In response to our blog entry yesterday on "Influencing Profound Change," reader Jim Moore submitted an insightful and relatively detailed comment. Considering its quality and relevance, this input deserves more visibility. So, I'm giving Jim the position of guest blogger for today and tomorrow.
This is Part I, defining terms and providing background information:
The Human Ecology Perspective on Social Change
Social Change is a process that proceeds through the formation of interdependencies among the members of a population. (Don't focus on individuals changing the world; focus on how the relationships between individuals / organizations change.)
Interdependence arises through two different types of relationship: Symbiosis and Commensalism.
Symbiotic relationships form on the basis of complementary differences. (Symbiotic relationships arise from the fact that daily life requires the simultaneous conduct of a number of diverse activities such as obtaining food and raw materials, processing the materials, making implements, providing child care etc.)
Commensalistic relationships arise from common interests or similar tasks that can be done more effectively when two or more units pool their energies.
Social systems are comprised of simple units (individuals) and complex units (organizations).
There are two primary types of complex units, Corporate Units and Categoric Units.
An assemblage of simple units that are functionally differentiated and symbiotically integrated constitute a Corporate Unit. (Think businesses, governments, schools etc.)
Categoric Units form among units that make similar demands on the social or natural environment. (Think unions, professional organizations, guilds, political parties etc.)
Transportation and Communication technologies are the primary limitations on social complexity.
Tomorrow, I will post on Human Ecology's predictions of how and why social systems change due to decreased communication costs. I am hoping that a more theoretical understanding of Social Systems and Social Change will help guide us to a better policy options.)