Posted: November 7th, 2023
Test Question 2
Velasco and Paxton think that the inclusion of discrete identity labels and the change to constructive logic result in cultural change. People use different inclusive logic to promote cultural diversity, leading to cultural change (Velasco and Paxton 1267). Inclusive logic differs depending on time and organization. An example is given in the Human Rights Campaign. The organization first integrated transgender and bisexual identities into its mission in 2003 (Velasco and Paxton 1267). Inclusion was the organization’s way of promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender welfare through support, education and advocacy. The organization believed that not having transgender and bisexual identities in its mission prevents certain individuals from receiving respect. Inclusive language is used to create a sense of belonging in society. Howeverr, the philosophers outline that many factors result in constructive logic for cultural change.
People will turn to different sources of social pressure to promote different types of constructive logic. Social movements use public campaigns, online trends and language to pressure cultural change (Velasco and Paxton 1269). An example is evident in Human Rights Campaign’s mission statement. Organizations will experience pressure from stakeholders, including customers, investors and employees, to adopt inclusivity. Over 200 companies in the United States signed petitions to oppose anti-LGBTQ bills in 2021 (Brousseau). If an organization has many queer employees, it will be forced to adopt queer-friendly policies. If other organizations adopt queer-friendly policies, then the subject organization feels pressured to adopt the same directives. In such a scenario, organizations become part of the broader social movement pressuring for cultural change. Another constructive logic is evident in contemporary politics. Politicians use language in their messages to advocate for change. For instance, President Obama was the first political leader to use lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in The State of the Union address. The developments highlight the importance of having deconstructed logic in fostering cultural change.
The theory of change stipulates how a series of interventions contribute to a chain of results. One of the major findings is cultural change stems from bottom-up pressures. The cultural change mirrors internal organizational dynamics, mostly its constituents and resource access. The argument highlights that changing company culture does not require policies and standards. Instead, it requires a movement. In their assessment of how inclusive societies are found, Velasco and Paxton state that change lives in the collective hearts and habits of the people (1302). Change is based on how people share a collective perception of ‘how things are done around here.’ The theory of change highlights that an individual with authority can demand compliance. However, they cannot decree people to have the trust, conviction, optimism and creativity necessary to sustain change. The takeaway gives a glimpse of a universal problem, where CEOs believe cultural change comes from their commands and instructions as opposed to the collective mindset of the employee base.
The theory of change outlines that cultural change also occurs due to horizontal pressures. Culture exists within a broader ecological context, meaning it is subject to isomorphic pressures (Velasco and Paxton 1299). A core logic behind the increased diversity and inclusion in America’s culture is the emergence of a single term to encompass many fluid experiences. For instance, queer can refer to lesbians, gays, transgender persons and bisexuals. The success and growth of the LGBTQ community contribute to America’s cultural transformation. The collective term creates social pressure for change, shifting culture from deconstructive to constructive language (Velasco and Paxton 1270). The LGBTQ community pushed for language changes as a form of cultural outcome. The language changes helped create momentum for the social movement, enabling it to institutionalize the changes in formal power structures.
The primary learning point from the research is inclusive language is key to reinforcing cultural shifts. One of the implications of the success of the LGBTQ community is that more people acknowledge the fluidity of sexuality and gender. The increased recognition underpins why activists and academics often turn to other forms of inclusive language to summarize the diversity of people’s experiences (Velasco and Paxton 1268). An example highlighted in the research is SOGI, which refers to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. There is also GLSEN, formerly Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (Velasco and Paxton 1269). The institution no longer mentions any categorized identities in its mission statement. The institution’s language change contributes to its function of making every community member feel respected despite their gender expression and sexual orientation. Politicians use the same strategy to inspire cultural change. The increasing use of constructive terminologies illuminates the greater cultural transformations taking place in the United States, with the inclusion of diverse sexual and gender expressions being normalized.
A potential limitation to the logic of inclusion is the possibility of the concept reaching its limit. According to Velasco and Paxton, some critics question whether the heightened use of deconstructed identities is desirable or sustainable (1268). For instance, what if society runs out of alphabets to include in the LGBTQ acronym. One of the consequences of the success of the movement is the increased recognition of the dynamicity of sexual expressions. An adverse side effect is the reduced usefulness of traditional fixed categories, such as lesbian and gay. There are considerable obstacles to how society achieves full inclusion. The changes in the LGBTQ acronym highlight one of the barriers is age. The bottom-up process of using inclusive language to facilitate change works well with the youth.
Test Question 3
Miller-Idriss laments that people are asking the wrong questions about extremism. The philosopher is concerned that conventional approaches to researching and preventing extremism are insufficient because they do not consider where people encounter extremist messages (Miller-Idriss 24). Top-down approaches to extremism focus on organizations and groups, specifically the tactics they employ to recruit and radicalize people towards violence. An example is assessing how radical groups communicate, resulting in the banning of particular social media pages. On the other hand, bottom-up approaches assess the demand side of radicalization. The method focuses on the vulnerabilities that make individuals and communities more receptive to extremist ideologies (Miller-Idriss 25). Examples include poverty and exposure to early childhood trauma. In other words, bottom-up studies investigate the cognitive aspects of extremism. Miller-Idriss does not refute the importance of conventional methods. Instead, she laments their insufficiency in providing a comprehensive understanding of the far-right.
