The motivation for this paper is to determine overall satisfaction with life in society today. There are two different types of sociological theories that are to be considered through this research. The first is the structural-functional theory which explains how parts of a society fit together to make a whole, and how it contributes to society. The second sociological model is conflict theory, which is a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups competing for scarce resources.
The method used to conduct this research was the survey method. The questions were asked by the interviewer directly and the answers to the questions are close-ended. The total number of compiled class subjects interviewed is 96, each was asked from the same questionnaire. The questionnaire is indicated as Appendix 1. The questionnaire consisted of 3 categories – work, family and issues. The questions under the work category asked the subject if they felt appreciated at their job, if they felt they were paid what they are worth, and it asked if they derived any rewards from their job other than their salary/money. Under the family category the questions asked if there was an O.K. balance in their life today between career/job requirements and personal and family obligations, if the rewards of marriage/family life today equal the obligations, and if having children (now or in the future) was an important part of their family life. The last category was about issues and its questions asked if they felt the U.S. medical system does an adequate job of providing care, if the U.S. educational system does a fair and equal job of educating everyone, if minimum wage was fair for employers and employees today, and lastly if medical care should remain part of our free enterprise system or be changed to a government supported care for all.
Results are shown in Table 1. In the work category a little over a third of the people felt they were paid what they are worth. But, about half of the subjects agreed they felt their work was appreciated. Fifty-seven percent also believed they derived rewards from their job other than their salary. In the family category, 60% of the people interviewed felt there was a good balance in their life between their career/job requirements and their personal and family obligations. When asked if they viewed the rewards of marriage/family life today equal to its obligations Two-thirds of them agreed it was. Also, when asked if having children now or in the future was an important part of family life to them, two-thirds responded again. For the last category, Issues, when the subjects were asked if they thought the U.S. medical system does an adequate job of providing care, only 28% agreed. When asked if the education system does a fair job of educating everyone equally, 30% agreed. Twenty-nine percent of subjects felt the minimum wage today is fair for both the employees and the employers. Lastly, when asked if they thought the medical care should remain part of our free enterprise system, only 34% of the subjects responded with “yes”.
With the work category I even though 36% of the people interviewed were satisfied with their salary that an average of 54% of them were satisfied with their appreciation and the rewards they derive from work. The questions about the family issues had almost the same percentile satisfactory rate, it averaged around 64%. This category tells us while most of the sample interviewed is happy with their family life, thirty-six percent of them are not satisfied. The satisfaction response to the issues of today was a little less than a third. It seems most of the people did not agree and were not happy with the way our government is governed. The category that has the lowest group satisfactory percentage, 30%, is Issues. Work is in the middle with almost half (48%) of the subjects being satisfied. People seemed to be overall generally happy with their family life, especially in regards to the rewards of marriage and the importance of having children.
Most of my sample does correspond with the class results. I do not think my sample and those of the class mirror all of Bloomington, Indiana, and definitely not of the United States. I think the reliability – the extent to which research produces consistent results – of my small sample is not consistent with the results of the larger sample. Validity is the extent to which an operational definition measures what it was intended to measure. These results can’t be an accurate picture of everyone in the United States because we are only in the Midwestern region, and obviously each race, social class, age, and religion is not properly represented. Even though our class numbers may not be extremely valid, however they can still give a general idea of what the rest of the people might be thinking and feeling.
My conclusion from my survey results is that the results varied in each category. I do not feel one model can describe these research results accurately. I do feel however, that if one model must be chosen I would have to choose the social conflict model. The conflict theory seems to be appropriate considering how the work and issues category scored very low in satisfaction. I think that would be because in work we are usually dominated by a superior who dictates and criticizes how we do our job. We are not the main priority, but the business is. As for the issues, the government is in total control of every aspect of those questions. We the people do have a say in how we feel, but our wants are not always considered. Because we do not have a direct say-so in these two categories I assume that is why there is less than half a satisfaction rate. The only category I noticed people’s expectations not meeting their actual lives was in the Issues. People are generally satisfied with their intimate and close relationships, although almost Two-thirds are unhappy with salary and almost One-half with work issues. But, only 30% of the subjects were content with the way the government was managing our education, health systems, and our income. Based on the overall 46% satisfaction rate, I would say an average of half the subjects are generally personally satisfied with their lives as a citizen in the United States.
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