The Existence of Social Order Today Essay

Cheriez Lucas Upper 6 Mr Chinapoo Sociology Discuss how sociologists explain the existence of social order today. Sociologists define social order as a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce ways of relating and behaving. A society which has social order is one where the persons within it accepts the norms and values and replicate them in their behaviour. In studying the theories of social order, there are three main perspectives, the functionalist, the Marxist and the interactionist perspectives.

The first sociologist to come up with the term social order was Thomas Hobbes, in the 17th century. Hobbes was an English philosopher who based his theory of social order on the Civil war. He is best known for his explanation of the “social contract”. In his explanation he stated that humans would submit some of their freedom to political leaders for order to be maintain. In this contract persons will give up their rights to commit crime as others in the society do the same and thus there are laws in which have to be made by a superior group which is the political system.

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In addition, Talcott Parsons and Emile Durkheim, two functional sociologists also shed light on how social order exists in modern society. Functionalists believes that society is like the human body in that it is combined of different institutions working together to make it function. Thus, Durkheim believed that all members of society contributed to maintenance of order by their individual tasks. These tasks make up a ‘value consensus’ in which most members of the society share the same common values and goals and this leads to social order.

For example, it is the parents’ role to give their children an opportunity to be educated and to provide them with food, clothing and shelter. When this does not occur social order is broken as the kids may now become a nuisance to society. Parsons in the 20th century further developed Durkheim’s work. He stated that there are four functional prerequisites that are needed for social order to be attained. These were: adaption, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance.

Through the institutions socialization occurs and values are passed on from generation to generation. Also, in order for social order to be attained, the entire social system must be harmonious. For this to happen there need to be laws and sanctions for deviant behaviour. That is why today if someone commits a crime they’ll receive a punishment to fit the crime whether, it be jail time or they are fined. On the other hand, Marx talks about social order being forced unto the proletariats by the bourgeoisie.

They, the bourgeoisie, conform the thinking of the proletariats to their capitalist way of thinking with ideologies. This is “a set of beliefs, values, and opinions that shapes the way a person or a group such as a social class thinks, acts, and understands the world”. This is also known as false consciousness (Engels), where the upper class forces their values onto the lower class. The control that the upper class exercises over the means of production includes not only the production of food or manufactured goods, it also includes the production of ideas as well.

This explains why members of the subordinate class may hold ideas contrary to their own interests. This is seen in Marx’s explanation of religion where he views it as the opium of the masses. Religion controls the mind of the proletariats, which in turn makes them accept the morals and values of the upper class. Thus, in order for the upper class to maintain social order they need to have false consciousness. Hence, the forces such as the police, army and security, were used to ensure that the working class obeyed the rules of society (Althusser).

Further, the interactionist sociologists also showed how social order exists in modern society. The founder of this theory is considered to be Max Weber, however, George Mead developed the theory in the 20th century. They believe that social order is attained through negotiation, when members of society interact with one another. Thus, communication and behaviour amongst the members of society determines the social order. Hence, you cannot pass laws and socialize people to maintain social order.

However, it is determined on the situations people are in. Thus, a person would not commit a crime based on their past but it would be because of the position or situation they are in at that specific time. In conclusion, social order is still in existence today. However, different societies adapt different ways to maintain it. These actions are usually based from either the Marxist, functionalist or the interactionist theories of social order.


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