The concept of society and its peoples
To define society to only one definition would be too great a challenge, because there are many aspects to the meaning society. It can however, be considered when trying to explain the term society, that society is a cluster of people often believing in similar things, having similar attitudes and often behaving in similar patterns. This definition is only a basic view and it is here where this essay shall begin. Society is much more intricate then the basic definition because as humans we are a complex people and an individuals behaviour can change as a result of things that occur around them. Which intern changes group dynamics and inevitably influences society? Individuals or groups alone however, do not only influence society, sometimes it is influenced by society itself. Societies are compared against each other, for example families compare families, and governing bodies, corporate companies and political agencies, on issues such as crime, education, and wealth, compare suburbs against each other. And all this is even before one can begin to consider the global society which has only become a society as a direct result of globalisation, which brings people together that are separated by land and sea. All these aspects of society are sometimes positive and other times negative it all depends on the outcome that sometimes is not known until decades later.
As sighted in the public sociology textbook "Many of us believe that as individuals we are free agents making independent choices about our lives. However,
a sociologist will ask, how free are those choices?" (Germov, 7:2007) It is true that there are many influencing factors that contribute in the individual choices that people make everyday. For example, why do some Men and Women wear business attire every day to work? They wear them because it is a requirement of the position they hold. Which awakens the question, why is this a requirement? It is a requirement because this is the stigma of what a successful person should look like and what all people should aspire to. This is where we begin to look at society rather then the individual, because when a large group of people, believing in the same attitude of what a successful person should be wearing it becomes a social construct. This social construct is what continues to influence the individual, one can see them everywhere often created and manipulated by the ruling classes. These ruling classes use many tools at their disposal to create social norms and constructs in order to benefit from the mass productions for example, Fashion, political, cultural, and institutional trends. It is this that forms society, because it is not just an individual that jumps on that particular trend but rather many individuals that happen to live in the same family, community, state, nation or even globally hence if you can not call this anomaly a social construct then what can one call it? Even the word social construct was created by an individual and embraced by society. The dynamics of these constructs begin with Family. As sighted in the Public Sociology textbook " A common definition of families is, that family is a group of people who are related by kinship ties: relations of blood, marriage or adoption who usually live together" (Germov, 131:2007). This in tern can be seen as the first form of society that a child witnesses and is a part of. "Families can be found in every human society, and from a functionalist perspective, they all address similar societal needs: regulating sexual behaviour, creating new
members of society to replace those who die, and protecting and socialising the young" (Newman, 207: 2004). The family unit is highly influential to a child's learning, children are dependant on the family to guide them, hence parents become the role models and often children mimic the behaviour displayed with in this family circle. It is also stated in Society: its origin and Development that "The family illustrates most of the phases of social activity, it is simple in its organization, its history goes back to primitive times and it is rapidly changing in the present" (Rowe,105: 2007).
The next form of society that one is exposed to after leaving the confines of the family is the community. The community is considered to be a town or suburb, and the majority of people in these communities are no longer related to each other by kinship, but rather by shared cultural diversities, religions, and/or beliefs. The growth of a community depends on the ratio between birth's and deaths " as long as the former condition obtains, population is homogeneous, and the community is conservative in customs and beliefs" (Rowe,174: 2007). In some communities, families will come together for the common good of all, to build roads, buildings, schools, and churches. They also aid each other in personal matters such as, caring for those who are ill, stressed or emotional. Even in the bigger cities groups of people will come together for similar purposes. It is this co-operation that makes a community successful. Take for example Cabramatta, which is a suburb in NSW Australia, it is a community full of Asian immigrants that had been placed there as a cluster of people, in order to make them feel comfortable in the new surroundings of Australia. They believe in living the same way of life, also many believe in the same
religion and often behave in the same tendencies as the rest of their community. They have come together with the same ideals for their suburb of Cabramatta and created a little piece of Asia in Sydney. It is true that on one scale they are all individuals, however they are behaving in a way that is accepted by their community, and they are conforming to their surrounding society. This situation however, is not always a positive scenario for example, taking the fact that even though this cluster of people are of similar faith, religion, and lifestyle grouped together in order to make them feel more comfortable in the new surroundings of Australia; This off course being the positive aspect of forming such grouping. One is actually also creating a negative, because we are separating this community from the interaction of the other bigger communities. With this development it is making it difficult for the people within such communities to conform to the rest of society, the reason for this being is, the two societies are so vastly different from each other that they intern have difficulties sometimes co-existing. With Cabramatta as an example, there are language barriers and different behavioural tendencies between this smaller society and the larger society as a whole, which makes it more difficult to be accepted by the larger of the two. This can then form into a racial hatred and if the smaller community grows into a bigger society and spreads to other communities, fear grows amongst other societal groups and many come together as they did in December of 2005, in mass protest which turned ugly as a result of the fear factor that had only been made worse my the media coverage that had been covering the story of the life guard bashing which took place on a Sydney beach. They had been bashed by some ethnic youths described as being of Middle Eastern appearance. The fear that had been made worse by the media escalated and turned into violence.
