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    Different Situations in Applied Social Sciences

    Self-development and Applied Social Sciences

    The functions of applied social sciences for self-development have been discussed in the previous posts—counseling, social work, communication—each of which has distinct contributions in services they put out for self-development. Counseling offers guidance to individuals in varying situations of conflict, confusion, and crisis and provides the tools for the individual to address issues of self-development. Social work offers a wide range of services, particularly in aid of emancipating the marginalized individuals and facilitating participation in the public goods and services that are necessary for self- development. Communication empowers the individual with listening and speaking skills in order for them to be effective. The individual has to be sure that the message comes across accurately by considering the message itself, the audience or receiver, and how the message is likely to be received. Self-development has to do with taking an active role in one’s own development.

    Persuasion and Applied Social Sciences

    At the heart of persuasion is the ability to understand well one’s audience and its complexity. In this kind of communication, the communicator deals with people’s basic attitudes, values, and beliefs on issues and how to tailor the message for the audience in order to convince them to adopt a particular point of view through appropriate channels—TV, radio, Internet, magazines, and newspapers. Persuasion often consists or contains very few words making sure each one is very important, simple, specific, and exciting. Other than communication and journalism skills, counseling and social work skills facilitate the ability to empathize, listen well, and to respond effectively. Drawing on the skills of applied social sciences, persuasion energizes itself to move audiences to desired and immediate action.

    Art and Entertainment and Applied Social Sciences

     Art is a human creativity that involves the perceptions and imagination of an artist trying to communicate a selective recreation of reality and giving it form into the immediate perceptual awareness. Art includes theater and drama, which are generally live, about people, and collaborative art forms. They tell a story. Art and entertainment require active viewing, provide self-examination, challenge audience, and are directed at the largest possible number. Art and entertainment offer and not necessarily require an intellectual demand on the viewer and have great potential for social change. Through art and entertainment, we are able to see life differently, without imposing our values and perceptions on it. It allows us to expand our experience, intensify our perceptions, challenge conventional wisdom and norms, and introduce another frame of reference that is conceptualized by the artist.

    Art and entertainment can provide nurturance and keep communities mentally and socially healthy. Art and entertainment such as music, dance, or theater are forms of mass communication that are useful and educational, and uplift the inner feelings of individuals, groups, and communities. They create a consistent atmosphere of excitement and vitality that encourages public and private investments, impressive and successful activities and special events, and reflects shared values related to social and cultural diversity. They raise awareness for important issues drawing on the tools of applied social sciences particularly communication and journalism. They bring humor in depressing and stressful moments, hence expanding the people’s ability to endure extreme forms of suffering and optimism. 

    In moments of hardships, the arts provide collective resilience among people. The American people in the 1930s and 1940s, for example, enjoyed many forms of entertainment and mostly, inexpensively. Movies and sounds increased in variety and in their popularity—comedies, gangster movies, and musicals. During this period, some of the great dramas of American film reached theaters. Radio was also wildly popular, offering many kinds of programs, from sermons to soap operas.

    Art and entertainment professionals and practitioners work in cruise lines, convention services, theme parks, concerts, film companies, TV stations and radio stations, music companies, theater, and numerous other live entertainment venues. The industry requires creativity, adaptability, and offers the opportunity for travel. The art and entertainment industry offers a wide range of career opportunities from onstage to behind the scenes, from the recording studio to convention services and multimedia companies, functioning as Performers, artists, and technicians.

    News and Information and Applied Social Sciences

    The proliferation of news outlets, channels, and purposes require increased ability for the audience and participants in the news making and consumption. The new media and social media are providing the possibility of driving the democratization of information by undercutting the agenda-setting of large media outlets and their ability to control news and information flows. The overall information ecosystem has changed. More small publishers have been created forming new clusters of new players and build pathways for interesting ideas and statements that are finding broader audiences.

    The society is informed by simply reading, listening to, or watching just about anything; through a formed intermediary that tells them what is good, important or meaningful; and by simply accessing a wide range of the means for them to sort things out for themselves and find their own version of the truth. Today, we live in a digitally networked world that aspires to fulfill the dream of the democratization of thought, ideas, and flows of information. We have Facebook, founded in 2004 that boasts of more than a billion users and Twitter, founded in 2006 that has a quarter-billion. The Sina Weibo microblogging platform in China has nearly 150 million users a month making ours truly an era of social media. The web can easily turn an unknown person into an Internet sensation in an instant, and we have seen so many examples lately. We are encountering new superstars and super citizens, political campaigns and opinion forming debates, viral phenomena, and instant coordination of protests and celebrations. 

