Judith, over at Kesher Talk points out something we political-theory types have missed that’s so ‘smack me in the head obvious’ that I’m almost embarrassed to link to it.
She points out that people may … wait for it … choose their political positions in some part because of who they like to hang out with.
In fact, many people – especially young adults – derive their political views from the social group wherein they feel the most comfortable. They want to feel part of a larger community, and the jargon, in-group jokes, soundbites, clothing styles, music tastes, et al, that identify this community assume a common underlying world view. They then adopt the politics that allow them to have companionship while enjoying their tastes, even though in most cases one is not dependent on the other.
Well, guilty as charged.
I was depressed for weeks after I learned about collaborative filtering, and proved its effectiveness to myself (note that the engines on Amazon are pretty poor, but the ones on NetFlix are pretty good). The notion that my tastes might be somehow formed in some part by my socialization and that other people’s behavior was a pretty good predictor of mine put paid to all my Howard Roarke fantasies. That and the fact that whenever I need clothes, I could pretty much go into one of three stores and they’d always have something I liked.
So the fifteen people who shop at The Gap, Bernini, and REI all have something in common with me…I wonder how our politics match up?