What is really happening in this situation?
In this, the social world is seen to consist of two basic levels:
The level of everyday experience
- a form of "empirical reality" whereby our
behaviour is affected in certain ways by the experience of crime.
The underlying level
- a form of "theoretical reality" whereby we can look at the
way in which empirical reality is constructed. In effect, it is at this level of analysis that
we are able to construct explanations of "everyday events".
might be useful here:
1. When we turn-on a light switch and a lamp comes-on, we experience an "empirical
reality"; in effect, we know that there is a relationship between a "switch" and "light", but
we're not too bothered about the specific way that the two are related - all that matters
to us, in our everyday life is that they are.
The "theoretical reality" that is present in this situation relates to both the mechanics
of the situation (switches have to be connected, through wires, to light bulbs) and the
physics involved (applying heat to a wire in a vacuum and so forth).
Thus, physical or empirical reality only exists because there is an underlying reality (the
one that is specified theoretically or "realistically"). We call this a "realist" methodology
a. For all intents and purposes, pressing a switch causes a light to appear.
b. However, this "causal" (or positivistic) relationship is itself dependent upon a
number of other causal relationships (the relationship between electrons, wires,
vacuums and so forth). Thus, the real cause of light appearing is not the "pressing of
a light switch - it simply appears to us that this is the cause.
2. If we
, the role of the State is illustrative here:
a. In Capitalist society, the role of the State is ultimately one of trying to maintain the
status quo. This ultimately favours the activities of a ruling class, since it is this class
that dominates economically and has the most to gain from the continuation of
"things as they are". However, since a situation of disorder, war, chaos, etc. is not
very pleasant, all social classes have some level of interest in "maintaining social
order" (it's just that a ruling class basically benefits twice over).
b. In this respect, the State has the appearance of neutrality in the class struggle,
since the basic need to maintain order in society has what Marxists (amongst others)
call a "dialectical" quality. Whilst I don't want to delve into this theoretically-murky
area too deeply, what it basically means is that in order to maintain the real interests