Social Objects As Tokens for Social Eigen-Behaviors

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 47
Oral Presentation
Pablo NAVARRO , University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
This paper puts forward the concept of ‘Social Object’. A ‘Social Object’ would be a sort of imaginary hanger (or better, an imaginary hanger shared by a community of social individuals) which works as a referent consistently targeted by a particular family of social actions and interactions. This set is somewhat fuzzy, and it would be made up by the actions and interactions that satisfy –to some acceptable degree—such social object. For instance, the social object we call ‘greeting’ would be the ‘hanger’ or ‘imaginary shared referent’ of the (fuzzy) set of actions and interactions which satisfy that specific object (namely, which accomplish an acceptable greeting) in a given situation. That set of actions and interactions would include those solving (accomplishing) the act of greeting in that situation, and would exclude those failing to do so. In other words, a social object would be the ontological assumption that enables and orients our interactive success (or our interactive failure, in case we misfire and act in a way unacceptable for our interactive partners).

            This notion of ‘Social Object’ is cognate to the conception of physical objects as “tokens for (eigen-)behaviors”, put forward by Heinz von Foerster. From this viewpoint, objects are not realities independent from our actions, but assumptions that guide the cognitive and practical processes of the subject –a subject who “constructs” such objects through his actions. Different types of societies are structured by means of different kinds of social objects. And the sort of social objects that are emerging as typical of today`s global society are Social World-Objects (namely, social objects which define their dynamics as unitary systems on a global scale). Many of those Social World-Objects are being generated within and by the Internet.