On “diversity”: the perils of monoculture (part 2)

I wrote previously about the perils of monoculture in agriculture and institutions: it’s dangerous to have only one type of crop or perspective/experience/background because you’re more susceptible to infections that target that crop or groupthink/faddishness.

But let’s unpack the institutional component of this: I mashed together perspective, experience, and background. What kind of monoculture are we looking to avoid?

  • Perspective? This is very personal. Each person has their own perspective or worldview, but these are shaped by broader ideologies out there in the public sphere, and by the types of things one reads and hears. In these days of Fox News and the Daily Show (information monocultures?), people’s perspectives are formed, I would speculate, in more predictable and homogeneous ways. That’s another way of saying there’s polarization. Perspective is changeable, it’s not immutable – it’s not entirely about the past.
  • Experience? This is about the past. It’s about what’s come before. Some of it is a choice, what you’ve chosen to experience, and some of it is what happened to you (you don’t choose where you grow up). There’s your experience growing up, and your work experience. It’s very personal, even more so than perspective because it can’t change. You can interpret it differently, but it’s of a different category than perspective, which is how you view the world now vs. what has happened to you in the past.
  • Background? Ah, the joys of euphemism. This is about where you come from, where your parents come from, where your parents come from, “originally.” It’s personal, it’s about the past, it’s less changeable than perspective – but it’s more structural than experience. Experience is about what happened to you as a person, background is where your experience fits into larger social, demographic, and political trends. Part of your experience is how your background shaped…wait for it…your perspective.

So what kind of monoculture do you want to avoid in an institutional context like philanthropy? What kind of “diversity” are we looking for: of perspective, of experience, of background? To be continued….

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One Response to “On “diversity”: the perils of monoculture (part 2)”

  1. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » On “diversity”: the perils of monoculture (part 3) Says:

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