Sociology Basics

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Table of Contents


What is Sociology?



Structure and Groups

Socialization and Interaction

Deviance and Control

Stratification and Differentiation

Race and Ethnicity


Social Institutions






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NOTE: If you only read the basic sociological concepts covered on this page and skip the brief items on the other four pages,

you won't correctly understand most of the material and you won't enjoy the course very much.

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Sociology is the study of society.


What Is Sociology?


Sociology is the study of society. It involves the critical analysis of the different types of social memberships, connections and institutions that constitute society across place and time. Sociology allows us to study individual behavior in a broader context, to take into consideration how societal forces might impact upon individuals, as well as the ways in which individuals construct the world around them and how they manage to resist existing power relationships in order to achieve social change. Sociology questions taken-for-granted assumptions about the world we live in (what we see as ‘familiar’ and ‘normal’ within the context of our everyday lives), and it provides a new and more critical perspective of the world, through the use of scientific theories, concepts and empirical evidence.



I. The Discipline of Sociology


A. Sociology is the study of social relationships, social institutions and society.

1. The term itself — often credited to Auguste Comte, the founder of sociology — is derived from two root words: socius, which means companion or associate, and logus, which means word. Basically, the term sociology means “words about human associations or society.”

2. Sociologists investigate many areas, such as racial and ethnic relationships, prejudice and discrimination, power and politics, jobs and income, families and family life, school systems and the educational process, social control, organizations, bureaucracies, groups and group dynamics, leisure, health-care systems, military systems, women’s movements and labor movements. It is an extremely broad field.


Key Works in Sociology


B. The SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE involves a conscious effort to question the obvious, to remove ourselves from familiar experiences and to examine them critically and objectively. This type of EMPIRICAL investigation enables sociologists to determine whether generalizations made about society are accurate. The sociological perspective operates at two levels:

1. MACROSOCIOLOGY deals with large-scale structures and processes, such as broad social categories, institutions and social systems.

2. MICROSOCIOLOGY is concerned with small-scale units, such as individuals in small-group interaction.


C. Sociology allows us to distinguish between truth and popular wisdom.

1. Social research provides the way to distinguish what is actually true from what our common sense tells us should be true.


D. Sociology is one of several disciplines in the social sciences. The SOCIAL SCIENCES all study human behavior, social organizations or society.

1. ECONOMICS is the study of how goods, services and wealth are produced, consumed, and distributed within societies.

2. POLITICAL SCIENCE is the study of power, governments and political processes.

3. ANTHROPOLOGY is the study of the physical, biological, social and cultural development of humans, often on a comparative basis. The two major fields of anthropologists consist of PHYSICAL and CULTURAL (or SOCIAL) anthropology.

4. PSYCHOLOGY is concerned primarily with human mental processes and individual human behavior. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY is the study of how individuals interact with other individuals or groups and how groups influence the individual.

5. HISTORY, considered either a social science or one of the humanities, is the descriptive study of the past.

6. GEOGRAPHY is the study of the physical environment and the distribution of plants and animals, including humans. PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHERS investigate climate, agriculture, the distribution of plant species and oceanography. SOCIAL and CULTURAL GEOGRAPHERS investigate how the distribution of people in a particular area influences social relationships.

7. SOCIAL WORK is technically not a social science but is an APPLIED SCIENCE in which the principles of the social sciences are applied to actual social problems. The PURE SCIENCES seek knowledge for its own sake.



II. Occupational and Personal Uses of Sociology


A. Sociology is not only for sociologists.

1. Sociological skills and knowledge are used in many jobs by many different types of people, and also in individuals’ personal lives.

2. One of the fascinating and exciting things about sociology is its diversity of applications.


B. Four uses of sociology

1. Academic sociologists

2. Professional sociologists in the workplace (nonacademic)

3. Nonsociologists in the workplace

4. Nonsociologists in society and other social environments



III. Academic Sociologists


A. Academic Sociologists: more sociologists are employed as teachers than in any other capacity.

1. Most teaching sociologists also serve as researchers, administrators or social critics.

2. Most of these researchers engage in basic or pure research.


B. Professional Sociologists in the Workplace: According to Peter Rossi and William Foote Whyte, two prominent applied sociologists, sociology can be applied to the workplace in three major ways.

1. Through APPLIED SOCIAL RESEARCH, which utilizes the use of sociological knowledge and research skills to obtain information for various groups and organizations. Most of this research uses three specific types: DESCRIPTIVE, ANALYTICAL, and EVALUATIVE STUDIES.

2. Through SOCIAL ENGINEERING, which attempts to change the way a society, community, organization, institution, or group is arranged so that a particular goal may be achieved.

3. Through CLINICAL SOCIOLOGY, which utilizes sociological perspectives, theories, concepts, research and methods for consulting and providing technical assistance to individuals, groups, or organizations.


C. Nonsociologists in the Workplace

1. The study of sociology offers valuable preparation for other types of careers.

2. Sociology is useful in developing research skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and communication skills. All of these skills are important in most occupations.


D. Nonsociologists in Society and Other Social Environments

1. The understanding of sociological principles should interest every social being.

a. Sociology concentrates on an enormous range of topics and events.

b. Sociology teaches us to consider perspectives other than our own and to look beyond the individual in our efforts to understand individual behavior.

c. Sociology helps us to understand ourselves.

2. C. Wright Mills wrote that the “sociological imagination” enables one to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues. By understanding how our own personal problems are generated by social forces, we are better able to deal with the problem.

3. Sociology can help us with most of our important personal decisions, such as whether to get married, whether to have children, whether to buy a home, what type of career to pursue and when to retire.

4. In summary, sociology is certainly relevant to a college education; it can provide a tool for improving the quality of one’s own life and the lives of others as well.The sociological imagination has no boundaries.



IV. The Development of Sociology in Europe


A. The study of sociology is a recent development in social history. Most 19th century practitioners were interdisciplinary, drawing their ideas from philosophy and the natural sciences. These early writers had great faith in the power of reason, but their ideas were put to a test as the Industrial Revolution presented new challenges and social problems.


Auguste Comte

B. Auguste Comte (1798–1857) is usually credited with being the father of sociology because he coined the term SOCIOLOGY.

1. He first called this new social science social physics, believing that society could be studied in the same scientific manner as the world of the natural sciences.

2. He believed that by using empirical methods to discover basic laws of society, the conditions of all of humankind could be improved.

3. Comte developed the LAW OF HUMAN PROGRESS, which states that all human intellectual growth passes successively through three distinctive states: the theological, the metaphysical and the scientific.

4. Comte viewed society as a type of organism that evolves from simpler to more complex forms. Sociology should study both the structure of the organism (SOCIAL STATICS) and the organism’s processes and forms of change (SOCIAL DYNAMICS).

5. Comte believed that sociology could produce a more just and rational social order.

6. Comte believed scientific analysis had both professional and personal applications.


Herbert Spencer

C. Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), born in England, coined the phrase survival of the fittest, which demonstrated his concern with the evolutionary nature of changes in social structures and social institutions. He was the first to stress that human societies evolved according to the principles of natural laws, similar to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

1. Spencer’s evolutionary theory of society favored a policy of noninterference in human affairs and society; his view tended to favor the status quo.

2. Because of this view, Spencer’s ideas had the support of people of wealth and power.

3. Spencer was one of the earlier writers to be concerned with the special problems of objectivity in the social sciences.



D. German-born Karl Marx (1818–1883), a committed socialist, had a profound sense of moral outrage at the social conditions of his time. Those who have power, he argued, dominate and exploit those who do not.

1. He believed that SOCIAL CONFLICT was at the core of society and the source of all social change.

2. As a proponent of ECONOMIC DETERMINISM, he believed that social change, social conditions and even society itself are based on economic factors. He declared that economic inequality results in class struggles between the BOURGEOISIE and the PROLETARIAT.

3. The conflict between owners and workers leadS to feelings of ALIENATION, a sense of disconnection from work and life among the workers. This recognition among the workers then develops CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS, which ultimately leads to revolution and results in the improvement of social conditions.

4. Many academic sociologists use Marx’s ideas of inequality as a premise for interpreting a variety of social and personal problems.


Emile Durkheim

E. Emile Durkheim (1859–1917), the first French academic sociologist, attempted to explain social phenomena via the idea of SOCIAL FACTS, those things that have distinctive social characteristics and determinants.

1. Durkheim believed that individuals are more the products of society than the creators of it, and that society itself is external to the individual.

2. Durkheim’s work Suicide is most significant for several reasons.

a. It provided a unique model for social research.

b. It clearly demonstrated that human behavior can be understood only by investigating the social context in which the behavior takes place.

c. It established the fact that the more a person is integrated into intimate social groups, the less likely he/she is to commit suicide. Social integration, Durkheim argued, is achieved through people’s mutual dependence and acceptance of a system of common beliefs.

d. Durkheim not only played a key role in the founding of sociology; he also made sociology a legitimate academic enterprise.


Max Weber

F. Max Weber (1864–1920), born in Germany, and trained in law and economics, believed that sociologists should study SOCIAL ACTIONS — external objective behaviors — asTHEORETICAL SOCIOLOGY IN THE 20TH CENTURY well as the SUBJECTIVE meanings that people attach to their own behavior and the behavior of others.

1. According to Weber, the goal of social research is to achieve a sympathetic understanding of the minds of others through an approach known as VERSTEHEN. This approach is evident in Weber’s interpretation of social class, which contrasts with Marx’s view that class is rooted in economic determinism.

2. Weber’s concept of verstehen is a vital tool used by both academic and applied social researchers, as well as individuals, trying to interpret and solve a variety of personal and social problems.



V. The Development of Sociology in America


A. The first department of sociology was established in 1893 at the University of Chicago.

1. Most of the earlier American sociologists shared with their European forerunners an interest in social problems and social reform.


B. The University of Chicago was the leading sociological training and research center in the US. The city itself provided a living laboratory for the study of many early social problems.

1. One leading figure, Robert E. Park (1874–1944), authored several important books, as well as one of the early textbooks in sociology. He established a multidisciplinary approach to the study of urban communities that became known as social ecology.

2. After World War I, a group of scholars known as the Chicago School developed an approach to social psychology that emphasized
the importance of social interaction in the development of human thought and action. Cooley, Mead and Thomas were all instrumental in this development.

3. In the midst of the societal crisis of the 1930s, sociology developed its service relationship to national public policy with its theoretical focus on macro-level systems and its methods of large-scale quantification.


C. In the 1940s, the center of sociological research shifted from Chicago to Harvard and Columbia in the East.

1. Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) became the leading social theorist in the US with his broad general theory of action.Sociological Theories

2. Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was concerned with linking general theory to empirical testing, an approach that came to be known as the MIDDLE-RANGE THEORY.



VI. Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology


A. SOCIAL THEORIES are explanations of social phenomena.

1. Much of what we know about societies and social behavior has emerged thanks to various sociological theories.

2. Some theories have fallen out of favor, while others remain widely accepted, but all have contributed tremendously to our understanding of society and social behavior.

3. Some of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology follow.


B. EVOLUTIONARY THEORY suggests that societies, like biological organisms, progress through stages of increasing complexity.Spencer's General Model of Evolution

1. Early theorists, such as Spencer, were opposed to intervention, whereas contemporary evolutionists view evolution as a process that does not necessarily result in change for the better.

2. The premise of evolutionary theory that social systems tend to become more complex over time can be useful in providing better comprehension of current trends and even help to predict the future.


STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM focuses on the structures, the parts of the social systems, and the functions or the purposes of these structures.

C. STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM focuses on the STRUCTURES, the parts of the social systems, and the FUNCTIONS or the purposes of these structures.

1. A STATUS is a socially defined position. A SOCIAL SYSTEM is a set of interrelated statuses of positions. Some statuses are ASCRIBED whereas others are ACHIEVED. Sets of interrelated statuses or positions are SOCIAL SYSTEMS.

2. The functionalist perspective assumes that social systems have an underlying tendency to be in equilibrium or balance. Any system that fails to fulfill its functions will result in an imbalance or disequilibrium.

3. A social system can have both MANIFEST and LATENT FUNCTIONS. Manifest functions are intended and recognized. Latent functions are neither intended nor recognized.

4. According to Merton, a system can be FUNCTIONAL, tending to maintain the system, or DYSFUNCTIONAL, leading to the instability or the breakdown of a system.

5. Structural functional theory is used by academic sociologists to study and analyze every form of social system. It can be particularly useful for appliedSTRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM sociologists as a means to understand and resolve problems in a wide variety of social systems and situations.


What is Functionalism? (In three minutes)


CONFLICT THEORY assumes that conflict is a permanent feature of social life resulting in societies being in a state of constant change.

D. CONFLICT THEORY today assumes that conflict is a permanent feature of social life resulting in societies being in a state of constant change.

1. Classical conflict theorists, mainly Marx, argued that the structure of society is determined by its economic organization, particularly the ownership of property. The history of societies, then, is the story of class struggle.

2. Contemporary theorists, such as Dahrendoff and Coser, have focused on the integrative nature of conflict — its value as a force that contributes to order and stability.

3. One major contrast between functionalist and conflict theorists is that functionalists believe that the social process is a continual effort to maintain harmony. Conflict theorists believe that the social process is characterized by constraint, conflict and change.

4. Conflict theory suggests that conflicts in organizations or among individuals can often be resolved by recognizing that conflicts exist. Conflict theory can be used Functionalism vs Conflict Theoryto help create techniques to deal with conflict or used constructively in the workplace or in one’s personal life.Class struggle due to limited resources.


E. SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM is a microsociological orientation that stresses interaction between people as well as the social processes that occur within the individual that are made possible by language and internalized meanings.

1. A SYMBOL is something that is used to represent something else. LANGUAGE is a shared system of symbols that represent physical objects or concepts and that can be used for communication.

2. Mead argued that it is the human ability to use symbols that distinguishes us from animals. Through social interaction humans learn to share meanings and to communicate symbolically with words and gestures.

3. The interactionist perspective examines patterns and processes of everyday life that are generally ignored by many other perspectives.

4. Because symbolic interaction theory emphasizes that people act on the basis of their interpretation of the language and symbols in a situation and not the situation in and of itself, the perspective is useful in pointing to the importance of shared definitions in resolving social problems.



Basic Concepts of Symbolic Interactionism


F. EXCHANGE THEORY attempts to explain social behavior in terms of reciprocity of costs and rewards. It assumes that life is a series of reciprocal exchanges and that voluntary social interactions are contingent upon rewarding or punishing reactions from others.

1. Homans’ view represents the behaviorist’s perspective of exchange that emphasizes actual observable behavior, not on processes that can be inferred from behavior.

2. Blau is an advocate of the interactionist perspective of exchange. He contends that exchange is more subjective and interpretive.

3. Homans’ distributive justice and Blau’s fair exchange theories reflect the importance of each party in the exchange receiving mutually-held expectations of reciprocation.

4. In exchange theory, social life is viewed as a process of bargaining or negotiation. Social relationships are based on trust and mutual interests.


G. The SOCIOBIOLOGICAL perspective studies the biological and genetic determinants of social behavior. This theory maintains that social influences would not greatly modify behavior.

1. The origins of social behavior are therefore linked to genetic or biological factors.

2. One criticism of this theory is that wide variations exist in sexual domination, nurturance and other behaviors.


H. HUMANISTIC THEORIES maintain that social science cannot and should not be value free. Sociologists should be actively involved in social change.

1. Efforts should be made toward achieving social justice and equity for everyone, irrespective of gender or race.

2. SECULAR HUMANISM disputes the religious focus on a god or on supernatural powers and maintains that social problems are solved by humans through their own efforts.


I. FEMINIST THEORIES and perspectives hold the belief that gender is basic to all social structure and organization.

a. Feminist theories argue that the experiences of women are different from those of men … that women are less privileged or unequal to men and that women are actively restrained, subordinated, used and oppressed by men.

b. Similar to the views held by humanists, feminist theory argues that truly objective research and study is neither possible nor appropriate.


J. Other perspectives, such as NETWORK theory, EXISTENTIALISM and PHENOMENOLOGY are similar to those discussed in this unit.



Theoretical Component


Conflict and Feminism

Symbolic Interactionism

level of analysis




general view of society

stable, integrated

tension, conflict, inequality

socially constructed

key interests

manifest and latent functions, dysfunctions, integration

inequality, exploitation, stratification, capitalism, patriarchy

symbols, non-verbal communication, social construction of reality

nature of human beings

negative-selfish, self-motivated, society molds and contains human impulses

positive-human potential, society distorts human goodness

socially constructed

what maintains social order

cooperation and consensus

force and coercion

shared understanding

societal goal

societal stability

realized human potential and happiness


role of sociologist

value-neutral scientist

scientist and educator, advocate

value-engaged scientist

general political orientation


liberal to radical

not implicit, not explicit


Comte, Spencer, Durkheim, Parsons, Merton

Marx, Engles, Max Weber, Dubois, Mills, Martineau, Addams, Gilman, Well-Barnett, Cooper, Webb, Marianne Weber

Mead, Cooley, Goffman, Horton, Thomas


Applying Theories

Structural-Functional Approach

Social-Conflict Approach

Symbolic Interaction Approach

Sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.

Parts of society (such as businesses, families and governments) work together in a systematic way that is usually good for the whole. Each part helps to maintain the balance needed for the system to operate smoothly.

Sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change. Most sociologists that use this approach attempt not only to understand society, but also to reduce the social inequality in society.

Emphasizes struggle over limited resources, power and prestige as a permanent aspect of societies and a major source of social change.

Sees society as the product of individuals’ everyday interactions. This is a more micro-level approach (smaller – focusing on patterns of social interaction in specific settings). Focuses on how people interact in their everyday lives and how they make sense of their interactions.

Example: College Campus

Sees campus as consisting of various “organic” parts: students, faculty and  administrators, maintenance workers, research assistants, cafeteria workers, etc. All parts are interrelated and all normally contribute to the smooth functioning of the campus.

Example: College Campus

Conflict theorists would look through the calm of a college campus to the self interests of the different groups and the rivalries among them. Faculty might be fighting for a reduced class load, students might be upset by new requirements in the curriculum, etc. Conflict theorists would see the order of the campus as merely the fragile, momentary outcome of the competition among various groups.

Example: College Campus

Instead of seeing the campus in terms of either cooperation or conflict, symbolic interactionists focus on such questions as how students look at campus life when they first arrive, what the college experience means to them and how social interaction develops in the dorm. Look at daily interactions on campus and how students perceive interactions. See campus as evolving and changing through the interaction of the participants.

Example: Deviance

What societies consider deviant may vary, but deviance is found in all societies; deviance and the social response it provokes sustain the moral foundation of society. Deviance may also guide social change.

Example: Deviance

Laws and other norms reflect the interests of powerful members of society; those who threaten the status quo are generally defined as deviant; social injury caused by powerful people is less likely to be considered criminal than is social injury caused by people who have little social power.

Example: Deviance

Nothing is inherently deviant but may become defined as such through the responses of others; the reactions of others are highly variable; labeling someone as deviant may lead to the development of secondary deviance and deviant careers.















