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Sociological perspectives look at society how it functions, and what affects the way it functions, having an understanding how this impacts the individuals gives us the knowledge to assess peoples circumstances from different perspectives, in turn this may assist us to come up with different solutions to problems faced by communities and the people that make up those communities.
Culture is made up of values, norms, roles, symbols, language and status, culture includes social structures, attitudes, values and patterns of social behaviour, culture is the total of everything we think, have, and do as members of a particular society. It is learned by each generation and transmitted to the next. (Walters and Crook, 1990, p. 29)
When working with an Aboriginal community it is important to understand: That history demonstrates how racist beliefs became legislation. Aboriginal people were believed to be less than human, and legislation was used to control them and confine them away from 'the public'. According to Milnes, 'The pauperisation of Aboriginal peoples was sealed by legislation.
The Aborigines Act 1905 was not a protection for Aboriginal peoples, but allowed for an instrument of ruthless control' (Milnes, 2001, p. 32). Such legislation was finally repealed in 1967, but by then the damage was done. Very few Aboriginal people escaped the direct and indirect effects of the legislation that controlled and governed their lives (HREOC, 1997; McCorquodale, 1987).
This legislation reflected the dominant society's views of Aboriginal people and how they should be treated, a view that is still a part of the cultural beliefs of many in Australian society today. Aboriginal communities are still reeling from the effects of the Stolen generation, community service workers need to acknowledge their past when working with Aboriginal communities, they need to realise that they will not be accepted by many Aboriginal people because a lack of trust, they are afraid they will lose their children, unfortunately this still happens in society today, many Aboriginal people are a part of the underprivileged in society, due to limited education, unemployment, racism,
their alcohol consumption , and poor parenting skills.
Children learn culture through the social institution of the family, the family functions differently across cultures due the families' different needs. By studying society's culture we get a better understanding of the people in it. (Edger ,1998)
Children learn about gender at an early age, they identify males as the wage earners and women as homemakers and carers. Social norms determine, females, males, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons all have different roles.
In the Aboriginal culture a man's role involved skills in hunting as well as cultural obligations that were important to the cohesion of the group. Likewise a woman also had an important role; she provided most of the food for the group, was responsible for early child rearing, and also had cultural obligations. Reciprocity and sharing were and still are important characteristics in Aboriginal society. Sharing along the lines of kinship and family remains an important cultural value (Berndt & Berndt, 1992).
Community service workers need to be aware that a countries culture is influenced by social structures, social attitudes, and values. The things that make up a culture arise from a need, the need my no longer be there however the social behaviour remains, to change society's culture we first need to change their beliefs and values which leads to a change in behaviour.
The underprivileged in society come in many forms, it's quite possible they will remain in that situation for the rest of their lives. We as community service workers need to ask ourselves, Why are they in that situation? What are the factors surrounding their situation? What can be done to remove or relieve their situation? How can that be done? What resources can be used to assist us to assist them?
What you consider to be the contribution of sociology to exploring and understanding society?
Sociology is the study of the social world. It involves studying human beings and their patterns of
behaviour. In order to do this, we focus on the way people form relationships and how these
relationships, considered in their totality, are represented by the concept of a "society".
In this respect, the focus of the sociologist's attention is group behaviour. That is, the effect that
the groups people join or are born into (family, work, education and so forth) have upon people's
social behaviour. (Livesey, 1995)
A sociological perspective helps us understand how factors outside the control of individuals shape their successes and failures, it encourages workers to empower others to be active participants in their community, and the better community services workers understand how society operates the more effective they can be when working with individuals and communities.
This article gives insight into how youth, especially young women from underprivileged cultural groups can be treated and ignored by society, Narrating Neighbourhood: Denying Young Women's Public Voices about Violence, is an article that uses a post structural analysis, to look at the controversy surrounding a youth-centered activist project about violence in Brooklyn, NY, that was censored by a group of local resident home owners and corporate business owners.
This article identified that youth: in particular young women of colour experience a lack of respect, and are often excluded form studies of urban social policy. The power in this article came in the form of home owners and corporate business, something that is still experienced in many communities today.
