Theories of Otherness Institute

Theoriesof Otherness


Theoriesof Otherness

StuartHall stipulates four main theoretical approaches to comprehend howdifference in human beings is constructed. The four main approachesinclude linguistic, cultural, sociolinguistic, and psychoanalytical.These analyze how minority and majority identities are constructed.


Thistheory relies on the ideas of binary opposition, which is based onnaturally occurring phenomena. For binary opposition to occur theremust be two things in opposition. For instance, man and woman, whiteand black, upper and lower class etc. This theory of otherness is anegative one as it tries to relate others as lacking. For instance,to be a male is considered not be male hence, in cultures wherebeing male is highly valuable, females lack a place in the society.The other example is that of white and black, whereby being black isnegated on the basis that whites are a superior race. This theory hasexisted for long and has always put some people at a disadvantage. Itaffects the lives of people for reasons beyond their control.


Thistheory dismisses binary opposition by claiming that meaning should bedialogic. This theory also claims that differences are important inconstricting meaning through dialogic with others. This model viewsall others as being necessary for the survival of others. This meansthat every binary requires another for survival. For instance, theexistence of men cannot occur without women. On the other hand, womenalso need men to exist. This theory of otherness tries to make senseof the differences and brings a more mature reason for acceptance. Inthis case, no one is more important than the other as people dependon these differences in one way or another.


Thismodel argues that culture is critical for the classification system.The difference in people is what marks the symbolic culture. Thebeliefs of a particular group and their ways of life are what makethem belong to a particular culture. For on to classify culturalgroups, one should establish clear differences in the things thatthey do so that they can qualify to belong to a certain culture. Forinstance, the gay culture is composed of males who have a differentsexual orientation from the rest. This makes qualifies to be aculture if the participants have the same characteristics andbeliefs. This is why the gay culture is only made up of men who areonly gay and belief in their sexual orientation.


Thistheory argues that recognition of others is crucial to theconstitution of the self to a person. As children grow up, they startreflecting on themselves in relation to others in order to understandwho they are. This happens mostly subconsciously in an effort to tryand define who they are and what is required of them. As childrengrow up, they learn their limits by observing others and creatingtheir own expectations and desires. These orientations are passed onas people continue to grow.

Theorigins of race

StuartHall claims that besides race being biological, the color of the skinis an objective fact. Interpreting skin color is constitutes ofracialization. In this case, people judge others purely because oftheir color of the skin and not characteristics. This is a vice thathas long existed in human race and has led to several conflicts andhate.