Structural Inequality and Diversity Term Paper

Pages: 20 (5575 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sociology



The work of Jeffrey R. Dafler (2005) entitled: "Social Darwinism and the Language of Racial Oppression: Australia's Stolen Generations" stats that "Alfred Korzybski often encapsulated the main idea of abstracting as formulated in the discipline of general semantics by stating that 'the map is not the territory, and the map does not represent all of the territory.' Dafler explains that 'territory' was defined by Samuel Bois as 'what is going on' (WIGO), the realm of external phenomena experienced by an individual." (2005) Therefore, to the individual "the map is the individual's abstraction of that experience." (Dafler, 2005) it was posited in the work of Korzybski that "human status as 'time-binders' sets them apart from other life forms and that it forms the basis for the structure of culture. By accumulating abstractions over time and drawing further abstractions from that collective body, individuals actually create their own realities or 'worlds'." (Dafler, 2005)

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Term Paper on Structural Inequality and Diversity Assignment

According to Bois "the nature of abstracting is such that the worlds of two individuals will never perfectly overlap, although it is possible for individuals to share some meaning: 'In human affairs, it is the sharing values and common adherence to their requirements that make understanding and cooperation possible.'" (Dafler, 2005) it is this value-sharing among individuals that produce the symbols of interaction used in this exchange of "their higher-order abstractions of experience." (Dafler, 2005) Dafler goes on to explain "In this sense, the discipline of general semantics envisions culture as a framework of shared meaning arrived at through symbolic social interaction, a perspective that shares certain elements with a group of theories that conceptualize meaning as socially created, such as Mead' symbolic interactionism and Bormann's theory of symbolic convergence." (2005)

The concept of rhetorical vision which has been defined by Bormann as "a unified putting-together of the various scripts that gives the participants a broader view of things" is especially helpful in understanding this 'shared understanding' that occurs during interaction. Bormann refers to this as a 'rhetorical community' according to Dafler in the same manner "that the general semantics notion of shared abstractions can become the basis of culture through time-binding." (2005) Time-binding can be understood to be the same as 'traditions' or 'customs' within society. Traditions and customs are given specialized authoritative meaning in a society therefore time-binding is defined much the same way.

Dafler states: "Culture, then, in a general semantics sense, can be viewed as the collective abstractions of a group time-binders based on the symbolic sharing of individual and sub-group abstractions over the course of generations." (2005) Re-stated: Customs and traditions in culture, in terms of semantics "...can be viewed as the collective abstractions of a group time-binders based on the symbolic sharing of individual and sub-group abstractions over the course of generations." (Dafler, 2005) These customs, traditions, time-binders are a "worldview or perspective on WIGO and influences both the collective and individual behavior." (Dafler, 2005) Dafler notes that abstractions in culture shift across time in a "generational pace of time-binding" as well.


It is explained in the work of Dafler (2005) that Bois reviews "three conceptual revolutions that took place over the course of Western cultural development." First stated was the "Greek conceptual revolution" which took place during 650 to 350 BC. This revolution was "driven by the work of the great Greek philosophers, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotle." (Dafler, 2005) Secondly identified by Bois and related by Dafler (2005) was the "revolution of classical science" which occurred between 1500 and 1700 AD. The third and final cultural-revolution identified by Bois and related by Dafler (2005) was the "birth of modern science as the second conceptual revolution." The "giants of the second conceptual revolution" are named in Dafler (2005) as: "Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Descartes, and Bacon." It was the belief of Bois that "a third conceptual revolution was underway when he wrote the first edition of 'The Art of Awareness" during the middle of the 20th century. This revolution was driven by Einstein, Russell, von Bertalanffy, and others, which "consisted of the radical restructuring of the scientific framework that emerged during the preceding centuries." (Dafler, 2005)


Dafler (2005) relates that Bois posited that there were four basic elements shared by these 'conceptual revolutions' and states those four to be:

1) "A 'radical change in the methods of thinking and valuing';

2) a 'concentration of great thinkers';

3) the emergence of a 'codifier, or system builder who made explicit the methods of thinking that were characteristic of this age; and 4) the appearance of 'new terms in the general vocabulary'." (Dafler, 2005)

Dafler writes that a 'fifth element' could be introduced that would integrate the "emergence and application of a new worldview in the sphere of economic, political and social relations through the interaction of individuals and groups using the new symbols of the conceptual revolution." (Dafler, 2005) Dafler believes that "The Roman Empire could be viewed as fulfilling the need for the Greek conceptual revolution, because the Roman system in so many ways grew out of the intellectual framework established by earlier Greek philosophers." (2005) Dafler states that the second conceptual revolution "only took root outside the realms of science and philosophy in the rapid political, social and economic change of the early and middle portions of the 19th century." (2005) This is stated to be due to the advances of technology and the industrial revolution having "...swept away existing social structures, enabling emerging empires and Europe and around the world to acquire and control the resources now vital to the growth of wealth. Gone were the values and symbols of the feudalistic worldview based on patronage, protection, and divine right, replaced by the new concepts of free will, competition, and resource-based power." (Dafler, 2005) Simultaneously "Charles Darwin was extending the new science to the realm of biology with his theory of evolution and natural selection, first presented comprehensively in his 1859 work "On the Origin of Species." (2005)

The phrases 'survival of the fittest' and 'struggle for existence' were adopted in the public discourse along with "the social theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Herbert Spencer, and Ernst Haeckel..." all of who ranked the human races by a hierarchy of evolution. (Dafler, 2005; paraphrased) in this hierarchical arrangement of the human race "European and American social theorists placed fair-skinned people at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Those whose culture differed most from their own were identified as the least evolved and destined for extinction." (Hawkins, Social Darwinism, p. 17; as cited in Dafler, 2005) Hawkins is stated to analyze the 'rhetorical instrument' of Social Darwinism insofar as the method of cultural abstraction by stating: "Hawkins, Social Darwinism; Shibutani, Tamotsu and Kwan, Kian M. Ethnic Stratification: A Comparative Approach. New York: The Macmillan Company (1965)." (Hawkins, Social Darwinism, p. 17; as cited in Dafler, 2005)

Hawkins discusses how European colonizers, and this must be true of those who colonized the Americas as well that they felt they were "merely fulfilling their destiny as members of a superior race, obligated by fate to rule over the inferior black races of the uncivilized world." (Dafler, 2005) Dafler relates that Hawkins cited the work of Frederick Courtney Selous, a British colonialist instrumental in the establishment of Rhodesia "to illustrate this point." The following is that cited by Hawkins:

Therefore Matabeleland [a part of the future colony of Rhodesia] is doomed by what seems a law of nature to be ruled by the white man, and the black man must go, or conform to the white man's laws, or die in resisting them. It seems a hard and cruel fate for the black man, but it is a destiny which the broadest philanthropy cannot avert, whilst the British colonist is but the irresponsible atom employed in carrying out a preordained law -- the law which has ruled upon this planet ever since, in the far-off misty depths of time, organic life was first evolved upon the earth -- the inexorable law which Darwin has aptly termed the Survival of the Fittest." (Hawkins, Social Darwinism, p.205; as cited in Dafler, 2005)

What was viewed as an 'aboriginal problem was dealt with in Australia as well as to a great extent in America by taking children who were 'half-caste' or partially white and integrating them into society calling upon them to turn from their savagery and "embrace white society." (Hawkins, Social Darwinism, p. 205; as cited in Dafler, 2005) From this view the aboriginal were inferior genetically in adherence to Social Darwinism and Eugenics the white 'superior' race would serve to dominate those of 'inferior' races and particularly in the mixed races viewed as greatly inferior genetic beings. This conception is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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