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The Democracy In America

The democracy we have in America today is very complex. This democracy starts out with political parties whose main purpose is to gain control of the government by winning elections Appelbaum and Chambliss(1997:366). In the United States, unlike in most other democracies, there are only two political parties with any substantial influence over government policies Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:366). Third parties are also apparent in elections.

These third parties are often successful in smaller elections, but when we are dealing with national elections it is very difficult for the third party to survive the igger two due to the lack of funding and publicity of the PACs and other interest groups. However, third parties serve a very good purpose. They provide us with more candidates giving us more choices which is what democracy is about. According to my class notes (lecture on government) third parties are sometimes chosen when people are opposed to the candidates from the other two parties.

Third parties stand as a sign of choice as well. Voting for a third party is also seen as voting for a better selection of candidates rather than voting for the usual two candidates from the other parties. The president of the United States is not chosen on the popular vote of the people alone but on the Electoral College whose vote is determined by the popular vote of each state Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:367). This Electoral College is in a sense a vote of the people but at the same time it keeps bigger states from becoming to powerful overwhelming the smaller states.

The United States also has three branches of government the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The constitution of the United States provides a system of checks and balances Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:369). This system of checks and balances puts a limit on the amount of power a single branch may have which protects both the people and the individual branches government from one another. I believe that the United States has a very efficient form of government. It has many rules sewn into the constitution to keep things running efficient and fairly.

Democracy is a form of government in which citizens are able to participate directly or indirectly in their own governance, literally means the rule of the people Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:366). According to my class notes (lecture on emocracies) this does not seem to be the case. It seems in some cases that the rich or the elite have more influence than do other citizens in the governing of out country. For example, funding moneys and interest groups. The elite are able to donate funding to their particular candidate or party in the form of interest groups.

They give money to interest groups, which is then given to candidates for campaigning purposes that help the candidates funds for president. For the most part this money is not freely donated. The elite want to make sure that if their money is donated to a candidate that their ideas and beliefs will e supported in office if they do become president. With these kind of issues in mind many others especially the poor will often refrain from voting because they feel that their vote will not This idea is very much a reality.

The cost of campaigning has gone up significantly in recent years, and today candidates spend vast sums of money on political campaigns Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:370). As said by Phil Gramm, people who give money are the best friends a politician can have and the one that spends the most money wins. So the impact of spending through interest groups and PACs are very important. There are many differing opinions on the issue of changing families in the last forty to fifty years.

I believe that if someone were to look at todays families in the same way as one would have forty to fifty years ago they are going to be in for a surprise. We have to realize that not only family has changed but our culture and economy too have also changed. The idea of family is a group of people who identify themselves as being related to one another, usually by blood, marriages, or adoption, and who share intimate relationships and dependency Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:390).

Our societys language and definitions have changed so much over the last forty to fifty years. For example the meaning of nuclear family has also changed since then Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:391). According to my class notes (lecture on family) we used to classify a nuclear family as a family with two biological parents and their children usually more than one. Now in todays times we classify the nuclear family as a social group consisting of one or two parents and their dependent children Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:391).

Our society has changed so much in the last fifty years that ingle parenting is very common and is often looked at as a norm. Another example of the changing times would be that of marriage. Fifty years ago marriage was an acceptable relationship between two people of the opposite sex. Now the definition is so basic that marriage pretty much just has to be between to people If we are to look at todays families as we did of those forty to fifty years ago it would seem that America had lost its sense of values. Families would also be looked upon as immoral based on these same ideals.

On the other hand if we look at family today as in relation to our society as a whole I dont hink that there would be to many surprises when it came to When comparing both functionalism and conflict perspectives on education they seem to be in no way the same. From a functionalism perspective education seems to be explained as preparing and educating people with basic skills to survive in todays world. As said by Emile Durkheim, emphasizing the function of formal education in socializing people into the norms and values as well as the skills that are needed for the society to survive (Appelbaum and Chambliss 1997).

The functionalism theory is broadcasted as the functions and transmission of eneral knowledge and specific skills Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:453). On the other hand we have the conflict theory of education. According to the conflict theory children are taught at an early age to define their academic aspirations and abilities in keeping with the social class of their parents. The lower ones social class, the less likely one is to value higher education as a plausible avenue to upward mobility, and the less likely one is to work to excel academically Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:455).

So in most cases the conflict theory states that the class you are in is the one that you will stay in hroughout your life. Also as an example of my class notes (lecture on education) most lower income families children will receive a lower or less able education than would a person who is of a higher class that would go to a private school for instance. When comparing the two theories it seems that both functionalism and conflict theories have some faults and some merit. Education is a double edged sword. For some, it helps to reduce inequality by opening up new possibilities for social mobility.

For others, it reinforces existing inequality by providing unequal educational opportunities according to ones ace, ethnicity, social class, or gender Appelbaum and Chambliss Emile Durkheims The Elementary Forms of the Religious life (1965), written in 1912, propounded what has prove to be one of the most influential and enduring theories in the sociology of religion Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480). According to my class notes (over religion) Durkheim based his studies on Aborigines whos religion had been the same for many years.

He found that the aborigines divided their world into to groups which are profane and sacred Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480). Profane being a sphere of routine daily life according to my lass notes (lecture on religion) and sacred as a more important sphere with a spiritual background. Durkheims bold theoretical conclusion was that, in all societies, the realm of the sacred serves an important social function for the societies, the realm of the sacred serves an important social function for the society as a whole Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:480).

Marx on the other hand did not systematically study the nature of religion in society, although he clearly recognized its central importance Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:481). Through a Marx view, societies are divided into classes. For example Marx, divided eligion into hostile and opposing classes in his explanation of religion (Appelbaum and Chambliss 1997). In one of Marxs most famous statement he says, Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people (in McClellan, 1997,p. 4).

I believe what Marxs is saying here is that religion is based mainly around a higher class of people oppressing the poor and keeping them from becoming involved. Like most theories Durkheims and Marxs seem to have strengths and weaknesses. According to my class notes (lecture n religion) Durkheim seems to have many strong arguments that seem to be logical but we also have to take in effect that his studies were done on a Australian hunting and gathering tribe and would not carry as much weight while looking through his perspective in the twentieth century.

Marx on the other hand has a more modern approach which would appeal more to todays times but seems to put to much emphasis on what the elite can put over on everyone else. For example, One of these problems is that Marxs notation that religion is a mystification enabling the ruling class to pull the wool over everybodys eyes is clearly implistic Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:481). The separation of church and state is sociologically problematic for many reasons.

Sociology is the systematic study of human social relations, groups, and societies and when looked at Sociological stand point there seems to be no separation Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:6). Religion is not controlled by the states so it acts upon society as does the government and there seems to be know line drawn between the two so it is very difficult to study. Since there is no governing of religion it is also difficult to estimate reliably the number of people elonging to churches Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:491).

According to my class notes (lecture on religion) although it is hard to estimate the exact growth of religion we can tell that it has grown steadily since the United States were founded. Another reason this is problematic is because of the number of religious organizations. One reason so many people belong to religious organizations is that there are an enormous number of such organizations one can belong to Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:491). This also presents difficulty because of the number of people belonging to multiple religious groups.

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