Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is the Norm? Same Sex in the Social Imagination

According to a recent Gallup 2015 survey (this week), of the total U.S. adult population (243 million U.S. adults), less than 1 percent, only .8 percent (2 million U.S. adults), are part of a same-sex couple.The same survey finds that approximately .3 percent (.3%) of U.S. adults are married to a same-sex spouse, a mere .5 percent (.5%) identify as being in a same-sex domestic partnership and, of the estimated .8 percent (.8%) of the total U.S. adult population that are a part of a same-sex couple, 780,000 are married.

In other words, of the estimated 2 million adults (out of two hundred forty-three million = '243 million adults in the US) that are a part of a same-sex couple, 39 percent (39%) are married... out of that 2 million not out of 243 million. Which means that out of 2 million adults in a same sex couple relationship, not even half are married.  Across the board in terms of how many Americans are in a same sex couple relationship, Gallup told us... only 1% of the total population.

What is more interesting to me as a sociology is how people view statistics. This percentage 39% is often the number put out there to represent same sex couples nationwide as if it is representative of the total US population. It is not true. Gallup has proved it- scientifically. Yes, social science is what Gallup is about. Their results are arrived at through scientific method. Yet, I have had university students argue that this percentage does represent the number of same sex couples nationally in the total population. When I tell them, that is not true; they consider that pointing such facts is a kind of discrimination. I said I am only pointing the truth.

Let us remind ourselves that 2 million out of 243 million people are involved in same sex relationships as a 'couple' which is less than 1% of the population. What that tells me is that the normal behavior 'social imagination' does not have a proclivity toward same sex.

Now, if you tell me that more are in the closet. I can tell you that sociologists always expect deviations in normal behavior ...waiting to come out of the closet.

As for homosexuals demanding to be acknowledged as normal then we do face a dilemma. Why? Because, we now have to review what has been considered normal sexual relations. For the most part, if we look at sociology-cultural histories to find what has been normal sexual behavior, then I think we will find most cultures considered homosexuality to be abnormal sexual behavior. It does not mean that such people are not loved, or not tolerated. It means simply that their behavior is not normal in comparison to the norm.

Is there a solid foundation to consider such behavior as qualifying for minority rights? No. If anything, such behavior qualifies for sociopath consultation.  A sociopath is someone who is anti-social. What does that mean? It means that they exhibit behavior that is not normal. It means that they do not want to participate in the long time accepted normal social behavior.

There is no reason for me to think that such persons should have their abnormal behavior receive special Constitutional rights.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Social Unrest in the Social Imagination

Social unrest has more to do with social and system integration than it does with anything else. We are after all just information exchanged in the social imagination.

            David Lockwood, a British sociologist, wrote that social integration refers to the basis on which people related to each other in society; that is, whether social relationships are orderly or conflictual. System integration refers to relationships between parts of the social system that is whether social institutions are compatible or incompatible. Though, institutions of society might be functionally well integrated there could be major conflicts between individuals or social groups [Abercrombie, Hill and Turner].

Take a good look around. What do you see? Is there a problem with system integration? Seems that appears to be the case if we consider that many long time accepted and trusted institutions have become objects of unrest, injustice, and discrimination. Is there a problem with social integration because of system failure. Yes and no. As you know, in post of my posts, I am always giving the positive and negative of what we experience as social reality - the exchange of information in the social imagination .

I have always told students, what is my data bank of social information is not exactly the same as yours. I come from a different generation, I experienced life having lesser forms of technology, I lived in an ethnic and disassociated neighborhood; as it was on the other side of the tracks.I was poor by today's standards, and I did not get to college until much later. I grew up in an Italian/Polish ethnic family group and Catholic.

Even so, I thought that America was the greatest country on the face of the earth. We pledged allegiance to the flag and went to picnics on the 4th and played baseball. I watched television as if it were a national public service and back then it was, at least more than it is now. There was less violence and sexual material and more TV shows having nuclear families (both White and African American) and Christian values ... well, I supposed they were everyone's.

