What does the term "social awareness" mean to you?
"Social awareness" is a specifically defined term that really is not open to personal interpretation of what it means. As a specific sociological term, those who use it are bound to use it by definition so that communication may be effective and result in useful ends. Social awareness, alternatively called social conscious, has two aspects of definition. Firstly, it is the ability to be aware of the social problems and difficulties faced routinely be social groups or social communities. Secondly, it is the ability to sense and sympathize (no, not "empathize") with an individual's psychological state, thoughts and feelings as related to their social situation. These two aspects of the definition work together and apply the same meaning to the group and to individual circumstances.
I agree with post 7 in that being socially aware means accepting of one another regardless differences. I believe it is important to learn to appreciate differences in others. Being socially aware that communities are changing is essential to growth. Being understanding and accepting and even appreciative of others is necessary to grow as a community and to develop as an understanding community.
Another illustration, this one from a negative angle, would be the stereotypical Ugly American - the tourist in a foreign culture who loudly and frequently announces his/her distaste for the food, disgust with the level of cleanliness, horror at the customs, and so on. Social awareness demands a certain level of respect for others and an understanding that "different" doesn't mean bad or good - it means "different."
What comes to mind is the movie quote from Mary Poppins that the man can't see past the end of his own nose. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own bubbles that we can't see others around us. This leads to pride and prejudice. Being socially aware is definitely a skill that we all need in order to coexist and succeed in today's global society.
I think more than anything, social awareness is best described as the understanding that different cultures and opinions exist beyond your own, and that tolerance is a necessity if people are to "get along" with each other. There are many aspects in a diverse society of which I don't agree, but I try to honor and respect the right of everyone to coexist peacefully despite the differences we all share.
Social awareness is crucial to success in a modern, complex world. A person needs to know how to code-switch, for example. This means that when you are in an academic environment you speak very differently than when you are with your friends. You do not want to talk to the person interviewing you for a job like you would your buddies!
I agree with the above answers, and would add only that the consciousness that emerges from social awareness recognizes that many of the problems that societies face are the results of structural forces, not necessarily individual failings. So, for me, at least, it entails seeking solutions rather than demonizing an "other" for social ills.
Social awareness, to me, is a "progressive" term refering to an individual's perception of the effects of large scale forces (population groups, governments, industry) and widespread intellectual constructs/biases (stereotypes, value systems, systematic prejudice, etc.) on individuals.
Being socially aware then means that a person recognizes the interconnectedness of communities, even communities of scale, and understands that every person is impacted by the larger forces at work in his or her community.
To me, it simply means that you realize that there are problems or issues that are faced by groups of people in society that you do not belong to. For example, if you are male, social awareness may consist of understanding that there are ways in which society keeps women down. If you are rich, it may consist of understanding that there are real problems facing the poor that are not of their own making.
In general, I think of social awareness as a term that means someone is familiar with the social constructs and culture around them. A socially aware person might understand certain slang. They might be more familiar with what titles or words are taboo. A person who is socially aware is far less likely to make embarrassing verbal blunders.