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Social inertia

In psychology and sociology, social inertia is the resistance to change or the endurance of stable relationships in societies or social groups. Social inertia is the opposite of social change.

Contents

The idea of social inertia can be traced back to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. According to Bourdieu, each person occupies a position in a social space, which consists of his or her social class as well as social relationships and social networks. Through the individual's engagement in the social space, he or she develops a set of behaviors, lifestyle and habits (which Bourdieu referred to as habitus) which often serve to maintain the status quo. Thus, people are encouraged to "accept the social world as it is, to take it for granted, rather than to rebel against it, to counterpose to it different, even antagonistic, possibles." This can explain the continuity of the social order through time.

Sociologists have examined how economic and cultural heritage is transmitted across generations, which can lead to strong social inertia even during times of social progress. In particular, Bourdieu found in his studies of Algeria that even during times of rapid economic change, cultural and symbolic factors limited the flexibility of the society to quickly adapt to change.

Therefore, social inertia has been used to explain how dominant social classes maintain their status and privilege over time. Currently, this is a hotly debated topic in the United States. While President Barack Obama reaffirmed America's commitment to equal opportunity in his second inaugural address, Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz believes it is a myth that modern society offers equal opportunity and high social mobility through mechanisms such as formal education.

In the culture of honor

Example of social inertia in the culture of the United States is the culture of honor which exists in parts of the South and West. In the culture of honor, violence is seen as an acceptable way of responding to insults or threats to a person's self, family, property, or reputation. Some psychologists and historians believe that the culture of honor arose as a way of enforcing order on the frontier, when the South and West were first being settled and there was inadequate law enforcement and little social order. According to this hypothesis, herding (which is a solitary activity) should be more closely tied to the culture of honor than farming (which is a cooperative activity). However, some scholars have not found support for this. When researchers examined the relationship between agricultural practices in the rural South and the white male homicide rates in those areas, they did not find that homicide rates were higher in counties that were hilly and arid and therefore more suitable for herding vs. farming. They concluded that homicide rates did not support the herding vs. farming hypothesis for the culture of honor. Therefore, religion and poverty have been offered as alternative explanations for the origins of the culture of honor.

Even though the economic and social circumstances of the South and West have since changed, the culture of honor persists due to social inertia. It has become a social norm in southern and western culture, and these norms persist even when economies change.

In creative labor

In a 2013 journal article in the Journal of Sociology, sociologist Scott Brook applied the theory of social inertia to the field of creative labor. Specifically, Brook was concerned with why so many students would continue to seek degrees in creative fields (such as the arts and creative writing), even when the oversupply of labor meant that many students were unable to find employment in those fields after graduation. Even if they were able to find employment, they earned less than their peers with non-creative degrees. Scott used Bourdieu's notion of social inertia to suggest that students who were drawn to the non-commercial nature of creative fields came from families with low socioeconomic status and whose parents had not been able to develop a career themselves. Students followed in their parents' footsteps by choosing educational pursuits which were less likely to lead to high-earning careers, thus leading to social inertia in income across generations.

In collaborations

Social inertia has been used as a way of studying collaborations and interactions between people. Specifically, social inertia has been defined as a measurement of how likely people are to continue collaborating with previous partners or members of the same team. An analysis of large-scale, complex networks such as the IMDb showed that two types of "extreme" collaboration behaviors appeared more than average – some people collaborate with the same partners over and over again, while others change partners frequently.

In attitudes and attitude change

Psychological studies on attitudes and attitude change have found that participants are reluctant to reduce their confidence in an estimate that they have made even after they receive new information that goes against their original estimate. Researchers have hypothesized that this "inertia effect" is due to participants' psychological commitment to their initial judgments.

In romantic relationships

Some psychological studies have shown that premarital cohabitation (living together before marriage) is associated with an decreased risk of divorce, and this has been termed the cohabitation effect. Researchers believe that one reason for this effect is that living together increases the inertia of the relationship – i.e. the likelihood that a couple will continue to stay together vs. break up. Inertia in cohabiting couples occurs because living together imposes constraints on a relationship (a shared lease, etc.) that make relationships harder to end. Therefore, a cohabiting couple may stay together even if they are not compatible. Because living together represents an ambiguous form of commitment compared with marriage, cohabiting may not increase the levels of dedication in either partner. Partners may "slide" into marriage through cohabitation instead of making a firm decision to commit to each other, leading to problems in the marriage in the future.

