Sociology Assignment 1
October 20, 2015
Emile Durkheim was a pioneer in sociology; his major focus was on social structure. He insisted, “Behavior must be understood within a larger social context, not just in individualistic terms” (Schaefer, 10). According to him the most important thing in life is a sense of belonging. The opposite of which is anomie- a feeling of isolation and loneliness. He would argue these are the worst things in life. Social attachments to others are important to avoid anomie. For example, religion reinforces a group’s solidarity because it is a form of group behavior (Schaefer, 10). Durkheim believed the industrial ...view middle of the document...
He stated, “Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity -- and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally” (Kries, 2008). The worker is equal to a commodity that can be easily replaced by another person to perform the job. So the more people produced, the less valuable they became themselves. Karl Marx spoke extensively on this issue, and went as far as saying the working class needed to overthrow the existing class system (Schaefer, 11). He is linked to the conflict perspective, which focuses on how elements of society come into conflict, including people. This perspective focuses on change, usually in inequality between the workers and owners. The separation between the worker and owners is referred to as alienation. Change consists of narrowing the gap of power differentials so that workers do not feel alienated.
Max Weber focused on human agency. He argued that people have their own interpretations of events and choices for actions must also be examined. According to the textbook, “To fully comprehend behavior, we must learn the subjective meanings people attach to their actions- how they themselves view and explain their behavior” (Schaefer, 10). This means that nothing is necessarily real, but rather based on our perceptions and what we perceive as real. Weber is linked to the symbolic interaction perspective. The focus is on how we interact with others to create meaning. An example of symbolic interaction is 4 in 10 Americans believe the US found active WMDs in Iraq. This was not true, but according to symbolic interaction; it all depends on our interpretation of events, regardless of whether or not they are true.
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Durkheim studied suicide in order to show that a private act can be explained in the view of social structure. The four types of suicide are the egoistic, anomic, altruistic, and fatalistic. He argued that suicide is more likely to occur when the social ties that bind people to one another in a society are either too weak or too strong (Lynch, 2012). This means that during a period of anomie people are more likely to take their own lives. He showed that suicide rates are higher for people without children than people with children, and for those who are single as opposed to those who are married (Lynch, 2012). It is commonly considered that suicide is a selfish act, however, feeling disconnected from the society may result in feeling unimportant (Lynch, 2012). Although this is a false perception, the person may feel unwanted and choose to commit suicide. Social factors influenced this person to take their life, and in their view suicide is not a selfish act (Lynch, 2012). In some cases the bond between a person and a group can become to strong that they lose a sense of self. For example, suicide bombers in the Middle East are a result of strong disciple and repression of ones own feelings. They are motivated by...