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15 January 2015

Culture As Tinted Glasses

Norton recently posted a video on YouTube in which Dalton Conley talks with Mario Luis Small about his re-conceptualizing of the culture of poverty thesis. In it, Small offers a metaphor for understanding cognitive culture. It goes like this: Culture is like being taught to wear glasses with a certain tint. You wear red-tinted glasses; I wear green. We both approach the same traffic light, but when the light changes from red to green, I will advance forward because I can see the green light, while you will not advance because the light still appears red.

To expand the metaphor, I would say that social structure is like the transportation infrastructure itself. Some people have faster cars that help them advance down the road more quickly. Some lanes and streets are restricted-access, giving some people shorter and less congested routes to their destinations than others.

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