Updated April 22, 2021: Retitled.
Prompted by Professor Caleb Cooley, Washington State University:
The natural environment is currently experiencing drastic changes, including the risk of global climate change, species extinction, air pollution, water pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, and more. What, in your opinion, can sociology teach us about the causes of and solutions to these environmental problems? Based on what you’ve learned in this course, what do you believe the social solution to urgent global environmental problems to be?
First I’ll propose a framework to address a potential solution, highlight the framework’s components, includes of addressing causes and sub-solutions, then conclude.
It is proposed that a sociological effort is undertaken utilizing existing frameworks of scientific enterprise yet accelerated with knowledge of marketing’s concept of value co-creation (Vargo & Lusch, 2014) for inclusivity with respect to sociological categories of human behavior (i.e., religion, nationality, ethnicity, culture, etc.). Through this sociological effort, three mandates of activity would be charged with theory, measure, reporting, and policy recommendation to address the emergency situation that is climate change. This will be a challenging endeavor, and require key metrics of reducing culture lag (Ogburn, 1922) where latent and manifest resistance to necessary changes must be measured and addressed.
With respect to the three mandates, the three perspectives of sociology are enlisted, of interactionist, conflict, and functional perspectives. These offer the best objective and subjective accounting of an intelligent species behaviors and its impacts on a planet, and allows for tremendous consultative power. Due to the effects of non-commutative quantization (irreversibility of operations), the order within which mandates are presented, considered, and enacted will most likely vary due to inter- and intra- perspective cultural lag in execution. That said, this non-commutative effect can be overcome with crowd-source concepts of recent technological innovation, where top-down, bottom-up efforts are minimized, and replaced with decentralized operations empowered by knowledge/capital/logistics management systems which have accelerated dramatically to supreme optimization as evidenced in profitability and dwindling manpower requirements of these, in the last two decades.
INTERACTIONIST MANDATE – Of the People
Considering an interactionist perspective, down in the actual interactions between peoples, social movements to address discontents arising from stereotype, -ism mentality, discrimination, and segregation which persist through initial starting conditions of intelligent species differentiation, and impacts of invalid and persistent assumptions, would serve well to make room for measures and recommendations of various perspectives to be heard more readily. Without this minimization of segregative behavior, remedies for matter-of-fact and reinforced contingencies of unequal material and cultural resources would most likely meet minimal progress.
It is recommended that progress continues in psychological sciences, religious dialogue, cognitive sciences, biological sciences, especially neurology, and technological innovation to further empower members of an intelligent species to realize the great power of biological neural systems in affecting change via. cognitive processes. Constructing measures of progress in these realms, and coordinated with measures of the respective perspectives, would allow for arriving at maximum efficiency in addressing the metabolic overdrive of the treadmill (Gould, Pellow, and Schnailberg, 2015) effect of overconsumption, however work would need to be done to provide “after care” in this realm due to the unpleasant side effects of these change.
CONFLICT MANDATE – For the People
With respect to a conflict perspective, aspects of both real and perceived starting, ending, and annualized conditions through individual genealogies traced through ethnicity, race/nationality, gender, sex, religion, appearance, class, family, disability, etc. and correlated probability densities of measures of prosperity acquisition and storage across temporality presents a challenge in currently accepted social norms and laws across a plurality of cultures and governance segmentations. These perceptions, are the reality of the conflict for many across a species, yet what is incongruous is the imagined or perceived value of items of prosperity vs. the utility of these items with respect to solving individual, herd, and ecological problems.
Perhaps one of the best measures of where idealized worlds are, with respect to a psychology of conflict, is applied in the sphere of the conflict perspective of sociology. A measure of realization energy would be in measuring the incongruence between where the world is going perceptually in the eyes of investments, as opposed to where the investments, if made, reduce or could reverse ecological damage, all while minimizing the damage of Ogburn’s (1922) stated period of maladjustment (p. 201). A scorched earth as a result of conflict over resources both material and cultural, could be far more damaging than a slow death hoping for some miracle, yet must be balanced with maximum efforts to avoid a slow death in the event the miracle does not arrive. Making measures of sociological phenomena of the conflict perspective known and digestible in a kind of social dashboard between the visions of the world vs. the realities of the world, would be very helpful.
