Re: margins

Athena Gavriel (Athena.Gavriel@VUW.AC.NZ)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 22:39:45 +0000

Hi Holly,

sorry for the belated response, but life is hectic.

On Wed, 17 Jul 1996, Holly Swyers wrote:

> To risk sounding like a broken record:
> What is "marginalized"?
To be marginalized is to be on the edge.
The edge or the boundary of a culture or a particular group within a culture.
Who decides?
I think it thatit may be decision of the individuals involved, or the
society/culture they belong to.
For example some people elect to join a particular group that is already
seen by the greater society to be marginalized, such as a particular
gang, or a radical group. Or they may by their personal attributes become
marginalized by their appearance or their behaviour, eg mentally ill,
homosexuals (altho more accepted nowdays in the west), physically disabled.

How large does a society/culture
> need to be to develop margins?
I don't know if the size of the society is so important. I think the
society or culture has to be able to define itself before it can ddefine
its boundaries or margins. If it has no ways of identifying what it is it
has no shape. Then again it may be that people who are marginalized help
to define for that society what its boundaries are by causing it to
question why such behaviour is or isnt permissable.

> Or are there always margins?
Are there always cultures? Are there always groups? Are there always
societies? Judging by my experience I would have to say that if there are
no margins then there is probably no groupings of people. Even in family
dynamics people who are scapegoated are marginalized with in that family.

> Is it possible for two groups to each consider the other "marginalized"?
I think so, but I am trying to think of an example. I think that with in
a marginalised group there can be further degrees of marginalization.
For example someone who joins an ethnic gang for a sendse of
belongingness because they do not belong to the majority culture may be
marginalized within that same group if for example they arent prepared to
engage in activites that the ggang may do that involve breaking the law
of a country.

> marginalization a bad thing or a good thing?
It can be both depending on the individual's circumstances, their
character and their ability to stand strong or be crushed by the
isolation or pressures around them.
Some people chose their position to become "Brokers" between cultures.
Others become outcastes with no affiliation to any group.

Who decides?
Again, I think the individual may chose this position eg a political
activist or a radical, or they may be pushed to the edge by their
standing out from the norms from within the predominant group.

If you are
> marginalized and don't know it, what does that mean?
probably confusion and a sense of social isolation

> If you are marginalized and do know it, does it mean anything?
Yes I think so because it can be used to position yourself in strength
rather than weakness. The strength can be in the knowledge that onee may
have being in the margins. Such as being an interpreter, a negotiator,
a leader of a group within the margin.

> Once something is marginalized, can it become un-marginalized?
Of coourse. Once something is accepted within the dominant group, it is
no longer marginalizing, such as homosexuality or being from a certain
ethnic group. What is intersting here is that it may tkae some time to
move into or out of the margins. It may take even centuries to do this.

>If something has intrinsic value when it is in the margin, does it lose that
> value when/if it becomes de-marginalized?
It would depend on what that intrinsic value is. If one is in the margin
because of the enjoyment or thrill of being different, on the cuttting
edge, unique, then percieved positives may be lost by their being
perceived as normal, ordinary etc.

If one is to argue that certain kinds of "difference" are marginalizing
with in a society then at somepoint sameness on a grand scale or
acceptance of that difference will change the nature of what was once
seeen as different.
For example marriage to non Catholics was once seen in Catholic culture
as a no no and if this happened they either had to convert or agree to
bring up their children as Catholics. (My mother-in-laws generation). By
the time I was married, about 50 yrears later, the issue was discussed,
but there was no pressure to "sign documents" to agree to bring up
children as Catholics altho there were of course more subtle pressures.
The same can be said for divorce in some religions and some cultures.

> ***********************************
> "...for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
> - William Shakespeare, _Hamlet_ (II, ii, 247-48)

Good ol Bill Shakespeare had some gems of sayings didnt he!