Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Power and Control: Elective Outcome

Power is the ability to get others to feel, think and act by your own exertions over others.
There are many aspects of power and control, within our lives and within cultures. Social control can happen between parents and children, influences by our governments and media to maintain and power over a society. In sociology it is referred to as ideological control, and it can happen in an overt or subtle way. It seems today in the United States, government and media are more and more tied together to maintain power over the people in respect to the Iraq war. The less the media shows images from the war and reports on the war, the less the American people pay attention, but you can show Britney Spears over and over, and people pay attention and talk about it. If the media showed more and more caskets with American flags, then the government's power over us, would be less. The idea of power and social control relate directly to the speech and language unit. This social mechanism is used to create conformity and group behavior. An example of the idea of using social control and norms to create conformity, is after 9/11 and when the Bush Administration decided to go to war in Iraq. 9/11 rallied the United States together, and made people more united, the Bush Administration used this patriotism to start an unnecessary war. But at the time, if anyone spoke out against the decision to go to war, it was a social norm at the time, to be called unpatriotic. The Bush Administration used the united country after 9/11 to to create norms of compliance, and social control through the media to keep people from talking out.
Control can be seen by laws, rules, and regulations. institutions are used to enforce laws, and these are a more direct, or formal form of control. But norms, myths, traditions, values are indirect, or informal forms of control, and it can be more powerful and successful. Power can take many forms. On large scales or small scale, from social control inside a family, a mother teaching a child what is right or wrong, uses norms and values, to achieve "good" behavior from their children. For anthropology it is an important aspect to study. It involves the norms, values, and traditions of a culture, and who in the culture holds the power. And the what extent the culture holds power over its people. To me it seems that all aspects of our lives are results of someone else's control over another. The institutions of school shaping what children think based on states guidelines of learning. Children, at home holding values that their parents want to instill in them, and probably traditions that were passed to them by their parents. All actions are in a way one person enacting power upon another. Again, we can see that in the speech and discourse unit, when we speak something it is an action, and that action is an exertion of power over another, or a struggle of power, that is seen in arguments.

As individuals make decisions and they effect others lives this is the point of power anthropologists watch, because this is the point when social structures have power. Hegemony is when one social group take power and advantage over all others. The hegemonic power has its hands in the formal and informal mechanisms of control, and the Formal mechanisms are used to enforce the informal ones. The Hegemonic aspect in our society are corporations. The have control over many aspects of our society. They try to build a society of consumerism through magazines, movies, commercials, so that we always want to buy, in essence making them more and more of a profit. Through commercials they give us our cultural ideas, and exercise social control. We go to school and are taught to behave and not think outside of the box, so we can fix inside of corporate boxes and be the busy obedient worker, that wont throw a wrench into the situation.
I think that most of our lives are examples of social control. The informal and formal mechanisms of control. Society dictates to us what we should do,  the paths we need to take to succeed, and if we do not follow that we can fail. If we do not take certain paths we can be looked down upon or shunned by society. We are given social roles and norms to follow, to make sure we all can be categorized and behave to our society's standard, and these things are ingrained in us by our schools, parents, and other institutions.

1 comment:

Matt Archer said...

I liked your discussion of informal control. I got the sense that you understood the anthropological approach to power and control in a personally relevant sort of way.

I also liked how this post and your previous post seemed to flow into each other. That further reinforces my thoughts that you deserved advanced mastery on the language one.

Another great job on this post Alyson! You've demonstrated mastery of the Power and Control learning unit!