So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.
Recently I have been thinking about the documentary ‘Harlan County, USA’ — and I have no idea why. Well, yes I do. I want to watch it again because of my ties to eastern Kentucky and my 100 level Sociology class in college. I found a paper I wrote for my the class about the movie, which I really want to share. It’s not the best written thing but maybe it will give everyone a better idea of the what was happening with coal miners in and around Kentucky for many years. Anyways, here’s the paper. If it’s hard to understand because of all the Sociology terminology and whatever, I guess you can just look up the documentary on Wikipedia and read the summary. I highly suggest that everyone see this documentary though! It is obviously extremely informational, and has some really cool music. Bluegrass, hail yeah!
Harlan County, USA is a documentary that illustrates families in Harlan County, Kentucky who were on strike for safer working conditions, fair labor practices, and also decent wages as coal miners. The coal miners were on strike against Duke Power Company and the UMWA’s (United Mine Workers of America) lack of response to their strike. This eventually caused the miners and their families to picket in front of the New York Stock Exchange. The film also depicted families affected by black lung disease, even capturing miners being shot while picketing near their job site. In addition to what the documentary portrayed, we can look at the families and the people within the documentary to describe their situation through a sociology viewpoint on an account of the Functionalist and Conflict Perspective to comprehend the strike and what was happening within Harlan, County throughout their years of picketing against Duke Power.
Firstly, the Functionalist perspective ultimately does not encourage people within a society to change their environment even if it has the potential to benefit them as a whole. With this in mind, it is easy to say that Comte (a functionalist thinker), would agree a little more with Duke Power in that nothing needs to be changed with working conditions, etc. Comte would probably see that Duke Power is a stable system. Durkheim, another functionalist thinker, believes that individuals should be encouraged to work in positions to which they are best suited. Therefore, he might believe that these miners can only work in the mines and must follow and accept the rules and conditions under which they signed up for when they began work. The strikers would be considered ‘deviant’ under the functionalist perspective because they are not practicing the rules and values of their working conditions, especially when they began picketing. As a result, Comte and Durkheim would agree with Duke Power.
In regards to both the striking miners and their wives, the Functionalists would agree again that they are all ‘deviant.‘ Functionalists basically want “peace in the valley,” and the way to do this would be to have the members of the society (miners and their wives) try to be socialized and conform to the rules, practices and values of the community. Striking and gathering people together to cause (basically) turmoil against Duke Power is not the way to create “peace in the valley.” For the corporation, the Functionalists would agree that Duke Power was not doing anything wrong because they were at least trying to settle an agreement with the miners and the UMWA to have “peace and the valley” and to stop the striking which was creating problems within the community - such as death.
Again, Functionalists typically do not agree with social change; they believe that parts of society will naturally conform to any problems that arise within a community. Obviously, this was not working out for the mine workers and their wives within Harlan. In a Functionalist mind they would admit that the corporation is the strong point of the community and that the workers must abide by the rules, but because the mine workers and their wives were scheming against them for many years by striking against the corporation because the corporation was not doing anything to compromise, it was not creating peace within the system. Therefore the actions against the corporation was irrational behavior, and the only way to conform would be to agree that Duke Power was not doing anything wrong with its workers. Thus, individuals must adapt the the needs of society (Duke Power), not vice-versa.
On the other hand, there is the Conflict perspective. This perspective is the opposite of the Functionalist perspective; it encourages social change. Therefore, a Conflict thinker would take the side of the mine workers and their wives. Marx (a conflict thinker) more than likely would agree that Duke Power and the people who are for them per se (the rich and powerful) influence and persuade the workers social order upon them: the weak. Thus, Duke Power looks down upon their workers forcing them to stay within their class in society. This causes Capitalism, which Marx thought inspired a tremendous amount of inequality within a society, as we see in the documentary.
There is a lot of inequality in the documentary; the mine workers and their wives obviously want higher wages and better working conditions, but Duke Power does nothing to change this for a few years. The miners have the right to gain the chance to have higher wages, and the only way to do this would be to change the contract and allow the miners to get what they want by creating a union. Marx sees that goods produced (in this scenario, coal) as community property, but the goods that are being produced is by the working class, and this class according to Marx, is oppressed by the ruling class (Duke Power).
