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Current Events Essay

This paper seeks to write a summary of the conclusions of the authors of the newspaper article titled “Victim’s family learns to cope as Abraham prepares for release. ” (Witsil and Schmitt, 2006) from sociological perspectives. We will determine, among others the applicability of the summary of the conclusions in relation under the following sociological theories and terms: Structural-Functionalism, Conflict theory and Symbolic Interactionism, Symbols, Interaction, Meaning, Definitions, Functional Analysis, Dysfunctions, Equilibrium, Inequality, Power, Conflict, Competition, and Exploitation.

An attempt of what specific perspective(s) will be chosen that will best explain the event from the article and the purpose it serves in society. Structural-Functionalism Structural-Functionalism is a sociological theory that attempts to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs (originally just functionalism) until it came to focus on the ways social institutions meet social needs (structural-functionalism). The concept is said to derive its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim, who was concerned with the question of how societies maintain internal stability and survive over time.

Durkheim wanted to explain social cohesion and stability through the concept of solidarity, which in more “primitive” societies it was mechanical solidarity with everyone performing similar tasks that held society together; thus Durkheim posited that such societies tend to be segmentary, being composed of equivalent parts that are held together because of their shared values, common symbols, or systems of exchanges. On the other hand, Durkheim saw that in modern, complex society’s members perform very different tasks, thus these produce a strong interdependence between individuals.

He also believed that society is like an organism with many parts function together to sustain the whole; hence he argued that modern complex societies are held together by organic solidarity. (Wikipedia, 2007) (Paraphrasing made). The events in the article by Witsil and Schmitt (2006) showed the feelings of the mother of Ronnie Greene, the victim and his uncle Hayden to have forgiven Abraham, the killer of Ronnie, from the killing of Ronnie. This event is consistent with the theory of structural functionalism since they want to move on in life for the survival of their families.

The institution of the families of the killer and victims will have to overcome the event of killing, trial and eventual release for their own survival. Hence there is basis to see that “societies are seen as coherent, bounded and fundamentally relational constructs that function like organisms, with their various parts (social institutions) working together to maintain and reproduce them” Wikipedia (2007). If they will not understand each other, society will not grow and overcome challenges for survival.

A functional analysis will therefore reveal the role played by each member of society. Wikipedia (2007) however admitted of limitations of structural-functionalism. These include is its inability to account for social change as it focuses so intently on social order and equilibrium in society, its failure also to explain the cause of those effects and the preservation of the status quo, where some opponents to structural-functionalism paint that conflict and challenge to the status quo as harmful to society.

These limitations appear to have confirmation by the attitude of mother of the victim and his uncle Hayden to just forgive the child (Paraphrasing made). Forgiving means elimination of the conflict by the acceptance of what happened legally and emotionally. Conflict Theory Another theory that finds application is the conflict theory which argues that society is not about solidarity or social consensus but rather about competition. Under said concept, society is made up of individuals competing for limited resources (e. g.

, money, leisure, sexual partners, etc. ) and those broader social structures and organizations (e. g. , religions, government, etc. ) reflect the competition for resources in their inherent inequalities. Moreover it is viewed that some people and organizations have more resources (i. e. , power and influence) and they use those resources to maintain their positions of power in society (Wikipedia, 2007) (Paraphrasing made) The events in the article by Witsil and Schmitt (2006) also points out some characteristics of conflict theory.

The lack of forgiveness coming from Edwards and the younger brother Chris for the killer and blaming the parent by Edward for not doing something to have disciplined Abraham and which discipline could have prevented what happened to the child is an indication that Edward and her brother want change to happen in society. They feel that the system of law is not enough to serve the end of justice because of the feeling of bitterness that they still have towards Abraham who has not shown any remorse of conscience or rehabilitation after 10 years. They see dysfunctions in society without a true retribution.

Wikipedia (2007) explained that the conflict theory was developed in part to illustrate the limitations of structural-functionalism, which argued that society tends toward equilibrium or focuses on stability at the expense of social change. This seeming deficiency of the theory is contrasted with the conflict approach, which argues that society is constantly in conflict over resources (Paraphrasing made). In the events found in the article by Witsil and Schmitt (2006), we could thus see the opposing positions of the mother and the uncle as against the younger Edward and Chris.