I listened to Rock and Roll, Motown and Country music. I watched Soul Train as much I was Dick Clark. I had African American neighbors and danced with Mark Williams at the 8th grade dance. I thought our country was fair and right; that was why so many people were seeking refuge, asylum, a new home. I still lived in the melting pot and thought that newbies could just blend in because they made the choice to come, they wanted to be American. For the most part, they did; just as my great grandparents did.

What has happened?  Speaking as a sociologist, I can say that what holds a group of people together, as in a state or nation is what they value. Jobs are important but the government does not need to sponsor them. People need to make their own jobs. That is possible when there is less top down control and less regulation and more local autonomy. If a group of people value freedom they will survive and they will share what they have since everyone is able to contribute to the whole through their own efforts and will which is not being suppressed by restrictions and bureaucracy. You see, freedom to make choices is what Max Weber pointed. By making our own choices, have the freedom to do that, we embrace the self and applaud that and all who embrace it. This is system integration by its own accord.

Anything else will be social unrest in the social imagination.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Western Social Imagination has left Education

Business Insider writer Kevin Donnelly wrote this yesterday, April 24 2015, as a commentary about education in the West. 

Seventy teachers from the UK were sent to Shanghai to study classroom methods to investigate why Chinese students perform so well. Upon their return, the teachers reported that much of China’s success came from teaching methods the UK has been moving away from for the past 40 years.

The Chinese favor a “chalk and talk” approach, whereas countries such as the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand have been moving away from this direct form of teaching to a more collaborative form of learning where students take greater control. Given China’s success in international tests, it seems we have been misguided in abandoning the traditional, teacher-directed method of learning where the teacher spends more time standing at the front of the class, directing learning and controlling classroom activities.

Debates about direct instruction versus inquiry learning have been ongoing for many years. Traditionally, classrooms have been organized with children sitting in rows with the teacher at the front of the room, directing learning and ensuring a disciplined classroom environment. This is known as direct instruction.
Beginning in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, teachers began to experiment with more innovative and experimental styles of teaching. These included basing learning on children’s interests, giving them more control over what happened in the classroom and getting rid of memorizing times tables and doing mental arithmetic. This approach is known as inquiry or discovery learning.

Based on this recent study of classrooms in the UK and China and a recent UK report titled What makes great teaching?, there is increasing evidence that these new-age education techniques, where teachers facilitate instead of teach and praise students on the basis that all must be winners, in open classrooms where what children learn is based on their immediate interests, lead to under-performance.

The UK report concludes that many of the approaches adopted in Australian education are counterproductive: Enthusiasm for discovery learning is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favors direct instruction. Especially during the early primary school years in areas like English and mathematics, teachers need to be explicit about what they teach and make better use of whole-class teaching. As noted by John Sweller, a cognitive psychologist from the University of New South Wales in the recent Final Report of the Review of the Australian National Curriculum: Initial instruction when dealing with new information should be explicit and direct.

Many in Australian education believe children are only really learning when they are active. As a result, teachers are told it is wrong to sit children at their desks and ask them to listen to what is being taught.
Again, the evidence proves otherwise. The UK report suggests that even when sitting and listening children are internalizing what is being taught. Learning can occur whether they are “active” or “passive”.
Often derided as “drill and kill” or making children “parrot” what is being taught, the UK report and other research suggests that memorization and rote learning are important classroom strategies, which all teachers should be familiar with.

The UK report states that teachers need to “encourage re-reading and highlighting to memorize key ideas”, while research in how children best learn concludes that some things, such as times tables and reciting rhymes, ballads and poems, must be memorised until they can be recalled automatically.

