The concept that I found most interesting when learning about Goffman’s theories was his idea of a stigma. Goffman defines a stigma as an attribute that depending on the circumstances may be very discrediting. Not only do stigmas discredit ourselves but they also contribute to how we classify others as well. I relate to the concept of stigmas and negative stigmatization due to the fact that I am a member of Greek life here at Queens College. Similar to what one of my classmates had mentioned in class, bearing Greek letters on our clothing subjects us to negative stigmas very frequently. For example, a few of my sorority sisters and myself were recently apartment hunting. We made a conscious effort not to reveal our involvement in Greek life during the search because we knew that the stigma of Greek life would count negatively against us. Although we are all goal oriented students, our Greek letters would have immediately labeled us as the “party animal” Greeks to any perspective landlords. I enjoyed learning about Goffman because many of his concepts were very easy to relate to in today’s society and real life situations such as this one.
As soon as I began reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman it was very evident that the narrator and her husband did not have an equal partnership. The woman was consistently being regarded to in an inferior manner. The further on that I read, it became clear that this man was not only her husband but he doctor as well. Being that he was not only the superior male in the relationship but the medical professional as well, his prognosis of her “insanity” would never be questioned during this time. The fact that the narrator did not fulfill typical responsibilities of her gender roles was enough to deem her crazy. The lack of respect that society had for women during this era was nothing short of repulsive. I believe that the Yellow Wallpaper was meant to symbolize the liberation of women. Yet this made me question how much progress we have actually made as women to date. Although women are the closest we have ever been to our male counterparts equal, we are still not quite there yet. A man and a woman can have the same job title, for the same cooperation and work all of the same hours, yet the man will always make more than the woman. This reveals that although woman have made tremendous progress, they are still somewhat inferior to men as they were in the age of “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
The Movie “The House of Sand and Fog” captured many of Weber’s “ideal types” of social actions. The movie provided a modern spin on Weber’s idea of traditional,value-rational, affective and Instrumental- rational social actions. The movie also provides evidence that a person’s culture and background play a large role in their social actions. One example from the movie that stood out to me was when the police officer planted the drugs on the offender that had been beating his wife. This is an example of Weber’s idea of a value-rational social action. Planting the drugs falls under this ideal type because the police officer did so based on his on conscious belief that the man would end up in jail anyway, and he would be saving the man’s wife from his abuse in the mean time. Overall the movie contained many examples of Weber’s theories and the modern take on them helped me to better understand the information.
Durkheim defines crime as an act that offends very strong collective sentiments. He then goes on to explain that crime is present in all of the different types of societies. The question is then presented, is crime not only inevitable but normal as well? Initially my response to this proposal was yes, crime is inevitable but I still was unsure if I would classify it as normal. As I continued to read about Durkheim’s outlook on crime I began to see it in a new light. He suggests that crime is not only inevitable but necessary as well. Crime allows society to make necessary changes. At first I was confused as to what crime and progress had anything to do with each other. Durkheim explains that crime keeps society open to change and helps shape the changes that will be taking place. I found it very interesting that Durkheim removed the negative association that comes with crime and provides a more positive light on the issue. Crime is apparently not the evil action that we believe it to be but a necessary function of society instead.
When reading about Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, one of the things that stood out to me was how little our class structure has changed throughout history. Similar to today’s upper class, the bourgeoisie were the ruling class that controlled all of capital as well as the means of production. And then there was the proletariat, who were comparable to our working class today. The bourgeoisie held all the power which leads me to believe that the expression “The rich get richer, and the poor gets poorer” has existed throughout time. Due to the inherent class struggle that came with this division, Marx made an effort to promote his idea of class consciousness. The purpose of Marx’s efforts to promote class consciousness was to spread awareness of the proletariat’s importance when it came to the means of production. Marx had hopped that this awareness would kick-start a revolution of the working class against the capitalists and they would become more than just the “wage earning” class. There has been an ongoing effort to eliminate the class separation for centuries, and reading this me question if there will ever be a viable solution to this matter.