"It is impossible to explain how social order is maintained without the role of ideologies." Explain and assess?   

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d-white5309 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Hobbes' social contract theory is based on the premise that people are generally motivated by self-preservation, which doesn't lend itself well to the creation or sustainability of societies or communities. Given that, Hobbes' posited that for societies to function properly, the people must agree on a basic set of rules or laws that will govern their behavior and contribute to a cohesive society.

These rules and laws allow for different groups and organizations to co-exist and for cultures to develop, all of which keep societies stable. This co-existence and productive adherence to the social contract is known as the social order.

Because social order is based on laws, rules, and a particular set of beliefs, it is impossible to separate social order from the ideologies that inform those beliefs. For example, most people would agree that stealing from your neighbor is wrong because it weakens your bond with your neighbor and can undermine a stable society. However, to say that something is "wrong" implies a moral judgement, meaning that this particular governing law has been informed by an ideology. In fact, the majority of the laws that govern societies are based on collective ideas about what is and isn't moral behavior, most of which is subjective and heavily influenced by ideologies and belief systems.

d-white5309 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interpretivists take the position that, unlike natural sciences, social sciences are rarely capable of producing empirical evidence. This is mostly due to the fact that they rely on people, society, culture, and so on, which have so many variables and don't follow universal rules.

With regard to your question, positivists would likely assert that the laws and rules that govern society are or should be free from the influence of ideologies and various shifting belief systems. To a certain extent, this point is a strong one inasmuch as we can't change our legal systems every time the law clashes with a particular belief about morality. The interpretivist, on the other hand, might argue that all laws originate from ideologies and therefore are always changing and evolving to match the ideologies of the society they govern.

For example, two hundred years ago slavery was entirely legal in the United States because the majority of the population saw nothing wrong with owning another person. It was only when enough people decided that slavery was morally reprehensible that they decided to outlaw the practice. Although this is an extreme example, a positivist would have argued that the law should be free from ideological influence, in which case slavery would have never been outlawed.

Does that make sense?

maryamhur786 | Student

Thanks thats helpful and yes it does make sense.