Bla Essay Research Paper The democracy we

Bla Essay, Research Paper

The democracy we have in America today is very complex. This

democracy starts out with political ?parties whose main purpose

is to gain control of the government by winning elections?

Appelbaum and Chambliss(1997:366). ?In the United States, unlike

in most other democracies, there are only two political parties

with any substantial influence over government policies?

Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:366). Third parties are also

apparent in elections. These third parties are often successful

in smaller elections, but when we are dealing with national

elections it is very difficult for the third party to survive the

bigger two due to the lack of funding and publicity of the PAC?s

and other interest groups. However, third parties serve a very

good purpose. They provide us with more candidates giving us

more choices which is what democracy is about. According to my

class notes (lecture on government) third parties are sometimes

chosen when people are opposed to the candidates from the other

two parties. Third parties stand as a sign of choice as well.

Voting for a third party is also seen as voting for a better

selection of candidates rather than voting for the usual two

candidates from the other parties. The president of the United

States is not chosen on the popular vote of the people alone but

on the Electoral College ?whose vote is determined by the popular

vote of each state? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:367). This

Electoral College is in a sense a vote of the people but at the

same time it keeps bigger states from becoming to powerful

overwhelming the smaller states. The United States also has

three branches of government the legislative, judicial and

executive branches. ?The constitution of the United States

provides a system of checks and balances? Appelbaum and Chambliss

(1997:369). This system of checks and balances puts a limit on

the amount of power a single branch may have which protects both

the people and the individual branches government from one

another. I believe that the United States has a very efficient

form of government. It has many rules sewn into the constitution

to keep things running efficient and fairly.

?Democracy is a form of government in which citizens are

able to participate directly or indirectly in their own

governance, literally means the rule of the people? Appelbaum and

Chambliss (1997:366). According to my class notes (lecture on

democracies) this does not seem to be the case. It seems in some

cases that the rich or the elite have more influence than do

other citizens in the governing of out country. For example,

funding moneys and interest groups. The elite are able to donate

funding to their particular candidate or party in the form of

interest groups. They give money to interest groups, which is

then given to candidates for campaigning purposes that help the

candidates funds for president. For the most part this money is

not freely donated. The elite want to make sure that if their

money is donated to a candidate that their ideas and beliefs will

be supported in office if they do become president. With these

kind of issues in mind many others especially the poor will often

refrain from voting because they feel that their vote will not

count anyway.

This idea is very much a reality. ?The cost of campaigning

has gone up significantly in recent years, and today candidates

spend vast sums of money on political campaigns? Appelbaum and

Chambliss (1997:370). As said by Phil Gramm, people who give

money are the best friends a politician can have and the one that

spends the most money wins. So the impact of spending through

interest groups and PAC?s are very important.

There are many differing opinions on the issue of changing

families in the last forty to fifty years. I believe that if

someone were to look at today?s families in the same way as one

would have forty to fifty years ago they are going to be in for a

surprise. We have to realize that not only family has changed

but our culture and economy too have also changed. ?The idea of

family is a group of people who identify themselves as being

related to one another, usually by blood, marriages, or adoption,

and who share intimate relationships and dependency? Appelbaum

and Chambliss (1997:390). Our society?s language and definitions

have changed so much over the last forty to fifty years. For

example ?the meaning of nuclear family has also changed since

then? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:391). According to my class

notes (lecture on family) we used to classify a nuclear family as

a family with two biological parents and their children usually

more than one. Now in today?s times we classify the nuclear

family as ?a social group consisting of one or two parents and

their dependent children? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:391).

Our society has changed so much in the last fifty years that

single parenting is very common and is often looked at as a norm.

Another example of the changing times would be that of marriage.

Fifty years ago marriage was an acceptable relationship between

two people of the opposite sex. Now the definition is so basic

that marriage pretty much just has to be between to people

including people of the same sex.

If we are to look at today?s families as we did of those

forty to fifty years ago it would seem that America had lost its

sense of values. Families would also be looked upon as immoral

based on these same ideals. On the other hand if we look at

family today as in relation to our society as a whole I don?t

think that there would be to many surprises when it came to

looking at family.