The next progression in society is the state and is considered as highly influential to smaller societies. It is involved in political issues that relate to the smaller communities, it can also be considered as the social brain of society and it represents "millions of people, the state exists at a level of abstraction that, by definition, cannot easily speak to particular ethnic, religious, and class concerns of its increasingly diverse population" (Fernandez, 62: 2003). This social brain is formed by a large cluster of the ruling classes they begin to manipulate societies for their advantage. It is with this manipulation that individuals, families and communities follow the trends of that time, and because individuals form families, families form communities, communities form states and so on. One can see that people come together, and that it is not always all about the individual. For example, recently an article was written in The Australian, showing a situation that has occurred and outraged the Jewish community in Australia. The Mayor of Bethlehem Victor Batarseh landed in Sydney on the 26th of August 2007. He has come to Sydney to sign a sister-city agreement with Marrickville yet within hours he attacked Israel and angered the Australian Jewish community of Sydney. The Mayor believes that Israelis are to be blamed for "Bethlehem's sixty five percent unemployment rate and the 8m concrete wall they have built around the town" (Creedy, 3: 2007). It is this wall that has "caused a lot of stress on the health of the people, on the education of the people or the psychology of the people" (Creedy, 3: 2007). However, the NSW Jewish board of Deputies chief executive Vic Aihadeff counter claimed that the wall comprises "more then ninety per cent, fence and not wall, and exists for one reason only: to stop suicide bombers coming into Israel and killing innocent civilians" (Creedy, 3: 2007).
From this article one can see how a community of individuals has jumped on issues that affects people in another country and made it an issue in Australia. Also one can see, that it is not purely an individual who has been outraged but rather many individuals that share the same belief; therefore, it is a small community within the large Australian society that has been affected; and it is this small community of Jewish people that form a society within a larger society.
Now that these smaller communities have been examined one begins to branch out into bigger and more complex frame works of society such as: - the Nation, Country, and Global society. Even though these larger societies are much the same as its smaller counterparts there are differences for example, the differences between the definitions of the smaller societies like Family, Community and State seem to differ from one another, even if each displays similar behaviour. However, there does not seem to be the same difference when defining, Nation, Country and Global societies. These societies function equally in much the same way and almost all ways intertwine with one another in away that signifies they are the same society. The Nation for example, can be considered as a form of Sovereign State yet it continually is also used in the context of describing a Country. Australia is considered to be a Nation and hence within Australia there is a large growth of pride and nationalism being displayed. This nationalism had been strongly displayed in December of 2005, with the mass protest that had taken place on the shores of Cronulla beach. This form of Nationalism in Australia has been on the increasing rise for several years now. One only needs to keep in touch with the news in order to witness the rise of Nationalistic
pride within the Australian society. We can look at the rise of this Nationalistic pride within Australia as a direct result of Globalisation. With the Globalisation of Nations came positives and negatives such as, the positives being better trade, education, technology, and sciences however, the negatives that followed make some question whether Globalisation is as great as first believed. For example, with Globalisation the doors were open for more Trade agreements that would intern raise the economy and wealth of the particular nation involved. This can be seen as a strong positive and initially an improvement however, the negative is that once this agreement is made between these particular countries and the legal binding contract is set, other countries miss out on the potential of accessing this particular trade market or even in some cases being more evident now, many loose out all together. Jobs are lost, added stress is placed on Families, Communities and States of these countries that are unfortunately on the loosing side of Globalisation. Countries also become more competitive against one another, this creates tension and often leads to hatred between nations. The formation of such groupings comes down to understanding human nature, human beings are not accustomed to being at home nor are they happy to spend their lives being alone. "He is used to the companionship of the factory, and instinctively he longs for the association of his kind" (Rowe,17: 2007). Unconsciously individuals move towards each other; humans like to associate themselves with others for a firm sense of belonging. There are however, some that are an exception to this need of acceptance, yet these people still conform to many of the social constructs within society. For example, they might dress in similar fashion, eat the same cuisine, spend time in the same places and believe in the same religion. This shows that they
are still behaving in a way that is accepted by their particular society. Hence society not only exists, but it is also important to the human conditioning.
In conclusion Society can be seen as not only existing but also a way of explaining the behaviour of individuals in particular groupings with other individuals. It is within the human nature for an individual to come together with other individuals and it is also important to the human nature of any individual to feel connected to others, to communicate, to be guided and inspired not only by the things occurring around them but also to be inspired by the people one associates them selves with. This form of contact is the fundamental key to understand as to why Society exists, regardless whether it is considered to be positive or negative force. It is with the Family where it all begins, because it is within this first social setting that one learns the social interaction needed amongst ones community and so forth, in order to feel connected and accepted. As we move from childhood into adulthood our education broadens and the individual becomes part of the global network. With Globalisation even the average working class individual can have their say on matters concerning issues about Families, Communities, States, Nations, or even the world. With so many individuals coming together in such ways, regardless of their diversities, differences and reasons, in order to function together. Society exists, because it is a term that was created to explain these social groupings of individuals in order to have a better understanding of human behaviour.
Creedy,S. (2007) Bethlehem Mayor's attack stirs Jewish anger' The Australian 27 August p.3
Dultz, R. (2007) "The Individual and Individual Rights" Free Inquiry 5. 35
Fernandez, R. (2003) Mappers of Society, The Lives, Times, and Legacies of Great Sociologists. London : Praeger publishers
Germov, J. and M. Poole (2007) Public Sociology, an introduction to Australian society, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2007
Newman, D. (2004) Sociology, Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life. California: Pine Forest Press
Pearson, R. (2007) "Debating Jomon Social Complexity" Asian Perspectives 46. 361-389
Rowe, H. (2007) Society: Its origin and Development, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons