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Analysis of “Inside Toyland” by Christine Williams Coursework

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2022

Introduction

A theory is a series of propositions about the likely nature of an object or phenomena. It is never the final statement about something. They are abstract approximations based on empirical evidence. Christine Williams (2006) in the article ‘Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality, talks about how stratification affects the lives of individuals. People are stratified in terms of race employment and social class. Women hold low social positions in society while the employed are highly respected. The whites are treated with high esteem while other races are supposed to work for them and treat them with all the respect they deserve. The kind of theory that comes out clearly is a conflict theory because the other races are not happy with the way the white race treats them. Women and other unemployed persons struggle to overthrow the existing social arrangement in society. Another theory that can be noted from the book is symbolic interaction.

Conflict Theory

Christine (2006) argues that societies consist of tension, competition for resources, power and inequality is prevalent. Social order consists of groups and individuals trying to advance their own interests. This is evidenced when she says, “Diamond Toys is located in an upscale urban shopping district and its mainly white customer base was primarily middle or upper class” (256). She compares Diamond Toys to Toys warehouse, which belong to the poor. The giant companies such as Wal-Mart have the capacity of reducing prices for its customers because of the low costs of production. They pay little wages and do not compensate its workers. The profits obtained are shared among shareholders without caring about the producer. The company has approached that is materialistic in nature. Life in the town depends on production and distribution. People must work to earn their living; the types of work vary greatly. There are owners of means of production and non-owners, the latter control the former. The workers (Proletariat) exist at the mercy of the owners of the means of production (Bourgeoisie). The bourgeoisie is powerful and perpetuates the worker to an extent of alienation. The employers exploit the workers since they are pressurized to increase sales but their wages are not raised. This is evident when Williams visited the toy store and found workers following the set guidelines strictly.

Inductive Theorizing

The kind of research conducted by Williams was inductive; it is the qualitative approach. It is also called the grounded theory which has no pre-conceptions. Theories emerge from data/observation that is, it is an approach where facts speak for themselves. The data is less biased because everyone’s views are considered. It takes the form of case studies, focused group discussion and participant observation. The figure below demonstrates how grounded theory is obtained (Chandra & Michael, 2010).

How grounded theory is obtained

Variables

Variables are features or properties of individuals or situations that amount to various values or behaviors. Whatever is being investigated can manipulate a variable. Independent variables include age, employment, marital status, gender and educational level while dependant variables, on the other hand, include culture, race, height, intelligence and skin color. Williams examines how the existing social arrangement in terms of politics and socio-cultural values affects individuals. What are affected in individuals include their marital status, age and employment status. Other variables do exist in his analysis such as the issues of race and material possession. The following are some of the research hypotheses made at the end of the research.

  1. Society is differentiated by race and ownership of property
  2. More men than women are employed
  3. Youths are the worst hit by unemployment
  4. Married men struggle to find employment than the unmarried mainly because they are supposed to provide for the family.
  5. Women hold a different social status than those men in society.
  6. The white race is superior in society and it controls the main activities of the society including the state and the market.
  7. The kind of economy that exists in liberalism is a free-market economy where the state does not control the market. An individual can hold as much property as he/she wishes.
  8. The kind of relationship that exists between the workers and the owners of the means of production is not cordial.

The hypotheses are utilized in making decisions about the structure of society. The majority of the society is poor. This helps in the creation of policies since the decision-makers decide on what to do based on the structure of society. In a poor society, the policymakers in government will be keen on policies concerning security. The conflict between the rich and poor can lead to instabilities at any time.

Qualitative/Case Study Research Design

The kind of research focuses on issues that are too complex to quantify, for example, when interested in uncovering the reasons for human behavior. It discovers the underlying motives of individuals and explains a particular case. This kind of research uncovers deep-seated issues by providing details. The history of a particular problem is explained carefully through narration. The relations of the key actors are noted and the major themes are discussed (Chandra & Michael, 2010). This kind of research requires time making it difficult to include the views of everyone in the research. This kind of research emphasizes subjective truth and understands reality from an individual’s viewpoint. Each case is treated independently and is unique, with no summary leading to difficulty in interpretation of facts. The type of research is only reliable at the beginning of a research project because it collects first-hand information free from human manipulation.

Conclusion

The article reveals some of the social problems going on in society. The writer notes that the most important organization in society is economic organization because it determines all other forms of organization. Economic order in society is the base while other orders are structured. The superstructure includes certain cultural aspects such as culture, ideas, politics, education and religion. The owners of the means of production control the society through possession of tools, raw materials and skills. The writer forgot that society is not a reflection of economic organization. The struggles of power are always centered on property relations alone. The institution of the family is the most basic of all other institutions yet she does not talk about it. Overall, the article exposes the ways of life of many people including their welfare.

References

Chandra, M. & Michael, S. (2010). Rethinking popular culture: contemporary perspectives in cultural studies. Chicago: Chicago University Press

Christine, W. (2006). Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality. Canadian Journal of Sociology. Web.

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