Sociology in New Zealand

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The country of New Zealand consists of two dominant cultures: Western-influenced European culture, and the Maori culture. This paper will focus on the sociological aspects of the environment, family, and aging in respect to the Western-influenced European culture only. I say that the European culture of New Zealand is Western-influenced because beliefs and values of Western cultures are affecting those of their own society. Based on findings regarding the three sociological topics that will be covered in this paper, the environment, family, and aging, the society in New Zealand is primarily a functionalist society. I have found that in New Zealand, the culture, under the influence of the environment and family structure, fulfills the functionalist theory, while aging implements the interactionist theory. These theories show how the New Zealand culture is one of efficiency, as these topics (the environment, family, and aging) have important roles as to how the society as a whole functions. However, it is not a completely functionalist society—it is also an interactionist society as the citizens are socially aware of each other and this awareness affects their behavior. The way the people of New Zealand behave, when influenced by the environment and their family structure, folds back into society, and benefits it as a whole. These topics follow the functionalist theory originally presented by sociologists August Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Emile Durkheim. These three sociologists had slightly differing views of functionalism, but the main message remained constant: that society is comprised of interconnected parts, each of which has its own function. The parts rely on each other to function optimally, or are interdependent, and if a part fails to carry out its function, it can negatively affect the other parts. This disrupts the unification of society and causes conflict, which, from a functionalist point of view, is a symptom of disease. Inversely, when all parts fulfill their roles, then society would be in a stable, unified, “disease-free” condition. Furthermore, the society will only thrive when stable and when its citizens cooperate with its collective conscience, or accepted basic values and rules of behavior. There are a few criticisms of this theory, however. Many argue that functionalism is merely an ideal state, as it refers to society as an effectively running machine with no complications. This is not always the case, as society is almost never free of conflict. Another argument is that the functionalist theory disregards the influence of whoever creates and maintains social agreements. (Kier, 2010) With these criticisms in mind, it is safe to say that no society completely fulfills the functionalist theory. Thus, the society of New Zealand is not completely functionalist, although some aspects are, such as the environment and family. ENVIRONMENT

The country of New Zealand is a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, located to the southeast of Australia. The terrain is predominantly mountainous, with some large coastal plains. Despite the fact that most of its terrain is mountainous, a majority of the New Zealand people live in urban environments that are mainly situated along the coast. That is not to say that the surrounding, non-urban environment is unimportant. Only about 13 percent of this land is used for crops, while the other 87 percent is reserved for industrial, urban, tourist, and residential purposes. The majority of the land is used to support and maintain the citizens’ way of life and their economy. The country is involved with a number of international agreements primarily regarding marine life, as New Zealand is located in the Oceania region of the world. New Zealanders, an outdoor-loving people, hold their environment in high regard. In a survey held in 2004 by the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board, 87 percent of New Zealanders consider the environment to be important. The same survey...
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