Describe and evaluate the effectiveness of sociological theories in explaining the role of the public services in contemporary society.
Since the beginning of time (Giddens, 2009), human kind has constantly striven to reflect and improve their past behaviour and conducts, with aspiration that their knowledge will help create a better society. Charles Wright Mills an American Sociologist refers to this as ‘Sociological imagination’ highlighting how humans empirically link past events to present day situations, affiliating Giddens(2009) suggestion that humans need theories for clarification and an understanding on why the world and the social structure is like it is. In the words of Mills (1959) ‘What ever sociology may be, it is the result of constantly asking the question, what is the meaning of this?’ Could possibly be considered as an example why sociologists since the 1800’s have been writing theories on social structures.
The nineteenth century saw the development of social science, as traditional values changed with the birth of the industrial revolution, which consequently saw human behaviour adapt as a new positive social structure was formed. Early theories by Auguste Comte (Functionalist), Karl Marx (Marxist) and Erving Goffman (Interactionists) provide the original principles that are the make-up of Functionalism, Marxism and Interactionism, which other sociologists (Durkheim,E, Parsons,T, Gramsci,A, Habermas,J, Mead,G,H and Goffman,E) have referenced in collaboration to their own theories on social structures.
Social theories help us to understand the world and the society in which we live in and to interpret why people behave the way they do in the context of the existing social norms. In sociology, rational choice theory and the institutional paradigm aid us in exploring various social aspects in clear detail. The key difference between the rational choice theory and the institutional paradigm rests ...
In today’s society (Giddens, 2009) the impact of modernization can unfortunately still be observed by using classical theories that were published over a century ago. Recent explanations into social divisions and exclusion can also be liked to eras that saw the birth to feminism and the rise of modernism, resulting in the ripple effects that are experienced and observed worldwide.
Sociologists Comte and Durkheim theoretical perspectives on society are based on functionalism. Both Comte and Durkheim (Giddens,2009) believed that for a society to be prosperous, a study into the different communities and institutions , which are the essences for a social system existence, requires that they all share the same basic values and opinions ( moral consensus) on social norms. Functionalists argue that without a moral consensus. Societies would not be able to maintain order or stability .Comte and Durkheim (cited in Grinnell, 2000) compared the social system with an organic analogy; the body does not simply rely on the heart, but for all organs to work together in maintaining the body’s survival. In association that values and norms, which form the consensus creates social equilibrium .However, without the moral consensus (other organs) social equilibrium (heart) would no longer be in existence. Therefore society as a whole would dissolve.
Marcosociololgy (Marco) is used to analysis functionalism, which incorporates studies based on societies on a larger scale rather than on individuals.
Sociologist Robert Merton views functionalism on and around Durkheim’s theories. However, Merton does detect a flaw in Durkheim’s theory on how religion plays a large part in society’s core values. Merton identified manifest and latent functions and introduced dysfunctions. To illustrate Merton’s functions and how relevant they are in today’s society. The current moral panic on terrorism (BBC News, 2009) that has been accentuated by the media over the last few years could be considered as prime examples.
The religious views and practices of Jews and Muslims (Danielpipies,2005) influence their society consensus. Common practices and traditions that both religions share for instance is that women should be fully clothed while in public and that no skin must shown, meat should be prepared in a certain way and under no circumstances should pork or alcohol be consumed. The term manifest function maybe could be associated with this statement. Therefore the traditions which shape Jewish and Muslim communities can sometimes not be understood or recognized by other social groups in the social system. An observation that could be possibly is linked to Merton’s lantent function theory.
Akin to the labeling theory, the social control theory also holds society responsible for the emergence of deviance. But instead of arguing that deviance is a result of labels imposed by society, the social control theory asserts that people resort to wrongdoing because of the absence or social bonds or socialization processes that are supposed to promote law-abiding conduct. Simply put, some ...
The British Government (BBC News, 2008) over the last few years have tried to introduce and implement diversity policies in the public sector, in order to maintain a functional system within all social communities. In spite of the Government plans for social equilibrium, the recent wars in the Middle East have engaged social conflicts causing widespread social divisions and exclusion within the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. Merton’s explanation to this could be identified as the characteristics of dysfunction.
