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Politics As A Social Institution Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2026 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Politics is the way a group of people make decisions together. Politics involves the use of power which is applied to the ruled people .In politics some people have powers than others and these are the leaders. Leaders apply the power that they have to their subordinates. Society is a group of people who live in the same environment or it can also mean people who work together. In a society people have rules and regulations which guide them. These regulations should be followed for the smooth running of the society. A society without rules is a disordered society. Politics and society therefore intertwined and one can not do without the other. Rules are applied to a group of people and this is the society.

In my paper I undertake to discuss three theories and their impacts in the society, how the theories can be applicable in the society and their similarities and their differences. These theories include: functionalist theory, conflict theory and interactionism theory.

The theory of functionalism argues that all the aspects in a society depend on each other and they contribute to the society functioning as a whole. According to the theory members have to agree upon some aspects and work together so as to achieve the best in the society. The theory was propagated by a Scholar called Emile Durkeim .He suggested that social consensus is of two types: mechanical solidarity where people have similar values, beliefs and they do the same kind of economic activity. This mostly occurs in simple societies like societies where everybody keeps animals. There is also organic solidarity where people depend on each other even though they have different beliefs and values and their economic activities are different. These mostly occur in complex societies (industrialized societies).

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Functionalists used the human body to illustrate this aspect. The human body is composed of many different parts like the liver, the heart, the kidneys and all the other parts. The functioning of each part of the body contributes to the well being of the body. If one part of the body fails even if the others are functioning well the whole body is affected and this can lead to illness or death. The society is therefore like the human body, it is made up of many aspects like religion, funeral rites, marriage rites, learning institutions and many others. All the aspects in the society depend on each other and they all function in support of a society at large. The government provides education to children who after the education get some good jobs. We for instance have governments which provide their citizens with loans for higher education. Later when these students complete their education and get jobs they pay the loan back to the government with some interest and this is one of the ways through which the government gets its income. Students will also pay taxes to the government. This shows interdependence.

Functionalists argue that aspects which are seen to contribute anything good to the society are also important in maintaining the stability of the society. Such aspects may include; drug abuse, poverty, and crimes .Most of these raise a lot of problems in the society but they are important in the maintenance of a society. In hospitals when researchers want to know how appropriate a new drug is and how many diseases they can cure, they usually pay small amounts to those who volunteer to have the tastes done on them. In this case we do not expect to get people who are economically stable to volunteer themselves. The poor volunteer themselves hoping to earn something because what is little for a wealthy man can be a lot to a poor man. In this case Poverty contributes to the stability of the society. According to this theory, when societies undergo changes institutions in the society like the family becomes disorganized and this is one way of weakening the society’s stability. This can lead to breakdown of the family. (Taylor and Andeson, 2006, P.321).

Functionalists argue that some of the functions which were performed by the family alone has been taken by other institutions. For example socializations was a role that was played by the family as an institution. Children used to be taught by their elders in the society about the expected behavior in the society but today children spent most of their time in schools which they start attending at a very early age. They argue that social disorganization has also been brought by failure of the family to do its duties. Many marriages that have been broken, cultures which have been alienated and the high rate of single parenthood are seen as a result of the family seizing to do its duty and this is social disorganization.

Conflict theory maintains that the family those who have powers in the society make rules and they are in control of the law. The people in power are immoral they do not care about what is maintained in a law as long as it meets their interests. According to this theory the society is always in a state of conflict because the people in power try to impose power on the others. The wealth and people with power makes laws which meets their interests and needs. People who go against the rules that are set are seen as criminals and are subject to punishment. The powerful ensures they make profits in the expense of the poor. (Siegel and Wilsh,2008, P.164)

The theory views a society where the elite use power to maintain their status. The main aim of the ruling class is self gain. Conflict theory highlights the idea of inequality in societies. Conflict theorists wanted to show how societies are affected by class, race and gender inequality. The family is seen to be responsible for acquisition of advantages and disadvantages of race, class and gender. They view the family the basis of inequality because it is through the family that properties and social status are attained.

