C-10. Community science

There are so many observed behaviors already contained in the various sciences, it hardly seems appropriate to promote a discipline called Behavioral Science, perhaps incurring territorial disputes – as long as particular behaviors are the focus of attention. (Of course, respecting the distinctions between general and particular and between body and step structure, there is ample reason to initiate a discipline of Behavioral Science.) As long as particular behaviors are focal, there are plenty enough of them to support and nourish a flock of behavioral sciences. (This does not, of course, excuse any lack of attention to the behavior of scientists [App-6].)

Nevertheless it does seem warranted to invest in one new discipline, Community Science, not because there is considerable amount of work being devoted to the problems and practices of particular communities as they are and have been, but because the community as change agent, as problem solver, can and must be structured (constructed, actually) on the basis of general functional principles derived from the Nature of things. (This generality neither assumes nor assures universality among particulars – a distinction needed in observer behavior [III, IV, XI].) Once constructed, a community can turn its hand to solving situational problems.

Problem solving makes a good research platform for a behavioral science because it derives from the Nature of things, via behavioral necessity (III). And because community is a first problem, its solution being a contingency for solving other problems, a science of community makes a lot of sense.

Community Science would be the purest form in any group of behavioral sciences. (There’s a lesson here, re purification, from chemistry.) Community Science would emphasize behavior per se, pure and simple. Its premise is that community is itself a problem (I: Pbeh), one that must be solved if effective collective action is to be taken on our most challenging problematic situations (I: Psit).

(Community is in this sense distinctive with respect to structure and function [XI]: structure follows functional need before functions can follow structures. That communities as we know them have histories and activities at odds with this does not alter what behavioral principles call for in designing effective communities.)

Community Science would feature experimental construction of problem solving communities, predicated on these two aspects of functionality – rather than, but building on, shared interests and values. (The latter do serve as a reason for investing in developing such a discipline.)

These experimental constructions unite acts of composition (art, most fundamentally) and problem solving (humanism) with knowing (science, most completely). They would address two aspects of “to community” – a now dissonant verb usage, but one which goes to the heart of the matter, that community is a behavioral need (V), that “community development” is much more behavioral than familiar usage would have it.

Consider these two aspects of community: “B(ody)-community” and “S(tep)-community.” Envisioning community as a change agent (App. 2), which is to say as a behavioral entity (III: BE), then B-community pertains to the (hypostatized) entity aspect (familiar as organization and members – but equally familiar, and suggestive of need, is the continuing emergence of even more communities) and S-community pertains to the behavioral aspect (not so familiar because it needs to include functioning capability not yet developed, as well as and in conjunction with, present capabilities).

The balance achieved between the development of B-CMY and S=CMY is a critical area for study. Future prospects due to increased human population, decreasing resources and the emergence of more trying problems (e.g., global warming) can fatally strain the behavioral capability of communities if more cannot be done to advance our collective capability.

In both aspects the dynamics (relationships and relatings) between individual and community (as now or to be made corporate) are crucial (XI). Their productive interdependence can not be forfeit to such madness as the “we vs. them” characterization of government. (That some governments, as products, deserve opposition does not negate the need for self-government to be realized as a behavioral capability, for both individual [as self-control] and collectivity [V].) That each of individual and community might only be as good as the other helps to make them … that working assumption puts their interdependence in a better light.

Effective interdependence of individual and community require articulation of their respective operating systems (App-2: Community). Without a common realization, both in understanding and implementation, of the behavioral foundations of compositional change, a common sense of behavior, their productive interdependence is threatened.

The balance between individual and community, for both aspects, would need continuing monitoring, and experimental communities would do well to develop new ways for such monitoring. Matters of trust and equitable participation suggest some of the kind of experimental work that can be done on S-community. Consider, for example, a research question of the type, “How much deviation, as in the form of instances of untrustworthiness or participatory slacking off, will a community member tolerate in other members before breaking off from the community?”

Community Science would seem to offer a unique platform with which to begin the systematic reconceptualization of concepts from their largely summary utility as categories of particular instances to nuanced, more explanatory theoretical conditions. In addition to the virtue that community would enjoy in representing step equally with body (B-cmy and S-cmy), it would call our attention to the behavioral manifold’s needed development of capability (V), to the roots of collective behavior in the Nature of things (III), to the critical – for improving our quality of life (O) – behavioral problem (I: Pbeh), and to the still underdeveloped individual x community dynamic (XI).

In these last regards, consider how familiar concepts such as marriage and family are as categories of entities, of entities with many properties – some of which are even acknowledged as problems (e.g. communication problems). Would it not be helpful to have an understanding of community that would enable us to ask in great, relevant detail how well marriage and family (and many other multi-person entities) operate as communities?

Such a review would seem most appropriate to nascent collective efforts such as any task force addressing a yet-unsolved problem affecting quality of life (e.g., war, crime, over-population, global warming). But what is critical here is that there preexist a structural analysis of process – lest our understanding of community be no more than characterization (See C-14).

Observers of the properties and practices of particular past and present communities should find such a discipline complementary to the experiences (and actuarial principles) of such particular behavioral entities. They may even find that these new principles help explain the emergence and success – and, indeed, failure – of communities past and present.

There is potentially something more here too for professional observers in, say, academic departments such as the social sciences. Some of the compositional experimentation on behalf of community could well be done there. Consider, for example, the possibility of experimental journalism, in which community’s minding (VII) could be pursued – perhaps in the context of public opinion considered as community minding. What might be done to enable journalists to progress, beyond balance (e.g., of opinion) in respect to decision issues, to fairness (e.g., of fact) in respect to problems? Lasswell’s “surveillance, correlation and education” as mass communication functions touch on, but do not detail, all of a community’s minding needs. Nor, as but summary of useful practices, does it point the way forward for developing needed capability. (The same criticism can be made for research on media “uses and gratifications.”)

But minding is not the only area of behavioral need that Community Science might look into experimentally – although cognition and communication figure in all the requisites and imperatives. (See C-11)

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter