Values and norms are shared guides that form a society. A Norm is a general standard that social groups will see as informal laws or guides to our behaviour. A social expectation which is underpinned by members of society’s shared ideas on, important beliefs and desirable/undesirable behaviours make up our values. This then forms the basis of a society’s culture. We learn these behaviours through agents of socialisation such as family, work or school for example our manners such as please and thank you, this is usually learnt from primary socialisation which begins at home within the family unit. Some sociologists believe that our norms and values are created through the agreement of the majority of society’s members, this is a consensus theory. However, others disagree stating norms and values are created by powerful people in society to benefit them, a powerful minority, this is a conflict theory.
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Functionalism is a consensus theory. Emile Durkheim, is a functionalist that argued that society was like a human body. Society was made up of a range of institutions that acted like the organs of the body: they are all needed together to work together so society is able to function adequately just like a body. Problems in one area of society could cause problems and dysfunctions somewhere else, just like a problem in one organ could be a symptom of wider problems within the body. To avoid problems, it is essential to gain cooperation between institutions and social roles, such as schools and work. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019)
Functionalists argue humans are naturally individualistic, gaining cooperation requires consensus of the rules. To ensure this continues from generation to generation, we learn behaviour through two types of socialisation. Primary socialisation is learnt from birth by our families. Families will teach and pass on these norms, values and social attitudes of society’s rules from a child’s early years. Children learn this from observing and being informally educated by sibling’s parents and other relatives, for example getting dressed. (Parsons, 1951) argues primary socialisation is important as it gives people the foundation for basic norms and values. Families will act like factories with systems available to continuously reproduce human personalities in a warm loving environment. (sociologytwynham. com, 2019)
Functionalists recognise that families support children from early years, and they are motivated to look after and to teach the following positive behaviours, to encourage and nurture people within the family, to successfully integrate into society, this is because they love and care for each other. Then people’s norms and values in society will carry on through secondary socialisation with friends, work colleagues and influential people, furthering socialization of the child. In large complex societies it’s not possible to talk about one culture. Although society’s culture can share many mainstream values or norms such as wearing shoes when you’re outside, their own subculture might change with different beliefs or ways of life. This will happen throughout a person’s life and can change depending on the people a person spends time with. (DifferenceBetween. com, 2019)
A successful society is based on value consensus people agreeing on a shared set of values and norms, this enables people to work together and have a shared set of goals which gives people a sense of belonging, and ensures people are committed to following the rules. Societies develop ways to ensure that people comply with society’s rules and regulations, this is called social control, whether these rules are formal or informal. The aim is to minimize deviance and there are a number of ways society achieve this, such as economic pressure; going to work and earning money to play your part in society so you can feed and shelter yourself, physical violence; such as police intervention if people are causing harm to society and social acceptance so you can fit into society.
Functionalists believe in a Meritocracy, which is another important mainstream value, this is where everyone in a society has the chance to succeed, no matter what their background is, working hard and being rewarded according to their merit. In an English society, every child has the right to go to school from a certain age, giving all children the same amount of knowledge, no matter what social class children can come from. Children benefit from this because they have the same chance of learning, promoting and providing equal opportunities. This in turn can create motivation to how much work they put into learning as working harder benefits individuals in society, engaging everyone into fitting within their social role. Norms and values within school reinforce the acceptance of the social norm to do well and work hard, because those who work the hardest and offer the most will gain the highest reward, this keeps everyone in society working towards a higher goal, giving society a purpose and meaning. Such as a Doctor must study and work hard gaining skills, which is beneficial to everyone within a society, so is more respected throughout the society, in turn giving a doctor a higher salary for their reward. This encourages cooperation and integration to help society grow, if you have a high reward such as a higher salary, people can afford a better lifestyle, such as a bigger house. Therefore, people will stay more committed to maintain basic norms and values, if commitment drops, society starts to unravel as consensus no longer exists because people will be dis-heartened with no drive to achieve higher, as there would be no reward for working harder.
In contrast to Functionalism, Marxism, a conflict theory, argues norms and values are not created through agreement of the majority but by the powerful minority (bourgeoisie) in society, who control the majority (proletariat) to benefit the powerful.
Society is in the state of conflict between the rich/powerful and the poor using an economic system called capitalism to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor. This is where the bourgeoisie, the powerful, own the forces of production such a factory and hold information. The bourgeoisie is a small minority called the ruling class, they employ the proletariat, the working class, to produce goods which the bourgeoisie go on to sell. This exploits the working class that produce the goods that are sold for profit. This enables the bourgeoisie to continue receiving profit for labour they haven’t done which allows them to continue staying rich for the labour of the proletariat. Marx called this arrangement the relations of productions.
Karl Marx argues that capitalism created an unequal social order that maintains through ideological coercion though the powerful. This created consensus, an acceptance of the values, expectations, and conditions which were determined by the bourgeoisie. Marx says that the work of producing consensus was done in society through social institutions, political structures, and culture, and the reason consensus was formed was for the foundation of economic production. (ThoughtCo, 2019)
Norms and values are imposed on the powerless by the powerful minority. They will impose norms and values designed to benefit the powerful. Humans are naturally competitive, but the norms and values influenced on the powerless majority only benefits the powerful, it is influenced on being competitive and individualistic. Marxists identify the main way of achieving this is by controlling their ideology this happens by imposing their norms and values onto them. An ideology is a system of ideas that forms the basis of an economic or political theory.
Marxists view on family is different to functionalists as Marxism views the family as an institution which acts on consumption, justifying inequality such as passing down private property to their children. The conflict theory teaches acceptance to hierarchy and promotes values to ensure reproduction of consumption is passed down encouraging people this system is fair. An example of the ideology is children must accept someone will always have authority that you have to obey, such as a head teacher at a school then, an employer in employment later on in life and that is unchangeable. (Thompson and WooCommerce, 2019)
In conclusion Functionalism and Marxism do not agree and have different views on having a basic consensus of norms and values. Functionalists believes everyone should be equal and work together to form a better society in which people are entitled to work hard to get better rewards, giving society motivation and everyone working towards a higher goal, whereas Marxism believes that
are born with your social class and you should accept it rather than earning the rewards. This could cause deviance as people have no drive to succeed as there will have no reward for working harder.
10 October 2020
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