The Conflict thinkers would be with the position of the mine workers and their wives because these people want social change. In regards to the Duke Power corporation, Conflict thinkers would agree that the corporation is considered to be the “ruling class.” There would be no class distinction if Duke Power would agree to unionize; everyone would be equal and there would be stability and peace within Harlan. In the documentary, the miners and their wives created the conflict of picketing near the job sites in which the miners worked. They would congregate in the mornings before the miners who still went to work despite everyone else picketing (scabs) and yell at them. The wives created their own club and staged a strike against a particular man who threatened many of them with a gun, etc. They made their dissatisfaction known in the community by doing this. The women believed that if there were a lot of them at the picket line, there would be a lesser chance of getting shot, but them doing this still let the community know that they were upset with the corporation; they wanted to intimidate!
An aspect of the Conflict perspective is False consciousness: worker’s class inability to see how the capitalist class (corporation) contributed to their misery. However, in the documentary, the working class (miners) saw what the corporation was doing to them by not allowing higher wages, etc. The ‘Scabs’ however, probably did not realize what the corporation was doing to them. Another aspect is Class Consciousness: the working class would become aware of what the capitalist class was doing to them and realize it would be important to join the others in a struggle against the capitalist class. It is plausible that the miners and their wives on strike realized that there was a class difference, and that is why they wanted social change within their community; they knew they had the right to such. They knew that they wanted to feel equal and the way to do this would be to unionize, something Marx highly suggests.
In conclusion, the documentary suggests many things dealing with Functionalist and Conflict perspective areas of sociology. Both of these areas are completely opposite of one another; the Functionalist perspective suggests that the Duke Power corporation really is not doing anything wrong within the Harlan community - avoiding social change. While on the other hand, the Conflict perspective agrees with the miners and their wives; encouraging social change - there is nothing wrong with wanting something better for themselves (unionizing), and avoiding capitalist ideas and wanting equality.
I think it’s on Netflix — so if you have an account pleeeeassee watch it.
I really have a problem trusting people and letting people get too close. I really want to change that but there is this thing deep down inside of me that is saying “DON’T LET ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU BECAUSE THEY WILL EVENTUALLY LEAVE!” I just want someone to be patient with me, I don’t really know what it’s like to be loved in a different way, if that makes any sense, like with a boyfriend or whatever. Well, it’s been so long since I have been in a relationship that I don’t even know if I truly loved him or not since I was still in that dreamy high school phase of life (so roughly five years ago). I just really want to love a guy and I want a guy to love me, but all of these things are circling around in my head like, ‘it won’t last — look at all of your friends’ relationships that have failed!’ Ugh. But I want it to last. I want to do everything differently that my friends have done so that I can have a healthy, forever and ever relationship. I want someone to help me along this journey — I want to know what it’s like to love and be loved in return.
I have been wanting to update my blog the past couple weeks or so but I haven’t really had the time or courage to write something for everyone to read. The reason why I don’t have a lot of courage to write is because I do not want people to think that I want some big pity party, but recently my life has just been exhausting and annoying and I cannot seem to get rid of the shitty-ness (pardon my language), and I am having trouble dealing with all the things that are making me feel this way. I have never really been one to express my feelings clearly to people, even my closest friends especially about what is going on at home. I really do bottle things up inside which obviously isn’t good for my sanity right now. I am still not sure if I even want to really write right now.
I have been thinking that I should have started a blog a long time ago because writing soothes my soul. I love when words flow from my fingertips; it’s like everything is fine.
WARNING: This post will be very sporadic and my thoughts will all run together, but I am sure it will be easy to follow along.
Yes, this is probably going to end up being a sob story post, but I really need to get things off of my mind.
I want to start off by saying that I have really good intuition. I don’t necessarily believe in psychics, but I sometimes believe myself to be one. I can sense when bad things are about to happen, how something will be said, and the outcome of certain situations. This leads me to my next thought: I am a pessimist. I never really find the good in anything, I always believe that everything will have a shitty outcome. Most of the time I am right. The glass is always half empty in my opinion. I don’t really know where my pessimism stems from, but at the same time I do but I really don’t want to dive into that craziness.
