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Constants of social space-time

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2.6. SST's constants

The next step in building SST theory, which constitutes TetraSociology's backbone and foundation, is that of defining the constants for each of the SST's four coordinates. In conformity with the tetrism principle stating that to describe the social world and its phenomena, pointing out four components is necessary and sufficient, let us distinguish in each SST coordinate four variable constants - equally important, sufficient if taken together, but ranking differently in functional priority. The constants are qualitatively permanent and quantitatively variable. They are defined in appropriate theories of social statics, dynamics, structuratics, and genetics, which constitute parts of the SST theory as the base of TetraSociology.

Social statics, considers society's resources (the relevant SST coordinate) and points out four classes - necessary, sufficient, but differently prioritised - PEOPLE, INFORMATION, ORGANIZATIONS (political, law, financial, managerial, relevant norms, order and forms of social relations), THINGS. The abbreviation is PIOT. These classes of resources constitute appropriate resource variable constants. All resources are reproduced and consumed by society, so they all are both society's products and components. With at least o­ne PIOT resource missing, the social world cannot exist (make an imaginary test: reduce to zero at least o­ne of the resources). People rank the highest in priority among resources, because o­nly people produce all the PIOT resources; it is o­nly through people's employment time that all social resources, processes, structures and society's states come into being; it is o­nly through people that a quality of the social, its HIOM components get carried over to all the coordinates. In PIOT resources, HIOM components come to life: in each resource, a relevant component of the social, as a whole, exists having priority, while three others exist as parts subordinate to it. Toffler pointed to similar PIOT resources as "basic elements," and Bourdieu, as appropriate "capitals." Social statics considers PIOT resources as the past, as frozen social time, as products of finished employment immune to all changes and processes and, in this sense, as static, unchangeable. Social statics reveals the resource "anatomy" of the social world, pointing out, in the framework, PIOT resource constants. The resource anatomy is matched by various kinds of static, "anatomical" approaches in sociology.

Four world-wide trends in monistic sociology provide the major argument for PIOT resources. Idealism (Plato, Weber, etc) distinguished such resource as information; materialism (Marx, etc) - things; organicism (Comte, Spencer, etc) - organisations (order); existentialism (Jaspers, etc) - people, their existence. The virtue of each of the world-wide monistic trends consisted in that each had been proving for centuries, and not without reason, the necessity of the appropriate resource for society. TetraSociology integrates the virtues of the monisms and recognises the four appropriate resources, while freeing them from monistic absolutization, from the "defining, primal, primogenital" role, and considering them EQUALLY necessary for the social world's existence. TetraSociology integrates monists' ideas with the pluralists': Montesquieu, Kant, Sorokin, Parsons and many others.

TetraSociological synthesis is kindred to the "different sociological school's synthesis" rehabilitated "over the last decade" in the works of Giddens, Habermas, Luhmann, Bourdieu and the author of this phrase - J.Alexander[1]. J.Coenen-Huther spoke in the same vein: "We should know how to gather the classics' ideas. It does not matter whose ideas are those - Marx's or Tocqueville's, Durkheim's or Weber's, Malinowski's or Sorokin's"[2]. TetraSociological synthesis makes TetraSociology a "new old" paradigm. It is "old" insofar as "four-dimensional" and similar ideas have been elaborated, in different forms, by Pythagoras, Plato, Montesquieu, Kant, Marx, Comte, Danilevsky, Weber, Jaspers, Sorokin, Parsons, Braudel, Toffler, Rozhin, Bourdieu, Alexander, Giddens, Barulin, Toshchenko, Sztompka, Hornung, Castells, etc. But it is "new" insofar as, within the framework of its four-dimensional continuum, there has been attempted a synthesis of the virtues of the most diverse sociological theories that seemed incompatible theretofore.

Another, philosophical argument for the four fundamental resources of the social world is provided by tetraphilosophy or tetramentality. Tetraphilosophy pointed out not just any number of, but FOUR foundations as universal, necessary and sufficient parameters of any existence. In tetraphilosophy, o­ntological foundations of being are EXISTENCE - a phenomenon's measure of singleness and uniqueness; INFORMATION – a measure of diversity, which, according to Ashby and Wiener, every phenomenon in the world without exception possesses; ORGANISATION – a measure of orderliness inherent, from a synergetics viewpoint, to every phenomenon in the world; MATTER – a measure of energy, and universal substance-and-energy carrier of existence, information, organisation, which does not exist without and outside the three, and vice versa. Taken together, the resources constitute a continuous and indissoluble reality of existence. The four necessary and sufficient world-wide resources lying at the foundation of the universe. This is the tetramentality's key formula: all phenomena of reality, natural as well as social, have four equally necessary, interinclusive, but differently prioritised qualities (foundations, spheres, dimensions, bases): existential, informational, organisational, material (EIOM). Tetramentality draws a clear line between the relation of primordiality (where o­ne of the foundations is primogenital) and priority (one of many equal foundations having a functionally leading role). Tetramentality rejects the monistic "primal-secondary" kind of relation; it recognises o­nly the pluralistic "different priorities" relations. The four PIOT resources are a social construction of world resources and dimensions.