However, the research on whether higher divorce rates are due to the cohabitation effect are mixed. For example, researchers have found that the relationship between cohabitation and divorce also depends on factors such as when the couple was married (for example, marriages which take place after 1996 do not show the cohabitation effect), their race/ethnicity, and their marriage plans at the time of cohabitation. Other studies have found that what has been called the cohabitation effect is entirely attributable to other factors.

In animal behavior

The term social inertia was used by A.M. Guhl in 1968 to describe dominance hierarchies in animal groups. Studies of animal behavior have found that groups of animals can form social orders or social hierarchies that are relatively fixed and stable. For example, chickens establish a social order within the group based on pecking behaviors. Even when some of the chickens were treated with an androgen to increase their aggressiveness, the established social order suppressed their exhibition of aggressive behaviors so that social order was maintained.

This same effect has been found in other birds as well as in invertebrates such as social wasps and the burying beetle N. orbicollis. Researchers theorize that this lack of change in social hierarchies even under the influence of aggression hormones is due to the effects of familiarity – animals learn their place in the social hierarchy of a group within the first few encounters with other group members. This will cause low-ranking animals treated with aggression hormones to behave aggressively towards animals from other groups but not towards dominant members of their own group.

Cultural inertia

The psychologist Michael Zarate has coined the term "cultural inertia" to refer to reactions to social change, such as those caused by immigration. Cultural inertia is defined as the desire to avoid cultural change, and also the desire for change to continue once it is already occurring. Within the cultural inertia framework, the dominant group is stable and resists cultural change, while subordinate groups desire cultural changes which incorporate their cultural traditions so that they don't have to assimilate into the dominant culture. In the context of the United States and immigration, the framework suggests that white majority members resist the cultural change that occurs from immigration, while immigrant groups try to enact change in U.S. culture.

Cultural inertia is related to social psychological theories such as the instrumental model of group conflict, acculturative fit, and system justification theory. It is a contributor to intergroup prejudice due to groups' fear of cultural change.

  1. Bourdieu, Pierre (November 1985). "The Social Space and the Genesis of Groups"(PDF). Theory and Society. 14 (6): 728. doi:10.1007/bf00174048. S2CID 13150616. Retrieved20 November 2013.
  2. Swartz, David (2006). After Bourdieu: Influence, Critique, Elaboration. Springer. p. 92. ISBN 9781402025891.
  3. Stiglitz, Joseph (February 16, 2013). "Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth". The New York Times. Retrieved9 December 2013.
  4. Cohen, Dov (1998). "Culture, Social Organization, and Patterns of Violence"(PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 75 (2): 408–419. CiteSeerX10.1.1.458.621. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.2.408. PMID 9731316. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2 December 2013. Retrieved27 November 2013.
  5. Chu, Rebecca; Rivera, C.; Loftin, C. (2000). "Herding and homicide: An examination of the Nisbett-Reaves hypothesis". Social Forces. 78 (3): 971–987. doi:10.1093/sf/78.3.971.
  6. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/200904/is-southern-violence-due-culture-honor Nigel Barber, "Is Southern violence due to a culture of honor?", Psychology Today (April 2, 2009)
