This course has definitely done a lot to broaden my mind and changed the way that I think about society. The tool that I’ve most learned to use while trying to understand society is critique. Critique is an attempt at objective understanding so as to determine both merits and faults and more. This is done by opening your mind and looking at all angles of a situation before making a preconcieved judgement. Throughout the course I learned a lot about important issues that both make and break our society. Before the course I definitely had different ideas about society. I never used to think that society was a social construct and learning that it is really changed my opinions about people in general. When I though about society before, I basically just thought it meant people, but now that I am more educated I understand that it is really what people create and how they interact with eachother. Society is definitely not as one sided as I believed it to be. We as humans are definitely complex people capable of a lot of good things as much as we are capable of much destruction. Through critiquing society i learned that most things that we think, see, and do is because of social contruction. The things that we define as normal are normal because we made them so. We go to work and make money because society created jobs and currency. What I have learned from this course is that people are merely puppets and society is the puppet master. There are other aspects besides the concept of society that really stuck out to me as well. For example I really learned a lot about race and rasism. I had a lot of preconcieved notions about what race was that turned out to be wrong. I did not think that race was a social contruct. While learning about race I got to critique it and learned that race is not biological and in a sense race is fictional. I learned some ways in which I was carrying so racist ideologies subconciously in that when I heard racial comments I was too afraid to say anything. That being said I feel truly ashamed and am deeply sorry. I honestly feel as though education of racism is an important step in putting it to an end. This course has definitely changed the way that I think about myself and everything around me. Being a science student I have been used to thinking that there is only one answer for questions asked. I was definitely not used to having to think outside the box and think critically. It was definitely not easy to break out of my little box and start thinking of things in more dimentions. What I will carry away from this course is the ability to form opinions that aren’t based on biases but are opinions formed from looking at all of the sides of a situation. I will not say that breaking away from my habit of looking at things scientifically has been easy, but it has definitely been rewarding. I can safely say that I have learned a lot about the world and the people in it because of this course, I can proudly say that I have also learned much about myself.
In class we watched a video that demonstrated what people will do to avoid being the odd man out. In this video people did a funny experiment where they stood facing the wrong way in an elevator to see how unexpecting people would react. While watching the video, one by one you would see ordinary people give in to peer pressure. It is funny to see how society is so afraid to be different. The people in the video would enter the elevator and knowingly face the wrong way because every other person in the elevator was doing so. It is interesting to me how people are that insecure about being different and not fitting into the norm. With that being said, I feel as though I would most likely do the exact same thing to avoid that kind of discomfort. This video speaks a lot about our society today and how most of us just do things according to the norms of society and often dont stop to think about the situation or even to question it. Even though this video was light and got some laughs its also a bit disturbing in that society is filled with so many followers due to people wanting nothing more but to fit in.
In class we watched a video about an experiment lead by a professor at Stanford University. In 1971 a professor used students to conduct an experiment. This experiment involved the students becoming either prisoners or guards of a prison that was created in a hallway at the university. The experiment was supposed to last for 2 weeks but was cut short due to the severe change in behavior and conditions of the experiment. Within only a few short days of the experiment the appointed guards started to take their roles too seriously and became cruel and sadistic and the appointed prisoners became severly upset and some were arguably starting to go crazy. The professor who was in charge of the experiment took it upon himself to take on the role of warden of this “prison” and he himself let it go to far. After this experiment came to a close it caused emence amount of controversy, not only within the university but to the general public as well. Because the experiment became so real for the people involved there were many questions about how it was allowed to go that far in the first place. Many people blame the professor who was in charge of the experiment because he let it get to an unhealthy point. The professor’s defence was that he himself was involved in the experiment and took on a role so he must not have been thinking clearly or have an unbiased outsiders look. The whole purpose of this experiment was to test human nature and how people would act if put in a place of evil and discomfort. What it showed was that an uncomfortable and dark enviornment can drastically change the behavior of good people.
