"Each to each a looking-glass
reflects the other that doth pass."
“As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass, and are interested in them because they are ours, and pleased or otherwise with them according as they do or do not answer to what we should like them to be; so in imagination we perceive in another's mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it.”♦ (From Charles Horton Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Scribner's, 1902, pp. 179-185.)
For example, if you walked into a room and found a man and woman with a candle, what they would be doing would depend on your perception of them and vice versa.
The above three are examples of classic sociological perspectives, now I’ll talk about more contemporary views such as feminism.
Feminists argue that society is in conflict between men and women. They believe that women suffer discrimination because of their sex, meaning that men are often treated as though they are the better gender and Feminists believe this is wrong. They also say they have specific and unmet needs which would require major change in social, economic and political order for these needs to be satisfied. There are four main different types of Feminism – Difference, Radical, Liberal, and Marxist.
Difference Feminists argue that women are oppressed but it depends on different experiences and conditions. Difference Feminism attempts to revalue the feminine aspects that have been devalued by society. It celebrates all things female, whether these derive from social, class, or biological circumstances of women's lives. Difference feminists see many gender traits as biological, or at least deeply structured cultural, traits. They celebrate the differences between women and men, seeing feminine qualities as a source of personal strength and pride and providing affirmation that women occupy the moral high ground. Instead of focusing on political change they focus on changing the culture of society.
Radical Feminists believe that men benefit from the way our society is set up, women having to stay at home to do the housework or women going out to work and still doing the main portion of housework and looking after the children. Radical feminism values women and likens males to a separate species. Whether the difference is biological or gendered by society is not at issue; but the results of male difference and dominance are. According to the radical feminist ideology, the violence of the heterosexual male has led to the patriarchal and hierarchical cultures of today. This means that because of men’s behaviour we now have a society which is run by men and a chain of command that benefits them. Furthermore, the male has oppressed and victimized the female through pornography, violence, and the militarization of the world.
Liberal Feminism appears to be the main feminist view of today. They believe that personal “rights” should predominate over concerns for the social good. This political view goes back to the early feminism of John Stuart Mill, who believed that government should stay out of the private affairs of its citizens. The oppression liberal feminists identify involves the injustices fostered by gender roles which favor men over women. The liberal feminist wants to free women from oppressive gender roles. This focus bears a similarity to the existentialist position, which seeks equality of rights and freedoms between women and men.
Marxist Feminism argues that a capitalist system benefits from women. Feminists who agree with the tenets of Marxist and socialist feminism believe women are seen as a sex class, gendered by society into a secondary position through a systemic sex gender system that dictates social roles, purposes, and norms. These feminists believe that women are exploited as both a sex and a class, and that women are consigned to reproduction and their natures. Men take the roles of goods production and potentially reach freedom.
To change this situation, Marxist and socialist feminists seek an end to gendered socialization, an alliance of oppressed groups, and a beginning of a sharing of the wealth.♦
Anti-Racist Sociologists believe that society is racially structured and that it works in order to protect the interests of the white majority at the cost of minority ethnic groups. They believe that society is at conflict between ethnic minorities and whites. Anti-Racist sociologists see society as black and white with White people being the oppressors and Black people being the oppressed. They see racial discrimination at many different levels; individual, institutional, and societal playing a large factor in determining the life experiences and events of a non-white individuals and groups. They believe that encouraging tolerance of different cultures cannot just solve the issue of ‘race’ and ethnicity because for some it is deeply ingrained in the minds, culture and institution of Whites.
The objective of Anti-Racial Sociologists is to challenge and change social processes and relationships that are based on racial discrimination and there are anti-racism policies that involve finding, exposing and stopping the open or hidden racism present in society and institutions.
Environmentalism argues for better, sustainable balance between people and the natural environment. They are less concerned with how society is structured or social interaction but more interested with informing sociologists about the impact they are having in the area in that society is based. They use strategies like public education programs, advocacy, legislation and treaties in order to get their point across and focus on things like pollution.
- Critically evaluate each perspective paying particular attention to their strengths and weaknesses.
