Roles of Individuals and Societies

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Roles of Individuals and Societies

The early twentieth century marked a period of rapid industrial and technological change in a society which began to redefine the roles of the individual and society. Max Weber and Sigmund Freud were two revolutionary thinkers of the time who recognized the importance of this relationship and tried to determine whether the power balance between society and the individual was tilted in one particular direction or the other. A world becoming an increasingly complex and restrictive forced these thinkers to ask themselves if society had indeed finally become a force too dynamic for the individual to manipulate; that if in fact it was society that had mastered the man. Although both thinkers provide radically different views of culture and society they are both essentially trying to answer the same question: does the individual control society or does society control the individual?

The relevance of such an argument might first be debated, for one might first respond to this question with some doubt; surely we have control of ourselves, do we all not have control of our own faculties at this very moment? At this moment you are reading or being subjected to a reading of this paper, therefore if this indeed is not fufilling some immediate obvious desire it is accomplishing some sort of other goal. Likely this goal is to achieve an education but again we might ask ourselves why? Surely we all want to further our scholarly qualities and develop our minds but more likely this again has an underlying goal: to succeed in society. Society has shown us that in most cases it requires a good deal of education in order to succeed. Therefore we might entertain the question, is our presence here a product of our own desires or that of society's? The point of this reasoning is only to point out something we may not immediately recognize: regardless of what our own free will may dictate, we cannot help but be influenced by the...
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