I. Is Sociology a Science?


A. The early sociologists regarded their new discipline as a science.


B. Early social theorists hoped to accomplish for the social world what others had done for the natural sciences through the use of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD.


C. Not everyone regards sociology as a science. Some contend that sociology, strictly speaking, is not a science because it involves unscientific techniques, because human behavior is too complex to study scientifically and because sociologists are inevitably biased.


D. Defenders contend that sociology can be considered a science because sociologists use a variety of techniques and observers to remain objective and make cross-cultural comparisons.



II. The Components of Scientific TheoryRESEARCH MODEL GRAPHIC


A. Theories are attempts to find patterns and consistencies in seemingly idiosyncratic and inconsistent events. As such, good theories are a key source of ideas for testing hypotheses. The building blocks of theories are concepts and variables, conceptual frameworks and propositions and hypotheses.

1. A CONCEPT is an abstract system of meaning that enables us to perceive a phenomenon in a certain way.

2. When concepts have two or more degrees of values, they are referred to as VARIABLES (e.g., years married, level of income).


B. A PROPOSITION is a statement about the relationship between two or more concepts.

1. A HYPOTHESIS indicates how stated relations can be tested and serves as an important link between theory and empirical inquiry.

2. Relationships may be stated in two types of directional hypotheses. A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP is said to exist when the variables change in the same direction. An INVERSE RELATIONSHIP exists when the variables change in opposite directions.

3. Hypotheses that involve direct or inverse relationships are DIRECTIONAL HYPOTHESES.

4. NULL HYPOTHESES state that there is no relationship between the variables of interest.


C. A THEORY is a set of logically interrelated propositions that explains some process or set of phenomena in a testable fashion. A good theory should be stated in abstract terms and allow predictions to be made. Theories serve as important sources of new hypotheses.



III. The Standards of Scientific Inquiry


A. The scientific standard of objectivity asserts that the personal biases and values of the researchers must never influence the data reported or the interpretation of results, but the ability to achieve total objectivity has been seriously questioned. In an attempt to minimize the degree of subjectivity, researchers must recognize the influence of existing biases and assumptions and strive to eliminate the influence of those they can control.


B. The scientific standard of replication requires the duplication of one’s study by other researchers using similar subjects and measuring procedures producing similar results of the original study.


C. The scientific standard of precision of measurement asserts that the phenomenon being studied should be measured in precise, reliable and valid ways. The process of arriving at a means of measuring a concept or a variable is operationalization. An OPERATIONAL DEFINITION is a definition of a concept or variable such that it can be measured during research.




IV. Types of Sociological Research


A. DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH is designed to obtain information about social reality by providing SOCIAL FACTS, which are reliable valid items of information about society.

1. RELIABILITY is the extent to which repeated observations of the same phenomena yield similar results.

2. VALIDITY is the extent to which observations actually yield measures of what they are purported to measure.

3. Descriptive research may be used by sociologists to develop general theories and explanations of social behavior in general. It can also be used to improve the efficiency and the service of particular businesses and industries.


B. EXPLANATORY RESEARCH attempts to explain why things happen or don’t happen. Scientific studies that are concerned with the problems of causation deal with two types of variables.

1. The INDEPENDENT VARIABLE is the variable that causes an effect.

2. The DEPENDENT VARIABLE is the variable that is affected by the independent variable.

3. The same variable may be independent in one context and dependent in another.

4. Since explanatory research helps us predict behavior, it helps us to control behavior. Both descriptive and explanatory research can be used in one’s personal and professional life.


C. EVALUATION RESEARCH measures how well a program or project works in relation to its goals. It can involve two types of studies.

1. Outcome evaluations assess the effects of an organization’s existing policies, programs or projects.

2. Field experiments are test situations created to include the actual conditions proposed by a policy, program or project.

3. There are four steps in systematic evaluation research: (1) specification - identifying the goals to be met by the program, policy or project, (2) measurement - collecting the information needed to evaluate the specified goal, (3) analysis - using the information gathered to draw conclusion,; and (4) recommendation - offering advice on what should be done based upon the analysis.

4. Since evaluation research can be used to determine the effectiveness of any purposeful activity, it has many uses in personal and professional life.



V. Sociological Research Methods


A. Sociological research involves two types of methods: QUALITATIVE and QUANTITATIVE.

1. Qualitative methods involve the gathering and reporting of nonnumerical data used to determine the essential characteristics, properties, or processes of something or someone. Case studies and participant observation often use this method.

2. Quantitative methods involve gathering and reporting data based on numbers or amounts. This type of research often involves surveys or experiments.


B. A qualitative method of obtaining information about social processes is through OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH, wherein the researcher systematically observes what is happening with no attempt to control, modify, or influence the ongoing activity.

1. In laboratory observations, the researcher controls the environment in which a particular activity takes place.

2. In field observations, the researcher is “on location” observing events in a natural setting rather than in a laboratory.

3. A third observation technique is participant observation, in which the researcher is an active participant in the event being studied in order to acquire a deeper understanding of the group being studied.

4. Most participant observation research takes the form of a CASE STUDY, in which an individual, group, community, or activity is observed.

5. Observational studies are frequently used by sociologists when information cannot be determined through quantitative analysis.


C. A type of quantitative method used to obtain information about the social world is SURVEY RESEARCH, which involves systematically asking people about their attitudes, feelings, ideas, opinions or behaviors.

1. There are several advantages to surveys.

a. Surveys are usually easy to administer.

b. Surveys permit researchers to gather data on identical variables from many people simultaneously.

c. Surveys provide researchers the means to gather a lot of information in a relatively short period of time.

2. Some of the problems with surveys include the following.

a. respondents not answering honestly

b. biases in the wording of questions

c. difficulty in assessing complex areas of people’s beliefs

3. One major problem in research is identifying the group of people to be studied. The entire group that could be studied is usually called the POPULATION.

4. A SAMPLE is a group of people chosen from a population who are thought to represent the population.

5. Samples are chosen by a variety of methods. Some of these are: the random sample, systematic sample, and stratified sample. In choosing a sample, the researcher attempts to obtain a truly representative group that reflects the attitudes of the total population.

6. A RANDOM SAMPLE is selected by chance, so that every member of a group has an equal chance of being selected.

7. A SYSTEMATIC SAMPLE is drawn by following a specific pattern of selection, such as every tenth name.

8. A STRATIFIED SAMPLE is selected by dividing the population into groups based on shared social characteristics, then choosing at
random from within those groups.

9. The ability to conduct survey research is useful in many professional fields.


D. Another type of quantitative method is the EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN, a scientific procedure used to determine cause-effect relationships in controlled situations.

1. The experiment typically involves two matched groups of subjects called the EXPERIMENTAL GROUP and the CONTROL GROUP. In the first group, an independent variable is introduced and manipulated in order to observe its effect upon the dependent variable; in the control group, the variable is not introduced.

2. Experiments are most frequently conducted in a laboratory wherein variables can be controlled. However, this artificial setting can yield distorted results.

3. The Hawthorne Effect is the effect that occurs when researchers themselves contaminate a study and cause a change in the dependent variable.


E. A fourth method of gathering data is SECONDARY ANALYSIS, which uses information that already exists independently of one’s research.

1. Secondary analysis often uses ARCHIVAL DATA obtained from public and historical records as well as ACTUAL RESEARCH DATA obtained from other studies and data centers.

2. CONTENT ANALYSIS is the procedure for systematically extracting thematic data from a wide range of communications.

3. The use of secondary sources has many advantages as well as some disadvantages.



VI. The Research Process

Most research proceeds in accordance with a sequence of rules and procedures basic to the scientific method.


A. Formulate the problem. To a sociologist using scientific methods, only problems that are amenable to observation and testing would be considered appropriate for research.


B. Review the literature. A review of the relevant literature alerts us to what is already known, gives us clues about existing gaps in our knowledge, and helps us more clearly define what we should investigate.


C. Develop hypotheses for testing.


D. Choose a research design. The procedures include the method of gathering data, the sample to be selected and the means of selecting them, and the questions to be asked. Many factors must be considered including time and money, sample size and reliability, and validity of the design.


E. Collect the data. Here the researcher collects the data as described in the research design.


F. Analyze the results. The researcher assembles, organizes and classifies the data to facilitate hypotheses testing. In an attempt to provide some descriptive data about each variable, social scientists may use one of three measures of central tendency.

1. the MODE, the most frequent response

2. the MEDIAN, the point half of the respondents are above and half are below

3. the MEAN, the average.

4. Researchers may also wish to discover the RANGE of a variable - the distance between the largest and smallest amount.

5. The VARIANCE tells how the data are spread over the range.


G. Interpret the findings and draw conclusions in relation to the hypotheses. The researcher must interpret the findings; draw conclusions and confirm, reject, or reformulate the hypotheses.


H. Disseminate the results. The researcher reports the findings and conclusions and makes them subject to public review, criticism and application. Results are frequently published in professional journals and elsewhere. When the results have been disseminated, the research process is complete.


How Sociologists Do Research













50 Shades of Grey



I. Elements of Culture

The term culture means different things to different people. To some, it is associated with activities.

ELITE CULTURE refers to the life style of the wealthy, affluent or upper classes. POPULAR CULTURE is viewed as the culture, particularly the leisure time, of the common people.


A. CULTURE is a system of ideas, values, beliefs, knowledge, norms, customs and technology shared by almost everyone in a particular society. A SOCIETY is a group of people who share a common culture. The existence of culture depends on people’s ability to create and understand SYMBOLS, things that are used to represent something else.

1. SYMBOLS are arbitrary designations that are collective creations. Most sociologists believe that the ability to use symbols is uniquely human.

2. Success or failure in many relationships, both personal and professional, often depends upon our ability to communicate symbolically.


B. LANGUAGE, the systematized usage of speech and hearing to convey or express feelings and ideas, is the most important set of symbols.Language is uniquely human and is one of the basic distinctions between human beings and other forms of life.

1. Language is uniquely human and is one of the basic distinctions between human beings and other forms of life, as demonstrated by the comparative studies of infants and chimpanzees.

2. Regular use of words over time and place, and the widespread use of certain words, indicate that language is an integral and universal part of culture. Linguistic symbols are learned and shared just like other cultural traits.

3. In addition to a verbal and written language, every culture develops a silent language of gestures, expressions and mannerisms. Knowledge of this nonverbal language can be very useful to those who must deal with people from different cultures.

4. The SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS suggests that our perceptions of reality and consequent behaviors are significantly influenced by the grammatical forms, labels and categories provided by our language.


Does Your Language Shape How You Think?


C. VALUES are shared ideas of what is important and worthwhile by the people in a society. Values often are emotionally charged and learned early in life.

1. Most values have both positive and negative counterparts.

2. When basic values conflict with one another, a person may experience guilt or mental stress and attempt to resolve the guilt by pursuing alternative courses of action.

3. Despite the social diversity of the US, Robin M. Williams (1970) described 15 major value orientations that are shared in our culture, including belief in achievement and success, external conformity and democracy. (See below.)

4. Williams states that most conflicts between value systems in the US occur between values centering around individual personalities and values organized around categorical themes or conceptions. Group discrimination and racism, for example, are contrary to other central values of our society.

5. An understanding of value systems can be useful for many people in their work. The ability to recognize and deal with competing value systems leads to better management.



D. Social NORMS are rules of conduct or expectations specifying how people should or should not behave in social situations.

1. Norms are prescriptive or proscriptive.

2. William G. Sumner identified two types of norms, FOLKWAYS and MORES, and distinguished between them by (1) the degree to which group members are compelled to conform to them, (2) their importance, (3) the severity of punishment if they are violated and (4) the intensity of feelings associated with adherence to them.

3. FOLKWAYS are learned customs or conventions that are passed down from one generation to the next. Violation tends to be punished mildly, if at all.

4. MORES are considered more important than folkways. Reactions to their violations are more serious. They tend to involve clear-cut distinctions between right and wrong and are more closely identified with society’s important values. Mores that prohibit something, that state “thou shalt not,” are called TABOOS. To care for one’s child is called a MOS (singular for MORES), while committing incest is a TABOO.

5. LAWS are formal, standardized expressions of norms enacted by legislative bodies to regulate particular types of behaviors. Laws state the punishment for their violation and are enforced by a group designated for that purpose.

a. When a law does not reflect folkways and mores, its enforcement is likely to be ignored or given low priority.

6. Cultural norms are not always beneficial to the society, group or individual that follows them. Some may actually be harmful in what Erich Fromm calls the PATHOLOGY OF NORMALCY.

7. The process of violating norms beyond the range of group acceptability is termed deviance. The process of applying sanctions to obtain social conformity is known as social control.


E. TECHNOLOGY is the practical production and application of material techniques and products to maintain a culture’s standard of living. It includes social customs and practical techniques for converting raw materials into finished products.


F. ARTIFACTS are physical objects that reflect a society’s technology. Artifacts provide clues to a society’s level of technological development, but the presence of more sophisticated technology in one culture as opposed to another culture should not be used as scientific criteria for evaluating the two. It is a mistake to dismiss a culture’s technological system because it appears to be less developed or complex than our own.


G. CULTURAL LAG takes place when changes in technology and material culture occur more rapidly than changes in nonmaterial culture (such as beliefs, values and laws). Cultural lag is inevitable in rapidly changing societies.



II. Interpreting Culture: Our Own and Others


A. Sumner defined ETHNOCENTRISM as that view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it. It is the attitude that one’s own culture is superior to others, that one’s own beliefs, values and behaviors are more correct than others and that other people and cultures can be evaluated in terms of one’s own culture.

1. Ethnocentrism is particularly strong among people who have had little contact with other cultures. Yet ethnocentric attitudes are found among highly educated and experienced travelers as well.

2. Ethnocentrism has several functions.

a. promoting unity

b. encouraging conformity

c. reinforcing nationalism

d. maintaining the status quo

3. The dysfunctions of ethnocentrism include the following.

a. increasing resistance to beneficial change

b. discouraging integration

c. increasing the likelihood of hostility and conflicts among groups

d. preventing beneficial social change


B. XENOCENTRISM, the opposite of ethnocentrism, is the belief that one’s own lifestyle, products or ideas are inferior to those of other cultures.


C. TEMPOROCENTRISM is the belief that one’s own time is more important than the past or future.

1. Historical events are judged not in their own context, but rather on the basis of contemporary standards.

2. It is most prevalent among those who lack historical perspective.


D. The belief that cultures must be judged on their own terms is known as CULTURAL RELATIVISM.

1. Cultural relativism means that a behavior appropriate in one place may not be appropriate everywhere.

2. Knowledge of cultural relativism can be useful to anyone who works with people from different cultures.



The World Values Surveys were designed to provide a comprehensive measurement of all major areas of human concern, from religion to politics to economic and social life. Two dimensions dominate the picture: (1) Traditional/ Secular-rational and (2) Survival/Self-expression values.

The Traditional/Secular-rational values dimension reflects the contrast between societies in which religion is very important and those in which it is not. A wide range of other orientations are closely linked with this dimension. Societies near the traditional pole emphasize the importance of parent-child ties and deference to authority, along with absolute standards and traditional family values. They reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook. Societies with secular-rational values have the opposite preferences.

The second major dimension of cross-cultural variation is linked with the transition from industrial society to post-industrial societies – which brings a polarization between Survival and Self-expression values. The unprecedented wealth that has accumulated in advanced societies during the past generation means that an increasing share of the population has grown up taking survival for granted. Thus, priorities have shifted from an overwhelming emphasis on economic and physical security toward an increasing emphasis on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life. Orientations have shifted from Traditional toward Secular-rational values in almost all industrial societies.

Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, tolerance of diversity and rising demands for participation in decision making in economic and political life. These values also reflect mass polarization over tolerance of groups such as foreigners, gays and lesbians and of gender equality. The shift from survival values to self-expression values also includes a shift in child-rearing values, from an emphasis on hard work toward an emphasis on imagination and tolerance as important values to teach a child. And it goes with a rising sense of subjective well-being that is conducive to an atmosphere of tolerance, trust and political moderation. Societies that rank high on self-expression values also tend to rank high on interpersonal trust. This produces a culture of trust and tolerance, in which people place a relatively high value on individual freedom and self-expression, and have activist political orientations.











Burkina Faso



















S. Africa














Hong Kong











S. Korea









Dominican Republic

El Salvador





N. Ireland



Puerto Rico

Saudi Arabia





















New Zealand







religion very important

parent-child ties important

deference to authority

absolute standards

rejection of abortion, divorce,  euthanasia, suicide

high levels of national pride



religion of decreasing importance

more independence in family relations

challenges to authority


relativistic standards

tolerance of abortion, divorce,  euthanasia, suicide

more internationalist


religion very important

parent-child ties important

deference to authority

absolute standards

rejection of abortion, divorce,  euthanasia, suicide

high levels of national pride



religion of decreasing importance

more independence in family relations

challenges to authority


relativistic standards

tolerance of abortion, divorce,  euthanasia, suicide

more internationalist


survival still questionable

emphasis on economic and physical  security


survival taken for granted

subjective well-being, self-expression and the quality of life.



III. Cultural Complexity and Diversity

Culture is a complex and diverse system of independent factors. Its organization is influenced by physical circumstances such as climate, geography and population. The complexity of a culture can best be understood by examining various units of a culture.


A. SUBCULTURES are groups of people who participate in the larger, dominant culture yet also maintain their own distinctive life styles and set of cultural elements as well. In heterogeneous societies, a person may be a member of several subcultures at any one time or at different times in his or her life.


B. A COUNTERCULTURE is a subculture that adheres to “a set of norms and values that sharply contradict the dominant norms and values of the society of which that group is a part.” Ideologically, countercultures adhere to a set of beliefs and values that radically reject the society’s dominant culture and prescribe an alternative set.


C. Every group forms an IDIOCULTURE, a system of shared knowledge, beliefs, behaviors and customs created through enduring group interactions and shared experiences.


D. In most cultures, differences exist between what people are supposed to do and what they actually do. That is, there is a distinction between the IDEAL CULTURE and the REAL CULTURE. Regardless of the manner in which cultures are organized, all cultures share some basic concerns, known as CULTURAL UNIVERSALS. Food, shelter and protection are examples.


E. A SOCIAL INSTITUTION is a system of norms, values, statuses and roles that develops around a basic social goal.

1. All societies have particular institutions to meet their broad goals. They form the foundation of society. The five basic social institutions are: the family, religion, education, economics and politics.

2. Institutions are systems of norms.

3. Social organizations are actual groups of people deliberately organized around some common interest.

We'll look more closely at Social Institutions below.


For some excellent current examples of how culture changes and of factors leading to cultural change, look at the March 12, 2012 Time Magazine cover story, 10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life (Introduction).

[Use the link in the very last sentence of the introduction to access the full story.]

Living Alone is the New Norm

Your Head is in the Cloud

Handprints, Not Footprints

The Rise of the Nones

Food that Lasts Forever

Black Irony

High Status Stress

Privacy in Public

Nature is Over

Niche Aging



Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity

What the Beatles Tell Us About Fame

America Is…

Laughter is universal but lol is not. How different languages laugh online.













