Toward a theory of social gatherings

It’s almost like he’s trying to not ever get invited anywhere again. (Edit: but, in case it’s not clear, I don’t mean this to be taken at face value at all. It’s kind of a bad joke).

Lately, I’ve been trying to think of a way to classify parties and social gatherings for some reason. If you see me at a social gathering staring at a wall, this might be what I’m doing. Although probably not. Sorry, I just stare at walls sometimes. Anyway, as an example of what I’m talking about, here are two sets of factors I think are sort of nearly-mutually-orthogonal: the first set: attention paid to dress (A) and prevalence of professional degrees (P). Another set: average quality of beer consumed (B) and degree of racial segregation (R).

As in all classification schemes, I want to start out by emphasizing what I think is important. Things like age of participants and location-based factors (going to the beach and a dinner party is unlikely to have the same vibe, even if you do it with the exact same people) definitely affect the gathering, but they shouldn’t be fundamental classification parameters, because the goal should be to try to understand something about the typology of the people involved. But neither should it be seen as a ranking of the best and worst type of parties. And in fact, it isn’t. I can definitely think of times I’ve loved, and times I’ve hated, at a party that fits in any quadrant, in either classification system. I just think it’s a fun thing to think about.

So, for example,  here are the four types according to the first set, arranged roughly as in fig. 1gatherings

I. High A, high P. In colloquial parlance this is the “aspirational” or, if you’re feeling uncharitable, “douchebag” quadrant. Type specimen is a business gathering.

II. Low A, high P. This is the “nerd” or “eco-yuppie” quadrant. The type specimen of this party is something like parties thrown by the VOC and other outdoor clubs. But it also includes frat parties.

III. High A, low P. This is the “bohemian” or “hipster” quadrant, although I suppose clubbing would also fit here. I never really go clubbing, though, so I don’t know what that’s like. The type specimen of this party is an art opening.

IV. Low A, low P. This is the “bro” or “chill” quadrant. The type specimen of this gathering is a barbecue, or going for beers after work (obviously does not apply if your work is being a lawyer or something, but still).

Clearly this scheme has some problems. First and foremost that this kind of thing seems like an intentionally confusing way to talk about class divisions. And to make them sound legitimate. Which is not what I want to do. But there are also more specific problems. For example, high-A, low-P and low-A, high-P should be the least compatible groups. Whereas in actuality, these are the two that are closest spiritually and have the most overlap. So what do you think? Comments? Ideas for improvement? Does the second set of factors work better than the first?

This entry was posted in shit we have no idea about, whimsy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s