Social determinism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Social determinism is the hypothesis that social interactions and constructs alone determine individual behavior (as opposed to biological or objective factors).

Consider certain human behaviors, such as having a particular sexual orientation, committing murder, or writing poetry. A social determinist would look only at social phenomena, such as customs and expectations, education, and interpersonal interactions, to decide whether or not a given person would exhibit any of these behaviors. They would discount biological and other non-social factors, such as genetic makeup, the physical environment, etc. Ideas about nature and biology would be considered to be socially constructed.

Social determinism is most commonly understood in opposition to biological determinism. Within the media studies discipline, however, social determinism is understood as the counterpart of technological determinism. Technological determinism is the notion that technological change and development is inevitable, and that the characteristics of any given technology determine the way it is used by the society in which it is developed. The concept of technological determinism is dependent upon the premise that social changes come about as a result of the new capabilities that new technologies enable.

The notion of social determinism opposes this perspective. Social determinism perceives technology as a result of the society in which it is developed. A number of contemporary media theorists have provided persuasive accounts of social determinism, including Leila Green.

In her book Technoculture Leila Green examines in detail the workings of a social determinist perspective, and argues “social processes determine technology for social purposes”. Template:Harv She claims that every technological development throughout history was born of a social need, be this need economical, political or military. Template:Harv

According to Green, Technology is always developed with a particular purpose or objective in mind. As the development of technology is necessarily facilitated by financial funding, a social determinist perspective recognizes that technology is always developed to benefit those who are capable of funding its development.

Thus social determinists perceive that technological development is not only determined by the society in which it occurs, but that it is inevitably shaped by the power structures that exist in that society. Template:Harv

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Social determinism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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