Nature & Extents of STSE Actions
Because governments have tended not to adequately address many STSE Harms, apparently because they often prioritize interests of capitalists over those of general populations, it seems essential that community members critically analyze STSE relationships and develop & take altruistic actions – like those in the video at right/below and here – to overcome harms they identify. This page provides discussions, with examples, of different kinds of actions – including coordination among them.
Kinds of STSE Actions
People and groups that choose to develop and/or take sociopolitical actions to overcome STSE Harms have numerous choices of action types – some of which are depicted in the schema at right/below. Their decisions may, for example, be based on opportunities, but also on factors like their expertise (e.g., as educators vs. engineers) and direction of actions (e.g., comprehensive vs. targeted or direct vs. indirect [e.g., over social media]) or level of violence, etc. Among many considerations, a very important one seems to be the extent of authoritarianism of leaders. Gramsci suggested, for instance, that leaders in purported democratic states may need to change, but it also would be essential for actions to focus on changes to general public knowledge, values, skills, etc.
People and groups sometimes make action decisions perhaps largely based on pycho-social reasons, as suggested in this hoax. It may seem obvious to say, but choices about actions should be based on valid & reliable research – and on social negotiations to help minimize personal biases. The STEPWISE project has, accordingly, been promoting such ‘RiNA’ projects. Civic actors should, nevertheless, exercise ‘prudence’ (e.g., skepticism) about research & social negotiations – remembering, for instance, that much secondary (e.g., Merchants of Doubt) & primary (e.g., Corrupted Science) research may be biased, as generally seems the case with (socially-influenced) ‘personal’ choices.
Among the most prominent advocates for basing actions on science research, Greta Thunberg – the teenage climate activist who inspired the Fridays for Future movement – stands out! In her many speeches to politicians, business leaders, youth and others, she invariably tells people not to listen so much to her (despite personal accolades like Time Person of 2019 and a giant mural of her in San Francisco) as to follow ‘the science’ (e.g., IPCC) to determine actions to reduce ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions to 1.5 oC above pre-industrialized levels – the target of the Paris Agreement. Of course, as noted above, it is critical that action decisions are based on valid & reliable research – particularly that not funded by private sector individuals & groups.
Although more ‘singular’ student actions, like slideshows for a class, installing posters or designing ecojust engineering products, may be highly positive, they may not generate much large-scale change. As indicated in this video, it seems clear we live in networked societies. Indeed, based on actor-network theory, Gaia Theory and others, we all are embedded in a global (at least) network of (natural & human-made) living, non-living & symbolic (semiotic) actants. Power/influence across such networks, moreover, appears to be concentrated – able to form dispositifs; that is, assemblages of actants mainly worked towards common goals – such as prioritizing leadership. Much such power is, apparently, held by capitalists who – in neoliberal forms – assembled diverse actants like governments, technologies, scientists, educators, and mind-sets of citizens into pro-capitalist dispositifs that have concentrated wealth at expense of myriad and severe STSE Harms.
Given, as described at left/above, problematic effects of networked power relations, it seems imperative that civic actions be multi-pronged – as promoted in the above video – to spread ecojustice values across myriad (a)biotic actants.
Links to STEPWISE Framework Elements: