What is the “marginal”? Meaning in simple words

What is the "marginal"? Meaning in simple words In simple words

The word “marginals” in modern media sounds so often that it starts to seem like they are everywhere. At the same time, the word is used mainly with a negative connotation when it comes to dangerous members of societywho decompose traditions and set a bad example for children. Actually this is not true. We checked the history of the word “marginal” and share it with you.

What is the “marginal”?

A marginal is a person (or community) who is on the periphery of his social group, because he does not share its values, or who is stuck between several social groups due to a number of external or internal factors. External factors may include cultural or legal restrictions, while internal factors may include a person’s habit or desire to be outside their community.

This sociological term was quickly picked up by the media and, like an umbrella, opened it over all members of society who fit the description of outsiders or pose a danger to it. However, in reality, a marginal is not an oppositionist, not a militant representative of a minority. This is a person between groups, like  a single mother who cannot get a loan due to the absence of a spouse, or a downshifter who is already doing well.

Robert Park , a representative of the Chicago School of Sociology, described one of the first outcasts . In his opinion, the marginal is the main type of city dweller . Such an individual is highly mobile in the social environment, has a broader outlook and a greater degree of civilization, but not all urban outcasts fit this description.

Often the marginal gets stuck in his position for a number of reasons. So, at the beginning of the 20th century, a rather extensive layer of marginals were refugees and immigrants who, having arrived in a new country, did not try to assimilate and preserved the way of life and traditions that they observed at home. The society in the new place limited their social mobility in order to isolate themselves from an alien, sometimes aggressive culture: immigrants could be denied preferential banking services, employment opportunities and buying or renting a home. This is how ghettos were born and segregation grew out of marginalization.

Fortunately, today the social policy of developed countries is aimed at overcoming the process of segregation and marginalization is taking place according to new scenarios. Today, marginalized groups can count on the protection of their rights and interests.

However, it is not necessary to be a foreigner to become a marginal. There are many other representatives of this group:

  • Religious marginals – this group includes religious minorities, atheists and agnostics in countries where there is an official religion. Also religious outcasts can be sectarians or adherents of non-existent religions.
  • Biological marginals – in this category people find themselves due to age , illness (as, for example, they limited the opportunities for employment of HIV-infected patients).
  • Economic marginals are very poor or very rich people who live in isolation from the general economic situation in society.
  • Social marginals are groups to which a destructive influence on society is attributed. For example, in the early 1900s in England, single mothers were such a group: it was believed that they could neither give a healthy and functional child to society, nor make a sufficient economic contribution through their work.

How does marginalization work?

Marginalization has several factors that make it possible. First, it is increasing social mobility , when the movement of individuals between social groups becomes in principle possible. Secondly, education becomes an important factor, thanks to which people can choose values ​​that are relevant to them , but do not always coincide with social values.

According to sociologists and anthropologists, marginalization is an inevitable consequence of the emergence of an open society. This process was previously marked by negative features, but with the development of globalization, they were joined by positive and ambivalent features , among other things  .

What are they?

The  negative results include, according to the sociologist Sigmund Bauman , the fact that the marginal contribute to the erosion of social identity. So, because of the existence of marginals, it is impossible to create a homogeneous structured society.

 Positive  outcomes are addressed by sociologists such as  Ulrich Beck and  Anthony Giddens . In their opinion, the marginalized are much better adapted to the processes of globalization and contribute to the emergence of new approaches to the study of the structures of society that go beyond historical and national structures.

Recently, marginalized groups have gained the opportunity to influence the agenda, both social and cultural. It can be said that the marginal, capable of analyzing the features of various social structures, can form their own idea of ​​how to improve society, what traditions can be called archaic and what new things can be brought into their “old” social group from the life of “strangers”, or vice versa. It is thanks to these changes that the further development of culture becomes possible.

Causes and types of marginality

Depending on what factors and in what area provoked a person ( what is it ?) to become more marginal, different types are distinguished. The social marginal could try to climb up in the corresponding “elevator”. But at the same time, he got stuck between floors: he did not become a status either higher or lower. Therefore, he dropped out of all groups.

A similar reason may be the desire of a person to reach an unbearably high level. Because of this, he can stake everything and lose. From which it turns out not to be in an intermediate state, but falls to the very bottom of the social.

The financial factor brings with it the “economic dregs of society.” This can happen due to the loss of a job, the inability to find a new one for a long time, theft of property, a large expenditure of the last money on treatment. During the economic crisis in the country, the number of outcasts increases significantly.

The political is born when people do not have time to adapt and change their thinking to:

  1. political crisis;
  2. changing social norms ;
  3. changing state norms;
  4. change of modes.

Ethnic side – after a person moves to another country, to another people and ethnic group. Especially if not of their own free will, but as a refugee. The more different the mentality , the more difficult it is to socialize and the faster the person becomes marginalized.

One of the options is when the family moves to a more successful country, has money and the opportunity to get settled. But at the same time they are not perceived friendly because of the color of their skin and hair. Since this cannot be changed, the family cannot acquire any status among the new ethnic group (and the lack of status is marginality).

A religious outcast is a person who believes in a higher power, but cannot attribute himself to pre-existing beliefs. Because they do not fully correspond to the idea of ​​God. This is how atheists (who are they?) or agnostics can look like against the background of all other religious people.

Biomarginals  – who are they? These are those who have a defect or health problems: AIDS, disability, chronic somatic disease. They cannot be a useful unit of society, the poem is often left out. They are not paid attention, they are not cared for, they are often bypassed.

Is marginal a negative or a positive value?

Any aspects of life and situations can be considered from polar points of view: positive and negative. Marginality is no exception.

Pros :

  • Because of their individuality and distinctive features, a person can develop and think outside the “herd” movement. After all, often both artists and scientists become such people. Therefore, they can bring a valuable and new twist to the history of society.
  • Again, because of their peculiarity, they can come up with a business that other people have not “thinked out”.
  • Marginal people are more flexible and not attached to something. Therefore, it is easier for them to move towards the goal: to move to another city, to go to a new job

Cons :

  • The negative side of marginality is that it often occurs against the backdrop of revolutions, wars, and unfavorable conditions in the country.
  • It is difficult to maintain your own comfort and satisfy basic needs.
  • A tendency to act outside the law develops – they become dangerous to others.

What is the difference between them and lumpen?

Are lumpens and outcasts synonyms, or are they completely different concepts? The first word was introduced by Karl Marx to denote a separate social stratum of society (those who walk in rags). These included beggars, vagrants, people with antisocial behavior and those who broke the law .

These are members of society who do not have any material values, who have their own morality and do not recognize social norms . Basically, it’s a caste . As a rule, they do not have any property. They earn either by odd jobs , or by begging, or by robbery.

For me, the lumpen are a private and very radical example of marginalization . It is not indicative, because it reflects only one hypostasis (financial).

The marginal strata of society will not necessarily wear cast-offs and beg for alms. They can very well make a living. They simply “break away from the collective” and play “their own game” (in the social, political, religious, and so on).

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