Today we looked at the Amish counterculture; a traditionalist Christian group who live in US, particularly in Pennsylvania and Indiana. This group is known for its strict adherence to the ‘will of Jesus’ and dedication to living a simple life. Living a simple life for the Amish means not using popular technologies, such as television, mobile phones or the internet.
To find out more about this group we looked at the following documentary from ABC program Compass:
Compass episode (full episode available on ClickView – school desktop)
We answered the following questions in relation to this documentary:
- How is the Amish culture different to mainstream Australian culture?
- Why might it be difficult for Amish people to leave the Amish community and thus stay in the “english” world?
- Why did Faron start taking drugs? Why did the 16 year old Amish girl start to feel depressed and suicidal?
**rather than answering these questions using psychological explanations we focused on writing from a sociological point of view, so we tried to use the following sociological concepts: socialisation, resocialisation, norms, values, beliefs, sanctions, egoistic suicide and anomic suicide.
We also looked at two sociological theories: functionalism and conflict theory. We discussed the fact that both functionalism and conflict theory are different to interactionist theory, as they are what we call macro theories. Macro theories look at the larger social structures (which is also why we label functionalism and conflict theory as structural theories). Macro or structural theories believe that societal forces control individuals, whereas interactionism (which is a micro, action theory) sees the individual as being able to shape their own socialisation. In other words, interactionists recognise that individuals do have some free will (choice/agency) whereas functionalists and conflict theorists believe that we are essentially social robots (i.e. controlled by society).