The Impact of Society Essay Example



Aristotle once said “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god” (1253a).  As individuals, we are each born and raised in a community. As we grow up we are taught how to form relationships, get jobs, learn, and survive in the world. No matter who we become or what we do, society will always be a part of our lives. The role of an individual is to participate and provide for society. 

Society works like a cell and each part of the cell is like an individual. For example, the mitochondrion’s entire purpose is to create energy for the cell. This energy is used to fuel other organelles. All parts are connected and all parts work together to make up the human body. Without the mitochondria the cell cannot function properly and neither can your body. In society, workers all over the world spend hours a day laboring in factories, farms, restaurants, etc. in order to create goods for other people to purchase. Without the help of others we would not be able to properly sustain ourselves. In “I Hear America Singing” Walt Whitman talks about how he hears the unique singing of different workers. He writes “Each signing what belongs to him or her and to none else… Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.” Here Whitman is saying that each worker has their own voice and is their own person, but together these voices form melodic songs. Though we are each individual people, we work in order to provide for others. No matter what job we do, we are still connected to society in some way.

The individual has a huge influence on society. Whether a person is working towards their own personal gains or for the benefit of others, they still affect their community in one way or the other. The Invisible hand is a metaphor introduced by the 18th-century Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith. It explains the mechanisms through which beneficial social and economic outcomes may emerge from the self-interested actions of individuals, none of whom intends to bring about such outcome (Health, ). In his book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith explains that, as wealthy individuals pursue their own interests, by employing others to labour for them they “are led by an invisible hand” to distribute the necessities that all would have received had there been an equal division of the earth (Health, ). This demonstrates that even though individuals are working to increase their own wealth, power, or knowledge, somewhere along the way they, their work and actions will benefit a person or a group of people. 

In the same way, society has a huge impact on the individual. Social influence affects a person's everyday actions from how they dress, to what they eat, and how they act. One example of a way that society affects the individual is mob mentality, a theory that describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on an emotional, rather than rational, basis (Jain, 1). In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a group of young women sentence hundreds of people to their death due to the influence of a single girl, Abigail Williams. They pretend that witchcraft is real which causes the whole town to go frantic with fear. When Mary Warren, one of the girls in the story, tries to defend her employers by revealing that it was all an act, she cracks under the pressure of her friends and ends up condemning John Proctor to death. Mob mentality was also the reason why the girls were able to pull off their act so well. In the courtroom, they were able to play the role perfectly by drawing from the emotions of the people around them. 

In contrast, there are some people who believe that society is overpowering individualism. In “Hooray for me! We need more individualism--not less”, the author, Brendan O'Neill, says in response to society today “ We are not all individuals, sadly. In fact, individualism, the exercise of individual autonomy and the expression of individual thought, has never been weaker than it is today. And that is a very bad thing” (1). However, this is not a bad thing. Humans are social creatures. Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler supports this claim with his theory of Individual psychology. He claimed that the main motives of human thought and behaviour are an individual man’s striving for superiority and power, partly to replace the feeling of inferiority. Every individual is unique, and his personality and his style of life. Nevertheless, the individual cannot be considered apart from society; all important problems, including problems of general human relations, occupation, and love, are social (Britannica 1). Being dependent on society is not a crime, but an instinct. One of the first things we are taught growing up is to share and support others and accept their help in return. Being an individual doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything alone. Accepting guidance from others doesn’t make you any less of an individual. 

The role of the individual and the role of a community go hand in hand. Both are needed for the other one to thrive. The role of a community is to support the individual and the role of the individual is to contribute to the community.