Social Order in Our Modern Society
Social order: the term you hear occasionally, have no idea what it means other than it needs overhaul. So basically any term that involves the word “socials” (including the subject, says Mr. J!)
What even is social order? It can be broken down into two main branches in my mind: economic social order, similar to a class structure, and social social order, where general themes are dictated for a whole population to follow. They have both been changed and shaped into what they are today, and are much more recognizable than you think. *To avoid confusion, economic social order will be simply referred to as economic order, and social social order as social order. If that makes sense.
Economic order is the general organization of humans into different income levels, or classes. However, the social order (i.e. race, gender, etc.) can influence where someone can be put in the economic order. Some prime examples in the past of economic orders include the feudal system. It was the prevailing structure in the Middle Ages, spanning hundreds of years. The main people who would benefit from the system would be the king and nobles. On the other end of the structure, the peasants would suffer under this structure.
Sounds awful, right? Even though you may think that during the Renaissance and after, this system greatly changed, a variation of it still exists to this day. Right now, in the United States, 1% of the population owns the majority of the wealth. And most of the 1% are men. And most of the 1% are white men. The social order will always influence the economic order. At the bottom of the rank, a sizable number of the lower-income class work for the 1% and their businesses. The economic order is always determined by the wealthy. At the beginning of any system, there is always a pre-existing disparity in wealth. The disparity then becomes fertile soil for a new system, or variation of the system, to emerge.
The social order is much more ambiguous in nature. It can be loosely classified as a collection of values and traditions that are infused into society today. These values are expected of a person in order to be a functional member of society. Again, these values change for each person. They can be imposed in various different settings: family values, school values, community values, and societal values. These values can be so enforced that they become interchangeable with the word “rule”. The values change between classes (economic order) because people are raised with different morals. Values also vary between age demographics. For example, as a “good” human being, I must be a polite and caring person. That is the social order I must hold myself to when I’m in public. This moral, and others, have been defined long before I was born. As a teenager, I must look a certain way, dress a certain way, and act a certain way. I must, or risk being frowned upon. Modern pop culture and large celebrity figureheads have influenced what it means to be a teenager, and how to be a teenager. Instagram, Snapchat, stylish haircut, makeup, and so on. I’ve never really liked and stood to these values. And so the question arises: Why not change him to be more like what society wants?
Trying to change others to become like the current social order has existed for centuries. Rebellious people are considered as outliers, and are not taken seriously. The general thought is that “everyone else follows the social order (on the surface), and it may be wrong, but it’s much easier to change one person’s mind than a whole group”. Take Shakespeare in his play Taming of the Shrew, for example:
For I am he am born to tame you Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates.
Petruchio, Taming of the Shrew, Act II, Scene I
Aside from the fact that the passage is put in a misogynistic setting, it’s still clear to see that even back in the Renaissance, people would change a person to be like the status quo, not the other way around, even if it was generally accepted that the status quo was wrong. And that’s like today. Sure, the Renaissance’s is far different from today: women, like Kate in Taming of the Shrew, were treated like dirt, and the Church was still arguably the biggest contributor to how people lived their lives. But we still find it far easier to change than be changed. It’s hard work. It faces obstacles from the wealthy, because they love their lives where they are. People back then probably realized that sexism was prominent in society, but didn’t act because, as discussed on Friday during Socials, they didn’t know a world where women were treated equally as men. Massive overhaul was, and still is today, scary because we don’t know what will happen.
Both the current economic and social order face opposition today. The poor are getting angry, and rightfully so. The rise of feminism, black rights, and LGBTQ rights has brought up a whole new conversation: revamping the whole system.
It’s happened before. Just Google “revolution”, and “examples”. Most influential countries today have had large revolutions, where large changes have occurred. Or so you think. Take Russia, where the Tsar ruled for years. The people were tired of suffering. They wanted a say in running the country. With those two rallying points, they overthrew the Tsar and later installed a new government: the communists, led by Vladimir Lenin. But just 15 years later, with Joseph Stalin in power, most of the people were working in factories with little pay. They believed in a cause, overthrew the status quo…and their lives did not improve, and in many ways (secret police) went down. The French people also overthrew the monarchy, survived the Reign of Terror, basked in glory when a man named Napoleon saved the nation…and watched as he declared himself emperor and crippled the population through multiple wars. Revolutions aren’t always bad: historians regard the French Revolution as one of the most important points in human history, as it helped establish republics and democracies. But the debilitating price of progress for so little gain raises another question: Is it worth it?
The Protestant Reformation was worth it. I believe that statement wholeheartedly. But the Church was in need of serious reform. A key indicator of that is the volume of support Martin Luther received during the Reformation. But in today’s society, where social and economic order are hard to find and harder still to define, is change necessary? It’s kind of like cleaning your room. It may seem annoying and impossible to accomplish, and doing it won’t achieve anything in the long run (after a short burst of change, the prevailing state (messiness) will eventually win).
In the grand scheme of things, social order is important. Social order helps organize any population as a whole, and even though parts of it are immoral and do need change, do more good to us than they think. The call to action that should be emphasized isn’t that trying to revolutionize what it means to be a socially conformable person by influencing a large group won’t work at all. But change, if change is to occur at all, must start from the inside. It’s difficult. But it’s necessary.