Recently in my professional career I have been yet again posed the question of “why study cultural context” – not so much from a “prove your value” perspective but from a “help us sell this stuff” perspective.
I got to thinking about the connection between “values” (broad term for not-so-easy-to-measure sociocultural “stuff”) and value (the “dolla bills”) and how the way we (at my company, in my profession) help create meaningful change by solving human-centric problems.
Essentially it really all comes back to identifying the need for and efficiently managing the process for change. Change is what helps us grow – both socially and – in business terms, financially. And it all comes down to understanding the boundaries so you can bust them.
It took me back to my go-to explanation of the meaning of culture: what happens when humans collectively respond to constraints (the big stuff on a social, environmental, economic, etc. scale).
So what’s the connection? It’s about understanding what the boundaries are by way of the underlying human and cultural context so you can create the change.
You must push against boundaries to understand the deep underpinnings that are reinforcing them. This understanding helps you empathize to facilitate meaningful and necessary change and ultimately growth . Empathy is, after all, the energy that allows us to motivate others.
Essentially, the hypothesis is that growth can only come from pushing the boundaries.
But there is an art and science to this which is why the study and application of insights regarding human and cultural context is so important: anthropology, sociology, worldview science (shout out to my buddy John Marshal Roberts), etc. I knew that concentration in deviant behavior for my MA in Applied Sociology had a purpose. :) My graduate coordinators would be so proud.
By the way, there is a rub here. That being, this definitely applies on a macro-scale but it also implies that we have to push our own personal boundaries in order to push the social ones. Reminds me of a quote from a book I read recently called Fascinate that said something along the lines of “you can be extraordinary or comfortable but not both”. Dammit.
This is the most narcissistic thing I’ll write all week. Glad I decided to find an appropriate venue for it rather than the notes file on my iPhone that I typed while driving (apologies to my wife).
I am thinking this might be a frame for something bigger – maybe “the book”.
Any feedback or research direction from my peers? I have a reading list started as well as a list of “stuff” to go back to with more of a focused eye, but would love any direction my intelligent and talented peers and colleagues have to give.