Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘sociology

Interrupters And Non-Interrupters

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Uri in Atoms vs Bits has a useful post on something I knew (intellectually) already, but that is hard in practice to deal with (see below). The post begins:

Recently I was reminded of one of my favourite examples of competing social norms: conversational interrupters and non-interrupters.

  • Interrupters have a norm where you keep talking until someone interrupts you, it’s not rude to interrupt someone, and you shouldn’t mind if someone interrupts you. (Apparently linguists call this “high-involvement cooperative overlapping”).
  • Non-interrupters have a norm where you don’t start speaking until someone else has stopped, or invited you in.

Either norm works fine around other people with the same norm, but not around people with the competing norm.

I think it can be hard to accept that both norms are genuinely fine, because it’s easy in conversations to feel annoyed at people who are violating your norm only because they don’t share it. Ok, more accurately: as a non-interrupter I get annoyed at interrupters, but I don’t know if interrupters get annoyed at non-interrupters per se, or just find us rather dull — this dynamic isn’t fully symmetric.

Still, I think it’s hard to claim there’s an objectively correct norm here, even though there’s one norm that I strongly prefer myself; it’s just unfortunate that people often have conflicting norms without realising it.

Of course, there are people who e.g. are happy to interrupt you, but get mad if you interrupt them — those people aren’t adhering to the interrupter norm, they’re just hypocrites/assholes and it’s not fair to conflate them with adherents of the interrupter norm. Similarly, someone who is checked out of the conversation and not really listening or engaging is not adhering to the non-interrupter norm, they’re just not involved in the conversation.

One thing to note is that  . . .

Continue reading.

Linguistically, I’m from the South (Oklahoma), which has a non-interrupting culture. When I met people from the Northeast — New York City, for example — I was stunned by the way they interrupted. I felt I couldn’t get an word in edgeways, and they doubtless felt that I was rather slow since I stood stupidly silent and failed to join in.

It helps to understand that interrupting cultures view conversation as a matter of active collaboration, but to have someone interrupt me when I am developing a thought still feels wrong — but that’s exactly the feeling of culture shock: when someone from another culture does or says something that is totally acceptable in their culture while being totally wrong in your culture.

And he’s right: I either avoid such people, or I stick to one-on-one conversation — a dialogue (though even in that situation interrupters will be interrupting, the dogs).

My immediate feeling still is that interrupting is discourteous and even downright rude — it also makes communication difficult if one is unable to present a complete thought. (I’m just sayin’)

Written by Leisureguy

14 February 2022 at 12:31 pm

The Spectacular Rise of Ornamental Plants

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MIT Press has an article excerpted from George Gessert’s book Green Light: Toward an Art of Evolution:

Aesthetic appeal may have played a role in the domestication of plants and animals, but the rise of pure ornamentals, that is, plants cultivated only for their aesthetic characteristics, is a much later development. Long after the emergence of urban civilization, ornamental and economic uses of plants seem not to have been distinguished. For example, the elegant gardens depicted in Egyptian tombs of the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1415 BCE) consisted, as far as we can tell, of multiple-use plants. Among those that have been identified are date palms, grapes, pomegranates, papyruses, and figs.

A few Egyptian tomb paintings show flowering plants that may have been pure ornamentals, but could just as well have been medicinals. Even blue water lilies, which are ubiquitous in Egyptian art, were more than symbolic and ornamental. The rhizomes of Nymphaea caerulea yield a powerful hallucinogen that the Egyptians probably used to make contact with the gods.

The earliest gardens that seem to have been intended primarily for pleasure were in Mesopotamia. The Gilgamesh epic, which refers to events in 2700 BCE, contains descriptions of what may have been ornamental gardens; however, the first unmistakable evidence of plants cultivated for pleasure is from Assyria. There, kings had hunting preserves and parklike tree plantations. Tiglath Pilesar I, who reigned about 1100 BCE, brought back cedars and box from lands he conquered. Other Assyrian kings left records of parks planted with palms, cypresses, and myrrh.

We do not know what these parks looked like. The first nonutilitarian gardens that can be loosely reconstructed date from the sixth century BCE. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were created by Nebuchadnezzar, who, the story goes, built them for his Persian wife, who was homesick for the mountains of her childhood. Babylon was situated on a river plain. The terraced gardens, which covered three or four acres, were said to resemble a green mountain. The earliest records of the Hanging Gardens are by the Greek historians Diodorus and Strabo, but no remains have ever been found. However, remnants of Cyrus the Great’s (ca. 585-ca. 529 BCE) garden at Pasargadae still exist. It had trees and shrubs planted symmetrically in plots.

Records of Mesopotamian parks and gardens emphasize trees. Why trees rather than flowers? In the case of Cyrus the Great’s garden, only the remains of trees and shrubs have survived the centuries. Herbaceous plants, if they existed, have vanished. The Greeks, whose records we must rely on for much of our information about Mesopotamian gardens, were not horticulturally advanced, and may have been unduly impressed by the largest, most obvious plants. Still, trees were almost certainly important features of Mesopotamian gardens. Trees provide shade, a necessity in that part of the world, with its intense light and scorching heat.

In addition to their utilitarian value, many trees are architecturally pleasing, and have symbolic and social significance. Like other agricultural peoples, the Mesopotamians cleared land for crops and cut trees for wood. Near towns and cities, groves left uncut may have gradually disappeared because cattle, sheep, and goats grazed and trampled seedlings, allowing no new trees to grow. When forests are reduced to memories, surviving remnants may take on new meanings. Groves can become emblematic of the past, and sacred. They can also become indicators of wealth and worldly power.

The same meanings do not necessarily accrue to smaller flowering plants. Agriculture and herding eliminate many kinds of small plants, but . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2021 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Environment, History, Science

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Buying decisions based on groups

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We often buy to disassociate ourselves from a group instead of to associate ourselves with a group:

Just as some products reveal our aspirations, there are other products that consumers avoid, lest we be associated with a particular group. An environmentalist would never buy an SUV. Baby boomers avoid products associated with being elderly. A recent Apple computer campaign framed PCs as bumbling and dorky. What’s the difference between products we actively avoid and those that are simply “not us”? A new study from the Journal of Consumer Research reveals an important distinction between non-membership in a group and groups with which we want to avoid association – and also highlights the mitigating effect of social pressure.

“Although past research has confirmed that consumers often choose products and brands that represent who they are, the current research suggests that consumers also choose products in ways that demonstrate who they are not,” explain Katherine White (University of Calgary) and Darren W. Dahl (University of British Columbia).

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

5 December 2007 at 10:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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