Medgar Evers . Southern Justice is a very powerful film. Throughout this course we have studied many theorists and I believe that some of their theories on society and social relations are applicable. Karl Marxs dialectical materialism, Emile Durkheims mechanical and organic societies, and WEB Dubois race relations theory all can be related. Social theories can be helpful, though, in the quest for justice, for the simple reason that if something is understood answering the question, why, it can then be fixed.
Mraxs dialectical materialism is a theory that gives a rough outline of history, giving general stages to which it may fit. Growth, change, and development take place through a naturally occurring struggle of opposites, a process that individuals cannot influence. He uses this philosophy to explain that only matter exists, so that the existence of the mind, social institutions, etc., must be explained in material terms. That change occurs when opposing forces, thesis and antithesis, lead to the production of higher forces, synthesis, according to dialectical laws. This can specifically relate to the film and also life in the United states at the time.
The thesis, or prevailing status quo, is the black hatred groups in Mississippi. The thesis, oppositon to the status quo, is those who spoke out against the injustices to blacks, Medgar Evers. And the antithesis, new social order becomes new thesis, was in 1994 when the Byron Beckwith was retried and found guilty of the murder of Medgar Evers. Durkheims types of societies, mechanical and organic are characteristic of two completely opposite forces. Mechanical is based upon caring and unconditional liking, it is considered mechanical because in the physical sense each part is touching the other, people interact. Organic is described as modern, having rapid change and being less direct with each individual part; its based on complexity in a highly differentiated society, having multiple roles with multiple purposes.
Now to attribute this the the film I can bring this to a metaphorical level. The mechanical society can be considered the slaves before they were set free. But then a half a century later this society based on caring is still there, but at the same time, this new organic society is sprouting up quickly. These blacks in the south during the 1960s are being overthrown by this rising white society of technology, the organic. So what Durkheim would say about this film is that its a society with in a society and the smaller is being bumrushed like a bullfighter by a bull in Spain. DuBouis studied racialism in the United States and was became very well known for his research.
He noted that most blacks, after slavery, were peasants and had a theory of race relations. This theory, which was of much controversy at the time, said that segregation might serve blacks well, not specifically legal but self-imposed. He felt that blacks should group together. In the film they did, Medgar Evers had joined the NAACP, and organized demonstrations to combat the racism in the South. This documentary gave insight to the time period of the late 1950s until the mid 1990s, showing a semi-evolution of how far the racialism, the degree to which people are conscious of distinctive characteristics of people on the basis of race, in this country has come and what struggles it overcame to get into this not-even-close-to-utopia that Martin Luther King Jr.
spoke of in his famous I have a dream. speech. Each of these theorists ideas can be helpful in understanding this film and the ever changing world. Sociology.