Like any other system, a society needs changes in order to sustain its evolution; otherwise, its members will finally get stuck and will never be able to reach the top standards, which are extremely prone to changing. However, some of these changes come at a price, and, as the recent works claim, these costs may include a complete reinvention of social norms and concepts.
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Though presenting different opinions and providing different arguments, Gross, Newman and Perrow agree that the society is currently at the brink of failure due to the changes that it has suffered over the past few decades, and due to the conflicts within that the given changes have inflicted.
As it has been stressed above, each of the authors tackles a specific topic, yet the themes of the works are, in fact, related to each other. For instance, Perrow addresses the problem of the nature vs. nurture conflict, comparing the effect of natural and human induced destructions. In addition, Perrow addresses a very topical social issue of the inefficacy of the U.S. homeland security with the help of his “page 99 test”: “It did not do well in FEMA and was starved of resources”.
Newman considers the terror of poverty, claiming it to be the next disaster of the XXI century. Finally, Gross evaluates the scale of destructions inflicted on a particular – Jewish – community by the force of prejudice: “Half of the population of a small East European town murdered the other half”.
In addition, the ideas communicated by the three authors can be referred to the concepts listed by Wallace. Newman’s idea of poverty as the plague of the XXI century correlates with Wallace’s concept of self-serving ideology as self-destructive; Gross with his description of the Jewish community repeats Wallace’s idea of social Darwinism; and even Perrow with his natural, industrial and terrorist shocks shares such ideas as the need for sustainability with Wallace.
It seems that the books by Perrow, Gross and Newman help evaluate the problems in interpersonal and intercultural relationships of the XXI century rather accurately. While each of the works focuses on a particular aspect of the society mechanism, their authors still manage to get the key idea concerning the need for sustainability and equality across in a very convincing manner. Based on decent theoretical foundation, each of the works allows defining a major social issue and helps search for the ways to mend it.
While the books by Perrow, Gross and Newman seem to tackle the issues that are not quite related to each other, every book addresses the same problem of changes within the society and the means to address these changes. More to the point, all of the authors seem to be talking mostly about the phenomenon of intercultural misunderstanding, which was inflicted either by racial prejudice, or by religious conflicts.
Thus, the authors make it obvious that prejudice, be it racial or religious one, can be defined as the source of the on-coming catastrophe and is, in fact, tearing the fabric of the society apart. Providing enough food for thoughts, Gross, Perrow and Newman make a witty and sad commentary on the structure of the contemporary society, therefore, proving Wallace’s idea of multiculturalism within a prejudice filled society leading to multiple conflicts.
Gross, Jan T. Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Newman, Katherine S. No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City. New York City, NY: Doubleplay, 2009.
Perrow, Charles. The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial and Terrorist Disasters. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Wallace, Ruth A. and Alison Wolf. Contemporary Sociological Theory: Expanding the Classical Tradition. 5th ed. London, UK: Pearson, 1998.
- Charles, Perrow, The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial and Terrorist Disasters (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 99.
- Jan T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), p. 7.
- Katherine S. Newman, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City (New York City, NY: Doubleplay, 2009), p. 26.
- Ruth A. Wallace and Alison Wolf, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Expanding the Classical Tradition, 5th ed. (London, UK: Pearson, 1998), p. 71.