0. Humankind; humanity
This "zero category" is the largest possible grouping of people who might be the subject of historical inquiry.This describes the most egalitarian and democratic group of those who might be the subject of history or the consumers of it. This category has the very general qualities of the word "population" or "humanity".
This "zero" category also is a good place to think about the single individual, the smallest possible morsel within any population, the smallest possible human "group".
Individual as "group"? As you ponder this question, consider the following =
Georg Simmel, was a very suggestive but often overlooked German social theorist in the era before World War One. In 1908, he published an essay called "Die Kreuzung sozialer Kreise". The literal meaning of that title is "the intersection of social circles". It has been translated into English under the title The Web of Group Affiliations.
Simmel's point was that every individual exists within a complex and intersected collection of social "circles". The individual is not just one thing but is an accumulation of many different, inter-webbed and, over time, changing social affiliations. The word Kreuzung [intersection, meshing] even implies something like cross-breeding. Each intersected circle contributes some of its diverse qualities to the process of "breeding" individual identity and influencing behavior. Even the separate individual is historically an amalgam of many overlapping or intersecting circles of identity.
Groups express a complex of many mixed identities, and so do individuals.
What follows here are twelve categorical varieties of identity circles that might variously intersect and variously define the world view, politics and interests of any historical person or group.
1. Time, chronologically defined groups =
a. absolute [EG="Sixties radical", "Renaissance man",
dates according to calendar or clock]
b. relative [EG=first, last, original, medieval, atavistic, backward; contemporary]
2. Place, location, geographically defined groups =
a. geophysical or "ecological" [EG=jungle, plains, urban, rural]
b. territorial, border-bound [EG=Asian, Parisian, Canadian]
c. relative [EG=near, far, "them & us" (Japanese concepts "soto" & "uchi")]
[EG=the young, the old, children, elders]
6. Ethnicity or nationality
(in a sense other than simply "citizenship" in a nation-state)
7. Religion or confessional association
(NB! relationship of consciousness and institutions)
a. economic [EG=landowning elites, owners or managers of capital, or those who rent out their own labor]
b. social [EG=aristocracy, commoners, untouchables]
9. Institutional assignment [EG=soldier, prisoner, taxpayer, family (cf. voluntary below)]
Most particularly the profound distinction between literate and illiterate societies [EG]
11. Voluntary association
[EG=Masons, businessmen, Social-Democrats, voters;
the nuclear family in some societies and at different levels =
Husbands and wives might or might not associate voluntarily,
but parents and children do not associate voluntarily as a rule]
self-consciousness and other abstract categorizations of individuals or groups
[EG=conservative, decadent, environmentalist]
This is usually a very intangible or theoretical category
It is occasionally a very artificial category
The concepts "bourgeois" or "Westerner" might fit here
"Race" probably fits here better than in category (6) above. Consider this argument =
*2016oc18:The Guardian|" 'Racial identity' is a biological nonsense", says Reith lecturer [ E-TXT]
Sometimes "shared perspective" is very insubstantial and ephemeral,
but it can be fostered and protected by tangible institutional assignment (#9 above)
EG=religious views within a church, mosque, synagogue, etc.
EG="nationality" when it means disciplined membership in a nation-state
EG="racism" can be a sharply enforced social/political norm
A passport or drivers license defines a form of ID by institutional assignment (9 above),
but the larger concept of "national identity" or "national character"
exists almost exclusively as a matter of intellectual presumption
[See 2017se15:Russia Beyond E-TXT]
See big-picture historical account by Benedict R.O. Anderson,
Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism [JC311.A656+1]
The Historical Fluidity of Individual and Group Identity
Consider the following =
Several people together might be "Russians", but
some of them entrepreneurs,
some members of the Communist Party,
some with advanced degrees,
some Orthodox Christians,
some of Tatar origins,
some speaking Ukrainian at home,
some long dead,
some from Moscow,
some from remote villages,
some veterans of the Great Patriotic War,
some dissidents against militarism,
Remember these cautionary and suggestive words about "taxonomies".
The blending [ID] of these several categories in any larger population
but also some times in the single individual
no doubt gives rise to a rich variety of perceived interests [ID].
Thus any big historical moment will reflect a rich variety of motivations and will discover them in patterns of factional harmony and discord within and among the groups suggested here.
Now we have to return to Simmel [ID] and factor in his insights = Any one person, certainly any defined group of people, will combine the categories of identity, such as those enumerated above, in many different patterns. And these patterns are subject to irregular historical change. Yes, the young grow old, if they are lucky. The other categories also evolve over time in stop-go patterns, in the life of individuals and in relations within and among groups.
Suddenly nearly everything we know about
(1) "interests" [ID] and
(2) "human groupings" (as suggested on this page)
Thus we need to consider, via hypertext hop,
(3) the taxonomic varieties of historical experience.
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