A Sociological Analysis of the Roles of Institutions in Slavery to Make It Function

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1328 Words
Date:  2022-10-23

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground." 1 (Douglass n.d.)

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To a great awakening one man did come, and to an order, he did reveal. In taking a sociological view into the cogs of the institution of slavery, we can show the system to which the mechanisms must function. At a broader macro social look, structural functionalism is composed of various parts, each with a role, that when fulfilled, contributes to society's equilibrium. In taking a more in-depth look we can attribute to which system we owe, the fundamentals from which these stems, capitalism. As with total institutions, safeguards must be put in place. Slavery was one such institution, many safeguards were taken, but none as high as to the absolute contravention of education. Knowledge is power, and that for which slavery to function, it can't afford. To enlighten is as to blow up the earth, and to sow, is the seed of knowledge, from there men must grow.

To one Fredrick Douglass, in his book My Bondage My Freedom, we see to what great lengths the institution of slavery goes. First, we must take a look at what an institution is. Sociological institutions are "stable patterns of behavior that define, govern, and constrain action. Another definition is that an institution is an organization or other formal social structure that governs a field of action." (Rojas 2013)


The institution of slavery is identified to destroy the humanity of the individuals involved. The foundation of this argument is on how masters were treating their slaves through the unthinkable deeds. Such deeds include masters or in other terms slaveholders committing adultery and rape with their female slaves. The overall purpose of the slaveholders doing these acts was to produce more slaves to serve them. They were very ready to be fathers of the children from the deeds and would avoid taking responsibility of being husbands. Moreover, the deeds are also identified to have the effect of destroying the concept of family and fatherhood. This being the case, it is a fact that genealogical trees are no possible for individuals who are slaves.

The life of a slave is full of uncertainty. The implication of this is that slaves are always in the difficulty and cannot tell what their future is. There is no damage by putting it that slaves have no future. Their future is in the hands of the masters. The first experience of slavery gives an individual an opposing view on the institution of slavery. Slavery has a long history it is arguably right to conclude that slavery ruins lives of people. The worst thing about slavery is on the concept that effects of slavery are not only evident in the physical and outwards means but also affects the financial statuses as well as feelings of the people. Slaves are treated in a way that they have no control over matters that affect them. The institution of slavery denies individuals freedom. Freedom is conceived differently and it is highly dependent on the source of thinking. According to Franklin, he was taken to the plantation when he was at the age of 7 years. He experienced the death of his mother and the whipping of his aunt. Slaves were separated from their families and one family was not allowed to work in the same plantation because master thought that slaves will take more of their times dealing with their families instead of working. They were not allowed to be educated. Those who were seen reading they would be whipped. But the wife of the master used to teach Fredrick how to write and read. But the master never liked the idea because they thought that if the slaves were educated they may end up having more power than the masters. Many women and girls were whipped and raped. They had no freedom nor rights of their own. Their master could decide for them. Reselling of slaves from one plantation to another was rampant. People of the same families were sold out to separate them.

In the American yawp, there was an increase in plantation such as cotton and tobacco. They needed people who could provide labor in the plantation. Northern America slaves were adopted but they were very vulnerable and they were not up to the task of being slaves. These slaves died more frequently due to diseases, starvation or murder. The number of slaves was decreasing and the labor force was also decreasing. They had to adopt Africa slaves. This lead to Atlantic trade which took place in Africa and European slaves traders who used to ship them in European colonies. African slaves were sold out by their kings mostly criminals, the young were kidnapped by their neighbors who sold them out to slavery and others sold themselves and their families so that they can maintain themselves. Most parts of Africa suffered from drought so in time of famine people preferred to be slaves than to die of hunger. After shipment to European countries, they were auctioned depending on the health status of the person. The masters would take them to the plantation where they were treated as slaves. People of the same family were not allowed to work in the same plantation. They were resold to other plantation. Families were broken because masters believed that a single man is more profitable than a married man. Men could witness the raping and whipping off their wives and children. They lived in houses in the plantation. They lived about ten people in the same house which mostly was leaking. Due to poor conditions of the houses, many slaves were sick and many of them died. They experienced hardship because they were just allowed to work only in plantation farm and do physical related jobs. They were working in cotton and tobacco plantation throughout the day. Masters took care of the sick slaves because they know they were the source of labor. If one source of labor died they could lose production that why they maintained their slaves. Slaves were not taken in the same hospitals with the whites or masters families. Maters believed they were superior and unique so they were treated in more specialized hospitals compared to slaves. During their day off slaves could socialize with each other to reduce the burden of slavery. Their only hope was the religion. They were allowed to go to churches as they used this opportunity to console themselves and also criticize slavery. They would sing songs that were used to ridicule their masters.


In conclusion, due to the increase in a plantation in European colonies more labor was a need. Slaves were the source of labor as they were cheap and convenient. They had to source slaves from Africa as they believed they were disease resistant and also more productive. Their masters brutally treated slaves. Women and girls were raped and whipped in front of their fathers and their families. They lived in houses that were in adverse conditions which lead to diseases and also deaths. People of the same family were sold out in other plantations and this led to the separation of families. Slaves were faced with hardship as they were supposed to work the whole day in these plantations. Due to slavery, its lead to improvement of the united states economy.


Douglass, Frederick, and Ira Dworkin. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave." (1854).

Douglass, Frederick, and Harriet A. Jacobs. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. Random House Digital, Inc., 2000.

Douglass, Frederick, and Rayford Whittingham Logan. The life and times of Frederick Douglass. Courier Corporation, 2003.

Locke, Joseph, and Ben Wright. "The American Yawp." (2015).

Turton, Andrew. "Thai institutions of slavery." Asian and African systems of slavery (1980): 251-292.

Schneider, Dorothy, and Carl J. Schneider. Slavery in America: From Colonial Times to the Civil War: an Eyewitness History. Facts on File, 2001.

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A Sociological Analysis of the Roles of Institutions in Slavery to Make It Function. (2022, Oct 23). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/a-sociological-analysis-of-the-roles-of-institutions-in-slavery-to-make-it-function

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