February 13, 2004
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
The sociologist, Emile Durkheim stressed the importance of shared value and community in order to provide social order and stability. A sociologist would understand the clique, "The more things change, the more they stay the same" by analyzing how individuals and groups affect society and how society in turn molds individuals to be citizens. In order to analyze this we have to ask the question; why is there so much social stability?
Individuals and groups affect society in many ways. Individuals make up the structures within society. By this I mean that individual's beliefs both maintain and alter social structure. What we believe often becomes our reality, that which we come to expect. Expectations derived from our minds become the social structure under which we live. Our social interaction causes these social structures and patterns to arise. While socially interacting we constantly negotiation with others to understand what's going on. We are always talking to others, getting their point of view and adjusting our point of view to fit theirs. Our conformity stems from our need to feel accepted. But where do the ideas to which we conform come from? The answer is this; we are constantly being socialized by the larger power structures in society such as the media and the education system. Since the collective consensus of individuals is the force behind the rise of social structures and patterns those individuals also have the ability to change them. When there is change within one social institution a domino effect is created causing other social institutions to change. So, if the change within one social institution causes changes within others then our society will inevitably change. However, individuals are not the only force behind the change in social structures and institution. Social conflict can also cause change.
A collective consensus...