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Sociology-Application of Rational Actor Theory

Sociology-Application of Rational Actor Theory and Structured Socialization theory
Part 1: Are the urban poor their own worst enemies? Answer this question from the
perspective of both Rational Actor Theory and Structured Socialization Theory.
The urban poor are not their own worst enemies. The challenge that exists in their scenario can
be explained through two sociological theories, namely the structured socialization theory and
rational actor theory. The case in point for the purpose of this discussion is the community of
Baltimore. Over the past one week there have been a lot of protests by the residents of this area
because of what they term as Police Brutality that lead to the death of Freddy Gray, one of
several unarmed people of color who have lost their lives at the hands of the police. National
media houses captured the protests which largely featured hundreds of young people who were
visibly angry about the incident and more about the manner in which the police have been
treating young black men. While most of the protest was peaceful, there were incidences where
violence and looting erupted. Their specific request this time was for the officers involved to be
arrested and charged with first degree murder. There is clearly apathy that exists between the
members of this community and the local police department. The war on drugs for instance
advocates for the incarceration of suspects for the most minor of offences (CNN, 2015).
From the Rational Actor Theory perspective it can be argued that both the actions of the
community members and the police are justified if analyzed subjectively. For the community
members, the mistrust of police officers is brought about by what appears to be unfair targeting
of the members of the community who are only trying to survive. Part of their effort to survive is
the activities they engage in and for lack of opportunities or knowledge, several will engage in
illegal activities, making the rest of the community appear suspicious. This makes them more

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prone to arrests and stops by the police and the probability of them being treated as suspects
though innocent increases. In an effort to prevent further unfair targeting and police brutality,
they have been forced to be rebellious to authority so that their plea can attract attention.
Based on the Structured Socialization Theory, the members of this community can once again be
justified to act the way they do. Growing up in a community where majority of the people see
officers of the law in negative light trains the children to grow up into adults who are completely
apathetic towards the officers. Police officers on the other hand are trained to treat this kind of
behavior as a strong indication that one may be a criminal. This leads to a great amount of
tension between the two groups hence many cases of police brutality and a vicious cycle for the
apathy (Sluss, 120).
Part 2
Strength of Rational Actor Theory
The main strength of the rational actor theory is the fact that it compels the observer to analyze a
given issue of interest from the perspective of the subject (Morgenthau, 53). What this does is
that it creates empathy on the part of an observer and this is particularly important in the
resolution of a challenge easily assumed due to prejudices against the actors involved.
Another strength of the rational actor theory is the fact that it widens the scope of analysis to
more than just the action that has been committed or the individual involved.
Weaknesses of Rational Actor Theory
The main weakness of this point of view is that it takes a one-sided approach and this may lead
to flawed judgment by only taking into consideration the actor’s moral values.

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Another weakness is the increased likelihood of an error in judgment on the side of the observer
leading to inaccurate conclusion.
Strengths of Structured Socialization Theory
This theory increases the chances of an accurate conclusion of how an actor thinks by focusing
on the environment where he or she has picked up and learnt his or her values.
The second mains strength of structured socialization theory is the fact that it places focus on
how an entire community impacts an individual. This obliges the researcher to look at the issue
from the impact on how it impacts the whole society.
Weakness of Structured Socialization Theory
A key weakness of this theory is the increased likelihood of the researcher being biased or
prejudiced in the perspectives he or she takes when gathering data to guide the research. This is
particularly true in incidences where the key dynamics are political or of a racial nature. Such
emotive issues lead to many articles and reports that are highly partisan and it is very easy for the
researcher to fall into such a trap during the literature review phase of his or her study of a
sociological issue. In such a situation the researcher involved unintentionally propagates

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Works Cited

CNN video. Baltimore Protesters Swarm CNN Reporters.

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