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Once a person's bonds to society are weakened, what social processes can help to reattach them?   

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There are many ways in which both social isolation and social reconnection can happen. Of course, many people are completely content being "isolated" from society and prefer a more solo existence. For those who have been isolated from society in ways that have been harmful, such as through being incarcerated,...

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There are many ways in which both social isolation and social reconnection can happen. Of course, many people are completely content being "isolated" from society and prefer a more solo existence. For those who have been isolated from society in ways that have been harmful, such as through being incarcerated, there are several channels through which people can reconnect to society. In the example of incarceration, there is a wide spectrum of thoughts, ideologies, and biases that play into how people think of prisoners reconnecting with society. On the authoritarian end of the spectrum, people often conceive of prisoners are inherently bad people who are lacking in desirable characteristics and who must be carefully and often coercively reconnected into society though probation programs and other systems that, it could be argued, are oppressive. This authoritarian ideology often promotes frequent and immediate re-imprisonment of individuals following any breaches of the state-created rules placed upon prisoners after their release. Prisoners are expected to prove their worth as human beings in order to be accepted back into society, and the caveat is often that this acceptance can be taken away at any time.

In the middle of this spectrum are people who tend to think of prisoners in a paternalistic way, as people to be saved, educated, or reformed. People who take this view often may include liberal church groups and individuals who interact with prisoners both during and after imprisonment. These groups often see prisoners not as inherently bad but as having flaws that must be corrected through some kind of religious or moralistic intervention. These liberal organizations can offer some beneficial programs, such as offering help to former prisoners in securing housing and work, but they are not normally prison abolitionists and tend to treat former prisoners in an infantilizing manner. These groups do, however, understand that community connections are important for many people and often seek to aid in the reconnecting of formerly incarcerated people to communities without the use of probation or parole.

At the other end of this spectrum are prison abolitionists, who desire the end of prisons and incarceration. Prison abolitionists tend to see most prisoners as no different from themselves and understand the ways in which the state/policing systems target people who are often simply trying to survive racialized capitalism. Prison abolitionists often understand the existence of laws as a means of control and see the state as using laws to break apart families and keep people isolated via incarceration. For instance, the immigration system creates laws that determine who is considered "legal" and then separates families and incarcerates individuals or entire families based upon this classification. Prison abolitionists tend to not look at prisoners in a paternalistic manner, but through a lens of wanting to offer material solidarity to people facing the worst aspects of state oppression. These groups tend to write letters to prisoners while they're incarcerated to let them know they are not forgotten, organize with family and friends of incarcerated people to advocate for the imprisoned person, and work to prevent people from being incarcerated in the first place through prison abolition organizing. These groups also offer material support to people once they are out of prison because they understand that having non-paternalistic support, understanding, and solidarity reduces the chances of someone going back to prison. Post-release prison abolitionist groups offer a community for that person to connect or reconnect with.

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This is a very interesting question. The answer to your question very much depends on the reason why an individual’s bond to society has been weakened in the first place, as ideally this is where the process of reattaching should begin. I’ll give you two examples of how this reattachment could be achieved.

If a person has lost their faith in society because they have experienced bullying, or because they have been subjected to other forms of social exclusion, any attempts to help them regain their faith into society should focus on this aspect. For example, in this instance, helping this person to feel accepted and valued by society again could be achieved by encouraging the person to join a group or community, where people share a joint interest, such as a hobby. Through positive experiences with other members of society, this person’s trust into society could, at least in parts, be restored.

Another reason why a person may have lost faith into society could be because of lack of help and a feeling of being neglected by society. This would apply, for example, to a homeless person, who has not got the financial means to rent a flat and who feels neglected by society, as they are not receiving sufficient help in order to improve their situation. Here, charity work could be an efficient way to help reattaching the individual to society. For example, by providing soup kitchens or homeless shelters, a town can show its desire to help homeless people. Volunteers, such as street workers, can further help strengthening the belief into society amongst homeless people, who have become detached from society. For example, through communication with these volunteers, a homeless person might come to understand that homeless people do matter to society after all and that there are people out there, who are trying to help them.

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The Social Bond theory developed by Travis Hirschi (1969) stated that people who have stronger bonds to society are less prone to show deviant behavior (see the source below). The processes that bind people to the society and that can help them reattach themselves to society include attachments to societal institutions such as schools, religious and civic groups, and families. Therefore, a person who wanted to reattach herself or himself to society could form closer connections with his or her family. This person could also be part of civic and other groups. In addition, one's ties to society are strengthened through a commitment to abiding by the norms of the society. For example, a person who wanted to reattach him or herself to society would not follow deviant or illegal behavior such as using illicit drugs. One must also regard being attached to society as positive. These beliefs help a person reattach him or herself to society.

Source:

Hirschi, Travis. 1969. Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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One of the processes that can be used to reattach a person’s bond to society is building meaningful relationships. Relationships give the individual a sense of belonging. The important relationships that are critical for reattachment are those with family—especially parents and friends. Once the person is able to build relationships with the people they are already familiar with, they can slowly expand the circle to include other people in the community.

Another process of reattaching the individual is building on experiences. The person can go back to school or get a job. When the person becomes an active member of the community, they feel they are a part of society. Experiences such as working to earn and save money for the future can increase the person's sense of worth. These experiences help rebuild attachment because they represent acceptance, which the individual is looking for.

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Although this is not easy to accomplish, reattaching people to society can be possible through positive life experiences and relationships.  When a person’s bonds with society are weakened, these experiences and relationships can make them feel as if it is possible for society to actually for them.  Three examples of such experiences or relationships are finding employment, marriage, or joining the military.  When a person joins the military or gets a job, they can come to feel that it is possible for society to work for them.  They get the satisfaction of having success in a situation that society approves of.  Marriage helps tie people to society by making them feel personally worthwhile.  In all of these cases, people can come to feel more attached to society.

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