In Sociology there is a term that is used to discuss the problem with social change policies, unintended consequences.
There has been a longstanding debate in the field of Sociology, regarding what to do with the information gathered through observation, even participant-observation, by sociologists. Should sociologists use the information to create social policy, social change OR should sociologists remain observers and educators about what they learn so that humans can be more fully educated and then free to make the best choice for themselves in small groups and individually. Currently we are in a time-continuum where the social change aspect of sociology is winning that debate.
Bias is the biggest problem in the practice of sociology. Since bias is imbedded into each sociologist’s consciousness through her upbringing and social group connections it becomes difficult to see personal bias. Therefore, sociologists are at risk for introducing bias into the equation of truth without consciously knowing it. The process of paradigm shifting, critical thinking and mindfulness greatly assists sociologists in recognizing their bias, but it is a constant challenge.
In science the practice of the double-blind study is meant to resolve these issues. However, for sociologists the type of study is observation and cataloguing, even in participant-observation an investigator ‘joins’ the group, simply to observe. You can think of this as an undercover officer without any intention of actually stopping tragedies that are observed. This is how the original focus was on identifying and reporting observations; you can think of this like the Prime Directive of no interference in Star Trek. Education was the way to create change rather than directly participating in social ‘justice’ change policy. Recognizing that society is dynamic, living the sociologist observes but avoids interfering with the process due to the risk of unintended consequences…what western biological medicine might call bad side effects of specific pharmaceuticals.
Let’s look at a few changes that have come through this action of social change policy.
Unintended consequences of No-fault divorce.
Prior to 1985, in order to get divorced fault had to be proved by one of the married parties. The thinking in the eighties was that this resulted in high incidence of suicide by wives and high incidence of domestic violence against women. So the passage of no-fault divorce was thought to assist women to feel more free and empowered. Unfortunately, it resulted in the ‘feminization of poverty’ and more children living in poverty.
From Wikipedia: A paper published in The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, written by Douglas Allen, on the economics of same-sex marriage, argues that the introduction of no-fault divorce led to a six-fold increase in just two years after a century of rather stable divorce rates. Also, the law increased the rate at which women entered the workforce, increased the number of hours worked in a week, increased the feminization of poverty, and increased the age at which people married. ( Allen, Douglas (June 22, 2006). “An economic assessment of same-sex marriage laws.”. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 29.)
A more useful action would be to educate children about choosing partners, the MAAPS concept developed by Gineris, 2013, and being mindful in marriage choices. The debate to allow same-sex couples to marry has missed out on this aspect of importance in creating positive, powerful partnerships regardless of gender combination.
The ACA has already led to unintended consequences.
The focus by the ACA was on creating more insurance. Coming from a perspective within the healthcare system as a provider and a receiver it is noticeable already that, unfortunately, at least so far ACA has resulted in less access to healthcare. In the last six months the number of individuals covered with insurance has dropped, due to actions resulting from the ACA. Few individuals were able to get coverage who were not previously covered in 2008. The intended outcome target has been missed and the trend is downward. (For those individuals reading this that tend toward cynicism, this may be a private intended consequence of those who put the ACA it into place because they are interested in a different form of insurance…however it is an unintended consequence from the historical statements of the intention to create a source for better access to healthcare at a lower price.)
A more powerful effect of sociological data about lifespan and lifestyle would have been to educate individuals on the benefits of caring for their physical vehicle, emotions and consciousness. Education on how to live healthfully to avoid the need for healthcare. This creates an opportunity for individuals to take ownership in creating their own health and managing their choice in this regard. Education increases understanding and therefore power to create personal change. This is the dynamic aspect of society. Change from within based on many individuals making similar choices due to knowledge and experience.
‘if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime….’
Day-care, having your child be raised by the community rather than your personal family social system has resulted in unintended consequences.
Parents have less say in the care of their children. Due to the nature of human beings learning about how to be in a community from their caregivers in early childhood, the influence of the parent has greatly reduced and the influence of the state has greatly increased. Parents chose daycare to increase their freedom to work – often a necessity, however they were unaware of the consequence of losing influence in the beliefs, personality, and behavior of their own children.
In addition the psychological makeup of the child raised in daycare is to be cared for by the a group or community, thus the seedling idea that the government owes a person certain positive rights.
A more effective use of the sociological knowledge of how children develop beliefs, their MAAPS for relationship, and values is to educate parents and children as they develop, about these concepts so that individuals can be more empowered and free to make these choices in parenting and care.
Making pot legal will result in unintended consequences.
