As far as science has proved, we are all human beings. As humans we live through all kinds of experiences, all of which are different and unique in their own way. As individuals we have different approaches and behaviours in diverse situations, with variables such as origin, personal and environmental development, and the influence of organisations and institutions around us. This is the study of sociology – so what constitutes a society?
To my knowledge, and perhaps yours, society is a group of individuals who agree to work together for the better good; a civilization built on relationships. Regardless of religion and orientation, professional background and experience, economic status, it is the link that binds us together. This is what many of us are taught back in school, where supposedly we lay and build the foundations of our careers, our futures and ourselves. So, how can we dismiss the structure that we live in, the structure that, as a society, we have created?
We play a great part in agreeing to the laws that our elected leaders supposedly follow in order to make this world a happy place.
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, was a woman almost equally loved and disliked by her own nation. Her controversial “there is no such thing as society” statement has lived on years after her administration. Her views referred to the idea of how citizens look to the state for all cures and solutions “and [how] no government can do anything except through [its] people, and people must look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbor.”
The authorities we elect control our lives. They maintain, aid and support our rights, laws, healthcare, taxes, and the economic basis in which we function. This is what we expect from them, and we have roles that we follow as citizens to help sustain a ‘harmonious’ environment. However, we would not be in endless debates about ongoing inequality, justice, and corruption if we, as a society, saw this system fair.
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau has often named the regulations that we live by as “the social contract”. We play a great part in agreeing to the laws that our elected leaders supposedly follow in order to make this world a happy place. If we were deprived of that right, our society would not operate accordingly and ‘all hell would break loose’. Why do we choose to live in this constant ‘hell’?
We all have a role, some which we choose, some from which we cannot escape.
The infamous concept of the sociological imagination, by C. Wright Mills, aims to find solutions to problems within society via research and theory about social behaviour. Take the act of drinking coffee. To many of us drinking coffee is more than just that, it is figurative value that is part of our day-to-day life. Often the ritual of drinking coffee is more significant than actually drinking the coffee itself. Just as it has become a ritual to criticise and accuse those in power of our society’s flaws, where the ritual of blaming is more important than the actual reason. Often we do not even know why we accuse but because they are authoritative institutions they must be used to it and therefore deserve it.
This is the vicious circle in which we live. We choose and allow certain institutions to govern us, take the weight off our hands, ‘do the dirty work’ and yet accept our disapproval of our lack of freedom.
We live in a society, a system, with no exact power to blame. It is on you, it is on me, and it is on us all. We are all part of the structure, from voters to candidates, to those who do not want or care to be involved in politics. From the gardener, the student, the unemployed, to the head CEO of a multinational. We all have a role, some which we choose, some from which we cannot escape. That is society.