Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Conflict theory is “the stress that society is composed of groups that are competing with one another for scant resources.” (Henslin, pg. 18) A conflict theorist will often see society as opposing groups with power being a goal for both groups. Karl Marx the founder of this theory believed that the key to history was the conflict between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat, the rich versus the poor. Basically, Marx implied that in every society a small group controls production and business while another group functions beneath it. Yet as society has progressed so has conflict theory. Conflict is a part of every layer in society; within roles, groups, and sometimes even the entire society.
Within any relationship there can be stressors that add strain to the relationship whether they are the relationship between parent and child, boyfriend and girlfriend, and relationship between spouses. Marriage can be a beautiful disaster, with love, hurt, anger, and happiness all being key emotions in the relationship. But a key factor in marriage is the idea that conflicts arise. In society today the role of men and women are changing, with women gaining increasing amounts of power in the workforce. Today in marriages, men and women are both often working and sharing the responsibility of bills and providing for the house. Often women are pulling two jobs if there are children at home because someone has to take care of the kids. These extras stresses of pulling two jobs and other conflicts from friends or other family members can cause strain between the husband and wife. No longer is the man in control of everything, women try to share in and be a part of “bringing home of the bacon,” this is the power struggle
So what does all this have to do with conflict theory?? The little conflicts that come home from both spouses and the continual struggle over power add conflict to the marriage. The power struggle between the husband and wife is like the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat with the husband taking the role of the rich and the wife the poor who has to work her way up. This struggle affects the roles of each spouse change and how they interact with one another. “Wives now have more control over the family purse and make more decisions than their husbands.” (Henslin, pg.319) This idea shows already that woman’s roles as wives are changing and gaining more power in the relationship between husband and wife when compared to the early and mid-19th century.
These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumph, like fire and powder which as they kiss consume. (Shakespeare, Act II, Scene VI) Marriage is beautiful in the happy moments and can be a disaster in the scary moments. In those conflicting moments, remember take a deep breath and it will pass.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Tom Smith. Oxford: Globe Theater Press, 2005. Print.
Henslin, James. Essentials of Sociology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2007. Print.
The role of the tobacco smoker in America has changed dramatically over time. Once regarded as a symbol of wealth and giving the smoker an element of class, smoking is now widely regarded as a social problem that is to be ashamed of.
I lived in the Midwest for about 4 years and it was not an unfamiliar sight to see a billboard spouting something like "Imagine Your Wife a Widower - Quit Smoking Today!" Another common one was the picture of the coughing baby. This one was directed at mothers who smoke. This type of guilt based advertising is not acceptable for all health choices made in America. It is socially unacceptable for someone to harass a severely overweight individual on their health choices, though the two problems are comparable on their impact on human health. Some may say that they are not comparable, because overeating doesn't impact the health of others. Yet, this is not the case. There was even an episode of What Would You Do aired in late 2009 that dealt with the issue of overweight parents having overweight children. An actor addressed a mother of an overweight child, chiding her on her food choices for her daughter. In this instance, the popular opinion was that it was none of anyone else's business what the mother was feeding her child. Would the response have been the same if the woman had been smoking in front of her child, even if she went out of her way to explain to her daughter that it was not a good choice? Probably not.
For a symbolic interactionist's perspective, we have to look at what smoking means. What does it say when someone smokes a cigarette in public to everyone else? To many, smoking is still associated with the criminal and the otherwise defiant. One just has to look at the campaigns on the side of the Trax here in Utah. They are the "Are you a target of Big Tobacco?" ads. The girl has brightly dyed red hair, arm warmers, and heavy boots. The boy has spiked blonde hair and black baggy jeans. It is an assumption that this is a group that is likely to smoke. This reinforces the idea that smoking is viewed as a form of defiance, of going against the norm for no reason other than rebellion. We also have to look at how health is viewed in our society. I found this quote describing attractive, healthy individuals: "In society, attractive people tend to be more intelligent, better adjusted, and more popular. This is described as the halo effect - due to the perfection associated with angels. Research shows attractive people also have more occupational success and more dating experience than their unattractive counterparts." (Feng, 2002) We view healthy, attractive people as even more trustworthy than their sick counterparts. This may help explain why the smoker is so looked down upon.
Smokers are also often viewed as irresponsible, or directly responsible for the ill health effects felt by others. Many anti smoking campaigns are heavily guilt based, especially towards mothers who smoke. I found this description of an ad that appeared in England: "features a young mother, clearly in the terminal stages of lung cancer, who expresses her feelings of guilt and remorse that a cancer caused by her own smoking will soon take her away from her children. In turn, her daughter expresses her anger and grief at the fact that her mother is expected to die shortly as a result of a disease resulting from her smoking." (Fitzpatrick, 2006) There are many, many other health conditions caused by personal choice that cause premature death, such as diabetes or heart disease. We are trained to avoid all unhealthy behaviors, but those associated with deviance and criminality are stigmatized much more heavily than others.
Feng, Charles. "Looking Good: The Psychology and Biology of Beauty." The Journal of Young Investigators :: JYI.org. Journal of Young Investigators, Dec. 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2011.
Fitzpatrick, Micheal. "The Stigma of Smoking | Dr Michael Fitzpatrick | Spiked." Spiked: Humanity Is Underrated. Spiked, 21 Feb. 2006. Web. 29 Nov. 2011.
We have begun to overcome many types of discrimination in our world today, but are still struggling with others. The issue of same-sex marriage has been debated for years, and in many states we have resolved to accept it. There are still many people who are not convinced it is ethical or should be legal. Frank Bruni’s article in the New York Times “Race, Religion and Same-Sex Marriage” calls attention to the fact that statistics are showing certain races or religions to be particularly opposed.
The sociological viewpoint of conflict theory is a great tool to use to analyze the questions raised by Bruni’s article. First there is the obvious conflict between traditional heterosexual marriages and same-sex marriages place in society. I find the conflicts revolving around the statistics of Blacks opinion of gay marriage more interesting in the context of this article: victims of discrimination vs. religious affiliation. Bruni points out that one might think that people who have suffered discrimination such as Blacks have in the past should see common ground with the gays being discriminated against and support them in their equal rights.
On the other hand, a large percentage of the Black population voting against the legalization of gay marriage are extremely religious, and find that the rules of the bible outweigh the issues of discrimination. I think this might make the statistics quoted in Bruni’s article more an issue of religion rather than race, as most of the focus in the article is put on. Our actions and opinions are often formed by our morals. If these morals are rooted in religion they can change our views of issues such as discrimination.
There are also conflicts between types of discrimination. “African-Americans were enslaved. And during their brutal struggle for justice, they couldn’t make a secret of what set them apart from others, said Henderson, who supports same-sex marriage, during a phone interview Friday” (Bruni). Henderson’s point is that some Blacks feel that the discrimination against gays isn’t the same because they can hide or change the reasons that cause the discrimination against them, unlike issues of Black oppression.
Is sexual orientation really a choice? Should discrimination on a religious basis be tolerated? Conflicting processes of socilization in a person’s development create rifts in people’s opinions about such questions. To lessen these rifts, and come closer to equality for Blacks and gays alike, we need to examine statistics as Bruni’s article does and break down conflicts behind them to find some sort of a solution to inequalities in our world.