Sociology 150

sociology imagination
the capacity to think systematically about how many things we experience as personal problems
how can a sociology imagination help you better understand your world?
a sociology imagination helps us see the diversity of intimate relationships and question our assumptions about a particular form of marriage being natural as opposed to social origins
example of sociology imagination
debt from student loans, competing demands from divorced parents, or an inability to form a rewarding romantic relationship at college.
the study of societies and the social worlds that individuals inhabit within them
a large group of people who live in the same area and participate in a common culture
social networks
the ties between people, groups, and organizations, work
the increased flow of goods, money, ideas, and people across national borders
beliefs about members of a group that are usually false, or at least exaggerated, but are the basis of assumptions made about individual members of the group
any behavior, practice, or policy that harms, excludes, or disadvantages individuals on the basis of their group membership because of their age long before they are too old to do their jobs
how can a sociological imagination help us to challenge stereotypes?
it challenges such stereotypes by raising questions about where they come from, what they are based on, who stands to benefit from them, and why they are harmful
people watch
we are using information we know about are society to make educated guesses about the individuals we encounter
social theories
overarching frameworks that suggest certain assumptions and assertions about the way the world works, for posing such questions and evaluating evidence related to those questions
research methods
ways of systematically studying these questions in order to develop new evidence that allows new answers to be generated
what types of questions are sociologists particularly well equipped to explore?
how do our relationships with each other, as well as our participation in groups and organizations, affect how we learn and experience education?
what about the even broader effects of government social policies, regulations, and laws and the ways they can make education inaccessible or unappealing to certain social groups?
how does the social organization of college life shape student’s experiences?
universities are organizations. Like other organizations, universities have their own structures, logics, and informal rules
does the experience of college benefit everyone equally?
social hierarchies of class, race, and gender shape who goes to what kind of college
how are students’ college paths shaped by the larger labor markets awaiting students upon graduation?
the u.s economy is undergoing massive restructuring as its manufacturing sector continues to transform into service and high-tech sectors
why do social context matter?
sociology is fundamentally concerned with how individuals are influenced by society
social context
the influence of society on individuals
how do our families and communities shape our social development?
our families shape who we are in a variety of ways: by giving us racial, ethnic, and religious identities; by teaching us the basic rules of society and how to behave in society or in particular social settings; through the networks parents provide us and where they have chosen to live
the neighborhood and community in which we grow up. living in a safe neighborhood with good schools, surrounded by families who encourage their children to do well in school and to be ambitious and confident, creates a different set of pathways than that experienced by a child living in an impoverished, high-crime neighborhood with poor schools
how do the organizations and institutions we are a part of help us form our identities?
beyond specific organizations and institutions lie the social, economic, and historical contexts of our lives. the state of the world we are born into shapes the opportunities available to us, either limiting or enabling us to pursue different goals and aspirations
social interaction
the way people act together, including how they modify and alter their behavior in response to the presence of others.
the basic rules of society that help us know what is and is not appropriate to do in any situation
what is the distinction between social interaction and social structure?
the importance of the “social” part of social interaction becomes most clear to us when we violate societal rules of acceptable behavior
social structures provide both order and organization, but they are often invisible
social structure
the flip side of social interaction, refers to the external forces, most notably in the social hierarchies and institutions of society
social hierarchy
a set of important social relationships that provide individuals and groups with different kinds of status, in which some individuals and groups are elevated above others
those longstanding and important practices (like marriage, family, education, and economic markets) as well as the organizations that regulate those practices (such as the government, the military, schools, and religion) provide the frameworks for our daily lives
our positions within an institution or organization that come with specific rules or expectations about how to behave are partly determined by our social standing
where did sociology come from, and how is it different from the other social sciences?
the term sociology is typically credited to Auguste Comte (1798-1859), who first used it in 1839. Comte thought that sociology would eventually become the ultimate science of the social world and would include both what he called “social statics” (the study of societies as they are) and “social dynamics” (the processes of social change)
what was the historical context in which sociology began to develop?