*Comment ~ Mmmm, when I was teaching, I was told that the above was too difficult for students (and that was at university here in the US); handwriting legibly is not required nor is making full sentences. I was told that such old fashioned ideas were no longer part of a post modern education. Why is that? I was informed that children/young adults have their own ideas about how to learn and teach themselves and they have their own ways of doing/expressing it. All I can say, its a bit too late to save those who were misdirected down such a cruel path; what future will they have now with so many better educated Chinese students to compete with in the real world of the social imagination???  Tragic...

As a sociologist who has lectured on the socialization process and the role of mother/father in it, I can say that parents in the US have been the biggest contributors to the dumbing down of America. They have spoiled their children. Still and all too often I hear "What do you feel like dear? And, if you don't want to, you don't have to."

Dr. EfGallion

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Autisim in the Social Imagination

My son is on the autistic spectrum.

As a sociologist and social psychologist, having a son with autism, I now recognize it as a social dysfunction on my part as much as it is hereditary. As we can read the historical narrative, the word autism first took its modern sense in 1938 when Hans Asperger of Vienna Univeristy Hospital became curious of Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler's view in 1910 as an infant condition with symptoms of  schizophrenia. Asperger was investigating this possibility. However, it wasn't until Leo Kanner of John Hopkins introduced the label early infantile autism in a 1943 report of 11 children with striking behavioral similarities.

Almost all the characteristics described in Kanner's first paper on the subject, notably "autistic aloneness" and "insistence on sameness", are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of disorders. Unfortunately, this led to decades of confused terminology like infantile schizophrenia, and child psychiatry's focus on maternal deprivation led to misconceptions of autism as an infant's response to "refrigerator mothers".

Starting in the late 1960s autism was established as a separate syndrome by demonstrating that it is lifelong, distinguishing it from intellectual disability and schizophrenia and from other developmental disorders, and demonstrating the benefits of involving parents in active programs of therapy. As late as the mid-1970s there was little evidence of a genetic role in autism; now it is thought to be one of the most heritable of all psychiatric conditions.

Speaking firstly as a social psychologist, I can say that I agree with it being a heritable psychiatric condition. Not biologically inherited but learned as the mother and father impart information to the infant that is unstable social information. Speaking as a sociologist, the source is the same. I can say this as a social scientist only as therein lies my expertise. So, to continue.

Social reality is learned. I mean that everything we know is socially constructed. If there is a glitch in that matrix, the social actor 'person' will reflect it. We have yet to imagine all the information we convey, input our children and it starts before the child is even born, still in the womb. Information comes in many packages; verbal, gestural, bodily space between objects and including people, language, symbols, and social interaction with others. When a mother especially, is socially uncomfortable, she conveys that to her child. When a father is socially reckless, he conveys that to his child. When parents are busy with work as it being their priority, the child feels this. When parents are unhappy as spouses, the child feels this.

Many psychological problems that children and people have can be traced back to the relationship with their mother and or lack of as well as growing up years with parents or no parents in the equation. We can better understand then why more and more children are being diagnosed with autism. Just take a look at society and see what it values, and what symbols are used to convey those values. Yes, we can see women as mothers, but in my observations, motherhood has a second position to society's value for career and money.

When I was pregnant, I was unhappy, I was insecure, I did not have supportive family nearby. I was also working on my Master's degree. I lived in a foreign country out of my social sphere of identity. I was preoccupied with my life as well; studying and working. I wanted my baby and I was sure I would be as good a mother as ever. Though, I cuddled my son, I was unhappy, sad and lonely. I was working long hours and studying long hours. He had to be left with babysitters and sometimes in day care centers where many babies were left while mothers worked. My son was a late walker, talker; and then a stacker, a flapper (going about flapping his hands). After that, he watched running water and later on switched to flags waving. Oddly, he was/is the opposite of being anti-social. He was and still is overtly social. He is too willing to like anybody and everybody. People don't understand when he just sits down next to them on the bus or in the park and starts talking to them like he has known them all his life. And, then he may even ask for a bite of their sandwich or chips if they have.

