Social Theoretical Perspectives on Difference: the Other, the Othered, and Othering

Social Theoretical Perspectives on Difference: the Other, the Othered, and Othering

by Elaine J. Laberge

This paper seeks to unravel the complexity of Other, Othering, and Othered and how processes of Othering work against social justice and protect privilege both historically and in our contemporary neoliberal times. This paper also will explore why scholars have taken up the use of these terms and how they may be sanitizing the lived experiences of those who are Othered by replacing pejoratives with these terms. A final wonder is how Other, Othering, and Othered may have evolved to be used as a blanket term for all individuals and groups who live in the margins (why have these terms come into being and taken up?). This paper seeks to understanding how Other, othering, and othered works to explain inequality and social injustice within social, political, economic, and education structures.

Do we need the Other for EDI higher education policies? Do we need the Other to have diversity conversations? Is the Other spoken about from a white frame of reference? Or do all “groups” other?


A general review of literature on most scholarly subjects that deal with marginalized groups shows a recurring theme: the use of the term “Other.” Across social categories (race, gender, class, etc.) cultures, and geographies, the term “Other” is used as a general descriptor. The term is used both as a noun (Other, Othered), as a verb (to be othered, othering), and an adjective (otherness). It is a ubiquitous academic term that while used in specific research contexts, lacks definition. The assumption perhaps being that these terms have entered, at least, the academic vernacular as words that do not require any sort of definition. That is, we all know, or should know, what it means when one uses these terms. However, although one can make the connection of being Other to being excluded from certain societies, communities, groups, places, and spaces, the nuances of what connotations and denotations, historically and contemporarily, these terms means is vague. “Other” and its linguistic variations seem to be catch-terms that do not capture the complexity of what these words represent—or how lives, communities, and nations are shaped by those who are othered. Particularly, the problematic Other; the Other who is outside the boundaries (real or constructed) of those who have the power to practice Othering (or is it othering?).

This is not an issue of semantics (a former English professor emphatically stated, “It’s never just semantics!). From historical times (see Maldonado’s forthcoming “Reading Others as the Subject(s) of Biblical Narrative) to early Canadian twentieth-century (see Woodsworth’s 1901 “Strangers Within our Gates”) to contemporary times (e.g., Tyler’s neoliberal research on “Revolting Subjects” and the sociology of stigma), othering is not an inconsequential issue. Pejoratives keep evolving, reflecting current societal, political, and economic tensions—locally and globally. For example, the UK sociologist writes of the new term for the underclass in Britain: chav scum (i.e., white trash, underclass—a highly gender term; see Tyler). When she uses this term it is alongside “Other” to discuss the abject poor (or is it those living in abject poverty?). What becomes salient is that Other and its derivatives do not capture the lived experiences of problematic bodies and communities nor what drives the need for Othering.

Scholars use the term Other to mean the inferior other (yet, use marginalization and othering as separate and distinct terms) (see Tanyas, 2016, “Experiences of Otherness and Practices of Othering”).[1] However, outside of academia, in everyday life, Othering language is also pervasive. A quick online search of slurs based on race, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, ablebodiness, and immigration status results in massive lists of terms. For example, (ethnic) chink, coolie, coon, chinaman, gringo, raghead; (social class) white trash, underclass, welfare queen, riff raff, the untouchables; (sexual orientation) fag/faggot, dike, fairy, queer. However, it should be noted that in terms, at least of social class, academia itself has developed an extensive vocabulary to discuss those from poverty: waste or disposal population (but not garbage population), inclusive-exclusive, outsider-within, dangerous other, wasteful subject, proletariat, and moral outcasts. Politicians and policy makers, particularly under the Thatcher-Regan administrations, embraced the idea of the deserving versus the undeserving poor to justify their actions and inactions.

Othered, as defined by Urban, means, “to be left out from a group or another form of bullying/harassment.” This definition is exceptionally simplistic. Who is left out and from what group? How does bullying and harassment manifest itself? Othering and Othering language is an efficient way to cut to the quick: who is constructed as morally, genetically, economically, or physically unworthy to be part of those who are superior or who occupy privileged positions; those who have not assimilated the privilege arenas or who in some way never can. Othering is not simply about difference (i.e., difference itself is not problematic); othering is about exclusion and punishment. It is about, perhaps, protecting positions, resources, and influences that limit who has membership in power.


A definitive etymology of Other[2], Othered, and Othering is elusive; statements using these terms were “originally coined within post-colonial theory” (see Jensen 2011 sans citation) are ubiquitous in scholarly writing.[3] I suggest that while the term may have originated during this period, the ideologies and practices of Other, Othered, and Othering have a long, rich history.

Early Othering

I am often drawn back to Woodsworth’s (1909) immigration treatise Strangers within Our Gates or Coming Canadians when considering marginalization, oppression, exclusion, and Othering. Each time I get closer to his gates, I wonder, who are the gatekeepers[4] and how do they shape landscapes, conversations, ideologies, and domains that include and exclude—that is, Other individuals, groups, communities, and nations? Woodsworth’s discourse on the immigration problems that Canada was facing in the early twentieth-century provides a lens to understanding how racism and ethicism has been shaped in Canada—how races and ethnicities are Othered.

Woodsworth provided an alleged dilemma that faced the nation as it was being settled through colonization: attracting enough settler bodies to settle Canada for the dominion, while at the same time encouraging bodies who were most attractive for the task. Woodsworth provided a hierarchy of desirableness of strangers and it is in this hierarchy that stereotypes are communicated and Othering occurs. Woodsworth’s hierarchy of immigrant desirability is: Great Britain (the rich then farmers then as a last resort, the poor), USA, Scandinavians, Germans, French, south eastern Europe, Austria-Hungry, Balkan states, Hebrews, Italians (divided between north and south), Levantine races, Orientals, and finally the grouped together Negros and Indians. One can see how whiteness fades as one descends toward the bottom of the immigration barrel. Yet, Woodsworth, (un)intentionally provides an immigration paradox: he espouses, from a Christian ideology, that all people are created equal—sort of.

His treatise sits in tension with his sympathies to the plight of suffering of those seeking to escape the horrors of their homeland either permanently or temporarily (pp. 11-12). However, only those who fit a certain type are welcome: hard-working, God-fearing individuals and families, do not require charity, no freeloaders, no “strange-looking humans,” and those who do not speak “gibberish languages” (p. 12). Woodsworth was clear about language; he stated, “‘America’ is synonymous in all languages with freedom, prosperity, and happiness” (1909, p. 12). However, all languages, for Woodsworth, meant the language of Europe (i.e., the Queen’s English and British ideologies) (12). In short, the colonies were to be made up of those who could assimilate to and fade into the white, patriarchal, Christian, British culture (of course there were outliers such as the Hutterites because they were renown for their successful farming). Those who could not assimilate and blend into the new Canada were problematic bodies—the Other.

Woodsworth’s book opens up understandings of more than the historical context for racism and ethnicism in Canada. Strangers within Our Gates offers insights into the categorization of Others. How Others become defined, and perhaps remain, as Others. His well-intentioned book also offers a blatant image of a simplistic hierarchy of Othering by race and ethnicity. Or is it simplistic? I wonder if this type of categorization is still well and alive in our daily discourses and beliefs inside and outside of academia.

If one were to do an in-depth, historical analysis of Strangers with Our Gates

Categorizing Other

I remember in Canadian history classes “learning” the term noble savage. How exciting it sounded. I could not imagine that it was negative. Growing up in poverty in rural Alberta, the idea of noble sounded extremely high-class (not that I knew this term). I failed to hear savage perhaps because that hit a little to close to home. I thought that Aboriginals were revered (I certainly romanticized them) because they were resourceful and lived off the land; they needed no one and their community did not shun them or leave them to live without (where did this idea come from?). Somewhere along the way certain pejoratives and corresponding ideologies entered my thinking. In conjunction with derogatory labels, I learned metaphors (which I cannot bring to mind as they are so deeply engrained in me) to describe those who are Other. I do not even know the extent, as Okri (1997) says, the stories planted in me or that I planted in myself about myself as a girl from poverty or about Others (p. 46). I do not understand Othering categories beyond class-related, race and ethnicity, religious, sexuality, and gender slurs. When doing a quick Internet search there is a similar classification system (even more simplistic) that is also seen in much scholarly work I have accessed on the topic of Othering and my master’s research. It is easy to find classical (i.e., concrete, easy to use, no critical thinking required) categories of Other based on shared similarities (skin colour, gender), but conceptual categories (e.g., despised Other, exotic Other) are as elusive as the definition of Other itself.

Conceptual categories of Other

When I reflect upon my education I come to understand how limited conversations are about conceptual categories of Other. In scanning an introductory sociology textbook on this topic I realized it is not covered. Yet, Othering is so deeply tied to social injustice. I have learned about this area from conversations from my mentor, professor, and supervisor. It is through on-going, one-on-one conversations that this topic is explored. In Canada history classes, conceptual categories appear here and there without sociological, philosophical or other theoretical underpinnings to frame conversations. I wonder if this is part of the prevalence of classical categories of Other?

Conceptual categories become increasingly problematic to understand because they not only contain sub-categories but can also carry multiple meanings (e.g., exotic Other is mysterious and exciting but also dangerous if stereotyped as highly sexual such as were African men and women). Welfare queens can fit into several categories: despised other, sexual deviant other, and gendered other. These are examples of the conceptual sitting in tension with classical: there is no neat box to code groups into.

Despised/dangerous other

These terms describe those who are problematic because of social class (working-class, lower-class, or under-class). Class intersects with other social characteristics to construct groups who are deficit in terms of morals, intellect, contributions, and work ethic. These groups are stereotyped as those who can never achieve the mythical American dream because of their failings (genetic, moral, intellectual, etc.). These terms are often highly gendered and also reflect race, geography, capital, and sexual deviancy (particularly in the case of women). Finally, these terms are used differently based on geography. In the USA for example, welfare queen more often refers to African American women where in Canada it refers to a white woman. Chav (sum) is a term that has come into use specifically in the UK and refers to white trash. These people are considered disposable—the garbage populations. They are unclean physically and morally (thus perhaps the history of sanitizing women via eugenics). In all cases these terms signify a lack of sophistication; their experiences and knowledges are not valuable. Being sexually indiscriminate is part of the stereotype of welfare queens and hillbillies, for example; those in the deep southern USA states are storied as genetically deficit because of inbreeding (versus royalty who inbreed to protect the purity of legacies).

  • Welfare queen (no welfare kings)
  • Cracker
  • Chav (scum)
  • Lowlife
  • WASP
  • White trash
  • Trailer trash
  • Ignoble savage (violent Aboriginal) vs noble savage


Ignorant and Unsophisticated Other

These categories do not reflect those who are hated. Unlike the noble savage these people who live close to nature are not romanticized. They are unsophisticated, loud, uncouth, yet, can be hardworking and down-to-earth. Redneck does not equate to poverty; hillbillies are associated with poverty.

  • Hillbilly
  • Redneck
  • Hick

Romanticized other

The binary of the noble and ignoble savage is with us today. Much like the romanticism of rural landscapes and lifestyles, the idea of the noble savage was/is a romantic ideal (Marcellus, 2008): if only we could go back to simpler times (i.e., when life was simpler and so were people). The noble savage not only lived off the land they communed with nature; they were one with nature. Living in an infantile-type paradise where life was peace and contentment for God’s creatures—a paternalistic view. It may seem odd to include geishas here as the term is not necessarily seen as a slur. However, geisha’s have the connotation of both beauty, grace, comportment, sophistication, compliancy—and, sexual deviancy (i.e., kept women). In the intrigues of court life, how ignoble did they become in order to protect their precarious status and wealth, especially as they aged? The same holds true for the white British women who were and are viewed as less than because of deficits arising from problematic bodies (e.g., menstruation). In short, these terms reflect the “need” for patriarchy.

  • Geisha
  • Noble savage
  • White women (especially of British ancestry): quit acting like such a girl! (i.e., hysterical)


Sexual deviant other

Sexuality and a lack of sexual conformity based on dominant Christian ideologies are expressed through terms that punish not only for sexual behaviour but because of sexual orientation. However, it is important to note that terms have been appropriated (fag, queer) and created (breeder) to take away power and punish respectively by members of the LGBQT community. A breeder, for example, denotes heterosexual women who have sex and babies with men. In term so sexual deviancy,

  • Queer
  • Fag, faggot
  • Breeder
  • Tranny
  • Dyke
  • Bugger
  • Queen
  • Slut/whore


Gendered other

Some terms specifically describe not only undesirable behaviour but also attack the physical appearance of women who do not conform to traditional forms of beauty. To be called a hag is to be simultaneously a horrible, miserable woman who is old and haggard. Her miserable attitude and behaviours have transformed her physical appearance (i.e., both her body and face). What is interesting is the use of body part names to disparage and Other. In North America it is okay to call someone a prick (they are being a mean person) but never a cunt. In the UK however, it is acceptable to call a man a cunt. Just as there are no welfare kings, a trophy wife is a gold-digging girl who has a sugar daddy. Of course, for a boy or man to be labelled as any term that denotes feminism is not only demoralizing but dangerous on the playground.

  • Cunt, twat
  • Prick
  • Shew
  • Sissy
  • Slut/whore (negative for women; positive for men — is this the same in the LGBQT community?)
  • Tomboy
  • Twat
  • Trophy wife
  • Bitch
  • Hag
  • Queen bee
  • Girlie boy/men


Traitorous Other

These terms are highly politically charged and are used specifically by the group in question. I use the term traitorous other because for those of a given racial group who do or appear to identify with the ideologies and practices of the ruling powers (whites) they are considered to traitors to their own kind. It is an extreme version of thinking one is better than their station. In all cases, the colour on the outside belies the whiteness one has embraced on the inside.

  • Apple
  • Aunt Jemima (= Uncle Tom)
  • Banana
  • Coconut
  • Oreo
  • Uncle Tom (= Aunt Jemima)


Final Thoughts

Jensen (2011) writes that, “identities are in some sense always social” (p. 63). As such, they are malleable to changing ideologies. What was once acceptable falls out of favour; new terms come into use and others fall out of use. Terms are taken up in social justice movements. Above all, the Othering terms that have been discussed stem from the wide sweeping brush of colonialism. What these labels demonstrate is that they carry the power to Other. In Othering individuals, groups, communities, and nations are excluded and punished. Others are defined the opportunity to realize dreams and break intergenerational suffering. I come back to the philosophy that it is never just semantics! These terms have histories that reflect how Others are Othered by those in power. It is however, not always those in traditional positions of power who use terms to Other and punish, as is demonstrated by the traitorous others. There is a sense that the thread that links all terms is bodies that cannot be controlled; bodies that cross the boundaries of socially accepted ideals and ways of being. I am drawn to the saying, “Don’t you know the boundaries of human decency?” Who are the gatekeepers who define the boundaries?

Hierarchies of terms

I am aware (from school…the media…everyday conversations…?) there exists a hierarchy of Othering terms. It is okay to say white trash but not nigger—the worst word a person can say unless you have appropriated it. It is not okay to say dyke but acceptable to say breeder (not necessarily a word that has entered our everyday vernacular). Labels have different meanings based on culture and geography.

Appropriating terms

An Aboriginal student explained appropriating labels to me. She said, “I name myself Indian all the time. And there are those who take it back but there would never be a uniform story of everyone doing it.” This provides an important starting point to consider how appropriating a term for social advocacy has the potential to silence and Other those in the very grouped who have been Othered by mainstream beliefs in a term.

