Knowledge or Elitism: Where’s the Line?

Something I’ve been thinking about a bit since I graduated from law school is how to determine when it’s appropriate to actually apply my newfound knowledge, and when it’s appropriate to sit back and relax.  I think there is a bit of an instinct when you have an education in a specific area to stick your nose into a conversation and bring forth The Answer, and it can be somewhat painful when the rest of the group inevitably snipes at your elitism.  The law comes up a lot in day-to-day conversation, and I’ve learned that my coworkers are pretty hostile to any input on my part, so I tend to sit and stew quietly.  But I think there is a happy medium, and especially in circles (i.e., feminist, queer, progressive) where there tend to be a lot of academics dominating the conversation, it’s important to find it.

On the one hand, not everything can be dissected.  I think there’s something really powerful in the elements of third wave feminism, for example, that encourage getting out of your desk chair and doing something, whether that something is marching in a rally, organizing a boycott, or starting a coalition of women entrepreneurs.  On the other hand, academics can lend something to the discussion, and the reflexive “anti elitist” thing might stifle some conversation.  Since those of us blogging here are relatively educated, I’m curious how the rest of the bloggers deal with this divide in various progressive circles, and also how our readers, whatever your education may be, experience this divide in life.

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One Response to Knowledge or Elitism: Where’s the Line?

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh I hear this. I have the problem of being too know-it-all, and particularly, too lets-discuss-what-this-means-culturally! I love these conversations, but I understand that many of my school mates (we’re engineers, after all) don’t enjoy that type. It comes off as snootiness, I guess? But I just want to talk about stuff!

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