Observation of a Public Place Observation of a Public Place This assignment requires a visit to a public place and an observation of that public place for 30 to 60 minutes in order to conduct an analysis of the place in compliance with the three sociological perspectives. To complete this assignment, the place observed was a school. Functionalists and Schools According to the functionalist perspective of sociology, different parts of the society seek to exist in order to create a stable society and these parts operate together and are dependent on each other while perusing stability of the society. Functionalists believe that any element of the society exists for a purpose and these elements are beneficial for the society’s well being. A functionalist will view a school (selected public place) as an important element of the society which operates with other elements of the society to stabilize a particular society (Mooney, 2012, p.414). Functionalist will view school in a positive manner and will focus on various positive elements of a school and its contribution to socializing. The positive impacts of a school on individuals are that it helps individuals such as students learn skills such as communication and technical skills. A school even contributes to the stability of the society as instructors in the school promote the notions of competition among students, importance of attainment and equivalence of opportunity for all. The skills that a student gains by going to a school adds further
to the stability of the economy as these skills are then by students in their professional life to attain personal aims and objectives and aims and objectives of the institution they are working for. Another important role played by a school is to decrease the probability of crime as those individuals who gain education even gain the competency to get employment and this employment helps them in meeting their financial needs due to which they avoid considering criminal activity as a means of meeting their needs. Conflict Theory and Schools On one end are the functionalists who believe that schools promote equal opportunity for all students and meritocracy, while on the other hand are the conflict theorists who would stand against functionalist’s perspective of schools promoting equal opportunity. Conflict theorists would have perceived a school as an institution that treats students in an unequal manner, while benefiting certain students and being a disadvantage for others (Ballantine, 2008, p.12). For example: teachers in a school promote that what is being learned in school will help them in gaining good employment after they complete schooling. But the reality is that not all of the students who attend schools are being employed at high paying jobs. Some are able to secure good jobs on the basis of merits and various others fail to get employment in a good position because those who are the elites of the society use their power to attain those position and students end up believing that they themselves might not have been good enough to attain those positions. This does not mean that those who are in the lower social class or those who are discriminated against will continue to bare the wrong doings against them, at time these individuals tend to revolt and this revolt results in the stabilization of the society. Conflict theory even asserts that people in authority such as teachers in class room set rules and regulations and they are to be followed by students in order to avoid punishment and gain the rewards she has to offer. This was clearly evident in the school I observed; as the teacher was the one who was operating the classroom and students were abiding by what she was saying even when the teacher was not correct. For example: the teachers were holding students sitting at the back responsible for indiscipline even when they weren’t acting in a deviant manner. Symbolic Interactionism and School According to Symbolic Interactionism theory of sociology, people attach certain meanings to events, places and people and then they act towards these elements based on the meanings these elements have for them. People base their actions on the meanings they have attached with these social symbols and they do not depend on the objective meanings associated with them (Finger, 2001, p.47). The meaning that is placed on a school by individuals of a society is that a school provides education to children regarding various aspects of the society such as skills that are considered necessary for gaining employment in an organization of the society, and norms and values of the society and the schools even provide students with education regarding behaviors that are acceptable to the society and even provides information regarding deviant behaviors. If schools would not have existed, individuals might not have gained education and skills required becoming an employee of a society’s organization and the society would have been crowded with unskilled labor force working in lower paying jobs. Creativity is another element that is promoted by schools and non existence of schools would have resulted in lack of creativity and the society would have been surviving without new innovations and things that help individuals in living a comfortable life. References Ballantine, J. H., & Spade, J. Z. (2008). Schools and society: a sociological approach to education (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Pine Forge Press. Finger, M., & Asu?n, J. M. (2001). Adult education at the crossroads: learning our way out. London: Zed. Mooney, L. A. (2012). Understanding social problems (4th Canadian ed.). Toronto: Nelson Education.