Sociologists (who are also known as conflict theorists) base their theories in accordance to Marxism, believing that the main flaw with functionalism is the moral consensus. Conflict theorists argue that divisions in society provide important insight into the different social groups. They highlight that different social groups tend to have different values and opinions on society as a whole, which is potentially why certain groups develop and become successful, while others personal development and chances of success are restricted. Those who are successful are referred by Marxist theorists as the bourgeoisie and social groups who live and work in areas that are at a disadvantage are called the proletariat. Bourgeoisie (Giddens, 2009) is a term used for those who have dominant and ruling positions, that their main aim in life is to make as much money as possible even if it means exploiting those who work for them (the proletariat).
The reason why Marxism theorists came up with the conflict theory was on the bases that the ruling and working class will always be divided.
Conflict Theory and Functionalism There are three main theories of sociology; functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interaction ism. This paper will focus on two of those theories, functionalism and conflict theory. The objective is to delineate the assumptions of two out of the three theoretical perspectives and apply these assumptions to an analysis of social stratification. How this will ...
In recent decades the United Kingdom has observed how the conflict theory still provides answers on certain events that have resulted in major conflicts within the social structure:
Lord Ouselery’s report (BBC News, 2001) could be considered as an example of how certain communities view one another. The report was about race relations in Bradford, a city in the north of England. An Article on the report by the BBC published Lord Ouserlery findings about how communities had a strong ignorance of each other quoting Lord Ouselery saying ‘Different cultural communities believe they get nothing while others get all the benefits’. The report was published before the Bradford riots in 2001 ( BBC News 2001), which saw Asian and White communities cause havoc in the streets of Bradford as they firebombed, looted properties and business and caused harm to over two hundred police officers in the process. The article and report coincides with Gramsci theory that to maintain social order, the use of force in periods of social change is necessary. In this case the police helped reinforce public order.
The Bourgeoisie and Proletariat theory could be compared to the recent article by the BBC on Slave Labour. Jack Dromey a Union secretary (BBC News, 2007) is referenced in relation to the problem that migrants workers are being paid less compared to their British counterparts and that divisions in the workplace are forming. To quote Dromey (cited in BBC News 2007:1)… ‘that does have an impact on wages. It creates a division. It’s wrong that two people alongside each other, one is an agency worker, the other directly employed, doing the same work in a food processing company, one gets paid £2 an hour less than the other’. Possibly could be used in conjunction to Marxism theory that the ruling class should pay everyone the same.
In the recent months the world has been in a recession. A parliamentary committee (BBC Today, 2009) attacks and blames the bank managers for paying themselves huge bonuses, which as a result brought forward the banking crisis. Another story that has been dominating the news is the Members of Parliament Expenses Row (BBC Today, 2009).
Andrew Sinclair a radio presenter interviewed Margaret Moron a Member of Parliament, stating(cited in BBC Today,2009:1)… ‘That the expenses row has led to a cataclysmic collapse in public confidence in a representative democracy’. The expenses row is about the members of parliament who spent tax payers’ money by illegally claiming for expenses for their own personal property in fraudulent claims. Both Newspaper and radio reports could be in agreement with Marxism, that class awareness and consciousness in relation to the communist manifesto is as strong as ever. In chapter one of the communist manifesto, according to Marx and Engles(1848) ‘Modern bourgeoisie society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done way with class antagonism. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones’. A statement, that could be used to identify the present social divisions and exclusions that Lord Ouselery, Andrew Sinclair and Jack Dromey were referring to previously.
This essay discusses and defines both eating disorders and social learning theory, and how SLT might be used to help those who suffer with these diseases.IIntroductionEating disorders afflict millions of Americans, and they are serious, even life-threatening. They are classified as psychiatric disorders, and actually have little to do with food, but rather with underlying issues of self-esteem and ...
The current state of world affairs and the effects on how the different social communities interact with one another could be linked to the theoretical perspectives of Interactionism.
Sociologist Erving Goffman (cited in Grinnell, 2000) refers to the social construction of society to an analogy of the theatre. As does Shakespeare in the play ‘As you like it Act two Scene seven’ (cited in Anon, date not supplied) ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’. Erving Goffman and George Mead theories are based on the theory that humans are pragmatic actors, who can easily change their behaviour in any social interaction due to the fact that they are able to recognize others human behaviour patterns and traits by symbols and language. Interactionists look at and analyse society using mircosociology, to look at society on a mirco scale compared to Functionalism and Marxism. Previous reference to the media and their stories on terrorism and those responsibly, the media (BBC News, 2009) has highlighted how the Home Office and Police Force are under scrutiny for their actions on the generalization of people simply on their affiliations with certain social groups, pointed out by recent complaints on their stop and searching powers introduced under recent anti-terror laws. Interactionists therefore may be able to explain why humans are typically known or stereotypical when labelling certain social groups in society.
