The World is shrinking, that is what I heard often in the 1980’s . Not anymore, the world has shrank, we have become connected in so many ways that some prefer to see the world as a global village.Thanks to technology, super highways, rail, and air travel we have become the most connected generation to ever live on God’s earth. With this connectedness, society is becoming more complex. Society was we understand it, does not exist in a vacuum or empty shell. There are ideas that shape how people behavior, how they come to share values, and how society function as whole. Elliot sat out to discuss many of the prominent ideas revolving around how a society forms bonds and connect people together. In other words, how people come to share the same social identity. I wish to reflect on a couple of these ideas.
Marxism: Social bonds are the results of structured inequalities, or class conflict. Marxism sat out to rid the world of the evil called capitalism, since this was the major cause of structured inequalities and class conflict. If Marxism taught us anything it is that, any idea of how society should look and function that excludes God, creates more evil than the evil is seeking to correct. This theory gave the world the most oppressive form of government imaginable and created an authoritarian ruling class that absorb political. Neighboring Cuba is a great example of what happens when the state seeds all power to itself. Cuba when viewed, looks a nation frozen in time. Thanks Marx, but no thanks
Bourdieu: The Theory of Cultural taste and social preference. It is not difficult to understand how Bourdieu could have developed his theory when one thinks of the society from which he hails. Growing up, whenever someone was seeking to instill a sense of cultured mannerism into another person, the French and the British were the models. Paris was thought of as the most cultured and sophisticated city in the world. Bourdieu argues that cultural taste and social preferences forms bond that connect people together. Bourdieu has his critic but he came to his conclusions by observing his society and many of the social elements that he pointed to are evident in most societies today. In the United States, people worship and crave the lifestyle of the celebrities. These are the ones whose social circles others strive to attain. Social and cultural divides are also visible at other levels. Drive around the city and it becomes obvious that all neighborhoods are not perceived equally. In one neighborhood the streets are fill with garbage, the grass is unkept, while on the other side of town a totally different picture emerges. Not only are the streets well manicured, there are fancy restaurants and boutiques.These are statement of clear social distinction according to Bourdieu’s argument. At lease Bourdieu does not leave one without hope. According to him, “social struggles for distinction have a cultural dimension too: cultivation of the self is also a matter of learning, aesthetics, the arts”. Anthony Elliot, Contemporary Social Theory, kindle version, pg.147.
Habermas: Globalization and Post-national societies.
Is globalization really good for us ? Habermas raise a valid concern for Nation that do not posses the political will or who are not be equipped with the financial presence to the deal with the consequences of globalization. These include political pressure, legal, and what Habermas call, normative challenges pose by globalization. Are nations in danger of losing their identity? How will the church be impacted by globalization? can we be danger of losing our freedom to express our beliefs? These are genuine concerns when considering power of globalization to transform nations and cultures.
John Urry: Mobilities. Everything, people, images, information, money and power is moving at a speed never witnessed before, so observed Urry. This indeed is the reality of the world in which we now live. Before you are able to learn half the functions of your new tech toy, a new version is release. All this adds to the business and speed of life. Which begs the question, how is this new speed of life impacting our relationship with God?. One would think that technology should be making our lives better but busier is not always better. Not when we have no time for important relationships and most so, to be engage with God.
In conclusion, Elliott in the way states, develops, and responds to the various theories demonstrated that he is a scholar of the highest caliber. Having studied some sociology as part my academic training and being familiar with many of the authors he discuses, I think this is the most scholastic work I have read on social theories.
 Anthony Elliott, Contemporary Social Theory: An introduction.
New York: Rutledge, 2009. P.147, Kindle version