Social Problems Chapters 1-3

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Sociology
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systematic study of human societies
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Sociological Imagination (C.Wright Mills)
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a point of view that highlights how society affects the experiences we have and the choices we make; helps us bring change
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Culture
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a way of life including widespread values and behavior.
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Society
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people who live within some territory and share some patterns of behavior
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Sociology’s key insight
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many of the personal troubles people face are really social issues with their roots in the operation of the larger society
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Social problem:
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a condition that undermines the well-being of some or all members of a society and is usually a matter of public controversy
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Claim making
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process of convincing people and important public officials that a particular problem should be a social problem
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First step in claim making?
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create a controversy by convincing others that the existing situation is not acceptable
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How is success often marked?
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by the passing of a law
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Another important dimension of claims making?
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the deliberate use of language
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Social movement:
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an organized effect at claims making that tries to shape the way people think about an issue in order to encourage or discourage social change
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Stages in Social Movements:
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1) Emergence: initially a few people come together sharing their concerns about the status quo and making claims about the need for change 2) Coalescence: when the claims are publicized by rallies, organizations and lobbying 3) Formalizations: claims are recognized as part of political debate 4) Decline: public interest in claims goes down because people don’t have money or opposing organizations are more convincing.
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8 Sociological Assertions
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1) Social problems result from the ways in which society operates 2) Social problems are not caused by bad people 3) Problems are socially constructed as people define a condition as harmful and in need of change 4) People see problems differently 5) Definitions of problems change over time 6) Problems involve subjective values as well as objective facts 7) Many-but not all-social problems can be solved 8) Various social problems are related
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Three main tenets of Sociological imagination
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1) Structure of society 2) historical content 3) power and control
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Social Stratification
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society’s system of ranking categories of people in a hierarchy; produces social class
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Social Class
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categories of people who have similar access to resources and opportunities
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What affects people’s life chances?
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being born in a particular social class
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3 Major reasons of taxation
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1) taxes provide the government with money it needs to operate 2) Uses taxes to discourage certain types of behavior 3) can be a tool to redistribute income and to reduce economic inequality
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Progressive Taxation
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a policy that raises tax rates as income increases
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People who are most likely to be rich?
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older people, men, married couples, and white people
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Poverty line
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income level set by the U.S. government for the purpose of counting the poor (1964)
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The poverty line represents..
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a dollar mount of annual income below which a person or family is defined as \”poor\” and may be eligible for government assistance
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Poverty is seen as what in the U.S.?
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as a condition in which people don’t have enough to get by
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Some analyst suggest what to reach a minimum level of economic security?
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a U.S. family would need income of at least 25% higher than the poverty line.
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Why did the government set the poverty line so low?
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to make the poverty problem seem smaller
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Poverty gap
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the difference between the actual income of the typical poor household and the official poverty line
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The greater the poverty gap..
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the greater the hardship caused by poverty
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6 Problems linked to poverty:
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1) poor health 2) substandard housing 3) homelessness 4) limited schooling 5) crime & punishment 6) political attention
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Social-Welfare Programs
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organized efforts by government, private organizations, or individuals to assist needy people considered worthy of assistance.
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Three characteristics of Welfare
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1) Social welfare programs benefit people or activities defined as worthy 2) social welfare programs benefit most of the U.S. population 3) Overall, social welfare programs reduce economic inequality, but only a little.
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Welfare Myths
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1) recipients are lazy 2) most are teenage moms 3) receiving welfare makes women have more kids for money 4) it is a radicalized program 5) there is a lifelong pattern of dependence 6) recipients are undeserving
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Purpose of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (1996)
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Responsibility for helping the poor shifted from the federal government to the states.
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AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) ended in favor to..
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TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
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New rules of TANF
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were intended to increase the personal responsibility of the poor by requiring able-bodied people seeking benefits to find a job or enroll in job training.
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TANF limitations:
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the period of time that families can receive benefits to two consecutive years, with a lifetime cap of five years; work requirement of 30 hours per week; single moms under 18 must be supervised by guardian; illegal immigrants not covered; immigrant coverage severely limited (not in 1st 5 years under federal); coverage under healthcare reform
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Social darwinism (herbert spencer)
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viewed society as a competitive arena where the most able become rich and the least able fall into poverty; \”survival of the fittest\”
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Why some neighborhoods remain poor from generation to generation?
