Extraterrestrial life/Astrosociology

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Astrosociology is the study of astrosocial phenomena; that is, the social, cultural, and behavioral patterns related to outer space. At its core, it is a multidisciplinary field that includes all scientists interested in space, from sociologists to rocket scientists. The term “astrosociology” in this context comes from a reference to a similar definition by Dr. Allen Tough in his 1995 article entitled “The Positive Consequences of SETI Before Detection.” The growing popularity of the field based on the definition above has overshadowed previous attempts to utilize the term for other purposes.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Specialties within astrosociology include, though are not limited to, NASA and other space programs and their effects on societies, the privatization of space, space commercialization, space law, space policy, space tourism, the effects of space sciences (e.g., astronomy, cosmology, astrobiology and SETI), the relationship between ancient astronomy and ancient cultures/societies, colonization and settlement (i.e., space societies), and futures studies including the transitional stages toward a spacefaring society. These examples represent forms of astrosocial phenomena.

First researches[edit | edit source]

Before the term “astrosociology” came into use as a social science field in 2003, scholars were conducting research in subject areas that now define astrosociology. These pioneers include Albert A. Harrison (UC, Davis), Stewart Whitney (The Space Settlement program at Niagara University), Ben Finney (University of Hawaii), and William Sims Bainbridge (Human-Centered Computing at the National Science Foundation). Many others have participated.

Neutrality[edit | edit source]

Astrosociology studies the relationship between human societies and activities in space. It also focuses on how space scientists and engineers do their work, collaborate, and make discoveries. How their discoveries and research processes affect societies is important to understand because it contributes to social/cultural change. It is important to emphasize that the astrosociological community does not operate as an advocacy group. Rather, it studies astrosocial phenomena as they occur, whether the pace of progress is slow or more rapid.

Science & UFOs[edit | edit source]

This field is a scientific domain based on the scientific method. Thus, topics such as UFOs (and alien abductions), astrology, crop circles, and other so-called "pseudosciences" do not fall under the purview of astrosociology. The purposeful decision to exclude these types of subjects demonstrates the focus on mainstream science. Such topics, by themselves, fail to meet the proper definition of astrosocial phenomena. However, such ideas exist as part of our cultures and have roots in previous ones, so this narrow aspect (and not the study of their truth/existence) may be acceptable under stringent conditions.

Developments[edit | edit source]

As a multidisciplinary field, the development of astrosociology requires acceptance and collaboration with space scientists and engineers with sociologists and other social scientists interested in space exploration and its social implications. This idea is central to the successful development of astrosociology as only the collaboration between the physical ("hard") sciences and the social ("soft") sciences can result in a full understanding of humanity's relationship to space and its activities within it. Collaboration with space advocacy groups continues as a way to expose astrosociology to various groups unfamiliar with this new field and its relationship to their activities and interests.

In May 2008, Jim Pass, Thomas Gangale, and Marilyn Dudley-Flores formed the Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI), a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation, with a mission to (1) further the development of astrosociology as an academic field and (2) conduct astrosociological research and assist students, faculty, independent scholars, and other interested individuals and organizations to participate in doing so. ARI's website is at the following URL: [1]. ARI exists to assist others financially, through the provision of resources to conduct research, and the provision of other services to make the study/research of astrosociological issues possible in today's academic climate. Its Board of Advisors includes Albert A. Harrison, Lynn E. Baroff, Christopher M. Hearsey, Sheryl Bishop, and Simone Caroti.

Additional Sources[edit | edit source]

Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI) Official Website [2]

ARI Calendar of Events [3]

ARI Virtual Library (see “Astrosociological References” section) [4]

AIAA Astrosociology Subcommittee [5]

Annual Symposium on Astrosociology (SPESIF Conference) [6]

Article in "Space Review" [7]