> 1. Social Systems
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6. A competent scholar with a working knowledge of:
Also ask yourself as you read each article,
- What values are at stake or in conflict?
- What rights are at issue or in conflict?
- What is the nature of the harm in each case, and who is being hurt?
- What do the authors suggest as possible resolutions for each social problem?
Based on issues covered in this seminar, prepare an annotated bibliography, including some web references.
Have an interview with Dr. Jackson
Widdison and Delaney’s article says on page 10: “conflict theorists view all the parts as being in competition with each other”, and on page 11: “Conflict is therefore a natural and inevitable result of various groups pursuing their interests and values.”
In the “Guns, Money & Medicine” article, the right to carry a gun is in conflict with the financial burden resulting from gunshot wounds.
The value seems to be the unhindered enjoyment of the fruits of success and the American way. The costs of medical treatment and care for gunshot victims are biting too deeply into the earnings of those able to afford health insurance.
The values of the sanctity of life and respect for other human beings are conspicuous by their absence. In fact, shooting offenders demonstrate a change in values as the article progresses. It seems that towards the end of the article, they do not shoot to kill but to maim for life.
The right to carry a gun is in conflict with the right to enjoy the fruits of success and achievement.
Obviously, serious harm is being done to the gunshot victims, but this does not seem to be the burden of this article. On page 93, the article reports “that probably half of gun homicide victims – in some cities as many as 70 percent – are offenders themselves.” There is no sympathy here for the victims here. The focus of the article is on the burden being placed on hospitals and doctors and those paying for health insurance.
Emergency room doctors need to lobby policy makers, with an emphasis on safer, childproof guns. They are asking for other reforms, including heavier taxes and import restrictions. But it seems they do not have high hopes for success.
The Widdison and Delaney’s article says on page 9: “until they [social interactionists] can convince those who are in a position to control and perhaps correct the condition, it is not considered a social problem.”
The eight clergy state, “When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders…” Their concern about rights being denied seems to be rather shallow, and King points this out to them in his reply: “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.” Page 1.
The values which the clergymen seem to hold dear are: the status quo, “peace”, freedom from the disturbance of demonstrations, freedom from outside interference, and a superficial preservation of law and order. They seem more concerned about the potential of the demonstrations to incite hatred and violence, rather than the conditions that are giving rise to the demonstrations. They hardly acknowledge that rights are being denied, only the “natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized.”
The rights at issue here are primarily the rights of all people to be treated equally. The letter also attempts to deny two other rights: the right of peaceful protest and street demonstrations, and the right of “outsiders” getting involved in what they see as being a local concern only.
From the perspective of this letter, the harm being done is the disturbance of the peace and the threat of losing a comfortable way of life. They do not acknowledge the wrongness of the inequitable distribution of power and privilege, although this is the great harm being addressed, and the Negroes are the ones being hurt.
The authors strongly favor dealing with racial matters in the courts, and in negotiations with local leaders. Their approach seems to say, “Leave it to the courts. If the courts don’t fix it, then it isn’t a problem,” which typifies the Symbolic Interaction model of social analysis.
Widdison and Delaney’s article says on page 9: “society is a social system consisting of various integrated parts… When any part fails, this creates a problem for the whole.” And on page 10: “functionalists emphasize the interrelationships of the various parts of a system and believe that changes in one part will have significant implications for other parts.”
King says on page 1: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
What are values? Things I prize and treasure in life; personal beliefs, morality, ethics, rights. Philosophical differences between morality and ethics can be be debated at length. Ethics are set by groups; values are personal as well as group.
- Human freedom vs oppression; lack of freedom
- unjust laws vs just laws; justice (p3,4)
- honoring promises vs breaking promises (p2)
- equality vs non-equality; equal worth vs non-equality (economic)
- equal access vs non-access
- power vs powerlessness
- law and order vs civil disobedience
- true justice vs status quo
- taking action vs doing nothing
- somebodiness vs nobodiness
- control vs controlled (this is about an issue rather than a value)
- integration vs segregation
- non-violence vs violence
Values at stake or in conflict from Martin Luther King’s perspective include: justice, honoring promises, the courage or the willingness to act on convictions, the obligation of the church to defend the rights of the oppressed.
The constitutional and God given right to peaceful demonstration, good faith negotiation, desegregation and the equality of all people, the right to be heard in a timely manner.
A “degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’” (page 3), systematic personal and physical abuse, humiliation day in and day out, a pervasive sense of inferiority. This is being inflicted on Negroes, and on America’s destiny itself, because “Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny.” (page 9).
Negotiation has been tried and has proved to be ineffective, so a program of “direct action” was developed “to create a situation so crisis-packed that it [would] inevitably open the door to negotiation.” (page 2). The nonviolent campaign contained “four basic steps: collection of facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” (page 2). King also hopes that “the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.” (page 8).
Created: Sunday, May 21, 7:05:30 PM
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 2:57 PM