Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Social Engineering

  1. Jan 1, 2004 #1
    Who are the major players in the social engineering of human society?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2004 #2

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Advertisers?
     
  4. Jan 6, 2004 #3
    Sorry, I didn't think this topic posted. I had a poll going with it and aborted the idea when I realized the number of choices the poll would have!

    Yes, advertisers would be a good choice until you realize that advertisers act for producers and producers get their ideas from the general populace.

    I'd say there are some major choices to choose from in finding an answer to this question:

    Media
    Religion
    Government
    Corporations
    Society itself

    Organically I'd say that it is society itself that engineers itself. Since Media, Religion, Government, Corporations and so on are all products of society, any of the engineering that moves the masses toward a direction ultimately was motivated by society at large.

    However, there are suggestions that the masses can be engineered or motivated in desired directions by corporate greed alone.

    Do we have any examples of that?

    Another example of governmental social engineering would be, of course, the Nazi era. In answer to that threatening bit of engineering was the social engineering seen in America and Britian. It was more subtle and slightly more voluntary on the part of the people in society but, what choice was there in the face of the killing machine devised by the Nazis? It was a case of fighting fire with fire.

    The problem is that the whole science of social engineering carried on from there to generate income for a number of corporations with no actual, just cause. The social engineering of today simply teaches people to buy Prozac when they feel down or Viagra when they want to get it up!
     
  5. Jan 6, 2004 #4

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I think that in addition to the ones you listed there are groups of private individuals who try to influence public behavior through the media, and also to influence the government through write in campaigns and so on. One such group that has been very successful is MADD. And you should examine the campaign against smoking - there's a bunch of sociology theses there as to who did which and which were important and which just sideshows. But it was an enormous, and directed, change in social behavior. Why have we been so successful with tobacco while the War on Drugs goes nowhere?
     
  6. Jan 6, 2004 #5
    Scientists as modern religious leaders in cases of eventual extraterrestrial intelligence, life from inert material, intradimensional physics or any of the possible discoveries making science fact from popular science fiction.
     
  7. Jan 7, 2004 #6
    Yes and I forgot to list Education. Education holds a wide range of social engineering tools.

    A lack of education has its place in social engineering as well. Not that the lack leads to a better society. Society is a system that was originally designed to benefit all of its constituents, not just a select few or group of sub-societies. Most self-serving modifications, like withholding education, that are made to an overall beneficial social system will lead to a failure of the system.

    I don't know anything about the war on drugs.

    The re-engineering of the tobacco industry, the de-glamorization of smoking and the histeria of the health-nuts produced remarkable results, for non-smokers. I'm not sure why the whole campaign was launched. Someone has it in for smokers and their producers.

    Whenever I see a product being forced out of existence by regulation and hyped-up scarey health figures, I think there must be something good about the product that some social engineers disagree with.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2004
  8. Jan 7, 2004 #7

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I'm not sure about the tobacco thing. As I've posted elsewhere, I gave up smoking years ago after seeing (a)a good friend and former boss die of emphysema and (b) seeing how pathetically dependent on tobacco my own father was on his death bed. That's a pretty strong negative experience and it worked for me, although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.

    About MADD though I do have a piece of information. Many of the founding members of MADD were members of the WCTU (the old Womens' Christian Temperance Union, which was one of the big promoters of Prohibition, back in the day). So this was a new battle in an old war.
     
  9. Jan 7, 2004 #8
    Sorry to hear about your experience with your dad. I'm not sure about the prohibitionist's war, a drug war or any other war. War is a term that is used in negative/deconstructive social engineering practices.

    A positive aspect of social engineering can be found in recently designed city planning techniques. A tool used to impliment city planning is gentrification. Gentrification introduces new cultures to areas that have become run down. Permit and zoning by-laws are introduced to favor small business and enterprises. Initially the rent in these areas is affordable for a new establishment. The former occupants of the area are often inspired by the successes seen before their eyes. They may become employees of, or in competition with, the newly arriving injection of commercial activity. This type of social engineering uses vicarious successes to motivate it in a societie's constituents.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2004
  10. Jan 7, 2004 #9

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Yes, although gentrification tends to take neighborhoods away from the poor people who lived there and give them to the prosperous people who can afford to gentrify.

    A simpler process for social change in poor and rundown neighborhoods is cleanup fixup. Replace all broken windows, and ensure they remain unbroken. Clean up vacant lots. Clean up dirty buildings and raze hopeless vacant ones. Get the people themselves to do this, not the government, although funding often comes from the government. Local preachers are a big resource for motivating this. All this has been proven to reduce crime even in very "bad" neighborhoods.
     
  11. Jan 8, 2004 #10
    I didn't know the "poor" owned anything, let alone a neighborhood. The worst case scenario you describe happens in cities with a poor understanding of social engineering. Good social engineering is a bit like looking 2 blocks ahead of you when your driving. You want to see any obstructions or potential accidents and adjust your method of transport to suit any upcoming problems before you zip on through the intersection or school zone. And so, in keeping this this, good social engineering finds a place and solution for every condition that arises out of change.