  7. Cohen, Dov (1998). "Culture, Social Organization, and Patterns of Violence"(PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 75 (2): 408–419. CiteSeerX10.1.1.458.621. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.2.408. PMID 9731316. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2 December 2013. Retrieved27 November 2013.
  8. Brook, Scott (2013). "Social inertia and the field of creative labour". Journal of Sociology. 49 (2–3): 309–324. doi:10.1177/1440783313481531. S2CID 147332684.
  9. Ramasco, J.J. (2007). "Social inertia and diversity in collaboration networks". European Physical Journal ST. 143 (1): 47–50. arXiv:physics/0612006. Bibcode:2007EPJST.143...47R. CiteSeerX10.1.1.262.1081. doi:10.1140/epjst/e2007-00069-9. S2CID 14805404.
  10. Pitz, Gordon (February 1969). "An inertia effect (resistance to change) in the revision of opinion". Canadian Journal of Psychology. 23 (1): 24–33. doi:10.1037/h0082790.
  11. Cohan, C.L.; Kleinbaum, S. (2002). "Toward a Greater Understanding of the Cohabitation Effect: Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Communication". Journal of Marriage and Family. 64: 180–192. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00180.x.
  12. Stanley, Scott; Rhoades, Galena Kline; Markman, Howard (2006). "Sliding Versus Deciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect". Family Relations. 55 (4): 499–509. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00418.x. JSTOR 40005344. S2CID 42763576.
  13. Stanley, Scott; Rhoades, Galena Kline; Markman, Howard (2006). "Sliding Versus Deciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect". Family Relations. 55 (4): 499–509. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00418.x. JSTOR 40005344. S2CID 42763576.
  14. Wendy D. Manning, Jessica A. Cohen. "Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution: The Significance of Marriage Cohort". Princeton University.Cite journal requires |journal= ()CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  15. Family Matters (2003). "Premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability"(PDF) (65). Australian Institute of Family Studies.Cite journal requires |journal= ()
  16. Archawaranon, Manee; Dove, Lorna; Wiley, R. Haven (1991). "Social inertia and hormonal control of aggression and dominance in white-throated sparrows". Behaviour. 118 (1): 42–65. doi:10.1163/156853991x00193. JSTOR 4534953.
  17. Guhl, A.M. (April 1964). "Psychophysiological interrelations in the social behavior of chickens". Psychological Bulletin. 61 (4): 277–285. doi:10.1037/h0044799. PMID 14140334.
  18. Guhl, A.M. (April 1964). "Psychophysiological interrelations in the social behavior of chickens". Psychological Bulletin. 61 (4): 277–285. doi:10.1037/h0044799. PMID 14140334.
  19. Kou, Ron; Chou, Szu-Ying; Chen, Shu-Chin; Huang, Zachary (September 2009). "Juvenile hormone and the ontogeny of cockroach aggression". Hormones and Behavior. 56 (3): 332–338. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.06.011. PMID 19591832. S2CID 11553834. Retrieved20 November 2013.
  20. Wiley, R. Haven; Steadman, Laura; Chadwick, Laura; Wollerman, Lori (February 1999). "Social inertia in white-throated sparrows results from recognition of opponents". Animal Behaviour. 57 (2): 453–463. doi:10.1006/anbe.1998.0991. PMID 10049486. S2CID 9278506.
  21. Zárate, M. A.; Shaw, M.; Marquez, J. A.; Biagas, D.; Jr (2012). "Cultural inertia: The effects of cultural change on intergroup relations and the self-concept". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 48 (3): 634–645. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.12.014.
  22. Zárate, M. A.; Shaw, M.; Marquez, J. A.; Biagas, D.; Jr (2012). "Cultural inertia: The effects of cultural change on intergroup relations and the self-concept". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 48 (3): 634–645. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.12.014.