Economic Trends & Events Kelton (2003) warns that South Australia will be hit hard by blackouts in the next 3 years for various reasons unless electricity prices rise as an alternative. This event would negatively impact upon AIM financially for if electricity were to rise suppliers' costs will increase which will increase the cost of goods purchased or if not, blackouts will disrupt training ...
Barack Obama recent speech ‘Stereotype and social divisions’ during his presidential campaign in 2008, highlights how stereotyping on race is still causing social divisions and what has to be done to change it. In the words of Obama (2008)‘To Continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for more just, more equal, more free, more caring and prosperous America. I chose to run for the Presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together-unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction-towards a better future for our children and grandchildren’.
A speech that could possibly be used by other political leaders’ worldwide on the grounds that all countries suffer social divisions wherever it’s by racism, sexism, or disabilities that are frowned upon. The speech could also be considered and recognised in all sociological theoretical perspectives mentioned. Summarising Marxism with the reference that all men are equal and that to achieve social union, radical changes must be implemented. Functionalism, that a moral consensus is needed. Interactionism, that changes can only be achieved if humans change their behaviour and attitude towards other social groups.
The sociologists mentioned at the beginning of this essay wrote some of these theories back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Each theory seems to complement one another in relation to social development; however at the same time historical evidence links to how these theories and their flaws can be associated with some of the greatest human catastrophe which has seen millions of humans suffer and die .The old expression that ‘history is always repeating itself’ sadly can be observed with current events that have been witness before but seem to keep reoccurring.
The Vietnam War and how America tried to prevent communism resulted in millions of deaths and America loosing dramatically, could coincide with the current war that America and United Kingdom are fighting. The Gulf War was based on hearsay that Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) were being built. However later this was proven to be false resulting that the American and British Government had to change their statements on why they were still fighting with Iraq and Afghanistan as WMD were no longer an issue. However a war on terrorism and trying to restore democracy to the Middle East apparently re-established reasons why the Gulf war should continue.
The purpose of this paper is to point out the employers versus the employees’ point of view in regards to the analysis of law, ethics, and social responsibility. Not since the industrial revolution has there been such a shift in how business and commerce is being done. Social Media and User Generated Content shifts the paradigm of business away from product seeking customers’ commerce to the ...
Record and Terrill (2004) suggest that the similarities between the invasion on Iraq and Vietnam could be based on historical analogy on how those countries who tried to implement radical social changes under the Marxism theory where apprehended by superpower nations that strongly believed in a democracy and a moral consensus that is abided by all. Ironically once the invading countries (America and United Kingdom) win the war. According to Record and Terrill (2004:47) ‘…they have to supply a government regarded as legitimate by the great majority of the country’s inhabitants, and… security forces capable of protecting the new political order’. The aftercare consequently seems to fit into the guidelines of Functionalism and Marxism. Which substantially raises the question why do we go to war?
It seems that no matter what history has taught in regards to social anthropology and sociology. The two disciplines seem to coincide and give suggestions on why human behavior still like it is when it comes to social changes and why they find is difficult to adapt to new concepts.
With regards to social changes, Mills (1956:1) has the following to say:
‘Underlying this sense of being trapped are seemingly impersonal changes in the very structure of continent-wide societies. The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialized, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a businessman. When classes rise or fall, a person is employed or unemployed; when the rate of investment goes up or down, a person takes new heart or goes broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesperson becomes a rocket launcher; a store clerk, a radar operator; a wife or husband lives alone; a child grows up without a parent. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.’
The statement possibly points out and emphasise that theoretical perspectives are only sociologists ideologies on reaching a conclusion on how social equilibrium may be observed and achieved by all and, that it’s down to individuals and communities to shape and improve current social structures. Incorporating both mirco and macro explanations of society. Therefore, sociological theories are effective in describing the role of the public service in contemporary society.
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