Contemporary Society: Sexual Harassment in McDonald’s
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The main idea of this article is that McDonald’s workers will be going on “the first multistate strike in the U.S. specifically targeting sexual harassment” so McDonald’s can handle sexual harassment at the workplace and improve working conditions.
How would a functionalist react to the focus of the article and to the position taken by the strikers? What remedy would they offer?
Structural functionalism is the perspective in sociology that states that society functions as an interdependent system, where each part is related and serves a certain purpose to maintain social order. They believe that there is no way we can attain social order without common values and beliefs.
A functionalist would react negatively to the focus of this article because evidently not everyone working at McDonald’s has the same values and beliefs, since some workers are sexually harassing their co-workers. The values and beliefs they are missing would be: respect, honesty, positivity, and compassion.
A functionalist would agree and support the position the strikers have taken. This is because according to a functionalist assumption, society strives toward equilibrium, so McDonalds workers will try to re-establish that balance/social order by going on strike.
In addition, functionalism’s base is that if a social institution exists, then it must have had a goal, or it currently has a goal. Therefore, the remedy they would offer would be to return to their current goal, which is to be the main place and way to eat and drink for their customers. They would achieve this by bringing attention to the structure of the relationships between the McDonalds in these 10 cities and structure of the relationships between the people that work in these McDonalds. Start with a smaller picture (looking at the parts) and then look at the big picture (the system).
How would a conflict theorist react? What remedy would they offer?
A conflict theorist aims to uncover the origin of conflict so it can be cut down or wiped out.
A conflict theorist would be curious because they would want to discover where the source of conflict is. However, at the same time the conflict theorist would be angry because this would confirm their view that the poor are highly exposed and under attack by society in a system of inequality.
The remedy a conflict theorist would offer is to break down each case in each city individually, and see the pattern that is causing all this sexual harassment. After pinpointing it, they would recommend cutting it down or wiping out this problem by improving “procedures for receiving and responding to harassment complaints” (David Crary, 2018), “require anti-harassment training for managers and employees” (David Crary, 2018) and forming “a national committee to address sexual harassment” (David Crary, 2018). Also by encouraging McDonalds to go for the plan of action they had in mind, which “will engage outside experts to work with the company to help “evolve” those policies and procedures” (David Crary, 2018).
A conflict theorist would see this as an issue because it is a problem that is within the system itself, since the cases of sexual harassment have been in 10 cities.
As Karl Marx stated, “The imbalance of power is the cause of conflict. Until there’s absolute equality, revolutions will keep happening”. Meaning, in this case that due to a hierarchy existing in McDonalds, there is an imbalance of power so it eventually led to this strike. If they do not address the issues mentioned in the article the revolts will keep happening.
How would an interactionist approach this? What remedy would they offer?
An interactionist studies how people use symbols to form a meaning. They look at society as a result of everyday social interactions between people.
An interactionist would approach this by describing the meaning that some things now have due to the article and where they came from. McDonald’s will now represent an unsafe workplace and maybe an unsafe fast food restaurant. McDonald’s will now be associated most of the time with sexual harassment. Also, if the demands are accepted and put into place, then the workers in McDonald’s will associate strikes with positive change, which might encourage them to do them more. In addition, the social interactions between the workers is horrible since they sexually harass their co-workers.
The remedy an interactionist would offer is to take the audience’s mind off the topic, give them a new symbol to focus on and give that symbol a positive meaning. Introduce something else that will really arouse their attention. For example: A new combo, a new type of food, a new promotion, a new partnership, etc.
How might this situation be considered a trouble? How might it be considered an issue?
A trouble is a problem that lies within the individual. An issue is a problem that lies within the system, it’s a public problem.
This situation could be considered a trouble because the problem could lie within the people who are sexually harassing others. Meaning, they don’t have the right values, morals, and beliefs to realize what they’re doing and to fix it. This could also be a problem within the supervisors and company directors who also don’t have the right values, morals, and beliefs to listen to what the victims have to say and/or to take action towards sexual harassment. Moreover, this could be considered an issue because this is not an isolated case, it’s happening in 10 cities, therefore, there is a problem within the structure of McDonald’s work environment.
How might this be considered a social problem? How might it be considered a sociological problem?
A social problem is the aspects of society that only affect it negatively.
A sociological problem is anything about society, it could be positive or negative.
This could be considered a social problem because sexual harassment is a behavior that has negative repercussions for a large amount of people and it is recognized as a behavior that needs to be addressed. Moreover, this could be considered a sociological problem because sexual harassment in McDonald’s in 10 different cities is a problem in a group dynamic.
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“The Three Assumptions of Conflict Theory.” UKEssays, 5 Dec. 2016, www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/the-three-assumptions-of-conflict-theory-sociology-essay.php.
“S-Cool, the Revision Website.” Functionalist Assumptions | S-Cool, the Revision Website, www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/sociology/functionalism/revise-it/functionalist-assumptions.
Crary, David. “McDonald’s Workers in 10 Cities Strike Tuesday over Sexual Harassment.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 13 Sept. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/09/13/mcdonalds-strike-workers-sexual-harassment/1288726002/.