Why is the sociological imagination replacing physical science as the current major common denominator of our cultural life?
Physical and biological science dominated as the major common denominator of cultural life over the last few hundred years. With a sense of wonder and discovery, men sought out the “truth” through the physical and biological sciences that could be supported through additional findings and experimentation. Religious doubts had been defeated and science could prove anything at this time, as people looked whole-heartedly toward science to find definitive meanings. The field advanced tremendously to the point that the question was no longer “can we do it?” but rather “should we do it?” The most recent major scientific developments have created more problems in the realm of social affairs than physical solutions.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, what were once personal problems become greater issues that affect others on a larger scale. The implications of our actions reach much further than they used to and we are held to a higher standard of responsibility to others. Because of how much we now know and how easily the present becomes recorded history, humankind has more to consider in decisions to act. The sociological imagination integrates the volumes of information made available during the age of science, and uses it to make sense of the human relations associated with this knowledge.
What is the relationship between the government and business ethics?
Business ethics evolved separately but alongside the law and government regulations. When there is little room to waver legally, the role of ethics in business is minimal because strict regulations guide decisions first. The Glass-Steagall Act passed by Congress separated commercial and investment banking institutions. By keeping these institutions separate, ethical dilemmas that would have arose because of conflicting business cultures were prevented. Government regulation reduced the legal space for business ethics to play into.
Let’s not be fooled though, it is not the full responsibility of the government to regulate ethical business practices. Legality and morality do not fall hand in hand and poor business ethics can still occur despite laws that are meant to deter certain actions. Government legislation and the legal system operate as backwards-looking institutions and inevitably lag behind current business decisions, so it is really up to everyone involved in the business to look down the line at the possible outcome of ethical questions. The government eventually sets a legal standard for business to abide by, but responsible businesses must develop their own stricter ethical code to follow and prevent catastrophes that result from legal but unethical practices.
Where have ethics and cynicism played a recent role in professional sports?
The latest NHL lockout in 2012 highlights the public cynicism towards professional sports and collective bargaining, as well as questions the ethics behind the third work stoppage in two decades of the league. Two days before the former collective bargaining agreement was to expire, he league announced the owners’ decision to lock players out if a new agreement was not reached by then. Fans have been through this before, as the NHL became the first professional sports league to lose an entire season to a work stoppage in 2004-05. There was some hope for a miracle, but the overwhelming attitude of fans toward the NHL lockout was that of cynicism and doubt. They took to twitter and youtube to express these feelings of displeasure and bond over the effect of this business decision on them:
University Humor Animated Video
Arun Lakra Parody Video
And it wasn’t just fans disappointed in the league, as players didn’t wait around long before joining leagues in Europe and Russia, as well as expressing their frustration surrounding negotiations on twitter and to the media.
After dozens of proposals from both sides were rebuffed and some not even considered, the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service became involved. Still, little progress in negotiations were made meeting with the mediators on two different occasions as neither side trusted the other and questioned their motives. The NHLPA membership voted to give the exec board the power to file a disclaimer of interest, which would dissolve the union and allow individual players to file antitrust suits against the NHL. The league alleged that this vote “constitutes bad-faith bargaining” in a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, in addition to filing a class-action complaint asking for a declaration on the legality of the lockout.
The biggest ethical question in this mess is whether the league owners and players were acting in the best interest of the sport. Attendance following the 2004-05 lockout skyrocketed as fans came running back to the game they love, but the same will not be said this time around. The league’s brand was severely damaged by this lockout and struggling markets that were gaining momentum in recent years will suffer significantly. Some terms of contracts hurriedly signed before the previous CBA expired are questionable at best but likely unethical, as Philadelphia offered Shea Weber $110 million over 14 years to leave Nashville if they didn’t match the offer. Nashville showed strong ethical consideration and commitment to its fans, the players, and the entire organization in this decision to bite the bullet and do what was right, though expensive.