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Sociology is a social science that involves study of behavior of people and the society at large. Sociology majorly focuses on evaluation of patterns of human behavior, as well as the control of social connection on the human attitudes and their conduct in social dynamics. Sociology is divided into two levels, macrosociology and microsociology (Taylor & Andersen, 2005). The former focuses on wide aspects of social framework, while the latter centers on the outline of social relations on a smaller dimension. In the field of politics, understanding social dynamics and other aspects of sociology is of the great importance. This article will focus on the gender and racial inequality in politics.
Sociology is believed to be the youngest of all known social sciences. This branch of science developed several centuries back, from the French, as well as the industrial revolutions. These revolutions brought to an end all the previous social and political underpinnings that were found in European countries, as well as the North America. Philosophers and religious powers of early times and during the Middle Ages made countless observations about how people in the society behave (Schaefer, 2007). After these revolutions, what was established was a frontier of totally new social and political enjoinment. Political dynasties of dictatorial leadership were gradually phased out by new ideas of freedom and democracy.
Racism has always been evidently portrayed throughout the history of politics in the United States. During the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Junior in the early sixties, the black Americans were fighting for their rights and equality (Sustar, 2008). Following their struggle, there were great strides that were made in the development of politics in the United States. Various laws were enacted that safeguarded equal representation of all American citizens irrespective of their skin color. One of these legislations includes the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which brought to an end racial bias in Voting (Sustar, 2008). Fifty years down the line, the tireless efforts for those people bore much more remarkable fruits when for the first time, United States of America was led by a black President.
The society has always regarded women to be subjective to men. In spite of the fact that women are the majority group in the society, they continue to be oppressed. Masculine gender has been dominating in the social and economic arenas. It is only in exceptional cases that women find their way into positions of power (Schaefer, 2007). Comments such as ‘the only woman in that position’ are used to describe women who gain influence amidst all the forces of discrimination.
It is apparent that women from all ethnic groups receive similar treatments when it comes to the social sciences. Unequal treatment given to women led to civil rights movements in America and other parts of the world (Schaefer, 2007). The most interesting thing about prejudice against women is that both men and women in the society are unable to accept the idea of subordination of feminine to masculine gender.
Memories and stories of slavery, oppression and racism, which occurred several centuries ago still lingers fresh in the minds of most of the African American citizens. However, the most tremendous improvement in fight against racism has been achieved within a forty year span, from the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 and presidential candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008 (Sustar, 2008). Although, President won the presidential elections, he cannot put an end to racism. American’s racism and discrimination legacy has far much penetrated in many other levels of power and therefore more needs to be done to eliminate this vice from the American society.
Sociologists have come up with theories about the role of women in the society. These theories are different, since sociologists look at the society in various perspectives. Some view the world as an established unit. They are interested in the way institutions such as families and religious organizations are organized and managed. However, other sociologists focus their attention on the inequalities that exist between the two types of genders. Besides factors based on gender, there are others, such as age and ethnicity which contribute to formulation of these theories. The theoretical perspectives include functionalist, conflict, interactionist and feminist views (Hammond, 2008). On the other hand, women fight to acquire careers and positions earlier on preserved for men irrespective of whether it is beneficial to the society or not.
To start with, functionalists consider that a habit that is not beneficial to the society will be irrelevant. Therefore, according to this view, the allocation of roles between men and women has thrived all along, because it was advantageous to the society (Hammond, 2008). This theory suggests that the society is stable and that it is kept that way through the good coordination of its constituent parts. Functionalists understand that the society can start its dysfunction, in case it is threatened by forces that want to destabilize it. Stability is thus maintained through social processes that allow for adjustments against compelling forces that threaten to incline the society onto a path of devastation. Functionalism is founded on the biological and environmental concepts (Hammond, 2008).
This theory is helpful in understanding situations of war, uprising, and hardships from poverty, revolts, violence, as well as wealth among other conflict-linked incident. It is a theory that proposes that the society is in a state of continued conflict and has competition for scarce resources. According to this theory, men stand at a better position to prevent women from attaining political mileages, as well as the socio-economic resources (Hammond, 2008).
This theory suggests that the society is all the time composed of relations among people who share symbols and their implications. Interactionist understands that people are very symbolic to each other and consequently, they are able to persuade them to comprehend each other’s perspective. They centre on how young boys and girls are expected to behave through a process called gender socialization (Schaefer, 2007). Teachers, parents and the mass media help in teaching concepts of gender to the children.
Perspective on Feminism and Conflict in Politics
The women role in politics, as seen by feminists, is either to foster positive change or purely radical. They only seek to change parts of the system that they deem as unfavorable to women in politics. They only wish to construct an affiliation of interests between men and women. On the other hand, radical feminists drive for change in the society, which they perceive as the root cause of inequality. In their view the single means of changing women political discrimination is to change the beliefs and foundations of the active humanity (Gelb, 1989). The reformer feminist is mostly seen in the United States as compared to the United Kingdom. For instance the radical feminist Juliet Mitchell of Britain was mostly interested in hypothetical analysis of feminism. In the USA, for instance, President Reagan’s administration sustained an attack on affirmative action and persistence on public intolerance to such termed as particular interests on ‘women and minority’. Many countries have, however, succumbed to the demand by feminists for a third representation of women in politics and government institutions (Gelb, 1989).
