TED Conversations

Juan Gallego-Calderon

PhD student, DTU Wind

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What does society means to you? And, do you think ours is working?

I have been struggling with the concept of society lately, mostly because of the political situation in the US, where both sides are pushing to their extremes with out reaching an agreement in nearly anything. I believe that a country needs to have a strong social safety net where everyone can have the same, or similar, opportunities to grow and contribute to society. But I feel that the views in this country are so polarized that made me question the concept of society that we have as a "society" today.

Topics: politics society

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    Mar 7 2012: Bastian,

    What I mean by "a strong safety net" is that every member of society should have access to the basics: education (k-12 through college), health care, social security, etc. along with those you mentioned. This way the people that are born less fortunate can have the same opportunities than those who are born fortunate. I believe that these are the pilars of a strong society where each individual grows with different capabilities so it can help support a strong society.
    I agree with your idea of a transparent journalism, with out any kind of bias or money influence by corporations, so we can have a transparent election.
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      Mar 7 2012: Yes! I totally agree with everything you just stated.
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        Mar 7 2012: Juan, Bastian
        In principle, I agree completely with what you "want from society" in terms of a social net. The problem here is one of reification. Reification is a form of fallacy that occurs when we ascribe concreteness to something abstract. Its a very common problem that is perhaps inherent in language. "Society" can't provide any of us with anything because it is not a thing and therefore cannot have its own agency. Because society is the emergent effect of the norms, rules and conventions that we recreate and support through our actions on a daily basis. "Society" will not solve the problems of how to provide for the basic needs of everyone in a way that the planet can sustain. But as individuals we can contribute to the creation and maintenance of norms, ways of behaving, rules and create new ideas and tools that achieve the outcome of a social safety net.

        With respect to the particular example Juan cites of the US, I don't see the problem as being two extreme sides failing to meet at a sensible middle ground. The sensible ground is not in the middle, its in a whole different ballpark. Much of the political discourse is actually motivated (on both sides) by a desire not to see the game migrate to that ballpark.
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          Mar 7 2012: Political discourse? If this were true


          .., when would politics start to stop corporations?


          Media has a big influence on trends and mass media is also a form of make believe. I think that when we visit a culture wherein the people seem to respect and support each other all the time, then that they have kept something beautiful alive and are neither divided by their financial status, nor by what the media tells them how to see the world and each other. In addition I feel free and happy to live in a society that grants me free education and a social safety net and I definitely think that it should be granted everywhere on the planet. Who pays for it? Everyone equally, after we received free education we work in our professions and partly pay back the social safety net that brought us to our profession.
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          Mar 8 2012: Matthew,

          Thanks for you comment. The problem in the US is the influence of corporations into elections, as Bastian pointed out with his 2nd. clip. Here, corporations are treated as people and therefore can done unlimited amount of money to candidates without disclosure. That translate into conflict of interests, and the election of candidates that would work for the corporations instead of the people. To me, that is one of the big problems with "society" right know because we are heading (or we are already there) to a place like Bastian's 1st. clip.


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