What is social structure?
Social structure is the distinctive, stable arrangement of institutions whereby human beings in a society interact and live together. Social structure is often treated together with the concept of social change, which deals with the forces that change the social structure and the organization of society. There are many inequalities deeply woven into the very fabric of a society. They can be observed across institutions such as legal, educational, business, government and health care systems, and much more. Inequalities occur because of the unequal distribution of political and economic power. For example, as a black woman in America, my people have been historically denied access to well-paying jobs, entrance into elite educational institutions, and wealthy neighborhoods. At the same time, whites have accumulated wealth, education and prestigious jobs that were systematically blocked for blacks. Such societal limitations sometimes continue for centuries, with strong structures being built, reinforcing political and economic power. A vast majority of social structures or institutions also even harm impoverished communities by preventing them from meeting their basic needs; these institutions strip away what they are and deprive them of what they want to be. This is a disadvantage to individuals, leading one to feel invisible and unheard. Not only is society capable of harming the people of its community, it can also cause suffering to an individual.
What would you consider suffering in a society?
As Farmer did his research in Haiti, he sought for that answer. He traveled to Haiti, where political and economic forces have encountered a rise in AIDS, and other infectious diseases. In recent years, violence has been added to the worst poverty in the hemisphere; one learns a great deal about suffering. The author describes when he got up in the morning he observed a young window with four children fighting for food, wood, and even water. These are conditions felt like war and was tragic that many encounter this suffering that is currently occurring each and every day. Unfortunately, life expectancy at birth is less than fifty years, in large part because as many as two of every ten infants die before their first birthday. Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among adults; among children, diarrheal disease, ravage the undernourished. Some of the biographies written illustrate some of the mechanisms through which large-scale social factors crystallize into the sharp and hard surfaces of individual suffering.
In the reading, “What’s Debt Got to Do With It?” the author states “Citizens in poor urban neighborhoods find it increasingly difficult to get to a bank. Even if there are local bank, residents often cannot afford its minimum balance requirements, fees for checks, or high-bounced check penalties”, (Williams 2001: 86). Society has structured low income families to be stuck in a position where it is difficult to get to a bank, and even if they did attend a local bank, there are fees for everything they need to get. This is related to the article“On suffering and Structural Violence” because this is the same concept and it reflects the same aspects of how society sets one up to fail. Just as I expressed, being a black woman in America comes with hardships; low poverty families have hardships and Williams expresses that throughout his article as well.
In conclusion, we need to be aware of the discriminatory nature of society as a whole. Some societies set one up to fail or conflict/harm on an individual. That is, unfortunately, the way the world works. This article has opened up my mind and allowed me to see things in a fresh view, different from what I was seeing them before. I have a new perspective on the world and how a community can be effected on structural violence and suffering. There needs to be more education on structural violence and suffering at a young age so we are able to view the world as is and grow up to be in a different bubble that society puts us in. Many people are affected by this and that leads them to be disadvantaged by political, legal, economic or cultural traditions. Word count (698)