How Does Society Work?

Money, office politics, biology, sex, genetics, greed, and powerful organizations are the reasons that things happen in society. Hmmm…

How does society really work? I’m hoping you’ve wondered about this as much as I have. The answers are all around us, on TV, in conversations with friends, on talk radio, in the newspapers. Stick with me for a few minutes and I’ll show you how all of those "explanations" come up short.

We can easily be sold an overly simplified explanation of how things work. People are busy. People are focused on day-to-day concerns and are ready to accept any seemingly reasonable explanation. Money and special interest groups drive politics. Greed and selfishness explain why environmental problems persist.

Those short answers contain elements of truth. Money, interest groups (not just political interest groups), and psychology all contribute to our society being one way and not another. Oh, and so does the natural environment. Geography is also be involved.

What else? Well, blind chance plays a part in things. The culture – beliefs, values, technologies, symbolism, laws, unwritten rules – also influences the way a society works. Relationships between people and groups also shape a society. History is also involved; nothing just happens in a historical vacuum. Biology, not just genetics, is also involved in making a society work the way it does. There are interaction effects between biology, geography, natural environment, psychology, culture, relationships, and chance.

Yeah, that’s pretty abstract. In future posts, I’ll bring things down to earth using real-world events. This being election season I may feel compelled to comment on the politicians’ ideas – do they pass my social pollution test?  Finally, I’ll try to explain what you can really do with all of this knowledge.

Question: Does anyone really do anything for money? (My answer is "no" but I’ll save the explanation for a future post.)

A closing question: Why are people in the United States not like people in Pakistan? If you can answer that question in a rigorous way you deserve a Ph.D. in Sociology. Or, at least you can be a guest columnist.

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~ by chetdavis on September 9, 2006.

5 Responses to “How Does Society Work?”

  1. People in the US are different from those in Pakistan because their surroundings are different.
    Their surroundings include: parents and family (traditions, values and ideologies instilled by these), the society is different (the laws, social pressure restrictions/liberties, and again culture and ideologies), the art is different (established art such as the architecture and visual appearance of everything, and all the personal forms of expression), the religions are different (not even going to go into that), etc…

    All these things and uncountably more contrbute to forming an individual’s “likeness” (as per the question “Why’re they like this”)

    I belive it’s very much nurture and nature plays a very small part, in-so-far as providing a template for tendencies as to how one adapts to nurturing.

    A child born in either one of those countries but raised in the other without any previous knowledge of their birth origin will inherit all the traits of the society they grow up in. An american child raised in pakistan wouldn’t speak english in an american accent, they would adopt pakistani body language and mannerisms and beliefs in exactly the same ways anyone else who lives in those cultures do.

    Of course all people adopt their surrounding culture to different extents, this has to do with how aware one is of the surrounding culture and its ideologies and the degree to which the individual wills to be a part of it.

  2. word to the above^

    what does it take to run a society? and what is power music?

  3. You knows within the first few minutes whether you are fascinated by them or
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  4. I’ve found how society really works… expressed it as a dichotomy resulting from the variance in the neurological spectrum that characterizes humanity — see the first chapter of my book here:

  5. i found this not usefull what so ever

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