    It has been observed that online audience concentration has equaled, and in many instances surpassed, what can be found in most traditional media. This is also fueled by the development of mobile phones that instantly links every mobile owner to the Internet. We now catch news online before we go to the radio, TV, and broadsheets. A social network “hashtag” can alert us on important issues and create attention empowering the otherwise less known, less powerful individuals in ways that no prior technology has ever done. Social media has the possibility of making accessible and driving the democratization of information further beyond the agenda-setting of large media outlets and their relative control of news and information flows. 

    We can assess this by carefully examining how people get their news; by looking precisely and empirically at how information is flowing across social networking sites; and by examining how human behavior is changing because of social media. These powers of social media have also forced the main news sites to open to the social media space of integration in their online versions to meet audiences, increase online traffic, source information more efficiently, and stay on top of technological trends and not risk becoming irrelevant. Many major news organizations have now opened their sites and allow users to “share,” “like” or “recommend” content on social media channels. There is no conclusive evidence now that go beyond simply asserting that digital networks do magnify speed and scope of information. We have no evidence to tell if the offline and online worlds are radically distinctive in terms of their impacts on human behavior. 

    Today, the media landscape is more vibrant in offering faster and cheaper distribution networks, fewer barriers to entry, and more ways to consume information. Cable networks and local TV stations, newspapers, and numerous innovative web startups are now using a dazzling array of digital tools to improve the way they gather and disseminate the news nationally, internationally, and block-by-block (Waldman 2011). The new digital tools are providing powerful ways to consume, share, and even report the news. But this has also opened up to an ethically unregulated landscape with its victims increasing by numbers. 

    Applied social science in this context can provide encouragement and empowerment to underserved communities to avail open and free media channels to voice out and to consume critical information. The increased vulnerability can also be addressed like falling victim to the online prostitution industry and blackmails and developing self-protection from all sorts of personal threats. This ultimately leads to participatory journalism, an ultimate empowerment of all peoples. Participatory journalism and peer-to-peer cascading of news is taking a large share in news making and will probably increase its capacity to share information in the future. We are entering an era where the audience employs self-censorship and plays a bigger role in engaging, remixing, commenting, and ultimately filtering what is important.

    Organizing Advocacy and Applied Social Sciences

    In our present-day of free speech and democracy, organizing advocacy is very much part of social cohesion. Issues that matter to individuals, groups, and communities have to be raised to political platforms and find public solutions and policies where possible. In organizing advocacy for issues of great concern, one can benefit from core values of applied social sciences. These values foster the common good and inclusion and a greater sense of life in community. People are encouraged to be in solidarity with one another and very often, go beyond oneself. Some people from the middle class have come out in support of the poor, or the whites come out in support of the black Americans who have suffered from police brutality in places like New York and Ferguson, Missouri. In the most recent case, Americans from all racial backgrounds, went out in protest across the United States against what they perceived as racially biased police brutality after the Missouri grand jury voted not to indict white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson who shot to death an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August of 2014.

    Education and Applied Social Sciences

    The educational process is a well-recognized global framework and means of socialization and enculturation. Education is an ongoing process of improving knowledge and skills, and it is an exceptional means of bringing about personal development and building relationships among individuals, groups, and nations. Following the principles and ideas upon which UNESCO was founded, education brings hope for a world that is a better place to live in, where people respect the rights of women and men, and show mutual understanding and advances in knowledge to foster human development rather than to create barriers between people. But each nation puts in place a framework to ensure that its young and the total population are guided in their personal and social development and to ensure that they take their rightful place in the society and in its fruition. 

    Jacques Delors, in his capacity as chairperson of the international commission on education for the twenty-first century and former European commission president, in the UNESCO 1996 report, Learning: The Treasure Within, proposed an integrated vision for education. He said:

    “In confronting the many challenges thatthe future hold in store,  humankind sees in education an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain the ideals of peace, freedom, and social justice. As itconcludes its work the Commission affirms itsbelief that educationhasa fundamental role w play in personal and social development. The Commission does not see education as a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which all ideals will be attained, but as one of the principal means available to foster a deeper and more harmonious form of human development and thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, ignorance, and war.”

    In many instances, education has played a big role in reducing poverty, social exclusion, ignorance, oppression, and war. From this perspective, the link between education and applied social sciences can be considered to be highly interwoven. Quality education has extremely relevant role in development that is truly global and national; one that can ensure a just, inclusive, and sustainable future. The best defense for every individual, group, and community is to have at least a good education that can empower them with the ability to defend themselves when their rights are threatened and to take an active role in claiming what is due them and in contributing positively to their communities as contributors to community well-being. 

    In its 1972 report, UNESCO essentially gave birth to the four pillars of education that continue to inform and shape global education curricular: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. These pillars continue to be reinterpreted in light of changing global circumstances.

