Bringing the Text to Life
What do the Academy Awards, a congressional hearing and a lovers’ quarrel all have in common? Other than crying and a lot of gesturing, that is.
Well, according to the late Charles Tilly, who was a professor of social science at Columbia University, the common link has to do with one of the basic engines that drives human relationships — the yin and yang of credit and blame.
“We humans spend our lives blaming, taking credit and (often more reluctantly) giving credit to other people,” wrote Tilly in his 2008 book Credit and Blame. “At all scales, credit and blame pervade social life.” As humans, living within social networks, we insist when things go right or wrong that someone caused them and should take responsibility for the consequences, good or bad. People expend a lot of energy, then, assigning that responsibility to themselves or others. That’s why the Oscars are such a spectacle of gushing speeches, why members of Congress are grumpy and ...