The Unseen Force of Change

While trudging through the long and complex entity that is Raymond William’s Hegemony and Structures of Feeling I could not help but try to best understand it by comparing his ideas to past examples of paradigm shifts throughout history. The two that emerged most often in my mind was the shift towards equality of all races and the recent legalization of gay marriage.


In the case of equal treatment of all races, in primarily the United States, the shift came from an already existing notion. The Constitution defined all men to be equal, yet the shift did not occur over context but rather the interpretation. A still very residual and important notion emerged out of an already existing concept. This shift did not occur in a quick fashion but rather came to be overtime by the extensive dynamics of activists such as Martin Luther King Jr who changed the minds of many opposing citizens.


The very recent events of the legalization of same sex marriage on the other hand, seemed to finalize almost overnight. Of course support for the issue has been building over time, but it seems as if the legalization of it happened while no one was expecting it. Personally, when I first heard about it on Twitter I didn’t believe it was true because I hadn’t heard anything about an attempt to legalize it nationally. I feel as if the paradigm shift isn’t completely over yet, but is reaching its end as we must still address the issue of discrimination facing gay marriage.


Williams attempts to make it very clear that the process of a paradigm shift is a very active and  constant being. It does not simply occur in its entirety overnight, but rather in a series of almost unseen steps. Often times what seems like a recent shift of the residual may in many cases only be a step in a larger shift in the future. This fluid nature is almost unseen in day to day life, however it may have significant underlying impacts on the future emergent.







3 thoughts on “The Unseen Force of Change

  1. ekh5175


    These two examples are the best ones that I can think of in recent history that mark significant paradigm shifts! Especially in the same-sex marriage legalization example, it is so strange to me to think that even just being homosexual was still classified as a mental illness at the time my parents were born. It is truly incredible how we have embraced such a huge societal change in such a relatively short period of time!

    As far as achieving racial equality, this change certainly did not happen overnight or with a ruling of the Supreme Court. While all races are constitutionally equal, I think we can all say that on a majority-white campus, we have witnessed instances of inferential or even overt racism. This makes me think of the posters around campus last week emphasizing the importance of being critical of your own Halloween costume as to not appropriate the culture of another race. We are definitely different as a society from the last century, but we still have a long way to go as well to be truly equal.

    Great post this week–I look forward to reading your next blog!

    –Elissa Hill

  2. kem5833

    Same sex marriage and gay rights have both been battles for many years; however, I was surprised when same sex marriage passed so quickly. While our country is moving towards social acceptance, we still lack equality in many areas, even though paradigm shifts throughout the years has allowed us to evolve into our current state. Very thoughtful post!

  3. Sienna D Mcnett

    Being out of the country at the time, I was surprised when I arrived home that such a monumental change had occurred in the 7 days that I had been away. At the same time, however, I feel as if the legalization of same sex marriage was a long time coming and that the country-wide acceptance was the final puzzle piece. I definitely agree though, that this legalization is only the first step on the way to social acceptance and equality. What are the major changes that you foresee must occur before equality can be achieved?

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