DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Stereotype Me ! Society Does.

Written by: on October 27, 2015

Stereotype-me

 

How do we live as individuals? How do we live in a society of different individuals and character?

 

         Introduction

It’s often said that stereotypes are rooted in truth, but is this a valid statement? People who make this argument often want to justify their use of stereotypes. The problem with stereotypes is that they suggest that groups of people are inherently prone to certain behaviors. Arabs are naturally one way. Hispanics are naturally another; therefore Stereotyping is a way of placing general characteristics on a certain group of people. Assumptions are made about how a group is supposed to look and behave. Stereotyping is often unhealthy because it keeps us from getting to know individual people, if we make assumptions about the group they belong to. A good social theory reveals things that otherwise remain hidden; social theories are analytical frameworks or paradigms used to examine social phenomena.

Social theory provides us with the basic foundations that can help us make sense of our lives and even explore the manner they connect to the processes which determine what we can do, how we can do them and the way we live. Social theory is a very complex study of everyday social life of individuals and societies in the rapidly changing and developing world that many people including students, teachers and researchers have spent their time trying to explain the complexities therein. Anthony Elliott researches through a wide range of theorists and the theories that they have developed on the subject[1]. He eventually succeeds in showing how these theorists have revealed the complex social theory of day to day social life. Elliott has clearly written his work and has managed it in a manner that makes social theory relevant today. At some point in life, we are faced with challenges of tolerating people of other characters and behaviors. We tend to think they make mistakes and believe that we are the right ones. How do we evaluate our righteousness and wrongness? How do we conclude that other people are not doing the right thing? At other instances, we may ask ourselves why we are the way we are. Why was I born a Latino? Why was I born an African? Why was I born a Native? Anthony Elliott’s theory puts it clear and answers the questions making it easy to understand. Besides understanding the questions alone fosters unity. The picture below is a typical example.

IMG_5988_-_Gunjan_Marwah

Summary

Elliott in the book “contemporary social theory: an introduction” critically analyses the theories of social life in the modern day society where he lays focus on a number of issues or themes that he tackles explicitly. In the first portion of the discussion is the first theme where he focuses on the relation that exists between an individual and the society or between the action of human beings and the social structure[2]. He says that this is one of the most vital issues in social theory and that most of the social theorists whose works he considered in the book resolve by either laying emphasis on the agency of the individuals or the power of the social structure or through combination of the concepts of the opposing sides that is the side one take takes depends on whether they value individuals first or the society. The second and a much closer theme of the book is the conflict experienced in modern societies. Much concern here is the hold of values that dominate the society, which according to some of the social theorists, are able to make societies united so that individuals are found to be in agreement with others. Societal unity is attained when people are drawn successfully into the larger social forces around them so that they can see the expectation of others from them. Another theme is that of social changes that take place almost in everyday life such as globalization, information technologies, techno industrialization of war[3]. Contemporary social theory is charged to assess the rate of change taking place in the lives of individuals in the modern society and at the same time criticizes the forces by institutions that drive such changes. Another theme that the book focuses on is the issue of gender.  The last theme concerns the relation between the social and the emotional between our public and private worlds. Many traditions of recent theories purport that the private life is greatly developed by the public but it is in turn restructured by the emotional responses and reactions of individuals.

Reflection

Social life has always been defined as being freedom that one has and the things that constrain an individual or simply the possibilities present versus the disadvantages. A distinction between the contemporary society and the past societies thus emerges such freedom of choice, subjective reasoning and the limitations[4]. The contributions of the various sociologists, philosophers, psychoanalysts and political theorists to contemporary social theory propose interdisciplinary studies on the self, society and history rather than limiting the reflection on society and the social to a particular discipline. Many social thinkers have made an attempt to answer the questions as to whether human reason can be able to make sense of the social world and shape it for the better; that the development of modern societies with vast inequalities in wealth among the citizens constitute progress; government intervention and regulations in particular issues also impact on natural social processes; among several other issues like alienation, loneliness, social disorganization, and secularization.

The questions, we must all find answers to …How do we live as individuals? How do we live in a society of different individuals and character?”