The article helps us understand how power is distributed in society, and how it can impact people within communities; it shows how youth including young women are denied a voice in society due to their age, race, lack of life experience and lack of assets.
Social change can be a slow process, as it can be rejected by adults due to their learned behaviour, this means that old beliefs have to be unlearned and requires learning new values and beliefs; until this is done the opinions of youth in society will not be valued. Community workers need to come up with an enjoyable way to encourage youth participation, I think of how Lorraine and Narrelle encourage children and youth to participate in the public art project, giving them an appreciation of their community, and an understanding of culture. I think participating in a project like the ones Lorraine and Narrelle run, educates not only children and youth but all of the people that participate to change their beliefs, values and norms they have learnt, and by passing the new learned behaviour on to their children and so on, will eventually lead to the change of societies cultural behaviour.
The sociological perspectives presented and discussed in class, Choosing two perspectives compare and contrast how each might explain disability and /or racial discrimination?
A status Quo structuralist would look at someone with a disability as being someone that needs to be looked after or institutionalised, as they have no value in society they can't look after themselves and can't contribute anything to society, they would give them medical treatment therapy, medication, put them on a centrelink benefit because they feel that they are not able to do any better, some would see this as enabling them to stay in their current situation.
The research article how will look after her when I die, found older carers are reluctant to interact directly with disability agencies because of poor past experience, expressed fear of institutionalisation or re-institutionalisation of the family member and a perception that the system is too complex and fragmented. (Llewellyn et al 2003)
A knowledge of a status quo perspective tells us that some people in society may require medical treatment, services, and/or medication (mental health disorders, people with a disability) however it is through no fault of their own, and with proper assistance they can be valuable members of society, they can be educated, they can work and they can better their circumstance's, which leads to a social change perspective.
A Social Change Structuralist would educate someone with a disability, provide services so they could be a valued member of society, they want equality, and would provide them with resources in an attempt to bridge the gap between the underprivileged and the privileged in society, and yet the gaps seem to be greater than ever before.
The research article how will look after her when I die found older parent carers made their own choice for social change, the article states that at a time when institutionalisation of people with disabilities was the norm, they, as a parent, swam against the tide of public opinion to keep their child(ren) at home. In doing so, they acted against attitudes of rejection, segregation and institutionalisation and in many cases developed strong protective parental responses. (Llewellyn et al 2003)
Social Change needs to happen; people have the right to opportunities and resources that give them the choice and chance to live better lives. This knowledge assists in focusing on how people's lives can be better, looking at what resources and funding can be used to assist people in gaining some ground on equality.
An Interactionalists would look at the individual, they are interested in how labels are put on people, how that label affects the way the individual behaves, and how they interact with the rest of society, if the labels are removed they believe, the behaviour will change and the interaction between individuals and society will improve, if people and society don't see them as underprivileged they won't feel underprivileged therefor won't be underprivileged.
An example of this is the early intervention strategies with young children and their development.
â€¦.The term behaviour refers to the way a person responds to a certain situation or experience. Behaviour is affected by temperament, which is made up of an individual's innate and unique expectations, emotions and beliefs. Behaviour can also be influenced by a range of social and environmental factors including parenting practices, gender, exposure to new situations, general life events and relationships with friends and siblings. (Centre for Community Child Health 2006.)
The early intervention program works with families to prevent the impact and effects of attachment disorder, can have on the brain development of infants and young children, in the attempt to prevent behaviour disorders that will affect their future education, relationships and adult lives. Knowing this and which services provide support for young families will help when working with young families in the community, and can help in understanding the behaviour issues that present in society, its causes on the individual and the impacts it can have on society.
I personally think we need to look at all sociological perspectives, I don't think that any of them offer the answers on their own, I think the perspectives all have ideas that can be used together when working with communities and people within the communities. By looking at the sociological perspectives and their theories a worker is able to see what has assisted communities and individuals and what has hindered them, the perspectives give workers an understanding of the factors that can impact society and individuals, and how those impacts will affect the way individuals function and interact with others in society, this can help community service workers identify the needs of the community, and what is the best course of action to take when working with that community.