During one of the first sociology classes we watched a video called “The danger of a single story”. In this video the speaker was talking about Africa and how people only know one side to the continents story. When people think about Africa they usually think about poverty, disperity and drought. Another interesting point she made was that people often refer to Africa as a country instead of a continent. These people often include people who have a highschool diploma and/or university education. This just goes to show how our education system in North America does not usually talk about Africa and its history or geography. This video also pointed out that in countries that are “westernized” maps of the world often show Africa as a continent that is smaller than it actually is. One theory is that people in western society would like people to view english-based countries and continents to seem much larger than Africa. The reason why people have so little knowledge of Africa is because they only ever hear one story about it. I think that this was an important discussion because I personally know so many people that are guilty of being unknowledgable about Africa. Because growing up we were only told that Africa was a “country” filled with poverty and starving children, many people in my generation are stuck with biases of Africa and little knowledge on the country at all. Fortunetly for me, in this class I get to learn the other sides of Africa and thus see it in a different light.
This article discusses the amount of money that the American government is willing to spend on a war in Iraq and to reach their goal of killing Saddam Hussein and obtaining the oil that resides in Iraq. It outlines the sad truth in how Bush can justify wanting to spend $200 billion on war when there are children starving all over the world who dont have to pennies to rub together. It talks about how the greedyness of one man can shape the way in which the world works and what money is actually worth to the people who have it. It really shows how the twisted priorities of one man in power trumps the dyer needs of billions of people living in poverty. When I finished this article I felt like my suspicions of the US government under Bush’s reign were reinforced. I truly believe that he was after one thing and one thing only when he decided to go to war against Iraq and that was oil. If Bush was so willing to waste the lives of thousands of people for his desires so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that he would be willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars for what he wanted. One passage that stood out was “In our Orwellian World justice is blind and selective. Reality is dictated by the tunnel vision logic and eyes see only what eyes want to see. Thus Bush and his war apparatus can see Iraq’s imaginary weapons of mass destruction, but they cannot see real ones in Isreal, Iran, India, Korea, and Pakistan. The Bush administration can spot and target the tyrant in Baghdad for removal (they call it euphemistically “regime change”) but convieniently cannot see similar tyrants and autocrats who dot the global landscape.”
This article is about how former US president reacted to the 911 terrorist attacks and how often Western society turns to violent retaliation and unnessesary killing to solve national conflicts. The article talks a lot about forgivness and how in world conflicts such as 911 forgiveness does not exist. It talks about how Bush has adopted the Law of Moses: “an eye for an eye”. Bush also seemed to not care how many innocent people he kills for his desire for revenge. Reading this article further reinforces what I already thought about Western politics, more specifically in the United States. When 911 happened i was in grade 4 and when I look back on that day I can clearly rememeber everything about it. I truly believe that that day changed the way that westerners perceive the world. I remember being young and hearing my mom and the other adults around me talking about 911. I remember hearing the word “retaliation” a lot. Now that I am old enough to understand what they were talking about, looking back it makes me sad to see what the retaliation they were talking so much about was. Violence. In this world when it comes to terrorism there is no such thing as forgivness. A passage that i find most important is as follows. “In his war on terrorism, Bush claims he seeks justice. From his words and deeds, few believe that it is justice he seeks. The radical truth is, it is revenge he craves. Retribution: a body for a body. Now we see how high the moral standards of Bush and his acolytes really are.” This passage best describes my opinions on Western society and George Bush.
This article by Dr. Quist-Adade discusses how Western society turns a blind eye to what is happening around them. Instead of trying to find a peaceful solution to our world’s problems we are quick to place blame and then immediately resort to vilence to solve our problems. Those who are not in power, a.k.a the common citizen, believe everything they hear in the media because its convienient and fail to debunk the situation. What this article states is that in our society it has become normal for the government to resort to killing as a means of punishment when they could be spending there effort negotiating in a peacful manner. I think that this article demontstrates perhaps our biggest problem with our world. There is so much unnessecary hatred and competition. So much so that innocent lives are being taken and with very little shame. It is easy to say that this world is just imperfect and that life just goes on. But in truth so many people just accept what goes on in the middle east and in other parts of the world because we dont see it here. I think that September 11 was a wake up call for many people in that war really does exist and it is happening. For Western society however we are fortunate enough to not see it as often here but it doesnt mean it isnt happening every day somewhere else.