sociology and other social sciences began to develop when growing numbers of people began to turn from abstract ideas or debates to thinking about how things work in the real world and how that world could be systematically investigated
the growth of factories and large-scale goods production
the growth of cities
urban areas
commonly defined as those with a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile and all surrounding areas that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square miles
an organized associations of workers created in order to protect and fight for their rights
social movements
collective action aimed at bringing about some kind of change in society
units of analysis
units of analysis are important not only because they affect what aspects of our topics we can see-they also shape the explanations sociologist provide
what units of analysis do sociologists work with and how do these differ from those of other disciplines?
sociologists work on different levels, with different units of analysis, they typically address a wider range of connections than other social sciences
what are some of the spin-off fields that originally started in sociology?
criminology, gender studies, African American studies, Latino/ a studies, organizational or management studies, industrial relations or labor studies, demography
how can this book help you develop a sociological imagination?
it’s to provide enough background on the key areas and findings of sociological research to provide our readers with foundation for developing your own sociological imagination
what does it mean to describe this book and sociology as a whole as a project?
it’s something we are collectively engaged in building and something for which there are relatively few completely settled answers
why is it essential to review existing research on a topic before asking a new research question?
it helps with the narrowing down of interests to questions, but it helps to know if the ground to be covered is already charted territory
what six questions should a sociologist ask to determine the merit of a research question?
do I already know the answer?
is the question researchable?
is the question clear?
does the question have a connection to social scientific scholarship?
does the question balance the general and the specific?
do I care about the answer?
what factors shape sociologists’ choices about what to research?
epistemology, values and morals, ethnics, theoretical tradition
what is the best method to research a sociological question?
this is the, “who, what, where, when, and how” stage of the research process. It’s when we decide what or who to study
which types of research questions are best investigated using surveys?
when a research question centers on patterns of behavior among large groups of people
when are in-depth interviews required?
when the question is about the thought processes that lead people to have certain opinions or engage in certain behaviors
why is choosing the right research method to study motivations and behaviors often a complex process?
we can’t assume that opinions lead clearly to behavior, there’s a danger in reading motivation from actions. if we want to study opinions, we need to ask respondents about them; if it’s motivations we are after, we need to go out and observe real behaviors and interactions
how is data collected?
they collect data on the variables using random samples
why are issues of reliability and validity so important to sociological researchers?
when sociologists talk about reliability in measurement, they want to know whether, if they used the same measurement technique in an additional study, they would end up with similar results
if the measurement reflects what the researcher is hoping to understand about the social world, we say the results are valid
what sampling issues do sociologists grapple with when they begin their research?
if and when sampling randomly is not possible, sociologists frequently rely on representative sampling in which they make sure that the characteristics of their sample reflect those of the total population they are studying
what types of sociological questions are best studied from a comparative-historical perspective?
questions involving social structure in the most general sense, including institutions, public policies, culture, or social inequalities can often be profitably studied from a comparative-historical perspective, a method of analysis examining a social phenomenon over time or in different places
how does the Coleman Report illustrate the challenges of making causal inferences?
educational achievement as measured by standardized test scores. Sociologists have a long tradition of attempting to understand variation in student test scores
what are the key strengths and weaknesses of interview methods?
their main strengths is their ability to get at how people make sense of their worlds.
the weakness is drawing the interview sample
in what way is the main strength of ethnography its central weakness?
the real strength of ethnographic analysis is that it can produce some of the richest, most nuanced accounts of social life in sociology
how do sociologists use data coding to help them reach conclusions?
they organize the data according to key categories and concepts
how do sociologists decide what kind of general claims to draw from their research?
