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Self and Society - Essay Example

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Name of student: Topic: Lecturer: Date of Presentation: Introduction Sociology is concerned with the study of human beings and their behaviour and especially the behaviour of individuals in relation to the society as a whole. The main question for sociologists is whether individuals are shaped by the society or it is the individuals that shape society…
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Download file to see previous pages Other theorists like Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx and others also seek to find out the relationship between individuals and society. Some believe individuals are constrained by social forces while others believe individuals are free to make choices that shape their own identity. The aim of this paper is to discuss the concept of identity especially the sociological perspectives on the relationship between individual and society. In order to discuss the concept of identity, the paper will be divided into five sections. The first section will discuss the relationship between individual and society in the perspective of Marx. Secondly, it will discuss the sociological perspective of Durkheim. The structuralism perspective will then be discussed after which we shall delve into the concept of self as it is important in identity formation. This will entail discussing the views of symbolic interaction theorists such as Cooley, Mead, and Blumer not forgetting the pragmatism perspective by Charles Peirce. This will help the understanding of the development of self and the concepts of “I” and “me” which reflect self-awareness of individuals and their identities. The paper will then conclude with a brief summary of the sociological perspectives. Karl Marx Karl Marx is among the renowned founders of sociology. His theory is based on historical materialism whereby he asserts that the development of human beings can be explained by their material conditions of existence throughout history. In his communist manifesto, Marx outlines the development of society through its economic systems from feudal to capitalism (Friedrich & Engels, 2012) showing the relationship between individuals and the society at various stages of development. Each economic system is defined by its mode of production which determines the relations of production in society. For example, in the feudal economic system the serfs had access to the means of production although they were under powerful feudal masters. They produced goods for consumption by the whole society. The relation between serfs and lords was that of servitude and they recognized themselves as serfs. Individuals were thus defined by what they did. Some were craftspeople, journeymen, blacksmiths, slaves and serfs. With improvement in forces of production such as the discovery of the steam engine and more sophisticated machinery the mode of production changed from feudalism to capitalism (Friedrich & Engels, 2012). This revolution show the separation of individuals from their means of production as land came into private ownership. There was emergence of the factory system where individuals were employed to provide labour. Due to lack of a means of subsistence, people were forced to sell their labour power to owners of the means of production (capitalists) for wages. There thus emerged tow classes: the owners of means of production or capitalists/bourgeoisies and the working class or proletariats (Browne, 2006). Marx viewed this class of capitalists as exploitative since it acquired surplus value from the proletariats in form of profits which they accumulated for further acquisition of capital. For Marx, the ruling class are the dominant ideas in society which are followed blindly by the lower classes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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