Anomie: Sociology and People Essay
Anomie describes a lack of social norms; “normlessness”. It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, if under unruly scenarios possibly resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897). Durkheim borrowed the word from French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau. Durkheim never uses the term normlessness; rather, he describes anomie as “a rule that is a lack of rule”, “derangement”, and “an insatiable will”.
For Durkheim, anomie arises more generally from a mismatch between personal or group standards and wider social standards, or from the lack of a social ethic, which produces moral deregulation and an absence of legitimate aspirations. This is a nurtured condition: Anomie in common parlance is thought to mean something like “at loose ends”. The Oxford English Dictionary lists a range of definitions, beginning with a disregard of divine law, through the 19th and 20th century sociological terms meaning an absence of accepted social standards or values.
Most sociologists associate the term with Durkheim, who used the concept to speak of the ways in which an individual’s actions are matched, or integrated, with a system of social norms and practices … Durkheim also formally posited anomie as a mismatch, not simply as the absence of norms. Thus, a society with too much rigidity and little individual discretion could also produce a kind of anomie, a mismatch between individual circumstances and larger social mores. Thus, fatalistic suicide arises when a person is too rule-governed, when there is … no free horizon of expectation. Durkheim attempts to explain the function of the division of labor, and makes the observation that it creates social cohesion. The industrial revolution, of course, produced great tension and turmoil, and Durkheim recognized this. He resolved the contradiction by developing the notion of anomie. Anomie is usually translated as normlessness, but it best understood as insufficient normative regulation. During periods of rapid social change, individuals sometimes experience alienation from group goals and values. They lose sight of their shared interests based on mutual dependence. In this condition, they are less constrained by group norms.
Normative values become generalized, rather than personally embraced. The Sociological Imagination (1959), which is considered Mills’ most influential book on the sociology profession, describes a mindset for studying sociology — the sociological imagination — that stresses being able to connect individual experiences and societal relationships. Mills asserts that a critical task for social scientists is to “translate private troubles into public issues,” which is something that it is very difficult for ordinary citizens to do. Sociologists, then, rightly connect their autobiographical, personal challenges to social institutions.
Social scientists should then connect those institutions to social structure(s) and locate them within a historical narrative. The three components that form the sociological imagination are: History: how a society came to be and how it is changing and how history is being made in it Biography: the nature of “human nature” in a society; what kinds of people inhabit a particular society Social Structure: how the various institutional orders in a society operate, which ones are dominant, how they are held together, how they might be changing, etc. The Promise Of Sociology C.
Wright Mills · Men now days often feel that their lives are a series of traps. They feel in their worlds they can’t overcome their troubles. According to Mills this is correct. · You cannot understand the life of an individual or the history of society without understanding both. · People do not see how the changes in history affect them. The do not see how the ups and downs they experience in their lives are affected by their society. · People do not see the connection that exists between the patterns in their lives and the course of history. People need a quality of mind to use information to develop reason to make connections between what is going on in the world and what is happening to themselves. He calls this the Sociological Imagination. · Sociological Imagination allows us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is both its task and its promise. This is the purpose of classical social analysts. · The most important distinction is between the issues and the troubles. Issues- have to do with matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life. · Troubles- occur within the character of the individual and within his range of his immediate relations with others. It has to do with his self and with those areas of social life in which he is directly and personally aware. · The sociological imagination is supposed to help man to understand that what is happening to themselves is a result of intersections of history and biography within their society.
Class consciousness is a term used in social sciences and political theory, particularly Marxism, to refer to the beliefs that a person holds regarding one’s social class or economic rank in society, the structure of their class, and their class interests. Defining a person’s social class can be a determinant for his awareness of it. Marxists define classes on the basis of their relation to the means of production – especially on whether they own capital. Non-Marxist social scientists distinguish various social strata on the basis of income, occupation, or status.
