Discussion Question 1 Post your response to the following
Discussion Question 1 Post your response...
Discussion Question 1
Post your response to the following: Read the article from The New York Times on p. 33 in the text. According to this article, the American military does not represent an accurate cross section of Americans. How would a sociologist view the reasons for the uneven representation in the military? What would a sociologist say about how society shaped Americans’ decisions to join the military? Support your answer by drawing from the sociological perspective.
Please see article below:
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER and STEVEN A. HOLMES
They left small towns and inner cities, looking for a way out and up, or fled the anonymity of the suburbs, hoping to find themselves. They joined the all-volunteer military, gaining a free education or a marketable skill or just the discipline they knew they would need to get through life. As the United States engages in its first major land war in a decade, the soldiers, sailors, pilots and others who are risking, and now giving, their lives in Iraq represent a slice of a broad swath of American society but by no means all of it. Of the 28 servicemen killed who have been identified so far, 20 were white, 5 black, and 3 Hispanic—proportions that neatly mirror those of the military as a whole. But just one was from a well-to-do family, and with the exception of a Naval Academy alumnus, just one had graduated from an elite college.* A survey of the American military’s . . . demographics paints a picture of a fighting force that is anything but a cross section of America. With minorities overrepresented and the wealthy and the underclass essentially absent, with political conservatism ascendant in the officer corps and Northeasterners fading from the ranks, America’s 1.4 million-strong military seems to resemble the makeup of a two-year commuter or trade school outside Birmingham or Biloxi far more than that of a ghetto or barrio or four year university in Boston.
Today’s servicemen and women may not be Ivy Leaguers, but in fact they are better educated than the population at large: Reading scores are a full grade higher for enlisted personnel than for their civilian counterparts of the same age. While whites account for three of five soldiers, the military has become a powerful magnet for blacks, and black women in particular, who now outnumber white women in the Army. . . . Sgt. Annette Acevedo, 22, a radio operator from Atlanta, could have gone to college but chose the Army because of all the benefits it offered: travel, health coverage, work experience and independence from her parents. The Army seemed a better opportunity to get started with her life and be a more independent person, she said. . . . Though Hispanics are underrepresented in the military, their numbers are growing rapidly. Even as the total number of military personnel dropped 23 percent over the last decade, the number of Hispanics in uniform grew to 118,000 from 90,600, a jump of about 30 percent. While blacks tend to be more heavily represented in administrative and support functions, a new study shows that Hispanics, like whites, are much more likely to serve in combat operations. But those Hispanics in combat jobs tend to be infantry grunts, particularly in the Marine Corps, rather than fighter or bomber pilots. . . . Confronted by images of the hardships
of overseas deployment and by the stark reality of casualties in Iraq, some have raised questions about the composition of the fighting force and about requiring what is, in essence, a working class military to fight and die for an affluent America.
“It’s just not fair that the people that we ask to fight our wars are people who join the military because of economic conditions, because they have fewer options,” said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat from Manhattan and a Korean War veteran who is calling for restoring the draft. Some scholars have noted that since the draft was abolished in 1973, the country has begun developing what could be called a warrior class or caste, often perpetuating itself from father or uncle to son or niece, whose political and cultural attitudes do not reflect the diversity found in civilian society, potentially foreshadowing a social schism between those who fight and those who ask them to. It is an issue that today’s soldiers grapple with increasingly as they watch
their comrades, even their spouses, deploy to the combat zone. “As it stands right now, the country is riding on the soldiers who volunteer,” said Sgt. Barry Perkins, 39, a career military policeman at Fort Benning, Ga. “Everybody else is taking a free ride.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
1. What are some of the reasons people may give for joining the military? How are these reasons different from the reasons sociologists would give for why people join the military?
2. In the article, Charles Rangel states that it is not fair to have people fighting our wars who joined the military because they had fewer options than other people. Do you agree with his position? Why or why not?
Adapted from the original article by David M. Halbfinger and Steven A. Holmes published in The New York Times on March 30, 2003. Copyright © 2003 by The New York Times Company. Reprinted with permission.
March 30, 2003
Military Mirrors Working-Class America
*[As of September 4, 2004, of the 979 service men and women killed who have been identified, 678 were white (69.3 percent), 125 were black (12.8 percent), and 122 Hispanic (12.4 percent)— proportions that mirror those of the country as a whole. But just a handful were from elite families or graduated from elite colleges (cnn.com).] ISBN: 0-536-12116-8
Society: The Basics, Eighth Edition by John J. Macionis. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.