A sociological look at the SSE

Hello everyone.  It's Ryan!

Today I wanted to discuss something that hit me the other day when I was sitting in on an SSE Taster Day.  Wale was talking about his business and the SSE…something he mentioned was how the SSE brings in all sorts of different people…different age groups, different backgrounds and ethnicities, and just people with different ideas overall.  He said that it is so important that the SSE keep doing this as this experience is so important in life because these people all bring something to you.  These different exposures not only make you a better and more cultured person, they bring new ideas, different approaches and perspectives to the table that wouldn't ever occur to you, as a student, without the exposure.  In the context of the SSE, it helps all the students to be better social entrepreneurs as it helps them open their mind to so many different ways of going about creating a business.

I thought this was interesting as I agree it’s also so important in life to be able to do this… it just opens your mind completely and you can never understand how it will change you until you are exposed.  For example, I can’t relate to a person living in bad areas until I have lived in bad areas or at least been exposed to the thoughts, the culture, and the people from these areas.  It brings this idea…you can’t judge anyone on anything because the reasons behind our actions are based on how we are raised and in what conditions.

With this in mind, it also brings up the importance of how the SSE recruits people from all over London.  There is an idea that was shared with me by someone on the staff and they said something along the lines of, "The people who know how to fix the worst areas of London are the people from the worst areas of London."  It's a thought that never even crossed my mind, yet makes so much sense in context, especially anthropologically.  

For example, it's great that people all over the world want to help refugees in Africa by making 'Westernized' schools and such, but perhaps this is the wrong approach.  If we were to do this the SSE way, we would go in and support people from Africa that have ideas on how to make Africa better instead of applying our own cultural needs to theirs.  It makes me think about the different ways I could help my own community at home… perhaps the people I would be best at helping are the homeless and less well-off people of the suburbs where I live, not necessarily the people from inner Chicago!

I hope you can understand my major 'brain dumping' here!  Thanks for reading!


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5 thoughts on “A sociological look at the SSE

  1. I think “The people who know how to fix the worst areas of London are the people from the worst areas of London.” is a useful starting point but shouldn’t be an article of faith. The people know how to carry out a heart by-pass operation are heart surgeons, not people who need heart by-pass operations.
    I think the reality is closer to ‘people who live in particular areas may or may not know how to improving things in those areas but any attempts to bring about change that don’t involve understanding the experiences and aspirations of people who the change is designed to benefit will fail dismally.’
    Some outside professional help is often very useful. It’s about who’s driving the change.

  2. David-
    You are 100% correct and thank you for commenting! I didn’t mean to sound so concrete in my thoughts; often times I start going on about these things not seeing the whole picture, so thanks for broadening my view and giving me another perspective!

  3. Nice “dumping”. You cannot solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. Mr. Floyd is right, if you can’t relate to what it is, outside professional help is very useful..

  4. I don’t mean to be pedantic, but I think the words ‘worst areas’ of London are used without realising the connotations that this might bring. I’m not trying to be politically correct here, but I do think this is an area that would benefit from a bit of thought when using certain language (not a personal attack on you Ryan, sorry!I do mean in general).
    Having a positive attitude is key. Alternatively, one might say “I am from one of the ‘strongest’ areas in London”. This uses the positives and the strengths of a community that has to worked harder to overcome social barriers to improvement.
    Positive language might encourage a better attitude and a bit of pride. People might want to become more involved, even if just to make a point to the so called ‘best parts of London’. Illustrating how people live in ‘the strongest’ parts of London might help the wider community come together to improve, and prove, the well being of the wider London community.

  5. Helpful point, David. I think it’s about tapping into the potential that lies within communities, but not being averse to relevant outside help. As you say: it’s about who’s driving the change and who’s facilitating / helping to accelerate it.
    Trish: I know what you’re saying; London is characterised by areas of prosperity being next to areas of relative disadvantage. Indeed, our latest survey shows that 70% of SSE Fellows work in the 20% most deprived areas…worst may not be the right word, though I’m not sure ‘strongest’ is necessarily any more accurate. You’re right that it’s subjective too: one person’s ‘best’ part of London is another person’s ‘worst’ and vice versa….