Culture Wars Discussion Essay


In module 12, we discussed the ‘culture wars.’ Recalling the modules discussing symbolic interactionist and Marxist theoretical perspectives (modules 2 and 3), please demonstrate how a minimum of two concepts from each of these perspectives can be applied to explain the motivations for participants in these conflicts. Further, explain and elaborate on which perspective you […]

Culture Wars Frameworks

A culture war significantly contributes to contemporary social structures that infer distinct characteristics onto societal sub-groups, thus dividing communities along racial, economic, and gender lines. Symbolic interactionist and Marxist theoretical perspectives are frameworks that seek to explain motivations for individuals within cultural war conflicts. Emile Durkheim and Alfred Schütz use symbolic interactionist theory to discuss culture wars within the framework of dialect utilization, which significantly contrasts with the institutionalism and false consciousness notions held by a capitalistic view propagated by the Marxist theoretical perspective.

Emile Durkheim’s concept derives from the symbolic interaction theory, which alludes to an individual’s use of dialect in forming normal implications and images to make deductions and interact with others. Durkheim proposes that mannerism is established through normative practices groomed from social institutions and cultural expectations. Therefore, the prevailing conduct expectation follows social control. However, deviance from social norms results in an alternate belief system which causes a culture war within a community. On the other hand, Schütz argues that various typifications guide individuals in understanding and interacting with objects and others, thus understanding social and group phenomena. Additionally, typification embeds itself into social institutions and cultural beliefs, thus guiding individuals on social norms. Schütz’s ideologies propose that symbolic interactions shape our behaviors, resulting in forged identities that follow nonconformist conduct. His theory shows how interactions within a subgroup may result in prejudice against another, thus resulting in a culture war. Therefore, while Durkheim’s theory uses social control and authority defiance as the basis of culture wars, Schütz majors on self-assessment and its consequence on an individual’s societal experience.

The Marxist theoretical perspective deviates from using symbols and imagery to explain culture wars to explore the economic implications of conflict within a society. According to Carl Marx, capitalism interferes with humanism by using production to define itself. Productions serve to reflect humanity’s individuality and creativity, and it is controlled by a class of a few rich individuals known as the bourgeoisie. The social power used to control the masses is channeled through institutions such as religion, justice, and education and allows for complacency in promoting inequality in social class relations. Institutionalized conditioning, according to Marx, explains class wars due to economic, religious, social, and political differences. Similarly, Marx hypothesizes that information content is controlled through the judicial, educational, and religious systems to control how individuals perceive the world. This is known as false consciousness. Individuals are brainwashed to follow certain ideologies that further promote and justify class stratification, thus resulting in class wars amongst people with different views. Therefore, Marx’s theory proposes that institutionalization and false consciousness normalize power and economic imbalances through social systems resulting in culture wars amongst adherents of different ideologies.

The recent increase in culture wars shows a widening gulf between cultural practices and institutional policy values. The most plausible concept is Schütz’s notion, which addresses an individual’s need to belong to a group while protecting the group’s interest by self-preservation. Additionally, the concept appeals to everyday interaction and influences that typify a different group and social phenomena, thus creating an “us against them” attitude. The theory’s significance is in the proposition that individuals choose a group that supports their conceptions, thus creating subjective truths that delineate their position, although it is subject to change through other social influences. Therefore, Schütz’s notion explains most assumptions, predictions, and prejudices held and propagated by most individuals.

The symbolic interaction theory explains culture war better than the Marxist theoretical perspective, with the Schütz’s notion being the most plausible approach. The knowledge of factors contributing to culture wars helps address prejudices while promoting notions that encourage social cohesion, thus reinforcing positive ideological beliefs. The theories provide a framework that explains an individual’s motivation towards social grouping, thus enabling sociologists to understand biases and other harmful practices better.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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