My name is Aston Bourne, I was born on April 4th, 2000 in San Jose California. I grew up in a city called Sunnyvale, located in Silicon Valley. I grew up being the oldest of 3 boys, both my parents are from Europe and I am a first-generation American.
As I become older and more aware in the early stages of my life, I’ve been able to relate experiences in my life and the choices I’ve been given with my cultural background.
I know now that the person I have become today is not solely based around my choices but also shaped by the society I grew up in. Since the day I was born, there have been social forces that have constructed, molded, and influenced me.
I used to believe that decisions in my life were completely through my own thoughts and desires, but never thought about where I got these desires from. My own desires and beliefs in life have been primarily molded by the environment I have been exposed too, my relationships with others, the local economy, and the influence of large social institutions.
Taking all these social forcings into account throughout the relationships and experiences I’ve had, I find it important to consider the effects of social class, culture, and amorality.
As a child, I grew up playing Ice hockey, which isn’t the most common sport for someone born in California to play. When I was young I did not understand the privilege I had being able to play hockey, especially in California due to the cost of ice time, equipment, and travel which all adds up to be quite expensive.
“According to the functionalist perspective, work serves specific functions in society· Work serves as an important social structure as we become stratified according to our occupations and our income.” (Hall 1994). I was able to play this sport since my family could afford it, all my teammates either came from middle class or higher class families and the sport was predominantly played by white and privileged kids.
When I look back at how my social class has affected my ability to participate in extracurricular activities I realize I was given the opportunity to play the sport I love and enjoy due to the fact that my parents were willing to pay for my sports and have good enough jobs to support it.
Hockey has taught me numerous amounts of valuable life lessons and this experience was one of the most impactful in shaping me as a person. I am now aware of how much of a privilege hockey was for me as a kid, it taught me a lot about teamwork, leadership, and determination.
Hockey has given me an advantage in society since I have now made life long connections, traveled around the United States and even other countries to play, and while dedicating all this time to the sport it has kept me out of trouble. I now know that social class is what afforded me this amazing opportunity that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I come from one of the major cities in Silicon Valley called Sunnyvale. Silicon Valley is a place where many foreigners come to pursue good careers. Apple, Google, and Facebook are all located in the Silicon Valley and are always looking to hire the most innovative employees from throughout the world, this creates a very diverse area of many cultures and religions.
It is an extremely diverse place here, in my in high school I met a lot of classmates who came from very different backgrounds. For me, it was interesting to see the interactions with people from many different cultures, since I had come from two parents who had moved to silicon valley from Europe for better jobs. Looking back at this exposure to a diverse school I realize that this is a major reason I am open-minded when interacting with others and understanding them due to their differences in culture.
People who have not been exposed to this type of diversity may not understand why others act differently due to being raised with different cultures. At school, I was exposed to fellow classmates who wore different types of clothes, who listened to many different types of music, who had different beliefs on topics than I did, but I learned to work with them and this lead me to use our differences to gain a better understanding.
It is natural to fear what you do not know or do not understand, I was not raised in the same culture I could not openly understand why some people would make certain decisions on different topics. It was hard for me to relate my culture to anyone elses, I grew up in California with a mother from the Czech Republic and my father was from Ireland so the things I was taught as a child was already a mix of two very different cultures.
I realize my culture has molded me from a young age when i first started school I pronounced words incorrectly since I said them the way my dad said them in his Irish accent, this made many people laugh or question me.
Growing up and living in Silicon Valley also left me with a unique view on competition and amorality. Growing up, I became accustomed to the pressure of success and trying to outcompete others. I observed how much pressure parents were putting on their children to do well in school so that they could get into the top universities and become more successful than the rest.
Multiple suicides occurred in surrounding high schools due to their students feeling too much pressure for excellence. It can feel extremely overwhelming when you’re in an area of extremely successful people who are hardworking and driven, just a minor set back and you can feel hopeless.
This is an example of a latent function, with the competition and pressure in the educational system especially in very innovative areas, it causes undesired results like suicide. “Income and residential segregation have led to greater differentiation in school quality and opportunities between rich and poor neighborhoods” (Reardon 2011).
In silicon valley, money is prevalent most students are coming from successful families with tremendous pressure to become just as good if not better than their parents. Students compete against each other constantly to outperform their classmates and be the top of the school.
The competition level of top students in areas like Silicon Valley is much tighter than those of lower performing places with less pressure. I observed my parents were not like my friend’s parents, they pushed me to do well in school but they were okay with seeing failure as long as progress was being made.
Many people do not understand that there are times you will not succeed but as long as you learn from it and stay determined you can catch up even if it’s at a slower pace. My dad said he made lots of mistakes when he was younger and wasn’t the best at school, yet he was able to make it out of Ireland and became quite successful and eventually moved to Silicon Valley.
“The family confers social status and class, family is expected to provide its remaining functions of raising children and providing affection and companionship for its members” (Popenoe 1993).
This is the functionalist perspective my father took when considering his own life experiences, the way his parents raised him made him who he is and now he has passed down his ways to me and my brothers, he taught us many valuable lessons to be successful which Is valuable knowledge I never would have gained. I love Silicon Valley and it been a great place to live but many people there lose their moral beliefs in order to try to get a step over the rest.
Understanding the way I have been impacted by my immediate surroundings has helped me grasp a better understanding of how my life has been impacted in a sociological view. Aspects of my life that I’ve deemed the most impactful are the social constructs of social class, culture, and amorality.
These have been the most influential in my life since they allowed me to experience and learn life lessons through extracurricular activities, allowed me to experience life with an open mind for others without using their cultures and backgrounds as a determinant of how I viewed them, as well as giving me the ability to look at the moral values of society as it progresses in competition.
After looking back at my life through the sociological imagination I now better understand how the norms, values, and lessons throughout my life have shaped me.
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