When comparing both functionalism and conflict perspectives

on education they seem to be in no way the same. From a

functionalism perspective education seems to be explained as

preparing and educating people with basic skills to survive in

today?s world. As said by Emile Durkheim, emphasizing the

function of formal education in socializing people into the norms

and values as well as the skills that are needed for the society

to survive (Appelbaum and Chambliss 1997). The functionalism

theory is broadcasted as the ?functions and transmission of

general knowledge and specific skills? Appelbaum and Chambliss

(1997:453). On the other hand we have the conflict theory of

education. According to the conflict theory ?children are taught

at an early age to define their academic aspirations and

abilities in keeping with the social class of their parents. The

lower one?s social class, the less likely one is to value higher

education as a plausible avenue to upward mobility, and the less

likely one is to work to excel academically? Appelbaum and

Chambliss (1997:455). So in most cases the conflict theory

states that the class you are in is the one that you will stay in

throughout your life. Also as an example of my class notes

(lecture on education) most lower income families children will

receive a lower or less able education than would a person who is

of a higher class that would go to a private school for instance.

When comparing the two theories it seems that both

functionalism and conflict theories have some faults and some

merit. ?Education is a double edged sword. For some, it helps

to reduce inequality by opening up new possibilities for social

mobility. For others, it reinforces existing inequality by

providing unequal educational opportunities according to one?s

race, ethnicity, social class, or gender? Appelbaum and Chambliss


?Emile Durkheim?s The Elementary Forms of the Religious

life (1965), written in 1912, propounded what has prove to be one

of the most influential and enduring theories in the sociology of

religion? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480). According to my

class notes (over religion) Durkheim based his studies on

Aborigines who?s religion had been the same for many years. ?He

found that the aborigines divided their world into to groups

which are profane and sacred? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480).

Profane being a sphere of routine daily life according to my

class notes (lecture on religion) and sacred as a more important

sphere with a spiritual background. ?Durkheim?s bold theoretical

conclusion was that, in all societies, the realm of the sacred

serves an important social function for the societies, the realm

of the sacred serves an important social function for the society

as a whole? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480). ?Marx on the

other hand did not systematically study the nature of religion in

society, although he clearly recognized its central importance?

Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:481). Through a Marx view,

societies are divided into classes. For example Marx, divided

religion into hostile and opposing classes in his explanation of

religion (Appelbaum and Chambliss 1997). In one of Marx?s most

famous statement he says, ?Religion is the sigh of the oppressed

creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of

soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people? (in

McClellan, 1997,p.64). I believe what Marx?s is saying here is

that religion is based mainly around a higher class of people

oppressing the poor and keeping them from becoming involved.

Like most theories Durkheim?s and Marx?s seem to have

strengths and weaknesses. According to my class notes (lecture

on religion) Durkheim seems to have many strong arguments that

seem to be logical but we also have to take in effect that his

studies were done on a Australian hunting and gathering tribe and

would not carry as much weight while looking through his

perspective in the twentieth century. Marx on the other hand has

a more modern approach which would appeal more to today?s times

but seems to put to much emphasis on what the elite can put over

on everyone else. For example, ?One of these problems is that

Marx?s notation that religion is a mystification enabling the

ruling class to pull the wool over everybody?s eyes is clearly

simplistic? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:481).

The separation of church and state is sociologically

problematic for many reasons. ?Sociology is the systematic study

of human social relations, groups, and societies? and when looked

at Sociological stand point there seems to be no separation

Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:6). Religion is not controlled by

the states so it acts upon society as does the government and

there seems to be know line drawn between the two so it is very

difficult to study. Since there is no governing of religion ?it

is also difficult to estimate reliably the number of people

belonging to churches? Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:491).

According to my class notes (lecture on religion) although it is

hard to estimate the exact growth of religion we can tell that it

has grown steadily since the United States were founded. Another

reason this is problematic is because of the number of religious

organizations. ?One reason so many people belong to religious

organizations is that there are an enormous number of such

organizations one can belong to? Appelbaum and Chambliss

(1997:491). This also presents difficulty because of the number

of people belonging to multiple religious groups. Surveys also

seem to be misleading because the answers given during the survey

often seem to stretch the truth for example saying that you pray

more than you actually do.


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