Class Calendar

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sociological Mindfulness

Some Questions for reflection on Schwalbe's Sociological Mindfulness:

1) What does Schwalbe mean by "sociological mindfulness?"

2) How is this different from sociological imagination?

3) Why does Schwalbe say we should bother with sociological mindfulness?

4)What are some ways that you might live your life differently or view aspects of your life differently if you live with sociological mindfulness?  (Try to be as specific as possible.  This is a good place to start for your next post.)  One example is from the slam poem Touchscreen poem we watched.  If you realize that people are influenced by living in this age of technology that is sociological imagination.  And if you question the influence of technology on you and make conscious choices about how to let it influence you, that is sociological mindfulness.

video
Schwalbe's "sociological mindfulness" can be a difficult idea to grasp and Schwalbe admits that.  Mindfulness is a  concept that describes an awareness in world at this moment here and now.  It implies being tuned in to the present moment.  Sociological mindfulness therefore, is being tuned into to both the way in which the present moment is influenced by society and also being tuned into how we are a player in shaping the present moment.  The simple way I look at sociological mindfulness is that it is the mirror image of sociological imagination.  In other words, once we realize that people are influenced by their social setting, we can then realize that influence is happening right now and we are a part of it.  Each of us is both influenced by other people and influencing other people.

So, I think there are 2 critical aspects to sociological mindfulness.

First, in being tuned in to the present moment we can see and appreciate how each individual (including ourselves) is affected by when and where we live and all of the social experiences that entails.  That is, we can think with a sociological imagination about others.  And because we realize that others are impacted by these experiences we can appreciate each person's uniqueness.  This makes us more forgiving of others and of ourselves.

The second part of sociological mindfulness is being tuned into the idea that each of us is a participant in a society.  We all affect the social world, even in little ways.  Each little act we do matters and has an affect on other people.  This aspect has a much longer explanation:

Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that we are being influenced by the world and so we can question that influence and hopefully guide it.  And it is an awareness that we are influencing others and hopefully it makes us question that influence so we can have the impact that we want on our world.  Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that society is dynamic and fluid and we are a part of that. In short, sociological mindfulness is the awareness that how we interact in the world matters!

Another way of thinking about it is in Schwalbe's reading,
Think of the people you love and the kind of life you wish for them...I hope you will consider the possibility that mindfulness may be useful as a way to create better lives for more people.
What kind of life would you wish for those whom you love? How can you affect the world to be more like this way of life? Can you see how humans impact society? How can you make an impact that supports the world you want to live in? I think by answering these questions, students can begin to think with sociological mindfulness.

If you are still having a hard time grasping sociological mindfulness think about the past and all the ways individuals with sociological mindfulness have impacted our world: think about  Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Elenore Roosevelt, Desmond Tutu, Caesar Chavez, Einstein, Mother Theresa, Rabbi Heschel, and think about the movements like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the women's rights movement, the civil rights movement, the elimination of polio etc... Here is a link to 9 people who changed the world.  And here is 10 acts of courage that changed the world.  All of these people and movements are a product of those who had sociological mindfulness.  Think about Rosa Parks and realize that her actions changed the people on that bus and that changed the people of the city which changed our nation and that has influenced the world's view of human rights and the dignity of all human beings.  Our actions in day to day life, like where we sit on the bus and how we treat others can make a difference.   That awareness is sociological mindfulness.  In my personal life, it might be my parents sending me to college even though they themselves never went there and they didn't have the money.  My grandfather might have had sociological mindfulness when he came alone to America in 1916 at age 15.  He wanted a better life for his future and his family's future.  Both, my parents and my grandparents had an awareness that their choices mattered and that their choices affected the future.  So they made the best decision they could for my future based on that awareness.

The Starfish Parable is another way to think about being sociologically mindful
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, "I'm saving these starfish, Sir".
The old man chuckled aloud, "Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?"
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, "It made a difference to that one!"
 We cannot change the world, but by being aware of how our actions affect those around us, we can make a difference for those who we do come into contact with us.

This reminds me of chaos theory which is a modern theory of science and math that events sometimes seem random but really they are part of a complex system.  Sometimes the butterfly effect is used an example - that the world is so connected and reliant on all processes that the wind from a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico might contribute to a typhoon across the pacific in Japan.  This thinking applied to society might be considered sociological mindfulness.

I like the video from Louis CK about soc imagination. Here is an article that explains if we can be more mindful of the technology, we can be more appreciative of it and thus live a more fulfilled and happier life.

 Here is a video that highlights sociological mindfulness from a radical perspective.
video


For a further understanding of this idea, you click on the link to "sociological mindfulness" and see some of my posts about it.

3 comments:

  1. sal, i am sitting in class right now and we are talking about mindfulness and i remember we talked about it in class. so i searched in online and the first link that comes up on google is this. hope you had a good semester at stevenson!
    -Shaily Hakimian

    ReplyDelete
  2. I finished my blog for Friday :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete