Social identification is the capacity to know the role of the person. Duncan emphasize that modern society are impelled to “make a difference” in the world, either altruistically leaving it a better place or selfishly achieving a position of respect and affluence in it. In primitive society, resources facilitate seeing one’s work as part of a union with all that is sacred. In traditional society, work is a way of finding one’s place in a world linked through various means to that which is right and holy.
In modern society, one’s work is an effort to achieve “identification” in one’s own eyes. The modern response of ‘social identification’ is to determine which set of stories is “right. ” This consists of treating others as if they were not natives but in so doing placing one’s own resources at risk. The result is to adjudicate among the claims and either support retaliation against terrorists or send clandestine support to them. The cosmopolitan response is more complicated.
It consists of finding a frame in which both sets of stories can be seen in their own terms and the interaction between them can be described. Translations of the moral orders of the Beirut Shiites and of the American government require a vocabulary that encompasses both. The terms in this vocabulary must be substantially ironic; not an attempt to find and express commonalties in both worldviews but a way of seeing both as historically evolving worldviews.
There is a kind of double-talk in irony where we say one thing, but really mean another” (Duncan, 1962, p. 384). Irony is not simply a form of “indirect speech,” however, in which one thing is said but another thing is meant. Although substitution of one referent for another occurs, this is less important than an implied statement about the specificity of reference per se.