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Story of Jonestown

by: Amneris Santiago

Story of Jonestown 101

Marketplace > Old Dominion University > Sociology > 101 > Story of Jonestown
Amneris Santiago
GPA 3.2

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About this Document

This is an essay that I wrote about the story of Jonestown. It's mostly to give you guys a background idea if this is something that anyone will need to read or watch in the future. The story is tr...
Introductory Sociology
Mrs. Whitaker
STORY, Jonestown, Peoples, temple, sociology, intro, Introduction, Paper, Essay, Idea, Watch
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This 3 page Bundle was uploaded by Amneris Santiago on Saturday March 5, 2016. The Bundle belongs to 101 at Old Dominion University taught by Mrs. Whitaker in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Introductory Sociology in Sociology at Old Dominion University.


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Date Created: 03/05/16
Amneris Santiago Sociology 201 Introduction to Sociology Dr. Ingrid Phillips Whitaker February 25, 2016 Jonestown The people of Jonestown went through so many unimaginable traumatic events. The people from People’s Temple dealt with so much behind the scenes that no one could have even pictured that what they thought they loved so much, turned into their demise. Jim Jones, who was the reverend of People’s Temple, was a dictator; everything had to be the way that he wanted, when he wanted it, and how he wanted it. Jonestown fits the perfect description of what it means to be a total institution due to the fact that Jones isolated his people, forced an enclosed social system, and controlled the lives of his people, again, dictating when it was acceptable to sleep, work, and basically breathe. Jones had strict rules; no sex for one, he said that it was selfish(for whatever reason that was.) Jones also had the rule of not talking to one another, he didn’t want people to voice their concerns, or disagreements to anything he said. If anyone was to go against Jim Jones, whether it be beliefs or merely just not wanting to do something that he felt was necessary, he felt threatened and betrayed. Jones had two very important aspects that are necessary in order to have a “cult” or total institution; obedience and conformity. Jones clearly won the hearts and great minds of all his followers, he reached into their most desired happy places, and made them feel like they were home away from home. He got people to do anything that he wanted them to do simply by asking, people would also voluntarily just commit all their time, and money, into the church. Jim Jones even in the end, was able to make all of his people pack up and leave overnight, when a slandering story about the People’s Temple was about to be unveiled. The people left their families if they were unwilling to come, they left their jobs and forced their children along as well. When the demise came, he still obtained enough power over these people to make them take their own lives. These people conformed into who he wanted to mold them as, he stripped them from their own lives, only to rebuild them as his people. S tripped away from their personalities of who they used to be, Jones gave them new identities. He tried to force his ways and beliefs down their throat to the point where they didn’t know that they could think differently; Jim Jones was thinking for them. He stripped them from their homes, making them live on the actual church plantation, making them have to rely more on him. Residents now are stripped of everything that they had, their homes, cars, even sometimes family. The people are taken away from the civilization that they are accustomed to, that defines who they are, and what their standing and identities are as individuals. Although not nearly as extreme, there are several other examples of total institutions. Prison is a perfect example for one. Prison is meant to take away your rights, and take you away from civilization in order for you to rebuild yourself into not being such a corrupt individual. Prison is meant to rehabilitate you and make sure that you do not commit the same crimes, or any other one ever again. In a way, prison conforms you to be these people that you weren’t before stepping into jail. Jim Jones tried to promote religion, but not just ordinary religion, the possibility that blacks and whites could worship the same God together. Jim Jones was popular around the time of segregation and when everyone did not think or believe that African American and whites should even be using the same water fountain or sit in the same area on a bus. Jones was once seen as hope, he was different from all those who thought differently in that time. They did not even consider Jones to be white, over and over again, people mentioned that he might as well be African American. He had a church that was similar to how “black” churches worshipped. During rallies, when more people were needed, they called People’s Temple, who would be better? An already progressed group who was ready to stop segregation and for once be free. Freedom, which is a huge foundation as to why they thought moving out the of States would be a good thing, they wanted their own form of “Utopia.” Freedom, and religion, and the right to live in peace; these are the foundations for which Jonestown was meant to be founded. Control, greed, and selfishness led to the demise of the downward spiral that used to be People’s Temple.


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