sociologists go back to the research questions we began with and figure out how the empirical patterns that we uncovered help to answer them
casual inference
a statement about cause and effect that claims that a change in one variable is the cause of a change in another variable
when change in one variable is a direct cause of change in another variable. for example, long-term smoking is established as a cause of increased risk of lung cancer
code of ethics
a set of guidelines that outlines what is considered moral and acceptable behavior in some context (such as within an organization or profession)
comparative-historical perspective
a method of research that examines differences across countries or in different historical periods to try to understand what factors cause some specific change to occur
the existence of a relationship between two variables. a correlation exists when a change in one variable is related to a change in another variable. it does not necessarily imply, however, that the change in one variable is the cause of the change in the other. correlation can be contrasted with causality
cross-national comparison
research that focuses on explaining the differences between countries, such as understanding why some outcome is observed in one country and not another
data analysis
the scientific process by which researchers interpret the data they have collected
data coding
the organization of data based on key concepts and categories
data display
a visual projection of patterns in data, for example, as tables or figures
demographic data
information on the size, structure, or distribution of the population and how these change over time
empirical generalization
The application of conclusion from finding about one group or setting to a larger population. am empirical research result is generalized when the same result can be found in another context
the study of what we think we can know about the world
a sociologist who enters the everyday lives of those he or she studies in hopes of understanding how they navigate and give meaning to their worlds
a method of research in which one group gets a treatment of one kind or another, while a control group that is otherwise similar does not get treatment
extended case method
way of doing ethnography that emphasizes its contibution to social theory
the collection of data about a group through firsthand observation of the group
A conclusion drawn from specific info. that is used to make a broad statement about a topic or person
historical research
research on records and documents to understand how people, places or things worked in the PAST
A testable prediction, often implied by a theory
informed consent
A written agreement to participate in a study made by an adult who has been informed of all the risks that participation may entail.
A data collection technique in which an interviewer poses questions to the interviewee.
When researchers define the methods and techniques to be used to assess and define the concepts that are being investigated
A belief that accurate knowledge must be based on the scientific method
probability sampling
A method used by pollsters to select a representative sample in which every individual in the population has an equal probability of being selected as a respondent.
qualitative research
research that relies on nonnumeric data, such as words, observations, or pictures
quantitative research
research that relies on statistical analysis of numerical or categorical data
random sampling
A method of poll selection that gives each person in a group the same chance of being selected.
Extent to which a test yields consistent results
representative sampling
A small group whose characteristics accurately reflect those of the larger population from which it is drawn. This type of sample is often used as the beginning of a study or theory
research memo
an extended version of research notes, usually organized analytically, that allows researchers to work through their findings and the evidence they have to support them.
a person participating in a study who can be asked specific questions of interest to the investigator
technique to define what or whom to include in a study
sociological imagination
A quality of the mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our particular situation in life and what is happening at a social level
spurious relationship
-a correlation beween two or more variables that is the result of another factor not being measured
A study, generally in the form of an interview or questionnaire, that provides researchers with information about how people think and act.
theoretical generalizability
Theoretical concepts derived from the study can be used to develop future theories.
theoretical tradition
conceptual frameworks that sociologists use to imagine and make sense of the world.
thick description
a rich, detailed description of the ways people make sense of their lives
Actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure
sociologists shape their views of and perspectives on the questions they ask
civil inattention
Casual encounters. Each individual indicates recognition of the other’s presence but avoids any gesture that might be taken as too intrusive (unfocussed interaction).
Beliefs, customs, and traditions of a specific group of people.
A person who commits an act that breaks a social norm.
Harold Garfinkel’s term for the study of the way people make sense of their everyday surroundings.
the inability to understand, accept, or reference patterns of behavior or belief different from one’s own
gerneralized other
the social control exercised by commonsense understandings of what is appropriate given a specific time and place
the understanding that individuals are constructed and shaped by and through communication with other individuals, groups, and institutions
looking-glass self
a term coined by sociologist Charles HOrton Cooley to emphasize the extent to which our ownself-understandings are dependent on how others view us
reference group
a set of individuals who share similar preferences or social positions and have influence on an individual or members of a group
role conflict
Conflicts that someone feels between roles because the expectations attached to one role are incompatible with the expectations of another role.
role model
A person who is a consistent and sets a positive example for others
role set
the expected ways to act given a particular set of social relations
the conscious being, personified in a human body, which is made and reformulated through social interactions
self-fufilling prophecy
a term coined by Robert Merton to mean the process by which soemone is defined in a particular way and then comes to fulfill the expectations of that definition
significant other
a term coined by George Herbert Mead to mean individuals close enough to us to have a strong capacity to motivate our behavior
Is the process of teaching and learning values, norms, and customs through example and the application of positive and negative social sanctions.