Political conflicts mostly have it roots in racial differences. It is a great dilemma for most nations, whereas others like the USA has taken steps towards overcoming it. This was seen in 2008 when the electorate of the USA put the first black American president in office. In South Africa, racial divisions and political differences erupted into apartheid. Groupings along racial lines are related to political inequities. Most people make a choice to be conventional to their own groups and a political leader may take advantage of this and spread negative attitude through the group, thus crating conflict with others. These differences are usually cultivated by the mind-set of the parents, political temperature and childhood occurrences. Even with the absence of difference in ideas and goals, the mere competition between races can spark political conflicts. The failure by one group to accept defeat or failure or rejection of ideas especially in politics can result into a conflict (Martha L. Cottam, 2009).
Sexism and Sex Discrimination
Sexism is apparent in almost all cultures in the world. It is the biased treatment of people as a result of their gender composition. It is also known as gender discrimination and surfaces as enforcement of the traditionally accepted behaviors that stereotyped men and women with specific responsibilities in the society (Taylor & Andersen, 2005). Sexism is portrayed in a wide range of ways, from battering of women by their husbands to their depiction as sexual objects for manipulation by men. Sexism is very much apparent in the workplace, as women are sometimes paid less for the same job they perform with men.
Also, in other scenarios, women find it hard to ascend the job ladder, since they are not promoted beyond a given level, regardless of their excellence in performance (Putatunda, n.d). The world has turned out to be a male dominated society which discriminates against female gender. All communities in the world, whether civilized or barbaric, discriminate against women. As a result, women still keep on advocating for equal treatment in the socio and economic lives. Enactment of laws that advocate for affirmative action will help women to fight gender discrimination a great deal.
Racial prejudice and discrimination is not a new thing to most of the people in the United States. As a matter of fact, people are apparently dissimilar in their appearance. Nevertheless, the problem is aggravated when racial differences are portrayed in segregation, intolerance and hatred (Taylor & Andersen, 2005). Racial prejudice results to separation of people into groups, with one assuming an inferior position. Racism is deeply rooted in people’s minds even among the civilized cultures. For example, when a person is new to a certain place and is not well known to people in the area, they tend to characterize him on the basis of what they see in him (Hammond, 2008). Since the colonial era, American people have suffered from this deadly disease. It is a detrimental tool in the society that has and will continue to short circuit people’s dreams especially those in the political arena. Minority groups in the United States have always suffered from the effects of racial prejudice and other related forms of discrimination.
Race and Gender Inequalities
The place of a woman in society as demanded by the culture of the community and lack of money to fund campaigns poses the biggest challenge for a woman’s career in politics. According to a survey done on women and men in politics, men are primarily put off by lack of support from the voters. On the part of women, they are mostly discouraged to join politics by the family responsibilities that they bear (inter parliamentarian union, 2009). This is mostly a non-issue for the men. The inequality in politics goes beyond the ratio of men to women representation in parliament and political parties, to the kind of key positions that each hold. The positions deemed to be a men’s domain are fiscal, education, legal, trade and foreign affairs. On the other hand, women are thought to be most active on women and gender equality matters.
Despite the feeling that women are fairly represented in political parties, women are not well represented in parliaments. The race of both the politicians and the electorate is a major issue in an individual’s political life (Inter Parliamentarian Union, 2009). Each race wishes to mobilize its own in political issues so that they can pursue goals that are common to all. The need to communicate a community’s problems make the voting trends line behind the racial discrimination. This is due to the conviction that if a community elects a person of their own race, then he understands their issues and can confidently represent them in parliament. The minority then finds themselves lacking political positions in communities that are multi racial like California. Different racial groups have differing views on the political parties, trust and convictions about the role of the government as revealed by research in California (Jack Citrin, 2002).
Future Outlook on Race and Gender Inequality in Politics
Ethnicity, race and gender dictate the political constitution of an area. The community of a given area is represented by the majority race and mostly by men because of gender and racial discrimination. In future, Ethnic change should be able to change the view of society on political responsibility and not fostering discrimination.
The government has a difficult task of encouraging group harmony and co-operation. The minority races do not have to rally behind one of their own to be heard in future. This is because with the help of local government, different races should be able to tolerate each other. This will start with a comprehensive labor market that allows all to work in the market without discrimination (Jack Citrin, 2002). The political parties should incorporate all including the immigrants into their fold, thus bringing about fair representation. The baseline will always remain the electorate. It is their attitude that will always influence the political product. The electorate should therefore change their views on women and their role and their racial voting patterns. The minority interest in politics is low, because they lack the resources to interest them (Jack Citrin, 2002).
Sociology has a great significance in politics since it involves understanding how people and the society at large behave. Such as understanding is important to politicians since they are able to know how to deal and handle different people. Several centuries back, American society was deeply indulged into slavery and oppression of the minority groups. This deadly venom was passed on from one generation to the next. Many people lost their lives and others suffered in variety of ways especially during the civil wars that rocked the nation during the middle of nineteenth century.
Prominent civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King Junior helped to bring transformation in the political landscape of American nation. Many achievements have been observed especially within the legal framework and politics in America. Furthermore, gender discrimination is another social problem that is yet to be solved. Consequently, a number of sociologists have developed models such as functionalism, conflict theory, interactionalism as well as feminism theories to explain the observed disparities.
Throughout history, ethnicity, race and gender have dictated the political structure of any given area. All these forms of discrimination are prevalent both in the developing societies as well as the most civilized and developed societies in the world. The minority groups including women have been sidelined in distribution of resources and positions of power and leadership. This is a clear indication that racial, ethnic and gender prejudice will continue to wear out the society. It is the high time that people realize how detrimental these social problems can be and instead, appreciate that every person requires equal treatment irrespective of gender or racial grouping.
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