Weber and Simmel's Take on Power and Conflict

Amber Clayton Weber and Simmel’s Take on Power and Conflict Jon Witt, explaining Max Weber’s theory on resources of power, was not surprised at the fact that students do not use the party resource to fight for better tuition costs, because of the individualistic society of the United States. This fits into conflict theory because the school would be considered a rational-legal authority. The students “give in” to the rules and perceived rights of the school to raise tuition costs. As Jon Witt said “there are reasons… for why people should do what they are told to do. If the school did not charge the students money then they would not be able to pay the teachers and professors to educate them. This idea fits into the broader theory because Witt’s claim about the US being individualistic is not expanded in this chapter, but it is in previous ones. In chapter 4, Witt mentioned “…we combine extreme interdependence (due to specialization) with a strong sense of individualism (tied to a weak collective conscience). We depend on each other more than ever, but we realize it less. In an article by Margaret Foster, she asks 70 college presidents “can you school continue to attract students at its current rate of tuition growth? ” and 80% said yes. This tells me that students are simply following the rational-legal authority of the bureaucratic schools, choosing to accept the higher charges and taking out higher loans. The students most likely do this because they are too weak as individuals to do anything about it or they assume the school leaders are making these decisions because they have no other choice (bad economy, budget cuts, ect).

George Ritzer claims that the unpredictability of human error has led to a desire for greater control and the replacement of human with nonhuman technology. The idea of companies (bureaucracies) replacing humans with technology to ensure efficiency fits into Weber’s theory of formal rationality. As Ritzer explains “[Fast-food chains have] employed all the rational principles pioneered by the bureaucracy and is part of the bureaucratic system because huge conglomerates now own many of the fast-food chains.

McDonald’s utilized bureaucratic principles and combined them with others, and the outcome is the process of McDonaldization. ” Ritzer backs his claim up with multiple examples and evidence. One of which being the replacement of human communication over the telephone. Companies force people to go through a string of “press 1 for yes or 2 for no”s before they even talk to a real person. In some cases, the person doesn’t speak to a real person at all. Although annoying, people just excuse it away as a consequence of living in our technological world. This idea is expanded in an article by Karen Korzep.

She outlines the advantages and problems with TeleHealth (medical technology) and the resistance among people to a total technological take-over. She explains in her conclusion that “just because the technology exists, does not mean that everyone will be accepting to it… [however] [i]n my opinion, it will be at least one more decade before we see this technology take over and really have an effect on jobs. ” Therefore, even though people may have resistance to the technology and worry that it will affect jobs negatively, the technology will still, most likely, take over in time.

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William J. Staudenmeier, Jr. claims in his chapter about Georg Simmel’s theories on social drinking that when a member of the group buys a round of drinks, the others would not simply pay them money, because “treating… has to do with personal relationships, and it is not strictly an economic exchange. ” This idea fits into conflict theory because the taverns are becoming more and more bureaucratic with rules and regulations that the consumers must follow or face the consequences (kicked out or banned for fighting or over drinking).

Instead of backing his claim up with evidence, Staudenmeier expands on the idea by saying “the ‘surplus of satisfaction’… comes from the value of giving and receiving in a group in which such actions and the thought of such actions make us feel good and make us feel a part of the group. This is outside the narrow cash nexus of economic exchange because what is calculated here is not mere profit and loss. ” The issue of teenage pregnancy and how it fits into this theory is best addressed in an article by Linda Arms Gilbert.

She outlined a study done by the Franklin Heights Federal Housing Project in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Murfreesboro Housing Authority partnered with the police department to help rid the projects from drug-related behaviors by developing positive relationships with the Franklin Heights families. The police department made over 500 contacts, creating a positive working relationship between the families and law enforcement as well as informed residents willing to provide tips against drug-related behaviors.

The Parks and Recreation Department started an after-school program for 8-13-year old students, which included educational leisurely activities and an after-school tutoring program. A Parents as Teachers Program was started that allowed teen mothers to connect with their children. The program “held group meetings to help young parents understand the emotional, physical cognitive needs of their young children and to form a community of teen mothers who could offer support to each other. In the end “Franklin Heights has taught an entire city about the importance of collaboration and has shown what can be accomplished when individuals and agencies choose to look beyond the borders of their own job descriptions and departments to see the needs of families within that community. ” The point is that, even in a bureaucratic society where, typically, rational-legal authority does not think about the well-being of their “workers” (in this case, the people who require government assistance), there can be an authority who thinks beyond what is efficient and profitable and helps the issue of teenage pregnancy, drug use, and violence. ——————————————- [ 1 ]. John Witt, The Big Picture: A Sociology Primer (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. , 2007) p 89 [ 2 ]. Witt, p 86 [ 3 ]. Witt, 59 [ 4 ]. FOSTER, MARGARET. “Sticker Shock. ” American Scholar 82. 1 (2013): 120. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. [ 5 ]. George Ritzer, “The Weberian Theory of Rationalization and the McDonaldization of Contemporary Society”, Peter Kivisto, ed. , Illuminating Social Life: Classical and Contemporary Theory Revisited, 4th ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2008), p 52 [ 6 ].

Ritzer, p 45 [ 7 ]. Ritzer, p 54 [ 8 ]. Korzep, Karen. “The Future Of Technology And The Effect It May Have On Replacing Human Jobs. ” Technology & Health Care 18. 4/5 (2010): 353-358. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. [ 9 ]. Korzep, p 357 [ 10 ]. William Staudenmeier, Jr. , “Alcohol-Related Windows on Simmel’s Social World,” Kivisto, 109 [ 11 ]. Staudenmeier, Jr. , p 110 [ 12 ]. Gilbert, Linda Arms. “The Teen Pregnancy Dilemma: A Different Solution. ” Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin 73. 3 (2007): 5-8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. p 3 [ 13 ]. Gilbert, p 3

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