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SOC 1100 Lecture Notes - Igloo, Seal Hunting, Sociological Perspectives

Course Code
SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

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Eskimo Fight for Life - Applying the Sociological Perspectives
The Eskimo people have built a small society from the many families that conjoin
it. The society reveals a structural functional approach and symbolic-interaction
approach. Since this society is small, based on close interaction and orderly tasks, it does
not reveal a society based on social-conflict, as there is stability between the members.
The traditional seal hunt of the Eskimo people reveals an organized society in
which individuals are given specific tasks, which is a key aspect of a structural-functional
society. There is social structure involved, as a “relatively stable pattern of social
behaviour” (p. 14). This is evident from the stability and organization of tasks performed
by all of the members. No one disagrees with their assigned tasks, as everyone knows
that they play a part in this small society. For example, the men of this society hunt for
seals, while the women tend to the nurturing the young. This society also involves social
function, as “the consequences of any social pattern for the operation of a society as a
whole.” (p. 14) Each individual in the group is assigned a given task and if the do not
fulfill their task, then it results in consequences for society as a whole.
This ordered society does not reveal a social-conflict approach, as this theory is
classified “as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change.” (p. 15) This Inuit
encampment involves equality of men and women. Both genders are given designated
jobs and equally receive food based on what part of the seal they get. The behavior
exhibited by this society opposes that of the social-conflict approach, as “this approach
highlights inequality and change.” (p. 15) The Eskimo people show a lot of equality with
one another, which opposes the theory of society distinguishing individuals to have
inferior and superior roles. Any tension that arises would quickly be relieved, due to the
fact that the society is so small and behaves as a family. While enjoying their feast, they
play games with the spindle and funny faces, which symbolizes a family-like setting. The
result of having a small society, that involves close relations, is that the members no
longer differentiate people and therefore demonstrate an opposing orientation to the
social-conflict approach.
The Eskimo people also show a symbolic-interaction approach, as this theory
focuses on the individual interactions of everyday people. If the society stops interacting
as a whole, it fails to continue. In the case of the Eskimo people, their society only
functions as a result of their interactions. If the families were to separate and stop
interacting, then the society would cease to exist. This society behaves in a manner that
involves close interaction with everyone. For example, a large igloo connects the smaller
igloos and everyone enjoys their feast with food and games. Another example is that the
infants are nursed until they are 3 and kept in close interaction with their mothers. This
nurturing gives the children a sense of belonging to the family. The relationship between
the members of this society therefore demonstrates a symbolic-interaction approach. The
ongoing collaboration between the members of the society, organized social structure,
and equality all play a part when theorizing the orientation of which this society is a part
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