seriously, am i the only one that this makes sense to????
(in response to a colleague about who decides on social interventions):
I won't attempt to reply on behalf of everyone (no pun intended) RE: who decides about the interventions. I will, however, argue that if we are a social scientific discipline that embraces a humanistic perspective, then we should advocate for and work towards realizing positive social change(s), IMO. We have a pretty good idea of what is best for the vast majority of people — health, nutrition, safety, opportunities, support, etc. — why not develop interventions to realize these in as broad a manner as possible? Certainly, we don't have to; we can be satisfied with just conducting research on the factors that contribute to their emergence and manintenance.
This, however, strikes me as similar to just studying viruses to see how they work and leaving it at that. "hmm, interesting how viruses work, let's look at bacteria, now" and stopping there. where would millions of people be today if researchers stopped right there?
The Scientist article is based on thorough analyses of the environment, what contributes to environmental degradation, and how WE contribute to environmental degradation. Sure, the McDonnell Group could have just stopped there..."yup, we're killing ourselves, environmentally; isn't that interesting? maybe i'll publish an article on it." I suspect because a) they are sane, b) they actually care about other people, and c) they feel a moral obligation to do something to try and prevent global, environmental collapse, they took the next step (which is where they bypassed us because we, as applied sociologists, do not have the next step) and decided to do something about it.
Stop and think about how people are "manipulated" by different agents daily, hourly, — watch "The Merchants of Cool" to get a visceral understanding of this process. hell, we are ALL brainwashed by our respective exposure to culture. Right now, we are self-destructing due to our engaging in "normal" habits, i.e., habits that are environmentally unsound, yet are popular and typical, and supported by the media, the gov't, by religion, etc. Makes sense to me to try and promote (social marketing is great at that, yes) alternative norms that might actually extend life on the planet a few more centuries.
lastly...i think it IS important to engage people in social change and include them in the process. i don't necessarily think it is so because of a moral reason, but because that increases the likelihood of the success of the endeavor.
I guess it comes down to this...do people have the right to self-destruct? sure, watch any alcoholic drink him/herself to death. one alcoholic is not the problem, however, especially if s/he drinks him/herself to death in the privacy of his/her own home. when s/he gets behind the wheel of a car, then his/her problem is no longer personal; it becomes my concern, too.
Similarly, if there are compelling data that I and my collective partners are killing the environment (and ourselves in the process), isn't it wise to do something about it? of course we can self-destruct, we have the moral right to, but why should we? talk about "irrationality!"