As a sociologist of family life and its impact on society, I observe that a mother has to be fully supported. She needs confirmation from her spouse, parents and peers that her job is important. And, that it is the only job she ever needs to have or do. This does not mean she cannot imagine working outside the home. I am saying that she needs to know the importance of motherhood and that it is not wise to try to do both; especially if extra support is not readily available. Support which comes through in language, symbols and contact with immediate family and even neighbors as in the community. I did not have this. Though I had extended family and friends, they were not of my familiarity. I suddenly realized that I was an American and they were not. Expectations were different in terms of family life 'cultural data' that compounded my own preoccupation with a career and having a child whom I should have given my100 percent attention to.

What is the inherited aspect of autism? Its the same process of learning - glitches in socialization passed on. Social dysfunction is passed on in essentially corrupted blocks of information (information with error). It appears biological yet it is not. It is social. Socialization begins with the mother and then extends to the father and others. Being a good parent is learned. If that 'good' information is not passed on, it pops up again and again, generation after generation. Today, it is more difficult to accept this.

Socially, family and motherhood becomes less valued. Women are encouraged to be self sufficient. Many women are being told that they don't have to be 'just moms'. Hence, some decide not to have children and some think they can both worlds as in do it all. Maybe, there are some but autism grows and professionally speaking, it is because motherhood is not at the apex of most women's dream/goal nor is it society's. Remember, autism is lifelong- if you know someone who is pregnant. Support them with love and friendship 'socially' because that child will be a member of society.

Society needs to embrace mothers and I think we will see autism decline. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gendered Complementarity in the Social Imagiantion

If you read the writings of Russian born and educated Pitirim Sorokin, the founder of Sociology at Harvard University, you will find that his view of a sustainable society was due to the regulation of sexuality as the essential first mark of civilization. Exactly, and according to Sorokin, civilization is possible only when marriage is normative and sexual conduct is censured outside of the marital relationship. Furthermore, Sorokin traced the rise and fall of civilizations and concluded that the weakening of marriage between a man and a woman was a first sign of civilizational collapse.

It is not surprising to me as a Christian Sociologist to read this view and to understand the importance of it.  Even if I were not a Christian, just by reviewing histories of fallen societies, I can notice that whenever sexual deviation from the norm (normal as we find in set down by nature) societal collapse is not far behind.

There is such thing, even in nature for anyone who is a follower of Darwin, as gender complementarity. It means that each gender, as in physical sexual distinction between male - female, has certain properties within its gendered physical boundaries. A man is different from a woman in many ways and we can say the same about women being different from men in many ways: physically, mentally, emotionally, hormonally, socially and even philosophically. A man provides for society in a way that a woman cannot and visa versa.

One can note and sociologists and psychologists have observed that in homosexual couples, someone is the man and someone is the woman in terms of role dynamics. However, social dynamics between same sex couples, neighbors, co-workers is not the same as the playing of social dynamics between men and women.

Only through the play of social dynamics between men and women does society exist in a more favorable sustainability. Women, the natural birth-er of children, and nurturer by their instinctive hormonal program, bring to men, to society, an agenda for a more long term promise of tomorrow yet with an urgency to procure it today. Women bring this into marriage which they impart to their children which rests in the balance of counterpoint of engagement of social dynamics.

Take that away by decree that marriage is between anyone and anything, we will no longer be able to sustain society as we know it. Maybe some would say that Sorokin did not have enough imagination to consider that same sex, same dynamic interplay would be good for society. I think He did consider that.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Alien Beings in the Social Imagination

Isn't it interesting the discussion about alien beings. Where does this idea as in imagination come from?
Just about everyone has seen a science fiction film about aliens invading earth or TV shows where humans and aliens are working together. Did you know that we have telescopes looking for them? Where does this social imagination come from?

Speaking as a sociologist, I can tell you that it likely comes from an innate desire to know the source of social imagination. We have a natural tendency to look to the cosmos for an answer because it appears to be bigger than we are, bigger than our social imagination. In that contemplation, we have a keen desire to be reunited with what is larger than life... our life. 

