In societies all over the world the board game Monopoly is played by children and adults. The Parker Brother’s game has been sold in 37 different languages; over 200 million copies have been sold, is claimed to be the most popular game, and has also been sold in 103 countries. In America millions have played and is a normal and acceptable “American Past Time. ” From a functionalist perspective the board game teaches and expresses many of the American values such as; equal opportunity, personal achievement and success, obtaining material comfort, progress, and the idea of democracy and free enterprise.
The functionalist perspective represents society as system containing various parts that all work together to achieve social solidarity. In a post-industrial society, how does the game of Monopoly socialize people to the American Values? Society sure does function together and is well structured for the benefit of citizens, government, and entrepreneurs. The board game Monopoly has many rules and norms. There have even been Monopoly Etiquette Guides written for the serious players as well as tournament players. The recommended age for play is eight years of age and older and a minimum of two players.
In America most of those with siblings of children understand how wrong a game of Monopoly can turn into a big fight. The rules of the game are pretty easy to follow. The object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property. Each player is given $1500 to begin the game. A player must be elected to be the banker and sell property, houses, hotels, and pay the $200 salary that is collected each time a player passes go. The banker is also responsible for collecting fines and taxes owed.
The spaces on the board are all labeled and include; GO, Jail, Chance, Community Chest, Taxes, Free Parking, and pay rent when landing on an opponent’s improved property. Each player is represented by a token which is a symbol of the game. These include; a wheel barrow, a car, an iron, a thimble, a cowboy on a horse, a dog , a pot of gold, a top hat, a ship, a boot, or a cannon. Each player is subject to going bankrupt, therefore increasing the other player’s chance of finding wealth. American society is very similar to the game of Monopoly. Players are socialized to these ideas which represent the values of America.
Equal opportunity is taught by everyone beginning with the same amount of money, $1500, as well as $200 salary collected with each rotation around the board. Personal achievement and success is demonstrated on becoming the wealthiest player and to own the most property. Striving and working for material comfort is taught through collecting a salary and improving your owned properties, as well as collecting rent. Progress is a value in America that is evaluated by members of society on a daily basis. Progress in the game Monopoly is measured by wealth and property owned and creating a monopoly on resources, buildings, and property.
The last important American value taught to players is democracy and free enterprise. The consensus of Monopoly is that it is a fun game to play. The manifest function of Monopoly is to entertain a group of players whether they are children, adolescents, or adults. The latent function is teaching players to think solely of themselves and not their neighbor who they should help. Greed is taught due to the emphasis of becoming the wealthiest player. The most witnessed latent function of Monopoly being causing dishonesty, anger, and even fighting between competitors.
Although there are some negatives against the game the most important role is promoting social solidarity by encouraging a better community effort. Progress takes everyone’s help not just a few. Two options were given for a research assignment at the beginning of the course. Option one was to choose a category from; film, sports, or advertising. The second option was to read a book outside of class that focuses on Wal-Mart, minimum wage jobs for women, or how fast food has created a “now” demand for all of America’s services. The option selected for a personal interest was sports. More specifically how gender plays a role in the racing world.
How are women and men treated differently? A major focus will be on drag racing and how times have changed as far as who can and cannot race as demonstrated by NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Drag Racing. In conclusion Monopoly helps teach and spread the ideas of American culture. Players are to become the wealthiest and may have a higher social status as they can win Monopoly. A study in 2005 found that American’s value self expression more than survival. (Macionis pg. 49) This is even taught through Monopoly by being able to select how you build your property and by picking your game piece to represent yourself.
A comparative study found that in 1969 the goal of first year college students was to “Develop a meaningful philosophy of life” in contrast to 2005 first year college students are wanting “to be very well off financially”. (Macionis pg. 56) Today in America having wealth is sought by all citizens but few find extreme wealth. According to the values of American’s material comfort should be worked for and can be more important than survival. With the ideas of democracy and free enterprise being key concepts of the game it is not surprising to find that globally approximately 46% of the worlds countries are “politically free”.
(Macionis pg. 44) Although the game has been published in 37 different languages, English is a very common first language as well as a common second language across the globe. (Macionius pg. 47) Following the same thought nearly all of the United States speaks English or Spanish in the home. (Macionius pg. 56)This allows for the further acknowledgement of the American Values to many societies. Overall the game of Monopoly socializes people of many cultures to the American values. All of the American values encourage a person to think personally rather than globally.