Bibliography

Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

[1]Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

 

[2]Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

 

[3]Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

 

[4]Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

 

About the Author

mm

Rose Anding

Rose Maria “Simmons McCarthy” Anding, a Visionary, Teacher,Evangelist, Biblical Counselor/ Chaplain and Author, of High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder. She is a widower, mother, stepmother, grandmother, great grandmother of Denver James, the greater joy of her life. She has lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, and North Carolina, and is now back on the forgiving soil of Mississippi.

9 responses to “Stereotype Me ! Society Does.”

  1. Claire Appiah says:

    Rose,
    You pose two questions for your readers. “How do we live as individuals? How do we live in a society of different individuals and character?
    You basically answered these questions in your blog regarding Elliott’s discussion on the relation between the individual and society. (11). Getting past contemporary social theories, the lives of Christian individuals will be a reflection of the relationship they have with God. If they love, reverence, and obey God, they will love and show concern for their fellow human beings in society regardless of who they are or what they have done. Christian individuals aim to live their lives in a way that is pleasing to God and to diligently follow His moral dictates.
    It would seem that Elliott perceives the term “society” as very fluid as it has been defined over the past few decades by social theorists. Contemporary social theory would expand the meaning of the term to include its global nature. Thus, Elliott states, “To define society in purely national terms is to circumscribe its operations in terms of say, territories, boundaries, and geopolitical spaces. To define society beyond the terrain of the nation seems to open the textures of human belonging and association in ways which appear to have no limit, pushing the boundaries of social and political understanding to the edge.” (4). In any definition, the relation between the Christian individual and society remain the same.

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thank Claire for your comments on the question posed at the end of my blog.
      It seem that social theories relate to historical, arguments, debates, and dialogues of the geographic information science GIS–social theory is a debate and the concern for alternatives,in essence social theory encompasses ideas about societies change and develop, and how to explain it ” social behavior, power and social structure, gender and ethnicity and certain themes takes precedence over others, the themes such as the nature of social life, the relationship between self and society, the structure of social institutions, the role and possibility of social transformation, as well as the themes such as a gender, race and class” (Elliott 2008). It does nothing more than make one aware of social history of the way it used to be. We are still left with our social issues at the local and global levels. The question remains, how do we resolve the social issues, since we know the theory of how they came to be? We could continue talking about social theory, just knowledge only. Thanks you Rose Maria

  2. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Claire,
    You gave an excellent responsive to the question asked in my blog.
    It seem that social theories relate to historical, arguments, debates, and dialogues of the geographic information science GIS–social theory is the debate and the concern for alternatives.

    In essence social theory encompasses ideas about societies change and develop, and how to explain “ the social behaviour, power and social structure, gender and ethnicity and certain themes takes precedence over others, the themes such as the nature of social life, the relationship between self and society, the structure of social institutions, the role and possibility of social transformation, as well as the themes such as a gender, race and class “(Elliott 2008).
    It does nothing more than make one aware of the history of the way it used to be. We are still left with our social issues at the local and global levels. The question remains, how do we resolve the social issues, since we have been made a aware of the social theory and how they came to be? This was a very interesting reading.

    Elliott, Anthony. 2008. Contemporary social theory: an introduction. London: Routledge.

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Rose,
      You are correct, social theories provide us with a historical background on how the various societal conditions, problems and processes evolved, but it offers us no solutions to these dilemmas. Social theorists can argue and debate these issues ad infinitum, but at the end of the day, we are still left with our social issues at the local and global level.
      You ask, how can we resolve these local and global issues? I do not believe that we can resolve these issues on our own. It can only come about through God’s divine intervention and through His empowerment of His people, the Body of Christ.

  3. Aaron Cole says:

    Rose,
    Great Blog! I loved the title! Do you think we can give one individual freedom without confining or restricting the freedoms of another?

    Aaron

  4. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Aaron for asking the questions!

