Concept Creep

Nov 22 / Network Capital
As our moral compass, sensitivity and empathy magnify our reaction to issues of social oppression and violence. This creates a deceptive scenario and illusion of negative growth and false victimhood.

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Violence and oppression are socially constructed concepts. The extent and the degree of these themes is determined by our ideas of morality, justice and righteousness. These ideas change across time and space, and thereby our understanding of violence and oppression also changes. For example, slave trade was considered normal in the 17th century, racist slurs were considered normal in the 19th century and race-based affirmative action is considered normal in the 21st century.

Concept Creep changes our understanding of social issues in both depth and breadth. We now recognize different types of bullying—cyber, workplace, childhood, etc., and multiple forms  of violence like racism, sexism, casteism, etc. For cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, this decline in violence is the cause of increased human sensitivity. In his book The Better Angles of our Nature he argues that violence on earth is at an all-time low. It has declined not only in the short term but also the long term.

With this increased sensitivity and empathy, our society has become cognizant of even the minutest forms of violence and oppression. However, on the flip side, it has increased the feeling of victimhood and diminished the agency of individuals and communities to overcome their own plight.

To positively optimize the Concept Creep, we must learn to distinguish facts from values (social constructions), and be conscious of the impact and limitation of defining and categorizing identities and forms of violence.