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Letter from the Editors: One Year, One Commitment

Last summer, one of our casual gatherings at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology directed us to a conversation about making sociology and anthropology more understandable and less complicated to incoming college students. As we shared ideas that bounced between comical and desperate, a rare printed copy of the first issue of Verstehen (1999) glistened on top of Nota Magno’s desk.

Our idea of making this publication more accessible to today’s crop of students did not mean that we would be putting sexy sociological and anthropological jargon in ordinary sentences. Central to our commitment was to simplify these concepts and make people see how sociology and anthropology enable us to more deeply understand, not only our day to day social experiences but also the events and phenomena taking place around us.

With that, the online reincarnation of Verstehen was launched exactly a year ago.

As we look back at the past twelve months, we are reminded of why we continue to exert time and effort to this endeavor.

Over the next few weeks, we will attempt to feature, thematically, the concepts of social exclusion and deviance. Social exclusion involves the ways by which individuals or groups are kept from accessing certain privileges, rights, resources, and activities. Deviance, on the other hand, involves not only the violation of social and cultural norms, but also the judgment of an act as bad, and the subsequent sanctioning of the norm violator. In some cases, they complement one another.

For instance, people in power, and not necessarily the majority, are usually the ones who can make their definitions of what is right and wrong prevail. As such, those with less power and little access to resources – the marginalized – often bear the brunt (and the corresponding punishment) of being called deviant, a judgment that can lead to further marginalization.

Social exclusion and deviance are two very crucial terminologies in the realm of sociology and anthropology. Both have spurred various intellectual trends and fundamental movements across the world.

Many scholars have studied the lives of marginalized individuals who live in the shadows. The discovery of the experiences of the marginalized and other groups has spurred many to rise to the call for social change.

In exploring these themes, we hope that you will become more aware of the often unheeded social realities of disadvantaged groups in your own surroundings. And as you read on, we challenge you to uncover the different social forces that put these groups in their position and to create possible ways of overcoming these structures.

We invite you again to use your sociological imagination and anthropological curiosity and see your social world from a different perspective.

Indeed, it’s been one year. Once again, we are humbly reminded why we continue to breathe life to this endeavor for readers like you.

Our journey continues.

The Editors
June 2014

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