What I find interesting is that whenever humans and aliens are combined to form some kind of alliance or 'greater' community, aliens are given top positions in the 'social' hierarchy. Why? It is because of our innate desire and even knowing that there is something greater that is the creator. Humans thus tend to imagine that aliens are either the creator or somehow closer to it as they imagine aliens having greater machines, intellect, and transportation to come and go throughout the cosmos 'being' God as we think that they are doing and desire to be doing.

I have yet to hear anyone imagining that humans are the greatest creations and that we would be the guardians of the cosmos and that everything else would fall under our domain.

I have yet to hear a lot about the idea that aliens might be supernatural beings from a higher dimension and that they are part of the same God created cosmos as humans only they corrupted it against the Creator's will.

Aliens, if there were any real aliens in fact, would be unrecognizable to us; thus, we cannot imagine 'real' aliens as if they are outside of us, outside of our experience. We can only imagine what we have already experienced as in something which we have already imagined, known, and or can put together using things that we know. That is why any imagination of aliens tend to be a blend of things we know.

Does that sound as though we have poor imaginations? It only means we have limited imagination. Is that good or bad? One could suppose it is both. One could suppose that when we need more imagination we will either access it or be bestowed with it which does not mean that by suddenly having more information aliens will appear to us and we will see them as they really and truly are. If anything, we will be imagining them only slightly different than any other imagination we have yet imagined; but even then, what does that mean?  It can mean that as long as we have only a certain amount of information to use in our social imaginations, we will only be able to imagine something using what we have to work with; as in using the information we have  at hand in different combinations.

The greater question is - Who provides this information? Aliens? As stated above, we cannot know aliens so we would not recognize 'their' information. We recognize the information that the Creator of Heaven and Earth provides, acknowledging that there is a creator as all programs have creators and that we imagine Him as He imagined us. Hence, we recognize that we are humans because we were created that way. There is nothing that the Creator 'God' did not imagine, that we could not imagine. We exist in His imagination and thus His imagination is not alien to us. We have yet to embrace that fully.  So, again... to ask why are we imagining Aliens ??? If anything they are results of our failure to embrace the Creator's imagination.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Food Discrimination in the Social Imagination

We are social creatures so we tend to want to show ourselves to others; we socially set ourselves apart from someone else through choice as a means of conveying social status. In fact, socially setting yourself apart even through food choices and their consumption is a form of discrimination toward people who cannot afford to make a better/healthier/or exotic, high end grocery stores where one can make exclusive choices.

This is food discrimination and it is the last frontier that the progressive social imagination has yet to address.  Why? Maybe because they can't imagine eating soda crackers. Or, it is in the making and just taking the longest as it is the final and yet most vital to close up in terms of 'free' social imagination.

In the previous post, a world without borders was discussed. Food is the last border in that kind of world that will need to be controlled as in ...made the same world wide.

Such a thing as food discrimination does not seem likely as you look around, what do you see? Foodies, millennials blogging or pinning pictures of food that either they just like to look at and or eat but never cook. Why? because, they are socially setting themselves apart. It is interesting because they are not really into cooking since largely they don't know how to cook. But that is because of the idea that cooking is a lower menial task which was introduced into their social imagination by modern women/mothers who were told that such tasks like cooking was a kind of slavery that their male counterparts put upon them.

Sadly, many people have no social imagination that cooking and eating is an important social activity. I am not talking about going to the restaurant and eating or having your food special catered in as the social glue that holds people together in their social imagination. I am talking about the selfless act of cooking, and eating 'sharing' at home, which is the core or 'main frame/server' for a positively 'freely' functioning social imagination. In doing this, you are more apt to share with others who you see do the same.

Today, I observe that people want and even long for the kind of social imagination experience that cooking and sharing and eating food together as a group 'family' offers. In their longing, we see the choice for cooking and sharing and eating healthy but in the form of pinning and blogging about food by 'foodies' because this is a way to get what they long for but do not know how to do it other than through social media; which they see as the fair platform. Yet, they discriminate through choice, even in pinning.

