Sunday, October 9, 2016

socializar: do outreach, public education, spread the word, promote

I am heartbroken about the peace vote in Colombia. I am particularly disturbed by how it was shaped by an active campaign of misinformation about the feminist aspects of the accords, including anti-feminist and homophobic fear mongering. Up to 1/3 of people voting no said they believed that the accords were an attack on 'family values'.

While the no vote was spreading lies, fear, and hate - the yes side did not do a great job of public education and outreach. They could have done a much better job of explaining what exactly was in the complicated accord, in particular to counteract the lies spread by the other side. In Colombian Spanish at least, doing this sort of work is often referred to as 'socializar' - whether it be a peace accord, or the results of your research, or a campaign for hand washing. The term generally conveys images of holding meetings in rural areas where the issue is explained and then discussed. I think our closest cultural equivalent in English, certainly in social justice contexts, is doing outreach.

In discussions of the vote, I keep hearing people misuse the false cognate socialize - even Arlene Tickner, whose analyses are worth keeping an eye out for, does so in this video below of an interesting discussion on Al Jazeera's inside story about why the vote for peace failed in Colombia. The meaning of socialize in English is very different (think either cocktail parties or making someone behave according to the rules of the group), and this misuse can easily lead to some serious misunderstanding.

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