Parochialism

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Parochialism is the state of mind, whereby one focuses on small sections of an issue rather than considering its wider context. More generally, it consists of being narrow in scope. In that respect, it is a synonym of "provincial". It may, particularly when used pejoratively, be contrasted to universalism.

The term originates from the idea of a parish ([Late] Latin: parochia), one of the smaller divisions within many Christian churches such as the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

Parish organization[edit]

Events, groups and decisions within a parish are based locally — sometimes taking little heed of what is going on in the wider Church. A parish can sometimes be excessively focused on the local scale (thus within a particular point of view), by having (too) little contact with the broader outside, showing meager interest for and possibly knowledge about the universal scale.

Subsidiarity[edit]

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.

Terminology[edit]

The term "parochial" can be applied in both culture and economics if a local culture or geographic area's government makes decisions based on solely local interests that do not take into account the effect of the decision on the broader community. The term may also be applied to decisions and events that are considered to be trivial in the grand scheme of things but that may be over-emphasized in a smaller community, such as disputes between neighbors.

Parochialism in politics[edit]

Parochialism can be found around the world and has sometimes been acknowledged by local institutions. For example in a change of curriculum on February 7, 2007, Harvard University said that one of the main purposes of the major curriculum overhaul (the first in three decades) was to overcome American "parochialisms", referring in this case to a national point of view rather than one concerned with any particular small community.

The political principle of localism is that which supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and local culture and identity. Localist politics have been approached from many directions by different groups. Nevertheless, localism can generally be described as related to regionalism, and in opposition to centralism.

In pejorative use, the term Parish pump politics is used to describe political activity that is more evidently concerned with addressing the immediate needs of the local electorate than with strategy that might affect their long-term well-being.

See also[edit]