Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Limits to Human Potential > Assumption that the observer or change agent does not change

"There is an implicit assumption that the psycho-social environment can be observed and acted upon without there being any associated change in the observer or in the change agent. The academic assumes the ability to take up some neutral stance, often at a higher level of abstraction, from which effective observation can take place without either changing the observed social processes or being changed by them. Organizations and institutions act in the belief that they can intervene in social processes without there being any negative consequences and without their being changed by the action. In both cases there is an assumption of independence from social processes, although both are forms of social activity.

Such change agents tend not to be aware of their own role as social entities . They have no built-in self-reflexive capacity. No academic discipline provides for serious examination of its own social role (e.g. the sociology of: sociology, political science, chemistry, economics, etc.). And no institution can build in a self-critical capacity which cannot be ignored or restrained to guarantee the continued functioning of that institution.

Associated with this is the assumption that (new) content can always be treated formalistically without the necessity for exposure to (new) learning experience. This is particularly the case with values. It is assumed that all those who make reference to "peace" , "quality of life" , "justice" , "freedom", etc. have been exposed to positive experiences with which such terms can be associated - and that such experiences are equivalent to those experienced by those with whom they are communicating. There is thus a widespread assumption of common understanding of values which obviates any need for shared experience or any self-change in order to acquire that understanding. This assumption justifies the absence of macro-social experiments to determine whether particular social policies and value mixes are viable and in conformity with the verbal formulations and claims."

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