitalism, foreign policy, American education, and perhaps even religion.

What we think is true, what we value, what we believe is wrong or right in the world arises from our position.

First, we are socialized into our positions: not only in how to act and who we are but also in how to think, how to approach understanding reality.

Second, each position is in fact a location in organization, a point within it, and thus an angle of perception used to understand what is taking place in and outside the organization. Each position is a place from which we look, causing us to see reality at that particular angle.

The third reason we are influenced to see the world through our position has to do with our desire to successfully enact the position. Success in position means that we have to understand how people in that position think. We have to understand how others who are somehow linked to that position expect us to think in that position.

Chapter 5: Inequality in Society

It is part of the American way of thinking that the United States is a land of opportunity for all—that all have a roughly equal chance to succeed. It is difficult for us to see that inequality is built into the very nature of society, that we are in fact all part of social structures that work against equal opportunity. Most of us spend much of our lives trying to “make it” in a society we perceive to be open.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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