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Oscar lewis says it’s culture of poverty
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Culture of Poverty
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cultural patterns that encourage poverty as a way of life; people adapt to poverty and may turn to drugs and violence
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Meritocracy
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a system of social inequality in which social standing corresponds to personal ability and effort;
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Bell Curve
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(turnstein & murray) intelligence matters
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Social disorganization
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linked to poverty; a breakdown in social order caused by rapid social change; too much immigration
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Davis and Moore said
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that inequality is useful for the operation of society. Some jobs require rare talent and extensive training.
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Why equal rewards would be a bad thing?
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people would have little incentive to strive or work hard
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Wealthfare
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discounted use of public resources grants corporate tax reductions and tax breaks for the wealthy foreign tax credits for oil
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Race
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a socially constructed category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that members of a society define as important
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Ethnicity
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a shared cultural heritage, which typically involves common ancestors, language, and religion.
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Difference between race and ethnicity?
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race is a matter of what societies make of biological traits, but ethnicity is a matter of culture
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Minorities
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any category of people, identified by physical or cultural traits, that a society subjects to disadvantages
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Four models of the pattern of majority-minority interaction
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genocide, segregation, assimilation, and pluralism
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Minority group characteristics:
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differential power identifiability ascribed status solidarity and group membership
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Three basic tenets of racism
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1) groups can be distinguished by physical differences 2) those differences indicate mental, cultural, and moral differences between groups 3) due to these differences, one group is thought superior or inferior to others
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Assimilation
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process by which minorities gradually adopt cultural patterns from the dominant majority population
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Prejudice
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any rigid and unfounded generalization about an entire category of people.
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Prejudice is what?
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a prejudgment, an attitude one develops before interacting with the specific people in question
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Stereotypes
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an exaggerated description applied to every person in some category; mostly negative
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Racism
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the assertion that people of one race are less worthy than or even biologically inferior to others
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Parillo and Donoghue 3 major findings:
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1) long-term trend is that students are more acceptable to all minorities 2) today’s students see less difference between the various minorities 3) Climate of concern over terrorism in the U.S. probably has increased prejudice against Arabs and Muslims
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Institutional racism
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racism at work in the operation of social institutions, including the economy, schools, hospitals, them military , and the criminal justice system
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what illustrates the operation of institutional racism?
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racial profiling
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Example of institutional racism?
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when police officers assume that a black person who comes to their attention is likely to be engaged in wrongdoing
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Causes of prejudice?
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1) personality factors 2) societal factors
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Discrimination
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the unequal treatment of various categories of people
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Prejudice is a matter of __________ but discrimination is a matter of _______
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attitude; actions
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Positive versus negative discrimination
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we discriminate in a positive way when we single out people who do especially good work; we discriminate in a negative way when we put down others or avoid entire categories of people based on their race or ethnicity
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Institutional Discrimination
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discrimination that is built into the operation of social institutions, including the economy, schools, and the legal system
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Affirmative Action
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policies intended to improve the social standing of minorities subject to past prejudice and discrimination
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Quota Systems
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(1970s) employers or colleges set aside a certain number of places for minorities
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Overt Discrimination
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type of discrimination that is clear and public; individual discriminates based on prejudice of others
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Adaptive Discrimination
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type of discrimination based on prejudice of others
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Aversive Racism
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individuals who experience strong, negative prejudice due to presence or experience
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Modern Racism
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it is a more subtle type of prejudice; against African Americans
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Social Differentiation
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the distinction made between social groups and persons on the basis of biological, physiological, and sociocultural factors, as sex, age, or ethnicity, resulting in the assignment of roles and status within a society.
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Zero-Sum Game
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a game theory in which a person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so the net change in wealth or benefit is zero
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Transformative Assets
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lift a family economically and socially beyond where their own achievements, jobs, and earnings would place them. One major example is family inheritance
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Colorblind (White) Privilege
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\”I don’t see color\” a form of comfort. ⁃ • Enables them to ignore structural barriers to true equality. ⁃ • Makes race benign cultural marker only (through commodification). Makes white privilege invisible. ▪ Enables them to view own successes as result of hard work, intellect. ⁃ Blames Blacks for lingering inequalities. ⁃ Removes need to maintain race-based social programs (sees them as racist).
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Intergenerational Mobility
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refers to changes in social status between different generations within the same family.
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There is an extremely ___________ of intergenerational class mobility in the US
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low rate
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Gender
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the personal traits and life chances that a society links to being female & male
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Sex
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the biological distinction between females and males
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Gender Stratification
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the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege between men and women.
