The Fallacy of the ‘Inclusive Group’

Beware of the group proudly preaching inclusiveness while brushing off those who fail to meet its unspoken rules and criteria. Such a group is in a state of collective delusion. Every group has parameters for inclusion, whether written or unwritten. To pretend that these parameters do not exist — or, worse, to pretend that they have been magically dissolved by the high moral will of the group members — to waltz with a most pretentious hypocrisy. Why? Groups and communities exist precisely because they represent a subset of the population; a contrasted segment of the whole. When a group announces that it is open and accepting of everyone, it has only tricked itself into thinking that its own unwritten values are universal. Could this be the reason why groups that are most judgmental and critical of outsiders are often the very same groups claiming that everyone should join them?

3 thoughts on “The Fallacy of the ‘Inclusive Group’

  1. All my life I’ve had problems “belonging” to any given group. Your brief post says it all. The moment I feel the unspoken rules, I’m done. It’s happened with writing groups, collectives and more recently, initiatives like Women in Tech. It is all very fuzzy and rarely authentic.

  2. Very insightful point James. It is absolutely true of every group that it is circumscribed by membership criteria, even if only tacit. Very good point, which I will no doubt make to someone in a conversation at some point. I will be sure to ‘cite James Shelley.’ :)

  3. So here’s the next question… are ‘exclusive’ groups really more inclusive? Does a group that has explicit and strict rules for membership (say, a formal society, fellowship, or institution) create an environment that is more or less conducive to having individuals ‘unconditionally’ accept one another socially (based on their demonstration of shared values in committing to the formal structure, assuming such dedication involves some element of personal cost/sacrifice)? Does demanding up front sacrifice to join a group that has formal rules create ‘self-selecting population’ of individuals who are more likely to be socially cohesive in the longterm than a free-for-all group that ebbs and flows by its own unwritten rules? Thoughts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.