1. Functionalist questions
a. What are the functions of Wal-Mart for society?
Wal-Mart is an American multinational retail corporation and one of the leading discount department retail stores (Wikipedia). It is the highest- grossing company in the United States (Fortune 2008a), and is by far one of the most successful companies worldwide. Wal-Mart offers a place to buy the majority of our goods under one roof like electronics, furniture, clothing, pharmacy, sports, food, books etc. Wal-Mart sells good at lower price than the others and this is even shown by its slogan “save money, live better”. It drives out smaller and sometimes even the expensive stores out of business due to its lower prices. Wal-Mart provides jobs for thousands of people in the society including the low-skilled people. It represents a trend of one stop shopping where we can get almost everything that we want. b. Are they the same or different from the functions of Wal-Mart in our individual lives? How do the two types of functions connect? One of Wal-Mart belief and function is the respect for the individual. They have given importance of respect for every individual and every member of the community. For individuals; Wal-Mart offers convenience, good pricing and multiple products under one roof. It reduced the overall cost to consumers as they don’t have to go from one place to another to buy different goods. c. Does Wal-Mart have both manifest and latent functions?
Manifest functions are conscious and beneficial whereas, latent ones are the unconscious, and beneficial. Yes, Wal-Mart does have both manifest and latent functions as they are found in every social institution. Its manifest function is that it’s a place where goods and services are exchanged. Making profit is also one of its manifest functions. Its latent functions could be many like a place for entertainment or a place to congregate. Another latent function could be to maintain social inequality by paying wages to employees. d. Does Wal-Mart have any dysfunctions for society? If so, what are they? How might these dysfunctions become incentives or catalysts for social change? Dysfunctions are unconscious, unintended and have a negative effect on society. They are basically harmful consequences of people's actions. Yes, Wal-Mart has dysfunctions for society. It has been criticized by labor unions and other groups and individuals. People have protested against Wal-Mart and its policies and business practices. It has been criticized for charges like racial and gender discrimination etc. The company has been accused of underpaying and exploiting its low-wage workers (Ehrenreich, 2001), union busting, and engaging in sex discrimination in hiring and promoting. Wal-Mart does not allow unionized labor and this might be one of the key catalysts for social change. Wal-Mart has been charged with transferring the security and health costs of its workers to the taxpayers of each State in which it operates. 2. Conflict questions
a. Does Wal-Mart affect every group in society in the same way? No, Wal-Mart does not affect every group in society in the same way. It has established itself as a consumer giant and gives opportunity to the buyers to save money. b. If not, what are the differences?
The main purpose for saying that Wal-Mart does not affect every group in society in the same way is because there are some individuals who don’t want to shop there without caring how low the prices they are offering. If they like some other retail stores or another chain they will buy from there. It just demands on what actually the consumer wants. Another reason might be that some people don’t like the customer service they provide so they don’t prefer to buy from there. Everyone have their own preference for liking or disliking Wal-Mart. c. Does Wal-Mart perpetuate the inequalities (of gender, race, class, religion, age, sexual orientation, and so on) in our society? If so, how? No, Wal-Mart...
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