Refining the Definition of Astrosociology Utilizing Three Perspectives
36 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2010
Date Written: September 14, 2010
A void has existed within the social sciences for over fifty years since the launch of the first Sputnik satellite in October 1957. This void delineates the boundaries of a missing field, a discipline capable of focusing on the relationship between social life and outer space. It is not that surprising that many may interpret a discussion of how outer space affects society as an “alien” idea, so we seek to delineate the ways in which such a discussion relates to the varied facets of social life. As a starting point, one may express the relationship between social life and outer space as astrosociology. We can define astrosociology as the study of social, cultural, and behavioral patterns related to outer space. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general framework for more precise language concerning the definition, scope, character, and future development of astrosociology, while simultaneously attempting to elicit a broader discussion of astrosociology’s association to other disciplines.
Astrosociology was originally a new subfield under the umbrella of sociology for a short time. However, a broader perspective fits much more aptly than a restrictive sociological perspective. Supporters from the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and arts voiced their interest in astrosociology over the past few years via different scholarly mediums. Such scholarship is adding to the body of work of astrosociology. Moreover, an increasing number from the broad and heterogeneous space community began to recognize the interrelationships between the social science community and the space community. The three perspectives found in this paper include (1) astrosociology as a social science, (2) law and astrosociology, and (3) astrosociology in science fiction. These three perspectives symbolize threads within the discipline of astrosociology that link together to form a more coherent pattern of social interconnections, and better represent humanity’s movement into outer space. The authors strive to provide a better explanation of how astrosociology can bridge the divide within the various components of the space community and thus deliver a greater level of enlightenment regarding the social dimensions of outer space. In addition, the authors will critique the other respective disciplines in this paper and offer recommendations for further analysis and debate. A central outcome is to determine how the various fields and disciplines that comprise astrosociology as a multidisciplinary field can work together to build a missing body of knowledge and its related literature. Filling this void, we believe, cannot occur soon enough because a greater level of understanding regarding humans in space must exist before humanity actually migrates into the solar system and beyond. The continued development of this new field called “astrosociology” can achieve that goal.
Keywords: Astrosociology, Space Law, Space Policy, Science Fiction, Sociology
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