Early in the nineteenth century, the labels “working classes” and “middle classes” were already coming into common usage. “The old hereditary aristocracy, reinforced by the new gentry who owed their success to commerce, industry, and the professions, evolved into an “upper class”. Its consciousness was formed in part by public schools (in the British sense) and Universities. The upper class tenaciously maintained control over the political system, depriving not only the working classes but the middle classes of a voice in the political process. Solidarity is the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group with people and their neighbors. It refers to the ties in a society that bind people to one another. The term is generally employed in sociology and the other social sciences. What forms the basis of solidarity varies between societies. In simple societies it may be mainly based around kinship and shared values. In more complex societies there are various theories as to what contributes to a sense of social solidarity.
According to Emile Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society. Durkheim introduced the terms “mechanical” and “organic solidarity” as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labor in Society (1893). In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in “traditional” and small scale societies. In simpler societies (e. g. tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks. Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in “modern” and “industrial” societies. Definition: it is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interest, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks.
Organic here is referring to the interdependence of the component parts. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e. g. , farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food) mechanical and organic solidarity, in the theory of the French social scientist Emile Durkheim (1858–1917), the social cohesiveness of small, undifferentiated societies (mechanical) and of societies differentiated by a relatively complex division of labour (organic).
Mechanical solidarity is the social integration of members of a society who have common values and beliefs. These common values and beliefs constitute a “collective conscience” that works internally in individual members to cause them to cooperate. Because, in Durkheim’s view, the forces causing members of society to cooperate were much like the internal energies causing the molecules to cohere in a solid, he drew upon the terminology of physical science in coining the term mechanical solidarity.
In contrast to mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity is social integration that arises out of the need of individuals for one another’s services. In a society characterized by organic solidarity, there is relatively greater division of labour, with individuals functioning much like the interdependent but differentiated organs of a living body. Society relies less on imposing uniform rules on everyone and more on regulating the relations between different groups and persons, often through the greater use of contracts and laws. Durkheim dentified two major types of social integration, mechanical and organic. The former refers to integration that is based on shared beliefs and sentiments, while the latter refers to integration that results from specialization and interdependence. These types reflect different ways that societies organized themselves. Where there is little differentiation in the kinds of labor that individuals engage in, integration based on common beliefs is to be found; in societies where work is highly differentiated, solidarity is the consequence of mutual dependence.
The distinction reveals Durkheim’s thinking about how modern societies differ from earlier ones, and consequently, how solidarity changes as a society becomes more complex. Societies of mechanical solidarity tend to be relatively small and organized around kinship affiliations. Social relations are regulated by the shared system of beliefs, what Durkheim called the common conscience. Violations of social norms were taken as a direct threat to the shared identity, and so, reactions to deviance tended to emphasize punishment. As a society becomes larger, division of labor increases.
A complex organization of labor is necessary, in larger societies, for the production of material life (as Marx suggested). Because people begin to specialize, the basis for the collective conscience is diminished. Solidarity based on the common belief system is no longer possible. Complexity does not lead to disintegration, Durkheim argued, but rather, to social solidarity based on interdependence. Since people are no longer producing all the things that they need, they must interact. Integration results from a recognition that each needs the other. Societies of organic solidarity are arranged around economic and political organizations.
Their legal systems regulate behavior based on principles of exchange and restitution, rather than punishment. Manifest and latent functions are social scientific concepts of sociology by Robert K. Merton. Merton appeared interested in sharpening the conceptual tools to be employed in a functional analysis. Manifest functions and dysfunctions are conscious and deliberate, the latent ones the unconscious and unintended. While functions are intended (manifest) or unintended (latent), and have a positive effect on society, dysfunctions are unintended or unrecognized (latent) and have a negative effect on society.
Manifest functions are the consequences that people observe or expect. It is explicitly stated and understood by the participants in the relevant action. The manifest function of a rain dance, used as an example by Merton in his 1967 Social Theory and Social Structure, is to produce rain, and this outcome is intended and desired by people participating in the ritual. Latent functions are those that are neither recognized nor intended. A latent function of a behavior is not explicitly stated, recognized, or intended by the people involved. Thus, they are identified observers.
In the example of rain ceremony, the latent function reinforces the group identity by providing a regular opportunity for the members of a group to meet and engage in a common activity. Ideal type (German: Idealtypus), also known as pure type, is a typological term most closely associated with antipositivist sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920). For Weber, the conduct of social science depends upon the construction of hypothetical concepts in the abstract. The “ideal type” is therefore a subjective element in social theory and research; one of many subjective elements which necessarily distinguish sociology from natural science.