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Patriarchy
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a social pattern in which males dominate females
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Gender discrimination was outlawed by the federal…
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Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
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Reasons for the gender gap in pay
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1) men and women typically have different types of jobs 2) everyone assigns importance to work in relation to other social roles and obligations 3) women suffer from gender discrimination
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Glass Ceiling
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subtle discrimination that effectively blocks the movement of women into the highest position in organizations
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Feminism
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a political movement that seeks the social equality of women and men
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Comparable Worth
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the concept that women and men should receive equal pay for jobs calling for comparable skills and responsibilities
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Second Shift
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responsibilities of childcare and housework in addition to paid labor
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Rape Statistics
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1 out of every 6 American women 17.7 million american women Women (18-24) in a college are 3 times more likely to suffer from sexual violence than women in general
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Rape Culture
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an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture
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Examples of Rape Culture
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blaming the victim (\”she asked for it\”) sexually explicit jokes trivializing sexual assault (\”boys will be boys\”)
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Norm
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rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members
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Law
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a norm formally created through a society’s political system
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Civil Law
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defines the legal rights and relationships involving individuals and businesses
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Criminal Law
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defines everyone’s responsibility to uphold public order
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Crime
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the violation of a criminal law enacted by the fed, state, or local gov
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Folklore
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traditional acts of kindness and mannerism
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Mores
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norms set by society, largely by appearance and behavior
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Percentage of crimes against property:
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88%
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The best predictor of violent and property crimes (social class)
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poverty
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Who are more likely to be perpetrators and victims (except rape)
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men
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Men crime statistics
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63% of property crimes 80% of violent crimes
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What are women are more likely to be arrested for?
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prostitution (68%)
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39% of violent crime arrests and 29% of property crimes are
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African Americans
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Blacks are more likely than _______ to spend time in the system
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whites
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15-24 year olds are….
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more likely to be arrested and victimized 37% of violent crimes 43% of property crimes
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Which region has more crime?
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South
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What percentage of Americans have guns in the home?
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34%
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Violence is linked to what
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poverty
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\”Due process\”
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means that the criminal justice system must operate within the bounds of the law
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How many americans are in prison?
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2.5 million
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Percent of incarcerations are for violent crime?
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8%
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Huge prison population largely due to…
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\”war on drugs\” mandatory sentencing laws
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Retribution
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moral vengeance by which society inflicts on the offender suffering comparable to that caused by the offense
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Deterrence
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using punishment to discourage further crime
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Rehabilitation
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reforming an offender to prevent future offense (has a positive intention)
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Societal Protection
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protecting the public by using incarceration or execution to prevent an offender from committing further offenses
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Criminal Recidivism
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later offenses by people previously convicted of crimes 1/3 of inmates released return to jail within 3 years 60-70% of rearrests
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High recidivism rate suggests that
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successful rehabilitation is the exception rather than the rule -some people suggest that prison makes crime problems worse, especially because of other inmates
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28 states have the…
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\”three strikes and you’re out\” law that require a life sentence for a third felony…so they can keep criminals off the streets
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Primary Acts of Deviance
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(Edwin Lemert) skipping school, underage drinking, drugs, etc
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Secondar Deviance
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person being labeled in a negative way, seeks the acceptance of similar people
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1st wave of sexual revolution/freedom was…
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during the roaring twenties and the groundbreaking Kinsey research of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
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Young people created a culture of freedom aka the sexual revolution by
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the late 1960’s
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Sexual Orientation
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a person’s romantic and emotional attraction to another person
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Homosexuality
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some claim it’s a social problem because it goes against the moral standards
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June 26, 2015
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(Obergefell v. Hodges)U.S. Supreme Court rules all state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional
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The first state to make marriage legal in 2003?
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Massachusetts
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First gay rights group formed when and where?
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Chicago in 1924, but the movement didn’t gain widespread public attention until the 1950s
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Sexual Harassment
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unwanted comments, gestures, or physical contact of sexual nature
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Civil Rights Act (1964)
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had the goal of protecting African Americans from employment discrimination
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Title VII (of Civil Rights Act)
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protects discrimination in the terms, conditions and privileges of unemployment on the basis of race and sex
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Title IX (1972)
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(of the higher education amendment) banned sex discrimination in institutions receiving federal funds
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Defense of Marriage Act (1996)
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defined marriage as a union between men and women

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