***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org *****
> I think we are in the process of seeing the social construction of
One of the core issues in social science is the inability to pin anything
down. It causes a legitimacy problem. We'd like to have authority based on
learning and knowing but things related to groups keep changing--darn it!
It is remarkable really that anthropology exists--because you'd think we'd
always be the same. Of course what anthropologists know is that it takes
incredible energy to stay the same--a huge thermodynamic challenge to any
order at all.
But we can measure--races, genders, classes, etc...we just can't define them
in any way that has any staying power! Categorization errors break out all
over. Even in human medicine, it is starting to look ridiculous to treat
diseases rather than patients. Genomic medicine will most likely make such
practices look silly in 40 years...probably far less. There are no diseases
of course. They are simply pragmatic social science. What is going on in
your cancer of the lung may be quite different than what (systematically) is
going on in mine.
Newtonian methods have become rather pitiful in the social sciences, but no
one knows what else to do about legitimacy than to fake mathematical
legitimacy. Sometimes it applies--vaguely--as a model...or approximation,
for a time, under certain controlled circumstances, within a given context.
But it is so cool to use Greek letters! Man, now that's legitimacy!
The problem of course comes with how science is defined. It is now defined
a way of knowing--a perspective that uses logic and evidence and
verifiability. Of course little social science--probably almost none of any
real understanding--is ever verified.
It is an interesting game. Even the Fed pays almost no attention to top
economists--about the most legitimate social science ever gets.
So I think the real threat of MySpace! is that they grab some legitimacy
from those who spend their lives looking for it.
The trouble with fine art is that pop art keeps breaking out all over.
SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.