Social dynamics, considers society's reproductive processes (the relevant SST coordinate) and points out four necessary, sufficient, but differently prioritised classes: PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, EXCHANGE, CONSUMPTION (PDEC). Reproductive processes are identical with social processes. As P.Sorokin put it, a social process is "understood as any kind of motion,... any change ... of social object ... of its quantitative or qualitative characteristics"[3]. The classes of processes/ changes have pointed out represent relevant processual variable constants. Neither resources nor the social world can exist without these processes. It is o­nly through these processes that all PIOT social resources, and therefore society itself, are reproduced. With at least o­ne of these reproductive processes missing, social world cannot exist. Before becoming consumable, resources have first to become products of production and then to get distributed and exchanged for the other o­nes. The processes outlined have been analysed by many social thinkers and sociologists: Plato, Smith, Marx, Sorokin, Habermas, Luhmann, Giddens, Touraine, Bell, etc.

Ranking higher in priority are processes of the reproduction of people as the source of the social. To define this source, TetraSociology introduces into social dynamics a radically new sociological category of people's reproductive or vital employment (r-employment or simply employment). Employment, in TetraSociology, is a process embracing all PDEC processes of the reproduction of PIOT resources that occur over people's lifetime. R-employment is the source of all social resources, processes, structures, states. It determines social and individual time, people's integral way of life, which is qualitatively different from the mode of life of other society resources. Creating, transforming, constructing all the social world's parameters, r-employment expresses people's supreme reproductive priority. R-employment's volume is identical with the category of "life," "lifetime." While other resources possess life too, r-employment is a feature of the individual alone, embracing all his life from start to finish. The totality of the individual's life, his whole lifetime is an employment involved with the reproduction of society's different resources, including and first of all himself. R-employment is identical with the totality of the individual's life practices, including individual (reproduction of himself as a resource) and social (reproduction of other resources) employment. R-employment is broader than activity, because the individual can be inactively employed: sleeping, illness, inactivity, passive. It is much broader than work, since the individual can be in a non-work employment: consumption, leisure, transportation, etc. It is r-employment that determines people's supreme functional and resource priority. Let us consider it in more details.

R-employment is TetraSociology's chief category, which denotes the single substance of all SST coordinates and constants and all the social's components, combining them into a multi-dimensional whole. R-employment is as multi-dimensional as the social world. The social world is identical to r-employment because r-employment derives from it alone. Employment is the very beginning of the social world and the individual. R-employment's multi-dimensionality has the same parameters (coordinates, constants, indices) as SST. We will distinguish among employment's parameters forms, characteristics, kinds. Kinds of employment are differentiated by object and product, creating a vast array of the kinds of branch employment, which are grouped into employment spheres and charted in the spheres tables below. This is the staple of our analysis. Forms of employment are differentiated by the main types of employment's relation to an individual and society. Based o­n this, two main types of relation are designated: helpful and harmful. Further, employment is divided into socially helpful and individually helpful, and socially harmful and individually harmful. The employment that creates and/or maintains harmony of social resources, processes and structures is considered helpful (positive, constructive). The employment that destroys and/or restricts harmony of social resources, processes, and structures is considered harmful (negative, destructive). It includes employment in wars, violence (except self-defence), crime, drugs, terrorism, wrecking, environmental pollution and destruction, etc. (We define harmony as the optimal proportion of sphere components; we talk about it further.)

Discrimination between helpful and harmful employments is fairly provisional and tentative: an employment socially and individually helpful in o­ne circumstances and at o­ne period of time can become harmful in different circumstances and at a different period of time. An employment that is socially helpful can be individually harmful, and vice versa. Here we have conflicts of employments. Each kind of employment has inherent aspects of harm and help: everything depends o­n the degree, proportion, and priority. For maintaining the socially necessary proportion and for limiting harmful employment we will designate the third form of employment: prophylactic, aimed at the prophylactics (prevention, restraint) of destructive employment and at ensuring individual's and society's safety. There are as many dangers of destruction and harm as there are kinds of employment. There are just as many kinds of safety and employment in safety (prophylactic employment). They are differentiated by spheres and branches and into the social and the individual. We can mention the following kinds of safety: social, informational, political, state-related, economic, environmental, internal, external, personal, family-related, corporate, property-related, copyright-related, etc.

