Modern Social Problems Argumentative Essay

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Sociology
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The systematic study of individuals, groups and social structure
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Vertehen
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Understanding an action from the actors point of view
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Sociological Imagination
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A point of view that links our personal lives and experience with our social world, to help us distinguish between personal troubles and public issues
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Personal Troubles
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Occur within the range of a persons immediate relationship with others Ex: Getting sick
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Public Issues
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Some value, cherished by the public, which is felt to be threatened (Allows us to look beyond the individual and see problems/issues as related to these larger structures)
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Culture
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A system of guidelines for living in a society
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Social Problems
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A social condition or pattern of behavior that has negative consequences for individuals, institutions, as well as our social or physical worlds Ex:Individuals: life, health, relationships Institutions: family, religion, edu, political system Social World: culture, language, politics Physical world: Air, water, buildings
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Objective Reality
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Social problems are objectively identified when we acknowledge that they exist and based on \”facts\” that can be identified
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Subjective Reality
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The subjective reality of social problems deal with how the problems become defined
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Social constructionism
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A sociological theory in which there is no objective reality in the world, only what we have created
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Paradigm
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A way of looking at the world
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Theory
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A theory is set of assumptions and propositions used for the understanding, explanation and prediction of a phenomenon -Help direct research and exploration into social problems -Using theory allows us to justify the connections we draw between individuals and larger social structures
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Norms
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Shared rules of behavior, based on values
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Values
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Shared judgements about \”right\” and \”wrong\”
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Beliefs
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Ideas about life, how society works and how the individual fits in
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Status
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Position we occupy to which society (parent, student, actor, etc)
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Social groups
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Groups to which individuals belong (your friends, family, fraternity, team)
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Social Institutions
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Relatively permanent social units that provide roles, rules, relationships and organized activities, to meet needs and control behavior Ex: Families, schools, religions
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Macro Theory
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Focus on larger social structures -Societal influence on individuals
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Micro Theory
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Focus on individual -The influence of individuals on society
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Society
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A collection of people who live together in a certain geographic area, who interact and cooperate to achieve certain groups
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Structural Functionalism
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An examination of the functions of a societal structure, or the consequences of this structure (Macro level theory)
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Social Facts
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Social structures and cultural norms that are external to and coercive values of, individual
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Material Social Facts
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Technology, law, architecture
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Non Material Social Facts
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Norms, value, morality Conceptualizing these things as \”facts\” allows for the systematic and scientific study of society
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Function
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The main function of the societal organism is to civilize and control human actions
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Dysfunction
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When society goes through periods of transition, norms, values and the larger social order are often thrown into a state of confusion/change (More difficult for society to reign in the actions of individuals)
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Anomie
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A state of normlessness (Without norms and value to control actions, dysfunction within the social system may occur)
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Conflict Theory
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A theory looking at how society is held together by power and coercion (Examines structures and institutions, like functionalism) —MACRO
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Social Class
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A group of people who occupy a similar place in the economic system of production -Marked by differences in power, status, wealth, values and norms -Potential for mobility between classes (class vs. caste) -In all societies, there is \”conflict\” between different classes
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Bourgeoisie
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Those who own the means of production (owners) -Petite Bourgeoisie: Managers
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Proletariat
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Those who work and produce materials for consumptions (workers)
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Lumpen proletariat
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The reserve army of the unemployed
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Means of production
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Non-human input for producing goods (machine, tools, factories)
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Exploitation
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Paying workers less than the full value of their labor
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Surplus Value
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The difference between the price at which the products is sold and the value of the elements that is made of (including labor)
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Homo Faber
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\”Man the Creator\” The meaning of life is to create ad modify the world around us in order to survive
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Species Being
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Mans \”species being\” or true self -Removing humans from their means of production is a source of conflict between classes
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Alienation
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Workers are alienated from many aspects of their lives: -Work -Products of work -Other workers -Human potential
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False Consciousness
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The belief that things are as good as they can be -Proletariat don’t realize the full scope of the system or exploitation -This is beneficial to the bourgeoisie (Keep workers happy)
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Class Consciousness
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An awareness of social position, exploitation and oppression -Has the power of uniting those in the same situation
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Power Elite
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Small group of elite individuals who own and control society -Business, military, politics -The rest of society is a milling \”mad society\” kept content through mass consumption of goods and services
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Symbolic Interactionism
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How we use language, symbols, and words to create and maintain a social reality -Micro Level
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Looking Glass Self
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We see ourselves how we think others sees us -people communicate via symbols -people interpret the actions (words,gestures) of others in situational interactions
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Human Agency
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The active role of humans in creating the social environment
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Labels
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Everyone in society is given a variety of labels -Material things are labeled as well -These labels help to define the individual (Influence and describe actions) behavior -Labels can be both positive and negative through learning, reacting to and reinforcing labels, social problems are created at the individual level
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Labeling Process
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Labeling and deviance can be applied to social problem creation
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Durkheim
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Studied suicide pattern in Europe during the 1800’s Found that different types/patterns of suicide coincided with different states of the social systems and that suicide did not seem to be related to other demographic variables such as race, class, or religion He might say that some \”problems\” are actually functional
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Marx
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The basis of conflict theory is credited to Marx (help from Friedrich Engels) In capitalist societies, Marx states that a conflict between classes is both inevitable and contradictory 2 Major classes in Marx’s theory -Bourgeoisie -Proletariat
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C. Wright Mills
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The Power Elite
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Mead
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Society consists of organized and patterned interactions among individuals
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Cooley
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\”Looking glass self\”
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Bloomer
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Mind, Self, and Society emerge from the interaction and the use/understanding of symbols
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Quantitative
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Research based on numerical data and statistical analysis (surveying, rating scales, secondary analysis)
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Hypothesis
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Statement about how variables are related -Variables are used to test whether or not the hypothesis is true (Although it can never be \”proven\” only supported)
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Qualitative
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Research based on non-numerical data (Interviews, focus groups, observational/field studies)
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Independent Variable
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Variable assumed to \”cause\” or influence the dependent variable
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Dependent Variable
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Variable assumed to be \”caused\” by another
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Research Methods
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-Quantitative Methods -Qualitative Methods -Methods of research are not always easily classified as quantitative or qualitative -Depends on what happens once the data is collected

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