Sociologists spend countless hours trying to understand human behavior and how it impacts society. This sample sociology essay explores the development of human science and the thoughts of two different authors on the matter of human science and technological development.
Kuhn’s views on human science
Kuhn pushes for the concept of utilizing what he calls ‘normal science’ as a means of problem-solving for the advancement of society and the understanding of concepts that at one time were mysterious to mankind. Upon the surface, this idea would appear to be one that is quite beneficial to the basic quest for knowledge that is driven by our boundless curiosity. However, there are certain aspects of society’s lives that should not necessarily be bound to the same practices that dictate the actions of the hard sciences.
The understanding of social norms and the complex relationship between genders is one such aspect. Though Kuhn’s work is both innovative and aimed to advance our society’s understanding and pursuit of the basic driving forces of many of our world’s fundamental laws, this practice cannot be accurately applied to the actions and relationships between individuals of the human race currently because of the many unstable and changing factors that must be considered when dealing with an issue of such complexity such as gender-based nonverbal communication.
Understanding the meaning of normal science
Kuhn uses the term ‘normal science’ as a means of describing a key concept that is seen throughout his work.
The term refers to “research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice,” (Kuhn, 10).
This concept builds upon the idea that normal science is a culmination of many endeavors of the past that help build a model of which we as a society use in the present to further our own knowledge of a particular field of interest. This concept is not necessarily bound to the fields of science that one would immediately recognize such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc. either. Humanity has made a great deal of scientific progress in understanding the inner workings of our own minds.
To that extent, much research has been committed to understanding the so-called ‘Science of Love.’ Research has shown that the brain undergoes distinct phases of releasing hormones when a person is attracted to another. Hormones play a large role in the physical side of attraction and can be explained and categorized by Kuhn’ concept of a normal science (BBC). These hormones include:
However, there exist certain fields that we cannot take this concept and apply it to.
Human relationships in society
Relationships between men and women are one of the most complex, important aspects of our society. Though there exist trends that unite the relationships a person has, every relationship has its own unique inner workings between the individuals. The social side of relationships is subject to an immense amount of factors and details that can alter a relationship dramatically based on slight changes to one of them. Some of the fundamental building blocks of relationships (be it between opposite or the same genders) are trust, understanding, and humor.
Of these three building blocks, it is near impossible to apply an effective model of a normal science that will universally describe how to go about understanding them on a societal level. Even though it will be probably to create a model or method to depict the basics of what importance these three building blocks play, what is important to take away is that they are all unique on a relationship basis and must be catered to in different ways for each relationship a person has in his or her life.
Trust, relationships, and the human equation
Trust and understanding go hand-in-hand in terms of the importance of building and maintaining a relationship.
Studies have shown a lack of trust usually leads to “a decline in the flow of information,” and “reduced productivity, stifled innovation, high stress, and slow decision making,” (Human Relations, 21).
Trusting another person will not take advantage of that person is one of the most important aspects of human relationships and can take a long time to both gain and maintain.
The same holds true for understanding. Understanding can be defined as seeing individuals as “a distinct, unique, self-autonomous human person or self,” (Patterson, 1).
By definition, a person has to recognize another as a unique individual in order to understand them, therefore solidifying the idea that some general law or practice can be applied to building a relationship based upon normal science. Obviously, for a relationship to be successful, the parties involved have to have a feeling of both security and comfort, and that is where humor can play a large role.
Hitchens’ views on human science and sociology
Hitchens presents an interesting insight into what he calls the humor gap. While this view of gender roles is based in gender stereotypes, his basic question and analysis look at the role that humor plays in the relationships between individuals, specifically why women appear to be less funny than men. The reasoning that he presents is far reaching and makes several hypotheses as to the gender roles that women and men fit into and those implications that they have in the world of humor.
Specifically, Hitchens asserts that “the chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex,” (Hitchens) and therefore in terms of being funny or not, men “had damn well better be,” (Hitchens).
On the contrast, women do not need to be so funny because they naturally appeal to men and need not impress them. What Hitchens doesn’t really touch on is the different tastes in humor that individuals experience in terms of what they find to be funny and what they do not.
Humor’s role in humanity
The general use of humor between genders is a practice that is utilized to make a person feel, generally, more comfortable around someone they do not know that well. Just by attempting to use humor and nonverbal communication, individuals can see if there exists some compatibility between the two or if there is not. However, nonverbal communication is different between men and women, making some jokes funny to men and disturbing to women.
A joke that a man finds to be hilarious could be offensive and quite unfunny to a woman or vice versa. If the two find that they have a similar sense of humor, their relationship has some common ground to be built on, and the uneasy feeling that exists when meeting a new person is eased. If the two find they do not enjoy the same humor, the relationship can become strained and almost awkward initially. The point being, it is almost impossible to tell from the surface what sort of humor an individual will enjoy and what they will not.
The normal science process can make a rather hand-waving model to cope with this by saying something like “don’t start with the dirtiest jokes you know when you meet someone new,” but that is not really giving any fundamental evidence on how to utilize humor when meeting a new person. For the model to be applicable, it would have to be something more like: “to break the ice, pick joke X, Y, or Z, and that person will feel comfortable and will be easier to engage in conversation henceforth.”
Since this is not ever going to be the case in human relationships, it seems evident that the normal science of humans is not applicable in our current society.
Scientific progress and human development
Scientific progress is something that fundamental to the understanding of the world around us. By furthering what we have learned and applying it to what we do not know, humanity has been able to solve many of the questions that have in the past appeared to be unsolvable. The same line of thinking, however, cannot be so easily applied to the interactions between members of our society. The factors that dictate the social relationships between people are so complex and alter dramatically between people to the point that there can be no real way to control and account for all of the differences to build a unified model that can be applied to us on a societal level.
Perhaps the future will lead us to a place where such a model can exist, however in doing so, society will lose one of the most basic elements of building a relationship: getting to know the other person. If we had a model to base our interactions with others on, relationships would simply become somewhat of a scripted model, where people play their parts and never truly get to know one another. Humanity’s quest for knowledge will forever be on going, but the complete understanding of human relationships and interactions may be something we never fully comprehend scientifically.
BBC. “The Science of Love.” Science: Human Body & Mind. 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hottopics/love/.
Hitchens, Christopher. “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Vanity Fair. Jan 2007: n. page. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701
“Human Relations: Principles and Practices.” 30 Jun 2008: n. page. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. http://resource.mccneb.edu/hmr/files/hmrl/MetroNHMRLText/p1-51.pdf.
Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago , 1970. Print.
Patterson, C.H. “Two Approaches to Human Relations.” American Journal of Psychotherapy . 7. (1958): 691-708. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. http://www.sageofasheville.com/pub_downloads/TWO_APPROACHES_TO_HUMAN_RELATIONS.pdf.