kitchen table math, the sequel: status quo la-la-la

Thursday, May 28, 2009

status quo la-la-la

....This makes sense when one considers the basic motive people have to defend and justify the status quo. People have a need to believe in a ‘‘just world’’ that is orderly and predictable and in which people get what they deserve (Lerner, 1980). According to system justification theory, people are motivated to view existing social arrangements as legitimate, even when this justifies their own disadvantaged position (e.g., Jost et al., 2004; Jost & Hunyady, 2002). In fact, those with the least power in a system are sometimes the most likely to support and defend that system (Henry & Saul, 2006; Jost et al., 2003). Research reveals that people actively perform their own cognitive and ideological work to preserve their sense that the status quo is desirable and just (e.g., Haines & Jost, 2000; Kay, Jimenez, & Jost, 2002).

There are psychological benefits to accepting the status quo. System-justifying beliefs and ideologies are palliative in that they decrease negative affect and increase positive affect as well as satisfaction with one’s situation (Jost & Hunyady, 2002; Jost et al., 2003). Wakslak and colleagues (2007) demonstrated that system justification leads to a significant reduction in emotional distress, both in general and with regard to moral outrage, guilt, and frustration.
Legitimacy Crisis? Behavioral Approach and Inhibition When Power Differences are Left Unexplained
Pamela K. Smith Æ John T. Jost Æ Ranjini Vijay
Soc Just Res (2008) 21:358–376

These researchers are looking at blacks and women, etc. I'm curious whether they would find similar phenomena in parents whose children are attending public schools.

tactics used to maintain the status quo
Diagnosis Diagnosed by Galen Alessi
on a certain arrogance
inputs & outputs
a rare victory
code of silence
code of silence, part 2


Allison said...

Abused children do it too--totally completely convinced their parents weren't just doing the best they could, but that their parents were RIGHT to behave in the way they did, and that no other behaviors would have worked/been appropriate/helped.

Analogizing parents of children in public schools as abused sounds about right to me.

Tracy W said...

If this is true then why are so many alarmist books sold, and why are so many newspaper headlines alarmist?

I'm not saying that the empirical work behind the statements is wrong, just I don't understand how these results fit with the popularity of works criticising the status quo and saying it's going to lead us to disaster.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't understand how these results fit with the popularity of works criticising the status quo and saying it's going to lead us to disaster.Well, that is the $60,000 question, isn't it?

Offhand, I would say that the answer (or one answer) is people's apparent tendency to say that other public schools are bad but my public school is good.

Or: other politicians are crooks by my representative is good.

Or: other HMOs are dreadful but my HMO is good.

This seems to be a common way of thinking -- and it's perfectly logical.

Catherine Johnson said...

Analogizing parents of children in public schools as abused sounds about right to me.I'm curious to know how many public schools are negative in tone and functioning overall.

That is: how many public schools use primarily negative reinforcement and punishment to keep students and parents in line.

Does anyone have an idea?

When I email with Karen H, it's obvious that her school is positive (which may have something to do with her school being ranked in the top 200 of the country).

This week I talked to a former school board member here AND THE DIFFERENCE WAS ASTOUNDING.

She is also a former NYC school teacher, and she is a COMPLETELY positive person.

She said - and Matthew will love this - "Oh, yes, I put everyone on committees. I put the tax cutters on committees." (She was on the board during a period when there was a tax revolt happening here.)

Another thing she said - and I wish I'd written this down - "I'm the type of person who says, 'Tell me what the problem is, and let's figure it out.'"

That is a different planet.

Catherine Johnson said...

I need to ask her if I can do a formal interview. There's another former school board member who has been fantastically helpful of late; he's told me I can do an interview.

Let's get some insitutional memory happening here.

Things have not always been thus.

Catherine Johnson said...

For some reason, the emotion that moves one to hold "system justifying beliefs" have been apparent to me at least in some cases.

I'm not sure why or whether that's always been true. (If it has always been true, it may be a 'writer thing.')

Back when C. was in grades K-5, Ed and I were in our honeymoon stage with the schools here.

We loved the schools, loved all the teachers --- we were happy as clams.

At a certain point we heard, from a district employee, a severe insider critique.

I still vividly recall that moment, and so does Ed.

We both had the same reaction. We both thought: Uh oh.

We didn't share the employee's emotions; we hadn't experienced what the employee had. AND I know I had a desire to dismiss what the employee was saying. I'm sure Ed did, too.

But I couldn't & I didn't. I trusted the employee offering the critique.

Ed told me something similar the other day. He said he remembers being amazed at what the employee was saying, and thinking to himself, "This sounds like it has to be true."

I assume this is something to do with personality & personality type -- and I wonder how many people really do subscribe to system justifying beliefs-----?

Or whether there are different levels of subscription to such beliefs ---- ?

Catherine Johnson said...

This first year at Hogwarts has been bewildering because all along I've been thinking: I'm in the honeymoon stage. This is too good to be true.

Usually when something seems too good to be true it is too good to be true.

At this point, though, I think the school really is as wonderful as I perceive it to be.

At the very end of this school year, I heard the first negative things I've heard since C. first applied for admission in November 2007.

Specifically, I heard:

* one teacher behaved badly on a field trip to the city
* one administrator isn't as nice as the administrator seems to be
* a B+ at Hogwarts is what a C+ used to be & parents don't know it

I've also been told there are at least 2 bad teachers in the school.

If that's the worst it gets -- and at this point I've spoken to so many parents I think that is the worst it gets -- then I feel I can safely assume that my love for the place isn't a "system justifying belief."

Catherine Johnson said...

I am, however, bugging Ed to call the guidance counselor & get the low down on grades & class rank, etc.