Bounded Sets

by | May 3, 2021 | Change, Identity |

bounded sets

A bounded set is both a mathematical and sociological term. Sociology will often use ‘bounded set’ to describe a community of people. The ‘set’ is the group of people and the ‘bounded’ are the ‘rules’ or boundaries of the group. The boundaries can be geographically – a location in space and time. Or can be values, interests, beliefs, and so on. Often it is a combination of factors rather than one.

Sometimes people talk of ‘open’ communities, unbounded ones. Often this is because they want to be welcoming or embrace diversity and difference. This may be noble or appear noble, but it rarely works. Understanding who we are, our beliefs, our perspective – the good, the bad, and even the ugly – tends to be a better starting point for diversity than denying we have a perspective in the first place.

Having an opinion, a perspective on the world is rarely a problem. It’s actually a prerequisite for diversity. Problems tend to come when we believe our perspective is the only ‘right’ one and we want (or force) everyone else to share it. Diversity and richness thrives when communities respond to difference with ‘we’re humans, and I’d love for the uniqueness of your humanity to shape our collective life in ways we couldn’t experience without you...’

Communities have ‘rules’. They are bounded sets. They cannot not be. A nation, religion, organisation is a group of communities. Often a diverse group of communities. And we can choose to learn from other, different communities rather than commenting, comparing, and competing against them.

We will all be richer for it.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon


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