The older ones (the mother and the uncle of the victim) have understood what happened although it is painful; they have forgiven the killer, Abraham. This would really starts their emotional healing hence society continues to go on in life. For younger people (Edward and Chris) there was difficulty to forgive by their demanding accountability from the parents. While the first group tries to preserve the status quo, the younger generations see inequality, conflict, exploitation and exercise of power by those wielding it as they are more idealistic in their view to see that things are changeable.

The positions of Edward and Chris may be explained by the following primary assumptions of modern conflict theory: Competition over scarce resources is at the heart of all social relationships. Competition rather than consensus is characteristic of human relationships. Inequalities in power and reward are built into all social structures. Individuals and groups that benefit from any particular structure strive to see it maintained. Change occurs as a result of conflict between competing interests rather than through adaptation. Change is often abrupt and revolutionary rather than evolutionary. (Wikipedia, 2007)

The realities of the assumptions of the modern conflict theory are indeed present in the events described in the article by Witsil and Schmitt (2006). Edward and her younger brother Chris demanding that Abraham should show some regret and remorse is virtually asking compensation in the sense that the killer should feel the pain of committing an error in society. They thought that other people need to change. They see the inequality of what could good parents like their mother could be responsible and the mother of Abraham who was irresponsible since she has allowed her child Abraham to have that behavior.

Again conflict theory still has limitations and one of which is that it overlooks the stability of societies. It argues that while societies are in a constant state of change, much of the change is minor and that many of the broader elements of societies remain remarkably stable over time, indicating the structural-functional perspective has a great deal of merit (Wikipedia,2007) (Paraphrasing made). If the Edward and Chris will not accept in their hearts and mind about the situation, they could be demanding change in society which may overlook the stability of society. Symbolic Interactionism

Another theory is symbolic Interactionism which is a theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between humans and society. Its basic notion is that human action and interaction are understandable only through the exchange of meaningful communication or symbols which of course have their own definitions. The main principles of the concept are: 1. Human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that things have for them 2. These meanings arise of out of social interaction 3. Social action results from a fitting together of individual lines of action

According to the theory, the objective world has no reality for humans and that only subjectively-defined objects have meanings and those meanings are not entities that are bestowed on humans and learned by habituation. The theory posits instead, that meanings can be altered through the creative capabilities of humans, and individuals may influence the many meanings that form their society, hence it believes that society is a social product (Wikipedia, 2007) (Paraphrasing made). The theory seems to find application in the area of meanings that were conveyed by the event in the article by Witsil and Schmitt (2006).

The freeing of Abraham for Edward and Chris Greene is in effect saying that society could not be fair by their not having seen any remorse of conscience on the part of Abraham and that justice may not have served its purpose. The theory admits also of limitation by overlooking macro social structures (e. g. , norms, culture) as a result of focusing on micro-level interactions. Hence, some symbolic integrationists counter that if role theory is incorporated into symbolic interactionism – which is now commonplace – this criticism could be addressed.

The part of the vent that fulfilled this limitation by their (Edward and Chris) is their lack of appreciation of the roles created by law and legal system that the juvenile delinquent must be released at the age of 21 and the courts now have to lose jurisdiction over the case. If Edward and Chris will realize that the justice is served when the law is fulfilled then the interactive symbolism has found its application very clearly supplemented by their acceptance of the roles played by institutions like the court to make their decision for serving the ends of the law.

Conclusion After appreciating the fact of the article and determining the application of the various sociology theories and terms, it was found out that each of the theories could not explain everything that happened in the article but that at each theory has a way of sharing in the explanation what really happen in the events from various sociological perspectives.

Hence the different theories do not mean that one is more applicable than the other , but they should rather viewed as complementary to one another and having understood these theories would provide a better understanding of the various stages in the development and growth of societies. References Wikipedia (2007) Introduction to Sociology/Sociological Theory {www document} URL http://en. wikibooks. org/wiki/Introduction_to_Sociology/Sociological_Theory#Conflict_Theory, Accessed January 19, 2007 Witsil and Schmitt (2006), “Victim’s family learns to cope as Abraham prepares for release. ” Detroit Free Press Inc.


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