Berger’s statement to a sociology interpretation

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Berger states that the ‘first wisdom of sociology is this – things are not what they seem. ‘ Sociology recognises that there are levels of meaning and seeks to proceed beyond a common sense understanding and to interpret events in greater depth. How accurate/relevant is Berger’s statement to a sociology interpretation of the two school rituals in Kes? As Berger states, sociology recognises may levels of meaning, a lot of which proceed beyond common sense. Although the statement is fairly straightforward it ceases to be that way after studying it; each new layer of meaning changes the perception of the whole.

Sociology explores in depth the ideas and concepts behind human nature and behaviour, accepting of that which may be far from commonly defined purpose of the human action. It assumes that human events have different levels of meaning, many of which are hidden from the realization of every day life. Berger’s statement is a big contribution to sociology as without this idea, sociologists would continue to read on the outside instead of taking their studies deeper into the sociological consciousness.

In the story of Kes, the book illustrates two common school rituals namely Registration and Assembly. As straightforward as it seems the formal purpose of registration is to check on attendance for reasons of safety. This is also an opportunity for the teacher/tutor to give out any relevant information for the day. If we look a level deeper into this, what is actually happening during this ritual is a reinforcement of the tutor group relationship. Students feel a sense of belonging in a team and discipline is established.

However, the experience for Billy Caspar and the rest of his class was somewhat different. Whilst Mr Crossley, the teacher is taking the register, Billy makes an interrupting comment resulting in Crossley making a minor error in the register. He becomes angry at this and abuses his authoritative power by shouting excessively and humiliating Billy in front of the whole class. Here, instead of feeling secure and as part of a team, he feels isolated and segregated from the rest.

If we follow Berger’s statement and look into this event in depth we can see many things being learnt and experienced sub-consciously. Billy learns of the teachers’ power and the class sees an arbitrary, unfair exercise in control; they begin to build fear of the teachers instead of building a healthy tutor-student relationship. The second school ritual we study in the extract is the assembly. The commonly understood purpose of assembly is to: A) Disseminate information B) Act as a reminder that the school is a community team.

However, if we look at this in more depth, the assembly also illustrates the hierarchical nature of schools presenting a clear boundary between Head, Staff and Students. This is shown by the seating arrangements in the assembly hall; Head: on a higher stage, Staff: On chairs and Students: on the floor. There have been many attempts by some schools to break such segments and to bring the school together as a whole but most argue that there will always be a fine line between teachers and students no matter what.

This extract also demonstrates that during the assembly the power and authority of the staff is experienced by pupils. For example, the boy reading the prayer is instructed to speak up by Gryce (the head), showing that the teachers have control. Furthermore, coughing, which is a natural reflex is silenced by the Head of the school. Immediately, we can see that the students are developing a fear of the head teacher and learning that they cannot misbehave in his presence.

Hierarchy within the staff is also present as Gryce intimidates Crossley about an incident that takes place and Crossley reacts by flushing and panicking (showing fear of Gryce). Our perfectly moulded image of school as a community is shattered and broken down into many smaller pieces and built again based on an ascending order of power. In most first and primary schools, it is the legal requirement for schools to hold a Christian based worship during assembly which is the case in Kes as Christian hymns and songs are eing sung.

This enforces the Christian way of worship upon the students, but here they scrutinize the Christian ritual as one that is empty and lacks meaning to them. This is shown when the students in the hall fail to sing the hymns properly indicating that this type of worship is irrelevant and holds no significance to them. By looking at the two basic examples of Registration and Assembly in school, we can see that studying further into each scenario enables us to see the ulterior motives behind the apparently obvious.

What appears on the surface may not always be the truth or the full story. The evident ideology behind school is that educational institutions work for the good of the student – whether this is true or not can only be seen by probing beneath the surface. In this manner, schools are seen as a community and a team but by studying further we can see that this concept is broken down by hierarchy and something as small and insignificant as the seating arrangement during assembly.

Although the seating arrangement may seem unimportant when we examine the situation from the outside, once we begin to explore this idea we realise that this plays a very significant role in dividing the school. The simple statement made by Berger speaks a lot of truth and I personally feel that there is more to everything than meets the eye. It is important to explore the many levels of the sociological subconscious as every new meaning can defy the perception of the whole.

Tagged In :

Get help with your homework

Haven't found the Essay You Want? Get your custom essay sample For Only $13.90/page

Sarah from CollectifbdpHi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out