Welcome to 2015 and to a new and improved Verstehen! After a hiatus, the Verstehen team will once again be delivering down-to-earth sociological and anthropological discussions of everyday experiences and current issues. Sociology and anthropology are disciplines that encourage an exploration of the taken-for granted reasons for why we are the way we are and why we think, feel, and act the way we do.
In dealing with our social world – from our family and friends to the people we meet on the street – we often to rely on knowledge passed on to us from birth and as members of social groups, which include among others, age, social class, gender, and ethnolinguistic, regional, and national affiliations. How we then construct ourselves and our location vis-à-vis those we consider as “others” depend on how we have been brought up and on what we have learned about the world from birth. This knowledge helps us navigate structures in our society; but it also shapes our reality and can thus result in the privileging of our subculture, or of the dominant culture, over others that exist. Under the limits of our social bubble, encounters with people we perceive as “different” from us could result in bias and intolerance. This is illustrated in the recent violence that took place in the offices of the French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and the subsequent debates it spawned.
Understanding one’s social location vis-à-vis others, as well as how this location has come about, can help us become more critical of the ways that we see ourselves and our entitlements, and the ways that we define boundaries with others. The Verstehen team has always had this goal in mind in bringing you articles to encourage reflexive thinking. For the new year, we have aspired to further a multiplicity of encounters among readers by engaging with universities outside of the Philippines.
In the past, we have focused mainly on exploring everyday life in, and issues relevant to, Philippine society. Our goal for the long term is to become a venue for students the world over to share their take on issues of concern to them in their world, and perhaps indirectly, to us in ours. We have taken the initial steps to achieve this goal, beginning with the formation of an international advisory board. We have also welcomed contributions from students around the globe for a broader range of perspectives and understandings of social worlds.
We do acknowledge that English, one of the more widely spoken languages, remains the medium of this publication in order to reach a greater number of people. Our goal for the future would be to explore possibilities of bringing Verstehen to those who do not have online access and to those who do not speak English. We hope that you will join us in these pursuits.