Sociology- Marxism

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‘Social Order exists because people are afraid to disobey the rules of society.’ Explain and assess this claim. [25]

Social order is the rules and regulations that are in place to steer human behaviour. It is the tool that prevents continuous conflict, violence and instability. A society that has succeeded in creating social order is one in which each member of society has the ability to live, to a degree, a stable life. There are two ways in which the States enforce social order: informal and formal social control.

Informal control is the process of socialization from a young age. It is based on learning what is acceptable and what isn’t from those around you. Functionalists say that informal social order is produced through the form of a value consensus that is shared in society. Value consensus refers to the idea of society having a moral agreement. In order to reinforce socialization there are mechanisms in place that are based on rewards and punishments. On a basic level rewards are praise, encouragement and acceptance while punishments are ridicule, rejection and gossip. On a slightly deeper level, for those who are religious, there is the promise of heaven as a reward and on the opposing side there are threats of punishment in the afterlife. However there has been a huge decline in the influence of religion in modern industrial societies since the end of the nineteenth century. Mass media has increased and so been used to create social order. Media discourage people from behaving ‘abnormally’ by presenting these behaviours as unacceptable. Schools are also used to create order as students are taught the core values of society and punished when they fail to meet the rules and regulations.

Formal controls are the public and legal forms used to control society’s members. Forms of control that are used to do this are the police, the courts and the prisons as well as the armed forces. There are certain behaviours that are thought of as dangerous by those in power and so become illegal behaviour. If someone is caught committing these crimes they are judged and punished. Often this is used to deter others from committing the same crimes. Formal control is about the lower class being fearful of the consequences should they disobey the laws.

Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth-century philosopher, thought that people are, at the core, selfish and competitive and without rules and constraints society would be in chaos because these competitive streaks would cause a relentless struggle between individuals in society. He said that people are rational and would accept a strong government because they want to restrict their selfish desires and live in an ordered society.

Emile Durkheim agreed that humans always desire more than they have and if these desires are to be fulfilled there must be a way to limit them. However Durkheim believed that it is society that limits these desires, not the individual. This is done through moral standards that the individual ‘internalizes’; these rules and standards begin to shape peoples personalities. Durkheim said this is called ‘collective conscience’.

He outlined two ways in which this was done; Mechanical and organic principles of solidarity. Mechanical solidarity is small-scale societies. There is not much division of Labour and hardly any differentiation of institutions. People have bonds that occur because of a shared experience. Organic solidarity is the opposite as it is about modern and complex societies. There is high division of labour and people are aware of the interdependence that makes it impossible to survive without the support of others in society. Durkheim says that there is a impulse to accepts rules that are good for others as well as ourselves. For a modern society to exist Durkheim argues that there must be a basic agreement on moral code and if humans are naturally selfish then such complex societies could not function.. There must be a ‘value...
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