    In many instances, education has played a big role in reducing poverty, social exclusion, ignorance, oppression, and war. From this perspective, the link between education and applied social sciences can be considered to be highly interwoven. Quality education has extremely relevant role in development that is truly global and national; one that can ensure a just, inclusive, and sustainable future. The best defense for every individual, group, and community is to have at least a good education that can empower them with the ability to defend themselves when their rights are threatened and to take an active role in claiming what is due them and in contributing positively to their communities as contributors to community well-being.

    In its 1972 report, UNESCO essentially gave birth to the four pillars of education that continue to inform and shape global education curricular: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. These pillars continue to be reinterpreted in light of changing global circumstances.

    Learning to Know

    This type of learning is radically different from ‘rote learning.’ It implies ‘the mastery of the instruments of knowledge themselves and acquiring knowledge in a never-ending process and openness to be constantly enriched by all forms of experience. It encompasses the development of the faculties of memory, imagination, reasoning, problem-solving, and the ability to think in a coherent and critical way. It involves the discovery and going deeper into the information/knowledge that is presented or encountered. It presupposes learning to learn: application of the discipline and power of concentration, memory, and thought throughout life, informally and formally. This kind of learning is both a means and an end in itself. As a means, it enables individual learners to understand nature, humankind, history, environment, and society at large. As an end, it enables the learner to experience the pleasure of knowing, discovering, and understanding as a process.

    Learning to Do

    This pillar of learning implies the application of what learners have learned or known into practices. It means putting to use one’s education, knowledge, skills, and attitudes as the case in technical-vocational education and work skills training. It implies a shift from skill to competence, or a mix of higher-order skills specific to each individual. The dominance of knowledge and information as factors of production systems in the knowledge economy is making the idea of occupational skills obsolete and is bringing personal competency to the fore. It means mastering the ability to communicate effectively with others; aptitude toward teamwork; social skills in building meaningful interpersonal relations; adaptability to change in the world of work and in social life; competency in transforming knowledge into innovations and job creation; and a readiness to take risks and resolve or manage conflicts.

    Learning to Live Together

    This type of learning is critical in the increasingly globalizing world. It implies that education has to take two complementary paths: on one level, discovery of others and on another, experience of shared purposes throughout life. This will need developing qualities such as: knowledge and understanding of self and others; appreciation of the diversity of the human race and an awareness of the similarities among, and the interdependence of, all humans; empathy and cooperative social behavior in caring and sharing; respect of other people and their cultures and value systems; capability of encountering others and resolving conflicts through dialog; and competency in working toward common objectives.

    Learning to Be

    This type of learning echoes the possibility of becoming dehumanized as a result of technical change and therefore puts on scaffolds. It fosters the principle that ‘the aim of development is the complete fulfillment of humankind, in all the richness of his or her personality, the complexity of his or her forms of expression and of his or her various commitments as individual, member of a family, and of a community.’ It means being a citizen and producer, an inventor of techniques and creative dreamer leading humankind to become more human, through acquisition of knowledge, skills, and values conducive to personality development in its intellectual, moral, cultural, and physical dimensions. It includes enhancing qualities of imagination and creativity; acquiring universally shared human values; developing aspects of a person’s potential; strengthening memory, reasoning, aesthetic sense, physical capacity, and communication/social skills; developing critical thinking and exercising independent judgment; and developing personal commitment and responsibility.

    It is important to note that the four pillars of learning relate to all phases, areas, dimensions, and types of education. Education is preparation for social praxis in the present and emerging contexts inasmuch as it is an essential means to economic and human capital development for individuals and communities. 

    Socialization and Enculturation and Applied Social Sciences

    Socialization is the process by which society turns an individual from being a child into a full-fledged responsible adult or from being an outsider to becoming an insider. The educational system is part of that. The other process that runs parallel to this one is the enculturation process. Enculturation is a process by which one acquires a culture of his or her environment (Sampa 2008). Since culture is a meaning-making system, there are five elements included in the meaning production: symbols, language, values, norms, ideal-real or worldview-ethos. To be enculturated means that one can understand the cultural symbols, the language, the values, the norms, and is capable to negotiate the thin line of meanings called ideal-real or worldview-ethos.

    The last element has to do with subtle ambiguity in what people consider should be (worldview) verses what is (ethos) (e.g., man is head of the house but there are many instances in which women are). We often assume that we are born with culture or inherit it, but actually we learn it. We acquire it over time of upbringing, observing, participating, and active imitation and simulation of our social-environmental reality. Another concept closely associated with enculturation is acculturation, a concept that refers to the process of acquisition of a second culture (Sampa 2008). Nowadays, most people are multicultural, operating in two or more cultural mediums. The moment that one encounters a new culture and begin to make sense of it or actively learn it, he/she is undergoing the acculturation process.

    The skills learned in applied social sciences can enrich and facilitate both socialization and enculturation. Empathy and good listening and speaking skills are very effective tools in the socialization process.

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