Positions in Society
In the current multicultural society, people hold various positions based on their class, race, and gender. The nature of influence that race, class, and gender play in people’s lives can best be understood when lives of people are closely studied (Weber, 1998). In order to understand the impact of race, class, and gender on people’s lives, two people from distinct cultures were interviewed. These people have been identified as person A and person B. Person A is an African American, Working Class male and person B is a White American, Upper Middle Class female. Class refers the economic rank held by a person either in a family or in a society. Race defined the biological origin of an individual and gender refers to socially constructed attitudes, roles, behaviors, and activities with reference to men and women (Weber, 1998). Therefore, in this interview, African American and White American are the races of person A and B respectively. Working Class and Upper Middle Class are the social classes of person A and B in that order, and male and female are the genders of person A and B respectively.
According to Weber (1998), the society is organized under class, race, and gender which play different roles in people’s lives and create uneven distribution of social opportunities. This is evident in the lives of the two people interviewed. The fact that person A is a Working Class male makes him to stay away from home in the better part of the day and only reunites with his family in the evening. His economic class permits him to raise a large family of five children. All children are attending private day schools and are able to live well being that their father is financially capable of meeting all family expenses. The main challenge experienced by person A is unequal access to social opportunities mainly because he is African American.
Person B is a single lady who is able to get all her basic needs because she is an Upper Middle Class person. This client explains that she uses most her finances for charity and does not spend much on her elderly parents, even though she is their only daughter. Her brothers spend a lot in taking care of their parents. The fact that person B is White American and financially stable female, her leisure activities revolve around occupational concerns and are characterized by frequent international travels. She spends little time around family members and is less worried about access to social opportunities. Person B also believes that there are certain types of jobs that are meant for the poor and others that are meant for the rich.
The lives of person A and B can be explained in terms of sociological perspectives. Sociological perspective is an approach used to understand human behavior by putting it into the correct social context. The best sociological perspective that can be used to explain the life of person A is functionalist perspective, also known as functionalism. Functionalist perspective of sociology believes that each aspect of the society is mutually dependent and contributes to the functioning of the whole society. For example, the government has built schools where families can take their children. These families pay taxes that the government uses to build additional schools to accommodate as many children as possible (Mooney, Knox and Schacht, 2007).
Functionalist perspective best fits the life of person A because this person understands how different aspects of the society are interrelated to build a stable entity. He knows that he will only be able to take care of his family if he goes to work. Additionally, person A takes is children to schools that have been built by the government. He also pays taxes when he purchases food and other items for his family and in the process, providing the government with finances for building additional schools. In this respect, person B is dependent upon the school to assist his children to grow up to be responsible in life and to have good jobs in future. When his children grow up, they will become law-abiding citizens who can provide relevant support to the country.
The best sociological perspective that can be used to describe the life of person B is conflict perspective. According to conflict perspective of sociology, the powerful and wealthy people force social order on the weak and poor people in the society. Conflict theorists maintain that social order does not originate from cooperation among people in the society, and that this cooperation does not exist (Mooney, Knox and Schacht, 2007). Conflict perspective best fits person B because she concentrates her activities around her occupation and spends little time and finances on her family members. Person B believes that certain jobs are meant for people who belong to low social classes in the society while others are preserved for people of high social class. She also feels that taking care of her elderly parents is a burden.
All this information has been obtained from person A and B through an interview. Sociologists should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using interview as research methodology in order to be effective in their research. Interviews have got a number of advantages based on the validity of data that will be retrieved by the researcher. Using an interview, the researcher can conduct detailed examination of the issues in question. In addition, a researcher will have a good opportunity to discover people feel and think about the research question. This will assist investigators to frame the interview questions in a manner that will enable them to obtain the required information from the interviewee (Opdenakker, 2006).
Many researchers, especially in the field of sociology, prefer interview to other forms of research methodologies because using interviews, they manage to discuss sensitive topics that individuals may not feel comfortable discussing in public forums. In addition, interviews enable researchers to include human dimensions to personal data particularly when it comes to addressing social issues. Interviews also allow the researcher to receive as many responses as possible, thereby giving room for selection of the best response. Again, interviews help researcher to obtain primary data because interviewees are not prone to external influences (Opdenakker, 2006).
However, interviews have got some disadvantages as research methodologies. For instance, interviews can be time consuming especially if there are several people to be interviewed. In addition, interviews are likely to be affected negatively by language barriers and cultural inclinations. Again, data obtained from an interview may be distorted due to wrong interpretation by the interviewer. In view of the advantages and disadvantages of interview as a research methodology, researchers need to be careful when using this method of data collection in research in order to take care of both external and internal factors that may interfere with the data collected (Opdenakker, 2006).
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