Sociology Theories How Do Berger, Term Paper

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QUESTION THREE: "Is inequality of social classes inevitable?" The conflict theory put forward by Ralf Dahrendorf begins with a discussion of Marxism and the fact that in industry, the conflict between classes - the capitalist and proletariat (worker) - the worker had a natural inclination to be in conflict with the capitalists who were the authority, the bosses. The same kind of conflict carried over into the political realm as well, sometimes violent. The problem was that there was no system whereby conflicts could be resolved. But Marx's analysis, Dahrendorf goes on, was tainted because of his obsession with proletarian revolution.

At this point in his essay, Dahrendorf, though rejecting Marx in that context, asserts that since there are "interest groups" and "quasi-groups" those must then be considered "classes." And if there are classes, it is then logical to assume there will be groups, and quasi-groups that will always have "conflicting latent interests..." He mentions trade unions and employers' associations; a classic example of those two groups in conflict is the current writer's strike, the Writers Guild of America vs. The big corporations who run the movie studios. The writers claim there is a degree of inequality because they are not being paid for the material they create that goes out on the internet. He also mentions progressive and conservative political parties; there will always be some inequality in social classes, and the progressive parties like the Democrats and Green parties are always going to be at odds with the conservatives, who support business and government and not the "little guy" who is working for minimum wage. So, the answer to the question posed is found in the author's next-to-last paragraph, when he has finished his main narrative and has asserted that through "empirical generalization" that there are "associations and classes" in "many" societies. And in "all known societies" there are "social conflicts."

QUESTION FOUR: How is racial/gender oppression possible (according to feminist thought)? Patricia Hill Collins approaches the subject of
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the oppression of African-American women through race, class, and gender. Those three categories are not interchangeable, Collins explains; and while other groups may be subjected to domination and discrimination in one category (maybe religion for Jews, sexual orientation for gay people), black women often suffer from all three.

Collins suggests that first of all, groups like black women develop "subjugated knowledge" through their culture of resistance over the years. Then along comes a "dominant group" which set out to "replace subjugated knowledge" with their own particular brand of "specialized thought." This dominant group, to answer the question FOUR, has a need to be in control and simplify their own lives and their own culture, so the dominant group (in this case, Madison Avenue advertising and marketing agencies) puts forward an image of a beautiful woman as white with blond hair. By "adhering to externally derived standards of beauty" leaves many African-American woman with a disgust with their own skin color, and likewise, black men who have been dominated by the ad agencies' promotion of the ideal woman (as white) abuse black women. That is a classic case of how racial/gender can become oppressed, but it is also true, Collins continues, that schools, churches, and the media and other institutions "expose individuals to the specialized thought representing the dominant group's standpoint and interest." Hence, if churches tend to promote a specialized kind of thought (that God is a white male, for example), it results in a kind of hegemonic situation in which black women become oppressed.

Works Cited

Berger, Peter; & Luckmann, Thomas. (1966). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise

In the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City NY: Anchor Books, pp. 51-55, 59-61.

Collins, Particia Hill. (1990). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: UnwinHyman, pp. 221-238.

Dahrendorf, Ralf. (1959). Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society. Stanford: Stanford

University Press, pp. 241-248.

Merton, Robert K. (1957). Social Theory and Social Structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, pp.…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Berger, Peter; & Luckmann, Thomas. (1966). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise

In the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City NY: Anchor Books, pp. 51-55, 59-61.

Collins, Particia Hill. (1990). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: UnwinHyman, pp. 221-238.

Dahrendorf, Ralf. (1959). Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society. Stanford: Stanford

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