Several of the selections in our text proceed from the identification and analysis of cultural narratives, which are the stories or rationales people tell themselves to suggest that the social order is inevitable or, at least, that it makes sense. Some examples include “Boys are more rational than girls,” “Women need a man to take care of them,” “There will always be poor people because they don’t care to move out of their poverty and it’s their fault they’re poor,” “Chicanos have too many children,” “Blacks are lazy,” “The Irish are heavy drinkers,” “Gays are mentally ill,” “Disabled people are incapable of doing complex tasks,” “Asians are meek and hard workers,” “Women are incapable of managing money,” “the poor need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” etc. Complete a separate journal entry for each of three days in which you write down examples of cultural narratives you hear someone use on each of these days to explain away a social condition or someone’s behavior. Be sure to note the circumstance in which you heard these, and jot down any that you’re uncertain of. Consider the kinds of circumstances explained by prejudiced or mistaken beliefs. Consider how frequently such rationales are invoked. Consider what the narratives you heard say about your social environments.
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