Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Model of Emergent Change

This image represents a conceptual model of emergent change. It is a version of what sociologists often call "The Coleman Boat" in honor of James Coleman (see Foundations of Social Theory).
Coleman who championed the notion that any sufficient explanation of a social outcome must include the social actors who actually do things. In Soc 419/519 I want to emphasize that our potential to understand and even predict particular social outcomes related to technological change will need to take into acount (1) social context, and how that context both constrains and creates opportunities (2) the actors in that context, including attributes, goals and relationships of those actors (3) the nature of social action they perform, and how those actions are structured in relattion to others.
During the course we will study concepts, theories and methods that highlight different parts represented in the diagram. I don't imagine that any one part is the key to understanding social life. Instead, I hope this course conveys the notion that we should be thinking carefully about all facets of this model, and varying our attention to different aspects according to what makes sense for a given context, and given constraints on the data that we can actually collect.

1 comment:

  1. We all as individuals, and as a whole (society), act on other variables, whether it be another person, the channels the message goes through, the circumstance, the outcome, etc. As much as we say we do not conform, we do: via personal contact, or not.