What are the differences that count? (and perhaps I need to find the ‘differences’ before I can start counting)

This post lacks any references, not because my ideas have formed in any sort of vacuum but because I need to hurry up and leave the house before I am late. If you have any reading you recommend on the topic of difference, please let me know.


Difference is quite a significant concept in my project. I am interested in what people do with others in their suburb, what they think of this and what they want from such interaction, but I am especially interested in seeing if there is any rhyme or reason in the differences when it comes to what people do, how they evaluate it and what they want.


The way I often speak about people in suburbs when I am away from my project seems to suggest that there are different groups of people. Places are ‘yuppified’ when the yuppies reach a critical mass and the old guard of Fitzroy drinkers have been pushed out of nearly all the pubs (I think there is only one left). Of course such labels are used more to shape the flow of conversation than as accurate descriptions of social reality, but I suppose that talking about people as groups is motivated by some sort of reason and can also have an impact on the social world.


Never having had touched a psychology or even a philosophy subject, I have spent my time at university learning how to think about people on the group level. Even direct service delivery jobs I have held had a strong focus on supporting people in relation to others. However, I do not think such a focus on the group level is just a deficiency in my own reading and learning. Generally statistical analysis that tries to generalise a sample of results to a wider population (e.g. election polling) needs to break the population into groups/ categories where some traits are a proxy for others (e.g. age, gender and occupation as an indication of who you will vote like). One of the nice things about a small, face-to-face project such as mine is that I have not had to group ‘differences’ together before starting.


Yet, as I was reminded by one of my committee members at my confirmation seminar, there is fast approaching a time when I will have to start working out what differences I am going to claim are (1) grouped together by people in a suburb and (2) are significant enough to provide a basis for my search for patterns.




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