Sociological Theory and Reactions to 9/11

Essay by apichartUniversity, Master'sA+, February 2006

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The terrorist attack on the United States that took place on September 11, 2001 spurred immediate and prolonged reactions on the part of the American public and government leaders. In this brief essay, two of these reactions will be analyzed in the context of specific theories focused on social integration, cohesion, and stability. It will be argued that this traumatic event resulted in a remarkable degree of ideological integration and cohesion at both governmental and public levels, fostering a unified response to the attack that took the form of demonstrations of solidarity among the American public and agreement among leaders of both political parties as to what the United States must do to prevent future terrorist attacks.

The American public rallied around the victims of September 11, 2001 and their families, exhibiting what Perrucci and Knudsen (120) identified as a high level of group cohesion in which the display of American flags, contributions to the rescue effort and victim relief assistance as well as an upsurge in patriotism were evident.

Ordinary men and women across the country displayed American flags in their homes and businesses, contributed blood and money to the Red Cross and other similar organizations, and organized prayer meetings and patriot rallies. These actions are seen by sociologists as examples of social uniformities that emerge as designated imperatives in the wake of a triggering event (Hinkle, 141).

The greater integration of and relative stability in public opinion following this tragedy meshes with the notion of adaptation to the conditions of existence with a sense of the welfare of the whole (Hinkle, 141). Social structures were at least temporarily modified to reduce some of the traditional interest group tensions in the United States with the sole exception being a growing wave of antagonism toward individuals and groups appearing superficially...