EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

What is society?

In Activities on September 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm

So, whether Margaret Thatcher or a pre-service teacher, it seems that everyone has some sense of the word “society.” What is it to you? Are you more Thatcher than Manning? Is there a meaningful difference between the two? Does society exist? Is it the cause of and/or the solution to all of our personal problems?

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  1. What society is to me is humans coexisting and cooperating with each other guided by a sense of morals and ethics. Without morals and ethics not only will a society cease to exist but also civilization as well. People within society follows a same sense of morals and ethics. The similarities of values is what helps people be able to live and work together. I believe that this is what society was meant to be or originally was.

    After watching Thatcher’s opinnions, I can understand what her beliefs are. Her views on society may seem right-wing political views, but I believe she is only stating the truth in what she believes society has become. It has become a scapegoat for people to put their blames on for their mistakes rather on their own. Society has become a thing in which people lay their burdens upon hoping that others will help solve it and not them. I agree with Thatchers point as I feel this is what society has become and it is unfortunate.

    Does society exist? Yes I believe so. Is it a cause or a solution to our personal problems. I think that depends on the idealism and reality itself. The idealism as I have stated above is what I believe society was intended to be or should be. However, in reality its not the case instead it is what Tatcher sees it as. Ideally, society is and can be the solution, but like most things that look good on paper, in reality it is the cause or has become the cause of problems.

    Kiel Jaravata

  2. I believe Margaret debunks the idea of a society to scrutinize the failure of collective unions and government financial assistance programs in many countries. Only viewing society as individuals who have to help themselves puts fault on those who cannot help themselves. With this argument, Margaret suggests that taking away these programs and unions will put people ‘in their place’, and possibly make them do their fair share of work. Many of my friends who are ‘true’ capitalists will say the same notion as her and that there are many people riding on the backs of the taxpayers.

    Her suggestion of what society is, or lack of, for me goes beyond free markets, privatization, tax cuts and control of the general population. The very sense of the word humanity, is lost if we don’t help each other. Without a sense of togetherness, we lose sight of why we want to contribute to the society/government/country. Without a security blanket, we lose faith in the systems that manage us and may even question, what are they there for if we’re expected to fend for ourselves. That security blanket could be the pension program or public health care, because one day you might unexpectedly never be able to work again. Then to be expected to have enough savings to survive/live until death may be near impossible without these programs.

    To live in a society, is to invest yourself with expectations that you will be okay if you put in your honest and best effort as an individual. It is long term and if you believe a collective sense of living/coexistence, then the solutions to our personal problems will be available in others who have experienced a same or similar situation.

  3. Society to me is a group of people living in the same region that have similar standards which they expect one another to act in accordance with. Of course, with any group of people there will be deviants who do not share these same standards, however, the majority of citizens do. In my opinion society does exist; everyone wants to be accepted by those around them whether or not they know these people personally or not. Most individuals do not want to stand out amongst the crowd in a way that paints a negative picture of themselves, and therefore they will do certain things to fit in with mainstream ‘society’.

    Despite my opinion, I definitely do see where Thatcher is coming from. I agree that it is individuals who make their own choices to further benefit themselves – however I feel like these choices are usually guided by the idea of what actions are accepted by society and which are not.

    In terms of whether society is the cause/solution of all of our personal problems, I definitely do not think this is the case. To blame society for all the things that go wrong in your life, or to expect society to always fix these problems is a way of people failing to take ownership for the things going on in their lives. That is just my opinion though, and I can see why people may think differently.

  4. The line I took from the Thatcher video was: “it is how much each of us is willing to take responsibilities for ourselves.” Society is used so frequently in our day to day conversation in a negative way that I think we forgot this. Society in my eyes is a word used as a scapegoat and like the video says, something to blame. I agree with Kiel’s statement that society may be the problem but it also can become the solution if we do like Thatcher and take responsibilities for ourselves first, then our neighbors and so on.

    Kirsten Ouellette

  5. To me society is the collection of a group of people that share the same social domain, and are expected to follow cultural and political expectations. Society is characterized by the patterns of relationships of its members, the shared or conflicting beliefs, values and motivations. The members of society are connected by a common law and structural organization.

    I agree with Thatcher in that “it is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbor”. Without helping others in society and taking care of ourselves to the extent that we are capable of there would be no society. We would be a group of individuals that expect everything to be given to us and there would thus be no one to join together to create society.

    I believe that society does exist but at the same time there are numerous decisions that many of us make on a frequent basis that are for selfish reasons and thus diminish the aspect of society. However due to the greater collection of common good, shared culture and opinions, along with working together to make a place that will fulfill our needs and those of others there is still a strong aspect of society. Society and the benefits that come with working together as a group and having a basis set up for assisting others, such as welfare, can provide a solution to some of our personal problems. However if we all were to depend on society, that is manipulate the system instead of putting in the work, then our personal problems would be greatly increased by society. I agree that society is made up of men and women and thus the quality of our lives and thus society in general depends upon how much we are willing to take responsibility for ourselves and help others.

  6. To me, society is a group of people governed by the same set of written and unwritten rules. Generally, I believe that the unwritten rules have a larger impact on the behaviour and actions of the individuals within a society. I think that generally speaking, people want to be, and are, accepted into the society they live in. Whether each individual blends in or stands out is their decision, but that individualized choice alone does not make you a part of society or an outsider.

