Understanding social structure

icer215's version from 2016-08-24 18:09


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MicrosociologyStudy of social interaction (individual level), Individual’s interpretation and meaning determine their behavior, Main objective includes patterns of behaviors and actions, Main subjective includes beliefs and perceptions
MacrosociologyStudy of social structure and institutions, Social status and roles determine human behaviors, Main objective includes society, law, technology, architecture, and language, Main subjective includes culture, norms, and values
FunctionalismAn idea developed by Emile Durkheim. Each part of society contributes to the stability of the whole society. Each part – mainly the institutions of society. Whole society – complex system
All parts have to work together for successful stability
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Emphasizes the consensusand order that exist in society. Members of the society agreed to social consensus
Divergent behavior that causes disorder in the system leads to change in societal components is not wanted
This theory has been criticized by many sociologists becauseIt neglects negative functions that occur in the society .It does not encourage the members of the society to take active role to change social environment
Conflict Theory Perspective derived from Karl Marx. Society is divided groups competing for social and economic resources .Groups and members of the society struggle and destructively interact with each other because of “class conflict”/inequality e.g. Little cooperation, No mutual benefit
Domination maintains social orderThose with power have the ability to control (e.g. most political, economic, and social resources)
“Superstructure” of society(includes social institutions, political structures, and culture) produces consensus
Symbolic InteractionismA theory developed by Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead. Society is largely constructed by how people interpret it but people from different groups interpret it differently. The meaning of objects, behaviors, events comes from people’s interpretation
People’s interpretationPeople react based on their own interpretation of the meaning of events, not directly to events. Interacting with others shapes one’s identity


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Cooley’s looking glass theoryPeople imagine how they must appear to others, People imagine the judgment of that appearance, People develop their own self through the judgment of others
Social ConstructionismA theory that describes that the understanding and the meaning of the world comes from how individuals and groups create their perceived reality. Socially constructed reality is an on-going dynamic process. Criticized because this theory neglect natural phenomenon that occurs in our world
People behave on their interpretationof what/how they perceive the world to them, reproducing reality. Involves both subjective and objective reality
Types of social constructionismWeak social constructionism & Strong social constructionism
Weak social constructionismReality depends on basic facts
Strong social constructionismReality depends on language, habits, and actions
Exchange-rational ChoiceRational choice theory. Pioneered by sociologist George Homas in 1961, which was further developed by other theorists. Examines social models and economics to understand individuals’ behaviors
An individual’s actsbalance of costs and benefits to maximize the individual’s advantage. Minimize any losses and maximize gains
Feminist TheoryA theory that examines the women’s rights (inequality against men) in various areas including social class, politics, education, and more. Began early 20th century (1970’s) in America. Numerous sociologists contributed to this theory
Various types of feminist theoryexist including Marxist socialist feminism, liberal feminism, radical feminism, and many more
Some types of feminist theory that explain the difference between men and women includeGender differences, Gender inequality, Gender oppression, Structural oppression
Gender differencesWomanhood and femininity are the reasons for different social experience between men and women
Gender inequalityDescribes liberal feminism. Unequal division of labor against women makes it difficult for women to receive same opportunity as men
Gender oppressionDescribes radical feminism. Men have power that actively dominate and abuse women


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Structural oppressionDescribes Marxist socialist feminism. Capitalism, racism, and patriarchy is the reason for women’s inequality
EducationA form of learning. A social institution. The knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits are learned
Divided into different stages of educationPreschool (kindergarten), Primary school (elementary/grade school), Secondary school (middle/high shool), College/university, Graduate school
Preschool (kindergarten)Early childhood education & Usually children between 3-7 attend preschool
Primary school (elementary/grade school)Usually children age between 5-7 attend primary school
Secondary school (middle/high shool)Usually children age between 11-18 attend primary school
FamilyA group of people affiliated by marriage and shared ancestors. A unit of socialization
Family structureinclude a spouse, parent, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, niece, and in-laws
Roles and responsibilities of family Replenishes population, Provide social identity, Provide emotional and practical support
Replenishes populationRegulate sexual activity and reproduction
Provide social identitySocialization of children
Provide emotional and practical supportIncluding love, comfort, security, food, clothing, shelter, and many more
Sociological studies of the family analyze various factorsFamily size, age, ethnicity, gender, social class, education level, diversity, and so on


