Worldviews, Science, and the Politics of Social Changes

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"Let me begin with an anecdote -- a true one. Last month, a woman I know, a specialist on Africa who is often asked to comment in the media when an African nation is in the news, was recently asked 'Why is it so difficult for West African countries to develop?' Her reply went something like this: 'It's their culture. You see, if a man does particularly well for a year or two, earning a good income, he soon finds himself obliged to support all his relatives, to share his wealth. And so, there never develops a Middle Class.' "In those three sentences is encapsulated a whole bundle of assumptions that underlie the Western capitalist worldview. Now 'worldview' is the first word in my title, and I want to talk about it a bit. A 'worldview' is that internalized map of 'how the universe is' that each of us carries in our heads and uses as a guide to our actions, and especially in our communications with those others whose inner map is similar to our own. It is a shared map: communally, ethnically, nationally. It is the map by which we belong. It defines our social identity. We are designed, by nature, to be emotionally attached to our worldviews; they provide us the essential security of knowing how to negotiate successfully in our total environment. Without a working worldview, we are lost!"
common pool resources--theory, social change--theory, IASC