Over a set of kinds and forms of employment a set of its characteristics is superimposed, among which we will mention o­nly the major o­nes: productivity/unproductivity, effectiveness/ineffectiveness. The table below charts the multi-dimensionality of people's r-employment.

Table. Multi-dimensionality of people's employment.

Employment characteristics /
Employment forms

Socially helpfulyesnotyesyes
Individually helpfulyesnotyesyes
Socially harmfulnotyesyesyes
Individually harmfulnotyesyesyes
Socially prophylacticyesnotyesyes
Individually prophylacticyesnotyesyes

"Yes," "No" denote the presence or lack of a certain characteristic in a particular employment form. Importantly, the table is not intended to cover the full extent of employment's multi-dimensionality or to provide definite conclusions: they necessitate a more detailed and verifiable substantiation. To achieve this, the table below needs to be superimposed over the spheres table (further in the text), and calculations need to be made using appropriate indices.

Social dynamics considers PDEC processes as the present social time, as current employment which includes all the changes in all social resources. Social dynamics reveals social world's "physiology," pointing out its functional/processual PDEC constants. Social dynamics correlates with various functional approaches in sociology. The notion of social dynamics, introduced by Comte, has been widely utilised by Sorokin, Sztompka, Therborn, Hornung, and many others.

Social structuratics, considers society's structures (the relevant SST coordinate) and points out four necessary, sufficient, but differently prioritised social reproduction spheres: SOCIAL (humanitarian), INFORMATIONAL (cultural), ORGANIZATIONAL (managerial), TECHNICAL (material, economic) (SIOT). The abbreviations for these spheres are: sociosphere, infosphere, orgsphere, technosphere. Spheres are the most powerful, the broadest possible and, therefore, the social world's societal structural components. The spheres unite resources and processes and are expressed by relevant structural variable constants. The social world does not exist without spheres, any more than it does without resources and processes, which, in turn, do not exist separately, but o­nly within various SIOT structural combinations. It is o­nly within these structures that appropriate PIOT social resources get reproduced. With people as their object and product, the sociosphere reproduces them. With information as its object and product, the infosphere reproduces it. Similarly, the orgsphere reproduces organisations, and the technosphere, things. With at least o­ne of the spheres missing, the social world cannot exist (make an imaginary test: reduce any sphere to zero.) Braudel spoke of these structures as society's "systems/sectors"; Toffler, as "society's spheres"; Parsons, as "societal subsystems"; Bourdieu, as "fields" of the social space of practices. Bell explores spheres too, fusing, however, two of them into o­ne; Castells also explores them, though names them differently.

Reproducing the top-priority resource - people, the sociosphere ranks higher in priority among spheres. Each sphere has a specific production mode, specific work and specific sphere classes of the employed: humanitarian class (P1), informational class (P2), organisational class (P3), technical class (P4), embracing the entire population. These classes are not antagonists but partners. They are different from Marx's economic classes, and from Giddens' stratified o­nes too, but, supplementing and incorporating them, sphere classes intersect with them. Sphere classes represent society's sphere social structure. The classes of sphere needs and abilities of both the individual and society are categorised according to spheres.

Social structuratics considers sphere and sphere components as a union of the past (resources) and present (processes) social times, as an amalgamation of people's past and present employments. Pointing out SIOT structural constants in the social world, structuratics reveals its "morphology". "Morphology" is a form of amalgamation of resources and processes at all the social world's levels, it is unity of statics and dynamics. It corresponds with a variety of morphological, as well as systemic, sociocybernetic, structural, structural-functional, etc. approaches in sociology.

Let us review briefly the sociocybernetic approach, elaborated by B.Hornung and others, which is fairly closed to TetraSociology. Its authors identify the approach with the macrosociological o­ne. It constructs multilevel and multidimensional social space, with four levels of empirical systems: macro-, meso-, micro-, individual levels; three analytical dimensions: aggregational, functional, problem; six theoretical levels: philosophical, general system, sociocybernetic or macrosociological, mesosociological (societal subsystems), microsociological (social action), psychological (behaviour and information). The aggregated dimension has three "basic components of empirical systems" with "structures, processes, and relations between them". Their "substance is either matter/energy or information or some combination of both". The functional subsystems are social, economic, political, and psycho-cultural systems. The basic components, together with their substance, constitute the "empirical world's mechanisms"[4].

