Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Outliers & Cultural Legacies

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups 

In chapter 6 of Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell highlights cultural legacies. He opens with disturbing descriptions of how longstanding cultural patterns and beliefs influenced violent conflicts among generations of families in Kentucky during the 19th century.

The compelling research findings concerning long-term and deeply held values led Gladwell to the conclusion that cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them. He goes on to note the possibilities of “taking cultural legacies seriously” in order to learn “why people succeed and how to make people better.”

It’s worth noting that highlighting cultural legacies can easily give way to problematic racial and gendered generalizations—generalizations we have necessarily been inclined to critique or avoid.

Having said that, what was your take on Gladwell's discussion of cultural legacies? How did his narratives or claims alter or confirm your views about the significance of cultural legacies?

10 comments:

TaTierra Witherspoon said...

The cultural legacies that he described were very violent. The wrath of the first generation was passed on the the next and caused many problems. It seemed as the more hate and more members of a family that was killed , the more power you have. If the families werent so violent & competed for simplier things the generations wouldn't be so hostile towards each other

Jacqueline Carter said...

I was surprised when Gladwell discussed cultural legacies because the families were so violent. It is never necessary to react to things the way they did. It altered my views because I always thought positive about cultural legacies and didn't realize the negative aspects they have.

Jade Green said...

It was very surprising to me as well, because I thought cultural legacies were something to be proud of. But in this case the violence that went on was a negatuve part of their cultural legacy. It makes me understand how many people have different cultures and how some can be very negative and violent.

Ashya Ford said...

The results of the studies constructed on cultural legacies was surprising to me. I've always thought that family feuds were deep rooted but I never really attributed it to the cultural. I guess I just never thought it could be a cultural thing; however it makes sense that if you were raised with such animosity, your actions will reflect that.
Ashya F.

Christopher Wade said...

I feel that Gladwell's examples in his discussion of cultural legacies although violent made the subject of cultural legacies easier for me to understand. This help me support a thought I had that along with physical traits that mental behaviors are also passed down through DNA. By using background and family history it could be easier to out people in situations that will help them better themselves in society.

Jessica Oranika said...

I was surprised by Gladwell's discussion on cultural legacies because they were violent, negative and fueled by anger and egotistical views. Usually when thinking of any kind of legacy, I imagine something positive, maybe a source of pride even. At the same time,in the example the way the mother told her son to die quietly as his brother did. She made it seem as if she was proud of him for dying that way instead of saddened and angered by a senseless killing.

Raven Cole said...

Gladwell's examples of cultural legacies surprised me. I felt that were cultural legacies were suppose to be a positive thing. I pictured cultural legacies as a culture's values, beliefs, and traditions not violence and turmoil.

Mariah B. said...

All of the cultural legacies that Gladwell described were very violent. The families wanted to kill each other over the smallest things instead of finding a different way to handle things. When I think of the word legacy I think of something positive that we do that was left behind by our ancestors and something to be proud of. I've never thought of it in a negative way.

Wole Abraham said...

The way Gladwell described cultural legacies made me think of it in a different perspective. Usually when someone speaks about a legacy its one that is good or positive, but Gladwell showed the darker more negative side of a cultural legacy.

Dj Sterling said...

I think Gladwell was saying that cultural legacies can be either good or bad things. He showed the other side of them so that we aren't ignorant that there are bad sides also. I never really looked at cultural legacies having any kind of significance at all. He opened my mind to realizing that the personality that I have is not only shaped by who I think I am, but also by the cultural legacies that are present within.