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Instead of asking for definitions - Input Junkie
March 23rd, 2016
11:43 am


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Instead of asking for definitions
For example, rather than ask "What does 'progressive' mean?" I often find I can create intimacy by asking questions like "what's most important to you about being progressive?" "how do you recognize other progressives?" "what sorts of things do you feel inspired or compelled to do or refrain from because you're a progressive?" and so forth.


This strikes me as generally useful, and I wish I'd had this question handy back when people were trying to define science fiction.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1080458.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:March 23rd, 2016 06:19 am (UTC)
This is very good. I'll try to use this pattern from now on, and also spread the word.
[User Picture]
Date:March 23rd, 2016 09:33 am (UTC)
It depends on what you're talking about. If it's an area where everyone's thinking isn't totally muddy, definitions are important. But certainly in politics, terms like "progressive," "liberal," and "conservative" have so little meaning that it's a mistake to look for clear definitions. I'd be more direct, though, and ask, "What do you mean by progressive when talking about X?"
[User Picture]
Date:March 23rd, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
I think the original author is trying to avoid direct definition questions because people can react with defensiveness or us/them. (We see some of the latter, I think, in the vitriol at Clinton. )
[User Picture]
Date:March 23rd, 2016 02:37 pm (UTC)
"What's important about libertarianism to you?" elicits more about the person as well as the political theory.
[User Picture]
Date:March 23rd, 2016 10:45 am (UTC)
In the opinion survey I just took, the question about general political orientation offered "Progressive" and "Liberal" as different answers.
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