Social inertia
Social inertia Language Watch Edit In psychology and sociology social inertia is the resistance to change or the endurance of stable relationships in societies or social groups Social inertia is the opposite of social change Contents 1 Overview 2 Examples 2 1 In the culture of honor 2 2 In creative labor 2 3 In collaborations 2 4 In attitudes and attitude change 2 5 In romantic relationships 2 6 In animal behavior 3 Related concepts 3 1 Cultural inertia 4 See also 5 ReferencesOverview EditThe idea of social inertia can be traced back to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu According to Bourdieu each person occupies a position in a social space which consists of his or her social class as well as social relationships and social networks Through the individual s engagement in the social space he or she develops a set of behaviors lifestyle and habits which Bourdieu referred to as habitus which often serve to maintain the status quo Thus people are encouraged to accept the social world as it is to take it for granted rather than to rebel against it to counterpose to it different even antagonistic possibles 1 This can explain the continuity of the social order through time Sociologists have examined how economic and cultural heritage is transmitted across generations which can lead to strong social inertia even during times of social progress In particular Bourdieu found in his studies of Algeria that even during times of rapid economic change cultural and symbolic factors limited the flexibility of the society to quickly adapt to change 2 Therefore social inertia has been used to explain how dominant social classes maintain their status and privilege over time Currently this is a hotly debated topic in the United States While President Barack Obama reaffirmed America s commitment to equal opportunity in his second inaugural address Nobel laureate Joseph E Stiglitz believes it is a myth that modern society offers equal opportunity and high social mobility through mechanisms such as formal education 3 Examples EditIn the culture of honor Edit Example of social inertia in the culture of the United States is the culture of honor which exists in parts of the South and West In the culture of honor violence is seen as an acceptable way of responding to insults or threats to a person s self family property or reputation Some psychologists and historians believe that the culture of honor arose as a way of enforcing order on the frontier when the South and West were first being settled and there was inadequate law enforcement and little social order 4 According to this hypothesis herding which is a solitary activity should be more closely tied to the culture of honor than farming which is a cooperative activity However some scholars have not found support for this When researchers examined the relationship between agricultural practices in the rural South and the white male homicide rates in those areas they did not find that homicide rates were higher in counties that were hilly and arid and therefore more suitable for herding vs farming They concluded that homicide rates did not support the herding vs farming hypothesis for the culture of honor 5 Therefore religion and poverty have been offered as alternative explanations for the origins of the culture of honor 6 Even though the economic and social circumstances of the South and West have since changed the culture of honor persists due to social inertia It has become a social norm in southern and western culture and these norms persist even when economies change 7 In creative labor Edit In a 2013 journal article in the Journal of Sociology sociologist Scott Brook applied the theory of social inertia to the field of creative labor Specifically Brook was concerned with why so many students would continue to seek degrees in creative fields such as the arts and creative writing even when the oversupply of labor meant that many students were unable to find employment in those fields after graduation Even if they were able to find employment they earned less than their peers with non creative degrees 8 Scott used Bourdieu s notion of social inertia to suggest that students who were drawn to the non commercial nature of creative fields came from families with low socioeconomic status and whose parents had not been able to develop a career themselves Students followed in their parents footsteps by choosing educational pursuits which were less likely to lead to high earning careers thus leading to social inertia in income across generations In collaborations Edit Social inertia has been used as a way of studying collaborations and interactions between people Specifically social inertia has been defined as a measurement of how likely people are to continue collaborating with previous partners or members of the same team An analysis of large scale complex networks such as the IMDb showed that two types of extreme collaboration behaviors appeared more than average some people collaborate with the same partners over and over again while others change partners frequently 9 In attitudes and attitude change Edit Psychological studies on attitudes and attitude change have found that participants are reluctant to reduce their confidence in an estimate that they have made even after they receive new information that goes against their original estimate Researchers have hypothesized that this inertia effect is due to participants psychological commitment to their initial judgments 10 In romantic relationships Edit Some psychological studies have shown that premarital cohabitation living together before marriage is associated with an decreased risk of divorce and this has been termed the cohabitation effect 11 Researchers believe that one reason for this effect is that living together increases the inertia of the relationship i e the likelihood that a couple will continue to stay together vs break up 12 Inertia in cohabiting couples occurs because living together imposes constraints on a relationship a shared lease etc that make relationships harder to end Therefore a cohabiting couple may stay together even if they are not compatible Because living together represents an ambiguous form of commitment compared with marriage cohabiting may not increase the levels of dedication in either partner Partners may slide into marriage through cohabitation instead of making a firm decision to commit to each other leading to problems in the marriage in the future 13 However the research on whether higher divorce rates are due to the cohabitation effect are mixed For example researchers have found that the relationship between cohabitation and divorce also depends on factors such as when the couple was married for example marriages which take place after 1996 do not show the cohabitation effect their race ethnicity and their marriage plans at the time of cohabitation 14 Other studies have found that what has been