Talcott Parsons explains cultural strain as the change that occurs to social systems by trying to establish new equilibriums from the expected norms. In explaining this Parson stated that systems at any given time were expected to be in a point of equilibrium (Allan 69). This he stated was called the first law of social progress. Occurrence of structural differentiation was explained to be a major cause of social strain; which was a movement from the status quo or expected behavior.
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Cultural strain is a concept of much importance. This concept is not only important in explaining the expected behavior patterns in a given society but also lays a basis for a shift from the conditions of equilibrium that exist in society.
Certain expected behaviors in society are well known by the people living at that place and they are expected to follow them. Conflicts will always come about among the various components of the society with any deviations from these norms. At the same time there exist needs for revolution from some norms that may be demeaning or backward. This is explained by culture strain.
For cultural strain to operate there is need for certain conditions to be in place. Society may at times be exposed to some goals that they are to achieve. These goals may not be easily achievable considering the available resources within the reach of the members in society.
This pressure may force people to deviate and engage in activities that are out of the norm just so that they may get to those goals and targets that are set for them. The goals may be in terms of money one has to have, the most desirable jobs in society or even education levels.
Greed may also cause people to act in ways that are deviant from the societal norms. Corruption for example finds its root in the greed of the perpetrators. This is the desire of people to achieve more and amass more for themselves at the expense of others.
Futility also acts as a cause of strain in society’s culture. This is where people fight and work so hard to achieve yet the systems in place just wont support them to achieve. It is this hopelessness that crops up that makes the people in society to deviate from the otherwise equilibrium activities of society. The absence of adequate coping mechanisms has played a role in enhancing social strain.
Current society is ripe for cultural strain. This is because there are several aspects of society that hinder much progress. Society needs a makeover in many aspects that surround us.
There needs to be some revolutions in some aspects of people’s lives ranging from the notions that are developing towards crime, marriage, divorce and corruption. Evils in society are on the rise and to some extent the society is finding ways to permit these evils and excuse negative behavior by people. In some countries like Zimbabwe, corruption is soaring yet the leaders can just get away with it. Impunity is equally on the increase.
Several kinds of cultural strain prevail. Violence is on the rise with daily bank robberies that are witnessed. This is because of the goals that the society has placed on people as relates to the money and wealth that people are to own for them to be considered of class.
Go slows and strikes in institutions of learning form another example of cultural strain. This is caused by the different ideological perspectives that people have. The police have also in some situation been on a go slow since from their perspective, they felt undermined. Corruption is a menace that represents a strain in culture. This majorly is caused by the pressure that goals in society have placed on the people to achieve.
Several effects of social strain are to be expected. Parson is of the opinion that institutions are mandated to have rules in place that govern the structure of society. According to him, each social system is has interdependent structures and operates to maintain a level of stability. The changes that take place do not essentially cause a total assimilation to the new position established. Rather some degree of status quo is expected.
A revolution change may work against corruption to some extent but still there are likely to be some elements of corruption that will remain. Equally, in as much as some people would buy into the ides of avoiding divorce and abortion, it is highly unlikely that all the components of the society will be willing to take the same stand. Another effect would be that sustaining the revolution and change would not be smooth flowing. Equally, challenges are to be expected with numerous conflicts at hand.
In conclusion, society is at equilibrium at any given time. Some pressures will cause people to act in way that is intended to set new points of equilibrium. The problem that arises is that some of the causes of strain may result in negative ramifications.
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Allan, Kenneth. The meaning of culture: moving the postmodern critique forward. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc., 1998. Print.