Culture: Structure and Groups


I. Social Status

Status Set


A. STATUS is a socially defined position an individual occupies.


B. The combination of all the statuses an individual occupies at a given time is a STATUS SET.


C. A status that is especially important in determining how you see yourself and how others view you is a MASTER STATUS.




II. Social Roles


A. Associated with each status is a set of expectations and behaviors known as a ROLE. Multiple roles attached to statuses are known as ROLE SETS.


B. PRESCRIBED ROLES may differ from actual ROLE PERFORMANCES.Role Strain and Role Conflict


C. ROLE AMBIGUITY exists when the expectations associated with a particular social status are not clear.


D. ROLE STRAIN occurs when differing and incompatible roles are associated with the same status.


E. ROLE CONFLICT exists when different expectations are associated with the same role.


F. Zimbardo’s famous prisoner/prison guard experiment demonstrates the power of social structure and roles over personality.


Role Conflict and Role Strain (6:48)



III. Social Groups


A. There are several different types of groups.

Sociologists do it in groups!

1. A STATISTICAL GROUP is a group formed by sociologists or statisticians. Members of such a group are unaware of belonging and there is no social interaction or social organization among them.

2. A CATEGORICAL GROUP, or societal unit, consists of people who share a common characteristic. A knowledge of the concept of categorical groups can have practical applications in the business world.

3. An AGGREGATE is a collection of people together in one place. This group is basically unstructured and members participate briefly and sporadically.

4. An ASSOCIATIONAL or ORGANIZATIONAL GROUP consists of people who join together in some organized way to pursue a common interest. Such groups have a formal structure.


B. The sociologist is chiefly interested in SOCIAL GROUPS, which have the following characteristics:

1. They involve some type of interaction.

2. Members have a sense of belonging.

3. Members share interests or agree on values, norms and goals.

4. They have a structure — a definable, recognizable arrangement of parts.


C. Social groups are important because they provide us with a social identity, serve as a key to understanding social behavior and link the self with the larger society.



IV. Types of Social Groups


A. Primary and Secondary Groups

1. A PRIMARY GROUP is a small, informal group of people who interact in a personal, direct and intimate way. A family is an example of a primary group.

2. A SECONDARY GROUP is a group whose members interact impersonally, have few emotional ties and come together for a specific practical purpose.

3. Primary groups are person-oriented, whereas secondary groups tend to be goal oriented.

4. Primary groups are especially important in shaping the personality, formulating self-concepts, developing a sense of personal worth and in becoming an accepted member of society.

5. Secondary groups help societies function effectively and permit people who don’t know each other intimately to perform their jobs more effectively.

6. The difference between a primary and a secondary group is one of degree. Groups of one type can and frequently do develop into the other type.


B. In-Groups and Out-Groups


1. An IN-GROUP is a social category to which people feel they belong. The members of such a group have a consciousness of kind.

2. In-groups are usually, but not always, primary groups.

3. An OUT-GROUP is one to which people feel they do not belong.

4. In-group members treat most members of out-groups with indifference or hostility.

5. In-group members tend to stereotype out-group members.

6. A threat or attack from an out-group tends to increase the cohesion and solidarity of the in-group.

7. In-groups and out-groups can be as small as a marriage or as large as a nation.

8. We all have many in-group loyalties and identities. Some overlap and cause conflict.


C. PEER GROUPS are informal primary groups in which the members are roughly equal in status and usually are of similar age.


D. REFERENCE GROUPS are groups with which people identify psychologically and to which people refer in making evaluations of themselves and their behavior.

1. Negative reference groups are those we don’t want to be identified with.

2. Positive reference groups are the groups we want to be accepted by.

3. Reference groups serve as sources of current evaluation and as sources of aspiration and goal attainment.

4. The concept of reference groups helps us understand the condition of relative deprivation.

5. Relative deprivation exists when people feel deprived, not because of the objective conditions they face, but because they compare themselves to a reference group that has more advantages.

6. Knowledge of the concept of relative deprivation may be useful to sociologists conducting needs assessments for service organizations, to administrators in their decision-making and to individuals in understanding the sources of feelings of inadequacy and frustration.


E. Small Groups and Large GroupsRolr Cartoon

1. Size has a dramatic effect on member interactions. The smallest group possible is the DYAD, which consists of two people. With the addition of a third person, the dyad becomes a TRIAD and the interactions change dramatically.

2. As the group size increases, so does the division of labor. Activities tend to become specialized.

3. As the size of a group increases, its structure becomes more rigid and formal. Small groups operate informally whereas large groups operate more formally.

4. As the size of a group increases, so does the need for a more formal type of leadership. In small groups, decisions may be made informally, in a spirit of mutual sharing and agreement, with no designated leader. In large groups, the leadership becomes more formal and decision-making is more constraining.

a. In analyzing leadership in small groups, Bales found leaders of two types.

i. INSTRUMENTAL leaders organize groups around goals.

ii. EXPRESSIVE leaders resolve conflicts and create group harmony and social cohesion.

5. As the size of a group increases, communication patterns change. Leaders tend to dominate discussions in large groups. In small groups, more group members participate.

6. As size increases, cohesion decreases. Informal means develop to provide membership stability and conformity, such as applying fines, not allowing participation or assigning specific tasks. These informal means become less effective as group size increases. Social scientists have found that cohesiveness within groups generally improves group performance.


F. Social Networks

1. A social network consists of the linkages or ties to a total set of relationships within various social groups.

2. Social networks are built over time. Some become strong, others weak.

a. Strong ties involve emotional involvement and are sustained in a variety of ways, such as including calls, visits, letters, cards, etc.

b. Weak ties involve linkages with people with whom one has little in common and occasional contact. They can be important in various ways, such as getting a job or a good deal on a purchase.

c. The research of Nan Lin and others found that the old boy network seems to be effective in perpetuating privileges in job searching.



V. Formal Organizations

An organization is different from the sum of its individual members. The organization has a structure, norms and roles of its own.


A. FORMAL ORGANIZATIONS are deliberately constructed groups and structural arrangements organized to achieve certain specific, clearly stated goals.


B. Organizations tend to be stable over time and in terms of their structure Those who belong generally feel a sense of membership.


C. Formal organizations make it possible for highly complex industrialized societies to meet their most fundamental needs and pursue their collective aspirations.


D. Formalization is the process through which the norms, roles and procedures of a group are established and made precise, binding and valid.


E. The goals of different organizations vary widely and may be in conflict. Conflicts may also arise within organizations over what goals should be pursued.


F. Organizations establish bureaucracies to help meet their goals.



VI. Bureaucracy


A. Bureaucracy as an ideal type: A BUREAUCRACY is a formal, hierarchical structure that directs and coordinates the efforts of the people involved in the various tasks of an organization. Weber dealt with bureaucracy as an ideal type, a model of a hypothetical pure form of an existing entity. He found that they typically have the following functions.

1. Division of labor: The staff and activities of the bureaucracy are divided into offices or bureaus. Each office and each job has certain carefully defined responsibilities.

2. Hierarchy of authority: The chain of command has the form of a pyramid, with every officer accountable to those at a higher level for their own responsibilities and those of subordinates.

3. Public office: The office and records of the organization are separated from the private lives of the employees.

4. Merit selection: Personnel are chosen on the basis of capabilities rather than connections.

5. Career pattern: Employees can work themselves up in the organization by performing adequately at their jobs.

6. Objective rules: The operation of the organization is governed by a consistent set of rules. All bureaucracies diverge from the ideal in some (or many) respects.


B. Dysfunctions of Bureaucracies

1. Merton observed that people in bureaucracies often develop TRAINED INCAPACITY, in which rules are obeyed for their own sake rather than as a means to an end.

2. Hiring practices may be based on a rigid set of formal requirements rather than the ability to perform the tasks involved in a job.

3. Actual problems do not always fit into the compartments designed to handle them. This can lead to the runaround for people trying to resolve problems.

4. An understanding of the dysfunctions of bureaucracy may help administrators, managers and entrepreneurs assess the appropriateness of bureaucratic structure for an organization; bureaucratic form is not the best type of organization for every situation.


C. Must Bureaucracies be Dehumanizing? The Case of Japan:

1. The Japanese manufacturing firm is distinguished from industrial organization in the US by having small numbers of job classifications, team-based work organization, and consensual relations between labor and management.

2. This model suggests that bureaucracies can be organized in ways that are both more humanizing and personal: Work in Japanese organizations is generally based on teams that are responsible for planning and carrying out production tasks. The teams have team leaders, but unlike US foremen, they do not supervise workers.

3. Other factors, such as training workers in multiple tasks; having workers actively participate in company suggestion programs; having workers’ input into the design of their jobs and the operation of the organization, and having the concept that Japanese workers become married to the organization with guaranteed life-time employment all contribute to morale and job security.



VII. Voluntary AssociationsRole Conflict


A. VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS are organizations that people join because they share their goals and values and voluntarily choose to support them.


B. Because membership is voluntary, members can resign if their interest wanes.


Social Structure and Social Interaction

Societies to Social Networks

Bureaucracy and Formal Organizations

Michels’s Iron Law of Oligarchy













Culture: Socialization and Interaction




A. Socialization is the process of incorporating new members into the group by teaching OR the process by which the world we have collectively created shapes how we individually think and act


B. Sociologists are interested in socialization because, by studying how people learn the rules of society, we then understand better how and why people act as they do.



II. Is Human Interaction Necessary?


A. Children in Institutions

1. The research of Spitz (1946) demonstrated the importance of human interaction in both the physical and social development of children by comparing the techniques of child rearing in two types of institutions: a foundling home and a home for delinquent mothers.

2. Children reared in the home for delinquent mothers developed more normally than those raised in the foundling home because the former received more social stimulation.


B. Isolated and Feral Children

1. Studies of isolated and feral children indicate the importance of social interaction in human growth and development.

2. The research of Davis (1940, 1947) described the effect of social isolation on two girls who had been hidden in the attics of their family homes. The systematic and skillful program of social development directed toward Isabelle proved to be somewhat successful.

3. The classical case study of feral children, particularly the wild boy of Aveyron found in the wilderness of France in 1800, indicates that interaction is most crucial to the process of socialization.


C. Sociology and the Nature-Nurture Debate

1. Sociobiologists, who are biologists by training, believe that social behavior is determined by inborn genetic traits in much the same fashion that animals are influenced by their genes.

2. Most sociologists disagree with sociobiologists on grounds that behavior varies greatly from culture to culture. The variance found in human sexual behavior, altruistic behavior and warlike behavior indicate the greater influence of social learning over genetic influence.

3. Money (1980), a physiologist, contends that the information in our brains shapes our behavior and that the nature-nurture debate is irrelevant.



III. Symbolic Interaction


A. George Herbert Mead: Mind, Self and Society

1. Mead (1863–1931) demonstrated that the unique feature of the human mind is its capacity to use symbols. Human development proceeds because of this ability.

2. SYMBOLIC INTERACTION is the social process that occurs within and among individuals as a result of the internalization of meanings and the use of language.

3. People are not born with a sense of self. Mead stressed the importance of people interacting with others in the development of the SELF. Infants gradually begin to develop expectations about their parents’ behavior and about their parents’ role.

4. ROLE-TAKING, a term used by Mead, describes the process of figuring out how others will act.

a. Play is a way children practice role-taking. They assume the roles of SIGNIFICANT OTHERS - mother, father or any other person important to them and can then better understand their own roles and what others expect of them and how to behave to meet those expectations.

b. As adults, when we take roles we figure out what others are thinking and how others will act and then we act accordingly. Sometimes we do not have the chance to play out the role of others except in our imagination.

5. People can apply Mead’s role-taking theories not only in understanding how their own self develops, but also in their personal and professional relationships. Clinicians, counselors and therapists sometimes ask clients to engage in role-taking as part of their treatment.

6. Children eventually develop an idea of the GENERALIZED OTHER, a variety of people, all of whom are perceived to have the same expectations of them.

7. To analyze each person’s unique ability to respond to the generalized other, Mead divided the person into two parts: the I represents the acting person and is not self-conscious; the ME represents the part of the self that sees self as object and is concerned with society’s expectations.

8. Eventually, one develops one’s own MIND, which is the ability for one to think based on the expectations of the generalized other.


B. Charles Horton Cooley: The Looking-Glass Self

1. According to Cooley (1864–1929), the self develops in a process that requires reference to other people and has three components:

a. How we think our behavior appears to others;

b. How we think others judge our behavior;

c. How we feel about their judgments.

2. Our imagination about our own looking-glass self may or may not be accurate. Nevertheless, we often respond to these imagined evaluations with some feeling, such as pride, mortification or humiliation.

3. Mead and Cooley pointed out that the main difference between social and psychological theories of the self is that social theories assume that the individual is shaped first by society, whereas psychological theories emphasize individual development apart from social processes. The individual develops and then responds to society.

4. In applying Cooley’s looking-glass self, Merton developed the concept of SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY, which proposes that when we act as if a certain definition were true, as a result it becomes true because of our actions. A knowledge of the functioning of self-fulfilling prophesies can be useful in occupational settings in interaction with others.


C. Erving Goffman: The Presentation of SelfMaintaining the Self

1. Throughout life, socialization influences one’s interactions with others.

2. According to Goffman, every interaction begins with a PRESENTATION OF SELF - the way we present our self to others.

3. This presentation gives others cues about the type of interaction we expect.

4. Goffman compared social interaction to a drama on a stage — a comparison known as the DRAMATURGICAL APPROACH.

a. Whenever we interact, we prepare ourselves backstage and then present ourselves on stage.

b. A knowledge of the dramaturgical approach may enhance one’s interpersonal skills.


D. Maintaining the Self

1. Once a presentation of self has been made, it must be maintained.

2. DISCLAIMERS, disclaiming a role even while we are acting in that role, are used to distance ourselves from behaviors or remarks that are not in accord with our presentation.

3. Implicit in interactions is the assumption that presentations will be maintained. Each person agrees to maintain the self and to support the presentations of others.



Charles Horton Cooley: Concept of the Looking Glass Self



IV. Agents of SocializationAGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION



1. The family is considered the primary agency of socialization.

2. Families determine a child’s social class, race, religious background and ethnic groups.

3. Families also teach children values that they will hold throughout life: such as the worth of the unique individual.

4. As more children spend time in child care instead of in the family, there is a question about the quality of socialization taking place in other organizations.


B. Schools

1. In highly technical societies, children are also socialized by the educational system; schools in the US teach more than basic skills.

2. Schools teach students to develop themselves, test their achievements through competition, discipline themselves, cooperate with others, obey rules, incorporate a sense of citizenship and reinforce a nation’s cultural emphasis. All of these are essential for a youngster to achieve success in a society dominated by large organizations.


C. Peer Groups

1. The PEER GROUP, a group of people approximately the same age, is an important influence upon the socialization of young people.

2. Young people spend much time with peer groups in and outside of school.

3. Coleman and others (1974) suggest that young people create their own unique cultures, in part because they are often unsure of themselves and value a sense of belonging.


D. The Mass Media

1. The American MASS MEDIA — television, popular magazines, radio and other forms of communication intended for a large audience — play a major role in teaching Americans specific values and needs.

2. The mass media also teaches viewers something about what life is like.

3. Some researchers now believe that television shapes not only what we think, but how we think. Healy (1990) believes that television prevents thinking, at least in characteristic ways. He argues that children who have grown up watching a great deal of television do not think unless the pictures and sounds are provided for them.



V. Socialization of Gender Roles

Gender Roles


A. Infant and Childhood Experiences

1. Gender-role socialization in our society begins at birth and, from that moment on, parents respond to the infant on the basis of its gender.

2. Traditionally, boys are expected to acquire INSTRUMENTAL ROLES, performing tasks that lead to goals that they have set for themselves. Girls are expected to acquire EXPRESSIVE ROLES, roles which encourage more verbal, more expressive, more emotional interaction and more interest in interpersonal relationships.

3. Parents also give their children different surroundings, toys and games based on gender.

4. Today, however, parents are beginning to have nontraditional role expectations for their daughters.


B. Gender-Role Socialization in Schools - Gender-role training continues in nursery schools.

1. The research of Serbin and O’Leary (1975) demonstrated that in observations of 15 nursery schools, the teachers (who were all women) treated boys and girls differently.

2. The research of Sadker and Sadker (1985) indicates that teachers actually spent more time teaching boys. Boys were given more opportunity to try things in class and were praised more for good work, while girls were praised for appearance but not for their academic performance.

3. Gold, Crombie and Noble (1987) found that teachers also evaluate boys differently from girls. Compliance is stressed for girls, while not considered important for boys.

4. Children also receive subtle messages about the capability of men and women as they observe the jobs that they hold. Most teachers are women but principals and superintendents are men.


C. Gender-Role Socialization in Peer Groups

1. Children play mainly in same-sex groups and this contributes to their socialization. The result is that girls are socialized to act like girls and boys are socialized to act like boys.

2. Maccoby (1988) found that children do not usually form groups based on like interests. They form groups based on same-sex. When girls do play with boys, girls act and become more passive.


D. Mass Media and Socialization of Gender Roles

1. The mass media, including both children’s and adults’ television shows, music videos and advertising tend to promote male and female gender-role stereotypes.

2. In applying gender-role socialization, one must understand that gender-role stereotypes are a product of socialization and can take on a variety of forms of discrimination, such as unfair hiring practices against women, sexual harassment and more. Understanding gender-role socialization can help to overcome many barriers, from intimacy to personal relationships.



VI. Socialization in Adulthood


A. Types of Adult Socialization

1. Adult socialization is the ongoing learning process experienced by adults that allow them to function more smoothly in their everyday roles.

2. After people marry, they socialize each other. If they have children they learn the role of parent and will probably rely on the knowledge of child care they acquired from their own parents. They gradually must learn to allow the child to become independent after years of dependency.

3. Children themselves are often very active socializing their parents.

4. Adult socialization also occurs in schools ... colleges teach adults of all ages.

5. Occupational training teaches the attitudes, values and skills associated with an occupation.


B. Resocialization

1. RESOCIALIZATION usually follows a major break in a person’s customary life. One that requires that the person adopt an entirely new set of meanings.

a. MORTIFICATION OF SELF, a term used by Goffman, is the most dramatic type of resocialization and occurs in institutions such as the armed forces, prisons and mental hospitals, which requires a total stripping of old selves and acquiring a new sense of self.

b. Retirement sometimes requires a great deal of resocialization — the loss of a previous role, the loss of income and sometimes the loss of self-esteem. All present challenges for resocialization.

2. Whether dealing with socialization or with resocialization, the human mind is very complex. People learn a varied set of meanings during their lives and it is this ability to interpret that makes socialization and social interaction such a varied, interesting and challenging area of study.


Socialization at Work

Repeated verbal and physical interactions with Sam’s father have caused her to think that she is worthless, has no value, can’t do anything right, is stupid and  responsible for her own abuse (beliefs that develop from her interactions).

