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Comprehending September 11 attacks through the eyes of Emile Durkheim
This research paper discusses a current event through the eyes of a social theorist. The Works Cited five sources in MLA format.
Societies form individuals and social orders of different kinds produce different individuals. Hence our research paper will revolve around the following thesis statement:
An individual is the product of his/her own society therefore those who take extreme measures to become what they grow to expect themselves to be and those who strive hard to cooperate with certain groups even at the cost of their own lives, do so as a result of the social external forces that are at work. Both social as well as political elements, primarily cultural components play a pivotal role in forming various groups including the main example of terrorist groups and suicide commandos including those that made the Worlds' skyscrapers disintegrate into innumerable pieces.
The following passages of our research paper will initially provide the essential background information pertaining to the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11. The paper will then look into distinct views that the media has put forth regarding the similar historic as well as tragic event. Furthermore, the paper will apply the social theory of suicide by one of the most eminent social theorists, Emile Durkheim to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Hence sociological as well as theoretical analysis of the event under consideration will give us deeper insight into the much-neglected perspective on the issue. Now, begins the first section of our paper that will provide background of the current event under discussion to the interested reader.
Background Information in connection with September 11 event
According to Wright Mills, "before you are through with any piece of work, no matter how indirectly on occasion, orient it to the central and continuing task of understanding the structure and the drift, the shaping and the meanings, of your own period, the terrible and magnificent world of human society" (Social Problems). Thus for the same reason, before we get to the root cause of suicide bombing and terrorist attacks, the paper will look into what happened on September 11, 2001 for the better comprehension of the analytical research paper. Hence before we study the functioning of the "world of human society," let us present some facts pertaining to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
On the early morning of September 11, 2001, the world witnessed the most appalling and brutal forms of violence; the death of millions and billions of innocent people and the downfall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center as Boeing 757s and 767s "slammed into two prominent icons of information and commodification" (Arthur & Kroker). The irreparable loss can be summarized in the words of a researched article that read: "Thousands die, billions are lost, fear reigns, and market society, which requires a socio-political backbone of stability and predictability, loses its patina of magic. No faith in "human capital" or a commodity-based social logic could mediate such transgressive violence of 911" (Arthur & Kroker).
The September 11, 2001 event took place only because a handful of individuals decided to commit suicide and give away their lives in the name of their religions leaving the entire American society as well as the world at large with uncountable and unanswerable questions. Who were those suicide commandos? Why World Trade Center? Why America? What was the target? What was the purpose? And many were left wondering as to where this war on terrorism might lead the nation in particular and the world in general (Achenbach, p. W17). However, later on, with the media's assistance, the world came to know quite a lot about who was involved and why. Thus, comes the second section of our research paper.
Media's presentation of and scholars' comprehension pertaining to 911 attacks
With skyscrapers falling apart, media could not help but make headlines as well as big bucks. However, it did a great job in presenting various viewpoints thereby uncovering the possible motives behind such ruthless act of violence. Many believed and shared the similar notion with the media saying that all of it happened as a result of the rat race for the "viral power" (Arthur & Kroker). However, most of the people be it experts, scholars, social scientists as well as politicians considered these attacks a form of religious fanaticism. Some of the experts from the medical line of profession and many psychologists as well as psychiatrists thought the reason why some of the people could go to such a length to accomplish their vested interested and get motivated so much so as to take away their own precious lives can be the psychological illnesses as well as the obsessive commitment to one's religion. Eventually the media identified Al Qaeda as the sole power behind the brutal operation and revealed that it is an international Muslim terrorist network.
The event of September 11, 2001 has been projected and observed by various American individuals as an unparalleled tragedy that has taken place due to Muslim hatred towards the Western culture, religion and Western power (Islam & Terror). Though not only the holy book of Muslims, that is Quran provides conclusive evidence of the fact that Islam is a highly peace-loving and a very pragmatic religion, the holy leaders preaching Islamic faith have also proved Islam's staunch belief in practicing peace and spreading harmony in the human society through their actions and lifestyle.
Nonetheless, whatever the media has to say about this tragic event, we must "know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues -- and in terms of the problems of history-making. Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed by relating them to personal troubles -- and to the problems of the individual life. Know that the problems of social science, when adequately formulated must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history and the range of their intricate relations. Within that range the life of the individual and the making of societies occur; and within that range the sociological imagination has its chance to make a difference in the quality of human life in our time" (* As remarked by Wright Mills in his work, The Sociological Imaginations) (Social Problems). For the same reason, in our next section of the analytical research paper, we will present a theoretical analysis of the September 11, 2001 attack, applying Emile Durkheim's concept of social theory.
Sociological analysis of the September 11 attacks
This world where we live in can be understood and observed from different angles and perspectives. Thus, there are several ways to look at an individual and a society. For the same reason, today we have varied works of renowned social theorists including Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. Dubois, Walter Benjamin, Antonio Gramsci and Charles Lemert. In this paper we will take into consideration the social theory of Emile Durkheim in order to review the attacks of September 11, 2001 from the standpoint of a socialist.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 have been largely labeled as acts of terrorism and violence. Much has been stated and commented regarding the gravity of the acts and that how these people or gangs or religious zealots must be punished. However, little attention has been paid to those individuals who have lost their lives deliberately. Close analysis of these groups of people when viewed through the eyes of Emile Durkheim reveals that we all individuals surviving the coldness of this wintry world are the products of our culture, society or civilization in which we strive and thrive.
Watching these persons who killed themselves while bringing down the Twin buildings makes it evident that it cannot only be the individuality alone playing its role when such group of men decide to take a plunge into a fatal operation. There is a combined effort evident in such historical cases and tragic events. Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist was of the view that it is basically "the collective social forces" (Dhossche) rather than the individual elements responsible for the acts of the individuals who commit suicides. Hence, when we apply the same concept to the event of September 11, 2001 it is evident that the collapse of the World Trade Center was the result of the collective effort of many individuals working together hands in hands. These suicide commandos were people and normal humans like us.
However, with the social forces in the form of cultural values and religious doctrine working collectively on these men, suicide commandos were motivated to perform an activity that their culture and their society not only accepted but also honored. In the name of Allah and their religion, these suicide commandos worked relentlessly to take away their own lives. This is because, "to formulate issues and troubles, we must ask what values are cherished yet threatened, and…[continue]
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