As I’ve previously shown by discussing the different types of sociological theories, they each have their own view points so naturally will all have their own weaknesses, which is what I’m going to look at now.
Marxists only seem to look at the employment system, which excludes the jobless from this society. They are not really being exploited in exchange for wages because they have no-one to exploit them and although children in schools may be preparing for the working world they have yet to reach it, therefore they are excluded from this employment system also. Because of this quite narrow approach they do not look at society as a whole and do not see how people interact and function together as a team. The way a company is run could be completely fair with everyone getting an equal share of the profits and work but Marxism does not take that into consideration.
It appears to be the opposite with Functionalism who do not take conflict into consideration. This is a weakness because society has never been perfect therefore it might not function correctly all of the time. By looking at function of different organisations they see that they have to work together to ensure different things are met but they do not see what happens if there is a break down in communication, society does not just stop. They say that certain prerequisites must be met in order to function correctly in society. One of the prerequisites is that a person needs to stay healthy for them to make money, it does not clarify the definition of healthy but most would take that to mean few sick days and not having any illness. Therefore the great Professor, Stephan Hawkins might be considered as somebody who would not be able to make money due to his incurable and progressive illness, Motor Neurone Disease. However he is one of he most famous scientist from our country.
The main difference between Interactionism and Functionalism is that Interactionists look at the smaller picture, what is happening right there at the given moment to the individual and Functionalists look the bigger picture with society as a whole, this is called Macro and Interactionism is Micro. The weakness of Interactionism is that because it is so inclusive then you could be missing important factors outside of the smaller picture. For example, you could be watching a man and woman together and one of them could be crying. An Interationist would see that as a problem between the two of them, like the ending of a relationship but they could be related, or have had bereavement or even just suffering from stress. All those things you would not see unless looking at the larger picture.
When looking at feminism, although it is meant to be a contemporary it feels quite ‘dated’ at times because of how much progress has been made. A weakness is that a lot of changes have happened since this first came about, woman can go out to work, woman can vote, etc. So most of what feminism stood for in the beginning does not apply now. Feminism also seems not to include successful women led-companies which prove that women can be powerful and have the same job status as men do. I also see this as being quite macro too and only focusing on that she is a woman and not looking at other reasons why she may have been overlooked for a certain thing.
Anti-racism is also a bit like feminism in the way that it’s quite macro, only looking different races and not the individual problem. They do not include conflict between two people of the same race or other reasons why two different races might not get on. They do not consider how the different races function together only that from this macro point of view they are at conflict with each other. In society today, people’s way of thinking has changed and there is a greater mix between races because it is now acceptable for your partner to be of a different race. So to jump to the conclusion that the reason there is conflict is because of Racism is a weakness as we have so many other issues that it could be.
Environmentalists are centred on the actual surrounding area and not on people and the way they interact with each other. Because of this they are really set apart from the other sociological perspectives. So their big weakness is that none of it explains human behaviour it just thinks of solutions for the environment and tries to change human behaviour to be more environmentally friendly.
- Explain the methods of research and social investigation that are used by sociologists in relation to the development of social behaviour.
Sociologists are much like researchers because they have to research their chosen area and look into it more. The way they do this can affect the outcome so it is important to be extremely careful. Here are some popular methods:
Questionnaires are the most common marketing research method. They are used for structured interviews, written surveys, e-mail and internet surveys. They are written lists of questions that you distribute to your users who in turn fill them out and return them.
An interview is a face-to-face meeting between a researcher and subject. It enables the former to attempt an assessment of the personality, competencies, appearance and manner of the applicant and to confirm, discuss and expand upon the formal details already recorded on a questionnaire.
Observation means watching a particular group to see how they interact with each other and what they do on a normal basis. For example, someone may observe a classroom, an encounter between doctor and patient, or the way people use public parks. Some observers actually participate in the group which they are observing, which depending on the situation, can either enhance or hinder the study.
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BTEC National Care – Heinemann (M.Walsh, B.Stretch, N.Moonie, D.Hearne, E.Miller and D.Webb)