She was “socialized” by her father to believe that she has to yell and hit to control others and to get what she wants (ways of doing things). She defines these behaviors as acceptable because it is what she grew up with – the “norm” in her family (definition of right and wrong).

How she was socialized is affecting her potential ... she is having difficulty holding a job and is having relationship issues.

When thinking about socializing agents ask yourself:

What do family, media, peers, school teach a person? How do they influence a person?

What does a person learn about themselves? About the world?

How does socialization make a person behave? Think? Feel?

How does socialization affect beliefs? Values? Ways of doing things?














Culture: Deviance and Control


I. What Is Deviance?DEVIANCE


A. DEVIANCE is variation from a set of norms or shared social expectations.


B. Because all societies have social norms, rules and expectations about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, deviance and social control are universal features of social life.


C. Sociological theories of deviance are those that use social context and social pressures to explain deviance.


D. Deviance can be positive or negative. Negative deviance is behavior that fails to meet the accepted norms, they reject the norms. If the norm is to be thin, they are obese. Positive deviance is over-conformity to the norm. If the norm is to be thin, they are anorexic.


E. Socialization does not ensure that all people will conform. For this reason, social control has to be based on social sanctions: rewards and punishments designed to encourage desired behavior. Positive sanctions can include an increase in allowance, a promotion or a smile. Negative sanctions can include criticism, fines or imprisonment. Sanctions can also be informal or formal, depending on who is giving the sanction.



II. Traditional Views of Deviance and Deviants


A. The ABSOLUTIST and MORAL VIEWS, often found in conservative political and religious contexts are that particular behaviors (such as extramarital sexual relationships, criminal acts, etc.) are ALWAYS deviant (absolutism) and BAD (immoral). Deviant people are deviant people by nature.


B. The MEDICAL and SOCIAL-PATHOLOGICAL views of deviance assume that deviance is essentially pathological, that deviants are sick people, and that society is unhealthy. Deviance and deviants are expressed in terms of health or illness.


C. The STATISTICAL VIEW assumes that any behavior that is atypical or that varies from the average or the mode is considered deviant. Any variation from a statistical norm is deviant.



III. The Relative Nature of Deviance

The RELATIVISTIC VIEW suggests that deviance can be interpreted only in the sociocultural context in which it occurs.



A. Variation by Time

1. An act considered deviant in one time period may be considered nondeviant in another. The research of Neuhring and Markie (1974) illustrates this point with an example such as cigarette smoking, which has a long history of changing normative definitions.

2. Other examples, such as the use of various other psychoactive drugs, appropriate bathing attire and nonmarital sexual behavior,
all illustrate how behaviors defined as deviant change over time.


B. Variation by Place

1. Behavior considered deviant in one location, society, or culture may be considered nondeviant in another.

2. Polygamy inmost African cultures, topless bathing at many public beaches in Southern Europe, and bullfighting in Spain and Mexico are forbidden in the United States; but American dating practices, divorce rates, and crime rates are considered shocking by much of the rest of the world.


C. Variation by SituationHomeless people are regularly stigmatized by society for being unemployed while living in the streets.

1. Behavior that is deviant in one situation or locality may be considered acceptable in another.

2. One must carefully select situations in which to behave in particular ways.


D. Variation by Social Status

1. Deviance varies with social status: the position a person occupies in society.

2. The status associated with a person’s sex, race, and age influences which of his/her behaviors are considered deviant.


E. Applying the Relativistic View of Deviance: The relativistic view of deviance has many important practical implications.

1. It is a mistake to practice a process known as BLAMING THE VICTIM, which implies that social problems are caused by the people facing them.

2. It can be useful in many work- and family-related roles.




IV. Theories Explaining Deviance


A. Biological theories of Deviance argue that particular defects or weaknesses in an individual’s physical constitution produce deviant behaviors. Biological theories are often traced back to the Italian physician-psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909).

1. Lombroso, sometimes called the father of modern criminology, believed in a born criminal type.Anomie

2. The American anthropologist Hooten argued, in the 1930s, that criminals were organically inferior to normal people.

3. William Sheldon (1940s) developed a classification system to link body types to criminal behavior. He classified people into three categories — the ENDOMORPHS (soft, round, and fat); the MESOMORPHS (muscular, stocky, and athletic) and the ECTOMORPHS (skinny and fragile). Sheldon found a disproportionate percentage of criminals were found to be mesomorphs.

4. Recent biological studies have focused on the relationship between an extra Y chromosome (XYY) and physical violence; other findings indicate that the great majority of XYY males have never been convicted of any crime.


B. Psychological theories of deviance focus on the person who engages in deviant behavior, emphasizing the mind rather than the body.

1. Psychological theories are sometimes tied to the medical model, associating deviance with a sickness or a mental illness.

2. Some psychological theories suggest that deviance results from frustration, which may then lead to aggression and antisocial deviant behaviors.




V. Sociological Theories Explaining Deviance

Sociological theories attempt to explain deviance by looking at sociocultural processes and organizational structures, although acts and actors are considered as well.


A. Strain and Anomie Theory

1. STRAIN THEORIES suggest that in one way or another the experience of socially induced strain forces people to engage in deviant activities.

2. ANOMIE THEORY, an extension of Durkheim’s explanation of anomie (a condition of social normlessness), was fostered by Merton. A structural-functional theory, it focuses on value conflicts between culturally prescribed goals and socially approved ways of achieving them.

Merton's Deviance Typology

a. Merton identified five modes of individual adaptation to the strain between a society’s culturally prescribed goals and its social structure and institutionalized means of achieving them.

i. CONFORMITY: the person accepts both goals and means

ii. INNOVATION: the person accepts goals but rejects means

iii. RITUALISM: the person rejects goals but accepts means

iv. RETREATISM: the person rejects both goals and means

v. REBELLION: the person withdraws his or her allegiance to a society and seeks to bring in a new social structure

b. Some of the criticisms of Merton’s theory are that it erroneously assumes that a single system of cultural goals is shared by the entire society, that it fails to explain why some people choose one response while others choose another, and that the theory ignores the influence of societal reactions in shaping deviance.

c. The strengths of anomie theory are that it provides a framework for examining a wide range of social behavior, it has stimulated research, and itConflict Theories of Deviance has raised the social consciousness of deviance analysts.



B. CONFLICT THEORY contends that most societies contain many groups that have different, often conflicting, values and that the strongest groups in a society have the power to define the values of weaker groups as deviant.

1. Drawing from Marx, Quinney (1979) and Spitzer (1975) agree that deviance and deviants are defined and controlled by the powerful, and blame the lack of justice directly on the capitalist system.

2. According to the conflict perspective, deviance definitions are determined largely by the dominant class. Deviance rates are determined primarily by the extent to which certain behaviors threaten dominant class interests. Deviance control is, in a large part, determined by the extent to which the powerful can socialize and reward those who meet their demands.

3. Conflict theory has been criticized for its inability to explain nonpolitical crimes.


C. SOCIOCULTURAL LEARNING THEORIES suggest that deviant behaviors are learned through essentially the same processes as other behaviors. The theories emphasize the groups to which people belong and the norms prescribed by those groups.

1. CULTURAL TRANSMISSION THEORY (or subculture theory) explains the continuity of crime and deviance in geographical areas as the result of the transmission of deviant norms from one generation to another.

2. DIFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION THEORY suggests that deviance results when individuals have more contact with groups that define deviance favorably than with groups that define it unfavorably.

3. SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY focuses on the influence of operant conditioning and argues that the acquisition and persistence of deviant and conforming behavior are a function of what behaviors have been rewarded or punished in the past (DIFFERENTIAL REINFORCEMENT).

4. Sociocultural learning theories, in general, have been criticized because they fail to account for deviant acts committed alone, they are difficult to test empirically and they do not explain how deviance originated.


D. LABELING THEORY is concerned primarily with how certain behaviors are labeled deviant and how being given such a label influences a person’s behavior.Labeling Theory

1. Most labeling theorists are interactionists who regard deviance as a product of social interaction and the interpretations and definitions that people have of one another’s behavior.

2. The labeling perspective considers deviance to be a relative condition that results when certain groups create rules and label people as outsiders.

3. Lemert (1951) identified two types of deviance. Primary deviance is temporary norm-violating behavior and does not usually involve the person’s self-concept, while secondary deviance involves habitual norm-violating behavior in which the deviants regard themselves as deviant.

4. A deviance career results when deviance becomes routine, resulting in a label that perpetuates further deviance.

5. Becker (1974) suggests that the imposition of definitions is generally a consequence of social power: those who have it apply labels; those who lack it receive labels.

6. The successful application of labels has negative consequences inasmuch as it tends to promote a career of deviance by stigmatizing and isolating those labeled. It also encourages the development of deviant subcultures.

7. Labeling theory has been criticized because it does not explain the causes of deviance, it fails to predict who will be labeled and in what context and it is difficult to examine empirically.



VI. The Social Consequences of Deviance



A. Social Functions of Deviance: While traditionally viewed as a sign of social disorganization, deviance performs various social functions.

1. It can define the limits of social tolerance.

2. It can increase the solidarity and integration of a group.

3. It can serve as a safety valve for social discontent.

4. It can indicate defects or inadequacies in the existing social organization.

5. It can set in motion steps that lead to social change.


B. Social Dysfunctions of Deviance: If norm violations are widespread, long-term and more extreme, deviance can disrupt, establish or lead to the complete breakdown of social systems.


World Incarceration Rates If Every US State Were A Country

C. Deviance and CrimeDeviance and Crime

1. Deviance is variation from a set of norms or shared expectations, while crime is a violation of criminal statutory law, having specific punishment applied by some governmental authority.

2. Many types of deviant acts are crimes … some are not.

3. Accurate estimates of crime rates are difficult to make because a high percentage of most crimes go undetected and unreported.

4. Official data on crime in the US are collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and reported in a yearly volume titled
UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS (UCR). The crimes recorded are divided into categories: violent crimes and property crimes.

5. WHITE-COLLAR CRIME: crimes committed by respectable people of high social status in the course of their business or professional activities - rarely result in prison sentences.

6. ORGANIZED CRIME consists of groups expressly organized to carry out illegal activities. Organized crime has a strict hierarchy … control is maintained through threats, intimidation and violence.


US Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023



VII. Deviance and Social ControlMerton's Adaptations 1

Social control consists of the means that a society uses to encourage conformity and to discourage deviance.



A. INTERNAL CONTROLS OF DEVIANCE are those that exist within the particular individual’s moral and social codes of behavior.

1. Most social control is directly related to a person’s sense of social self through the process of socialization.

2. The looking-glass self and the self-fulfilling prophecy concepts can be applied in the maintaining of social control. Knowledge of these theories can be useful in personal and professional relationships.

3. The internalization of social norms, a direct result of socialization experiences in early childhood and later in life, is a major factor in the relatively high prevalence of conformity.


B. EXTERNAL CONTROLS OF DEVIANCE are those that come from outside an individual and can be either informal or formal.Merton's Adaptations 2

1. INFORMAL EXTERNAL CONTROLS involve peers, friends, parents or other regular associates. Kraut (1976) found that informal sanctions are a stronger deterrent than formal sanctions.

2. FORMAL EXTERNAL CONTROLS: the systems created by society specifically to control deviance (courts, police officers and prisons) ... probably the least influential type of controls.


Deviance and Social Control

Michael Milken












Stratification & Differentiation


I. Social StratificationSocial inequality is the unequal distribution of scarce goods or resources.


A. INEQUALITY, which is the unequal distribution of scarce goods or resources, is found in most, if not all, societies. Some goods and resources are hard to get in every society.


B. People vary according to social characteristics, known as SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION. Usually people are not ranked according to these.


C. People are ranked according to the scarce resources they control; this is known as SOCIAL STRATIFICATION.

1. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION is the system of ranking people according to their wealth, prestige, or social status.

2. Stratification, then, is a hierarchical structure of society.

3. A person’s position in the stratification system influences every part of his or her life.

10% of world's population owns 76% of world's total wealth.








II. Types of Societies and Social Differentiation

Stratification increases as societies grow more complex and wealthy On the basis of this notion, Lenski discerned five basic types of society.


A. HUNTING AND GATHERING SOCIETIES, which are nomadic foraging groups, accumulate no surpluses of food or supplies so no one can become wealthy — so have little stratification.


B. In SIMPLE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETIES, there is an occasional agricultural surplus and some DIVISION OF LABOR. As labor is divided, some people acquire wealth and status and a stratification system develops.


C. In ADVANCED HORTICULTURAL SOCIETIES, farming techniques are much more efficient and division of labor is more prominent. A variety of occupations develops as the population increases, and both social differentiation and social stratification become more pronounced.


D. AGRARIAN SOCIETIES develop relatively sophisticated technology. Surpluses are. relatively large and classes of soldiers and merchants arise. Such societies become severely stratified.


E. In INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES, such as the US and Europe, the greatest division of labor, the most wealth and the most stratification work is specialized, and people are highly interdependent. Durkheim called this sort of integration ORGANIC SOLIDARITY. MECHANICAL SOLIDARITY, he argued, occurs in preindustrial societies wherein people do similar work but are not very dependent on each other.



III. Types of Stratification: There are two basic types of stratification systems.SOCIAL CLASSES GRAPHIC


A. In a CASTE SYSTEM, one’s caste is ascribed at birth and cannot be changed, although the caste as a whole can rise or fall in the social hierarchy. A caste system is a CLOSED SYSTEM because mobility between classes is impossible.


B. In a CLASS SYSTEM, anyone can move from class to class by gaining or losing wealth. Since such movement is possible, class systems are considered OPEN SYSTEMS.



IV. Sources of Power


A. According to Weber, the scarce resources used to rank people are the sources of power in society. The three scarce resources that are sources of power are class, status and party.


B. SOCIAL CLASS is based on wealth, the power derived from wealth and life chances to acquire wealth. LIFE CHANCES are the opportunities people have to improve their income.


C. SOCIAL STATUS is the amount of honor and prestige a person receives from others in the community. People who have status have power because they can influence those who respect them. They can use this influence to increase their wealth.


D. A PARTY is an organization in which decisions are made to reach the group’s goals.

1. Membership in a party can be used to enhance one’s social status.

2. Class, status and party are often closely interrelated.


E. Because positions in a social hierarchy are influenced by many factors, it is difficult to determine a person’s precise position.

1. To assess status, sociologists have developed the concept of SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS (SES), a measure of income, education and occupation.

2. Usually, but not always, there is a consistent pattern among these three rankings of status.



V. Theories of Social StratificationTheories of Social Stratification


A. STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONALISTS state that societies consist of interrelated parts, each of which serves a function in maintaining the society as a whole.

1. According to this view, societies must reward those who possess uncommon skills and perform important roles.

2. Those who make greater contributions to the functioning of society are more highly rewarded.

3. This perspective argues that if society had an equal need for all types of work, then all its members would be equal in the stratification system.


B. CONFLICT theorists reject the functional viewpoint, arguing that inequality develops out of competition for power.

1. In this view, close-knit groups compete with one another to gain possession of the scarce resources that are a source of power.

2. Once a group attains dominance, it LEGITIMATES its power by appealing to the values of the masses.

3. These beliefs and perceptions, when accepted by the masses, become the prevailing IDEOLOGY, our ideas of society — how it should function and how it should be evaluated.A Lopsided World

4. If the masses are influenced by elite ideology, they are said to have FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS, a lack of awareness of their own interests and an acceptance of elite rule.

5. If the masses are aware that people’s fates are tied to the fate of their whole class, they are said to have what is called CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS.

6. In summary, theories of social stratification are important not only for our own understanding but they provide a basis on which politicians and legislators develop social policies.


C. Attempts at SynthesisClass Struggle Cartoon

1. Accumulating research suggests that stratification systems have a variety of causes. Both the functional and conflict theories can contribute to our understanding of them.

2. It is widely accepted that all stratification systems are based on the consensus among members of society that inequality is good, fair and just.

3. People may accept stratification because they value achievements of the wealthy or because they have been misled by the media.



VI. Inequality in the United States


Social Inequality in the US


A. The Distribution of Income

1. In 2001, the median income in the US for people with full-time jobs was $28,283 for men and $17,868 for women (Current Population Reports, 2001).

2. In the US during the decades of the 1990s, the rich did get richer and the poor got poorer. In 1980, the poorest 20% of households received only 3.9% of the total available income. By 2001, that figure had DECREASED to 3.5%. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of households received 46.6% of the available 1990 income, and that figure INCREASED to 50.1% in 2001.

3. This income distribution is similar to European countries’ distribution; but in European countries, tax and social programs distribute earnings much more equally than in the US.This visualization re-imagines US Census data as a neighborhood of 100 homes and groups the households by income, 2020.



How wealth is divided in the US, 2022


B. The Distribution of Wealth

1. Wealth consists of personal property as well as income.

2. The 13,000 richest families in the US now have almost as much income as the 20 million poorest.

3. More over, the wealthy actually CONTROL even more money than they POSSESS.

4. In comparing statistics of the wealthy with other countries, we see that the holdings of the wealthy are generally comparable to those of the US. In England and Ireland, the very wealthy hold an even greater share of their countries’ wealth than in the US, while in Canada, the wealthy own a considerably smaller share than is the case in the US.



1. Early studies on status in the US indicated that status was conferred on others on the basis of their wealth.

2. A study of “Middletown” by the Lynds in the 1930s found substantial differences between the business class and the working class. A more recent study found it more difficult to identify classes among the population.


D. Class Consciousness

1. Jackman and Jackman (1983) found in a national study that most respondents defined themselves as belonging to one of five classes: poor (7.6%), working class (36.6%), middle class (43.3%), upper middle class (8.2%) and upper class (1%).

2. Members of the different classes are aware of others in their class and of their political interests.

3. However, most Americans believe that government should do nothing to create greater equality, even when government changes to tax policy cause greater inequality.

4. As a result, the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.


E. Poverty

1. The poverty line in 2002 was $18,390 for a nonfarm family of four. In 2001, 11.1% of the population, or 27.7 million people, were living in poverty.

2. Jobs for the poor would not solve the problem. Of the adult poor, 40% work at jobs that pay so little that they fall below the poverty line. Only about 5% of poor people are adults who could be working but are not, and most of these do not work because they cannot find work.

3. The level of poverty in the US is generally higher than in other countries, particularly the proportion of children who are poor.


Poverty Facts (PDF, 80.21KB)



VII. Inequality and Life Chances


A. Occupations

1. For most people in the US, the most important life chance is the opportunity to have a dignified job that provides an adequate income. Job opportunities vary with social class, however.

2. The majority of people in the US are considered working class because they work in blue-collar jobs.

3. Many low-paid, working-class people fall below the poverty line and enter the class that has come to be called the working poor.

These two neighborhoods are connected by one bridge over a gully. Yet, they may as well be in separate countries given the obvious class differences.

B. Housing and Life Style: The rich often own several homes. Members of the upper-middle class often have a house in the suburbs, as do some members of the working class, but are less apt to own their own homes. The poor usually live in inadequate housing. The very poorest class lives in shelters or on the street.



