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Developing a sociological perspective about government systems and other sociological concepts related to developing countries - Essay Example

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It has been useful to discuss and understand the terminology of describing world governments, and to see how concepts like “third world” and “underdevelopment” all reflect a focus on the power and influence of Western cultures on others who for many reasons have had less power…
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Developing a sociological perspective about government systems and other sociological concepts related to developing countries
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Developing a sociological perspective about government systems and other sociological concepts related to developing countries. It has been useful to discuss and understand the terminology of describing world governments, and to see how concepts like “third world” and “underdevelopment” all reflect a focus on the power and influence of Western cultures on others who for many reasons have had less power. This course provides an opportunity to look behind Western notions of “progress” and “modernization” to see things from other perspectives. One example of this has been the opportunity to explore how colonial influences have been viewed by people in many different colonized countries. The breaking up of tribal units, urbanization and missionary activity have all been features of “modernization” and it is clear that there are multiple consequences of these different forces. The most obvious difference between developed and less developed countries is that of wealth, but the cultural differences are perhaps even more important. One factor which has come through very strongly in the course is the concept of “cultural pluralism”. There is a big difference between the nation states of the West, with their extensive government systems and very strong sense of national identity and the much more complex mix of identities that is apparent in places like India and Africa. The impact of alien colonial ideas and the move from a rural and tribal setting to urban centres, in search of work and prosperity has created a very intriguing situation for millions of people in the modern world: “Cultural pluralism exists because individual actors include among their repertory of social roles one or more culturally defined identities.” (Young, 1976, p. 38) The diaspora, or spreading out of different groups caused by factors like slavery, economic migration, persecution and war means that in developing countries people often have complex and multiple identities including aspects of nationality, tribe, race, and religion, as well as their current location which may not be linked with any or all of these. Understanding this kind of complexity helps to explain why there is so much violence in some third world countries. People are struggling to find a comfortable identity amidst the conflicting forces around them. Another explanation for this political and cultural instability is the way that unfair distribution of wealth creates hardship and lack of access to education, health facilities and decent living conditions for millions of people across the world. The role of governments here is crucial, especially in the phase of moving from largely rural economies to modern industrial economies. In thinking about how to respond to ethnic conflict and human suffering in third world countries it was interesting to note that military interventions and massive aid responses are no solution in the longer term, and to question the assumption that external agencies can bring about change. Evans noted, for example, that “Neither the UN nor the EU alone coped comfortably with the politics of overlapping internal conflicts.” (Evans, 1997, p. 84) Local organisations, which could be tribes and councils, and not necessarily governments, appear to be one key element of change, and a move to democracy looks like a good overall objective, but the implementation of such ideas is not easy. Sociological analysis helps at least to untangle the complexity and see things in historical, cultural , political and personal categories. References Evans, G. (1997) Responding to Crises in the African Great Lakes. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Young, C. (1976).The Politics of Cultural Pluralism. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Read More
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