Various theories have offered explanations of social phenomena, such as Durkheim, Weber, Conflict Theory and Feminist Theories to enlist just a few. According to Durkheim, “the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinate system which has its own life, one may call it the collective or common conscience.....” (Durkheim 1997:79-80). The collective conscience is significant because it determines the relationship between society and the individual and forms the basis upon which the values of that particular society are set out and also the basis upon which the individual can be coerced into a particular lifestyle. Max Weber’s theory on the other hand, is based upon the distribution of tangible and intangible , both symbolic and material, in society and such a distribution is inevitably unequal. This causes the emergence of classes and parties within society based upon the distribution of labour. (Weber, 2000 :927).
Another theory relevant in the African American context is the conflict theory, according to which different individuals and groups in society have different amounts of material and non material resources, especially monetary resources. As a result, the groups with greater material and other resources are likely to exploit those who are poor or have less power and this could be the source of conflict.
2. As Philogene (1999) points out, the transition that has been made from “black” to “African American” in referring to this particular racial group in American society in itself demonstrates a transition of Americans who are of African descent from race to culture. She states that the use of the term “African American” has become synonymous with the manner in which the social status of Americans of Africa descent has improved, because they are no