called the cohabitation effect is entirely attributable to other factors 15 In animal behavior Edit The term social inertia was used by A M Guhl in 1968 to describe dominance hierarchies in animal groups 16 Studies of animal behavior have found that groups of animals can form social orders or social hierarchies that are relatively fixed and stable 17 For example chickens establish a social order within the group based on pecking behaviors Even when some of the chickens were treated with an androgen to increase their aggressiveness the established social order suppressed their exhibition of aggressive behaviors so that social order was maintained 18 This same effect has been found in other birds as well as in invertebrates such as social wasps and the burying beetle N orbicollis Researchers theorize that this lack of change in social hierarchies even under the influence of aggression hormones is due to the effects of familiarity animals learn their place in the social hierarchy of a group within the first few encounters with other group members 19 This will cause low ranking animals treated with aggression hormones to behave aggressively towards animals from other groups but not towards dominant members of their own group 20 Related concepts EditCultural inertia Edit The psychologist Michael Zarate has coined the term cultural inertia to refer to reactions to social change such as those caused by immigration Cultural inertia is defined as the desire to avoid cultural change and also the desire for change to continue once it is already occurring Within the cultural inertia framework the dominant group is stable and resists cultural change while subordinate groups desire cultural changes which incorporate their cultural traditions so that they don t have to assimilate into the dominant culture In the context of the United States and immigration the framework suggests that white majority members resist the cultural change that occurs from immigration while immigrant groups try to enact change in U S culture 21 Cultural inertia is related to social psychological theories such as the instrumental model of group conflict acculturative fit and system justification theory It is a contributor to intergroup prejudice due to groups fear of cultural change 22 See also EditNorm social Psychological inertia Social conservatism Status quo bias System justificationReferences Edit Bourdieu Pierre November 1985 The Social Space and the Genesis of Groups PDF Theory and Society 14 6 728 doi 10 1007 bf00174048 S2CID 13150616 Retrieved 20 November 2013 Swartz David 2006 After Bourdieu Influence Critique Elaboration Springer p 92 ISBN 9781402025891 Stiglitz Joseph February 16 2013 Equal Opportunity Our National Myth The New York Times Retrieved 9 December 2013 Cohen Dov 1998 Culture Social Organization and Patterns of Violence PDF Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75 2 408 419 CiteSeerX 10 1 1 458 621 doi 10 1037 0022 3514 75 2 408 PMID 9731316 Archived from the original PDF on 2 December 2013 Retrieved 27 November 2013 Chu Rebecca Rivera C Loftin C 2000 Herding and homicide An examination of the Nisbett Reaves hypothesis Social Forces 78 3 971 987 doi 10 1093 sf 78 3 971 http www psychologytoday com blog the human beast 200904 is southern violence due culture honor Nigel Barber Is Southern violence due to a culture of honor Psychology Today April 2 2009 Cohen Dov 1998 Culture Social Organization and Patterns of Violence PDF Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75 2 408 419 CiteSeerX 10 1 1 458 621 doi 10 1037 0022 3514 75 2 408 PMID 9731316 Archived from the original PDF on 2 December 2013 Retrieved 27 November 2013 Brook Scott 2013 Social inertia and the field of creative labour Journal of Sociology 49 2 3 309 324 doi 10 1177 1440783313481531 S2CID 147332684 Ramasco J J 2007 Social inertia and diversity in collaboration networks European Physical Journal ST 143 1 47 50 arXiv physics 0612006 Bibcode 2007EPJST 143 47R CiteSeerX 10 1 1 262 1081 doi 10 1140 epjst e2007 00069 9 S2CID 14805404 Pitz Gordon February 1969 An inertia effect resistance to change in the revision of opinion Canadian Journal of Psychology 23 1 24 33 doi 10 1037 h0082790 Cohan C L Kleinbaum S 2002 Toward a Greater Understanding of the Cohabitation Effect Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Communication Journal of Marriage and Family 64 180 192 doi 10 1111 j 1741 3737 2002 00180 x Stanley Scott Rhoades Galena Kline Markman Howard 2006 Sliding Versus Deciding Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect Family Relations 55 4 499 509 doi 10 1111 j 1741 3729 2006 00418 x JSTOR 40005344 S2CID 42763576 Stanley Scott Rhoades Galena Kline Markman Howard 2006 Sliding Versus Deciding Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect Family Relations 55 4 499 509 doi 10 1111 j 1741 3729 2006 00418 x JSTOR 40005344 S2CID 42763576 Wendy D Manning Jessica A Cohen Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution The Significance of Marriage Cohort Princeton University Cite journal requires journal help CS1 maint uses authors parameter link Family Matters 2003 Premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability PDF 65 Australian Institute of Family Studies Cite journal requires journal help Archawaranon Manee Dove Lorna Wiley R Haven 1991 Social inertia and hormonal control of aggression and dominance in white throated sparrows Behaviour 118 1 42 65 doi 10 1163 156853991x00193 JSTOR 4534953 Guhl A M April 1964 Psychophysiological interrelations in the social behavior of chickens Psychological Bulletin 61 4 277 285 doi 10 1037 h0044799 PMID 14140334 Guhl A M April 1964 Psychophysiological interrelations in the social behavior of chickens Psychological Bulletin 61 4 277 285 doi 10 1037 h0044799 PMID 14140334 Kou Ron Chou Szu Ying Chen Shu Chin Huang Zachary September 2009 Juvenile hormone and the ontogeny of cockroach aggression Hormones and Behavior 56 3 332 338 doi 10 1016 j yhbeh 2009 06 011 PMID 19591832 S2CID 11553834 Retrieved 20 November 2013 Wiley R Haven Steadman Laura Chadwick Laura Wollerman Lori February 1999 Social inertia in white throated sparrows results from recognition of opponents Animal Behaviour 57 2 453 463 doi 10 1006 anbe 1998 0991 PMID 10049486 S2CID 9278506 Zarate M A Shaw M Marquez J A Biagas D Jr 2012 Cultural inertia The effects of cultural change on intergroup relations and the self concept Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 3 634 645 doi 10 1016 j jesp 2011 12 014 Zarate M A Shaw M Marquez J A Biagas D Jr 2012 Cultural inertia The effects of cultural change on intergroup relations and the self concept Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 3 634 645 doi 10 1016 j jesp 2011 12 014 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Social inertia amp oldid 1005057050, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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