Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The adjective "social" implies that the verb or noun to which it is applied is somehow more communicative, cooperative, and moderated by contact with human beings, than if it were omitted. That is, it implies that larger society has played some role in defining the idea or the principle. An ideological understanding of social can refer to socialism or communism. For instance terms like social realism, social justice, social constructivism, social psychology and social capital imply that there is some social process involved or considered, a process that is not there in regular, "non-social", realism, justice, constructivism, psychology, or capital.
The adjective "social" is also used often in political discourse, although its meaning in such a context depends heavily on who is using it. In left-wing circles it is often used to imply a positive characteristic, while in right-wing circles it is generally used to imply a negative characteristic. It should also be noted that, overall, this adjective is used much more often by those on the political left than by those on the political right.
For these reasons, those seeking to avoid association with the left-right political debates often seek to label their work with phrases that do not include the word "social". An example is quasi-empiricism in mathematics which is sometimes labeled social constructivism by those who see it as an unwarranted intrusion of social considerations in mathematical practice, which is supposed to be "objective" and "above" social concerns.
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