Falling out of use and into disuse

Not all pejoratives carry negative connotations today nor are many in use. There is an ebb and flow of derogatory labels. Being called a Canuck, for example, is not all that bad. Perhaps at one time it was? Half-breed is a term that has been replaced by Métis. In recent years, I have only heard half-breed used by Cher. Some terms even develop multiple meanings: redskins (Native Americans) and American sports teams (yes, still a thing).


Don’t call me honky, gringo, white trash, part of the 99%—or, late for the party

In 2012, the Occupy Movement began in large part to challenge the power and wealth of corporations and Wall Street banks in the USA. The philosophy, or position of those involved, was a protest of the 99% versus the 1%. This is an interesting case study in Othering and appropriating social class to challenge the few who hold most of the wealth. However, little critical engagement exists as to whose voices and ideologies were actually being espoused. Ironically, the problematic poor and despised underclass was brought into the metaphorical 99 percent-fold. In the Occupy Movement moment, those who had the power to seize public spaces, and raise their placards in resistance to economic inequality, were able to capture the imagination of the media and general public. The 1% was demonized; the 99% were valorized.

It may seem odd to think of the Occupy Movement as case study of both Othering and appropriating voices and positions. However, those who occupy privileged class positions, who Other the poor and particularly the underclass, now presented a united front (i.e., we are all being oppressed by the 1%—in the same way). This faux solidarity continues to be a source of frustration for me. (I wonder what the Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins would have to say about all of this?). The poor and underclass in this moment were no longer too tainted to get close to, at least metaphorically. It is highly debatable if those who are struggling daily to survive had Bourdieu’s capital (economic, cultural, social) to be able to challenge the establishment and state and physically and intellectually join the ranks in solidarity against the filthy rich elite individuals, corporations, and Wall Street banking institutions.

Imagine special public transit buses going to impoverished neighbourhoods to pick up the poor to go to Wall Street and protest. Imagine buses coming through identifying their location as “Destination Wall Street!” Imagine “Join your brothers and sisters in placard-arms!” wailing from a loud speaker.

Imagine this conversation at Occupy Wall Street:

“What kinda sandwich you got there?” asks the despised poor.

“Hickory smoked ham and Gruyere cheese on artisanal bread. Oh, and I brought spring water with a hint of refreshing lemon,” says the despised upper class. “And you?”

“Baloney on Wonder bread. And I got grape Kool-Aid. Wanna trade?”

Taussig’s (2012) article I’m so Angry I Made a Sign, provides an anthropological account, or rather, conducts an “occupy ethnography,” (p. 57) of his time spent observing the Occupy Movement and capturing what was happening mainly from the numerous different protest signs. What Taussig fails to reflect upon is who is actually occupying Wall Street in sociological terms. Yes, the article shows very clever use of language to challenge the 1%. I find some of the signs very original, interesting, with wonderful usage of turns-of-phrases and wicked uses of language and rhetoric. For example:

  • Water board Wall St!;
  • We are the 99%;
  • We are too big to fail;
  • Image of a tie that is a noose;
  • I awoke in a sweat from the American Dream;
  • Down for good conversation;
  • Dear Mr. President: This is what hope looks like. Signed the 99 percent;
  • Lick my Goldman Sach’s! [signed] my money’s no where. 99%;
  • Obama tear down this wall.[5]


The images are reminiscent of the Vietnam War protests—sort of an idealized banding together for the greater common good—people with their Mountain Equipment tents and carefully packed knapsacks—singing revolutionary songs. Yet, in these moments, the voices of the 99% were most likely in actuality the voices of the, for example, 30%. But the 30% versus the 1% just does not carry the same political force, nor sound as groovy on signs. Further, the Occupy Movement, for those living a subsistence existence, I imagine was extremely foreign and exclusionary. “You’re mad at the 1%? Guess what? We’re the other bookend!” I know poverty—and, I have the privilege of being able to critically think about this crusade. What Taussig fails to capture (not that this was necessarily his intent in the first place) is the complex class divides and historical contexts for inequality. In this movement, were not the chronically impoverished silenced and further Othered? Their voices were appropriated but they were not actually invited to the party. Those that possess the right capital were representative, both in occupying geographic spaces and ideologies, of the entire 99%. They became the face of social justice. They became symbolic of responsible citizens willing to risk it “all” to challenge those who hold the economic might of a nation. The bodies of the lower and under classes were out-of-the-way—their messy and dirty lived experiences were silenced.