Anyways, being the pessimist I am I knew from the moment I stepped out of the car (I really wish I could say the name) I knew something wasn’t right, that I was going to be shot down again. And I was, for the second time for the same reason. I guess it is really hard for me to fathom that it takes someone a while to get over people and stuff because I have never really been in a relationship to where it hurt me so badly… But at the same time I totally understand. But I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be in a situation like this. But because I am who I am, I will be angry and upset for a while, but I’ll get over it. This is why I don’t really get involved with people because it’s usually the guy who can’t seem to be in a relationship right now because of his past. Well it’s not the fucking past anymore sweetie, get over yourself. I have a lot to offer but I guess no one wants to see past my sarcastic tone and overbearing laugh. I hate getting involved because I already know the outcome.
I guess I just really hate everything, but I don’t really want to. I am a very happy person I just know that I can eventually get past my pessimism and turn everything around to make it the other person’s fault. Which I quite enjoy. Nothing is ever really my fault. ;)
I am finished with my rambling for now. I’ll definitely add to this post later once I clear my head from this shitty day I have had.
I want to thank my friends who have helped me today. You rock and I love you all… you’re the only people I am not pessimistic about. I am sort of like this pseudo pessimist but I am okay with it for now.
Recently I have been thinking about Virginia Woolf and the essay I wrote on her novel To The Lighthouse. Call me a geek, but I am totally in love with her and the fact that she totally was against writing materialistically like most of the writers of her time; staying clear from convention. For example, writers like Bennet, Wells, and Galsworthy according to Woolf did not write like free men; these authors wrote like someone who had to write in only one particular way to where their writing style was more so artificial than it was intriguing: ‘they are concerned not with the spirit, but with the body.’
Before, writing was very conventional because writers did not write about the chaos of society because it was not what they were used to. Woolf basically wanted to reconstruct the current form of the novel to one that expressed her own views and visions of life. In her essay ‘Modern Fiction’ she writes, “Look within and life, it seems, is very far from being ‘like this’. Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come…” - This passage suggests that there are so many more thoughts and ideas that authors could write that would stray away from conventionalist forms because our minds store vast amounts of information and ideas that would make for better reading and use. Woolf goes on to say, “If the writer were a free man, and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style.” Ultimately, there should not be a specific form of writing, we should be able to choose want we want to write about based upon our own feelings.
Since conventionalist writers did not write outside of their comfort zone in a sense, they probably and typically had only one person, a central character, and this is what Virginia Woolf wanted to avoid. She wanted to avoid anything methodological and she did it well in To The Lighthouse by not focusing on one person and letting multiple characters experience the themes of the novel through their conscious. Virginia Woolf lets us as readers dive into the inner personality and mental state of her characters. She is quite the opposite of the conventional writers of her time period where the writer is telling the story, not the characters. Woolf lets her fiction create experiences through the characters and we see this especially through Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe. These two characters let us see how the presence of the Lighthouse is a powerful force allowing them to find themselves and to find unity as well as taking order out of the chaos from the world around them; Lily through art and Mrs. Ramsay’s through her way of life. Woolf above all used her own artistic insight to write this novel by turning the idea of Light into an idea of purpose and having the Light be an illuminator for her characters allowing them to grow. A central character simply cannot exist not only because Woolf did not want to be a conventionalist writer, but she wanted each character to be shown in a different light.
With all that being said, I just want to add and apply Virginia Woolf’s thinking into my own life and beliefs (since I couldn’t really say in the essay I wrote for British Lit). I totally love that Virginia Woolf did not want to be like the conventionalist writers of her time period, especially for the reason that everyone should be able to choose what they want to write about, and not be expected to write a certain way. Today, I feel like we are somewhat forced to think and act a certain way and if we rebel against these things we are wrong. We are not all the same - We should be able to choose our own beliefs without being judged. I mean, some guy is trying to take away birth control from women in a sense, (cough cough, SANTORUM). Our religious beliefs is also a very controversial subject, but yet people think that we must believe in God or we’re all going to “hell.” Our country was not founded on religion. I feel like I am totally writing all weird right now and not fully explaining my point, but I feel like you get it. My basic idea here is that we should not conform to conventionalist ideas of our day, just like Woolf stayed clear from during her writing days. And Hipsters… you guys are conforming… you just think you’re not.