Wednesday, July 12, 2017

--- Me and sociology ---

I've just been through a harrowing sociological adventure (but an adventure, nevertheless) but, being a sociologist, I can easily see the interesting side. See? Sociology does have it's uses. But, before I blog about it, I should cover my own history in sociology.

By the way, it is my intention to maintain a nonadversarial position in these blogs regardless of how painful a topic is. I don't want to slip into blaming. After all, and I will state my position here are honestly as I know how, people are never the problem. Things, situations, faulty procedures are problems. It's not that I believe that there are no bad people. I most certainly do believe that there are bad people, but the solution is to nullify the action of those people.

Also note that I'm slipping into next year's topics, here.

I have always been disturbed by "problem solving" sessions that turn out to be finger-pointing sessions. Bedrock problems are always things and finger pointing always distracts from addressing the real problems.

When I entered Auburn University in the early 70s, my intention was to enter a profession that would allow me to help people who had lost their ability to function get their lives back. I hit on a double major in pharmacy and psychology. I didn't want to be a doctor (nor did I want to take the huge chunk out of my life that it would require) but I did want a strong physiological background. I wanted to understand what I would be working with - the human brain. Pharmacy seemed to be the quickest path between where I was and where I wanted to be. I consider it to have been a good choice even though a series of grueling pharmaceutical chemistry courses caused me to drop out of the pharmacy curriculum a couple of quarters early and transfer to the School of Psychology as a single major.

In the 70s, studying psychology meant that I had to claim a particular school of thought to focus on. There were three such directions at Auburn - behaviorism (which was like a virus at the time pervading everything. Noam Chomsky should be canonized.), personality psychology, and social and industrial psychology. I went the latter route, and I also minored in sociology. Again, I don't regret the choice.

After graduation, I took a very enforced hiatus. My autoimmune problems settled in my knees and put me out of operation from April (the problem flared up on Easter Sunday), to November, when I received a letter from Auburn inviting me to apply for their Rehabilitation and Special Education graduate school. This opened a dream opportunity for me. I hated the you-have-to-choose-a-school mentality in psychology and there was no integrative psychology options available back then. Rehabilitation was as close to integrative psychology as there was. A years work placed me into the profession I had been looking for. I worked with individuals as a rehabilitation specialist and professionalism required that I serve my community, so I had plenty of opportunity to help build and develop communities.

So, if I'm a sociologist, do I have any distinctive characteristics as a sociologist that sets me apart from other sociologists and that I should warn you about?

Well, sociologists like me look at cities, towns, families, churches, etc. as individuals in their own right. Cities, for instance, have bodies, minds, souls, spirits as much as individual humans do. They can be healthy, be hurt, be sick, be happy or sad, just like any individual. Cities have egos, subconsciouses, administrative functions. They can be mentally ill and they can sometimes be scary people. They can be nurturing, caring people.

Also, I'm a shaman, which brings the group and the individual more solidly together. Whereas doctors treat individuals, and psychologists sometimes treat small groups, shamans are concerned about both their communities and the people that make them up.

So, how can cities, the groups that make them up, and the people that live there all be individuals? Simple answer: we're colonial animals - like volvox. All the cells in a volvox are individual animals. The volvox itself is also an individual animal.

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