Downs and rock
“Society penetrates us as much as it envelopes us. Our bondage to society is so much established by conquest as by collusion… we are entrapped by our own social nature. The walls of our imprisonment were there before we appeared on the scene, but they are ever rebuilt by ourselves. We are betrayed into captivity by our own co-operation. ” P. Berger (1960) I would like to explain the relationship between consensus, social order and policing by discussing the above statement in terms of how conformity is achieved and maintained in society. Socialisation.
We, as a society, in general conform to behave in an appropriate manner due to learnt rules on conduct. The way we learn the culture of our society is known as socialisation which is a process that starts the day we are born and ends the day we die. Functionalism Functionalists believe that we are socialised by the influence of institutions on our behaviour. The first institution we are introduced to is the family (primary socialisation) – the breakdown of which many Functionalists’ including Talcott Parsons believe to be the cause of society’s problems.
We are then influenced by numerous other institutions such as education, the media, peer groups, religion etc. (secondary socialisation). Through my experiences as a police officer I for one have mixed views on this concept. It is true to say that many of the criminals I have come across are known to me to have come from ‘scummy’ families and it is obvious that they have not had much of a good family upbringing. But, there are also those who have had a good upbringing by the family (primary socialisation) only to deviate from the ‘straight and narrow’ and break their families hearts in the process.
Could this possibly be due to other influences such as peer groups (secondary socialisation)? Society is viewed as comprising of individual parts. Each of these parts has a function that contributes to the stability of society. In isolation from one another the parts are useless but working together they make for a better society. An analogy has been made comparing society with a watch. If a watch is taken to pieces all you have is a heap of parts.
They have to be put together correctly in order to make the watch work, i. e.a watch is more than a sum of its parts, it is how the parts are organised. In the same way society is not just about the people living in it but about the way they relate to one another, how they are organised – the social structure. The Social Structure This theory was made famous by one of the major founders of sociology, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). Durkheim’s thinking was that in the days of old, i. e. urban society, religion played the major role in socialising people whereas, with the transition of society from urban to rural, the division of labour became the main basis for social cohesion.
As previously mentioned the concept of us all being dependent on one another in order for society to function correctly is central to Durkheim’s view. Durkheim also argues that the process of change is so rapid and intense that the moral standards which were provided by religion are broken down and individuals can start feeling aimless with no purpose in their lives – a term coined as ‘anomie’ by Durkheim. Conflict Theory The most famous conflict theory is that of Marx. In common with functionalism he viewed society as a system and human behaviour as a response to that system but that is where the similarities end.
Where functionalists saw society operating through consensus, Marx believed society to be made up of two major classes and believed it to operated mainly through class conflict i. e. the class that own ‘the means of production’ (the most powerful) v the class that has to sell its labour in order to make a living (the least powerful). He saw individuals as having no power and found them only to be identifiable by the membership of their class. Members of this society may be unaware of the conflict of interests and may not be aware that they are being exploited.
This can help to maintain order as people won’t rebel if they don’t realize an injustice is being done. When people realise an injustice is being committed they may express themselves in a number of ways such as criminal behaviour, political protest or industrial action (‘Scotrail’ train drivers striking for a better pay deal). Socialisation – Culture Before we look at the links between culture and socialisation we will first consider the differences between culture and society.
A society can be termed as a comprehensive social grouping of people with something in common e. g. industrial society, unemployed society etc. We can be members of different societies e. g. employed, unemployed, family etc. Culture refers to the behaviour of members of these societies which enable them to exist in their societies. The behaviour is learned i. e. not genetically acquired and by behaving the way we do it is also shared with other members and passed on from generation from generation.
As a father, how I act/ behave towards my child is party based on experiences I shared with my own father. I have also observed the interaction between father/child in other family circumstances and unconsciously ‘learned’ paternal skills. The same can be said of a police officer. The behaviour I use may be different to the behaviour I use as a father but it is relevant to the ‘police society’. Much of the culture of police officers is learned via tutor cops (passed on from generation to generation) and much of it is gained by shared experiences/training.
Socialisation is not about our cultures as such but how we acquire our culture, how we acquire the social characteristics considered appropriate in our society. Socialisation – Values Values form an important part of the culture of society. The ‘values’ of a society is something that a society holds dear to it; something that a society believes is worth fighting for or, indeed dying for. During the Roman era Christians held their beliefs of Christ dear to them, so much so that many of them lost their lives in the amphitheatre as they wouldn’t renounce their beliefs.