Foro Flamenco
Posts Since Last Visit | Advanced Search | Home | Register | Login

Today's Posts | Inbox | Profile | Our Rules | Contact Admin | Log Out



Welcome to one of the most active flamenco sites on the Internet. Guests can read most posts but if you want to participate click here to register.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Paco de Lucía, Ron Mitchell, Guy Williams, Linda Elvira and Philip John Lee who went ahead of us too soon.
We receive 12,200 visitors a month from 200 countries and 1.7 million page impressions a year. To advertise on this site please contact us.





Status-mongering, or Who wants to play the Status Game?   You are logged in as Guest
Users viewing this topic: none
  Printable Version
All Forums >>Discussions >>Off Topic >> Page: [1]
Login
Message<< Newer Topic  Older Topic >>
 
kitarist

Posts: 692
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

Status-mongering, or Who wants to pl... 

Interesting 'public philosophy' article by Agnes Callard. I see a lot of "status-mongering" at work.

Brief excerpts:

"When you first meet someone, you “feel each other out” to see where your lives might connect—where are you from, what do you do, what music/art/books do you like, etc. You are looking for common ground on the basis of which your conversation might proceed. Call this the Basic Game; I’d like to contrast it with two more advanced games that can be played in its stead, or alongside it.

"In the Importance Game, participants jockey for position. This usually works by way of casual references to wealth, talent, accomplishment or connections, but there are many variants. [...] The other game is the Leveling Game, and it uses empathy to equalize the players. [...]

"The advanced games really are advanced, in the sense of being harder to play than the Basic Game. This is due to the fact that one must, while playing them, also pretend not to be playing them. [...] Call this “The Self-Effacing Rule.” [..]

"There is a philosophical conundrum at the root of all this: morality requires we maintain a safety net at the bottom that catches everyone—the alternative is simply inhumane—but we also need an aspirational target at the top, so as to inspire us to excellence, creativity and accomplishment. In other words, we need worth to come for free, and we also need it to be acquirable. [...]

https://thepointmag.com/examined-life/who-wants-to-play-the-status-game-agnes-callard/

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 21 2020 20:55:14
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2681
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

Interesting 'public philosophy' article by Agnes Callard. I see a lot of "status-mongering" at work.

https://thepointmag.com/examined-life/who-wants-to-play-the-status-game-agnes-callard/


Callard's article certainly deserves some thought.

Your comment prompts the observation that when a task requires a fairly large number of people to carry it out, humans almost always organize (or are organized) into a hierarchy.

As a manager of up to 250 people with a variety of different skills, and different levels of competence within a given skill, the organization that I inherited had three official status levels. I had a half dozen subordinate managers, and they each had subordinate managers and employees. But within a given organizational level, there were of course differences in status.

My chief responsibility was to see that our tasks were carried out reliably and efficiently. One of my governing beliefs was that to do so required that individuals be satisfied with their rank within the hierarchy, both the one on paper, and the one implicit in daily interactions. There was an ethical responsibility as well, to see that this was true.

I felt I had received a compliment when my boss told me, during his first performance evaluation of me, that "Everybody who works at XXX is treated with respect."

But I soon became aware of a different hierarchy. The job was on a large high tech military base on a remote island in the Central Pacific. I and my employees were civilians, ranging from people with engineering PhDs from Stanford and M.I.T. to semi-literate mechanical helpers. Employees derived their overall social status largely from work.

The wives of relatively high status married engineers and technicians had a different criterion. Few, if any, of the wives had much knowledge of their husbands' work. But houses were assigned in blocks by the military, then in detail by the company. The houses varied in size, age and location. Their status was well defined and highly visible. For example, a house on the beach was better than one that was exactly the same, except for being on the next street inland.

Some wives placed more value on the housing hierarchy, some less. But I never encountered a case where it was of no importance at all. It took up a fair amount of my time to negotiate dissonances between a husband's work status and a wife's aspirations, or perceptions of where they ought to be in the house status game.

Husbands soon found they could discuss the situation freely with me. I scrupulously avoided the subject with wives. It was the husband's job to adjust her housing status. It not mine even to acknowledge it existed, or could be an issue between spouses.