An ideal type is formed from characteristics and elements of the given phenomena, but it is not meant to correspond to all of the characteristics of any one particular case. It is not meant to refer to perfect things, moral ideals nor to statistical averages but rather to stress certain elements common to most cases of the given phenomena. It is also important to pay attention that in using the word “ideal” Max Weber refers to the world of ideas (German: Gedankenbilder “thoughtful pictures”) and not to perfection; these “ideal types” are idea-constructs that help put the chaos of social reality in order.
Weber himself wrote: “An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those onesidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct… ” It is a useful tool for comparative sociology in analyzing social or economic phenomena, having advantages over a very general, abstract idea and a specific historical example.
It can be used to analyze both a general, suprahistorical phenomenon (like capitalism) or historically unique occurrences (like Weber’s own Protestant Ethics analysis). Weber’s three kinds of ideal types are distinguished by their levels of abstraction. First are the ideal types rooted in historical particularities, such as the “western city,” “the Protestant Ethic,” or “modern capitalism,” which refer to phenomena that appear only in specific historical periods and in particular cultural areas.
A second kind involves abstract elements of social reality–such concepts as “bureaucracy” or “feudalism”–that may be found in a variety of historical and cultural contexts. Finally, there is a third kind of ideal type, which Raymond Aron calls “rationalizing reconstructions of a particular kind of behavior. ” According to Weber, all propositions in economic theory, for example, fall into this category. They all refer to the ways in which men would behave were they actuated by purely economic motives, were they purely economic men. Verstehen (German pronunciation: [f???? te?? ]), in the context of German philosophy and social sciences in general, has been used since the late 19th century – in English as in German – with the particular sense of the “interpretive or participatory” examination of social phenomena. The term is closely associated with the work of the German sociologist, Max Weber, whose antipositivism established an alternative to prior sociological positivism and economic determinism, rooted in the analysis of social action. In anthropology, Verstehen has come to mean a systematic interpretive process in which an outside observer of a culture attempts to relate to it and understand others.
Verstehen is now seen as a concept and a method central to a rejection of positivistic social science (although Weber appeared to think that the two could be united). Verstehen refers to understanding the meaning of action from the actor’s point of view. It is entering into the shoes of the other, and adopting this research stance requires treating the actor as a subject, rather than an object of your observations. It also implies that unlike objects in the natural world human actors are not simply the product of the pulls and pushes of external forces.
Individuals are seen to create the world by organizing their own understanding of it and giving it meaning. To do research on actors without taking into account the meanings they attribute to their actions or environment is to treat them like objects. Interpretative Sociology (verstehende Soziologie) is the study of society that concentrates on the meanings people associate to their social world. Interpretative society strives to show that reality is constructed by people themselves in their daily lives. There is also a tendency in modern English not to follow the German-language practice of capitalizing nouns.
Verstehen roughly translates to “meaningful understanding” or putting yourself in the shoes of others to see things from their perspective. Interpretive sociology differs from scientific (or positivist) sociology in three ways: Interpretive sociology deals with the meaning attached to behavior, unlike scientific sociology which focuses on action. Interpretive sociology sees reality as being constructed by people, unlike scientific sociology which sees an objective reality “out there”. Interpretive sociology relies on qualitative data, unlike scientific sociology which tends to make use of quantitative data.
Functional Integration This refers to the interdependence among parts of a social system. Just as the human body is made up of interrelated parts each of which plays a role in maintaining the whole, so social systems are composed of interconnected parts that both support and depend on one another. Each part has contributions to make if the sum is to work well. These contributions are its functions – that is, functions are the effects that some social groups, event, or institution has within a system of relationships to other phenomena.
Functionally integrated systems can also produce dysfunctions, or side-effects that are not good for the system. Pollution is a dysfunctional consequence of our industrial system. Social Systems can also disintegrate. Like the old Soviet Union. Functional integration refers to the integration of values with systems of action and it therefore involves priorities and allocations of diverse value component among proper occasion and relationshipsAs an institution changes, the others react to that change and compensate for it, thereby changing themselves in the process. But all the parts remain integrated into the single unit.
