Dimensions of Social Action
When articulating social action, there are certain words that are used – namely, lines, areas, and spheres.
One can view an individual’s action as a “point”. As a series of actions by individuals progress over time and become harmonized, united in direction and purpose, and contributory, one can term this a “line” of action. This is the first added dimension to action within the social realm.
Multiple lines of action, then, can come together as action takes on greater degrees of complexity. These lines can have any number of relationships to each other, as described by geometry – they can be skew, diverging, perpendicular, converging, or parallel. However, when a few lines of action fall in the same plane and direction, complementing each other and adding depth and breadth, then this becomes an “area” of action. Now we have entered the second dimension.
An area of action, therefore, becomes an arena where a diverse number of points and lines can interact with each other in a coherent and integrated way. No detraction occurs, as points or lines that aren’t within the plane of the area aren’t part of this action. At the same time, this area arose naturally and organically as lines defined a plane. As an area of action becomes even more complex, it can take a shape that allows even more lines and points to be included and it can coordinate itself with other areas of action whose shapes are also bending. Eventually, this takes the form of a “sphere” of action – the third dimension.
There is little that is not included in a sphere of action; its influence reaches across most planes and lines. There are points and lines within a sphere that never interact; however they are part of a common sphere. And yet this characteristic – the sphere it is in – is probably the most defining feature of every point. Over time, as this sphere evolves, grows, and develops, it gradually acquires a fourth dimension as continuity is able to be marked and progress measured.
If the pattern continues, it seems that the most natural conclusion is that this system will acquire universal dimensions.
Throughout the progression from points to lines to areas to spheres, the most important element that enabled dimensions to be added is understanding how various efforts can be aligned together in unity. Complexity, growing participation, higher levels of influence, and efficacy – all laudable goals in themselves – are simply by-products of a systematic and conscious striving for unity and coherence of action, with an understanding of organic growth, of process-oriented perspective, and that dimensions take time to appear.