SOC-417 – Power and Politics – Sociological Perspectives on Power and Control

SOC-417 Power and Politics Paper Guidelines

Write a paper that explains the sociological perspectives of C. Wright Mills, Karl Marx, and Peter Berger. It should be relevant and insightful paper with 1500-3000 words and six to eight resources.

  • Provide insight into each sociologist’s background.
  • Describe each perspective.
  • Compare and contrast each of the perspectives.
  • Critically analyze the topic of power and control in America held by each sociologist.
  • Apply each perspective to both historical and current issues and give evidence of the societal ramifications.

This assignment consists of three parts during week four:   Part 1 – Outline and First Draft Part 2 – Peer Review Part 3 – Final Draft

Sociological Perspectives Of C. Wright Mills, Karl Marx, And Peter Berger – Sample Answer

Introduction

Max Weber characterized power as the capacity for attaining particular goals regardless of the attendant resistance from others. Every society is established on some structure of power as well as control. In the US and many other industrial economies, power help in establishing an individual’s societal position, or ranking, in societal structures deemed vertical. The structures are often seen as expressions or even consequences of societal inequalities (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). In this paper, varied sociological perspectives regarding social control and power are examined. Specifically, the sociological perspectives, which relate to social control and power, of Wright Mills, Peter Berger along with Karl Marx are appraised critically in the paper. Each of these perspectives presents diverse explanations regarding human conduct and the social world.

Sociological Background and Perspectives on Control and Power in America

Karl Marx

Background

The principal influence on Karl Marx’s appreciation of social control and power appear to have been Wilhelm Hegel, a leading German philosopher. Marx interpreted Hegel’s writings claiming that history, as well as reality, ought to be considered dialectically. The writings persuaded Marx to view the human history’s direction as typified by the progress towards increased rationality. In most of the writings, Hegel demonstrated that the absolute at times evolves as revolutionary, episodal, and discontinuous leaps; resisting the extant status quos. For instance, he viewed the unity of Christians as certainly capable of radically eliminating slavery, an expression and consequence of class conflict, from the US and elsewhere (Giddens & Giddens, 2009).

Perspective

The Marx’s viewpoint regarding social control along with power was hinged on the conflict perspective. Those who espouse social perspectives that are deemed functionalist take societies as having diverse parts working harmoniously as constituting societies. Even then, those espousing the conflict perspective take the societies as being constituted by diverse competing interests and groups (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). They compete for particular resources and power. That means that Marx viewed social control along with power as the outcomes of the competitions pitting particular interests or groups against others.

The perspective explains diverse facets of social environments by examining the groups having power over others and benefiting from specific societal controls, or arrangements. For instance, in the US, feminists view the society as being patriarchal and biased against females. The feminists view the males as having power over the females and benefiting from specific social arrangements or realities that enable them control over the females.

Marx asserted that the society held limited power, which can only be vested in a small group of individuals or an individual at any particular time. The group or the individual constitutes the ruling and working classes. In capitalistic economies such as the US, the few in the ruling class, the rulers, hold every power. They employ the power in exploiting those in the working class, the workers (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). Those holding the power own the means of controlling production means, hence the workers, owing to capitalism. That is the principal reason why in the majority of nations, the workers hold no power and the rulers hold all the power.

Marx opined that given that political power and economic power are closely tied together, the rulers hold both and the workers hold none of the two. That is clearly exemplified by the numbers of those accessing higher education in the US. Political processes markedly influence the allocation of resources to the institutions offering the education (Giddens & Giddens, 2009; Stolley, 2005). Generally, individuals who are from the families that are deemed powerful owing to the lots of wealth in their control have a higher chance of accessing the education than those considered as holding less power since they have control over less wealth.

The rulers do control the workers since they employ their power in socializing the workers, convincing the workers to accept something that is not in line with own will, the ruler’s ideology (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). The workers effectively suffer false consciousness since they are incapable of realizing that they admitted the ruler’s ideology as own ideology, allowed the ruler’s morals and values to be admitted across the world, and ensured that the rulers’ retain power. The US political parties are largely funded and controlled by families and corporations that are deemed powerful owing to the economic wherewithal in their possession. The families and then corporations argue for particular values and interests and present them as the values shared by all Americans, including those deemed downtrodden or powerless (Skocpol & Campbell, 1995).

The Marxist conflict perspective regarding social control and power comes off as passing over social stability and overly zeroing in on change. As noted earlier, those holding power own the means of controlling production means, hence the workers. That may not be factual where rulers own the means but let their agents, or managers, control the means, hence the workers. In some companies, the workers hold the means through the shares they hold, contradicting the perspective.