Rational choice theory argues that social systems are organized in ways that structure the alternatives and consequences facing individuals so that they behave rationally. This allows them to best serve their self-interest within the constraints and resources that go with social systems and their status in them. Rational choice theory is the view that people behave as they do because they believe that performing their chosen actions has more benefits than costs. That is, people make rational choices based on their goals, and those choices govern their behavior. Some sociologists use rational choice theory to explain social change.
According to them, social change occurs because individuals have made rational choices. For example, suppose many people begin to conserve more energy, lowering thermostats and driving less. An explanation for this social change is that individual people have decided that conserving energy will help them achieve their goals (for example, save money and live more healthfully) and cause little inconvenience. Critics argue people do not always act on the basis of cost-benefit analyses. Culture This is the language, norms, values, beliefs, knowledge, and symbols that make up a way of life.
It is the understanding of how to act that people share with one another in any stable, self-reproducing group. Participation in a culture makes possible a meaningful understanding of one’s own actions and those of others. Without culture it would be hard to communicate. When one culture is particularly distinct and set apart from the rest it is called a subculture. Individuals may participate in more than one subculture. No one is ever cultureless, however, for sharing in some culture or combination of cultures is an essential part of what we think of as humans.
Norms are the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which a culture guides the behavior of its members in any given situation. Of course, norms vary widely across cultural groups. Folkways, sometimes known as “conventions” or “customs,” are standards of behavior that are socially approved but not morally significant. Mores are norms of morality. Breaking mores will offend most people of a culture. Finally, laws are a formal body of rules enacted by the state and backed by the power of the state. Social norms are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context.
Sociologists describe norms as laws that govern society’s behaviors. Folkways are often referred to as “customs. ” They are standards of behavior that are socially approved but not morally significant. They are norms for everyday behavior that people follow for the sake of tradition or convenience. Breaking a folkway does not usually have serious consequences. Mores are strict norms that control moral and ethical behavior. Mores are norms based on definitions of right and wrong. Unlike folkways, mores are morally significant. People feel strongly about them and violating them typically results in disapproval.
A law is a norm that is written down and enforced by an official law enforcement agency. A culture’s values are its ideas about what is good, right, fair, and just. Sociologists disagree, however, on how to conceptualize values. Conflict theory focuses on how values differ between groups within a culture, while functionalism focuses on the shared values within a culture. For example, American sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested that the most important values in American society are wealth, success, power, and prestige, but that everyone does not have an equal opportunity to attain these values.
Functional sociologist Talcott Parsons noted that Americans share the common value of the “American work ethic,” which encourages hard work. Other sociologists have proposed a common core of American values, including accomplishment, material success, problem-solving, reliance on science and technology, democracy, patriotism, charity, freedom, equality and justice, individualism, responsibility, and accountability. A culture, though, may harbor conflicting values. For instance, the value of material success may conflict with the value of charity. Or the value of equality may conflict with the value of individualism.
Such contradictions may exist due to an inconsistency between people’s actions and their professed values, which explains why sociologists must carefully distinguish between what people do and what they say. Joan Jacobs Brumberg is a social historian and academic. She lectures and writes about the experiences of adolescents through history until the present day. In the subject area of Gender Studies, she has written about boys and violence, and girls and body image. Brumberg says that adolescence and childhood have been made more difficult for women due to the much earlier age of menarche than in the past.
The average age at menstruation has dropped from 16 in 1890, to 12 while psychological development, she believes, has not accelerated. Also, consumer culture has added to people’s insecurities about their bodies. It is now normal and fashionable for girls to dress in a sexualized way. Jean Kilbourne, Ed. D. (born January 4, 1943) is a feminist author, speaker, and filmmaker who is internationally recognized for her work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising.
She is also credited with introducing the idea of educating about media literacy as a way to prevent problems she viewed as originating from mass media advertising campaigns. These include the concepts of the tyranny of the beauty ideal, the connection between the objectification of women and violence, the themes of liberation and weight control exploited in tobacco advertising aimed at women, the targeting of alcoholics by the alcohol industry, addiction as a love affair, and many others.