the project of socialization, or the process by which individuals come to understand the expectations and norms of their groups
A term used by sociologists to refer to any of the full range of socially defined positions within a large group or society.
a relatively small group united by sets of concepts, values, symbols, and shared meanings specific to the members of the group
refers to a system of development and consumption that satisfies a society’s current needs without imperiling the ability of future generatoins to do the same
why is social interaction vital to the development of self?
the social self is the only kind of self there can be: the self is not a thing, but a process of interaction
how do the opinions and judgments of others shape our identities?
because we want to belong and make connections with others, we try to anticipate what will be made of what we do
how is interaction in public unique?
a geneticist might think we are each unique because of our biological codes, a sociologist views us each of us as different because no one has had the same set of social interactions
how do we develop a sense of self?
the human capacity for consciousness of self, individual reflection on one’s own identity and social position, which is made and reformulated through interaction
how do we use context and conversation patterns to know what’s going on?
there is no freestanding meaning; people always construct meaning by drawing on social context
how do individuals manipulate emotion in social interaction?
emotions are also performances we arrange for specific purposes, although the specific content of the displays varies by context
what impact have new communication technologies and social media had on our methods of self-presentation?
the new social media, like texting and Facebook, of course change some of the details of the patterns of interaction, but they have many of the same features
how do reference groups guide our behavior?
each of us has our own set of these groups, and we tend to stick with our reference groups in part because, once we are in, we spend our time doing things that people like us do alongside other people who do them
what role does the voice of the generalized other play in shaping our sense of self?
sociologist call this social control exercised by common-sense understandings of what is appropriate in a specific time and place the generalized other
how do we make sense of our worlds?
human beings have specific methods for interacting with others, and people all over the world, regardless of culture or historical moment, use these same methods
what causes role conflict?
When compliance with one role requirement may make it difficult to comply with another role, when two or more roles are contradictory
how does a self-fulfilling prophecy influence label formations?
even for those of us not in mental institutions, we are surrounded by organizations we have to answer to, and they all have their rules
in what types of social interactions is it acceptable to invoke informal rules?
what really makes us competent members of society is not so much knowing all the rules but rather knowing what to do on particular occasions given what is expected of us
what makes people conform, and how does conformity impact how we live together?
that people will go along to get along when nothing is at stake explains why they do so when there are strong reasons for compromising the truth
what is social structure?
social structure is fundamental to the entire way sociologists understand the human world
how are social structures similar to the physical structure of a building?
the structural foundation of a building is what keeps it upright
what are the two key components of social structure?
social hierarchies that can be found in any society in which some groups or individuals are elevatedabove others
institutional environments are made up of laws, rules, organizations, and the government in which individuals navigate
what two critical reasons make social hierarchies an important component of a society’s structure?
Where we stand in key social hierarchies will have a huge bearing on our lives and life chances, hierarchies shape our social lives and relationships in many different ways
how do social hierarchies shape our life choices and relationships?
social structures contain within them a set of important social relationships, or a social hierarchy, that provides individuals and groups with different kinds of status
in what ways do social hierarchies involve power and privilege?
The case of the glass ceiling highlights the ways in which social hierarchies involve power and privilege by which a dominant group seeks to monopolize opportunities and control rewards or at least prevent its existing privileges form eroding
in what ways does population change matter?
Changes in overall size of different social roles is critical source of overall social change and impact on individual lives (critical mass, immigration, changes in mix of racial and ethnic groups)
why do institutions influence social life?
the second dimensions of social structure involves the ways in which institutions influence social life
what are some examples of enduring customs that have been institutionalized?
religion, schools and educational systems, learning
why are the institutions of the government critically important to the overall social structure?
