Finished Module 3 of OXBSG01X of OxfordX on EdX - 29th May 2018

Finished Module 3 of OXBSG01X of OxfordX on EdX, 29th May 2018.
Yesterday (29th May 2018) finished the module 3 of OXBSG01X - From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development from OxfordX on EdX.

This module was titled: Power,Identities and Narratives. Below are the notes, as I understood some of the things in the course

Carrying over from last two modules, which essentially talked about "Power" scheme of things, in which how from anarchy, first a centralised state is formed and then due to compulsion of power mostly, an inclusive state is formed. In module 3 we carried over this study to understand how the whole concept of "Power" is affected by two very important concepts of "Identities" and "Narratives". We also talked about what happens if there is a mis-match between power and identities and how to align them. We also discussed, how narratives shape a society, in turn the identity and hence the power.

Identity, if we talk about, it is a social phenomena, which occurs due to the interaction of group norms and personal values. We all are born under some kind of social network, the smallest of it is a unit called family. Now this group or network has some norms, which when start imbibing it, it becomes our identity. Later on we carry forward this personal identity and interact with other social networks, and our personal identity interacts with the other social network/groups norms and they forge together and we develop a different identity, which is relative to that group. Slowly these norms get internalised as our own values, and hence they forge this new identity of ours.

Basically, identity means that we have set of characteristics, which then situates in a particular group or groups. So we could be simultaneously placed under too many different groups because we have certain physical,demographic,geographical,linguistics chracteristics, and then comes educationl,professional,recreational attributes etc.

The individual is derived from its interactions with it's networks, the smallest one being the "family", like th eproverbial saying that we are sum of all our experiences. Hence, an individual is not an isolated entity, just like nothing in this natural world is isolated, each being affected by lot of different factors and resulting into one net sum of actions.

Identity leads to self-esteem and peer-esteem, if we comply with the norms, now internalised among us due to our interaction with the particular group or network. For Ex: In a vegetarian family, the norm which gets internalised in a member is not to consume any non-vegetarian food. As long the members of the group comply with this norm, they have this self-esteem that they truly belong to this group or network.

Similarily, working along side peers and internalising their norms and then following or complying with them brings us peer esteem. For ex: If someone is a professor, belonging to a reputed university renowned for it is research, then the norm of this peer group or network is actively participating in academic research. If the professor(s) do so, then they comply with the norm of this netowrk and thus get the peer-esteem.

If there is a mis-math between power and identity, then there is no authority for the ruler. Basically it means that people are not going to comply with the instructions voluntarily or without any coercion. When there is a match between power and identity, the words like "US" can be used. Scoiety progresses and remains functional, if it has shared identity, because it unites the people.

The strongest form of "narrative", which is a fancy word for "story telling" is that of shared struggle. The classic example of how ex-president of Tanzania Mr.Julius Neyrere transformed a collective group of more than 50 different tribes into one nation, by rallying the cry that "We must run to, where others walk"; focussing on shared poverty and backwardness.

A scoiety which does not have a shared identity, will not only have trouble with stable power, but over the period of time would become dysfucntional, with people trying to sabotage people from other community or identity, even to their own peril (as demonstarted in Nairobi Flower Factory Study) and could result into devastative consequences like 2008 violence in Kenya, related to election results, which resulted into more than 1000 people killed.

Identities play role in other ways also, like for example in case of tax collection, where if tax collectors have high self-esteem in the society for the honest job they are doing, like in Norway, a very efficient tax system could be built; compared to a soceity where dysfunctional identity and corrupt narratives and improper norms, lead to tax embezzlement and corrupt tax officials.

It is difficult to correct the narratives and norms in a dysfunctional society for a public policy maker like government, but things could be brought to control to some extent by breaking the social networks of people who constitutes, such dysfunctional norms and narratives. For ex, firing corrupt officials and sentencing them to imprisonment, can bring sanity to a dysfucntional society.