What does it mean to be socially conscious?
Social consciousness is a term that has been commonly misconstrued by many, even in the field of psychology. Only a few know that, essentially, social consciousness has more to do than their social connection or relationships with others. So, basically, what does it mean to be socially conscious? This article aims to clear that part up and illuminate better this seemingly elusive concept of “social consciousness”.
So, what is social consciousness?
Before we can come to a full understanding of what the term “social consciousness” refers to, we must first, briefly, explain the difference between the concepts, “conscious” and “unconscious”. The conscious refers to those things of which we are aware and which, in one way or another, cannot escape our observations and reflections.
The unconscious, on the other hand, is “those of which we are not aware; which, in one way or another, escape our notice”. To a great extent, most of the mechanisms that influence our characters are based on the works of consciousness and/or unconsciousness.
Social consciousness could also be referred to as “awareness of the society” (Cooley, 1907), and is tightly associated, as well, with the concept of self-awareness. Naturally, we think of ourselves customarily in relation to other members of our society, whether directly or indirectly, and not as an entity on our own (Ballentine, 2014). Therefore, our mental state, cannot be separated from the structure of our society.
Social consciousness refers to the awareness one has about the welfare of every individual in a society and the impact of this influence also in trying for the well being of other members of the society. It is being concerned about the problems of an association, organization, or society and how to solve them. In essence, it is the capacity to look past yourself, and maybe those closest to you, to fashion out noteworthy solutions to the inequality that exists within our general society.
An example retrieved from modernrepublic.org describes this concept so well;
“Samantha made an effort to pay attention to the problems in her city as she felt that it was her duty as a citizen to be socially conscious and to personally take part in developing and implementing solutions.”
What it actually means to be socially conscious?
Being socially conscious means you have the awareness you’re a member of society. It is acknowledging that other individuals in your community are unique individuals who also deserve the same respect you require of them. A socially conscious knows that he has to respect other people’s emotions and not only his. It entails compassion and empathy, understanding that, for your interests to be realizable, you need other people in that particular society you’re in, and even beyond.
The wrong perception of many people is that being socially conscious means having a lot of friends and connections. This is true to some extent. Social consciousness, however, is more of a state of mind rather than human activity. You can make more than enough friends, but if you making friends doesn’t, in any way, affect your community positively, you have failed as a consciously social or socially conscious individual.
Taking into account the interests of others presupposes that you are friends with them and you understand that in a big tree of which a part, other people are also essential in the production of good and delicious fruits. Yes, a socially conscious person is a maker of friends.
They are also people that are “active in the development of their society and are ready to work hand in hand with others to initiate a more optimistic environment for everyone. Everybody has to be aware of social issues, so we can find solutions to them together and remove inequality in our communities.
Social consciousness could also mean being environmentally conscious. Understanding that our society needs to be protected and kept for the unborn generation. Activism; that is fighting for the cause of others and the future generation, almsgiving, and empathy for others are important characteristics of a socially conscious person.
If not put into correct practise, social conscience could be just a theory without any form of achievement. According to Brown (2014), “social conscience is merely an understanding of a problem that massages the ego rather than the practical reality of social conscience in action.” It is the understanding of your responsibilities as a member of your society.
Marx’s idea of social consciousness is “the collective self-awareness and experience of a collectively shared social identity.” It may also relate to the identity you have with specific groups. It denotes the awareness that you are a part of an interrelated community of people.
This shared and collective experience or idea a person has is what typically stimulates a group to work towards a common goal. This common goal is usually for the progress of society as well as the amendment of people’s ego and self-awareness. In essence, to motivate ourselves, we need others. We need to form an association with people of like minds for us to boost our ego and self-worth.