Essay # 1: Sociological Theory “The Lottery” is a short story by Shirley Jackson that was published in 1948 and gave a good example of the definition of the term sociological theory. This theory is a set of ideas on how people behave and how institutions operate. The analysis of this short story and the of the work of Emile Durkheim shows the relationship of the two in the field of Sociology. There are many well defined intertwining theories that Durkheim gave to society that are also included in “The Lottery”. Solidarity is the theory that will be analyzed.
One of the first theories that Durkheim used relates to “The Lottery” is typology of societies based on solidarity. He stated that the type and level of solidarity is determined by the organization of the society. The division of labor is included in the organization of societies. This definition of Durkheim’s theory is used in The Lottery. First, the lottery rules of participation reflect a rigid social hierarchy based upon an inequitable social division of labor. Also, the villagers believe unconsciously that their commitment to a work ethic will grant them some magical immunity from the selection of the black box. This work ethic prevents them from understanding that the lottery’s actual function is not to encourage work bur to reinforce an inequitable social division of labor. This town is considered a mechanical society, in that of they all had a high degree of regulation and the thoughts and actions of individuals within the society. The town has a small society, consisting of only 300 people. Between the post office and the bank is where the lottery is held, which shows simple organization. Also the leader of the town was a coal miner, not too many high organizations. The traditions of the lottery show the shared values and beliefs. The lottery and its consequences show the simple, repressive laws and harsh punishment. However, “the conscience theory”, or shared mental facts of a group, is the basis of social bonds that is also related. This is related because the fact is the town all agreed on the lottery and its outcome. It is a tradition and a set way for the people in the lottery. The attitudes might change when their name is called, but the fact is that the lottery is a shared belief that their society has. In a mechanical society the punishments are harsh and swift, like on Mrs. Hutchinson. Also, the purpose of the punishment is revenge. The punishment on Mrs. Hutchinson was the stoning of her and her family. This was revenge by the society for not working the way up in the social ladder and making your name not enter the black box. Stoning is the method of punishment used by the society in the lottery. This is a fast and effective way if punishment. Toleration is not required in mechanical societies because of the agreement among members.
The ideas of Emile Durkheim on solidarity and mechanical society show the relevance and relationship to the short story “The Lottery”. The society of the lottery is the exact fit to the definition of the mechanical theory of society. This type of society has been a part of the past and is rarely seen.