Friday, January 15, 2010

Class Heirarchies

This is certainly typical of Gowri -to 'apply' what shes learning. I have seen the emergence of heirarchies in many situations!
Monday 16th January 2006
Class hierarchies!
A lot of my insecurities, inferiorities and beliefs in my own inability go back to my days in school.
Our class in school was rigidly stratified. There was a definite hierarchy and unconsciously everybody knew their place in it. Everybody knew who the ‘coolest kids’ were, who the richest were, who the smartest were, who the fastest were, who the least cool, who the least smart, dumbest, least intelligent, least talented and who the in between ones were.
There were numerous groups-one ‘cool posh’ group and many smaller less cool, less posh groups.
I was usually in the least cool group. I SUCKED BIG TIME at sports, and preferred playing the swings. Football, basketball, volleyball, I HATED all of them.
If this stratification system were the caste system I would definitely have been a dalit. I belonged to a group. In our group we all had more or less equal status. We didn’t particularly feel inferior for our interactions with the rest of our class were rather limited. We had our own politics. We excommunicated many people from our groups. None of us played sports or wore fashionable clothes or studied well or ‘flaunted’ our money. Or at least most of us didn’t. We excommunicated those who did one or more of these things (most of the time).
Like all stratified systems, our class did have mobility-group mobility, individual mobility, vertical mobility, horizontal mobility. Within groups, different people gained prominence at different times. People were ‘kicked out’ of groups. Others were ‘taken in’. When one group kicked somebody out another group gave them refuge.
There were a lot of politics a lot of jealousies involved in the whole thing. Whenever a group saw an individual get close to another group, a lot of cheep tactics and/ or direct talk were used to expel that person from the group…and before that there was always a lot of plotting and scheming. A friend and I had to use a lot of mental energy to expel three others. Boy that was weird.
All our interpersonal interactions were characterised by ideas of hierarchy-superiority and inferiority. There was a certain sense of violence and competiveness in each and every one of us in spite of …or may be because of the school’s lofty ideals of ‘no competition’ and equality and learning at one’s own pace. Perhaps the very fact that competiveness was suppressed and repressed made it rebound with a greater magnitude. Perhaps it came like a secret volcano more intense because it was secret.
Or are hierarchies, comparisons feelings of superiority and inferiority just normal natural things that happen everywhere especially if equality is not thrust upon the people involved and they are allowed to do what they want and given total freedom? Is that probably why school had so many of these differences and groups and stuff? Probably!
Probably everywhere except in schools where severe indoctrination of ideals such as equality are carried out, army style, these differences exist. Or probably, in other larger schools there were people from so many people from diverse backgrounds that people actually saw others’ sufferings and got sensitised to it rather than just see other ‘okly’ off / rich kids and see who’s richer.
May be when you see a lot of deprivation, you tend to help rather than flaunt. But when you don’t see too much of differences, you see the tiniest of variations and you magnify them into mountains. Maybe that is why my next school had a less rigid stratification coz when all is said and done it catered to a larger variety of students. Though elitist it was not so elitist.


  1. Hierarchies are part of life. Develops even among little kids - birds of a feather ?
    ( sorry, but what,s "Okly off ?" ; a hyd.campus slang ?)

  2. 'okly off" as against "well off" and "poorly off". not hyd campus slang but only sukku style i think