To What Extent Are Individuals The Product Of Society

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To what extent are individuals the product of society? In my essay I will look at the theories put forward by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber on a range of topics relating to the individual and society. Durkheim talks about social systems while Weber talks of social action. The system approach of functionalism the structuralism theory put forward by Durkheim says that society is made up of institution starting with the family (kinship).He categorised these institutions into four as mentioned Kinship, economic (places of work), political, and cultural (churches, schools). All these institutions have a purpose. The purpose is served by individuals coming together becoming an organised group (Mike O’Donnell 1997) We as humans do not know how to behave when we are born. We learn this through a process of socialisation. Socialisation is a lifelong process in which we are always learning the most considerable part is in early childhood this is known as primary socialisation. An example of primary socialisation would be if a child grew up where prejudices were oblivious and apparent the child would then learn these prejudices as part of their norms believing their prejudices was acceptable. Secondary socialisation is when new learning takes place mainly in adult hood so the individual can assimilate into new social groups with broader lines of values and norms. (Arnett, Jeffrey J. 1995) We as individual act and behave in a certain way this is determined by the society and social background we come from. Individuals define right and wrong through learnt behaviour we are not born with such values and beliefs. These believe and values are a constraint on the individual by extended influence. These constraints aren’t written in stone nor are they legally binding yet play a pivotal role in moulding our behaviour. The status we have in society is governed by the role
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