© 2017 Steve Campsall

BINARY OPPOSITION

 

STAGE THREE: HIERARCHY OF VALUES
The recognition of why we tend to judge one half of each binary pair more positively can be attributed to the theorist, Jacques Derrida.

strong weak
calm moody
dominant submissive
tough gentle
active passive
logical emotional
mind body
aggressive peaceful

It's very important not to see these labels as real; as with all meaning, they can exist only as cultural ideas, i.e. as ideologies. They can certainly be said to represent reality but such labels can never be more than a version of reality. This is why they are ideological - they act to reinforce judgmental and hierarchical ways of thinking that might well seem entirely natural, but which are anything but. You can perhaps now begin to see how binary pairs can be extraordinarily powerful in reinforcing and maintaining a society's ways of thinking.

In the man/woman binaries above, who has historically benefited from these 'culturally marked' associations? If you look at many media images, do you think that such binaries are still at work to help shape and create meaning?