This blog is designed as a resource for CURR 501, Media Literacy, Popular Culture and Education at Rhode Island College, summer 2015. The course is driven by the essential question: How is new media and digital culture produced and consumed in ways that help us understand ourselves and each other in the context of the current educational landscape?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ideology and the Real World

Washington Post —June 29, 2015
More than 26 million people have changed their Facebook picture to a rainbow flag. Here’s why that matters.

Given our work this afternoon on ideology and how we come to learn about the norms and assumptions of our dominant culture, I found this article from the Washington Post today a perfect punctuation mark.

"Marriage equality, like so many thorny issues, is not just about policy change. It’s also, crucially, about changing social attitudes toward an entire group of people. And it’s here that there could be a real role for social media campaigns.

See, our social attitudes are informed largely by what we believe is standard or acceptable in our social group as a whole. And every day, whether we realize it or not, we receive lots of different messages on these norms: some unspoken (I can’t come to work naked), some based in law (I can’t kill even my most-hated commenters), some very literal (“buckle up,” “just say no”).

Profile pictures, arguably, are a very particular and effective type of message. They don’t dictate how you should or must behave, as laws and PSAs typically do; instead, they simply tell you how your peers are behaving. In other words, they support marriage equality; why don’t you?

“When people try to change behavior, they often focus on … telling people what they should do,” the social psychologist Melanie Tannenbaum explained in 2013. “We often underestimate just how strongly we respond to what other people actually do.”

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