Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In lockstep

In a comment on my last post, Heather the Mama Duk raised the point that the sociopolitical term conservative is locally defined, really—so polls saying that most Mormons in the United States self-identify as conservative might well not be parsable. Of course, this won’t kill the narrative that Mormons are a lockstep-type people. So:

Why is the idea that Mormons are a monolithic block (socially, politically, religiously, and so on) so pervasive? I mean, anybody who’s talked about caffeine (or Mitt Romney, or traveling on Sunday, or cooking with a wine reduction, or…) with a cross-section of Mormons has disproved that claim by their own experience, so what’s up with the continued vector of this particular pop-culture meme?

3 comments:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I think it's because most people don't have interactions with a cross-section of Mormons. Most know one group and often they *are* homogenous just like many non-transient small town groups are. Those who have had interactions with a good cross-section often either don't ever get into things like caffeine or cooking with alcohol or they are like us and see that Mormons are far from homogenous.

When we lived in northern VA the first ward we were in had a LOT of people from UT/ID/other west states. They were either here for summer internships or to go to college at GWU or Georgetown. There was a very big us vs. them mentality in that ward. Those of us from the east were the thems, btw, and the us-es really made it clear sometimes that we were lesser Mormons having had the misfortune to be born and raised "in the mission field." One of their biggest complaints is that the easterners were so varied and held many different opinions. I still can't wrap my head around why that is a bad thing.

Working on Mojo. said...

Well said. I agree. I apologise in advance for any errors in grammar but here goes. I frequently find that we are perceived as an en-masse block because that is how we generally behave. I perceive we behave in this manner because the consequence of not doing so frequently leads to being ostracised or disciplined. Inwardly we have individual opinions that differ from our neighbour but outwardly we keep quiet or nod (or refrain from nodding) because someone heard somewhere that a G.A. mentioned something about the thing they want to hammer home. When you get to know LDSs socially (even as co-members) it is constantly a suprise to find out their position on social matters. "I know I should more closely follow the line but I feel ...". I love getting to know folks on a one to one but dislike the en-masse approach. It is a very young religion, just a couple of hundred years old. (I hail from the old world). When it is matured and bedded in I believe we'll have more tolerance for the outliers.

David B said...

I think Heather the Mama Duk is onto something , when she says there’s a regional thing going on. I mean, maybe the lockstep idea comes from people only knowing Mormons near them (if they know any at all, of course), and so they assume that all Mormons everywhere are like that?

Of course, once something like that gets embedded into the narrative, we’re sunk, ’cause that means someone only has to know one Mormon and they get to automatically overgeneralize that Mormon’s positions onto all the rest of us…