Wright Mills

Background

The principal influences on Wright Mills as a young person were the pragmatist works of realists such as William James and Charles Peirce, the writings of Max Weber and Karl Mannheim, and Marxism. He viewed Marxism as a critical sociologists’ too. He asserted that every sociologist should be amply trained on Marxism.

Perspective

Mills viewed social control along with power via the conflict perspective. Indeed, Mills is widely deemed as the foremost founder and promoter of contemporary conflict. He viewed individuals as being influenced and compelled by the development of societal structures to fit into either the “others” class or the elite class. In the US, the elite may include large corporations and the government. Mills viewed competition as being a natural occurrence between the classes over limited resources (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). The classes compete over the resources rather than agreeing on how to share them out via consensus. According to Mills, wider societal organizations and structures such as religions and governments mirror the competition and the attendant inequalities regarding influence and power. The elites employ the resources they acquire in propagating the control and the power they have over the “others”.

The elites have influence over the “others” since they employ their power in socializing the “others”, convincing the others to accept the ruler’s ideology. The “others” effectively suffer false consciousness since they are incapable of realizing that they admitted the ruler’s ideology, allowed the ruler’s morals and values to be admitted across the world, and ensured that the rulers’ retain power (Giddens & Giddens, 2009). As noted earlier, the perspective regarding social control and power comes off as passing over social stability and overly zeroing in on change. As noted earlier, those holding power, the elite, own the means of controlling production means, hence the “others”. As noted earlier, that may not be factual where elite own the means but let their agents, or managers, control the means, hence the “others”. As noted earlier, in some companies, the “others” hold the means through the shares they hold, contradicting the perspective.

Peter Berger

Background

Berger has a fairly conservative Lutheran background. His research works have been rather distinct from the modern typical sociology. They are inclined away from right-wing opinionated thinking. His background has made him adopt a humanistic perspective and social constructionist perspective on virtually all aspects with sociological worth. Largely, the perspective stresses on analyses that are devoid of value (Aeschliman, 2011; Berger, 1966). He taught in North Carolina in the 1950s. During those times, he experienced first-hand the then outrageous American intolerance of the former Confederate region’s culture (Skocpol & Campbell, 1995). The experience persuaded him markedly to take up the humanistic perspective and social constructionist perspective and employ them in revealing the ideological motivations that underlay the intolerance.

Perspective

Berger views social control and power as social constructs. He views them as shared constructed meanings that develop over time. According to him the control and power are developed since individuals are bend on rationalizing own experiences through the creation of particular social world models and their functioning. According to Berger, social control and power are socially constructed to characterize particular connotations, notions, or meanings placed on within-domain events and objects and how others appreciate own interactions with the events and objects (Berger, 1966).

For instance, in the US, the notion that the minorities are less powerful than the majority Whites is a social construct that comes off as obvious and natural to almost all the Americans who have accepted it. As well, in the US, the notion that the minorities are socially subservient to and controlled by the majority Whites is a social construct that comes off as obvious and natural to almost all the Americans (Ainlay, 1986). Notably, the notions may not mirror reality. Groups and individuals partake in the development of the notions of perceived societal reality, create the related social phenomena, and institutionalize the notions (Skocpol & Campbell, 1995). The notions are publicized and developed into traditions ultimately.

The perspective that Berger has regarding the control and power appear to follow accepted logic (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). Individuals are inclined towards maintaining their subjective existences via reaffirming with societal interactions between themselves and others (Ainlay, 1986). The identity of a society and an individual come off as dialectically connected: an individual’s social understanding of the control and power is a product of societal processes. The society orders the processes.

Contrasting and Comparison of Perspectives

The take of Marx and Mills on social control and power are hinged on the conflict perspective. Mills viewed social control along with power via the conflict perspective. The Marx’s viewpoint regarding social control along with power was hinged on the conflict perspective. Notably, one of the principal influences on Wright Mills as a young person was Marxism. Unlike Marx and Mills, Berger’s understanding of the control and power are informed by the humanistic perspective and the social constructionist perspective. Berger views social control and power as social constructs (Ainlay, 1986).

Conclusion

In the US and other societies that are defined by vertical social structures, a few individuals wield power over many others below them. Sociological theories provide researchers with varied perspectives on particular social aspects. While Marx and Mills viewed social control along with power as the outcomes of the competitions pitting particular interests or groups against others, Berger views them as social constructs.

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