The theory emphasizes that families in United States are capitalistic The family provides workers needed in capitalism. The families train their children to be obedient, and also to be subordinate to the authority. People who adhere to these characters are the kind of workers needed in such a capitalistic company. The theory can best be used in societies where caste is applied. The subordinated groups are misused by the powerful individuals in the state. They are also discriminated against such that they do not share the same freedom in the country.

Conflict theory discusses how socialization is a cause of unequal power in the family set up. They show us how the process of socialization leads to the understanding that girls are a weaker sex compared to boys. This is mainly through the kind of duties performed by boys and girls. In most cases girls are left in the house cleaning up the house while boys go out to play. This shows how boys are superior to girls. Conflict theorists also look at how religious leaders make people understand that the wealthy people and ethnic groups being dominant was granted by God. There must be groups more dominant than others.

In this theory power and justice is used to control the less fortunate in the society. Institutions of law help the people in power and rich to impose their behavior on the other people. The law protects the properties of the rich from being taken by those who are lacking and also protects those who may understand their rights from demanding for their rights so that the poor remains to be poor and the rich maintains their position. The middle class people are also influenced by the elite in order to display the same standards. This ensures that the chain is maintained.

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Incase of crimes, a poor person can commit a minor crime and at the same time a rich person commit a major crime but when it comes to the judgment when all of them are taken before the court of law the poor is likely to get a harsh judgment .The rich people are favored by the law. According to these theorists the police are brutal to the minority groups. The same brutal behavior can not be accepted in the neighborhoods of the rich. Therefore this theory maintains that the poor will retain their position while the poor are suffering .Those in power misuse the resources made to be used by the poor while the poor do not have access to the same resources.

Interactionism theory assumes that the meaning that human beings give to their behavior is a way of maintaining unity to the people. The family is emphasized very much in this perspective. Interactionism theorists study how the family goes about the house hold duties for example who cleans the house, how takes the children to school and who is the bread winner in the family. The theory sees marriage as something which is constructed in the family because it depends on how other people in the society view it and also it depends on the meaning the partners give to it. In most societies gay marriage is not accepted like African countries. This is contrally to the traditions of most societies. Many of these societies believe marriage of people of the same sex is a taboo. However in western societies gay marriage is allowed and they do not see anything wrong with that.

According to this theory the roles in the family are not permanent but they keep on changing. It is upon the members of the family to arrange who is to perform which duty at that particular time. The family members can keep on rotating on the duties so that no duty is reserved for a particular member of the family. This is helpful in helping us understand why change is needed in a family. The old idea of women being responsible for household duties is a by-gone. Men have changed from that and they now help in kitchen duties. (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2009, P512).

George Herbert Mead was one of contributors of this theory. He argued that in order to know rules one must be practicing that law. This makes one imagine being in the same position of others and therefore one will judge fairly. This begins right from childhood when one learns what is expected of her. Children also learn from parents to know what is expected of them. What people value should be respected by other people. Societies which do not have such practices should not look down upon those who practices them. For instance we have societies practicing female circumcision and they place a lot of meaning to that practice .They should not be looked down upon.

Simple societies have a lot of value in maintaining societies. Societies who keep animals are seen traditional and not modernized even though they place a lot of value on the animal. Most of their diet comprises of animal products. They can even sacrifice to die because of them and this is called cattle complex. These groups are very important maintaining the society at large. They produce products like milk, butter, meat which is used by the entire society thus they contribute to the well being of the society.

Functionalist theory looks poverty resulting from failure of the economy to function. One of the things which cause failure to the Economy is the high rate of industrialization. This results to unemployment leading people to manual jobs which have a low pay. Functionalists note that the correct measures needed to do away with poverty are not taken. Because of the system of beauracracy the resources needed by the people at the grass level never gets to them thus they continue to sink in poverty instead of getting out of that situation.

Conflict theorists believe that modern societies have amerced a lot of wealth and should have their needs met. They believe that if there was no power structure there would be no poverty. The poor are being exploited by rich. They are given low wages while their employers make a lot of profits. In interactionism theory, poverty depends on two things .It depends on what is compared to what. For example poor people in the western countries lead a much better life than the people referred to as poor in African societies.


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