Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Politics of Place

Author's Note: The rate of posting will be reduced to once a week. Posts will come out on Mondays

Appropriate/ inappropriate practice varies according to the field onelives in and one's position in the field. This is evident in language:

- knowing your place
- "it is not my place to say..."
- "I put him in his place"
- nasa lugar/ wala sa lugar (which is probably less vertically orientedthan the first two)
- "i'm not yet in a position to do anything about it.
- positioning oneself for something
- "you've arrived"

Two examples.

I served as secretary for a conference in Cebu and arrived at a beach-sidedinner late so all the (round) tables were filled. I occupied the one empty chair I found and in a moment realized that it was not my place to sit there because it was filled with the people who occupied the top ofthe totem pole. Too late to get out.

Two months ago, I was in Makati for the signing of a MOA that I had worked for and involved my department. Before the start of the signing, two of my bosses and I were milling around with a few officers of the corporation chitchatting in a circle but my phone rang and I stepped out of the circle which closed quickly behind me. After I left, I noticed that the conversation started to flow more smoothly and I myself was more comfortable talking to the junior officers.

After the signing, the President of the corporation dropped by and there was a picture taking and my bosses were there but I was not invited even if the MOA involved my office. Don't get me wrong, hindi masama loob ko, it's just that I knew it wasn't my place to be there.

We all occupy a particular place which corresponds to a particular social space. Each particular social space in turn has a set of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors attendant to it. The trick then is "to know your place".

1 comment:

rowie said...

Nice observations. And it's something we are trained to do from childhood. Attending an all girls' school in grade school and high school taught me the sobering lesson of how to navigate through and among the different cliques of the female adolescent social hierarchy.