When I look back and try to analyze my personal sociological standpoint, I see myself as a functionalist with organic solidarity throughout of my personal background. However, I also support conflict theory related to my educational experience in United States.
I grew up in a very diverse city and was raised in a traditional family: mother, father, grandparents. I think my family is the major framework for me. I believe that it is essential nucleus helps me function and be successful in society. I learned that functionalism in sociology supports idea of maintaining cohesion among different parties in society. Although, we are all so unique in our own ways of living, we still create harmony for functioning with each other. My mother is one of the major mentors in my life. Her voice always plays very important part in my decision-makings. My family works like an “organism”. We all perform different roles on a daily basis, but still support overall stability in our relations. My parents taught me the ways how you function within your family relates to your functioning with other members around us. Strong family foundation gave me an opportunity to be an active participant of my large community nowadays.
As we learned in our sociology class, functionalist paradigm/theory according to E. Durkheim exists in two different forms: mechanical and organic solidarities. I can say my grandmother’s generation came from mechanical solidarity. She lived in a very small urban area, didn’t go to college back then, but was a hard worker and helped with different skills on a farm. There wasn’t absolute division between man’s and woman’s work. My grandmother did different types of labor each day, helping her parents to maintain farmer’s land. It was very well known agricultural area, but very narrow-specialized in harvesting. Job market was very limited. All people in my grandmother’s community were very similar in their roles and reinforced collectivism. She told me it was different type of life, but still very highly structured and organized.
People lived very simple lifestyle, shared the same type of work, interests, values and believes. Everyone wore the same type of clothes, makeup, haircuts. There were small community clubs for people to socialize. My grandmother’s community was very bonded. People back then had different political regimen. In 1960s nobody went to church because government proclaimed ateism, and it was a norm during those years. I do know that in 1960s Ukraine was labor-oriented country, mainly manual one. There weren’t so many big cities, and majority worked in urban areas. Rarely anyone could notice something indifferent among those small communities. But, everything was very balanced.
Well, I am the “product” of organic solidarity. My grandmother moved to a big Ukrainian city in 1970s. Since then everyone in my family, expect me (I wasn’t born yet), had to learn how to function in a different functionalistic form. It is hard for me to see myself functioning in mechanical solidarity era today. My grandmother went through very serious mental transition from living in a mechanical solidarity type of functionalism to organic solidarity. This type of functionalism is very different from my grandmother’s one. Ever since my childhood I never felt isolated from outside world. I have some similarities with my closest friends, but our families have very different backgrounds. We are very close in my family, but we function like a human cell, an organism, because every member of my family plays different role in my household. During my childhood and adolescence everyone did very specific task in my family. My dad didn’t let my mom to do his job, and my mom was very territorial about her job in a house. But, nevertheless different roles, we always maintained a well-balanced structure in my family.
I think functionalism can be applied to my educational and professional background as well. To successfully function in today’s society people have to be educated. Schools and colleges are essential tools of socialization. I have gone to school like million others in my society. Education reflects social integrity. At school I acquired different norms and values related to my own culture. In a very early age I learned what it takes to function in educational environment and was able to experience a small version of the wider society in which adults live and work. At home I always told that my job was to go to school and master my learning skills. In fact, it was and still is considered dysfunctional to drop off school.
School helped me to grow as an individual and recognize my unique qualities needed for overall social benefit. In college I was equipped with the right skills to do my future job. Today, I live in United States and go to college again in order to establish my professional goals and be able to give my best qualifications to my society. I think about positive aspects of schools in general. Education helps maintain socialization by bringing different people into values of achievement, competition and equality of opportunity. I cannot see myself without education because as an institution in society it creates social unity.
When I moved to United States from Ukraine I went through a lot of challenges. That’s when I faced conflict between two educational systems. When you hold degree from different country in United States you, in most cases, it is not recognized by US Department of Education. While I had a nursing degree from Ukraine, I wasn’t recognized in United States. In order to work as a nurse in United States, I had to redone many “baby” steps to be where I am right now.
Some members of my family being immigrants face the greatest barrier to professional practice and recognition of professional experience in America. When I moved here I felt a lot of disappointment due to the fact I could not work as nurse in United States. I was required to return to entry-level healthcare position as a CNA to demonstrate my competence. Due to inequality of educational systems I had to go to back to nursing school in United States. A lot of foreign professionals holding equal credentials in US never work as a doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers in United Stated.
American system serves as a gatekeeper for many immigrants nowadays. Some chose to overcome different obstacles to achieve their goals and become successful.
Functionalism reflects most aspects of my life: family structure, school, and religion.