O is for Others

Different-colors CLEARA person’s definition of the ‘Other’ is part of what defines or even constitutes the self (in both a psychological and philosophical sense) and other phenomena and cultural units. It has been used in social science to understand the processes by which societies and groups exclude ‘Others’ whom they want to subordinate or who do not fit into their society. The concept of ‘otherness’ is also integral to the comprehending of a person, as people construct roles for themselves in relation to an ‘other’ as part of a process of reaction that is not necessarily related to stigmatization or condemnation.Othering is imperative to national identities, where practices of admittance and segregation can form and sustain boundaries and national character. Othering helps distinguish between home and away, the uncertain or certain. However, it often involves the demonization and dehumanization of groups, which further justifies attempts to civilize and exploit these ‘inferior’ others.

‘Otherness’ or ‘the ideology of the Other’, is a pet thing of mine. (Loz) I refer to it as a thing, because it can be a huge part of fiction, and not just in older fields where it is more acceptable to treat otherness as alien.

Otherness is such a big thing, because it is often most of what writing is. Though in a scholarly sense it is often looked at down very fixed and recognisable lines, such as race, nationality or gender, I look at it in a very different way. Every single person is an ‘other’ to everyone else, from the first breath, to the last. Our ideologies are shaped by every aspect of our lives, and writing helps us to explore and understand different ones. That’s why I love otherness. I hate it because there are different ways of thinking that allow it to be an excuse for prejudice, but I’m not talking about that, because I don’t want to encourage it, and I love the other aspect.

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One thought on “O is for Others

  1. Hi. I enjoyed reading your insightful essay.

    I live in Japan, and it is said that Japanese people tend to make a very clear distinction between the insiders and the outsiders, and that we are more group-oriented than individual-oriented. It is interesting to know about the ways people consider ‘self’ and ‘others’ in different cultures.

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