Social determinism

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Social determinism is the theory that social interactions and constructs alone determine individual behavior (as opposed to biological or objective factors).

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Consider certain human behaviors, such as committing murder, or writing poetry. A social determinist would look only at social phenomena, such as customs and expectations, education, and interpersonal interactions, to decide whether or not a given person would exhibit any of these behaviors. They would discount biological and other non-social factors, such as genetic makeup, the physical environment, etc. Ideas about nature and biology would be considered to be socially constructed.

Human behavior is the response of individuals or groups of humans to internal and external stimuli. It refers to the array of every physical action and observable emotion associated with individuals, as well as the human race. While specific traits of one's personality and temperament may be more consistent, other behaviors will change as one moves from birth through adulthood. In addition to being dictated by age and genetics, behavior, driven in part by thoughts and feelings, is an insight into individual psyche, revealing among other things attitudes and values. Social behavior, a subset of human behavior, study the considerable influence of social interaction and culture. Additional influences include ethics, encircling, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion and coercion.

Genetics Science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms

Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.

Social determinism and ideology

The socially determined actions of an individual can be influenced by forces that control the flow of ideas. By creating an ideology within the society of the individual, the individual's actions and reactions to stimuli are predetermined to adhere to the social rules imposed on him/her. Ideologies can be created using social institutions such as schooling, which "have become the terrain upon which contending forces express their social and political interest" (Mayberry 3), or the mass media, which has "significant power in shaping the social agenda and framing of public opinion to support that agenda" (Colaguori 35).

An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. The term is especially used to describe a system of ideas and ideals which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. In political science it is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems. In social science there are many political ideologies.

In psychology, a stimulus is any object or event that elicits a sensory or behavioral response in an organism.

By creating a social construction of reality, these forces directly create a hegemonic control over the future of individuals who feel like the social construct is natural and therefore unchangeable. Their actions become based in the context of their society so that, even if they possess an innate talent for a sport, if the social construction implies that their race is unathletic in general, or their nation or state does not produce athletes, they do not include the possibility of athleticism in their future. Their society has successfully determined their actions.

Social determinism can favor a political party's agenda by setting social rules so that the individual considers the party's agenda to be morally correct, an example being the 2010 G20 summit riots in Toronto. The media, controlled by corporations and the governments with agendas of their own, publicizes the riots as violent and dangerous, but the goal of the rioters, to rebel against those whose position in power enables them to abuse the system for personal gain, is lost because the focus is on the violence. The individuals' view on the subject are then directly influenced by the media and their reactions are predetermined by that social form of control. "We have been taught to think that censorship is the main mechanism of how the media uses information as a form of social control, but in fact what is said, and how it is selectively presented, is a far more powerful form of information control." (Colaguori 35).

Social determinism was first studied by Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917), French philosopher considered as the father of the social science.

Social determinism

Social determinism is most commonly understood in opposition to biological determinism. Within the media studies discipline, however, social determinism is understood as the counterpart of technological determinism. Technological determinism is the notion that technological change and development is inevitable, and that the characteristics of any given technology determine the way it is used by the society in which it is developed. The concept of technological determinism is dependent upon the premise that social changes come about as a result of the new capabilities that new technologies enable.

Biological determinism, also known as genetic determinism is the belief that human behaviour is controlled by an individual's genes or some component of their physiology, generally at the expense of the role of the environment, whether in embryonic development or in learning. Genetic reductionism is a similar concept, but it is distinct from genetic determinism in that the former refers to the level of understanding, while the latter refers to the supposedly causal role of genes. It has been associated with movements in science and society including eugenics, scientific racism, the debate around the heritability of IQ, the biological basis for gender roles, and the sociobiology debate.

Media studies is a discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media; in particular, the mass media. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass communication, communication, communication sciences, and communication studies. Researchers may also develop and employ theories and methods from disciplines including cultural studies, rhetoric, philosophy, literary theory, psychology, political science, political economy, economics, sociology, anthropology, social theory, art history and criticism, film theory, feminist theory, and information theory.

Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that assumes that a society's technology determines the development of its social structure and cultural values. Technological determinism tries to understand how technology has had an impact on human action and thought. Changes in technology are the primary source for changes in society. The term is believed to have originated from Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), an American sociologist and economist. The most radical technological determinist in the United States in the 20th century was most likely Clarence Ayres who was a follower of Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey. William Ogburn was also known for his radical technological determinism.

