Breath of Clarity

Society exists. It is something more than the sum of its parts.

Social structures strongly impact the perspectives and actions of individuals. In Suicide, Durkheim wrote that features of groups “are forces as real as [physical] forces, and affect the individual from without through other channels, which cause us to act”. The article “The Age of Loneliness” by George Monbiot aligns with Emile Durkheim’s perspective that sociological factors are just as relevant as psychological influence. The Age, Gender and Biology social crime theory claims that deviance is correlated to endurance and hormone levels; however, Durkheim’s study disproves this phenomenon. Durkheim’s suicide study results show that older people suffer a lot from the sociological forces of isolation as opposed to the false pre-existing notion that it is an issue that predominantly for adolescents. This shows that external forces that effect people over the course of a lifetime are equally or potentially more impactful than chemical changes which occur within the individual mind.

The suicide statistics that we analyzed in class convey the way cultural difference impacts data. For example, the definition of insanity differs across cultures, so the data that measured the impact of mental health on suicide showed no correlation. The associations that society makes with the different seasons were evident in the study conducted. The number of people who committed suicide was significantly highest in the summer. Potentially, this is because there are increased social expectations. In the winter, the number of people who committed suicide was significantly low. This may be because people are less active and develop connection through dependency on others.

The article “Recruitment to High-Risk Activism: The Case of Freedom Summer” explains that the reasons that disposed individuals towards participation in the movement were social forces. This contrasts the hypothesis that activists’ attitudinal values were just as predominant of a force. Doug McAdam claims, “participants were distinguished from withdrawals primarily on the basis of their a) greater number of organizational affiliations b) higher levels of prior civil rights activity, and c) stronger and more extensive ties to other participants”. Essentially, the establishment of networks before application submission made a major difference in whether or not the people joined the movement. McAdams defined high costs as the time and monetary sacrifices that individuals needed to make to be involved in the movement and noted biographical availability as more impactful than attitudinal motives. The degree of independence of parental authority and the intensity of their responsibility to contribute to society were the driving biographical factors.

It is evident in our study of education that teachers expectations based on class make it difficult for kids who come from low socio-economic backgrounds to thrive in the classroom. In the article “Student Social Class and Teacher Expectations: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Ghetto Education,” Ray Rist claims that students stop being engaged and increase aggression due to frustration with internalization of labels. The character Frankie, from the novel “Ain’t No Makin’ It” is the epitome of this theory who sees himself dead in twenty years, as a victim of the capitalist system that makes upward mobility rarely possible. Evidently, Frankie ends up working at a labor-based job, a market with significantly low security and satisfaction.

This class shows that the American ideology that individuals can determine their destiny is flawed. The texts studied in class shows that societal expectations drive action in terms of the cease of one’s own life, participation in movements, and educational achievement. Forces that are beyond individual control play a major role in the function of society.