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Sociological Perspective/Sociological Theory

Trouble the Water

            This is a documentary film produced by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin. It is a tale of ordinary people surviving hard times, including bungling bureaucrats, failed levees and their own hard ships of abandonment over a thousand years. The documentary describes the issues of class, relationship with the government and racial problems that has haunted America continuously over the years after the failure of the Levees in New Orleans. It celebrates the community resilience in the encounters of the government failures, identifying the vulnerable in the society, the reason they are in that state and what it takes to survive, and the responsibility of the government in solving the issues.

            Additionally, the film describes the situation that one couple, Kimberly Roberts, an aspiring rapper, with her husband Scott Roberts experienced.  The couple experienced Hurricane Katrina in their new neighborhood in the Attic of the Orleans, but managed to escape the disaster with a help of a neighbor and took shelter with the residents in the New Orleans Attic. Kimberly Roberts continued to film the plight of the inhabitants, showing how they lost their belongings as a result of Hurricane Katrina, and how the residents fought for household compensation payouts and experienced abandonment by the responsible government agencies.

Sociological Perspectives

            Sociologists view social phenomena from different perspectives and levels. They categorize specific human behaviors in accordance with the smaller social patterns and the macro analysis that focuses on the larger patterns. The society is perceived to be a complex system that is interconnected and work together in harmony. There is a significance of stability in the behaviors of people, and in how they conduct their social structures. The labor force, systems of criminal justice, political and educational institutions depend on the informed and the educated individuals in the society. Each system in the society is fulfilled by purposeful intended or unintended concepts, which are constantly straining to achieve equilibrium and identifying the functions and outcomes of the societal patterns and arrangements. Apart from viewing social behaviors from a societal point of view, a society’s behavior is also lowered to an individual’s level and analyzed as a shifting and an endless occasion. Individuals in the society create their own social life through the symbols that they attach meaning to, in such a way that they can be socially deprived though their interactions or be subject to their interpretations.

            Additionally, people in different communities differ due to those distinguished symbols and the meaning attached to them, by gender, age, culture and language. Individuals establish their real being identification in a specific society, and they identify themselves by how they exchange ideas and communicate to the rest of the community. Furthermore, sociologists consider the greater inequality aspect that is intense in any given society. There is uneven allocation of resources, where the minority receives the limited share, at the disbursement of the major groups. The individuals in the society that possess the resources create methods and structures to preserve the resources, while the minor group that do not have the resources continue creating new ways to obtain resources. The scarce resources create competition among the individuals, placing those who have fewer resources to act under the orders of those who possess much, thus making the society to be a basis of unfairness, control and manipulation. Therefore, that social behavior views the society as an entity experiencing a conflict, which remains unresolved unless there is an establishment of systems that operate with an intention of bringing equality among the people, or increasing the available opportunities that would be of benefit to all members of a given society. These equality systems can discourage social change and struggles between the minority and majority groups.

Application of the Sociological Perspective to the Documentary

            Applying the sociological perspectives in the events experiences in the documentary, the neighborhood in the Attic of New Orleans expressed unity in the rescue of those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, including the new residents, Kimberly and Scott Roberts. This structural approach of helping each other is displaying the importance of a stable social behavior. Harmoniously working together in the time of the attack by the Hurricane Katrina significantly identifies the importance of forming a functional social structure in any society, despite it being an interconnection of various distinguished parts. The accord displayed in the film is as a result of mechanical solidarity, where the individuals show social cohesion because of the values and beliefs that society maintains. The displaced residents in the documentary also express organic solidarity, despite their complex community that consists of people from different origins and government officials that relinquish their responsibilities in the housing and emigration aspects.

            It is stated that, most of the residents in the New Orleans were homeless after Hurricane Katrina attack. These included the African -American Kimberly and Scott Roberts, and an ex- drug addict, Brian. Together with other displaced residents, they experienced hard ships even in the acquisition of the household compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This was because some of the displaced residents did not belong to that particular state, and that they did not prove residency. This is a conflict approach, where the minority does not receive the desirable benefits in the society. The displaced families in need were denied the right of possession due to their distinguished identity. Moreover, the military soldiers were uncooperative and failed to allow the displaced residents to occupy the unoccupied military base, even there being many empty rooms that were available.  The dislodged local residents in New Orleans benefited fully in the provision of a settlement area, due to their identity as the natives of that specific locality.

            During that moment of adversity, the aspiring singer Kimberly Roberts writes an insightful and a poetic song of displaying hope and strength to those who experienced difficult situations in the film.  Being new in the neighborhood, Kimberly interacts well with the people and influences them to live in hope through her inspirational songs, showing the importance of the social interaction and how to respond with peace and unity in times of misfortunes. The inspirational songs encouraged the victims of the Hurricane Katrina, by giving them faith and hope for a better ending and a new life after the disaster was over. It was an intensive expression of the function of the cultural and art production in connecting all in the society and provoking empathy. The hurricane experienced in the documentary revealed the weakness and poverty of the vulnerable in that society. It displayed the poverty of tilted priorities of the New Orleans government that had contracted its duties to the private sector, and abdicated its responsibility in the terms of evacuation and housing.

The Conflict Theory and Application

             The conflict theory was described by sociologist Karl Marx on his writings of class struggles. The theory describes the negative features that cause social unsteadiness in the social order. It states that, the rich, powerful individuals force orders to the poor, weak and vulnerable, in the community. The theory concentrates on the aspects that encourage social change in the society and disputes the status fairness. Moreover, the theory states the attributes that make entities in the society to discourage the peaceful flow in the social order. Inequality in the distribution of education, social prestige, money and power results to conflicts and class struggles and try to impose conformity on the minority groups. Since conflict creates change in the society, this theory views change as necessary and good. It is stated that, when there are revolts among individuals, those who do not have enough resources have more opportunities to benefit from the available but scarce resources.

            After the Hurricane Katrina attack, people living in the Ninth ward of Orleans, were displaced and lacked shelter. The only available empty rooms were in the Military base, which was only provided to the popular and the natives of that land. This commodity was made to be unavailable and scarce to those new in the community. The military officials uncooperatively denied home to Kimberly and Scott and the other displaced individuals. This upheaval increased the opportunity of the residents, resulting to a positive change in that, the revolt balanced the unavailability, making them get another shelter in the Red Cross tents. The prestigious government officials possessed what the minority were yearning for, which is shelter, and this forces a social discrimination and instability towards the displaced individuals who were not natives of New Orleans.