To begin, I will introduce some terminology for those unfamiliar. The theory in sociology that ascribes external factors to outcomes is called “externalism”, and the ascription of internal factors is “internalism”.
The first caveat I will make, is that thinking of externalism and internalism as alternatives could delude us into ignoring the interconnectedness between society and personality. Everyone is born with some hereditary set of genes, and unless they are very unlucky, they are born with some sort of guardian. Also, I think we at to least to some degree have the ability to choose who we surround ourselves with, or at least our ability to do that increases in some sort of proportion to our age.
Regardless of whether internalism or externalism is a better predictor of outcome, believing in the externalism view as being entirely accurate begets a victim mindset which is difficult to escape from. Even if this preterdimistic school of thought has some predictive value, the most unpredictable factor is the human consciousness. That is to say, believing in externalism is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy. To paraphrase from Henry Ford, whether you believe own life is determined by internalism or externalism, you’re right.
While both externalism and internalism are simplistic views, I believe externalism thrives on a macro level, where we have lots of statistical averages and internalism thrives at an individual level.
I can support this with some scientific evidence. https://books.google.com/books/about/Classroom_Management.html?id=6OQ9fn9il6
We do people a disservice when we tell them that their suffering is merely the result of an external oppressor, and there is nothing they can do. It’s essentially telling them they have no control over their own life. Sure, I’m not saying that anyone should deliberately stack the odds against anyone for no reason, but when we succeed, it is because of their own intelligence. This conversation could come very philosophical very quickly if you connect it to predeterminism. I don’t see how predeterminism can be tested, but I can say that ability to achieve starts in the mind.
Like with pretty much all of my essays, I make no claim that the most fundamental ideas I’m advocating are original. I merely believe that they are uncommon and useful enough to justify sharing.