This is controversial for me to say. I know. Many alternative healers feel that marijuana is positive. Often I hear my colleagues espousing its benefits. My experience both as a psychotherapist and as an energy field healer belies this. Pot mucks up the electromagnetic field so that the person over time is cut off from his or her direct sensory system connection to spirit. Yes some individuals may describe feeling more connected to spirit when they are under the influence of pot, but they have lost their direct connection through their electromagnetic field and have diminished their effectiveness of their sensory guidance system. The effects of this remains even after the person stops using marijuana and can only be healed through energetic clearing tf the person’s electromagnetic-field by an energy worker. So the unintended consequence is to diminish the person’s connection to spirit and to make the person dependent upon the drug to have the inspirational experience. Additionally, long-term, excessive use diminishes a person’s sense of innovation and will, resulting in a constant state of being slightly like a zombie.
Education openly about issues that underly pot use would be more fruitful than simply saying it is harmless, no more harmful than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. This would allow for each individual to make an evaluation from a more holistic perspective.
The hypocrisy of professors, like Bill Ayes, who makes over 100K a year and teaches anti-Americanism: “I pray every day that I can change America and get rid of Capitalism”…he isn’t off the grid he is living through Capitalism. He argues against financial inequality while actually creating it with his behavior. The challenge of being in a position of expert is to unintentionally miss out on the opportunity to actual teach the positive effects of thinking through a problem personally using mindfulness and critical thinking. Using the position of teacher or professor to speak the truth without teaching the importance of dialogue and critical thinking to continuing to evaluate the veracity of that truth, is wholly unethical and creates the unintended consequence of creating ignorance rather than increasing the skills for decision-making and upleveling consciousness.
A more useful application of the sociological information about power and community is to create a space wherein the participant can sort through the answer though mindfulness and critical thinking. Educating students on how to think, how to use their brains to think through a problem, deduction rather than just come up with the answer the professor determines true, in a Sherlock Holmsian style of clarity and mindfulness would allow for continued consciousness elevation for the entire community of human beings, and ultimately the planet.
The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and the Child Abuse Act of 1974,2010 seem to have fared better than the above examples.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (1978) was originally set in place in response to several things, the high incidence of children leaving the reservations and being raised in non-Indian homes which led to a high incidence of depression and suicide as the children reached adolescence (far greater than those children adopted who were from non-indian families). This appeared to be a cultural issue as well as a psychosocial developmental issue. In addition, there was concern from the Native American community that the Native American culture was being decimated by the loss of their children to carry it onward.
There were problems in dealing with how a child was identified as Indian, in that various tribes had different percentages of Native blood or connection to a tribal roll as ways to identify a being as Native American. As time went on it also became an issue if the child had never been a part of the Native Community (1982) especially if the parents had not actually lived in the Native Community in their own upbringing. However, the intended consequences were met positively, due to this act the incidence of suicide by Native American children in early adolescence decreased dramatically, and far more Native American children were endowed with their cultural heritage.
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (1974, 2010) has had a positive effect on the increasing recognition and identification of child abuse by parents and communities, and the general understanding of the societal culture. There have been difficulties with managing the regulation of foster parents and managing how to respond to these kinds of problems with families either through criminal cases or education through various state agencies developed to protect children removed from unsafe homes.
These Mantras clarify how to proceed as a sociologist. Those who don’t study history tend to repeat it. Because there are cycles in the sociological development of human communities. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is based in the problem of a legislative, bureaucracy making decisions that require the fineness of individuality. An agency moves too slowly and cumbersomely to make adjustments that are personal and individualized. Regulation and individual freedom work against each other unless the regulation is set up to protect negative rights versus positive rights, ie: the basis of the US Constitution. And finally, the strongest ethical position for all sociologists: know your biases, act from a neutral non-biased perspective.
Counselors who are in the business of change are constantly working to maintain a watchful eye on their own biases in how they assist their clients and patients to change.
Mindfulness, Compassionate understanding, Critical thinking by drilling down as well as expanding the knowledge of whatever you are attempting to resolve increases your opportunity create change that elevates the consciousness of the planet. As you take care in your own assumption about what is true, pay attention to an inner pressure to make another do what you feel is right. Stop, Look and Listen to yourself and the other person, stop acting… take a break, and go within to observe yourself and the underlying assumptions you hold, return to center.
And if you are being pressured against your own inner sense of knowing, that is free of bias but truly instinctive, then you can use your critical thinking and mindfulness to take the best action for your self. When pulled in to create policy, actually discern for yourself what you believe, pay attention to the dynamic aspect of society, listen thoroughly and investigate fully before you proceed with a proposal to avoid social policy change that results in unintended consequences. in love and light, bg
dr beth gineris is an integrative medicine practitioner in albuquerque, new mexico. she offers compassionate, mindful guidance to online coaching clients and clinic patients daily using her medical intuitive, clinical counseling, energetic rebalancing, and oriental medicine skills. a great class on MAAPS and how to have more positive and empowering relationships is happening in Albuquerque, NM at the center March 15, 2014. Reserve your place at http://www.bethgineris.com
Spiritual consciousness evolution happens through transcending and connecting to the place where spirit and human are best, not one better than the other. bg