If organizational goals are well defined and clearly measurable, status is important at work.

General concerns about status seem inevitable in societies of any appreciable size. When I left teaching at a state university after a few years a friend asked my why. I told him I found industry more congenial. Academia, at least for sizable universities, generally sees itself as socially superior to industry. I told my friend that in industry, if you mistreated your employees you either demoralized them and they let you down, or they would organize and stab you in the back. In a few years in academia I saw people who had been crapping on graduate students for 20 years, and nothing bad had happened to them yet. (I suppose there may be academic institutions which are exceptions to this generalization.)

In some contexts status is not only unimportant, it is inappropriate.

Larisa and I were invited to dinner on Christmas Eve in Florida, by people whom I didn't know. When I asked, she told me ten or twelve other guests would be there. I only knew one of them, not very well. Though I felt some reluctance, I kept quiet, because she was clearly enthusiastic.

We were among the last to arrive. We were greeted by the hosts, given a pre-dinner drink, and left to navigate the full gathering. I was the oldest person there, probably the best off financially, and probably had the most prestigious degree. But none of this made any difference.

i lucked out. The first person I began to speak to was one of the youngest, in his twenties. He was a bit shy, and made his living as a teacher at a music store. He went to a local college I had never heard of. But he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about music in general, and clearly loved his job teaching young people. The fifteen or twenty minutes I spent with him was the most fun I had, for what turned out to be a very pleasant evening.

Shared interests and mutual respect were what made it so pleasant. Any negotiation of status was not just unimportant, it was off limits.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2020 1:09:36
 
Piwin

Posts: 2434
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to kitarist

"Jockeying for position and fishing for empathy offer up such twisted, ugly versions of the philosophical ideas of virtue and equality that we could not stand to engage in them for long, were we not shielding our eyes from what we are doing. And that, I think, is what ultimately explains the Self-Effacing Rule."

Perhaps. We could also examine it through the prism of what philosopher David Lewis called "common knowledge", i.e. infinitely nested knowledge. He knows that I know that he knows that I know, etc. The distinction here would be with "private knowledge" (I know something, but I have no idea whether anybody else knows that something too) and "shared knowledge" (I know something, and I also know that some other people know it too).

I think we're constantly navigating between those various types of knowledge, and switching from one to another can have a dramatic impact on our social relations. The most obvious example is the Emperor's New Clothes, where a child's exclamation forces everyone out of private or shared knowledge right into common knowledge.

Where the author sees the fact that we remain silent as an attempt to shield our own eyes from what we're doing, I would tend to see it as a way to maintain relatively fluid social relations. "Do you want to come up for a night cap?" In the right context (and I can't stress enough the importance of context here...), it is likely that she knows that I know that she knows, etc. that I'm extending an invitation to potentially have sex. So why don't I just say "do you want to come up and maybe have sex with me?" Consider what happens if the invitation is rejected. In the first case, while we both now that the other knows etc. that it was a invitation to have sex, we can both pretend that "nothing happened" and that all that was asked and refused was an invitation to have one last drink. When we run into each other on the next day, our social interaction will be relatively comfortable. In the second case however, I've given her no way out other than to directly reject the invitation to have sex. Our interaction the next day will be more uncomfortable, as we've left ourselves no wiggle room to soften the blow or have any doubt at all as to what actually happened. Leaving it unsaid allows for some salutary doubt. It allows us to think that perhaps we weren't in a situation of common knowledge after all.

I would tend to see it that way. It is not that we are trying to shield ourselves from what we are doing, but rather that we are trying to blunt the edges of social interactions, and giving everyone a better chance to avoid open conflict. Naming these games out loud would force our interlocutors' hand to engage with us in a different kind of way. If true, then the people doing this are likely much less confused that she thinks they are and they are even closer to the truth than she is, since they've understood that this "mess" is in fact quite voluntary and often a net positive.

