The New Guinea cargo plane cult from a functionalist perspective stresses that the un-industrialization of the cult is due to the developed world not sharing technological advances with the tribe (cult).
The tribe leader’s ability to explain the purpose of the cargo planes and the tribe’s inability to succeed with riches like that of the white man had a large affect on the tribe’s belief system. The tribes simple way of life was disturbed by the discovery of cargo planes in the sky, shocking whatever beliefs the tribe had prior to that discovery. It was the conclusion of the leaders or elders of the community that the planes where gifts from there ancestors and that their inability to succeed like other cultures was do to the white man coxing the plane to land in their fields, therefore stealing the riches that the cults ancestors sent to them. The manifest function of the leaders needing to explain what was happening was do to the culture shock the tribe received when the first saw the planes, while however the latent function of the of this was to keep the tribe unified through ignorance.
It was the only way to keep a small community of confused people together do to the fact that people do not like to be separated from the people whom they ” ve become familiar with. Though the manifest functions of adoring the cargo planes proves to be a shift of blame from the tribe leaders to the white man, the latent function has proved to unify the tribe in faith and in their daily walk of life. Solidarity is their shining light of hope in a world that has left them, however to analyze a group of people from a sociological perspective one must provide more than one perspective. Karl Marx developed the conflict theory and concluded that “the key to human history is class struggle.
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In every society, some small group controls the means of production and exploits those who are not in control (Hens lin, 2004 pg. 15) .” According to Karl Marx “authority that people consider legitimate permeates society on every level.” People whom are in positions of authority will always try to enforce conformity within a community. In the case of the cargo plane cult the people of the community consider the priest as their legitimate authority, authorities that have come to realization that the discovery of the planes questions the knowledge of the priest and could in fact end their position as leaders in their community. When the cult compares their own situation with that of the white man, conflict arises when they question their leaders of why has the white man succeeded more than themselves. Like any persons in authority they will not want to give up their seat of power. The leaders of the cult convinced their community that the strange phenomena of planes in the sky was in fact their ancestors sending back riches from the heavens, and that the white man tricks them to land in the white mans land therefore stealing what was intended for the new guinea tribe.
This was the tribe leader’s way of remaining in control by keeping the people ignorant and waiting for something that will not happen. Blame shifting is an affective way of hiding the true problems of a community or society. Like Hitler, affective propaganda will keep these men in power for as long as they can distract their community from the problems that the individual faces at hand. This leads to the Micro symbolic internationalism, or the individual’s perspective. It is noted that people evaluate their own conduct by comparing themselves with others. In the case of the cargo plane cult of New Guinea the individual is looking at him / her self through the eyes of industrialized civilizations.
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As the world around these individuals develops, they compare there situation with that of the better developed groups and see that groups in cities are losing pride for what used to be the traditional way of life. The individual understands that as cultures begin to modernize they also compromise their ways of life, even though not all members of the community agree with this it is only natural for them to want to conform to the others. With the appearance or cargo planes, also comes more curiosity to explain what this supernatural force is. Leaders of the tribe came to the conclusion that the planes are gifts sent from their ancestors and the white man is taking them away.
The individual not only understands that it could be the reason why the have seen little to no success in the area of growth or industrialization, but as a way to keep things the way they are. The individual has become accustomed to their way of life. The individual fears that all that they have known to be true is false, so therefore putting the blame on someone else and waiting for something to happen is the only way that one in this tribe can keep themselves from suffering severe culture shock, and unified. The New Guinea cargo plane cult is an example of culture that fears re-socialization, though their means of blame shifting have proved to be successful, in the long run they will struggle to survive in what is a rapidly changing world..