Which is stronger: the forces of nature, or the imposed values of society? Social scientists have often argued about nature vs. nurture–both leave indelible marks on our lives; but which one more than the other?
Yesterday I was sitting among a crowd of people and I noticed that people sit in groups. Couples sit together, of course, but they tend to separate themselves. And if you think that adults are past high-school “chicks bond together, dudes stick together” philosophy, think again. I saw cells of girls and cells of guys, and the inter-cell wall is impermeable–except maybe for some occasional erratic behavior from a cell member that talked to a neighboring cell member. In this particular case, the cells are pretty homogeneous: young adult (18-30) Chinese Indonesians. But still it got me wondering about social and biological divide.
Age, gender, ethnicity, height? –> biological factors.
Occupation, social status, ethnicity –> sociological factors.
(I put ethnicity in both categories because it’s fluid, depending on circumstances)
If you were put into a swirling mass of people, with differing gender, age, occupation, status, and ethnicity, and you know not a single soul in the crowd, who would you first associate yourself with?
Now that I think more of it, it’s really hard to separate a person from the society that s/he lives in. One has to be willing to acknowledge differences in order to acknowledge another person. In multicultural California, for example, the comfort level threshold is pretty high because people are used to heterogeneous crowds. But dump an unsuspecting Indonesian to the community of strangers mentioned above, and s/he will freeze up in confusion and caution. Simply because her upbringing didn’t expose her to dissimilar people.
Throwing that note aside, though. WHAT would be the deciding factor when you choose your gang?
I personally can’t say. I would look for people who are similar to me, and affinity can’t really be categorized into social/biological. But if I were forced to give an answer, it would be: gender-emotion/temperament-ethnicity.
I am but just a tiny single voice, and highly subjective at that, so I guess this is one of those great questions without one right answer.