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A granfalloon, in the religion of Bokononism (invented by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel Cat's Cradle), is defined as a "false karass". That is, it is a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless in terms of fulfilling God's design. The most common granfalloons are associations and societies based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise. As examples, Vonnegut cites: "the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows -- and any nation, anytime, anywhere." A more general and often-cited quote defines a granfalloon as "a proud and meaningless association of human beings." Another granfalloon example illustrated in the book was Hoosiers, of which the narrator (and Vonnegut himself) was a member (however grudgingly).
- If you wish to study a granfalloon, just remove the skin of a toy balloon. -Bokonon
In social psychology the concept stems from Henri Tajfel's research on the minimum group paradigm, in which he found that strangers would form groups on the basis of completely inconsequential criteria, such as the flip of a coin. Subjects within such meaningless associations have consistently been found to act towards other members as if they were kin or close friends. The granfalloon technique is a method of persuasion in which individuals are encouraged to identify with a particular granfalloon, such as a pressure group or political campaign, as a means of securing for that group the individual's loyalty and commitment through adoption of its symbols, rituals and beliefs. The imagined communities of Benedict Anderson form a similar concept.
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