The recent and devastating Mexico earthquake presents the opportunity to perceive how even natural disasters, seemingly unrelated to sociological matters, emphasize social constructs in place. The earthquake, like other such disasters in any environment, brings into focus how the people interact in social ways because an emergency situation amplifies normal belief systems and behaviors, and the general states of the environments and communities in pragmatic terms. In a very real sense, the earthquake victims are reduced to their essences as human beings since survival needs are paramount. Media reports, for example, stress the volunteerism throughout the country, as residents of Mexico City, suffering somewhat less hardship than those in rural areas, have traveled to offer aid. As will be briefly discussed shortly, this supports a functionalist theory. However, the sociological perspective as to why this disaster occurred is complex and somewhat removed from sociology itself. More exactly, an earthquake is a natural disaster in every sense of the term, but its immediate and long-term effects reflect realities pertaining to the sociological perspective. The homes of the poor, for instance, are greatly vulnerable to earthquakes (Chavez), just as Mexican rural infrastructure in these regions is not equipped to compensate for the losses.
While the entire nation has been affected, there has been as well an interesting social development reflective of the Puerto Rico crisis as well. Those intent on helping seem more aware of the greater harm to the rural regions. For example, news reports emphasize the importance of the volunteers in Jojutla, who have arrived from other cities and are doing their best to provide supplies and relief. Nonetheless, many Mexicans in the town believe that the government, as well as international aid, is responding inadequately (Castillo). This then adds the component of anomie, as the people are dissatisfied with lack of necessary governmental response, domestic and otherwise (Dillon 103). Then, and in terms of sociological context, one reality dominates. While the capital of Mexico City and other urban cities attract tourists and are relatively stable financially, the nation as a whole suffers from poverty, which also translates to poor infrastructure unable to withstand so powerful an earthquake.
It seems that two sociological theories illustrate the Mexican crisis, and in a way both opposing and supporting one another. On one level, the notable efforts of volunteers, domestic and international, reinforces functionalism. The sheer intensity of need has encouraged cooperation and mutual concerns for others facing extreme liabilities, from lack of food and water to homes literally destroyed. At the same time, any natural disaster on this scale has the inevitable effect of greatly damaging all social structures. People are uprooted from their homes, and all the social elements that normally regulate their lives are no longer in place (Dillon 103).
On another level, however, conflict theory applies because many Mexicans believe that their government is failing them, and that external aide has been insufficiently provided. Essentially, a disaster of this magnitude inevitable highlights existing flaws within the sociological order, as it also accentuates whatever altruism exist in the society.
If the poorest regions of Mexico have endured the greatest harm, there is no escaping the reality that the harm was increased because of economic and social elements weakening any ability to stand up against so powerful a disaster. The tragedy of the Mexico earthquake is immense and, again, natural disasters are usually seen as removed from sociological concerns. At the same time, however, this specific disaster underscores how sociological realities are very much relevant to how response is generated, how conflict and functionalist theories apply, and how extremes of hardship generate behaviors and thinking reflecting facets of both theories.
- Castillo, Andrea. “In Jojutla, near epicenter of Mexico quake, scenes of heartbreak, loss and
survival.” Los Angeles Times, 23 Sept. 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.
- Chavez, Nicole. “Small town of Jojutla shows another face of Mexico’s deadly earthquake.”
CNN, 22 Sept. 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.
- Dillon, Michelle. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and Their
Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.