The ‘self-image is the key to human personality and human behaviour. Change the self image and you change the personality and the behaviour. (Maxwell Maltz) Sociology is a systematic way of studying the social world. It seeks to discover the causes and effects of intercommunication and interaction that in social relation. While the functionalist provided a static view of society. Functionalism views society like a biological organism. The parts or institutions of the organism or society function appropriately to ensure the whole structure works efficiently and effectively.
They believe that the whole has greater power than the individual parts. The three main aims and objectives of functionalism are to maintain order, stability and equilibrium in society. (Functionalist and Marxist Perspective) Max Weber (1864-1920), a German sociologist and a contemporary of Durkheim’s, also became a professor in the new academic discipline of sociology. Weber also believed in social actions as an action responsible by the individual. He believed that the individual need to take account for his own actions to be considered social.
Weber defined social action as an action that an individual takes and attaches meaning and is conscious of the action. The individual must also take into consideration how others react to their actions. If the individual is not conscious of their action then it cannot be termed as social action and if they do not pay attention to the reaction of others for their action then it’s not social. On the stand point of the socialist, they need to find out the meaning of the action of the individual. From this, Weber took on the realization of social actions into social interactions – the interaction of individuals.
He did not take into account religion, family, work or school. Marx, on the other hand believed that social actions leaned heavily on economic structures, but Weber did not agree because he believed they influenced the response of the action. Weber also had his views on religion as an influence on social action. He believed that religion stemmed what is called the spirit of capitalism or protestant ethic. Religion once believed that since they were the only true religion that they had no worries and will always be saved.
Protestants came in with the idea opposite to this belief and then changed people’s perception of being saved. They then believed that financial success is a blessing from God and so began living frugal lives, investing money to make more money. Hence this brought about the view of capitalism. On the other hand, Weber however had a different view on social actions as to functionalism. Functionalism believed that society is a whole unit made up of interrelated parts that work together. Functionalism believed that for a society to work in harmony they must work together as a whole.
Durkheim believes that society is composed of many parts, each with its own function. When all the parts of society fill in their function, it’s a normal state. If they do not then it’s abnormal or pathological. This major difference of these perspectives of society is their level of analysis which is micro-sociological and macro-sociological. Micro-sociological examines small scale patterns of social interaction which is the view of interactionism, whereas macro sociological examines large scale patterns of society which is the view of functionalism.
The micro-sociological aspect of society, like Weber, believes in the individuals and what influences or causes their actions and the reactions of others based on the actions. The macro-sociological aspect, like Marx, believes in the larger picture of society as a whole with each part working together to achieve a function. Both functionalism and social interactionism has their varied views of gangs in society. Functionalism does not support gangs because it makes society unstable. Functionalism believes in society as a whole which makes it stable.
Functionalism looks at gangs and how they contribute to or detract from society. Gangs contribute to society since they classify people into different identifiable groups, provide an example of defiance, and inspire the development of institutions of social control and total institutions. They detract from society in that they separate individuals from the main stream of society and there is a lack of social integration. Socialists like Weber, would look deeper into the reason behind gangs. Gangs, although part of society, but not considered a part of society since it has no function which shapes a stable society.
Gangs are made up of small groups of people as little and three individuals. According to The Oxford Study Dictionary, “A gang is a number of workmen working together or a band of people going about together or working together, especially for some criminal purpose. ” They form a gang for a reason and act upon it. Their action is as a result of their beliefs and they are accountable for their actions. It becomes a social action as the reaction of gangs form a negative part of society as determined by many.
The social action, as Weber describes, gives a better understanding of gangs, since functionalism looks at gangs as a negative part of society. Social interactionism views gangs as a means to society achieving a goal, whether negative or positive. They look deeper into the individuals who make up the gang and the purpose of the gang. People in our poor urban Caribbean centers will be encouraged to join gangs because they are unable to achieve socially accepted goals through legitimate means. Gangs could be seen as innovators or achieving social goals through an illegitimate process.
Individuals in the Caribbean join gangs for a variety of reasons, example for identity recognition that is achieving a level of status that cannot be achieved within the society; for protection because gang members protect their members; fellowship or brotherhood since gangs serves as an extension of the family where the members are called their brother; intimidation and peer pressure as being forced to join a gang to prove a point; the fact that gangs causes the individual to feel important especially if this is lacking at home; where they actually join a gang to perform criminal acts since they are assured protection and profits of the group.
Because of the vast reasons for joining a gang, it is to be considered mainly by the socialism since they look into the reasons or underlying meaning behind the action of the individual. In the Caribbean people join gangs for many reasons and since Weber look at the action behind the individual for their action I think he best explain a better understanding of why people in the Caribbean join gangs. According to The Jamaican Gleaner people join gangs for a sense of purpose, belonging and value, hence the individual reasoning behind it all. We all face the ills of society yet only a few join gangs yet the majority does not. We are all a byproduct of our environment; however we do have an individual choice of conformity.
So, what makes a few join and the majorities abstain. It boils down to the individual’s reaction to the situation that propels them to join a gang. Weber’s social action theory of one’s own individual conscious choice of joining a group is the driving force here. True, society does affect one’s actions to act in a certain way but if this provides a better understanding of why people in the Caribbean join a gang why not the majority join a gang? Why only a few join gangs in the Caribbean? I believe that it is the individual own personal conscious decision to join a gang provides a better understanding. Weber looks deeper into why the individual join a gang.
If it is the society then according to Durkheim our society should be in a pathological state since the majority does not join a gang. The problem in the family is the one major driving force behind young people joining gangs. They do so for a sense of belonging according to the Jamaican Gleaner. The individual own conscious decision come to play here as to why they join a gang. They do so in an effort to fill in the void. The gang provides them with a new family and brotherhood. Peers pressure people to conform to a certain way of life and a gang is no different. One’s peers are part of the people whom they associate with because they are at school or workplace and so forth.
Peers tend to have a great influence on the individual decision they are face with on a daily basis, so they have to make that choice of succumbing to the pressure or overpowering it. They must each make that conscious choice in accord with Weber theory of social action. As mentioned in the introduction, Greg is an example of why people join a gang for protection. Greg was well on his way of making a conscious decision to join a gang; again leading to the point that people make an individual reason for joining gangs in the Caribbean.
In conclusion, It is my belief that both the functionalist who believes that society should work as a whole, one unit and the sociologists who states that its all about the action of the individual both contribute to the way people behaviour and the impact each theory has on society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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