Hyperreality is generally defined as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It is a postmodern philosophy that deals in part with semiotics, or the study of the signs that surround people in everyday life and what they actually mean. Hyperreality is a way of characterizing what our consciousness defines as “real” in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience.
Hyperreality is exploited in advertising for almost everything, using a pseudo-world to enable people to be the characters they wish to be. Advertising sells the public through strong, desirable images, and many consumers buy into the brand’s point of view and products. If the consumer wants to be seen as a sex icon, he or she should buy the most expensive jeans as worn or designed by his or her favorite celebrity. Although the clothing itself has limited actual value, they symbolize a state of being that some consumers want.
Every time a person enters a large shopping area with a certain theme, he or she may be entering a hyperreal world. Theme parks such as Disneyworld or the casinos in Las Vegas are hyperrealities in which a person can get lost for as long as his or her money lasts. There is no reality in these places, only a construct that is designed to represent reality, allowing the person to exist temporarily in a world outside of what is real. Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context.
Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology, evolution, zoology, archaeology, population genetics, and other disciplines. Within the study of human societies, sociobiology is very closely allied to the fields of Darwinian anthropology, human behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology. Sociobiology investigates social behaviors, such as mating patterns, territorial fights, pack hunting, and the hive society of social insects.
It argues that just as selection pressure led to animals evolving useful ways of interacting with the natural environment, it led to the genetic evolution of advantageous social behavior. The Human Animal: A Personal View of the Human Species is a BBC nature documentary series written and presented by Desmond Morris. Morris describes it as “A study of human behavior from a zoological perspective. ” He travels the world, filming the diverse customs and habits of various regions while suggesting common roots. Stephanie Coontz studies the history of American families, marriage, and changes in gender roles.
Her book The Way We Never Were argues against several common myths about families of the past, including the idea that the 1950s family was traditional or the notion that families used to rely solely on their own resources. Granville Stanley Hall was a pioneering American psychologist and educator. His interests focused on childhood development and evolutionary theory. Hall’s major books were Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime and Religion (1904) and Aspects of Child Life and Education (1921).
His book Adolescence, was based on the results of the Child Study Movement. Hall described his system of psychology, which he called “genetic psychology. ” His ideas were influenced by Charles Darwin. In the book, Hall described the evolutionary benefits of development from the womb to adolescence. The book itself is divided into six sections: biological and anthropological standpoint, medical standpoint, health and its tests, nubility of educated women, fecundity of educated women and education. Hall hoped that this book would become a guide for teachers and social workers in the education system.
He was instrumental in the development of educational psychology, and attempted to determine the effect adolescence has on education. Hall believed that the pre-adolescent child develops to its best when it is not forced to follow constraints, but rather to go through the stages of evolution freely. He believed that before a child turned six or seven, the child should be able to experience how one lived in the simian stage. In this stage, the child would be able to express his animal spirits. The child is growing rapidly at this stage and the energy levels are high.
The child is unable to use reasoning, show sensitiveness towards religion, or social discernment. By age eight, the child should be at stage two. This, Hall believed, is the stage where formal learning should begin. This is when the brain is at full size and weight. It is considered normal to be cruel and rude to others at this stage for the reasoning skills are still not developed. The child should not have to deal with moralizing conflicts or ideas, his is not yet ready at this stage. The child’s physical health is most important now. In the stage of the dolescent, the child now has a rebirth into a sexed life. Hall argued that at this point, there should no longer be coeducation. Both sexes can’t optimally learn and get everything out of the lessons in the presence the opposite sex. And, this is when true education can begin. The child is ready to deal with moral issues, kindness, love, and service for others. Reasoning powers are beginning, but are still not strong. Hall argued that the high school should be a place similar to a “people’s college” so that it could be more of an ending for those who would not be continuing their education to the next level.
Coming of Age in Samoa is a book by American anthropologist Margaret Mead based upon her research and study of youth on the island of Ta’u in the Samoa Islands which primarily focused on adolescent girls. Mead was 23 years old when she carried out her field work in Samoa. First published in 1928, the book launched Mead as a pioneering researcher and the most famous anthropologist in the world. Since its first publication, Coming of Age in Samoa was the most widely read book in the field of a