The notion of social determinism opposes this perspective. Social determinism perceives technology as a result of the society in which it is developed. A number of contemporary media theorists have provided persuasive accounts of social determinism, including Leila Green.

In her book Technoculture Leila Green examines in detail the workings of a social determinist perspective, and argues “social processes determine technology for social purposes”. ( Green 2001 ) She claims that every technological development throughout history was born of a social need, be this need economical, political or military. ( Green 2001 )

According to Green, technology is always developed with a particular purpose or objective in mind. As the development of technology is necessarily facilitated by financial funding, a social determinist perspective recognizes that technology is always developed to benefit those who are capable of funding its development.

Thus social determinists perceive that technological development is not only determined by the society in which it occurs, but that it is inevitably shaped by the power structures that exist in that society. ( Green 2001 )

Arguments against social determinism

Scientific studies have shown that social behavior is partly inherited and can influence infants and also even influence foetuses. Wired to be social means that infants are not taught that they are social beings, but they are born as prepared social beings. The infants are born with an inherited social skill.

Social pre-wiring deals with the study of fetal social behavior and social interactions in a multi-fetal environment. Specifically, social pre-wiring refers to the ontogeny of social interaction. Also informally referred to as, "wired to be social." The theory questions whether there is a propensity to socially oriented action already present before birth. Research in the theory concludes that newborns are born into the world with a unique genetic wiring to be social. [1]

Circumstantial evidence supporting the social pre-wiring hypothesis can be revealed when examining newborns' behavior. Newborns, not even hours after birth, have been found to display a preparedness for social interaction. This preparedness is expressed in ways such as their imitation of facial gestures. This observed behavior cannot be contributed to any current form of socialization or social construction. Rather, newborns most likely inherit to some extent social behavior and identity through genetics. [1]

Principal evidence of this theory is uncovered by examining Twin pregnancies. The main argument is, if there are social behaviors that are inherited and developed before birth, then one should expect twin foetuses to engage in some form of social interaction before they are born. Thus, ten foetuses were analyzed over a period of time using ultrasound techniques. Using kinematic analysis, the results of the experiment were that the twin foetuses would interact with each other for longer periods and more often as the pregnancies went on. Researchers were able to conclude that the performance of movements between the co-twins were not accidental but specifically aimed. [1]

The social pre-wiring hypothesis was proved correct, "The central advance of this study is the demonstration that 'social actions' are already performed in the second trimester of gestation. Starting from the 14th week of gestation twin foetuses plan and execute movements specifically aimed at the co-twin. These findings force us to predate the emergence of social behavior: when the context enables it, as in the case of twin foetuses, other-directed actions are not only possible but predominant over self-directed actions.". [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

The nature versus nurture debate involves whether human behavior is determined by the environment, either prenatal or during a person's life, or by a person's genes. The alliterative expression "nature and nurture" in English has been in use since at least the Elizabethan period and goes back to medieval French. The combination of the two concepts as complementary is ancient. Nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. Nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception e.g. the product of exposure, experience and learning on an individual.

Socialization lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies

In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained". Socialization is strongly connected to developmental psychology. Humans need social experiences to learn their culture and to survive. Socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.

Determinism is the philosophical idea that all events, including moral choices, are determined completely by previously existing causes. Determinism is at times understood to preclude free will because it entails that humans cannot act otherwise than they do. It can also be called as hard determinism from this point of view. Hard determinism is a position on the relationship of determinism to free will. The theory holds that the universe is utterly rational because complete knowledge of any given situation assures that unerring knowledge of its future is also possible. Some philosophers suggest variants around this basic definition. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism. Determinism is often contrasted with free will.

Media ecology theory is the study of media, technology, and communication and how they affect human environments. The theoretical concepts were proposed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964, while the term media ecology was first formally introduced by Neil Postman in 1968.

Incompatibilism view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that persons have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other

Incompatibilism is the view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that persons have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other. This view is pursued in at least three ways: libertarians deny that the universe is deterministic, the hard determinists deny that any free will exists, and pessimistic incompatibilists deny both that the universe is determined and that free will exists.

Hard determinism

Hard determinism is a view on free will which holds that determinism is true, and that it is incompatible with free will, and, therefore, that free will does not exist. Although hard determinism generally refers to nomological determinism, it can also be a position taken with respect to other forms of determinism that necessitate the future in its entirety. Hard determinism is contrasted with soft determinism, which is a compatibilist form of determinism, holding that free will may exist despite determinism. It is also contrasted with metaphysical libertarianism, the other major form of incompatibilism which holds that free will exists and determinism is false.