Ironically, as they are made aware of this kind of discrimination , it will be that awareness of food discrimination that will bring about a major change.

In a world without borders, where family or 'home' will no longer be the main frame, the top down drivers will have to consider how to control food as well as the pinning and blogging of it as they the control food, the kind of food that everyone gets to eat so that there is no food discrimination; not blogged, and not pinned  Only what everyone has that is the same can be eaten.

There is an process already at work, I just described it above. It started by belittling women's role in the household, family and even the concept of 'home'. It has been going on for years. Now, its the blogging and pinning foodies that will actually bring it all to fruition. As awareness grows about their privileges, they will likely become the anti food discrimination campaign...  finally putting everyone into the social imagination of a world without borders.

ps. A world without borders will be a place where everyone's health will be the same with everyone eating the little green pill; after all, going green is the agenda.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A World Without Borders

Imagine a world where there is no sexual or gender specific identity and or expectation. I am talking about a world where men and women are equal where there is no difference. Why argue that there is when both can do the same jobs, think the same thoughts, and have the same needs etc.  This would be a world where children can have one parent or two or more or no parent (s) at all in any traditional sense. What for? A community can raise a child. 

I am talking about a world where the government will make it fair for everyone as they are equally elected by the same equal people to represent their equal sameness. In order for people to have equal sameness regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the government will direct all aspects of life, especially education and job placement. It will tell you what to buy and who to sell to. In such a world race does not exist because everyone is the same color, same culture, same gender and same religion. The only racism that could possibly exist would be employed by those who don’t embrace that everyone is the same. 

To keep things fair, I am talking about a world where you are placed according to your merit and talents so that the state can gain an advantage for a better state. A world where everyone will live according to his or her needs based on their value in the state. This will be considered fair. You will be melded in a place and travel only when you are given an order to, it’s safer that way.

A world without borders does not need to worry about threat of invasion because it will be one world with the same laws, same values, same currency, same religion (if any), same culture, same history, sameness.... and in such sameness there is no conflict. 

A world without borders is a state that is for itself and by itself and yet thinks it lives for the betterment of the other (others); ...who is that anyway in a world without borders?  Nobody!

You can be anybody and nobody.  But of course, you will be somebody.  Just somebody who lives according to what the state mandates. Perhaps, your reward will be new technology upgrades and a new flat.
People in a world without borders will live in tall block towers within mega city confines and shuffle about daily completing mundane task one after another.  Family as an institution will quickly disappear, as it will no longer serve a purpose.  But, as long as we have something to shuffle about and twitter about in world of sameness, then a world without borders will be a paradise. 

Did I just imagine that? – NOT.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Melded in a Place ~ What does that mean?

For the communist philosophy, it meant and still means to be officially located in a place. There you are and there you stay; unless the State sees fit to move you somewhere else. Yes, for those of you who do not know what communism is then read further. It is a top down centrally steered government and economy - a fully designed system that functions for the good of the state. The people at the top of this system control all life. They make all the decisions for you based on your merit and or other abilities or what the state needs from you. If they need workers, then you will be a worker, if they need a doctor, they will make you into a doctor... if you show the aptitude. But, even if you don't have, they will make sure you have the aptitude if they say you will, you will. There is no way out by saying you don't want or can't. Why? because the end will not be good for you or the state.

In a communist society, everything must be ordered from the time you are born. You are ordered to stay where you are born and raised so that you can fulfill a greater purpose in the place where you are, serving others - serving the state. In this way, you are melded.

Again, it means that you stay where you are and do what you are told to do there or you are moved somewhere else where the state may benefit more from moving you to somewhere else.

In the old communist systems, such decisions were in the hands of a few people. Likely the future communist societies will be ordered by machine, by computers that handle the system.

Perhaps, we are already melded ??? or about to be....