_____________________________

J'ouvre une parenthèse. Si vous avez un peu trop d'air, je la refermerai tout de suite.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2020 8:06:16
 
kitarist

Posts: 692
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to kitarist

Interesting perspectives, guys, thank you for responding. It goes to show you how much it indeed depends on context. I had a completely different mindset for it while reading - I understood her as referring to situations of individuals purposefully negotiating status; and I didn't think the one "simple" and two 'advanced' games were meant to be an exhaustive list of all possible interactions. Many other social interactions just do not involve the Importance game or people choose not to play it - and you both I think point out some of these other types of interactions.

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2020 17:59:31
 
kitarist

Posts: 692
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

Some wives placed more value on the housing hierarchy, some less. But I never encountered a case where it was of no importance at all. It took up a fair amount of my time to negotiate dissonances between a husband's work status and a wife's aspirations, or perceptions of where they ought to be in the house status game.


What was the way the housing hierarchy ultimately was put together? Was it just chance of who got there first, or perhaps reflecting which company historically had more influence so got better spots for their employees, or was it completely random somehow?

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2020 18:02:26
 
kitarist

Posts: 692
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to Piwin

quote:

I would tend to see it as a way to maintain relatively fluid social relations. "Do you want to come up for a night cap?" In the right context (and I can't stress enough the importance of context here...), it is likely that she knows that I know that she knows, etc. that I'm extending an invitation to potentially have sex. So why don't I just say "do you want to come up and maybe have sex with me?" Consider what happens if the invitation is rejected.


Of course, I agree (except to my mind this is not an alternative way to see the same thing the philosopher described, but rather a different type of social interaction which is very common).

Which reminded me of another example of the type you described above, which developed out of necessity [of saving face] in social Argentine tango dancing - the 'cabeceo'.

Basically, traditionally men and women at a milonga ( Argentine tango dancing social gathering) would sit around the big room. Men are allowed to invite any woman to dance with them for a set (a tanda, 3-4 pieces connected thematically), i.e. the typical situation is that one would dance with many different partners throughout the night.

As all present would have different skills, one would observe for a while the people they do not know, to see how they dance, how good they are. That goes both ways - for men and women.

So, what happens if a man comes up to a woman he liked the dancing of, and asks her for a dance, and she refuses? Imagine walking up (traditionally men and women were sitting on opposite sides, so this was crossing the room in a very obvious way), offering your hand, only to be told 'no' then having to walk back to your seat..

Happens all the time, except not as I described it. Instead, what organically developed is as follows:

During the brief pause between tandas, both men and women scan the room from where they are sitting, with their eyes only. If a man likes to dance with someone, he would sort of gaze at her trying to catch her eye. This is the negotiation - if the woman looks away, she just said 'no thanks'; if she did not look away, she said 'yes'. Only upon getting that non-verbal OK, the man then gets up and walks over and explicitly invites her to dance (even though this was already negotiated), which the woman graciously always accepts (because the refusals have been filtered out already :-) ). It is almost impossible for onlookers to figure out what happened between whom, if there was a refusal.

So this works not only to avoid awkwardness between the specific man and woman who negotiated for a dance, but also to avoid awkwardness or judgement from others - the onlookers.

The odd thing is, when social Argentine tango came to North America, the cabeceo had a very hard time getting established and probably still is not practiced in many NA tango communities. NA men just didn't want to bother and would just go and be explicit, forcing the women to always say yes and only able to complain in private about their undesirable dance partners.

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2020 19:07:03
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2681
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

Some wives placed more value on the housing hierarchy, some less. But I never encountered a case where it was of no importance at all. It took up a fair amount of my time to negotiate dissonances between a husband's work status and a wife's aspirations, or perceptions of where they ought to be in the house status game.


What was the way the housing hierarchy ultimately was put together? Was it just chance of who got there first, or perhaps reflecting which company historically had more influence so got better spots for their employees, or was it completely random somehow?


It was a complex game, with no fixed and generally known rules.

As I mentioned, each company, and each main division of each company were assigned a block of houses, based on their organization charts.

Due to the remote location of the military base the employee turnover rate was around 15% per year. Houses were most frequently vacated at the end of the school year, when employees would return to the USA. Generally throughout the summer replacements arrived at random times, and in random order of "work rank."

There were published rules for housing assignment, based upon work rank and family size. But the limited housing supply and variation in available housing stock often did not admit application of the theoretical rules. This led to people being assigned houses above or below their work rank.

