Last semester I took a class entitled "The Individual in Society." It was an honors elective that I was signed up for without consultation. The course was not required, but I went with it.
As I soon found out, the class was basically an introductory class to the science of sociology. Being discussion based, we were able to share our thoughts on topics we learned, which I appreciated because I was used to being lectured to in high school.
We learned about sociological concepts and theories and were able to apply them to real-world issues, such as the wealth gap and the McDonaldization of society.
It's no secret that there is a major wealth gap in America; the rich keep getting richer. While the wealthy continue to build their businesses, the less fortunate are losing their homes and missing out on quality education. In one of my essays for the class, I formulated my opinion on the issue.
I was able to discuss functionalism because, as the wealthy share ways to continue growing their wealth, they grow the poor's wealth by spending more money on building businesses and creating jobs.
I also applied conflict theory to this essay. Society is made up of different groups, in this case, the wealthy and poor, both with competing interests. For example, the wealthy receive a quality education because they can afford for it, while the poor have run-down schools with large class sizes. The wealthy are not willing to yield their education system to the poor, which causes conflict.
Regarding McDonaldization, I learned that this system is not only implemented in fast food restaurants, but many businesses operate with a planned and formal method in order to maximize efficiency. The components of McDonaldization are calculability, efficiency, predictability, and control.
However, no system is perfect. Sometimes things don't always work out the way they should, which can be seen at drive-thrus. The purpose of drive-thrus is to more efficiently serve the customer through faster food delivery than if one was to walk in. When a restaurant is busy, though, going inside to order food may be faster.
The reason that I enjoyed this class was that, due to a great professor, we discussed different societal issues every class, which kept things interesting. We talked about anything from out-of-field teaching to Rumspringa (Amish tradition) to the spread of HIV in the 80's.
Through understanding why society behaves the way it does, I can formulate my own opinions on issues and make informed decisions because I understand the systems put in place by society. Not only with this help me in my career, but it will help me in my relationships.