    This question could cause a great debate, since freedom can be defined as the condition of “not been controlled by another nation, group of people or political independence, then”. Herbert Spencer concludes from his law of equal freedom that a person can decide to assume a condition of “voluntary outlawry” and chose to “ignore the sate” entirely without infringing on anybody else’s rights. And the bible tell us in 2 Corinthians 3:17 “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. So your question was to me, “Do you think we can give one individual freedom without confining or restricting the freedoms of another”?

    Let us focus on the law of liberty…reminds me of the movement for African American civil rights began long before the Brown vs Board of Education decision and continues long after. Still, the defeat of the separate-but-equal legal doctrine undercut one of the major pillars of white supremacy in America. In the decades that followed, a heroic ongoing campaign for civil rights has lifted the nation closer to its ideals of freedom. All the enslaved people had was a promise of freedom; because for formerly enslaved people, freedom meant an end to the whip, to the sale of family members, and to white masters. The promise of freedom held out the hope of self-determination, educational opportunities, and full rights of citizenship, therefore the promise was not freedom.

    Freedom is having liberty and being in full ownership and control of the entirety of one’s own properties. There is at this time no theory of freedom that meets conventional standards of scientific theory. Freedom is not obtained from mythical rights, and certainly not from constitutions, which are the very antithesis of freedom because they imply a State with power over people. Freedom is obtained by decision and declaration by people who choose to be free, and who are willing to defend their freedom.

    So what is your view on the questions? Thanks for asking. Rose Maria

  5. Rose,

    Great blog. I like how you proposed a question and then answered it.

    I did find this line interesting: “Social life has always been defined as being freedom that one has and the things that constrain an individual or simply the possibilities present versus the disadvantages.” Wouldn’t that have to do with a moral code? Is there something that gives freedom or constraint? If people throw off constraint does that give freedom or chaos? Interesting that these books we are reading points back to there being some “glue” that holds it together.

    Kevin

  6. Great opening question, Rose! “It’s often said that stereotypes are rooted in truth, but is this a valid statement?” How many times have we stereotyped individual based on a group assumption?

    I recently was at a conference in NYC. The speakers had broken us up into groups for table talk and we discussed the topic of serving vulnerable children. It was automatically assumed that vulnerable children were in the city and not in the suburbs. A vast majority also made the assumption that vulnerable children were minorities. This type of mindset is brought to us from the media and our own prejudice. I grew up in a 900-somethine square foot home in a neighborhood that was referred to as the “ghetto”. My county has been listed as the highest for heroin overdoses in all of NJ and was even mentioned on the news, because of Rosie O’ Donnell’s daughter. Since Hurricane Sandy, we’ve experienced an inundation of drugs, poverty and crime. The table looked at me in shock. Many had the assumption that I was wealthy or was unaffected by turmoil, when in fact, I had experienced much of the same struggles as those within the city. Why did those around me come to the assumption that my skin color determined my financial status? Why were they shocked to find that I knew what they had gone through?

    When we make assumptions – we limit our ministry to guesswork. We fail to understand the societal structures or social norms of individuals and regions and fail to provide an answer to the questions. Understanding our audience requires us to have an appreciation for diversity – and understand one’s culture in order to affect their community. Elliott discusses Globalization from the perspective of David Held, He states, “For Held, globalization certainly involves a stretching of social relations. What he means to underscore with this notion of stretching or extensity is that decisions or events occurring in one part of the world come to have ramifications for people living elsewhere” (Elliott, 340). Our relevance is so much broader than one group, one community or one state – our influence reaches into every culture, race and nation. It speaks a language that is understandable by all for the benefit of all.

  7. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Colleen,
    You made some important points concerning assumption; but we should never based our ministry on assumption. The word is unchanging and powerful enough to cut through bone and marrow. Therefore, proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit for the conversion of souls is the main objective of church in crossing any cultural boundaries in order to win people to Christ. This is the reason our reading blogs are very important, giving us a better understand of societal structures of individuals and regions, their worldview, in order for us stop making assumptions.

    Globalization from the perspective of David Held, shows Global governance is failing when we need it most. The paradox of our times is that, as global problems become more complex and threatening, our global institutions lose their force as organizing frameworks for inter-state cooperation; but influence is something that reaches all cultures. Thanks for sharing. Rose Maria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *