Sociological Perspectives on the 2020 Downing Street Christmas Party

There seems to be increasing evidence that around three dozen people attended a party at Downing Street in December 2020, shortly after tier three lockdown restrictions were introduced.

These lockdown rules explicitly prohibited people from having social gatherings (like Christmas Parties) and even prevented people from visiting their relatives who were in care homes or hospitals, meaning, quite literally, that in some cases the government lockdown rules meant some people never saw their close family members again.

And during that time a few ministers and downing street officials were breaking these rules, partying, and laughing about it, as well as now denying it ever happened, despite mounting evidence that this incredible double standard took place.

This Sky News Report below offers a useful summary of the issue and is also particularly damning of those involved, it’s kind of hard not to be!

Clearly this is a deviant act on the part of a small minority of powerful people within government, but how can we apply sociological perspectives to this event?

Functionalism

Errrrr…. I’m struggling with this one.

According to Functionalists, crime is supposed to promote positive functions by increasing social integration and regulation, but that simply isn’t the case here – this just turns people against the supposed leaders of our country, creating a sense of division not only between the public and themselves, but also within the Conservative Party.

This event seems to challenge the relevance of Functionalism – it seems to suggest that for Downing Street there is one rule for the plebs and another for themselves, which isn’t anything to do with integration, won’t help with maintaining social order and just doesn’t sit well at all with the whole Functionalist framework.

Marxism

A key Marxist idea is that we have selective law enforcement. This is certainly the case here.

Some people were prosecuted for holding parties during lockdown 2020, the same time as this Downing Street Party took place, presumably the Home Secretary himself knew this was taking place and yet no one was prosecuted here.

Although now this is out in the open, where the Media are concerned, they are very damning of Downing Street, so there isn’t any Agenda Setting going on atm!

Postmodernism

There is something a bit surreal about this event – it’s taking place largely in the media – how else could it be?

There is also a level of uncertainty about who attended the party, and the government is being very evasive, but maybe that’s not so much postmodern it’s just the government lying like it does so much of the time.

This is also a great example of traditional power structures being challenged by the media.

Having said this one thing that isn’t postmodern is the public reaction – surely no one can support this, people being united against the government’s own deviance. (But this ISN’T support for Functionalism it’s very different to what they envisaged.)

And this also says to people ‘stuff the rules, just do what you want, we did!’

The party at number 10 – final thoughts

This really is just tragic. One rule for them, another for us plebs.

Sociology aside, how can anyone feel anything but repulsion over these double standards?

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