Difference and Orders of Belonging
Despite the context-specificity of orders of belonging and difference, all of these orders emerge as a result of practices of social distinction and differentiation, which – in a symbolic, material, institutional and discursive way –influence social phenomena and, at the same time, make these phenomena plausible for the members of the society in which they occur. The order of belonging and difference that distinguishes between a natio-ethno-cultural ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, for instance, fulfils this task. It is through hierarchies and orders of belonging that members of society experience, comprehend and internalize social reality and their positions within it. These regulatory orders structure and constitute experiences; they normalize and subjectivize,i.e. they address individuals as subjects. Some of these orders (i.e. of gender, class, sexuality or natio-ethno-cultural belonging), which, due to their social, political and individual significance, can be considered fundamental, organize individual biographical experiences, practices and ways of understanding from early on. Such fundamental orders of difference denote (always given) expectations that have a structuring effect, even when they are not directly articulated in social settings. The socializing impact of fundamental orders manifests itself in the mediation of self-conceptions and identities in a practical, cognitive-explicit, but equally sensory-corporeal manner in which social positions are mirrored. Relations of difference thus have a socializing effect in that they produce an understanding of the world in which one’s own positionality is represented.