C. Education

1. The children of the rich and many middle-class families go to college but few working-class children get more than a high school education. Children from poor families tend to drop out of high school and often live in neighborhoods with poor schools, where they may not even learn to read and write.

2. Education is a life chance very closely associated with family wealth.


D. Medical Care

1. Medical care is not distributed equally. Most members of the upper and middle classes have health insurance but the poor have trouble preventing illness and getting care when they are sick.

2. Some estimates are that one-third of Americans do not have health insurance and do not obtain the same medical care as the rich.

3. In the US, children have low rates of immunization for diseases compared to other nations.

4. In all modern industrialized societies except the US and South Africa, everyone is covered by a national health system; children are immunized and adults are treated promptly, usually at no cost to the patient.


E. Applying Knowledge of Inequality and Life Chances - A knowledge of class-related differences in life chances and of the consequences of inequality has implications for clinical sociologists and other therapists, for policy makers such as politicians and legislators, for teachers and for others.



VIII. Social Mobility in the United States

Social mobility is movement from one position to another. It can be UPWARD or DOWNWARD, INTRAGENERATIONAL (a change in one’s class or status within a person’s own lifetime experiences) or INTERGENERATIONAL (wherein mobility is measured by comparing the social position of parents and children).


Social Class

A. Structural Characteristics of Mobility in the United States

Mobility in the US is influenced by numerous factors, some of which are listed below:

1. The growth of large corporations has made it possible for those who work in them to make relatively high wages.

2. The increasing standard of living has improved the lives of most American workers.

3. Since the cost of living is higher in cities, the growth of urban areas has led to higher wages for city dwellers.

4. The US has a SPLIT LABOR MARKET in which some jobs lead to upward mobility and others do not. People such as women, the poor and minority groups (rarely on career tracks) may have trouble improving their wages.

5. Advanced technology has eliminated some jobs involving manual labor and has increased the number of white-collar clerical and service jobs.


Social Mobility

B. Individual Characteristics and Upward Mobility

1. One study showed that boys with ambitious attitudes had to change their attitudes when they could not reach their goals.

2. Other studies show that the factor that most accurately predicts men’s future income is family background.

3. Structural-functionalists believe that the best way to increase upward mobility is to increase the opportunities available to children from poor families.

4. Conflict theorists contend that opportunity and equality for the poor can only be brought about by changes in the stratification system and in the distribution of wealth.


Social Class in the United States












Stratification & Differentiation: Race and Ethnicity


I. Racial, Ethnic and Minority Groups


A. Racial GroupsRace vs Ethnicity

1. A RACIAL GROUP is a socially defined group distinguished by selected inherited physical characteristics.

2. The concept of racial groups is controversial. Even anthropologists and biologists disagree over the issue of whether race is a meaningful biological concept.

3. Classifications of peoples by skin color has been complicated by the effects of climate and biological mixing. In reality, no truly objective criteria of racial groups based solely on physical or biological characteristics exists.

4. Social definitions far outweigh biological definitions.


B. Ethnic Groups

1. An ETHNIC GROUP is a group defined by race, religion or national origin as such that its members share a sense of people-hood.

2. Whereas race is based on social definitions of selected physical characteristics, ethnicity is based upon cultural traits that reflect national origin, religion and language.


C. Minority Groups

1. A MINORITY GROUP is a group that is subordinate to the majority in power and privilege. Such groups are usually, but not always, smaller than the dominant group.

2. In the US, the most highly valued norms have historically been those of the WASP middle classes.



II. Attitudes and Their Influence

One of the most serious problems faced by most racial and ethnic groups is how they are perceived and treated by others.


A. A PREJUDICE is a negative attitude toward an entire category of people.

1. ECONOMIC THEORIES OF PREJUDICE suggest that competition between groups is inevitable when different groups seek commodities that are in short supply.

2. PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES OF PREJUDICE suggest that prejudice satisfies psychic needs or compensates for personality defects. SCAPEGOATING involves blaming another person or group for one’s own problems. PROJECTION involves attributing one’s own unacceptable traits or behaviors to another person or group. FRUSTRATION-AGGRESSION THEORY, a form of projection, suggests that groups that fall repeatedly to achieve desired goals take out their frustration on a socially approved target, a racial or ethnic group.

3. AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY THEORY suggests that people with a certain type of personality are relatively likely to be prejudiced.

4. STEREOTYPES are widely held beliefs about the character and behavior of all members of a group. Stereotypes of minorities tend to be negative.

a. Stereotyping is functional in that it helps us sort people into categories, but it is dysfunctional in that it distorts reality and is often used to justify discrimination. Stereotyping may also lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy, which occurs when a prediction influences people’s behavior such that the prediction comes true.

5. In applying theories of prejudice, Allport (1954) noted that interracial interaction reduces prejudice only when the groups are of equal status, have common goals and have their interactions sanctioned by authorities. An approach based on these principles, known as the jigsaw technique, has been developed to reduce prejudice in the classroom. A variety of approaches to reducing prejudice in the community at large have been developed. A knowledge of prejudice can also be useful on the job and in personal life.


B. DISCRIMINATION is overt behaviors or actions excluding all members of a group from certain rights, opportunities or privileges.

1. While prejudice is a judgment, discrimination is an action. The dominant group in a society practices discrimination to protect its advantages.

2. INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATION is the continuing exclusion or oppression of a group as a result of criteria established by an institution.



III. Racism

RACISM is the belief that one racial group or category is inherently superior to others. It includes prejudices and discriminatory behaviors.


A. Racism has three components.

1. the belief that one’s own race is superior to other races, known as ethnocentrism

2. an ideology that justifies the subjugation of another group

3. The beliefs are acted upon.


B. Individual racism originates in the racist beliefs of a single person. INSTITUTIONAL RACISM occurs when racist ideas and practices are embodied in the folkways, mores or legal structures of a society’s institutions. The policy of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa is one of the most notorious examples of institutional racism.


C. Racism can take on many forms: separatism, segregation, subjugation, exploitation, expulsion and others.

1. GENOCIDE is the deliberate destruction of an entire race or ethnic group. The destruction of the Jews in Nazi Germany was the most heinous example of genocide in history, but it has been practiced at all times and in many parts of the world.

2. MASS EXPULSION is the practice of expelling racial or ethnic groups from their homeland. The US routinely used expulsion to resolve conflicts with Native Americans. Racist thinking and doctrine have declined since 1950, but they are still a serious problem in many parts of the world.



IV. Patterns of Group Interaction

Racial, ethnic, or minority stratification is not unique to the United States; examples can be found in Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries and Yugoslavia.


A. Ethnic stratification: Inequality and Interaction

1. In America, the predominant norms, values, beliefs and ideals are those of the WASP majority. Groups that diverge from these norms tend to have lower positions in the social hierarchy.

2. Noel contends that ethnocentrism, competition for scarce resources and inequalities in power are prerequisites of ethnic stratification in a society. It is inequalities in power that permit one group to impose its will on the others.

3. Conflict theories argue that the relative powerlessness of minority groups provides a basis for exploitation and a pool of cheap labor for the ruling class.

4. African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic-Americans had the lowest median family incomes and lowest levels of education in 1980. Asian-Americans have a higher college completion rate than other ethnic groups.


B. Ethnic Antagonism

1. ETHNIC ANTAGONISM is mutual opposition, conflict or hostility among different ethnic groups.

2. Bonacich’s theory of the SPLIT LABOR MARKET suggests that when the price of labor for the same work differs by ethnic group, a three-way conflict develops between business, higher-priced labor and cheaper labor. Business aims at having as cheap and docile a labor force as possible.

3. If the higher-paid group has the power, they may attempt to keep the cheaper labor from entering the market, EXCLUSION, or implement a CASTE SYSTEM in which cheaper labor can only get low-paying jobs. DISPLACEMENT, in which higher-paid labor is replaced with cheaper labor, may also occur.

4. An alternative to the split labor market is RADICALISM, in which the different labor groups join together in a coalition against the capitalist class and present a united front.

5. Bonacich believes that as long as there is cheap labor anywhere in the world, there may not be a solution to a split labor market within a capitalist system.


C. Integration and Assimilation

1. INTEGRATION occurs when ethnicity becomes insignificant and everyone can participate fully in the social, economic and political mainstream of a society.

2. ASSIMILATION occurs when individuals and groups forsake their own cultural tradition to become part of a different group and tradition.

3. SOCIAL DISTANCE is the degree of intimacy and equality between two groups. It is measured by the degree of intimacy and equality between two groups.

4. In MELTING POT assimilation, each group contributes a bit of its own culture and absorbs aspects of other groups.

5. In ANGLO-CONFORMITY assimilation, the minority gives up its identity and conforms to that of the dominant WASP culture.

6. STRUCTURAL ASSIMILATION involves developing patterns of intimate contact between the guest and host groups in the clubs, organizations and institutions of the host society.

7. Cultural assimilation generally precedes structural assimilation, although the two sometimes happen simultaneously. It has occurred on a large scale in American society, although the various minorities differed at the pace at which they were assimilated.

8. With white ethnics of European origin, cultural assimilation went hand in hand with AMALGAMATION, the biological mixing through large-scale intermarriage.


D. Segregation

1. SEGREGATION is the physical and social separation of groups of categories of people. The most significant segregation found today is the polarization of whites in the suburbs and blacks and other minorities in inner cities.

2. Although antidiscrimination legislation and government programs have decreased segregation, it still presents obstacles to many members of minority groups. RED LINING is the practice among mortgage-lending institutions of imposing artificial restrictions on housing loans for areas where minorities have started to buy.

3. Prior to the BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION decision of 1954, much of the South practiced DE JURE SEGREGATION, in which children were assigned to schools solely on the basis of race. More recently, especially in the North and West, attention has shifted to DE FACTO SEGREGATION, where blacks and whites attended different schools because they lived in different neighborhoods. This pattern led to legislation in many cities that bused blacks and whites out of their neighborhood schools for the purpose of achieving racial balance.

Historic Shift in US Demographics

4. While it is unclear if present segregation is de jure or de facto, what is clear is that the vast majority of black children in many inner cities attend schools that are predominantly black.


E. Pluralism

1. MULTICULTURALISM or CULTURAL PLURALISM exists when the various racial, ethnic or other minority groups in a society maintain their distinctive cultural patterns, subsystems and institutions.

2. Several authorities believe that assimilation and pluralism are occurring simultaneously in American society today. For example, Gordon (1978) contends that assimilation of minorities is the trend in economic, political and educational institutions, whereas cultural pluralism prevails in religion, the family and recreation.



V. Major Racial, Ethnic and Other Minority Groups in the United StatesRACIAL & ETHNIC POPULATIONS IN THE US


A. Hispanic-Americans comprise the largest minority group in the US.

1. As of 2000, there were about 33.3 million people claiming Hispanic origins (12.5%). While the US population as a whole increased by about 10% in the past decade, the Hispanic-American population increased 53%.

2. Hispanic-Americans include those who classify themselves as Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American and other Hispanics.

3. Mexican-Americans, also called Chicanos, are the largest group.

a. Over 1 million are descendants of the native Mexicans who lived in the Southwest of what is now the US.

b. Others came from Mexico since 1948 and can be divided into three types:

i. Legal immigrants

ii. Braceos (temporary workers)

iii. Illegal aliens

c. The estimates are that between 1 and 10 million illegal aliens from Mexico are in the US today.

d. The extended family is the most important social institution in the Chicano community.

e. Mexican-American families tend to be large and family incomes are often low.

f. To improve educational and income level, several Mexican-American social movements have emerged over the past three decades. One urged bilingual instruction and another, led by Cesar Chavez, organized Mexican migrant farm workers to strike against grape and lettuce growers and then later to boycott these products.


B. African-Americans are the second largest racial minority in the US (12.3%). They have been affected by five major social transitions.

1. The transition from freedom in Africa to slavery in the US.

2. The transition from slavery to emancipation.

3. The transition from rural to urban areas and from southern to northern communities.

4. The transition from negative to positive social status.

5. The transition from negative to positive self-image.


C. Asian-Americans

1. Asian Americans, the third largest minority group in the US, are a very diverse group.

2. The most numerous groups are those with Chinese, Filipino and Japanese heritages.

3. The Chinese were the first group to move to the US in large numbers. They tend to resist assimilation.

4. Today, most Chinese live in large enclaves in major cities. In such areas, there are often problems with overcrowding, poverty and inadequate care for the elderly.

5. The Japanese are more fully integrated into American life than the Chinese. Because they came from a developing industrial nation, they used their international power as resources and they arrived with their families.

6. During World War II, many Japanese were interned in relocation camps because the federal government was afraid they would work against the American war effort.


D. Native Americans

1. The Native American population of the US is actually a varied group of tribes with many different customs and beliefs.

2. At the time of European invasion, about 200 distinct groups existed that have been grouped into seven major geographical areas.

3. After declining steadily for many years, the Native American population began to increase in about 1900, passing the 1 million mark in the 1970s.

4. By the 1960s, more Native Americans became wards of the government and lived on reservations administered by the BIA.

5. Native Americans are among the most deprived American minority groups.

6. Since the 1960s and 1970s, many Native American tribes banded together to bargain more effectively with the federal government. They remain a subordinate group.


E. WASPS and White Ethnic Americans

1. Most of the white population in the US emigrated from northern and western European countries. Later migration came more from southern and eastern countries.

2. WASPS in the US are a minority in number, but a majority in terms of political and economic power.

3. Historically, WASP immigrants displayed what became known as the Protestant Ethic and pressured other groups to think and behave the same.

4. Today, many American ethnic communities are reasserting not only their folk culture, but also their ethnic identities.


F. Jewish-Americans

1. One of the predominant religious ethnic groups is the Jewish-American. America has the largest Jewish population in the world with its estimated 6.5 million exceeding the approximately 4 million Jews in Israel.

2. The Jewish community today is bound together more by ethnic and cultural ties than by religious ties.

3. There is a long history of anti-Semitism in the US and Europe. This anti-Semitism tends to unify Jewish-Americans.Changing Face of America



VI. The Future


A. For ethnic groups and integration in the US, serious problems remain to be overcome.


B. Racism continues to play an important role in the lives of members of minorities, but most observers agree that the situation has improved in the past three decades.


C. The reduction of institutional racism has led to the contact hypothesis, which suggests that interracial contact leads to reductions in prejudice when the interaction is pleasant and the parties involved are of equal status.


D. Changes in the way minorities are portrayed in the mass media have reduced the levels of prejudice.


E. Frequent findings that the population of the US is better educated all the time may be contributing to further reductions in prejudice and discrimination.














Stratification & Differentiation: Gender


I. Sex and Gender DifferentiationThe Gender Gap

SEX refers to biological characteristics, the genetic, hormonal and anatomical differences between males and females. GENDER refers to social differences between the sexes, specifically to the cultural concepts of masculinity and femininity. GENDER ROLES refers to the behaviors that are expected of men and women. They are roles required to fill the needs of the society.


A. Biological Bases of Gender Differentiation

1. Males and females differ from the moment of conception, when sex is determined.

2. Between birth and puberty, the hormones produced by males and females are the same. Chromosome differences cause very few physical differences between boys and girls other than the development of either male or female sex organs.


B. Social Bases of Gender Differentiation: In applying the social basis of gender differentiation, we need to understand that parents, teachers and others who interact with children are often unaware that they treat males and females differently. This differential treatment can result in the development of stereotypical gender traits.


C. Adult Sex Differentiation

1. Cross-cultural studies demonstrate the variety of gender roles men and women play in societies depends on the norms of the society and not on any physical characteristics.

2. For example, in US society, even though women have greater finger dexterity and should be very capable of performing surgery, needlepoint or dentistry, most dentists and surgeons are men.


D. Cross-Cultural Gender Differentiation: In the studies by Mead (1935) in New Guinea and Leavitt (1971) in Africa, men and women occupy roles very unlike those typically found in the US.



II. Theories of Gender Differentiation


A. STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONALISTS believe that gender roles in a society perform a function in maintaining the whole system.

1. Structural-functional theorists contend that many traditional family functions are now performed by other social institutions. The complementary roles of husband and wife are changing to parallel roles, where roles of husband and wife are similar.

2. Most functionalists believe that the family will benefit as equality increases between men and women.


B. CONFLICT THEORISTS believe that women have low status because they have been exploited by more powerful men for the work they do and the children they provide.

1. As industrial society creates more wealth and power for men, men will use their wealth and power to improve their own position.

2. Women will lag much farther behind men.



III. Gender Differentiation and the Workplace


A. Women in the Workplace

1. Women have always played an important economic role in society. During the Middle Ages, many women worked in the home or joined nunneries or BEGUINES, which were urban communes of women who pursued such occupations as sewing, baking, spinning and weaving.

2. Goods traditionally produced by women in the home were the first to be manufactured in factories at the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Many women went to work in the factories.

3. In 1941, with men sent overseas to war, women held a multiplicity of jobs and earned a good salary. So many women worked in defense plants that they were often called Rosie the Riveter.

4. After the war, men returned and women went back to the home and began the baby boom.

5. In the 1960s, because of a labor shortage, women were again welcomed into the labor force, especially in low-paying jobs.

6. According to the March 15, 2001 report, 60.7% of women were in the work force.


B. Income

1. The median income for women working full-time in 2000 was $27,355 as compared to $37,339 for men.

2. In 1960, women earned 61% of what men made. During the 1960s and 1970s, the gap between men and women widened as more women moved into the work force and took low-paying jobs.

3. By the late 1970s, women made only 59% of what men made. This wage differential is now narrowing, largely because the mean income of men is decreasing.

4. There are several reasons for this continuing gap in earning:

a. More women than men are entering the work force in low-paying occupations, often having no career lines.

b. Women are paid less than men even though they hold equivalent jobs.

c. People with low salaries receive smaller raises.


C. The Split Labor Market

1. One reason women are not advancing is the SPLIT LABOR MARKET, in which there are two distinct and unequal groups of workers.

2. The PRIMARY LABOR MARKET is reserved for elites, people who will advance to high-level positions, such as corporate managers, professionals and engineers.

3. Most women work in the SECONDARY LABOR MARKET, in which pay is low, job security is poor and there are few promotions or salary increases. Many of these jobs are being moved from industrialized countries to Third World countries, where labor is cheaper.


D. Comparable Worth

1. Many women argue that pay should be based on COMPARABLE WORTH — work of equal value requiring the same level of skill should earn equal pay.

2. The idea of comparable worth has met with a great deal of resistance because companies resist increasing salaries and women have little bargaining power.

3. A worker can legally be paid less if the job has low prestige.


E. Upward Mobility

1. Women who reach management-level positions seem to confront a glass ceiling. Currently, only 5% of all senior executives in Fortune 500 companies are women.

2. Research has shown that in order to increase earnings and to get promoted into executive positions, a person needs experience in two areas: authority and autonomy. Women have less authority and less autonomy in their work than men.

3. Even when education and work are equal, women continue to lack opportunity regardless of whether they have family responsibilities.


F. Women’s Work in the Family

1. Women do most of the housework and provide most of the child care.

2. Women do most of the unpleasant chores. Men make decisions.

3. When men do help in household chores, it is still considered helping the woman.

4. When women try to manage work, housework and children, their health suffers under the strain.

a. As a group, they are less healthy than working, childless women and also women over forty.

b. If they are dominated by their husbands, doing more housework and having little decision-making processes, they are likely to suffer from depression.

c. Women face a glass ceiling in both the workplace and the home.



IV. The Women’s Movement

The WOMEN’S MOVEMENT: efforts by women to gain political and economic power ... has been in existence since the Civil War


A. The Women’s Movement in Europe

1. The women’s movement in Europe has stressed special privileges for women.

2. Most European nations pay women well, offer paid leaves-of-absence and have excellent day care because women assume most of the responsibility for childrearing. However, in Sweden, either parent may take a leave for one year.


B. The Women’s Movement in the United States

1. In the US, the women’s movement has emphasized equal rights. Deciding on the cause of equality has actually divided women.

2. The women’s movement has succeeded in gaining many rights for women. However, it has failed to gain guaranteed equal rights.

3. Although the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT was approved by Congress and is supported by 60% of the population, it was not ratified by enough states to become part of the Constitution.

4. Without adequate pay, American women who are widowed, divorced or never married often find themselves and their children living in poverty.

5. The benefits that European women received as a result of their movement assures them that they and their children are not as likely to be poor as they would be if they lived in the US.



V. The Consequences of Inequality

The most obvious result of gender inequality in the US is the high poverty among women.


A. Gender and Poverty

1. 33% of all women heads of families have incomes below the poverty line.

2. The number of women living in poverty is increasing.

3. This increase of women who headed households suffering poverty has been called the FEMINIZATION OF POVERTY.

4. No-fault-divorce laws, which do not require that blame be placed for the breakdown of a marriage, tend to favor the man.

a. A man who divorces his wife can expect a 42% rise in his standard of living, while a woman who is divorced will experience a 73% decline in her standard of living.

b. If a father sues for custody, the low earning of a woman may be taken into account by the courts. In 70% of the cases where this occurs, the father will win because he has the financial means to support his children.

c. Traditional divorce laws allowed for alimony to be paid usually to the ex-wife, which allowed her economic support for life.

d. In no-fault-divorce laws, only temporary financial support is usually awarded as a measure to give the wife time to find a job and adjust to a new life.


B. Women’s Self-Esteem

1. Most women are housewives and mothers at least for apart of their lives. Because our society gives little respect and esteem to these roles, women accord themselves little respect for accomplishments in these roles.

2. Many women have low esteem regarding their personal appearances.

3. Because women are socialized to be more dependent than men, this leads to lower self-esteem and creates feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, which often leads to depression.


C. Medical Care

1. According to research, women receive less care for the major fatal diseases, but are often subjected to unnecessary medical procedures, such as hysterectomies.

2. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in new reproductive technologies, with the major emphasis on amniocentesis and artificial reproduction.


D. Sexual Harassment

1. Women in all types of jobs suffer from SEXUAL HARASSMENT: sexual advances by coworkers or superiors at work.

2. In one survey, 70% of the women questioned reported that they had experienced some form of harassment.

3. In many cases, there is no satisfactory way to deal with sexual harassment. The victim must quit, transfer to another job or suffer in silence.


E. Family Violence

1. Family violence is a widespread problem in the US. Abused women must sometimes put up with abuse because they have no money and no place to go and are unable to support themselves and their children.


F. Rape

1. According the 2002 FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 33 reported rapes for every 100,000 inhabitants in the population. The actual incidence of rape is probably two or three times higher.

2. The rate of rape in the US is much higher than that of many reporting European countries.


4. Rape is an act of aggression, not of sexuality.

5. During rape trials, the victim is often forced to prove that the rape occurred and to defend her reputation.

6. Rape and other forms of violence are a result of the norms of aggressiveness that men learn to display toward women. Another reason is that as long as a society gives one sex a lower status than the other, it does not provide for mutual respect and violence is expected to continue.



VI. The Future of Gender Inequality


A. If the functionalists are correct, women will gradually win promotions and pay increases that will move them into the upper echelons of the world of work.


B. If the conflict theorists are correct, women will be trapped in the secondary labor market, losing out on pay increases and promotions and falling further and further behind men.


C. A third alternative is that educated women will compete in the primary labor market and working-class women will fall behind as they have in the secondary labor market.










Social Institutions

A social institution is an established practice, tradition, behavior, or system of roles and relationships that is considered a normative structure or arrangement within a society. The five major social institutions in sociology are family, education, religion, government (political), and the economy. Social institutions have several key characteristics: are enduring and stable, serve a purpose (ideally providing better chances for human survival and flourishing), have roles that need to be filled, govern the behavior and expectations of sets of individuals within a given community, governed by ingrained rules in the basic cultural values of a society and consist of a complex cluster of social norms. Social institutions also serve general functions, including: allocating resources, creating meaning, maintaining order and growing society and its influence. Social institutions exist to meet society's fundamental needs, such as providing structure, guidance and order.

Perspectives on Social Institutions    Defining Social Institutions

















Social Institutions: Family


I. What is a Family?


A. The FAMILY has traditionally been defined as a group of kin united by blood, marriage or adoption, who share a common residence for some part of their lives and who assume rights and obligations with each other.


B. TODAY the term FAMILY is addressed and defined by many writers in terms of intimate relationships, sexual bonds and family realms, rather than by some fixed legal or residential criteria.


C. There is tremendous variation in family structure in various cultures around the world.

1. The CONJUGAL FAMILY must include a husband and wife.

2. The NUCLEAR FAMILY consists of two or more people related by blood, marriage or adoption who share a residence.

3. The family in which one is born and reared is the FAMILY OF ORIENTATION. The family one forms when one marries and has children is the FAMILY OF PROCREATION.

4. The EXTENDED FAMILY consists of two or more nuclear families with other relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

5. The typical American family has what is called a MODIFIED FAMILY STRUCTURE, in which individual nuclear families have considerable autonomy yet maintain connections with other families.

6. In applying definitions of family, the knowledge of the variety of forms the family can take can assist the social scientist, the politician, therapeutic counselors, and the individual.

7. KINSHIP is the web of relationships among people linked by ancestry, adoption or marriage.



II. Variations in Kinship and Family Organization


A. Marriage and Number of SpousesYemen family

1. MONOGAMY is the marriage of one man to one woman at a time. Throughout the world, this form is the only one universally recognized.

a. It is the predominant form even in societies where other forms exist.

b. Only about 20% of the world’s societies are strictly monogamous.

c. Serial or SEQUENTIAL MONOGAMY occurs when a relationship with one spouse is ended and a new spouse is married.

2. POLYGAMY is marriage to more than one spouse at a time.

3. POLYGYNY is marriage of one man to more than one woman. This type of marriage is practiced in 77% of the world’s societies.

4. POLYANDRY is marriage of one woman to more than one man. It is practiced in 1% of the world’s societies.

5. GROUP MARRIAGE is marriage of more than one man to more than one woman. This practice is not the dominant form in any society.


B. Norms of Residence

1. In Western societies, the norm of residence is neolocal: the newlywed couple lives alone wherever it wishes. This practice is the norm for only 10% of the world’s societies.

2. Most societies are PATRILOCAL: the newlywed couple lives in the groom’s community, usually in his parent’s compound.

3. MATRILOCAL residence norms, in which the newlywed couple lives with the wife’s parents, occurs in about 15% of societies that Murdock studied.


C. Norms of Descent and Inheritance

1. PATRILINEAL DESCENT, in which kinship is traced through the male kin, is the most common system. The father and his relatives protect and socialize children and pass on wealth to sons.

2. MATRILINEAL DESCENT, in which descent and inheritance are traced through the mother’s line, is also practiced in some societies.

3. The US has a BILATERAL descent system in which kinship is traced through both parents and inheritances are divided in equal proportions among children of both sexes.


D. Norms of Authority

1. Most societies are PATRIARCHAL: the men have power and authority.

2. MATRIARCHAL societies, in which females are dominant, are rare.

3. The EGALITARIAN model, in which males and females share authority equally, is the least common model.


E. Norms for Choice of Marriage Partner

1. In EXOGAMOUS SOCIETIES, people must marry outside their own group.

2. In ENDOGAMOUS SOCIETIES, people considering marriage must share certain group characteristics.

3. INCEST is sexual relations or marriages with close relatives.

4. Certain exogamous norms, such as the taboo on incest, are almost universal.

5. Several explanations behind the evolution of norms on endogamy and exogamy are offered. However, both restrict the eligibility of available marriage partners for both sexes.



III. A Functionalist Perspective on the Family



A. Socialization is one of the most important functions of families. In the family, children learn the rules and expectations of society. Parents are socialized by the family as well.


B. The family is the chief source of affection and emotional support for people of all ages.


C. The family is the chief means of regulating sexual behavior.


D. The family is the most widely approved context for having children.

1. Malinowski’s PRINCIPLE OF LEGITIMACY states that every society has a rule that every child should have a legitimate father to act as his or her protector and representative in society.

2. Although it is possible for children born outside the family to become well-adjusted adults, it is the family that universally fulfills the function of giving legal status and social approval to parenthood and reproduction.

3. The recognition that the bonds between parents and children are largely social can be of use to counselors in dealing with the problems of adoptive parents, who may fear rejection because they are not biologically related to their child, and in dealing with BLENDED FAMILIES composed of at least one formerly married spouse, the children of the previous marriage and new offspring.


E. The family provides an important role in the social placement of children determining what roles and statuses the child will occupy in a society.



IV. A Conflict Perspective on the Family: Conflict theorists contend that the family is an arena for conflicts over power and control.


A. Engels claimed that the family serves as the chief means of oppressing women.


B. In families, the notion of property covers not just homes and possessions, but sexual rights as well. In societies dominated by men, the principal form of sexual property is male ownership of females.


C. Men have acquired power over women by their physical strength and their freedom from the physical limitation of childbirth.


D. As women have acquired economic independence and birth control devices have been developed, women have achieved a better bargaining position in the struggle for power.


E. The knowledge that marital conflicts may result from inequality rather than personality clashes may be useful in resolving difficulties in relationships.



V. Other Perspectives on the Family


A. Exchange Perspective

1. Exchange theory assumes that people weigh the rewards and costs of their social interactions. Therefore, it is argued that people try to get the best spouse for what they have to offer within the context of social norms.

2. COMPLEMENTARY NEEDS theory suggests that people select mates whose needs complement their own. There is little empirical support for this theory.

3. There is widespread agreement that exchanges in relationships do occur. Over time, if the exchanges are unequal, the relationship is likely to end.

4. Like conflict theory, exchange theory helps us recognize the importance of equality in marriage and may be useful in dealing with troubled marriages.


B. Interactionist Perspective

1. In this view, husband and wife have a reciprocal influence on each other. Good adjustment occurs when the pair has a good working arrangement with reality, adulthood and the expectations of others.

2. To maintain a good relationship, couples must continually redefine themselves in relation to each other.

3. Interactionists emphasize the importance of analyzing marriages and other relationships in the context in which they occur. This theory, too, is useful in marital therapy.


C. Developmental Perspective

1. The developmental perspective suggests that families pass through a FAMILY LIFE CYCLE, a series of stages involving different responsibilities and tasks.

a. The first stage typically begins with marriage and extends to the birth of the first child. This stage involves defining the relationship and learning to communicate effectively.

b. Stage two includes families with preschool children. During this stage, the dyad becomes a triad.

c. Stage three extends from the time the oldest child enters school until he or she reaches the teens. During this stage, the family focuses on the education and socialization of children.

d. Stage four is the family with teenagers. During this stage the family often undergoes economic problems.

e. Stage five begins when the oldest child leaves home. This stage may be very brief or it may extend over many years.

f. Stage six is the period when all the children have left home. It continues until one spouse retires or dies.

g. Stage seven begins with retirement and extends until the marriage ends with the death of one spouse. Women are widowed more often than men.



VI. The American Family System


A. Marriage Rates and Age at Marriage

1. The marriage rate is influenced by a number of different factors. Over the last thirty years in the US, the rate has varied between 8.5 and 11.0 marriages per 1,000 population per year.

2. Marriage rates have distinct seasonal and geographic variations. This information may be of practical use to people in many businesses and to individuals planning a wedding.

3. Most marriages in this country are between people of roughly the same age, although people can marry someone much older or younger.

4. In 2000, the median age at first marriage was 26.8 for men and 25.1 for women.

5. In recent years the trend has been for people to marry older.

6. The rate of divorce among people who marry as teenagers is two to four times as high as the rate for marriage that begins after age 20.


B. Family Size

1. Most married couples have or want to have children.

2. In 1900, the birth rate was over 30 per thousand population. It decreased to 18.7 by 1935 and then increased to 25 by 1955. It had declined to 14.6 per thousand in 1975 and has since dropped in 2003 to a rate of 13.9.

3. The baby boom period of the late 1940s and 1950s was an unanticipated but pronounced rise in the US birth rate.

4. Today, most people plan to have smaller families than people had a few decades ago.

5. The birth of a first child usually entails a major shift in parental role expectations and behavior.

6. Many myths about the unhealthiness of one-child families for child and parents alike have been dispelled.

7. Family size increases with factors such as younger ages at marriage, lower educational and socioeconomic levels and rural residence. Certain groups place a major value on having children, such as the Amish.

8. Large families heighten the complexity of intra-group relations and pose problems in fulfilling family needs, finances and attention to each child.


C. Divorce

1. Divorce practices vary widely from country to country. For example in Spain, Brazil and Peru, the marriage is indissoluble except by death. In Switzerland and Scandinavian countries, divorce is readily granted if shown that the marriage has failed.

2. Many states now have no-fault divorce systems in which marriages can be ended on the basis of “irreconcilable differences.”

3. The US divorce rate of 4.1 per thousand per year in 2000 is one of the highest in the world.

4. Like marriage rates, divorce rates are influenced by a great variety of factors such as economics, geographic and social characteristics.

5. One-half of all divorces occur among people in their twenties.

6. Financial problems, emotional immaturity, difficulties adjusting to new relationships and many other factors contribute to our high rate of divorce.



VII. Nontraditional Marital and Family Lifestyles


A. Non-marital Cohabitation


1. Non-marital cohabitation, defined as living together unmarried and having an intimate relationship or partnership, has increased to 3.8 million in 2000, more than five times the number in 1970.

2. Studies of college populations indicate that cohabitating couples tend to accept gender roles characteristic of other couples their age. Women do most of the housework.

3. Although most cohabitating relationships are short term, such arrangements seem to have a functioning value for an increasing number of adults by providing financial sharing, a homelike atmosphere, an intimate relationship, etc.


B. Childless Marriages

1. About 10% of all women aged 18 to 44 expect to remain childless during their lifetime.

2. Interviews with the wives in childless married couples show that such women often define parenting in negative rather than positive terms. Most of their husbands also agreed that children were not desirable.

3. The child-free alternative appears to be conducive to both personal and marital satisfaction in certain conditions, such as in the dual-career marriages.


C. One-Parent Families

1. In 1990, about 79% of white children, 66.7% of Hispanic origin children and 37.7% of black children under the age of eighteen lived with both parents.

2. The great majority of one-parent families are headed by women.

3. More than one-third of all fatherless families had incomes below the poverty line.

4. Studies show that one-parent families are quite capable of rearing healthy, well-adjusted children if poverty and stigmatization are not problems.


D. Dual-Career Marriages

1. Today three of every five married women (close to 60%) hold jobs in the civilian labor force.

2. Women who have children are less likely to hold jobs than those who do not, although with each decade, the presence of children decreases in importance as a factor in whether women are employed.

3. The dual-career marriage, in which the wife works for satisfaction and not solely as a result of financial need, is a relatively recent development.

4. Women in two-career families report fewer life pressures and worries. Men in such families are in poorer health and report less contentment with marriage, work and life in general.

5. Most studies of dual-career marriages suggest that they involve certain strains, such as the view that wives’ careers are often considered of secondary importance compared to husbands’ careers and the responsibilities of family life.













Social Institutions: Religion


I. A Sociological Approach to ReligionWalker Evans' Wooden Church, South Carolina, 1936


A. What is Religion?

1. According to Durkheim, religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, things set apart and forbidden, beliefs and practices that unite into a moral community - a church - all who adhere to them

2. In this definition, Durkheim identified three elements common to all religions:

3. Most sociologists agree that religion has the following characteristics:

a. Things considered sacred, such as gods, spirits, objects or ideas;

b. A group of believers, those who make religion a social as well as a personal experience;

c. A set of rituals, ceremonies or behaviors that take on religious meaning;

d. A set of beliefs such as a creed, doctrine or holy book which defines what is to be emphasized; and

e. A form of organization that reinforces the sacred, unites the community of believers and carries out the rituals, teaches the doctrines and initiates new members.


B. The Organization of Religion

1. ANIMISM is the belief that spirits inhabit everything in nature and influence all aspects of life and destiny.

2. SHAMANISM revolves around the belief that certain individuals called shamans, have special skill or knowledge in influencing spirits.

3. TOTEMISM is the worship of plants, animals and other natural objects as both gods and ancestors.

4. POLYTHEISM is the belief in and worship of more than one god. Hinduism is polytheistic.

5. MONOTHEISM is belief in only one god. Judaism and Christianity are monotheistic.

6. Ethical religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism and Taoism do not involve god figures. They are based on sets of moral, ethical or philosophical principles. Some of these groups, such as Confucianism have no priesthood. Both Shintoism and Confucianism place heavy emphasis on honoring one’s ancestors, particularly one’s parents who gave the gift of life.


C. Churches, Sects and CultsWORLD RELIGIONS PIE CHART

1. Weber in his classical essay “THE PROTESTANT ETHIC AND THE SPIRIT OF CAPITALISM” states the strong relationship between capitalism and Protestantism. Because Protestantism stressed the importance of work as an end in itself, of personal frugality and of worldly success as a means of confirming one’s salvation and as evidence of God’s favor, capitalism he argues could not have been possible without Protestantism.

2. Weber identified two types of religious leader, the PRIEST, who represents an institution, and the PROPHET, whose authority is derived from charismatic qualities. The two are often in conflict.

3. The ruling class, Weber said, needs a more formalized religion that accepts science and the existing social world. The religion for the laboring class emphasizes another world or life as well as emotional experiences.

4. Troeltsch divided religions into three categories: mysticism, churches and sects.

a. MYSTICISM is the belief that spiritual or divine truths come to us through intuition and meditation, not through the use of reason or the ordinary range of human experience and senses.

b. CHURCHES are institutionalized organizations of people who share common religious beliefs. An ECCLESIA is an official state church. A DENOMINATION is not linked to the state.

c. A SECT is a small religious group that has broken away from a parent church, follows rigid doctrines and fundamentalist teachings and emphasizes other-worldly rewards.

5. FUNDAMENTALISM is the belief that the Bible is the divine word of God and that all statements in it are to be taken literally.

6. A CULT is a loosely organized group that calls for a totally new and unique life style, often under the direction of a charismatic leader. Some cults accept more mainstream beliefs and then develop into churches.



