Context: How Does Toxic Stress Affect Low-Income and Black Children?

Observe in this how environmental influence and socio-economic context cultivates complex feedback loops and self-propagating patterns of behaviour, manifesting diminished (physiological and cognitive) opportunity for those adversely affected. Identifying the existence of a statistical trend in data is important and validates intuition through verifiable proof but is hardly a solution to this (or any other, related) sociological conundrum.

A key insight is that the problems we are seeking to solve are for the most part distributed, complex and autonomously “emergent” in the contexts in which they arise. Prospective solutions in “wicked”, distributed problem sets are rarely determined by using the same foundational assumptions and organisational (or regulatory) axioms which have led to their occurrence. The distributed information systems which we experience as social, cultural, economic and cognitive (or technologically-mediated) reality are implicitly weighted towards the self-replication and reproduction of existing patterns and biases.

The challenge in disentangling this kind of problem is that while it is logically identifiable as a subset of a larger (perhaps Global) socioeconomic entity, it is unlikely to be successfully resolved in isolation of a conscientious reappraisal of the axioms, logic and underlying assumptions of the entire (i.e. holistic) socioeconomic system and context in which they occur.

4 thoughts on “Disentangling the Enigmatic Adversities of Socioeconomic Recursion

  1. If I understand you correctly, you say that if the distributed problem sets were “wicked”, we could probably be able to solve the problem by eliminating the “wickedness” because what created and maintained the problem is not inherent or endemic in the problem. I don’t understand, however, why you say “it is unlikely to be successfully resolved in isolation of a conscientious reappraisal of the axioms, logic and underlying assumptions of the entire (i.e. holistic) socioeconomic system and context in which they occur”. It seems to me that if we’ve removed the artificial constraints of the problem, then the only method of solving the problem must entail a reappraisal of the axioms, logic, and underlying assumptions embedded in the problem. Did you have something else in mind?

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    1. Hi. On wicked problems – where I suggest that resolution is “unlikely to be successfully resolved in isolation of a conscientious reappraisal of the axioms, logic and underlying assumptions of the entire (i.e. holistic) socioeconomic system and context in which they occur”, note the “in isolation of”, which is key. It is my way of delicately dancing around (what reveals itself) as the necessity for, in essence, the politically unpalatable and undoubtably “unmarketable” fact that the world we have is really very, very broken and needs to be utterly restructured, reconceptualised and rebuilt. This can not be done without foundational reappraisal of the logic, axioms and assumptions which exist at a paradigmatic, zeitgeist, Global systems, gestalt or holistic level; however – most solutions that aspire to proactive social policy creation or retrospective amendment attempt to do so *in isolation of*, i.e. separate from, the kinds of radical systemic overhaul that would actually be required to even partially effect significant positive change. Global thinking requires global concepts and a political courage which rarely if ever manifests.

      Solutions to specific problems such as (the systemic patterning, symmetry and dynamical self-propagation of) social inequity can not occur without addressing the vaster (i.e. distributed, globally manifest) errors in logic and thinking which underpin our very many faulty ways of communicating, explaining, conceptualising and (subsequently, of) organising ourselves as individuals, families, communities, nations, societies of nations, as a planetary civilisation. It is a deep rabbit hole to abseil down – key psychological errors and categorical, fundamental misunderstandings concerning self, reality, society, ownership, commodity, value, etc. are perhaps best understood in philosophical terms but this, again, is to tiptoe around the unsavoury fact that we are really (all) quite radically other (or at the very least – much more) than that which the central adoptive conventions and narratives we are entrained into would have us believe.

      We can’t solve the small(er) problems without also solving the big problems and the dynamic, evolving and creative logic required to do so almost entirely invalidates and disassembles many of the assumptions, narratives, identities and tribal idioms we all hold so closely. You may have misinterpreted me, or I may have erred in articulation, but at heart – the issue presented is that partial solutions are always only ever precisely this – *partial*. We can not conscientiously aspire to effectively remediate social ills without addressing the global (and – let’s face it: Global) issues and problems we all face.

      A wicked problem is only as complex as it is because we can not track, audit or observe all of the entangled variables and channels of information or energy flow at work within it, manifest *as* the problem. I am suggesting, contra my initial communication failure, that the solution is a holistic, non-local and fundamentally distributed one in ways which approximate to a dynamic logical holism. It is an almost topological solution.

      Another aspect of this (kind of) problem (definition and solution) is one of effective simplification, communication: compression, abbreviation and intelligence are required to convey complexities and solutions in articulate and intelligible ways. Something (far) beyond the caricatured obscenities of populism but with the same tactile, tangible or embodied intuition. Foundational reassessments of our shared (i.e. human) illusions are best handled with tact and diplomacy due to the many (here – intentionally undefined) sensitivities involved but this, paradoxically, blunts Alexander’s sword before it even arrives at this Gordian Knot.

      •●•

      If you got through the wall of text above and have arrived at this end of the stream of concepts and scattergun vocabulary wondering what my answer to your question is, I merely failed to explain myself clearly in the original post. I agree with you, I don’t have something else in mind other than the method and logic by which such foundational reassessment is to be effectively achieved.

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      1. I not only got through the wall, I thought you explained it quite succinctly. I would suggest you incorporate it into your post one way or another, as it provides the needed key to understanding your rather revolutionary (IMHO) intent. Yours is a voice that should be heard widely.

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      2. Thanks. Kind words. I imagine that this postscript and dialogue actually incorporates the ideas into the post as an indirect addendum.

        On the topic of voices – the world hears all of us in one way or another but it’s attention is focused on so few, it doesn’t listen (i.e. pay attention) to what it perhaps should. Swimming against the current is rarely a successful endeavour.

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