His books have shown that in spite of total institution, people tend to break through their own personalities and redefine their established roles in regulated societies (Handler, 2012, p. 179). Total institution can be dived into five different categories. The first type of institutions are for harmless and helpless people who are incapable of taking care of themselves, such as aged, poor or blind. The second category of institution is mental hospitals that take in people who are helpless and could be harmful to the society; people who seek for treatment. The third category is for people who pose
Page | 3 danger and threat to the welfare of the communities and are put into institutions such as prisons and concentration camps. The forth type of institutions are established to create a working environment among the societies, such as military camps, boarding schools and work camps. The final type of institutions is for people who want to be isolated from the rest of the world, such as church and convents (Davies, 1989, p. 77- 82). 2. 2. Four common traits of total institution In 1961, Goffman (as cited in Schaefer, 2004, p. 82) has pointed out four common factors that a total institution posses.
Firstly he believes, “all aspect of life are conducted in the same place and are under the control of a single authority”. This trait illustrates the common ground used and a certain dominance enforced on the participants. Secondly, “any activities within the institution are conducted in the company of others in the same circumstances”. Thirdly, “The authorities devise rules and schedule activities without consulting the participants”. Here we understand that the members are forced to conform to certain practices. Lastly, “all aspects of life within a total institution are designed to fulfil the purpose of the organization”.
This explains how the members in the group ‘working’ towards one goal (Schaefer, 2004, p. 82). 2. 3. Degradation ceremony Degradation ceremony is considered to be under the scope of the sociology of moral resentment. A degradation ceremony is a rite of passage sometimes used to initiate people into total institutions such as mental hospitals, prisons, and military units as discussed earlier (Garfinkel, 2011b). Degradation ceremony often aims to transform an individual’s identity and dignity to a lower form therefore allowing them to be more acceptant to the external control such as authorities.
During this process one loss his ascribed or achieved social status that he or she possess. Garfinkel (2011a, p. 420). Garfinkel (2011a, p. 420) mentions in his studies, an observer will be unable to find a degradation ceremony in societies that are demoralized, since only in total anomie are the conditions of degradation ceremonies lacking. Page | 4 2. 4. Resocialization Resocialization is the process when an individual’s former behaviour pattern or social role is altered or replaced. After which retraining the person psychologically to fit the standards and behavior of the common society.
Resocialization is often carried through the degradation ceremony when a person is stripped from his status so be able to apprehend the new behaviour patterns and values (Scheff, 2007, p. 85). Most of the time the term ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘resocialization’ are misunderstood for the same significance. However these two are interpreted the same way. Rehabilitation is just a small part or process of resocialization (Weinstein, 1982, p. 269). Goffman’s mental institute hospital study is a good example to illustrate resocialization. The staffs usually try to instil in patients that they had done something wrong in the society.
And if they wanted to free themselves from the hospital and get back to the society, they would have to change themselves (Weinstein, 1982, p. 272). . 3. Self- reflection My two-year experience in the Singapore Police Force (National Service) was interesting and far challenging. The first six months of the job was known as the ‘stay-in training’ or otherwise known as total institution from the sociological perspective. Our intake, which had approximately 130 cadets, were required to stay at a camp for 6 months situated at the outskirts where there were no other human dwelling.
I remember the very first day when we entered, we were shouted at by the superiors for no reason and were told to strip naked to have our bodies checked for tattoos. The superiors projected their dominance through their tone of voice. The second day all the cadets were issued with uniforms and had to shave our heads bald. We were given a time table on what had to be done everyday from the time we woke up to the amount of water we drunk to the schedule time that we had our Page | 5 meals. We had no say and were just do as we were told. Failing to comply led to punishments.
The main purpose of this institution was to instil discipline into each one of us as we were preparing to represent the country’s internal security. Therefore to successfully carry out the resocialization we were put through the degradation ceremony where we had to shave our head bald and given uniforms and forcefully told what to do. Here we are able to associate all four traits that were identified by Erving Goffman. 4. Four major theoretical perspectives The four different perspectives would help us understand total institution from a clearer view.
The functionalist perspective has three different categories; manifest function, latent function and dysfunction (Henslin, 2011, p. 16). If we take military camp as an example, the manifest function would be to recruit people to protect the country to maintain peace and order. The latent function is a hidden function such as creating job opportunities and instilling values and discipline into the cadets. The dysfunction would be if the cadets were to use the tactics and teachings learned in the camp for a negative purpose while off their duty. Conflict perspective is a common issue faced when looked at the military.
The cadets who flow into the camp on the first day come from a many different backgrounds. Conflicts could arise not only between the views of superior and the cadets but could arise among members itself when work in teams due to the different culture, values and beliefs. Feminist perspective involves the history which back dates to when female where to stay home to look after the family while men went out for war to protect their country mainly due to their physics. However the norm on this perspective is being abolished and we tend to find female soldiers and officers involved in the military.
According to my self reflection interaction perspective can be classified has the verbal and non- verbal communication styles used by the superiors, such as the authoritative tone of voice. Page | 6 5. Conclusion We have clearly understood the necessity of the five different types of social institution in a society. The essay had also covered the common traits present in the institutions. Also learnt the importance of degradation ceremony while resocialization and how it’s required to kill the former sense of an individual. However I personally believe three out of five of the total institutions are not preferable places to be at.
The fact that many are not offered opportunities to work at their own free will deprives them from others and makes them feel less worthy of themselves. They are taught to obey their superiors, out of fear. In most of the occasions they are treated as numbers than a human being. Therefore allowing an individual to loose his or her sense of identity. Goffman’s discussion encouraged me to look at total institution characteristics, such as resocialization, through a positive and negative lens, depending on the situation and context. Page | 7 6. Reference list Davies, C. (1989). Goffman’s concept of the total institution: Criticism and revisions.
Human Studies, 12, 77-95. El-Mafaalani, A. (2009). Do underachievers need sociology. Journal of social science education, 8(4), 35-42. Garfinkel, H. (n. d. ). Conditions of successful degradation ceremonies. (2011). American Journal of Sociology, 6(5), 420-424. GORDON MARSHALL. “degradation ceremony. ” A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia. com. 16 Apr. 2013 . Handler, R. (2012). What’s up,doctor goffman? tell us where the action is!. Journal of the royal Anthropological Institute, 18, 179-190. Henslin, J. (2011). Essentials of sociology a down-to-earth approach. (9TH ed. , pp. 16-18). Boston,America: PEARSON.