Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nittany Lions to Tar Heels - Optimal Groups!

I guess I am about to finally transition to my new role as an ardent fan of the Tar Heels (for those who are not very familiar - Tar Heels is the UNC team while Nittany Lions are from Penn State). Read the story on Tar Heels being ranked No.1 here.

Well, it will be NCAA basketball - March madness and all, while earlier it was College football :). With my impending transition to UNC at the corner, I have developed a sudden interest in the fortunes of the Tar Heels - well, to be truthful only their basketball team. One of my professors once told me that every individual belongs to multiple cheering teams - his idea translates to the notion that when I am in India I cheer for India against Pakistan, when I was at Lucknow I cheered for IIM L, when I am indetroit I cheer for the Pistons against the Suns, when I am in Penn State I cheered for Penn State against Michigan and when I am watching the superbowl I cheer for the Steelers against Patriots.. and therefore when I am in NC I will cheer for the Tar heels against the Blue Devils. What I cheer for (and implicitly which group I associate myself with) is being determined largely by the social context or "my world" as it means to me at that point in time.

My prof called it optimal group stimulation - or some variation of that, which I do not recall very well now. However, the idea did have a profound effect on my thoughts. The social construction of reality was at work here - the world as I see it - its meaning, structure etc. are all what they are because of the various groups that I belong to at various junctures in my life. There is a world - that is unchanging that underlies all of it and that is what is created by everlasting impressions through the eyes of my parents and people really close to me. And then, there is the changing world, the periphery, it is through the lens of various people that I know and hang out with through time. Taken together, I have a unique world, and that makes me the person that I am - a manifestation of the reality constructed by my "society".

I need both these worlds - the core with the transient periphery to be what I am.


Raghuram said...

Holy God. Now I know what is meant by 'Shit Happens'. Where did you buy your pot? Or did you bang your head against some hard thing?
Core world with a periphery?? Aaawmegod.

Girish Mallapragada said...


there is another way of thinking about this...the self, the ideal self, the projected self :)

now...shit happens....and normally I don't need any pot to get high :)