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ReligionSacred components of social life, A form of culture, Involves beliefs with the form of ritualized practice, Provide a sense of purpose, Give an ordering system for societies
Some religions includeJudaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,
JudaismBelieve that they are the chosen people of God
ChristianityThe most widespread religion in the world, Derived from Judaism, Believe that Jesus is the son of God
IslamPeople that follow this religion are called Muslims. Believe that God’s word was revealed to Muhammad
HinduismOldest religion that is dominantly found in India, Believe in the principle of karma, the wisdom or health of one’s eternal soul, Believe in reincarnation, the cycle of rebirth
BuddhismFollow the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, Found in Japan, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and many more
Religious organizationsare called churches, sects, denominations, and cults
GovernmentAn institution that has a responsibility to make, enforce, and regulate rules of a society. The member of the society must recognize the people/group to be the leading body of a society
Government is largely divided into these typesMonarchy, Democracy, Authoritarianism, Totalitarianism
MonarchyOne family has the control and power over the government ex .King, queen, princess, prince, and so on. Such power is passed down through that family from one generation to next
DemocracyCitizens of that society have a choice to pick their officials to run the government
AuthoritarianismCitizens have no right or power to participate in the government
TotalitarianismGovernment has control and power over citizen’s lives in nearly all aspects


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The United States has a two-party political system the Democratic Party and the Republican Party
Democratic partyBelieves the government should take control of the general welfare of the country, while take a liberal stand on social issues
Republican partyBelieves that the government should take limited control in providing social services and conservative stand on social issues
EconomyProvide what people living in the society need, People can acquire things themselves or depend on others, Exchange of money, goods, or services are required to rely on others for what one needs
Two economic systemsCapitalism & Socialism
CapitalismA system of producing resources on their own
SocialismA system of government owning the productions and control over the economy. Limited private property
HealthThe total well-being of an individual
MedicineTreatment for physical and mental illness of people in the society
IllnessDefinition and the ways illness are treated vary all around the world
Physical illnesses in the West are treated by doctors using medicine and surgical procedures, while in other cultures illnesses are considered punishment or curse and they apply prayers or folk remedies as the treatments
Hallucination and hearing voices are considered the symptoms of a mental illness in the West, whereas in other culture those symptoms are considered a religious experience and a positive enlightenment


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Elements of CultureCulture exists everywhere, hence the reason why there are numerous studies done
Social organizationThe family patterns and social classes of a culture. Family patterns are a very significant unit of social organization
Social classesrank/status of people
Customs and traditionsThe way people act and dress, Different types of food they eat, Laws and rules
ReligionBeliefs that answer questions about the meaning of life. Value the groups’ ideas/feelings
LanguageA way of communication & Word by mouth
Arts and literatureA way people entertain themselves & A product of people’s imaginations. E.g. Stories, music, dance, etc.
Forms of governmentGroup of people that control the general public, Provide and enforce laws, Provide protection from external threats
Economic systemsProduce and distribute goods and services in the society
Material CultureAlso known as material heritage. The concrete, physical, and visible objects and resources of a culture. Can be from the past or present: Include food, clothing, jewelry, cars, buildings, weapons, and many more


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Relationships between people and their cultureis preserved through material culture (e.g. skills, preservation, perspectives, and interpretation of objects)
Some examples of United State’s material culture are :Running shoes, IPods, Organic vegetables, CD burners,Soy lattes
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Symbolic CultureThe intangible aspects of a culture: No physical objects
Includes ideas, beliefs, concepts, norms, rituals, values, language and symbolsHelp people to shape their society, All are interconnected, Help us understand cultures
Languagea way of communicating with written language à can be taught and learned
Valuethe concept of right and wrong (good and evil)
Beliefsthe way people think
Normsthe idea of normal and abnormal held by the members in the culture that affect one’s behavior
Ritualscertain practices or behaviors that members of the culture regularly engage in
Culture LagA term that was created by William Ogburn


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William OgburnWho classified culture into material and non-material (refer back to previous lessons if needed)
Describes lag of nonmaterial culture behind changes in the material culture
Material culture changes occurs first, which includes any form of technology, houses, books, etc.
Non-material culturetakes longer time to change (to adjust to changes of material culture), which includes values, norms, education, attitudes, and etc.; thus, there is a culture lag
Culture ShockA process of social and psychological adjustments that people experience when visiting or settling at new country/society
Four different phases involved in culture shockHoneymoon phase, Frustration/distress phase, Adjustment phase, Mastery phase
Honeymoon phaseExcited about new country/experience. Still feel close/familiar to home
Frustration/distress phaseBegin to not see everything as new and exciting. Experience confusion/anxiety and feel lonely (far from familiar home): Due to language barrier, cultural difference, unfamiliar people, different types of food. Not much accessible support system
Adjustment phaseBecome more comfortable with (accept) new culture and people. Grow sense of expectations in various settings. Lose feeling lost/new
Mastery phaseFully feel comfortable and adapted to new country