1984 is full of sociological aspects that, although they take place in a fictional world, mirror aspects and issues that can be seen in existing sociological structures and institutions. The society in 1984 is seemingly very radical compared to those that the world is familiar with, however, in some aspects it seems only a short step from reality. The story is representative of many sociological concepts and in this essay I will focus on two: power and dominant culture.
The Party holds complete power over its people through many different facets including sanctions, restriction of resources, and complete command of media. The party controls nearly every aspect of society through their authoritative constrictions. I will provide a sociological analysis of how power is exerted through these three methods in the following paragraphs.
Sanctions are penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. (3) In 1984 there are few instances of sanctions as incentives so I will concentrate on sanctions as penalties. One of the many forms of penalty for not obeying the party is the authority given to the public to despise you and turn you in. The Party has created an atmosphere where the people are not only obedient to this law, but also in which it is taboo not to meet this institutional demand of nationalism. These sanctions even reach out to children for example, “The children… were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations.” (4) Sanctions are most obviously shown towards the end of the novel when Winston must pay for his defiance. For the crimes of individual thought and pleasure that was not in the interest of the party, Winston must endure excruciating torture and habilitation to a pro-Big Brother state of mind. It most obvious, through the atrocities inflicted upon Winston, that the party forbids any form of disloyalty and will go to great lengths to rid society of independent thought. These sanctions were extremely well implanted into the society and have taken on a life of their own in convincing people of Oceania that these sanctions are a legitimate rule book for what is good or bad. Through these sanctions, the Party has managed to gain power, not only in the fear of retribution, but also in the nationalism of the general public.
The second element of exertion of power is the control of resources. One of the ministries in 1984, known as the ministry of Plenty, is in control of all production and rationing of resources including food, water, clothes, and other goods. The ultimate goal of the ministry is the distribution of goods in order to ensure that there is “plenty” to go around to the public. However, what they really accomplish is borderline starvation, redistribution, low quality production, and a false idea that production and distribution is expanding. People, no matter the circumstances of...