I am trying to imagine busloads of Welfare-dependent, single mothers arriving with their questionable morals and values and snotty-nosed kids in tow to Wall Street. I am trying to imagine hoards of White Trash invading this highly privileged space and protest (bell hooks would have a stroke as she abhors White Trash because they have the audacity to live anywhere!). I am trying to imagine those from intergenerational poverty arriving with their belongings in black garbage bags and reams of cardboard tucked under their arms to make temporary shelters versus the privileged who can afford to make political statements by using cardboard for make-shift tents (may I suggest that there was play involved versus the underprivileged who could see cardboard, temporary housing as hitting a little to close to home). On carefully constructed cardboard tents (versus the poor’s haphazard designs), highly-charged signs decorating architecturally crafty doors and windows reading, “Wall Street Bought Me These Walls!” I can imagine fighting within the 99% ranks and this could not be tolerated—or, allowed: nothing could detract from the attack on the 1%. I imagine the pseudo-99% representatives at play in this temporary world that is a low-stakes game.

When one examines the photographs Taussig has included in his article, you see a great number of white people doing crafts, putting their own unique signature on the movement. Perhaps this makes sense because Wall Street is portrayed in the media and in entertainment as an industry dominated by white males (which it undoubtedly is). Who can relate to whites? While a rhetorical question, who appears to be excluded from this movement are those who suffer greatest in socially injustice societies: non-whites, people with precarious immigration status, single mothers, the elderly, impoverished children, and the mentally and physically disabled. Would their presence and voices make things too messy and nuanced? I believe that these groups are Othered because of their exclusion and the appropriation of their population numbers (i.e., so it is the 99% not the 30%). Once everyone was lumped in together with the 99%, were the non-dominant and non-privileged groups implicitly and explicitly Othered because they do not fit? I do not think they could be Bourdieu and Champagne’s (1999) outcasts on in the inside because how could they be on the inside (p. 421)? It takes a certain position of privilege and holding of the various forms of capital to be able to risk standing up not only to institutions and governments but also to the police. The whole movement and 99%-1% rhetoric feels incredibly patronizing: yet again, the privileged demonstrating that they must stand up for the Others (e.g., see Figure 3, the white man holding the “Decolonize Wall Street” sign, Taussig 2012, p. 59).


To understand how privileged and Othering this supposedly world-wide social justice movement was, consider Taussig’s (2012) explanation of the signs:

It is the handmadeness of the signs, their artisanal crudity, art before the age of mechanical and digital reproduction, that facilitates this hop, skip, and jump. To Nancy Goldring, who took many of these photographs, it seems as if this graven quality comes from the sign being exactly what the sign bearer wants to say. Put another way, there is a fusion between the person and the sign that demands it being held aloft as testimony to history finding its articulation in words—words that play with words as much as with history. The sign has a talismanic function, an incantatory drive, and is of divine inspiration, the gods in this case being of mirthful disposition, feeling quite at home in the park. (p. 76)

Huh? Why does this sound like a graduate fine arts analysis of dead, white, European, male art? If indeed the signs were playing with history, it is a history that ignores those who are Othered and oppressed. To even be aware there is a Wall Street and what these words connotate for different individuals and groups requires a deep understanding of structural—and, historical—reasons for inequality. I see no evidence of an understanding of intersectionality. No evidence that social class cuts across all other social categories; or the understanding that not all whites experience this or that the same. I see only Dorothy Smith’s standpoint of a select, homogenized group. For those who have the privilege to occupy, they become the poster child for what a good citizen is thereby, Othering those who lack the ability to participate in citizenship in this manner.