FUNCTIONAL MANDATE – By the People
Functionally a charge to arrive at planetary ecological stabilization and recovery will require an equilibrium seeking capacity, where the functionalist perspective serves to measure and report on success metrics in “working the plan” continually to correct for non-commutative system perturbations (Barnett, 2004, p. 262) in efforts of functional, interactionist, and conflict perspective mandates. This mandate is not to be seen, nor should be considered to be superior to, overarching of, leading, or guiding the work and efforts of other mandates. The functional mandate is in serving as a guidance system toward a collectively sanctioned realistic world to arrive in vs. the fractured idealized worlds to build, where the former is realistic, and the latter is as neurotic and potentially psychotic behavior.
It is recommended that brachistochrone concepts are employed for minimal input for maximal change in all efforts, where the functional mandate provides for scientific understanding, measure, and consulting on “equilibrium seeking services” to other mandates. Standardized dashboards and reporting shall be provided to the public for explanatory power and enabling other mandates to more effectively fulfill duties and responsibilities.
The three sociological perspectives, as mandates, seem an apt way for the field to both present theories and recommendations to effect social change. This seems a more efficient way to collect and present information with less data transformation expense from fields heavily maintained by jargon, status-quo, credentialism, and perceived entitlement (i.e., medicalization [Conrad, 1992, p. 209]) which has already significantly abandoned the public trust (i.e., poltic) and doesn’t translate effectively into decision making material for policy makers, oversight committees, and enforcers.
Decentralized management, coordinated with unattributed reparations as a remedy for unfair starting conditions, and subsequent unfair annualizations, would shorten lag time between data collection, statistical inferencing of magnitude and direction, and assembly into cogent understandings and recommendations. Essentially, a declaration of a planetary restorative economic jubilee is not out of the question.
Shortening a culture gap would more rapidly surface issues on the ground, where resources could potentially be mobilized more effectively. It goes without saying, that there must be an appetite for this, and that requires commitment to setting aside a majority of agendas of conceits of vested interests (Veblen, 2005), which is the charge of the three mandates together and empowered through decentralized and socially mobilized and resourced movement. Ultimately these combined efforts would serve to shorten cultural lag time (Ogburn, 1922, p. 201) and compress “time to market” of a rapid implementation of emergency work while simultaneously solving unequal human conditions and sustaining contingencies exacerbating resistance to collaborating on solving ecological emergencies.
In final word, through these efforts, a globe may minimize institutional bystander effects (Hodges, 2021), and cut the “red tape” of bureaucracies by leaning on bureau-decentralization, in the hands of the many, to address an environmental disaster that is labeled as human driven climate change, yet in truth could be more aptly named, as a result of cultural lag, what it truly is: Imperial Climate Change. It is this imperial climate change and its persisting threat to all life on this planet that dooms life on this planet, in this solar system, through to the local group—the a sleeper awakens (Herbert, 2003, p. 317), it’s time to bring the rain, and cool this fire.
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Hodges, R. (2021) Global Inequality: Institutional Bystander Effect and Dethroning an Intelligent Species’ Sanctioned Religion of Economy.
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Ogburn, W. F. (1922) Social Change: With Respect to Culture and Original Nature. New York: B.W. Huebsch.
Veblen, T. (2005). The Vested Interests and the Common Man. United States: Cosimo Classics. (Originally published 1919).
Vargo, S. L., Lusch, R. F. (2014). The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing: Dialog, Debate, and Directions. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.
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Therein, it may be quite a challenge for one valence to move forward while leaving another valence behind. In short, I’d label this lag, a kind of Perspective Lag, where resources mobilized to move components addressed by one perspective lead to constraints on other components of another perspective. This can be seen in the concept of [X]’s Treadmill concept.
Regarding planetary oxidation by an intelligent metabolistic species (i.e., humanity),
Shortening cultural lag (Ogburn, p. 201) time measured, would somehow address some inability for public this lag seems to be related to some as to yet invented measure of institutionalized bystander effect (Hodges, 2021) obstructing changes in reinforcement contingencies (Skinner, 1971) to arrive in a world more sustainable in the preservation of life rather than a continuance of economic growth.
Regarding the effect of shortening the measure to policy, a kind of perceptive liquidity would be required of all members of an intelligent species, and potentially interspecies world, to understand that just because a policy has set forth mobilized resources, doesn’t mean that resources mobilized will be resources delivered. In the time frame between decision making and marshaling, another new metric or decision may require more urgency in redirecting resources already allocated (a common business problem in logistics and project management), so there must be a kind of resource-allocation system with common rules that all members would need to agree to, and be tolerant of the effects of, with minimal whiplash both physiologically, psychologically, and ecologically.