Compare and Contrast Two Social Science Views About the Ordering of Social Life.

Kelly Crane
TMA 04  

Compare and contrast two Social Science views about the ordering of social life.

Society is incredibly complex, people are constantly interacting with each other on some level and the idea of social order refers to social structures and practices that control and enforce the conventional way to live. Social order enables individuals to live together, it is embedded into our everyday actions, through shared norms and expectations which govern our behaviour and how people and things all fit together.   The philosopher Charles Taylor argues that ‘the human capacity to imagine order is at the foundation of society itself’ (Taylor cited in Silva, 2009, pg 311).     Order is sometimes imagined and can vary from place to place and across time.   Social change is significant when looking at how social order is made and remade.
This essay will look at the views of two different Sociologists, Erving Goffman and Michael Foucault, and examine the similarities and differences between them.   Goffman focuses on the social patterns of everyday life interactions and asks questions such as how individual performances can make and remake social order.
Michael Foucault centres more on the conception of the power, knowledge and discourse in the ordering of social life, he asks questions such as who has the power to govern behaviour.
The best way to demonstrate these differences and show how time is a very important factor in how social order is made and remade, is to look at a real life example.   The example this essay will look at is the increasing level of traffic and congestion on the roads.   Two potential solutions to this problem, one put forward by Buchanan, the other by Monderman, reflect the differing views outlined above.   It is also worth noting that despite the obvious contrasts in their rationales, there are also some similarities between them.      

Goffmann’s ideas were concerned with the ways in which individual interactions and actions are...