Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Aggregation Or Association?—The People We Spend Our Time With

  

The National Audubon Society Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World uses the word “aggregation” to describe dolphins that come together only for purposes of feeding. These dolphins are linked in this case by a practical purpose and will break back down into more stable and normal social groupings once they eat enough fish. 

In Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s The Social Contract, Rosseau uses the word “association” to describe people in political union or unified in some way transcendent of immediate needs.

I was reading both books around the same time. Seeing both words used in these ways got me to thinking about why we spend time with the people we spend time with.

For example, on a city bus you have an aggregation. The people are on the bus only until they reach the right stop.

At work, you might have of mix. At core it’s an aggregation because you are the there to get a job done and earn a living. But with time, as relationships form and the common purpose, possibly, takes on more meaning, an association may exist.        

When I hung out at punk rock bars, I always felt that many of us had something in common—If only various types and degrees of alienation. That would be an association.    

At a hotel bar you would have more of an aggregation. People just passing through.

How about school? For some it is an association with real meaning and substance. For others it is an aggregation as the days are counted down to summer vacation, graduation or dropping out.  

People today can be linked today by computer and e-mail. You might have a substantive association with others far away, while you feel the people you spend your time with daily are no more than an aggregation. 

Jail would be an aggregation. Tough I suppose a widespread plot to escape could turn it into an association.

I see society itself as an association. People on the right might see it as an aggregation.  

You might see the distinction between aggregation and association as a kind of academic exercise.

However, I’d say it is important to realize who we feel we share a common purpose with and who may be more incidental to our lives. Having such knowledge would provide a more clear sense of what is important in life and what is worth your time. 

On the level of society as a whole, the more people we feel as truly connected with in an association of fellow citizens and fellow human beings, the more likely we are to pursue fair and humane policies of basic social justice.

November 9, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Politics, Sea Life, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. A thoughtful piece, especially the last two paragraphs.

    Comment by Newton | November 14, 2007

  2. Very good. Thank you.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | November 15, 2007


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