Miller-Idriss intends to address the gap by focusing on where people interact with extremist ideologies. According to the philosopher, much of the far-right does not occur in formal groups. Instead, it happens mostly through lone wolf activities and self-radicalizing networks (Miller-Idriss 174). Such occurrences are more difficult to monitor and prevent. Miller-Idriss states that to understand radicalization, science needs to abandon its focus on what is happening inside people’s heads (Miller-Idriss 174). There are numerous unexpected places to consider, including soccer stadiums and clubs. Science must map the broader offline and online ecosystem where people encounter extremist ideas. The approach is bound to identify new possibilities for intervention efforts. Traditional methods focused on enhancing law enforcement, surveillance and de-radicalization efforts (Miller-Idriss 24). Shifting society’s gaze to spaces where people encounter extremist messages will help identify at-risk individuals prior to their radicalization.
Miller-Idriss’ primary argument is that the places and spaces where people interact with extremist messages today are more mainstream. According to the philosopher, style is a gateway to extremism (51). Style acts as an icebreaker for the youth, providing an entry ticket into particular social groups. For instance, Miller-Idriss offers the example of the German Nazi movement. Youth in the 90s would appropriate the non-right wing brand New Balance because the ‘N’ logo symbolized the neo-Nazi (Miller-Idriss 53). Members of the discriminative group would wear the should to identify like-minded individuals in public. Iteration of the approach increased the likelihood of persistent and heightened involvement in extremism. If three or more neo-Nazis wearing the new balance shoes were to meet, there would be an increased likelihood of organized action. Far-right activities must be understood as cultural and sub-cultural interactions as opposed to organized movements.
Interventions should focus on the far-right subculture’s aesthetic dimensions as opposed to the Marxist focus on material objects. Miller-Idriss states that intervention should consider encoded texts, images, and symbols with radical meaning, including commercialized brand marketing (162). For instance, a t-shirt can function as a performative screen when a person uses it to display ideological messages through iconography. Consider the popular marketed image of Che Guevara in brand t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets. People who wear the image convey a radical message against capitalism in favor of communism. In such a scenario, the t-shirt becomes a conduit of resistance to mainstream society. The t-shirt is another example of how style acts as a source of resistance, equipping individuals with a sense of power, secrecy and urge to reject authority. Adults and outsiders will find it difficult to identify, consume or relate to the forbidden cultural symbols.
Youths are the producers and consumers of extremist symbols and messages. One of Miller-Idriss core argument is that the youth are moving towards a singular, hard-edged style in favor of fashionable brands that employ coded extremist symbols (55). The philosopher provides the example of an individual walking into a bar to find a person wearing a Thor Steinar t-shirt. The shirt makes the person look cool, making it strange how people know one another via fashion brands (Miller-Idriss 55). The hypothetical scenario shows how major brands in North America work. Brands will try to help people connect because they share similar political ideals. Brands help people identify individuals that think like them. Brands are promoting extremist ideals among the youth by helping them blend and embrace the consumerist culture. Therefore, intervention efforts should shift law enforcement to policies that sensitize the youth on cultural symbols. The policies should target public spaces where cultural symbols are used as displays of masculinity and conventional views of manhood.
Extremist prevention specialists should engage new partners other than national defense agencies. Miller-Idriss advocates for the integration of trainers, coaches, school counselors and game developers in the counter-extremism effort (57). The goal is to have public programs that target the youth, constantly assessing and interpreting their understanding of culture. There already are programs using the partnership approach to address terrorism and violence in the United States. An example is the Department of Homeland Security’s Whole of Society approach (Grimmel and Unrau 94). The program entails the security agency working with social service professionals, civil society partners and local mental health personnel to reach and engage the youth. Such programs are critical because they act as a serving point for meeting susceptible teenagers and young adults where they are. North America should not abandon its efforts to monitor extremist groups and use of cognitive vulnerabilities to identify susceptible individuals. However, it should also include different and creative tactics for addressing far-right violence.
Brousseau, Henry. 200 Plus Major U.S. Companies Oppose Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation. Human Rights Campaign, 31 March 2022, https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/200-major-u-s-companies-oppose-anti-lgbtq-state-legislation, Accessed 18 June 2022.
Grimmel, Richard and Yvonne Unrau. Social Work Research and Evaluation: Foundations of Evidence-Based Practice. Oxford University Press, 2018.
Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture. Princeton University Press, 2019.
Velasco, Kristopher and Pamela Paxton. Deconstructed and Constructive Logic: Explaining Inclusive Language Change in Queer Non-profits, 1998–2016. American Journal of Sociology, vol. 127, no. 4, 2022, 1267-1306.
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