What is Social Responsiveness? - Definition & Concept

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  • 0:00 Social Responsibility
  • 1:27 Corporate Responsiveness
  • 2:42 Other Forms of Responsiveness
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David White
The concept of social responsiveness can broadly describe a person's obligation to contribute to the welfare of others, or it can be applied in more specific contexts. Through this lesson, you will learn what defines social responsiveness and explore some of the ways that it operates in society.

Social Responsibility

The United States is built on a framework of democracy that relies on individuals contributing on a personal level in order for the system to work. During election times, for example, you've no doubt heard the phrase 'it's your civic duty' to vote and pay attention to politics.' On a more individual level, you may have participated in a neighborhood cleanup or volunteered with a local organization. In most cases, you have participated in these activities because you recognize that, as a member of the community, you are obligated to contribute in order for that community to thrive.

From the perspective of the social sciences, this obligation is what is known as social responsiveness, which is sometimes referred to as 'social responsibility'. In the broadest sense of the term, social responsiveness is a person's obligation to contribute to their community or country in a way that makes the quality of life and environment better for those around them. Volunteering at the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, for example, would be considered social responsiveness because you are doing your part to improve the lives and circumstances of those living in your community.

On a personal level, volunteering is an act of social responsiveness because it improves the community.
volunteer

It should be noted that not all social responsiveness needs to be as active as in the example above; it can be a passive act as well. If, for example, you chose to boycott a particular company because you felt that their business practices were harmful or destructive, this would also be an act of social responsiveness because you are intentionally avoiding something that you believe deteriorates the welfare of others.

Corporate Responsiveness

While the term 'social responsiveness' broadly refers to the act of contributing to the welfare of others, it is often applied in the context of corporate businesses. Although corporations are not legally required to contribute to the welfare of others, in many ways there exists a kind of ethical self-regulation that encourages, among other things, charitable giving.

For example, large corporations like the clothing company Timberland reserve one or more days each year where their employees engage in volunteer projects to clean, rebuild, or otherwise give back to the community. These activities are funded by the company, which supports such projects that contribute to the communities in which they are located or have large market shares.

A less direct example would be a company that enforces a strict adherence to environmental standards or social policies, like maternity leave. Though they are not making a direct intentional effort to go out and volunteer, they are making a concerted effort to reduce their environmental footprint by causing as little harm to the environment as is possible.

In recent years, hotels have begun to limit the amount of washing linens and towels in order to reduce their impact on the environment.
green

It is worth pointing out that while these types of social responsiveness are generally not enforced legally, in some cases they follow what are considered soft laws, which are regulations that fall outside of traditional law and order, like the enforcement of FDA regulations.

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