Thursday, 18 September 2014

What does the term Social Awareness mean ?

Social Awareness
Social awareness is the active process of seeking out information about what is happening in the communities around you. A greater awareness of social norms and problems leads to better understanding and better solutions.
Also known as...
Social Consciousness
is consciousness shared by individuals within a society. According to Karl Marx, human beings enter into certain productive, or economic, relations and these relations lead to a form of social consciousness. Marx said:
"In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society — the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."

How can we develop our social awareness ?
Developing social awareness involves learning about the dynamics of social relationships between individuals, groups and communities. A socially aware individual values human rights and acknowledges the importance of harmonious social interaction for the developmental progress of human beings. Social awareness spans a wide spectrum, beginning with social skills development in early childhood and encompassing the level of social consciousness that leads to social activism and societal transformation. Here are some strategies for developing social awareness.

  1. Consider the needs of individuals and groups. People need to feel heard, valued, respected and acknowledged. Develop sensitivity to the needs of others. 
  2. Examine your role in conflicts. The use of excessive force, intimidation and aggression are common strategies when dealing with conflict. Some people avoid conflicts at all costs. Others choose the company of passive people or engage in passive aggressive behaviors. Consider the role that you play in perpetuating conflicts and commit to living a more socially harmonious life.                              Focus on commonalities and points of agreement to reduce conflict. An overemphasis on social differences can lead to disharmony. Find the commonalities. 
    Develop conflict resolution skills. Take a course in conflict resolution or spend time talking to and observing the behaviors of leaders and mentors who are known for their harmonious natures.
  3. Increase your sensitivity to social justice and harmony. In children and teens this may mean treating others fairly regardless of their level of popularity or style of dress.
  4. Educate yourself on social issues. Racism, and poverty are just a few examples of issues plaguing society.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone to experience unfamiliar groups. Whether you venture out to a different side of town or travel to a different country, exposing yourself to diverse cultures and ways of life will expand your thinking and view of the world. Being exposed to different belief systems, cuisines and lifestyles is useful for expanding your social circle and building tolerance for diverse viewpoints.
  6. Practice compassion. Social transformation requires a commitment to exploring and understanding divergent viewpoints. Develop empathy by consciously imagining yourself in the position of those in a different or less fortunate situation. 
  7. Commit to a social awareness plan. Slipping into apathy and isolation can be easy given life's sometimes overwhelming demands. Design a plan that keeps you continually aware socially.Serve in your community.                                                                                                                  Explore service opportunities in schools, cultural centers, political organizations, religious communities or neighborhood activities.                                                                                                                          Engage in a social activity on a daily basis. Choose an activity that requires you to listen to and tend to the needs of another person or group.                                                                                                 Practice speaking up in defense of others. Commit to voicing your opinion on behalf of marginalized groups who are deprived of their basic human rights.
  8. Ask others to support your efforts to become more socially aware. When friends, family and colleagues realize that you want to become more socially engaged, they are more likely to invite you to volunteer at events and join them in community activities.
cited and sourced from

The above list is a simplified version of the original text, and it is aimed in helping adults to teach children and young adults greater social awareness, but I think that it can be applied to adults and children, I also think some of the points can be applied to the practice of graphic design, especially point eight, ' ask other to support your efforts to become more socially aware.' I think that this is very relevant more people that help raise awareness actually do so by sheer number alone. Some of the points are slightly inapplicable to design but as people they all in my opinion do develop social awareness and humility.