appropriating sociology and social justice

Actually, “appropriation” is not exactly the correct word to use here, but what I’m talking about is how I’ve realized that I’ve become really into reading sociology blogs, librarians’ blogs, “stuff white people like”-esque blogs (because there are so many in that vein, both more and less serious than swpl), and “multicultural literature” blogs lately, and even though I know that it is because I am passionate about the issues presented in said blogs, I wonder also if it’s just a new way of asserting my intellectual eliteness. And about how it just feels good to have a cause. Like, is the cause (that you believe in wholeheartedly, like me in sociology, literature, and the importance of expanding the canon, changing publishing traditions, etc) itself the delicious icing on the cake that is being a person who is passionate? I am quite sure that the person I am is someone who enjoys discussion and analysis the way other people like watching football games, and that is part of the reason I devour other people’s discussions, even when I don’t take part. But I also worry if I’m fully cognizant of my intent when I engage in sociological discussion.

There are two main reasons why I worry:

1. In high school and before, I was constantly “shaping” my identity in very obvious, sometimes insincere ways. I was young and impressionable and obsessed with getting people to like me and validate my interests/clothes/choices/etc. So I spent a lot of time getting into certain types of music, styles, etc. Some of those things still interest me today, and some things I’m still into today are things I got into regardless of what they would do to my high school persona (probably why I never succeeded in being popular), but sometimes I stop and wonder to myself why I do certain things or listen to certain music, and I wonder if I’m still trying to be popular. I would say I am a huge success in that I only think about what people from high school would think about 5% of the time. But 5 is still greater than 0.

2. When I spend hours on my computer, reading blogs and newspapers, I am certainly expanding my knowledge of things and learning how to be a more critical, liberal, well-rounded, informed person. But I am also certainly “wasting my time” and avoiding doing other things that, arguably, could also make me a better person in many of those ways. When I read months-old comments on a blog post I find mildly interesting, I could be a) eating a snack (because since giving up gluten, I am always hungry….suggestions?), b) “doing” something rather than thinking and discussing the problems of the world–like, I could be at a protest march or volunteering or getting to know someone new, or c) I could be adding something new to the conversation (the problem with people discussing the humanities is that often the important issues are only discussed in a preaching to the choir kind of way) and actually attempting to fix a social problem in my own small way–like, I could be working on my writing, which ideally will deal with issues I care about and become a part of an expanded, more socially conscious canon–instead of just nodding my head and saying, “Mmhmm.”

So have I taken my cause in a cultural appropriation kind of way, or just in a football fan kind of way?


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