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.