I must admit an uncomfortable truth: when this article was first presented in an early sociology class, at first blush I was captured and enthralled by the cleverness of the words, symbols, and images on signs. As with my fellow classmates and instructor, we had no critical sociological conversation any more than the Occupy movers were “down for good conversation” (see figure 13, Taussig 2012, 74). After many readings and approaching Taussig’s article from an Othering perspective, I become increasingly frustrated—and, worried I am just ranting and beating my head against literal and figurative walls. Yet again, a few years ago at a sociology graduate conference a student presented their research-in-progress on the Occupy Wall Street movement. I asked the student about all-inclusive 99%. They stated that this was “another story.” No, it is the story.

Further, the demonizing of Wall Street, which I argue is a vague, abstract concept of power, privilege, and oppression, Others those who do not have access to these forms of knowledge. For those who do not have the luxury of finding Wall Street on a map and the imposing buildings looming towards the heavens, with well-tailored Harvard-looking people ebbing and flowing, and FBI-agent looking guards (complete with ear pieces and other James Bond paraphernalia) protecting the significant occupants and buildings, it would be easier to visit Mars. The Others cannot make it a point to visit Wall Street, stop in for tea, or have picnics in the parks surrounding these economic fortresses. Those who do not fit cannot come to the party (and I suggest did not get an invite) and therefore, are Othered because they are either with “us” and “our” ideologies and lived experiences—or, are the Other. How can they be with “us?”

I do not want you to call me honky, gringo, white trash, part of the 99%—or, late for the party. (But do I really want to go to your party?) I am not going to appropriate these terms because then I will be silencing you and imposing my own lived experiences, ideologies, and intersectionality upon you. If I appropriate any of these terms and ideas then I position myself as representative of a homogenized group. I will Other by reducing and stripping lives of their complexities. I will Other by failing to acknowledge historical and social reasons for your experiences. I will Other by failing to understand how lives are shaped by intersectionality. I will Other by failing to acknowledge my positions of privilege and honouring positions where I lack privilege.

As it is, I find myself Othering those who I perceive as privileged to claim the voice of the entire 99%. I’m so angry, but I didn’t make a sign.


Bourdieu, P., & Champagne, P. (1999). Outcasts on the Inside. In P. Parkhurst Ferguson, S. Emanuel, J. Johnson, & S. T. Waryn (Trans.), The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society (pp. 421–26). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Jensen, S. Q. (2011). Othering, identity formation and agency. Qualitative studies2(2), 63-78.

Marcellus, J. (2008). Nervous Women and Noble Savages: The Romanticized “Other” in Nineteenth‐Century US Patent Medicine Advertising. The Journal of Popular Culture, 41(5), 784-808.

Okri, B. (1989). A Way of Being Free. London: Phoenix House.

Web links for researching terms:


conceptual categories of Other, othering, othered, others






Taussig, M. (2012). I’m so Angry I Made a Sign. Critical Inquiry, 39(1), 56–88.

Young, J. (2005). On insiders (emic) and outsiders (etic): Views of self, and othering. Systemic Practice and Action Research18(2), 151-162.


[1] I wonder if Other and its various forms sanitizes language and lived experiences?

[2] Other, Othered, and Othering have not made it into the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. The closest term is out-group. The more I explore the more I realize that a definitive definition remains vague and eludes a box. I wonder, is this because it allows for the terms to be taken up in ways that serve particular researcher and advocate agendas?

[3] Is colonialism over?

[4] I suggest that gatekeepers are academics and non-academics. My wonder is if academics too Other by failing to focus on ntersectionality in their quest to move forward their particular area of research. I wonder if academics and researchers are complicit in Othering from their privileged position in ways perhaps more powerful than the general public?

[5] Because an unbelievable future awaits: Trump will build a wall. You know that I could not let this pass.

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