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At this low level of efficiency we are in a component based regime as described by the area of sociology called conflict theory. Within a functional regime components have to adapt and organize themselves in relation to each other to best facilitate the overall function, this is self-organization and through it we get the emergence of a new level of organization in order to support the collective process. This functional regime to a social system is described within sociology by the theory of functionalism. Functionalism is a theoretical understanding of society that posits social systems are collective means to fulfill social needs.

In order for social life to survive and develop in society there are a number of activities that need to be carried out to ensure that certain needs are fulfilled.

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In the structural functionalist model, individuals produce necessary goods and services in various institutions and roles that correlate with the norms of the society, these institutions, roles, norms, and values are interdependent in maintaining a functional equilibrium within the entire system. Organic solidarity is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interests, the order and very solidarity of society depend on their reliance on each other to perform their specified and collective tasks.

The term organic here is referring to the interdependence of the component parts. In contrast to functionalism, conflict theory is a social theory that posits that the distribution of resources between elements within a social system is the primary factor and determinant of the structure to that system. As such it is focused on the unequal distribution of resources, arguing that individuals and groups within society have access to differing amounts of material and nonmaterial resources. Put crudely, are the denizens of modern capitalism forgetting how to be trustworthy, generous, and punitive of wrongdoing because our legal and market systems act as substitute for such personality traits?

Social Institutions

Broadly speaking, we find the hypothesis that market institutions are fundamentally changing our personalities unlikely, in part because impersonal market exchange has yet to invade all aspects of our lives. Trust, generosity, and interpersonal deterrence and punishment remain rooted in our family, social, and community lives.

In politics, too, whether domestic or global, it is as easy to see choice, values, and strategy framed in personal terms—trust, generosity, fairness—as is it to see the pure logic of market exchange. Finer aspects of our institutions and culture, however, clearly influence our desires.

Girls growing up today likely become adults with very different desires than girls growing up several generations ago. In subsequent blog posts, we will discuss the idea of trying to change desires as a policy tool and when such an approach might be appropriate. The argument that economics is changing our environmental personalities has two prongs. The argument is made that focusing on the benefits of nature to people undermines the moral argument that nature must be preserved for its own sake.

Second, that focusing on market-based conservation incentives encourages us to think of natural resources as property that can be bought and sold, and thereby lost or destroyed should its loss or destruction be convenient. For instance, if we are valuing the pollination and water quality benefits a forest provides, if those services are no longer needed or can be provided by other means, economic arguments could justify cutting down the forest.

Or does it constitute a further, more insidious stage in its progressive devaluing? Society can and does value nature both for its contributions to our more utilitarian needs food, shelter, recreation, industry and as a source of intrinsic spiritual, cultural, and biological value.

Arguments that everyone has a right to a basic amount of clean water, for example, can go hand in hand with arguments that water use should be priced in order to promote conservation. At best, and appropriately so, value-based arguments complement political decisions driven more by philosophical, emotional, and ethical considerations.

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That said, we note research that challenges our general conclusion. She further questioned whether the impacts of a global information economy combined with the new flexibilization of work will open or limit options for workers.

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She also speculated on whether and how current standard age schema precipitate transitions and limit options in the second half of the adult life course. Several policies and institutions reify social patterns despite new emerging social goals.

Social Institutions

People need to work longer, yet rigid and outdated policies and practices continue to keep everyone on a lockstep path rather than enabling them to define flexible paths to retirement. Such flexible paths might include part-time work, encore careers, or productive civic engagement.

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  • Similarly, despite much attention to lifelong learning as a means to improve labor productivity, education continues to be presented as appropriate to earlier years, with college brochures featuring people in their 20s. Insisting on a standard hour work week is another institutional rigidity. Part-time work is possible, but those who engage in it pay a price in lower wages, less training, and fewer promotions. Social flux presents many challenges.

    Do Our Social Institutions Affect Our Personalities?

    The current population includes the first generation with married women retiring in significant numbers. There is also greater variation in the timing and completeness of exit from the labor force. What used to be considered a normal retirement—that is, full retirement after a single full-time continuous career—is no longer as common, although alternative paths are not yet clearly defined.

    Moen wondered how such change is affecting the self-concept, preferences, and decision making of older workers and retirees at different ages and stages. Existing evidence on prior trends in age-related activities may not be relevant to emerging trends. Furthermore, consideration is needed of how the concepts, categories, data, and models of a previous period should be updated. Baby boomers also pursue self-employment and part-time work.

    They maintain engagement in meaningful paid and unpaid work. And they reduce the intensity of job demands by shifting the relative amounts of time in these different activities. Structural leads, rather than structural lags, will help people adapt to the moving platform of change. Moen posed two questions regarding structural leads: What organizations and agencies are introducing transformative flexible innovations in career paths, retirement options, education and training opportunities, and civic engagement?

    And what innovative policies regarding work time, retirement age, health care, education, and incomes would promote alternative and flexible paths and thus promote a better fit to changing life courses? Characterizing the current moment as a perfect opportunity rather than a perfect storm, Moen offered three possible avenues for change: reframe the standard duration of work days, work weeks and work lives; develop new standards or norms regarding work sabbaticals at all life stages; and facilitate possibilities for second, third, or fourth acts in schooling, civic engagement, and employment for people of all ages.

    Social institutions

    Across the spectrum, she sees a need for social insurance and skill upgrades to respond to the risks and transitions in the world labor market. Moen identified three research questions addressing institutional flexibility and an aging population:. What are the impacts of a global information economy combined with the new flexibilization of work? How is the deinstitutionalization of normal retirement affecting the self-concept, expectations, preferences, and decision making of older workers and retirees at different ages and stages? What policy innovations regarding work time, retirement age, health care, education, and income can promote a good fit over the changing life course and the pursuit of alternative, flexible paths?

    The disjuncture between outdated institutions and current reality may be traced to a different source. Social Security was established to protect. The structures created to deal with that risk are fine. The problem, rather, is that society is no longer abiding by the implicit contract.

    People are living too long. The simple solution, he joked, is that people all agree to die at the same age as their parents. They would be really perfect and we could go on in equilibrium. They are more educated, in better health, and capable of productivity at later ages.