    Personally, I think that blaming problems on society is an easy way out for many people. It’s a way to take the heat off individual choices and actions. For example, blaming your feelings of being an outsider on society’s unwillingness to accept individuals who are different, (ex. not following gender stereotypes) is taking the blame away from people who make the choice to exclude others based on their own prejudices. I am of the belief that everything you say and do every single day is a choice made by you and you alone. Yes there are outside opinions and trends out there, but it is your choice whether you let these societal norms influence you or not. Society didn’t tell you to scoff at that flamboyantly dressed man walking down the street or to make a snide comment regarding a woman who has chosen to not have children. Unwritten rules and unspoken norms surround us everywhere we go, but as individuals we have the power to fall under the influence of them or use our own brain, form our own opinions and make our own choices that inform our actions on a daily basis.

  7. For myself, I think of society as more of an intangible, abstract concept referring to a community of people who adhere to mores which are developed and agreed upon over a period of time. I personally don’t think of society as a separate force that intentionally steers an entire population of people in any particular direction. Society is something that can never be controlled by any one person because, ultimately, society is made up of people and it takes an entire population (or, at least the majority of people) to control it. Since we are all a part of a society, we ourselves have some measure of control within it, even if only a slight influence on those around us. The degree to which we adhere to or follow the mores or values of “mainstream” society is up to the individual. If one does not agree with the values of a society, they will choose to follow a different set of rules. If enough people choose to follow an alternate way of life, society is changed.

    I think that Thatcher had an excellent point when she mentioned the entitlement issues that inevitably appear in a population once the government gives no-strings-attached benefits to people. I believe people often tend to find ways of deflecting blame away from themselves by finding something else to blame for their problems. And this is how an over-emphasis on the concept of society can be problematic. If we think of society as the separate entity I mentioned earlier that controls our lives, then it makes it too easy to hold it at fault for our personal misfortunes and/or shortcomings. I think what Thatcher was attempting to mitigate the misconception of society as something separate from ourselves and that we shouldn’t think of it as something to depend on too much.

  8. To me, society is somewhat of an organization of individuals guided by particular interests, and governed by particular laws or cultural norms; this organization is not merely one individual, but instead represents a great quantity of individuals who often share similar interests. Society often dictates right and wrong, but it often does so with the experiences of individuals in mind. By this, I mean that individuals are the key element in the creation of society; I agree with Thatcher in that society does not exist without individuals, but unlike Thatcher I do believe that something is created when individuals are brought together. Cultural norms exist because societies exist. If societies did not exist, self-governance would be the norm in each and every household, rules and law would cease to exist, and there would be no organization whatsoever. Society in itself is a grand organization of individuals in which common ground is sought for the betterment of the whole. It exists! There are both benefits and drawbacks to society’s existence.

    Manning argues that society does exist, and that broader societal needs and wants are often addressed in a more timely manor than that of individuals. If society wants, society gets, but as he points out, this is often as problematic as anarchic civilization. If something is seen as problematic by those in positions of power, then mountains are moved, and legislation created or changed. There is no more “woodshed” because it was seen by many as barbaric, and therefore this practice was nearly abolished. But that’s not to say society does not get it wrong. Society is both the problem and the cause of many of our problems. Manning blames society for evolving in a way that he disagrees with, Thatcher blames individuals for evolving in a detrimental way. As Thatcher stated, we tend to blame society for our problems when it is convenient, yet we take credit for much of its success individually. Really the perfect scapegoat. People tend to often disagree as well, so it’s nearly impossible to reach consensus on every item on every agenda. With this being said, it cannot solve each and every individuals personal problems.

    In the end, society does exist. You open your door each morning and are greeted not by one or more individuals alone, but instead by a group of individuals, many of whom act as they do throughout the day because of the existence of a greater society. In many cases, you act as you do not out of free will, but instead because of societal rules and regulations!

  9. We are society. I think Margaret Thatcher is talking about people taking responsibility in the world in which they live. Society is a sum of many parts (many different people). And you can only have a functioning society when people contribute to society, meet their obligations and work towards the betterment of everyone. I really like her quote “the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves. And each of us prepared to turn round and help by our efforts those who are unfortunate” (Margaret Thatcher ‘No Such Thing as Society’- what she really said http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axJ_mc0UVxE). When we rely on the government to support us without contributing, we consider the government and society as OTHER, separate from ourselves. But when we think of who pays taxes and makes up the government, we come to see ourselves involved in the decisions our government is making and I think we move from passive to active members of our society.

    Last class we talked about community. How the way elementary school is set up it fosters much more of a community setting, whereas the high school setting is much more institutionalized. Of course we discussed the pros and cons of community but I think Thatcher’s description of society is one of community focus. As a drama teacher, I am hoping to foster a strong sense of community in my class. Drama requires vulnerability and trust and collaboration in order to be successful. I like Thatcher’s description of community because it is the exact environment I want to produce in my classroom, where students develop an awareness of themselves (their responsibilities, their obligations, their weaknesses and their strengths) and also come to recognize what they have to offer to the class, to their peers and collaborators.

  10. I know I have an unrealistic idea of what society is, or more so should be. I believe that we are society, thus society is what we make it. Each individual has been given different abilities and opportunities, and we should be using what we have been given to contribute to society. If everyone contributes something, whether it be a skill, or special personality characteristic or a material thing, big or small, we are able to grow together helping out one another. I don’t think anything should just be given to someone, but if they are willing to put in what they do have to get it (even if it’s not much), society should be there to help them where they need it. There is an organization called Shelter Canada which gets people (mostly people who are able to build homes) to go to El Salvador and build houses for people there who are less fortunate. One requirement though, is that the families getting the house spend a certain number of hours helping build their new homes. Even the children are encouraged to help out and given small task that they are able to do. I think this is a great program as it encourages those more fortunate in society to help out those less fortunate, without anyone just getting what they need and not doing anything to get it. This system helps to prevent people from taking advantage of society, as Margaret Thatcher is concerned about.

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