Social Roles and Identities

The purpose of this assessment exercise is twofold: firstly, it aims to get you to thinkcritically about several key issues raised in your readings and the accompanying lectures;secondly, it aims to get you to begin using the critical terminology you will haveencountered in your readings and the accompanying lectures. Thinking critically meansthinking in a way that demands and seeks clarity of ideas, precision with definitions, and anunderstanding of key presuppositions.Presuppositions are in many ways the most important focus of what critical thinking entailsbecause it essentially demands that we interrogate what we take for granted, i.e. that whichwe don’t think about but nonetheless think with. Critiques of ‘white privilege’, ‘gender bias’,‘homophobia’ and so on are all critiques of presuppositions, assumptions that are madeabout the world that aren’t factored into thought. When we think or say, ‘that’s no job for awoman’ (as people have said in the past about a range of professions) we are presupposinga set intrinsic limits and restrictions relating to our understanding of what being a womanentails. Overturning those assumptions has been a century long labour of critical thinkingand activism.Taking that same critical mindset of refusing to accept assumptions at face value, your taskwith the following questions is to write short critical responses (250 words per question)that address the critical issues they raise. I have added a brief outline of the issues that Ithink these questions raise, but you should feel free to add your own, and to respondselectively (ie I don’t expect you to respond to all the issues).Please note the word limit: 250 words per topic (max of 1000 words in total for all 4 topicscombined).Week 2 Australia Day What social and cultural purpose does Australia Day serve?Issues to consider:• According to Stuart Hall culture is a binding agent.• What does Hobsbawm say about the purpose of invented traditions?• According to Anderson, what is required to sustain imagined communities?• Can Australia be considered cosmopolitan?Week 3 The BeachThe beach is a space where Australian identity is performed?Issues to consider:• According to Goffman, all social roles and identities are performed.• Moreton-Robinson argues that Australian culture celebrates the beach as a ‘white’space, thus ignoring and obscuring Indigenous Peoples’ use of the beach.• The beach is a gendered space.• The beach is both a cultural and natural space.Week 4 AquariumsDoes the aquarium commodify nature?Issues to consider:• The aquarium is a business.• Even that which appears nature, such as the clarity of the water, isn’t.• Aquariums offer edutainment.• The species on display reflect cultural choices (e.g., Nemo)Week 5 MobilityThe various ‘lockdowns’ put in place in response to Covid-19 reveal the degree to whichmobility is a central fact of contemporary life.• In the intimate sphere, mobility challenges our understanding of what it means to bein a relationship.• We depend on the movement of objects for our lifestyle.• We enjoy the mobility of tastes – we enjoy Japanese food, for example, without everhaving to go to Japan.• Mobility is an issue of justice.

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