Human Beings As The Puppets Of Society

2156 words - 9 pages

Human Beings as the Puppets of Society

Sociologists have long argued about whether or not we are controlled
by the structure of the society in which we live, in other words, are
we or are we not ‘puppets of society’. Social structure theorists
such as Functionalists and conflict theorists like Marxists, believe
that we are ‘puppets’ and that our behaviour is controlled by the
structure of the society in which we live. Both theories suggest that
people are controlled by society but this argument is opposed by
social action theorists such as Symbolic Interactionists who believe
that society is created by the individuals themselves. To show far it
can be argued that human beings are ‘puppets of society’ this essay
will look at functionalism and social control through the family,
Marxism and social control within the education system and then look
at the opposing theory of Symbolic Interactionism. It is also
intended to discuss the recent structuration theory of Giddens who
argues that these theories are no longer valid in determining if we
are ‘puppets’ because both structure and action are necessary for
society to exist and thus in some instances in our lives we are
‘puppets’ and others we are not.

According to Jones, Functionalists like Durkheim consider ‘human
behaviour as learned behaviour’(2004, p.6), in other words everything
we know and do has to be taught to us given that when we are born we
have no knowledge of anything. They argue that all our behaviour is
learnt through the socialisation process. Functionalists consider
that primary socialisation is the basis to learning the norms, values
and roles of society and we undertake this process within the family
unit. It is, according to Functionalist theory, where we are taught
the traditions and cultures of the society we are born into. It is
through learning these norms and values of our own culture that we
learn our own role within society and are able to contribute to that
society and help maintain social stability. It could be argued that
through these ‘unwritten rules of society’, which we learn within the
family, we are forced to behave in a way that is beneficial for the
whole of society, thus we are ‘puppets of society’. Functionalists
see society as a consensus state where almost everyone, because of the
norms and values passed onto them through their primary socialisation,
agrees to abide by them. Most people generally appear to respect and
follow by these rules and it could be, according to Functionalists
that it is due to the fact that from birth we are:

confronted by a social world already in existence. Joining this world
involves learning “how things are done” in it. (Jones, 2004, p. 6)

Jones appears to suggest that we can only belong to society if we
learn what is already known. It does...

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