Desirability Politics

It’s been a year of writing my dissertation and not updating my blog, but I think I might be able to get one in before the year (/decade?) ends. One of the things I’ve found most interesting my study of sidewalk interactions is a reflection of what the mechanism is, while I have my theoretical framework, that an interaction revolves around participant profile, bias, location and interaction type, I think fundamentally it’s about attraction. Do you want to spend more time with someone? Be closer to them? This is another way of asking whether or not you’re attracted to them. There are other reasons why you might want or need to talk to someone but I keep coming back to attraction because it’s in the word definition. If you feel are leading a fairly frictionless urban walk (you’re not in a rush and are free to go wherever you want,) who do you veer towards and who do you veer away from? There are reasons to talk to someone other than sexual attraction, but I think interest is a form of attraction. Whether you’re attracted to that type of interaction (you say hello and make eye-contact with everyone), that type of person (someone you see every day?).

I’ve been following a twitter discussion on desirability politics which I think is similar. In that cis, white, able-bodied, thin, conventionally attractive people get treated better in the US. Socio-economic status can often be inferred through clothes, accessories and other accoutrements. In my study aspects of desirability politics are noted as well as a measure of proximity. Neither leads to very strong conclusions but more interesting questions.

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