Comparing this approach with TetraSociological, we find in Sociocybernetics three spatial coordinates and some constants pointed out: resources (matter/energy, information), processes, structures, which we understand as amalgamation of or "relation" between resources and processes. Both theories recognise that "Dynamic systems are constituted by structures and processes, which form a particular ensemble in space-time"[5]. To these two coordinates is added the third o­ne - resources as matter/energy and information. Although Hornung does not call them such, what are they if are not resources?

Within the framework of processes and structures, Hornung points out the four functional subsystems, which we regard as constituting structures (SIOT), and which include components of the environment. As comparison shows, TetraSociology is not alone in pointing out the mentioned SST parameters. To a considerable degree, these parameters are present in Hornung's sociocybernetic/sociological analysis. While in Hornung's analysis the social time coordinate, as well as some constants, are absent, certain add-ons make up for it. An important concurrence should be stressed: TetraSociology and Sociocybernetics practically simultaneously and, most important, independently have constructed a largely identical system of social space's parameters and their classification. This points to a possible synthesis, supplementarity of TetraSociology and Sociocybernetics.

Social genetics, considers the states of the evolutionary development of society (the appropriate SST coordinate) as qualitative changes in it, points out among the states four necessary, sufficient, but differently prioritised classes: PROSPERITY, DECELERATION, DECLINE, DYING (PDDD). These states of the social world and its different parts: societies, civilisations, formations, cultures, countries, branches, plants, cities, families, individual - constitute appropriate genetic/historical variable constants. In different forms, under different names, in different numbers and sequences, these states have been analysed by Danilevsky, Sorokin, Spengler, Toynbee and many others. Society's states are not unilinear, but reversible and cyclical. The object of social evolution consists in the spheres of social reproduction, in the appropriate sphere components, which develop unevenly, but being interdeterminable, they always strive for the highest possible degree of equilibrium, as the optimal state for them. States of PDDD development are interpreted o­n the scale (from 100% to 0%) as different degrees of spheres' equilibrium. The difference between the degrees largely determines the difference between the states of society. The state of society's prosperity as harmony of its spheres has top priority. Social harmony is defined as the utmost degree of spheres' equilibrium, as the optimum proportion of sphere components, ensuring prosperity and accompanied by a priority of social sphere. o­nly spheres and sphere components are capable of deriving social harmony, rather than branches and branch components which are capable only of reproducing disharmony. Social harmony of branches cannot be achieved, because it is too much them; they are too partial and narrow. Therefore social harmony can only be achieved at the level of spheres.

The social world's and its parts' immanent teleological quality consists in their aspiration for a higher degree of spheres' balance, namely - to harmony, ensuring prosperity to a society and priority to the social sphere. For history to reach a priority of the social sphere, with harmony and prosperity, it needs consistently to pass through change of stages of disharmony and priorities of material, organizational, information spheres. Social genetics has many approaches to a history, to change of disharmony states in it. The most famous among them - civilizational and formational, which, for all their difference, supplement each other to some extent.

Social genetics considers society's states as an amalgamation of big stretches of the past, current and future social times, as a unity of big chunks of people's past, current and future employments. Big qualitative changes in society, expressed in different society's developmental states, occur over these stretches of time. Big stretches of employment processes turn into employment states, into social world's genetics. The latter is explored in theoretical genetics, which demonstrates the change of developmental states in historical, temporal PDDD constants. Theoretical genetics correlates with various genetic, historical, prognostic and futurological approaches in sociology, which explore the origin, development, and collapse of the social world or its parts in the past, present, and future. Exploring not o­nly the past and present, but the future as well, sociology inevitably acquires an utopian quality, which cannot be erased. Thus, any sociology is more or less utopian: time determines to what degree. There are more than enough examples of this: from Plato to Marx, Comte, Parsons, Toffler, Castells, etc. TetraSociology is utopian too; however, it minimises this quality with its technologies and tetraempiricism (see below).

[1] Sociology o­n threshold of the XX1st century: new directions of researches. Moscow, 1998, p.157-158, 159.

[2] Ibid. p.17.

[3] Sorokin, Pitirim. Social and Cultural Dynamics, vols. 1-4, N.Y. 1937: American Book Company, v.1, p.153

[4] Hornung, Bernd and Adilova, Fatima. Conceptual modelling for technology assessment of IT systems - smart cards and health information systems // Kybernetes. The International Journal of Systems & Cybernetics. V26, N6/7, 1997, p. 796 -798. Siciocybernetic theory of Hornung is o­ne more example of transition from pluralism to postpluralism

[5] Hornung, Bernd. Constructing Sociocybernetic Society. Montreal, 1998, p.5.

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