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Two sociological concepts/perspectives Essay

Compare culture and social organisation in any two societies, making reference to at least two different sociological theories and key concepts associated with them. Within every society, and every community or settlement across the globe, there is undoubtedly one thing that they have in common; we identify this as ‘culture’. “Culture is a design for living” (Clyde Kluckhohn, cited in Halambros et al, 2013: 5), it describes the norms, values, beliefs, and practises of a people. The economic base and division of labour, political structure, religion, and strata of the Nama Tribe are very different to that of modern English society. Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx established theories relating to different aspects of society and the way in which it operated, e.g. mechanical and organic solidarity (Durkheim, 1893), these can offer a platform for a new perspective on The Nama people and modern English society. The Nama tribe, descendants of the KhoiKhoi family inhabit parts of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. Their numbers have decreased a large amount – by 80% between 1904 and 1907 – as a result of mass genocide carried out by German colonialists during the diamond rush of the twentieth century.

The Nama people are traditionally pastoral nomadic tribespeople, whose community moves around in order to find land to raise livestock. According to Durkheim, the Nama would operate in accordance with ‘Mechanical solidarity’. This describes shared customs, values, and beliefs, and agrees with Marxism. All take part in the farming of land and the raising of livestock, and there is social cohesiveness. The Nama people are a small, less technologically advanced society; traditionally living with no electricity, using basic tools and weapons and living in huts without running water. In comparison, England is situated in Western Europe, approximately 12,000km from Namibia. In modern day English society the population currently stands at approximately 53.5 million. Durkheim’s theory of ‘Organic solidarity’ applies to English society. In England the different social classes often implicate the work carried out in a complex division of labour involving various working roles.

This relates to Durkheim’s theory of functionalism, whereby society operates like an organism in the human body; all parts are important ‘since they work together to maintain the organism’ (Haralambos et al, 2013: 10). Britain is a capitalist country, meaning; “An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state” (Oxford dictionaries, 2014). Capitalism opposes Marxism, as Marxism promotes the communal ownership of business by the ‘Proletariat’ or labour forces to which profits will be evenly distributed. After the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, capitalism has led to the concentration of ownership of small businesses – as prophesized by Marx – leading to concentration of wealth and corporate capitalism and chains such as Tesco or Costa. The Nama people live in small communities, and do not have a political power structure.

They are collectivist, they are interdependent, and the only strata they have is that of the elders. ‘The chief consideration in the behaviour of Nama to one another is the relative ages of the people concerned. Respect for age is inculcated in every possible way, and the whole social organisation of the people is an illustration of the fact.’ (Social organisation of the Nama Hottentots, 2009: 21). The political culture is direct democracy, this describes a system whereby all members of the community form consensus on issues, and all will come to an agreed solution. Families of the Nama will congregate, some members will be more respected in the community based on age and others on chieftainship which; ‘is hereditary… and is inherited in the male line’ (Social organisation of the Nama Hottentots, 2009: 9). In contrast, England is an individualist society promoting self-reliance and independence and was referred to by Edmund Adamus as a; ‘selfish and hedonistic wasteland’ (Telegraph, 2014). This relates to the theory of social mobility, and is again intertwined in capitalism.

The political structure is a representative democracy, which in contrast to the Nama communities involves the option for the population voting for a party who’ll make decisions on their behalf; the majority vote will determine who is awarded power for a period of four years. Often the party in power will make decisions that, due to the nature of representative democracy, have not been made on a formed consensus, these decisions can be made in favour of the upper classes or the wealthy, neglecting the needs of the poor, this ties in with Marx’ theory of class struggle and could be seen as Oligarchy. In England social stratification is more complex than that of the Nama, and can be identified by a class system. In the epoch of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) – the times of the industrial revolution and The Communist Manifesto – England was believed to have a ‘functionalist’ (Durkheim) class system operating very much like that of a beehive, where all had their role. The class system arguably still resides, and is simplified to Upper, Middle, and Working class.

This social stratum is generally identified by income. The Nama are a homogenous, mono cultural people. Although they have, over history mixed with other tribes of the nearby lands such as the ‘Herero’. As depicted in Durkheim’s ‘Value consensus’ the Nama share cultural norms, values and practises. There are not foreign cultures or subcultures living amongst their society. Their community is also polytheistic as a result of Christian and Muslim proselytisers. In comparison, England is a multicultural society, it is heterogeneous, and this is mainly due to the British Empire and it membership in the European Union. ‘The 2001 census recorded that 90.92% of England’s population was White, 4.58% Asian, 2.30% Black, 1.31% Mixed, 0.45% Chinese and 0.44% of another ethnic group.’ (England population 2014, 2014).

There may be some form of value consensus in England, potentially a majority value consensus relating to Durkheim’s theory, but there is so much diversity that cultures within society may clash, this is often fuelled by media and can cause inter racial tension. Value consensus plays a vital part in the peaceful integration of immigrants into societies, the essence of a culture is their shared norms and values. When these clash, integration becomes complicated and tensions can rise.

The Nama people in comparison to modern English society differ in almost all areas; political structure, social stratum, religion and beliefs, ethnic diversity, and technology, although both do have culture(s). Arguably England is more technologically advanced, wealthier, has a higher population, and in most areas quality of living is more advanced. The Nama tribe however maintain a direct democracy, which ensures that all people are heard, and have a level of autonomy. Neither do they suffer from social division, or social inequality.

Kluckhon, C, 2013. Introduction: Sociological perspectives. In: Sociology themes & perspectives. 8th ed. London: Collins. Capitalism: definition of capitalism in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). 2014. capitalism: definition of capitalism in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2014]. Haralambos, M et al. 2013. Sociology themes & perspectives. 8th ed. London: Collins. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE NAMA HOTTENTOTS OF SOUTHWEST AFRICA1 – HOERNLÉ – 2009 – American Anthropologist – Wiley Online Library. 2014. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE NAMA HOTTENTOTS OF SOUTHWEST AFRICA1 – HOERNLÉ – 2009 – Page 21 – American Anthropologist – Wiley Online Library. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2014]. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE NAMA HOTTENTOTS OF SOUTHWEST AFRICA1 – HOERNLÉ – 2009 – American Anthropologist – Wiley Online Library. 2014. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE NAMA HOTTENTOTS OF SOUTHWEST AFRICA1 – HOERNLÉ – 2009 – page – 9 – American Anthropologist – Wiley Online Library. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2014]. England Population 2014 – World Population Review. 2014. England Population 2014 – World Population Review. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2014].

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