    The "people themselves" are the ones moving in and changing the neighborhood, not the government. They clean it up and they re-vitalize what invariabley is an area that provided a habitat for the uneducated and lawless poeple of a society. If the 21 billion dollars spent per term on the "war" on drugs was shifted to programs that assist the "poor" out of poverty, there would be quite a few less customers for the pushers and big-wig drug dealers and less crime in general. With that kind of money going into each "poor" person's dilema they could each start a multi-million dollar enterprise and pay it back within 5 years. Many of them could start programs that outreach to their "poor" compatriots, given the proper education and training.

    However, the "rich" need the "poor" to feel "rich" and get their children and floors looked after at rock bottom prices. And the poor require the same polarity to feel justified in their misery, so, why mess with that?
     
  12. Jan 8, 2004 #11

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    You and I will never agree. If poor people did "own" their homes there wouldn't be much opportunity for gentrification. The reason gentrification works is the the living quarters of the poor are owned by non-poor people, who find they can make more money gentrifying than collecting low rents from poor people. The people who lived in the neighborhood before gentrification had no say in the matter. That's no problem to you, for whom poor people are apparently worthless dross to be swept away in the upscale paradise. But they matter to me because they are human beings who are being unhoused without any choice of theirs.
     
  13. Jan 9, 2004 #12
    Your derogatory assumptions about me are incorrect. How's your reading comprehension ability?
     
  14. Jan 9, 2004 #13

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Just fine. If I came down too heavy I apologize, but what I saw in your post was the typical "libertarian" attitude toward community.
     
  15. Jan 10, 2004 #14
    Economic disparity between social groups stimulates a strong emotional response. Its comparable to the friction created by the Indian cast system. One difference is that democracy has allowed for the creation of independant monetary systems within the democratic society. Any citizen of the United States can create their own currency.

    Any American citizen can also own a block of apartments if they so choose. That opportunity is not blocked by religious dogma or an inflexable cast system. As much as a porn tycoon or recycling magnate may be shunned in some societal circles, there are no restrictions on who owns what.

    Gentrification has a bad name because it has been poorly implimented in widely publicized instances. There are quite a few examples of postive outcomes when you look into the history of gentrification.

    In many instances the rapidly changing industrial areas of a city have been revitalized to accomodate its citizens and the industries relocated to carefully selected, industrial-friendly sites. We also see certain inefficiently utilized areas of a city become cultural flowers of the entire global population. For example look at Haight Ashbury, Piccadilly or Grenich Village.

    The method and effectiveness of gentrification is dependent on the culture implimenting it. A culture that puts aside the emotional, gut reactions that come with ill-informed religious or out-dated political rules can accomodate everyone of its constituents in an equal and just manner.
     
  16. Jan 20, 2004 #15
    But I digress. Gentrification could be a whole other thread in Social Sciences.

    My main purpose for submitting this thread was to get an idea from the members about what group exhurts the most influence when it comes to Social Engineering.

    I will list some of my earlier entries here:

    Media
    Religion
    Government
    Corporations
    Society itself

    Feel free to add one of your own. Thank you
     
  17. Jan 20, 2004 #16

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I think all of your choices are good, except I think media are not original molders but just follow the others. Amplifiers maybe.

    How about sports? It seems to me that the growth of spectator sports has infected the public mind with categories (winners/losers, etc.) that are not really appropriate for most social situations.

    But if you think this is going to hijack the thread again, just blow it off.
     
  18. Jan 20, 2004 #17

    FZ+

    User Avatar

    Family.

    Particularly parents have a huge effect in the beliefs, attitudes and so on of their children. I agree about the society self-engineering though.

    But can you clarify what you mean by social engineering?
     
  19. Jan 21, 2004 #18
    Social engineering could be described by using the Ten Commandments as an example. How to behave. How to "get along" as a group.

    From this rudimentary example we can expand into the Social Engineering implimented by religious groups. Their standards identified who/what was good and who/what was bad. Often these choices were arbitrary and dependent upon a specific direction the religion wanted to go, which was usually toward a more secure church with plenty of material and social resources.

    The "who/what is good or bad" standard of social engineering is also evident in what Self Adjoint has suggested with Sports which have played a large part in Social Engineering. The Romans utilized games and competitions extensively and fostered a desired social attitude and that demonstrates an understanding of Social Engineering.

    From here we could get socially fictitious about things and imagine Huxley's Brave New World and the Bioengineering of a society. But, for now, I think present day examples are good enough. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2004
  20. Jan 22, 2004 #19

    FZ+

    User Avatar

    So you would put social engineering as intentional modifying of a person's moral, cultural etc tendencies as part of an organised society?
     
  21. Jan 22, 2004 #20
    I would say human weakness. Unconcious acts. The lack of understanding of the universe. If people would understand, there is no way they would do what they do. Greed. It is the most unconcious act that perpetuates the others. What we are now doing is not engineering. We are destroying the fabric of society. This conditioning is far from the word engineering. I see the senseless movement of the waters of human self to an end which will destroy us all. The only hope, can be social engineering driven by an understanding of truth and perpetuated in it's balance. The american indians did not live to badly in the americas for thousands of years. Their way of life was in a balance and seemingly responsible unlike our present culture.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Social Engineering
  1. Socializing (Replies: 14)

  2. The Social Worker (Replies: 6)

  3. The Social Network (Replies: 12)

  4. Social bookmarking (Replies: 1)

Loading...