II. Theories of Religion


A. Functionalist Approach

1. According to Durkheim, in his classical book THE ELEMENTARY FORMS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE, the primary function of religion was to preserve and integrate society, in part by inducing awe for moral norms.

2. A second function is that of creating a community of believers. Religion provides a belief system shared by many, thereby developing a sense of collective identity.

3. A third function is social control. Religion reinforces social norms and values.

4. A fourth function is that it provides answers to ultimate questions, providing systems of belief based on the faith that life has a purpose.

5. Religion also provides rites of passage, ceremonies and rituals designed to give sacred meaning to momentous events in people’s lives.

6. Religion helps reconcile people to hardship. It may teach that people will be rewarded in the future for having suffered today and advocates pro-social behavior.

7. Religion can cultivate social change. Many religious groups criticize social injustice and take stands on moral issues.

8. Religion also has latent functions. It can influence mate selection and offer psychic rewards for selfless actions, for example.

9. Religion can also be dysfunctional. It can exclude nonmembers, it can divide society, promote prejudice against the nonbeliever, help maintain the status quo, inhibit the search for new truths and be used to justify persecution and war.

10. One useful insight provided by the functionalist approach is that religion serves a variety of social functions. This knowledge may be useful in a variety of careers and especially in conducting international business.


B. Conflict Approach

1. Marxists believe that religion is used by the dominant class to set standards for and oppress the working class and to lend supernatural support to the elite’s position.

2. Marx argued that religion is the “opiate of the masses” because religion distracts them from political activism. Religion provides an illusion of happiness and promises great rewards in the life after death.

3. There are strong relationships between religion and social class. Churches are highly segregated along racial and economic lines. A number of denominations are largely black or white. Few factory workers are Episcopalians, for example. Many social controversies result from perceptions that differ according to social class.

4. Understanding that religion is related to class conflict can assist religious leaders to address the needs of their people. Today, liberation theology applies church policy and intervention to the social and class conflict that plague Latin American society.



III. Religions of the World

Obtaining accurate estimates of the number of people in the world’s religions is difficult. Procedures for assessing membership varies in different countries.

A. Christianity and Judaism

1. The religion with the most adherents is CHRISTIANITY, which has over a billion followers.

2. CHRISTIANS profess faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament of the Bible.

3. Adherents of JUDAISM find the source of their beliefs in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian’s OLD TESTAMENT), especially in the first five books called the TORAH.

4. JUDAISM is the oldest religion in the Western world. It comprises both a religious and an ethnic community and was the first to teach monotheism.

5. Judaism has a system of law that regulates civil and criminal justice, family relationships, personal ethics and manners and social responsibilities to the community, as well as worship and other religious observances. Individual practice of these laws varies greatly.

6. Jews worship on the Sabbath (Saturday). Most Christians worship on Sunday.

7. Christianity diverged from Judaism in ancient Israel. Christians themselves divided into two factions in 1054 AD.

8. The God of Christians takes the form of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

9. Christians practice baptism and take the Eucharist, a sacred meal symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice of his body and blood.

10. Prayer and preaching are important Christian functions.

Muslim religious celebration in Brooklyn NY

B. Islam

1. ISLAM is second only to Christianity in number of adherents, with nearly 1 billion Islamic adherents.

2. Followers of Islam follow the teachings of the KORAN and of Muhammad, a prophet.

3. Islam involves total surrender to the will of Allah.

4. Muhammad, a great Muslim prophet, received the divine revelations recorded in the KORAN, the Muslim holy book.

5. The KORAN includes rules for ordering social relationships and other aspects of life.

C. Hinduism

1. HINDUISM is an extremely complex religious system with little central organization and no religious hierarchy. The majority of the 700 million live in India and Pakistan.

2. Approximately 85% of the population in India is Hindu.

3. Some Hindus consider the ideal life to involve fulfilling the duties of one’s caste.

4. The position of women in Hinduism seems contradictory — in some ways they are revered, in others considered inferior beings.

5. Hinduism is polytheistic. Hindu rituals uphold the great cosmic order. It is believed that righteousness consists of behaving in accordance with the way things are.


D. Buddhism

1. BUDDHISM has about 362 million adherents. A precise count is impossible because many accept and practice Buddhist beliefs and rites while practicing other religions, such as Shintoism.

2. Buddhism is based on the teachings of the Buddha, who taught that life is suffering and offered an eightfold path to end suffering.

3. Following Buddha’s death, a number of different groups grew up around his teachings.

4. In every society where Buddhism is widespread, people combine Buddhist thought with a native religion, supporting the monks and paying for rituals in the temples.

5. There are many different interpretations of the way of Buddha, but one can reach Nirvana by seeing with complete detachment, by seeing things as they really are without being attached to any theoretical concept or doctrine.

E. Confucianism

1. CONFUCIANISM, which has about 5.8 million adherents, is associated primarily with China, the home of nearly 180 million adherents to Chinese folk religions. It has influenced the civilizations of Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

2. Confucianism is based on the teachings of Confucius, who was born into a poor family but became a prominent teacher, philosopher and scholar. He attracted many disciples by teaching that the government should serve the people rather than the rulers.

3. The basic philosophy of Confucius is found in his sayings, which emphasize reciprocity, sincerity and the satisfaction of acting in accordance with the divine order.



IV. Religion in the United States


A. The Development of Religious Movements


1. Religion in the US has become increasingly rationalized and centralized.

2. Sects have proliferated since the breakdown of the feudal structure and the development of industrialization.

3. MILLENNIALISM, the belief that the world will be transformed and Christ will rule for a thousand years of prosperity and happiness, a persistent theme in American religion.

4. Other religious movements, such as the Mormons and Christian Scientists, have been based on divine revelation.

5. PENTECOSTALISM and faith healing involve highly emotional services. The latter is especially prevalent among poor who can't pay for medical services.

6. CREATIONISTS argue that the Bible’s version of creation should be taught in school science classes. In 1982, a federal judge ruled that creationism has no factual basis and could not be taught in schools. In 1987, however, a federal judge in Alabama ruled that certain social studies books be removed from schools because they taught secular humanism.


B. Current Trends in Religion

1. The use of computers and sophisticated statistical techniques have given us a large body of quantitative data on people’s religious beliefs and current trends in religion.

2. The research of Lenski and subsequent studies has focused on religious beliefs and socioeconomic status.


C. Secularization

1. SECULARIZATION is the trend toward the declining influence of religion in people’s lives and in social institutions.

2. Most social scientists agree that the dominant trend in modern religion is secularization. Fewer people today are attending church and churches themselves are moving away from supernaturalism.

3. There is evidence that the secularization of long-dominant religions is releasing religious energy into new channels.


D. Religiosity and Church Attendance

1. RELIGIOSITY is the intensity of religious feelings.

2. Church attendance declined steadily for fifteen years beginning in the late 1950s, but it has remained fairly steady at about 40%. However, most people still believe in God and life after death and overwhelmingly want their children to have religious training.

3. The discrepancy between church attendance figures and religious beliefs indicates that factors other than formal religious organizations influence religious thought.


E. The Electronic Church

1. Televised religious programs apparently fulfill some but not all religious functions. For example, it provides answers to ultimate questions, reconciles people to hardships and advocates the return to more traditional ways.

2. How integrative this process is remains questionable, but the fact that millions of dollars sent to television preachers indicate that they are important to many Americans and fill various needs.


F. Ecumenism

1. Another current religious trend is toward ECUMENISM, the joining together for worldwide Christian unity.

2. Interdenominational organizations, such as the National Council of Churches, are attempting to reconcile the beliefs of different groups.


G. A New Religious Consciousness

1. A variety of new religious groups has sprung up in the last few decades. Many emphasize the personal religious experience rather than a rational bureaucratic religious organization.

2. Some see these movements as a reaction against American militarism and capitalism and the current climate of moral ambiguity.


H. Religion and Other Institutions

1. Religion influences many other social institutions despite the decline in church attendance, such as the influence of religion on school curricula and prayer, the impact of religious teachings on family size and use of contraceptives or abortion, and the influence of religion on the economy.

2. Even today, although religion as a social institution has come under attack, religion and religious values continue to exert a major influence on societies, on all the institutions within them and on the lives of individuals throughout the world.


Religions of the World












EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT IN THE USSocial Institutions: Education


I. Structural-Functional Theory of Education


A. The Manifest Functions of Schools

1. Schools teach SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE about the world, VALUES of the larger society, cooperation and achievement.

2. Schools select, develop and channel students into programs believed appropriate to their abilities.

3. Schools transmit new behaviors, skills, ideas, discoveries and inventions resulting from research.

4. Schools create new knowledge.


B. The Latent Functions of Education

1. The requirement that children remain in school until age sixteen (or longer if they graduate and attend college) has resulted in a period of PROLONGED ADOLESCENCE.

2. AGE SEGREGATION creates peer groups, which sometimes develop into distinct subcultures.

3. Schools provide child care, an important function since both parents in many families work outside the home today.

4. Understanding the functions of education is important for teachers, counselors, school administrators, parents, students and employers.

Donghua University, China



II. Conflict Theory of Education


A. The Hidden Curriculum

1. The elite require that students learn to behave in an elite fashion by teaching a HIDDEN CURRICULUM that encourages such characteristics as obedience, competition and patriotism.

2. It teaches values and norms necessary to maintain the stratification system in society. A child who wants to succeed must learn these rules.


B. Teaching Values

1. Conflict theorists contend that schools are used by the elite to indoctrinate the population concerning the virtues of capitalism and democracy.

2. Teachers may be fired if they teach the advantages of socialism or the disadvantages of capitalism.

3. Students who take a sociology course that examines strengths and weaknesses of social systems are sometimes shocked by what they learn.

Dissemination of the ideology of the ruling class.

C. Learning Norms

1. Students learn to conform to elite standards of order and competition at school.

2. The system is biased against the working class because the values and norms taught are those of middle-class teachers.


D. Credentialism

1. CREDENTIALISM is the practice of requiring degrees for most high-paying jobs whether or not the degrees actually signify skills necessary to accomplish the jobs.

2. Conflict theorists contend that the degrees given by schools represent learning that is not necessary to do most jobs. Academic credentials can be obtained only by those who have the time and money to get a degree.

3. Most jobs require not the skills learned at school, but the cultural norms learned in school. By placing college-trained people in management positions, the elite can be assured that decisions will reflect their norms.



III. Historical Perspectives on Education


A. Occupational Training

1. Harvard was founded in 1636 to train ministers but only males were admitted and learning was accomplished through rote memorization.

2. The University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson, was designed to train national leaders and educate the “natural aristocracy.”

3. After 1850, the federal government encouraged states to begin agricultural and technical schools.

4. Johns Hopkins was one of the first schools to emphasize a scientific curriculum. Previously, the professions were learned through apprenticeship or practiced without education.

5. COMPULSORY PUBLIC EDUCATION is public-funded education that is mandatory until a certain age. It developed in the 18th and 19th centuries to educate the children of immigrants.

6. When first instituted, public education met with resistance from a variety of groups, such as religious leaders, landowners and farmers.


B. Beliefs about Children

1. The goals of our education system have been heavily influenced by our views of children.

2. The Puritans believed that children were possessed by the Devil. Children were encouraged to emulate the adults’ good examples because adults were assumed to know right from wrong.

3. Since 1960, the role of natural curiosity in education is emphasized; LEARNING CENTERS have been developed and placed around the room so that children can move from place to place to learn. If they don’t move, they lack curiosity.

4. Many parents would like to have a return to basic skills and strict discipline in the schools.



IV. Who Rules the Schools? Most American education is public: the schools are open to everyone.


A. They are funded by local and federal governments, so there is a connection with the political system.


B. Locally, the bureaucracy is headed by a local school board, school supervisor and principals. The teacher enforces the rules under a principal’s guidance and teaches the students.


C. The federal government passes many laws that affect the educational system. Schools must respect the rights protected by the Constitution. States have constitutions which cannot contradict federal law.



V. Stratification in the School System


A. School Boards

1. Most school boards are elected by the people of the district. About 10% are appointed by the mayor. They all usually consist of white males.

2. College boards are usually called Boards of Trustees or Boards of Regents. 85% of the college regents or trustees are male.


B. Faculty

1. The majority of faculty members in elementary schools are women. 74% are from the middle-class.

2. There are more male faculty in the high school faculty, some from the lower income class.

3. In college and universities, the majority of faculty members are white males, although the number of females has increased.


C. Students

1. Traditionally, schools have been segregated by socioeconomic status in the US.

2. Many African and Hispanic Americans live in inner-city neighborhoods and go predominately to segregated schools.

3. Bowles and Gintis suggest that elites benefit from neighborhood school systems that segregate students.


D. Biased Intelligence Tests

1. The IQ tests used in most schools may be biased against the lower classes.

2. Studies show that having a low score on an IQ test can hurt even a bright student in the classroom. Evidence of teacher bias against black students has also been discovered.



VI. American Private Schools


A. Parochial Schools

1. The most common private schools in the US are the PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS run by the Catholic Church and founded to serve Catholics who want both an academic and a religious education for their children.

2. Researchers have found that Catholic-school students perform better than public high school students and that socioeconomic background was not as closely linked to educational success as it was in public schools.

3. Many reasons exist for the stronger performance of students in Catholic schools, including effective discipline, more monitoring of students’ work and higher teacher expectations for all students.


B. Private Preparatory Schools

1. The wealthy send their children to private PREPARATORY SCHOOLS and then to private universities, rather than public schools.

2. Most of the elite private preparatory schools were founded in the late 1800s as the American public schools developed.

3. The exclusive segregated nature of preparatory schools has concerned some people. Some schools have provided funds for inner-city minority students to attend some of the most prestigious preparatory schools.


C. Selective Private Colleges

1. The most prestigious colleges do not select students on the basis of intelligence and achievement alone.

2. Harvard University, for example, does not select only the most outstanding academic student; the criteria also include children of alumni, foreign students and athletes, emphasizing those who will be able to contribute to society.

3. Other selective American colleges have similar procedures.


Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala City

VII. The Failure of American Schools


A. Americans and foreign nations are concerned about the failure of American public schools to educate its young people.


B. Americans do poorly on test scores. The National Commission on Excellence in Education found that on 19 different academic tests given internationally, American students scored lowest of all industrialized nations on 7 of them.


C. Estimates are that only 5 to 6% of US students are prepared for genuine university-level work when they leave high school.



VIII. Why Students Do Not Learn


A. Financial Problems

1. Although money spent per pupil on public school education has risen sharply, the increases are not evenly distributed.

2. Most money for public schools comes from local taxes and goes to the local school district. A wealthier school district collects more money and can spend more money per pupil.

3. Despite the general increase in funds and staff, student scores have declined.


B. School Facilities

1. Coleman’s study comparing schools in black and white neighborhoods found no important differences and attributed achievement differences to socioeconomic factors.

2. Coleman’s findings also found that black students performed better in white schools and recommended busing students to promote integration.

3. Busing was carried out in many localities, but both black and white citizens disliked busing children to schools in other neighborhoods. Many argued that it interfered with the concept of neighborhood schools and local control.


C. Inadequate Curricula

1. The National Commission on Excellence in Education has argued that much of the problem of school failure is deteriorating school curricula in the public schools.

2. Today, about half of all students in high school take a general studies course, compared to only 12% in 1964.

3. Only 31% of high school students take intermediate algebra. Only 6% take calculus. Total homework assignments require an average of less than 1 hour per night.

4. One reason for academic success in parochial schools is that they continue to emphasize academic subjects.

5. The National Commission urged a greater emphasis on academic subjects in the public schools, recommending four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies. However, most states have failed to meet these standards.

6. In other industrial nations, students do three times as much work in science and mathematics as is done by US students who specialize in science.

7. Because the US often concerns itself with issues, such as a so-called politically-correct curriculum, values being taught, students’ future career potential and other issues not related to academic subjects, curricula emphasis suffers.


D. The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

1. One reason students do not learn is because they believe that learning and achievement are not possible.

2. Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) found that students do not learn as well when their teachers believe that they are not very bright.

a. If teachers have learned that lower-class and minority students do not perform well on IQ and achievement tests, they will have lower expectations of them in class.

b. Even if they do perform well, teachers may fail to recognize their talents, give them lower grades and confuse and frustrate them. This then creates a SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY for the student in the classroom.

c. This was verified by the study of black and white students. Teachers expected more and complimented white students more than black students when correct answers were given.


E. High Dropout Rate

1. Nearly 25% of students in the US fail to finish high school.

2. The drop-out rates among African- and Hispanic-Americans are 13.1% and 27.8%, respectively.



IX. Improving the Schools


A. Magnet Schools

1. MAGNET SCHOOLS are schools with special programs designed to attract exceptional students who voluntarily travel outside of their neighborhoods to attend classes.

2. Magnet schools are designed to attract white students to heavily black schools to achieve integration. They offer special programs to attract exceptional students. The program is too new to be judged.


B. Decentralized Bureaucracies

1. Another approach to improving the schools is to decentralize the bureaucracy. In other words, put more of the decision-making processes in the local schools instead of in the school boards.

2. This approach is being attempted in the huge Chicago school system with much debate and criticisms and mixed results.


C. Vouchers are intended to give parents the choice of their children’s school. If they choose a private school, they will receive state funds to pay the tuition.


D. New Management

1. Chelsea, Massachusetts, has turned over the management of the city schools to Boston University and those educators now run the local schools.

2. This approach has met with these criticisms:

a. The University is authoritarian and patronizing.

b. Teachers complain that they are left out of the decision-making process.

c. Hispanic leaders complain that the university has failed to consider bilingual education.


E. Creating Future GoalsUS school

1. Multimillionaire Eugene Lang sponsored a program wherein he offered inner-city ghetto children a flee college education if they stayed in school. 90% of Lang’s group graduated from high school.

2. Teachers and students both need to believe in a child’s educational success.

3. A different system of rewards for school accomplishment might need to be instrumental in our country.



X.  Contest and Sponsored Mobility


A. The US has a system of CONTEST MOBILITY in which students can get as much education as they can pay for as long as they get the grades necessary for acceptance at the next highest level. This system tends to favor the rich and those who have influential connections.


B. Britain, Japan and many other countries have a system of SPONSORED MOBILITY, in which students must pass qualifying exams to enter different types of high schools and colleges. Once they pass they receive a higher education for free.



XI. The British SystemUK school


A. Great Britain has long emphasized a tradition of formal education for the upper class. Oxford and Cambridge both were founded in the Middle Ages.

1. In time, private grammar schools (called public schools) developed for upper-income children.

2. This system of preparing upper-class education for the children of the elite continues today.


B. Tax-supported schools for the working class children finally developed in the early 1900s.

1. Education for all children was mandatory until age 12.

2. This law was resisted by farmers, who lost their sons’ labor, and the squires, who lost their source of cheap labor.


C. After World War II, technical schools developed along with secondary schools.

1. Grammar schools taught traditional college-preparatory courses.

2. Technical schools taught engineering and sciences.

3. At age 13, children are selected for one of these schools.

4. In the 1960s, public-financed secondary schools changed to offer a comprehensive education and the wealthy fled to privately-funded preparatory schools.