The status game was played when someone was assigned to a house below their work rank, or at least felt they had been. Rarely, but often enough to be a thorn in the side of management, a wife would simply think she deserved a better house than the system (such as it was) had produced. When a better house opened up, I would be petitioned to ask for it. Fairly often the available better house might be above the employee's work rank.

Early in my time on island, I pointed out to an employee that the requested reassignment would be an exception to policy. His response was, "Look around. 'Exception to policy' is the policy." He was right. I agreed to pursue his request.

My company was by far the largest on island. It was outranked only by a tiny contingent of military, civil servants and technical advisers, totaling maybe 40 people out of 2,500 Americans. Most of our employees were unaccompanied, and lived in apartment buildings of varying age and amenity, assigned according to their pay grades, but there were several hundred who lived in houses, accompanied by wives and children.

I had only one superior on the island, but a handful of peers. One person in the company handled housing assignments. He was a few levels lower on the organization chart, but he had the boss's backing. All three of us were friends, and obviously it was critical that we should remain so.

So my calculation of how much sociopolitical capital to spend on a housing request was complex.

My negotiations with my friends might range from subtle signaling to a statement that, "This guy is mission critical, he is one of my best employees, and if he doesn't get a better house, his wife is leaving in two months." Even playing such a trump card didn't guarantee a win. At least twice i lost such an employee in the house status game.

The boss, the housing guy and I trusted and respected one another enough to remain friends, even in the face of such a disappointment, and in the face of the equally distasteful task of having to arrive at a decision that would clearly be a severe disappointment to me.

Of course the housing guy was a nimble tactician and a master diplomat. But after he had a few years in the job i sat next to him at a big dinner party. The person on the other side asked him, "So how's the job?"

The housing guy replied, "I only go out of doors after midnight. Otherwise, wives would talk to me." I felt it might very likely not be an exaggeration.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2020 2:38:46
 
kitarist

Posts: 692
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

The housing guy replied, "I only go out of doors after midnight. Otherwise, wives would talk to me." I felt it might very likely not be an exaggeration.


Yikes. It probably wasn't!

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2020 20:53:08
 
mrstwinkle

 

Posts: 352
Joined: May 14 2017
 

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to kitarist

The more interesting qestion is how to counteract it? Other than pointing out drectly 'you're not really that busy or in demand, you're just inflating youir own importance'.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2020 21:38:00
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2681
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Status-mongering, or Who wants t... (in reply to mrstwinkle

quote:

ORIGINAL: mrstwinkle
The more interesting qestion is how to counteract it? Other than pointing out drectly 'you're not really that busy or in demand, you're just inflating youir own importance'.


Of course the problems were that

1) House status and job status were frequently mismatched according to published rules, and

2) House status was usually more important to wives than to employees, because job status was less visible to wives.

The top leaders of my company were engineers. The housing status game was inherently immune to solution by engineering thought processes, much less by confrontation of its motivators.

Employees were often forced by their wives to participate against their will or inclination. Attempting to confront the predominant initiators would in most cases have amounted to intervention into marriage issues. It would have had much worse consequences than the game itself.

Fortunately, solving the housing game was not my job. Its ill effect was company wide. I had other fish to fry. My organization ran the most important high tech facilities.

One of my bosses lamented the game's existence. His successor seemed not to see it as a problem. He did sweat bullets at one time when he realized he had authorized more job offers than there were houses to go around. Eventually enough offers were declined that his predicament evaporated. His immediate subordinates held him in lesser regard than they had his predecessor. We laughed at him behind his back.

But I had to play the damned game.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 24 2020 1:17:35
Page:   [1]
All Forums >>Discussions >>Off Topic >> Page: [1]
Jump to:

New Messages No New Messages
Hot Topic w/ New Messages Hot Topic w/o New Messages
Locked w/ New Messages Locked w/o New Messages
 Post New Thread
 Reply to Message
 Post New Poll
 Submit Vote
 Delete My Own Post
 Delete My Own Thread
 Rate Posts


Forum Software powered by ASP Playground Advanced Edition 2.0.5
Copyright © 2000 - 2003 ASPPlayground.NET

0.0625 secs.