Cultural determinism is the belief that the culture in which we are raised determines who we are at emotional and behavioral levels. It contrasts with genetic determinism, the theory that biologically inherited traits and the environmental influences that affect those traits dominate who we are.

Technophilia refers generally to a strong enthusiasm for technology, especially new technologies such as personal computers, the Internet, mobile phones and home cinema. The term is used in sociology to examine individuals' interactions with society and is contrasted with technophobia.

Theories of technology attempt to explain the factors that shape technological innovation as well as the impact of technology on society and culture. Most contemporary theories of technology reject two previous views: the linear model of technological innovation and technological determinism. To challenge the linear model, today's theories of technology point to the historical evidence that technological innovation often gives rise to new scientific fields, and emphasizes the important role that social networks and cultural values play in shaping technological artifacts. To challenge technological determinism, today's theories of technology emphasize the scope of technical choice, which is greater than most laypeople realize; as science and technology scholars like to say, "It could have been different." For this reason, theorists who take these positions typically argue for greater public involvement in technological decision-making.

Social shaping of technology

According to Robin A. Williams and David Edge (1996), "Central to social shaping of technology (SST) is the concept that there are choices inherent in both the design of individual artifacts and systems, and in the direction or trajectory of innovation programs."

The philosophy of technology is a sub-field of philosophy that studies the nature of technology and its social effects.

Technoculture is a neologism that is not in standard dictionaries but that has some popularity in academia, popularized by editors Constance Penley and Andrew Ross in a book of essays bearing that title. It refers to the interactions between, and politics of, technology and culture.

Media psychology is the branch of psychology that focuses on the interaction of human behavior and media and technology. Media psychology is not restricted to mass media or media content; it includes all forms of mediated communication and media technology-related behaviors, such as the use, design, impact and sharing behaviors. This branch is a relatively new field of study because of advancement in technology. It uses various methods of critical analysis and investigation to develop a working model of a user's perception on media experience. These methods are used for society as a whole and on an individual basis. Media psychologists are able to perform activities that include consulting, design, and production in various media like television, video games, films, and news broadcasting. Media psychologists are not considered to be those who are featured in media, rather than those who research, work or contribute to the field.

There are several approaches to defining the substance and scope of technology policy.

Lelia Green is an educator, professor, and a senior lecturer teaching at the School of Communications and Multimedia at Edith Cowan University, Perth. Green is the author of Technoculture: From Alphabet to Cybersex and the editor of Framing Technology: Society, Choice and Change, and also on the editorial board of the Australia Journal of Communication and Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy.

Deviance (sociology) action or behavior that violates social norms

In sociology, deviance describes an action or behavior that violates social norms, including a formally enacted rule, as well as informal violations of social norms. Although deviance may have a negative connotation, the violation of social norms is not always a negative action; positive deviation exists in some situations. Although a norm is violated, a behavior can still be classified as positive or acceptable.

Sociology Scientific study of human society and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions

Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.

Synactive Theory of Newborn Behavioral Organization and Development

The Synactive Theory of Newborn Behavioral Organization and Development suggests that development of the human fetus, and later newborn, proceeds through the constant balancing of approach and avoidance behaviors, leading to: 1) a continuous interaction of the subsystems and their increasingly defined delineations within the organism, that is the infant, and 2) the organism’s interaction with the environment at large. This process is aimed at bringing about the increasingly well-defined species-unique developmental agenda.

The term mutual shaping was developed through Science and Technology Studies (STS) in an attempt to explain the detailed process of technological design. Mutual shaping is a combination of social determinism and technological determinism, suggesting that society and technology are not mutually exclusive to one another and, instead, influence and shape each other.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951360/ Umberto Castiello, et al: National Institutes of Health

Colaguori, Claudio. Power and Society: Critical issues in Social Science. Toronto: York University, 2011. Print.

Mayberry, Maralee. Conflict and Social Determinism: The Reprivatization of Education. Chicago: Viewpoints, 1991. Print.

Stafford, Rebecca, Elaine Backman, and Pamela Dibona. "The Division of Labour among Cohabiting and Married Couples." Journal of Marriage and Family 39.1 (1977): 43-57. Print.

Green, Leila (2001). Technoculture. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin. pp. 1–20.