XII. Is All This Education Necessary?


A. Traditionally, education as a means of upward mobility has been stressed in the US.

1. Most sociologists have long supported this position.

2. Others argue that increased educational demands create economic hardship. Advanced education does not necessarily lead to better jobs. Berg (1970) refers to this low return on educational investment as “the great training robbery.”


B. Other factors influence jobs and income.

1. According to Jencks (1979), family background is more closely related to future occupation than the level of education.

2. Collins has suggested that a combination of work experience and special training rather than education be used as the basis for advancing people in jobs. This system would make it possible for people who could not pay for education to reach rewarding positions in society.


C. As the level of education for all increases, the benefits of a college degree has been decreasing. Many working class jobs now require a college education, placing great economic stress on working-class families. A stratification system exists among higher education. A master’s degree from a prestigious university opens more doors than the same degree from a small public university.













Social Institutions: Politics


I. Types of Power


A. The Relationship Between Power and Politics

1. POWER is generally viewed as the ability to control the behavior of others, to make the decisions about their rights and privileges, to see to it that people obey the rules or other expectations of the powerful.

2. POLITICS is the use of power to determine who gets what in society.

3. The study of political groups and systems then is the study of power.


B. Weber pointed out that there are several types of power:North Korean schoolgirls holding brooms bow to pay their respects toward a mural which shows the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

1. PHYSICAL FORCE, whether actual or latent, is an expensive and inefficient way to control a society.

2. LEGITIMATE POWER is power that is accepted by the people in society as necessary and beneficial.

3. AUTHORITY is power accepted as legitimate by those it affects. Weber identified three types of authority: traditional, charismatic, and legal.

a. TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY is granted on the basis of custom, such as a patriarch or a monarch.

b. CHARISMATIC AUTHORITY is based on the personal attributes of a leader, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

c. LEGAL AUTHORITY is based on a system of rules and regulations.

4. Weber was concerned that the organizations that run modern bureaucratic states would come to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the people.


C. Knowledge of the types and effectiveness of various forms of power and authority has a number of practical applications, such as increasing one’s effectiveness as a parent, employer, business executive, teacher, doctor, politician or in other roles.



II. The Development of Political Systems

As societies evolve, their political systems grow wealthier and more powerful: STATES are societies with institutional means of political regulation. CITY-STATES were areas consisting of a city and the surrounding countryside that were under the power of a single ruler. NON-STATES are large territories ruled by a single institution.


A. Structural functional theory suggests that societies are built on a set of common values. Laws are established to protect and encourage the values society considers important.

1. When values are inconsistent or in conflict, the society’s political institution must attempt to arbitrate among them.

2. In the US, where freedom is a value, constant arbitration is necessary to protect the freedoms of the individual without impinging on other social values.


B. Conflict theory assumes that societies are drawn together by the need for resources.

1. Those who get a larger share of resources use the power they have acquired to further their own interests. There are numerous instances of this throughout history.

2. The wealthy gain the support of the masses through their control of the media.

3. Unlike the structural-functionalists, conflict theorists believe the elite shape societies’ values.



III. Political Structures in Modern SocietiesFREEDOM OF THE WORLD 2022


A. The Democratic State

1. DEMOCRACY is the power structure in which people govern themselves.

2. Philosophers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, John Stuart Mill and John Dewey believed that people knew what was in their own best interests and could learn how to protect these interests within the political system.

3. One major problem with democracies is the likelihood that OLIGARCHIES or ruling elites will develop.

4. Michels called this inevitable rise of a few to dominant power the IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY.

5. An early attempt to practice democracy was made in Athens. Those who were considered members of the city-state were called CITIZENS who were entitled to the freedoms and privileges granted to members of the state.


B. The Totalitarian State

1. TOTALITARIANISM is the system of rule in which the government has total control of the society’s ideology, values, form of government and economic system.

2. Totalitarian societies do not permit dissent.

3. Democratic and totalitarian societies have several characteristics in common and often have similar ideologies;. The most conspicuous similarity is their bureaucratic organization.


C. POLITICAL PARTIES are groups of citizens formed with the express intent of gaining control of the political body of the state.

1. Political party systems differ in structure, organization and reasons for existence.

a. Some parties form around a particular person, such as Charles de Gaulle’s French politics.

b. Other parties exist to promote a specific issue, such as the Green party of West Germany created to support environmental and antinuclear legislation.

2. Totalitarian states have only one party, so there is no competition for control of the government. Nevertheless, most political parties must react to public opinion and encourage support for the government.

3. Democratic countries have two or more political parties. In a two-party system, both parties generally try to attract the voters in the moderate center; therefore, the voter has little real choice.

4. Governments with more than two political parties experience compromise more often and party coalition formations that give voters a clear choice on a variety of issues.


D. France: A Democratic State

1. The president of France is elected by popular vote and, in turn, appoints a prime minister to be in general charge of the work of the government. It is not clear, therefore, whether the president or the prime minister runs the government.

2. France has a strong central government, but there are often conflicts between different ministers and legislative bodies. The stability of the state rests with the huge civil service.

3. To qualify for an elite position in the French civil service, candidates must graduate from a special school and pass several tests. Those who succeed are recruited for key posts in private corporations and government jobs.


E. The Soviet Republics: States in Transition

1. The former Soviet republics, now called the COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, have made dramatic shifts from totalitarian to democratic practices.

2. For most of this century, the USSR, ruled by one political party, was a totalitarian society.

3. The society was totally controlled by the COMMUNIST POLITICAL PARTY, which aimed to provide a communist economic system for the Soviet Union.

4. Members of the party were carefully selected and could vote only at the local level. Factions were forbidden, allowing little chance of upheaval.

5. Although it claimed to be a democracy, freedom could be used only to further the cause of the Communist party. The party controlled the press.

6. Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet government changed the constitution and created new civil rights for the people. This restructuring was called PERESTROIKA.

7. Perestroika allowed freedom of association, so new political parties could form; it allowed its people to leave the USSR. Officials who were not in the Communist party were elected. European countries formerly dominated by the USSR exercised their right to become independent.

8. Soviets with a vested interest in the old regime did not want a change. That change from totalitarian to democratic rule is still in the development stage and is still facing many uncertainties.

9. A knowledge of different types of political structures and systems has a variety of practical applications for sociologists, politicians and diplomats, corporations in international business, clinicians and travelers. The issue of helping people adjust to new political systems is especially relevant today.



IV. The Political System in the United States


A. The Power Elite

1. Mills argued that the US is run by a POWER ELITE, consisting of leaders in the upper echelons of business, the military and the government, who are also likely to come from similar backgrounds with similar beliefs and values.

2. The recent research of Domhoff supports the power elite theory.

3. The military-industrial complex is an example of a power elite. Its power has been strengthened by the development of nuclear weapons.


B. Political Pluralism

1. David Riesman argues that the US has a system of POLITICAL PLURALISM, rule by many different groups.

2. According to this view, many different interests attempt to influence government. No single group has absolute power.

3. Critics of pluralism contend that interest groups are not strong enough to counter the power of the elite.

4. Two types of groups, political action committee and lobbies, strongly influence legislation and have more power than individuals.


C. Political Action Committees (PACs)

1. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES are organizations formed to raise money for political campaigns.

2. PACs represent many special interest groups, but they do not represent a cross-section of American voters.

3. Most PAC money goes to INCUMBENTS, the elected officials who already hold office and are trying to get reelected, and therefore tends to maintain the present power structure.


D. Lobbies

1. LOBBIES are organizations of people who wish to influence the political process on specific issues.

2. The most powerful lobbies are those associated with manufacturing but lobbies represent other interests as well, especially that of the military.

3. Henry Ford’s attempt to stop the auto safety legislation prompted by Ralph Nader’s findings indicates the enormous power of business. That Ford was unsuccessful shows that big business has enormous but not absolute power over government.



V. The Role of the Individual


A. Political SocializationIn functionalism, individual institutions work together for the whole.

1. Political socialization begins in childhood and continues during schooling.

2. In school, children are taught to respect their leaders and society’s norms and social system.

3. Students who do not benefit from our system are more unlikely to support the American political system than middle-class American children.


B. Political Socialization in the Mass Media

1. Political socialization continues after people have left the educational system. The mass media play an especially important part in influencing people, but they often report only one side of the story, that of the large corporations that own them.

2. The federal government also provides information, which is dispensed in a variety of ways through publications (such as newspapers), radio and television.

3. The government also attempts to shape public opinion and sometimes intentionally misleads the public. Government unemployment figures are an example of this practice.


C. Political Participation

1. The US has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the democratic world.

2. Low voter turnout hurts the Democratic Party, which traditionally supports the young, the poor and minorities.

3. When voter turnout is low, the Republican Party is more likely to win elections resulting then in little support for social programs for the poor and minority groups.

4. A variety of explanations for lack of voter participation has been proposed:

a. Social psychological explanations of apathy

b. The difficulty of registering to vote

c. Voter satisfaction with the status quo

d. Voter alienation from our political system












Social Institutions: Economics


I. Types of Economic Systems

Economic systems are intricately interwoven with social systems. Knowledge of how they function can be useful to academic sociologists, politicians, those involved in international business and individual investors. The ECONOMIC SYSTEM is the social system that provides for the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

Beijing mall


A. Capitalism

1. CAPITALISM is the economic system based on private ownership.

2. Individuals who own the means of production are CAPITALISTS. In this sense, most Americans are not capitalists since they don't get income from owning a business.

3. Capitalists earn income from what they own. Consumers spend income for what they own.

4. Capitalism is a MARKET ECONOMY: Goods sold and prices charged are determined by the buyers and sellers.


B. Socialism

1. In the SOCIALIST system, the means of production are owned by all the people through the state.

2. Socialism has a PLANNED ECONOMY. Government controls what is produced and consumed and sets prices.

3. There is no free market.


C. Welfare Capitalism

1. In the system of welfare capitalism or democratic socialism, the state owns most industries vital to the well-being of the people. Other industries are privately owned.

2. Welfare capitalism is found in most Western European countries, such as in Sweden and Great Britain.

3. Taxes are quite high in order to pay for the benefits.

4. The extent of a country’s socialism can be judged by comparing tax revenues to the GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT, the total value of the goods and services the country produces in a year.


D. Communism: A Utopian IdeaStructure of Human Society

1. COMMUNISM is an economic system that does not exist in any of the world’s larger societies. The basic premise of communism is that all property should be held in common and that distribution of goods and services should be based on the principle developed by Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

2. A communist economic system has not been achieved in any large society but it has been successful in smaller communities, especially in Europe in the 1930s and in the US in the 1970s.

3. Communism, like socialism, requires a major redistribution of wealth.

4. Many capitalists, in fact, confuse socialist systems with communist systems and use these words almost interchangeably. They are very different systems. In socialism, the government controls the economy. In communism, the people themselves control the economy.



II. Theories of Economic Development


A. Structural-functionalists contend that capitalism, like other social systems, succeeds because it meets basic social needs.

1. According to Adam Smith, capitalism assures that social needs will be met because it is profitable to meet them.

2. Recently, functionalists have recognized that capitalism is dysfunctional in some respects and doesn't meet the needs of some segments of the population.

3. Understanding that capitalism has both functions and dysfunctions is essential in policy planning, employment and business situations.


B. Conflict theory traces the development of capitalism and communism as historical events.

1. According to Marx, industrialization results in the accumulation of capital in the hands of relatively few people, who use it to buy up the means of production.

2. The workers are reduced to selling their labor. Eventually, conditions deteriorate to the point that the workers overthrow the system.

3. Weber was concerned that the growth of bureaucracies would render them extremely ruthless and powerful.

4. Weber was less optimistic than Marx, believing that eventually bureaucracies would grow so rich and powerful that no human effort could dislodge them.




III. The American Economic System

Most American citizens are convinced that capitalism is good and cherish economic freedoms. We value these freedoms as much as we value our religious freedom — and the two systems arise from the same tradition. In his classic book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber explains that the PROTESTANT ETHIC places a high value on work and the accumulation of wealth arose out of this religious heritage. Those who were among the elect would know they were chosen because they were building God’s Kingdom, producing goods. Wealth came to be seen as an indication of self-worth. Although religious factors no longer play a strong role in the accumulation of wealth, our values reflect our religious heritage — we value the individual more than the group. We value the economic well-being of the individual. We value private property. And we value growth, the ever-increasing accumulation of wealth.


A. The Growth of Large Corporations

1. The desire to increase profits has contributed to the growth of large corporations.

2. MASS PRODUCTION has to a large extent replaced small privately-owned methods of production.

3. A recent trend has been toward VERTICAL EXPANSION of businesses, in which a company owns every step in the production process from raw material to factory and the stores the products are sold in.

4. HORIZONTAL EXPANSION refers to the practice of taking over similar businesses in order to gain a monopoly and reduce competition in the field.

5. DIVERSIFICATION is the practice of buying up a variety of businesses to assure a stable rate of profit.


B. Multinational Corporations

1. Most MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS, corporations that own companies and do business in foreign nations, are owned by Americans. The largest have annual sales greater than the GNP’s of many smaller nations.

2. Multinationals have several advantages:

a. They can buy foreign materials even when the government urges them to Buy American.

b. They can play one country against another to obtain the greatest production advantage.

c. They can create unemployment problems.

d. They can use their great wealth to dominate a nation’s economy or evade its laws.

3. Although the major increase in multinational business has occurred in the world’s developed nations, Third World nations have also been powerfully affected by multinationals.



IV. The Changing Nature of Work

In simple rural societies, most people are PRIMARY WORKERS who work to produce raw materials. In societies such as the US, most people are SECONDARY WORKERS who produce manufactured goods from raw materials. The fastest growing section of the work force consists of TERTIARY WORKERS who provide services.


A. Factory Work and Alienation

1. Alienation is the term Marx used in describing the working conditions of the factory worker. Workers have no control over their work and derive no satisfaction from it except their wages.

2. They continually perform routine tasks and have been studied extensively since the turn of the century.


B. Scientific Management

1. Scientific management, a term coined by Frederick W. Taylor, is a technique used to improve worker efficiency.

2. The division of labor requires the manager to do the thinking and the worker to do the labor.

3. At first, the intelligence of the worker was ignored. Eventually human relations had to be considered.


C. The Human Relations School

1. The HUMAN RELATIONS school of management considers the psychological makeup of workers, their attitudes toward management, peer pressures and similar factors in an attempt to promote worker efficiency.

2. The now famous Hawthorne studies discovered that productivity is strongly influenced by informal group structure among the workers.

3. The findings of the Hawthorne studies made management aware of the importance of informal groups, worker attitudes toward management and the effects of these factors on productivity.

4. The goal of these management studies was to find the best kind of person for each job and the best type of environment for improving worker attitudes.

5. An important study of worker attitudes showed that they valued flexibility on the part of management.

6. Those who work in management or teaching may have opportunities to apply the human relations model in their work.


D. Modern Trends in Management

1. The efficiency of the Japanese work force can be attributed in part to two policies, lifetime jobs and quality-control circles.

2. LIFETIME JOBS are jobs guaranteed to workers only until age fifty-five or sixty and include no women.

3. The guarantee for even this short lifetime creates security for the Japanese man. Other policies encourage the male worker to take pride in his work and close personal relationships with other workers.

4. The emphasis is on cooperation with the group workers.

5. QUALITY CONTROL CIRCLES are worker meetings held periodically to improve productivity. The workers make recommendations to management.


E. Unionization

1. Workers have tried for years to improve their own working conditions and economic benefits through UNIONIZATION, the process of organizing workers to improve wages and working conditions.

2. Unionization grew out of the guild system of the Middle Ages. By the end of the 19th century, two union advocacy groups had come into existence — one for skilled artisans and one for women textile workers.

3. The late 1800s was a period of intense labor-union struggle and conflict. The more radical, socialistic branch of the union movement fought for the collective ownership of industry. This branch was outlawed.

4. The more conservative unions worked to protect their jobs through legislation, choosing a cooperative relationship with employers, negotiating conflicts and striking only as a last resort.

5. Even against more conservative unions, American industry put up a fierce struggle.

6. In the 1930s, unions united into large federations, the AFL and CIO, which eventually joined forces. Unions were organized by industry rather than by class.

7. Over the past decades, unions have weakened, partly because corporations are providing improved benefits and partly because of corporate expansion.


F. Service Work

1. Service workers are employees not directly involved in producing goods. They help meet corporate and community needs.

2. The increase in the size of corporations has increased the number of service workers.

3. Many lower-paid service workers are joining unions to improve their working conditions.


G. Professions

1. The professions are distinguished from other work by five characteristics:

a. A body of knowledge unique to that profession

b. Adherence to a code of ethics promising a specific level of service

c. Licensing procedures assuring professional competence

d. Peer control of the profession

e. A professional association to administer the profession’s standards procedures and code of ethics

2. Two of the most important professions in the US are law and medicine.

3. An increasing proportion of professionals are employed by corporations.



V. Politics and the Distribution of WealthVARIATIONS IN UNEMPLOYMENT

The economic system in our society produces wealth but it has no responsibility to distribute wealth to all of the citizens. It is the political system that determines how the wealth is distributed. Today, most government effort to help those who cannot manage financially takes the form of some type of welfare payment.


A. Welfare

1. Welfare consists of government payments to people who have an inadequate income. Welfare programs include:

a. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF),

b. Medicaid,

c. Supplemental Security Income, and

d. General Assistance.

2. Piven and Cloward argue that welfare payments are used to keep the unemployed from expressing their discontent in hard times.

3. Gans lists at least eight societal advantages of poverty, such as:

a. They are a source of cheap labor.

b. They can be sold inferior goods that could not otherwise be sold.

c. They do the most unpleasant jobs.


B. Welfare for the Well-Off

1. There are more government programs to help the middle- and upper-classes than to help the poor.

2. The following is a partial list:


a. Veterans benefits

b. Housing loans

c. Business loans

d. Farming subsidies

e. Social Security (not available to the unemployed)

f. Medical care in hospitals built with government funds

g. College classrooms and dormitories built with government funds and financial assistance for college students



VI. The Chinese System: An Example of Socialism


A. In 1920, China was a poor nation, ruled by warlords and populated by millions of poor peasants.


B. The warlords were opposed by two groups:

1. The Kuomintang, supported by the US and

2. The Communists, supported by the Soviet Union.


C. After 30 years of fighting the warlords, Japanese invaders and each other, the Communists prevailed, largely because they had attracted peasant support.


D. After the war ended, the primary workers were formed into thousands of agricultural communes and industrial groups. Production increased dramatically.


E. The Chinese communists developed successful industries quickly and made great improvements in service areas - such as education and health care. Schools and colleges were opened and teachers were trained.


F. Although still poor by US standards, China has made great economic progress. However, the average Chinese worker has sacrificed many of the freedoms that Americans take for granted.





Copyright 1996 Amy S Glenn
Last updated:   07/10/2024 1230

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