Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vagabonds Vs. Tourists in the Social Imagination

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote about two types of people in the world: vagabonds and tourists. For him, vagabonds are those who are forced (not by choice) to move from the place of their origin- birth, identity, their place on earth from which they entered and were socialized. They are forced due to economics, political or religious persecution, or plague, or other catastrophe.

You might wonder why they could leave at all even though those circumstances demand it if it is where they call home and feel the most familiar in their being. That is an important point. Abraham left his place of origin. Though he did not know if it was the right thing to do, he followed the direction he was given. In that, there was a loss of connectedness to place. He did so only by faith and in hope of a future. Many still argue about that, saying... who has the real right to live in that land where Abraham was sent. 

Yes, people move and have moved around. It is not easy nor comfortable. For the place you are born is your and will be your point of reference. Thus, the main problem that can arise is for people in such circumstances, becoming a vagabond, is the certain difficulty concerning and facing integration. Vagabonds carry with them their socio-historical and cultural baggage. They are not determined to become a 'new being' in a place but to 'be in a new place' as they 'be' who they are. Therefore, vagabonds are less likely to become like those in the place they end up, for the choice is not theirs. Most often associated with this difficulty of integration is the knowledge they cannot ever go/get back home.

Tourists on the other hand don't have this problem. They move about by choice. They choose to leave their place of origin not because they have to but because they want to. They can do this and choose to do this because they are secure in their person and circumstances (identity and finances) and the very important aspect of being able to. They  do not have the desire to integrate but to live as they are in a new place as a tourist, a visitor. Interesting is that they do not choose to integrate but they don't have to. Because, they have a strong connection to back home and know that they can get back home whenever they want to.

Bauman's view tended to be more economically burdened and or supported when he compared these two types. Some think he failed to look at the range of reasons that people make the choice to leave. Money has a role but money is not the only reason behind one's decision or ability to move by either of the two types. Some can make the choice to stay because the place where they were born is what matters most. Jonathon Kozol wrote did a study about generations of poverty stricken people living in the Bronx.  Many did not accept the idea that they had a choice and in realizing that they did could not imagine living any other way.  Those who had money even illegally gotten, remained in that place where they originated. Money does not dictate that people will move. Many who have money choose to remain in the place they originated.

Point being, people tend rather to remain in the place of their origin. Those that do make the choice to move whether forced to or not will take with them their socio-historical and cultural baggage. Immigrants to the United States did so years ago and still do today. Such baggage 'data' cannot be detached or deleted. This was noted in the research of Florian Zaniecki in his work with William Thomas that resulted in the classical sociological text "The Polish Peasant in Europe and America".

This is and should be the concern of any nation when faced with newbies. Years ago, immigrants had to melt in as much as possible because the connection to back home was either cut off or difficult to maintain. In America's past, we can read of many problems associated with newbies in terms of their full integration. That has not changed. Problems exist and remain due to modern technology which inhibit full integration. Some consider limiting immigration or taking in people fleeing their home. Wouldn't it be better that they resolve issues where they are and in that way, at some point become a tourist? At least then everyone would be making their own choices. And, that would include vagabonds as they would less likely be forced to leave.

Are there people in the world who choose to live somewhere else and choose to fully integrate? Now, that is a very good question. Is that even possible? Could one become fully Japanese if not born Japanese? Could one become fully Italian or Irish or Ethiopian? Perhaps, would like to meet one. The truly more serious consideration is to ask if vagabonds could ever fully integrate and why would they? No and neither would tourists.

Generations later of those earlier vagabonds do integrate but they are not their parents or grandparents any longer, they are different, born in their 'now' place of origin.  And, if they become tourists, they certainly won't be vagabonds. Yet, they and anyone could end up as them. Its not that tourists don't do damage either. They bring with them their socio-historical cultural baggage and corrupt the original information they find in the place they lay their hat... sojourners leave a mark. They don't contribute either to the local economy in any long time situation nor do they truly enrich themselves by being tourists unless they remain tourists for so long they forget where they came from. Is there any 'best practice' when it comes to moving about? That's probably the best question yet.

"God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men; that they should inhabit the whole world and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from each one of us" ~ Acts 17:24-27.

1 comment :

  1. And you know that socialism and multiculturalism/pluralism is an invention of well-fed intellectuals,manufactured by the 1960's Left, (whom we can consider bad tourists). In order to preach this new world order... they established a new political base in the faculties of the universities - David Horowitz. When building a new world order and we see it now... Horowitz went on to say that the new multicultural version, racial and ethnic status must replace class status as a political trump card. Horowitz pointed out that emphasizing ethnic identity over class solidarity situates the multicultural left squarely in the tradition of classic European fascism. Intellectually, he observes, the multicultural left “owes more to Mussolini than to Marx.