Our fixation with classification: The root of most social injustice?


Have you ever thought about the human race’s obsession with classification? We tend to classify every possible and impossible concept: race, sex, social status, sexual orientation, mental state, physical state, financial state, spiritual state and the list goes on and on and on.

Most of the time we pit these dualities as binaries. Binaries seen as one against the other. One is thus right and the other wrong. Why do we feel the need to hold on to these classifications?

Believer versus non-believer       sane versus insane     male versus female

heterosexuality versus homosexuality                 rich versus poor

I have come to believe that these binaries allow for injustices to breed, as we exclude or include with it by default. Who decides which of these so called “states” should be the norm? Why is it that we still use  heteronormative and often patriarchal measuring sticks? I believe that when we prescribe to a specific group and then tell each other how right we are, we are busy with a mass masturbation session! It is not about honoring other people or the appreciations of others, but about making ourselves feel secure and justified. Our way become the “right” way and those who understand or believe differently, becomes the “other”, the wrong and the enemy!

I believe that the only way how we can address this is, to move beyond classifications. Let us see a PERSON instead of a black or a white, man or a woman, a gay or a straight, a poor or a rich! We are at all times firstly a person when then happens to be male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, church goer or non-church goer or whatever other classification might spring to mind. The classification should not define personhood but rather the fact that we share one commonality, namely we are human beings – we are all firstly a PERSON!

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5 thoughts on “Our fixation with classification: The root of most social injustice?

  1. If and when a person needs others to help find a missing person that person needs to give a clear discription of that person and that would include all the classifications you hate to use. The same goes for hunting down a criminal. So please you should be the one to change back to normal.

    • Dear Johan
      Thank you for your comment, but it would seem as if you misunderstood this post in terms of the context to which I refer to.The context that I am referring to is when we are in a social situation and use classifications to “other” people and thereby exclude or negate them. We often tend to see those who differ from us as the enemy, instead of accepting that there are many different realities other than what one might believe to be the “right” one. In other words, even when someone differs from me, whether in race, class, sex, religion or sexual orientation, I still can treat that person with respect and dignity. My plea is that we firstly see a person before we start to divide and judge with classifications. Often we will find that we have much more in common than what sets us apart.

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