The sociological perspective that best fits the case of Michael Hugh Mirsky is functionalism which states that different aspects of the society, such as law enforcers and employers, are interdependent and they work together to promote the overall well-being of the community (Harris 4).
- Labeling theory, which can be associated with functionalism due to society’s reaction, involves judging individuals based on external traits (Besemer et al. 2). In the case of Michael, he has been labeled as a criminal because he resisted arrest a few years ago. Moreover, Michael lost his job due to the incidence and had had trouble finding work because many employees are afraid of hiring people with criminal records.
- The reaction and attitudes of society can have a significant impact on an individual. For example, from the scenario, members of society such as employers and law enforcers created the employment conditions such as background checks. Furthermore, the community discriminates on people with criminal records without finding out the alleged crime. In such cases, the accused individuals may feel isolated and rejected; hence leading to mental health problems such as stress and depression. The psychological issues are further aggravated by the lack of financial resources to cater for his expenses, such as payment of rent and his daughter’s upkeep.
- Based on social stratification, Mr. Mirsky belongs to the working poor because he is willing to work at low wage rates (UC Davis). Moreover, Mirsky faces several financial problems that put him at risk of falling below the poverty line.
- The decision by various states and cities to suspend the background checks on potential employees was as a result of the national movement that advocated for the application of the concept at the later stages of hiring. The primary objective of the national campaign was to fight for the rights of persons with criminal records to equal employment since a significant portion of the unemployed had criminal backgrounds.
Q2. Charleston Shooting
- Dylann Roof’s actions and attitudes towards African American can be analyzed using the symbolic interactionist sociological perspective, which argues that people’s behavior is influenced by social interactions and symbols (Harris 8). In the case of Roof, the shooter viewed the Confederate flag as a symbol of white supremacy since the flag was initially invented by pro-slavery states. Additionally, Roof’s action was also influenced by racism and prejudice. Based on racism, the shooter felt that African Americans are inferior to whites due to the history of black slavery (Grosfoguel 10). Furthermore, Roof also displayed the concept of prejudice because was convinced that ‘blacks were killing whites’ even when he did not have the proof (Dovidio 5).
- As mentioned earlier, according to symbolic interactionism, people’s behavior is defined by their interactions in society. From the scenario, Roof had black friends probably because he was in the same school/class with them, and he may have shared many things; hence minimizing his racist attitude around them. However, once out of school, Roof met other people, either physically or online, who had racist views, and this influenced the change in his attitude towards blacks.
- Symbols have a significant influence on people’s perspectives concerning various factors such as social identity and political affiliation. Moreover, the effect of symbols may vary among individuals depending on their viewpoints. For instance, the confederation flag was viewed as a symbol of authority by white supremacists, while African Americans felt that the flag degraded their values and position in American society. Furthermore, members of a community have the power to initiate the social change that they want by rallying supporters, such as the use of a petition in the case of the removal of the confederation flag. Before the shooting incident, the authorities and administrators had underestimated the extent of the influence of the symbol on America’s unity and the safety of African Americans.
Besemer, Sytske, David P. Farrington, and Catrien CJH Bijleveld. “Labeling and intergenerational transmission of crime: The interaction between criminal justice intervention and a convicted parent.” PloS one 12.3 (2017): e0172419.
Dovidio, J. F., Hewstone, M., Glick, P., & Esses, V. M. (2010). Prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination: a theoretical and empirical overview. The SAGE handbook of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination, 3-29.
Grosfoguel, Ramon. “What is Racism?” Journal of World-System Research, 2016, jwsr.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/jwsr/article/view/609/743.
Harris, Scott R. “Critiquing and expanding the sociology of inequality: Comparing functionalist, conflict, and interactionist perspectives.” Quarterly Journal of Ideology 25 (2003): 1-21.
UC Davis. “Who Are the Working Poor in America?” UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, 2018, poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/who-are-working-poor-america.