Government policy can influence many other instituions in a number of ways
how is social structure linked to social interaction?
organized group activities
how does socialization contribute to the creation of roles and norms?
social roles create one type of instructions or set of clues for individuals, there is a broader set of constraints that are known as norms
what is at issue in the debate over the relative impact of social structure versus individual choice?
on the oneside of the debate are those scholars who more strongly emphasize the ways in which social structure primarily determines our individual lives and behavior
why are social structures slow to change?
it has to do with endurance
why are path-dependent processes so powerful?
path dependency as the QWERTY example suggests, rests on the idea that paths, once adopted, are extraordinarily difficult to reverse
the capacity of individuals (or groups) to make free choices and exert their own will
a South African policy of complete legal separation of the races, including the banning of all social contacts between blacks and whites
critical mass
describes the size of a group or social network large enough to sustain some kind of important activity
the structure of coursework and content of a sequence of courses making up a program of study in a school or school system
study of human population size
glass ceiling
an invisible barrier that separates women and minorities from top management positions
a concept introduced by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to refer to the diverse ways in which individuals develop intuitive understandings and engrained habits reflecting their class background and upbringing
a term that describes the movement of people across borders
the unequal distribution of valued goods and opportunities in society
a large group of norms and roles that provide for the basic needs of society
the process by which a social practice or organization begins to become an institution; the introduction of formal roles and rules in an organized form
interest group
a group of people with common goals who organize to influence government
life chances
Opportunities for securing such things as health, education, autonomy, leisure, and a long life
life course
The changes in expected activities, roles, rights and obligations, and social relationships individuals experience as they move through culturally defined age categories
acceptable standards of behavior within a group that are shared by the group’s members
a systematic grouping of people brought together to accomplish some specific purpose
path dependency
the ways in which outcomes of the past impact actors and organizations in the present, making some choices or outcomes logical and others illogical
an individual or group to get another individual or group to do something it wants which sometimes involves force
to control the agenda of issues that are to be decided
to persuade others that their interest are the same as those of a powerholder
a set of expectations (norms) about a social position, defining how those in the position ought to behave
social movement
a movement that represents the demands of a large segment of the public for political, economic, or social change
a term that is meant to capture than just the current government in power by incorporating the idea that there are permanent institutions that are independent of whomever is in power
a simplified yet often negative generalized belief about a group of people.
the view that social structures exert so much power that in individuals are fundamentally limited in their agency or capacity to make free choices and exert their own will
welfare state
a government that undertakes responsibility for the welfare of its citizens through programs in public health and public housing and pensions and unemployment compensation
what is culture?
a shared system of beliefs and knowledge
what are some collective symbols of contemporary U.S. culture?
in the place of a cockfight, we could study the Super Bowl-the most watched cultural event in the country, which features familiar rituals and symbols such as betting on the outcome
communicates an idea while being distinct from the idea itself
a research method based on lengthy and intimate observation of a group
judgments about what is intrinsically important or meaningful such as competitiveness
how is culture actually practiced?
culture influences the kinds of decisions we make in our lives, whether or not we are aware of it
tool kit
a set of symbolic skills or devices that we learn through the cultured environment we live in and apply to practical situations in our own lives
any comprehensive system of words or symbols representing concepts, and it does not necessarily need to be spoken, as the hundreds of different sign languages in use around the world suggest
cultural universe
a culture trait common to all humans
in what ways is culture a form of communication?
most linguists and culture sociologists believe that language influences culture without completely determining it
mass communication
communication can occur between individuals, or it can occur at large within society
digital divide
a term used to describe the discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new information and communication tools, such as the internet, and people who do not have the resources and access to the technology
how does culture shape our collective identity?
culture is central to group identity, both in defining a group and in maintaining it
group style
the set of norms and practices that distinguishes one group from another
mainstream culture
the most widely shared systems of meaning and cultural tool kits in a society
relatively small groups of people whose affiliation is based on shared beliefs, preferences, and practices that exist under the mainstream and distinguishes them from the mainstream
what distinguishes a subculture from the mainstream?
subcultures tend to exist in harmony with mainstream culture, culture-studies scholars in the United Kingdom argued that some subcultures express differences in political and economic power and that setting yourself apart from the cultural mainstream is often an of “resistance through rituals”
a group whose ideas, attitudes, and behaviors are in direct conflict with mainstream culture and who actively contest the dominant cultural practices in the societies of which they are a part of
domination or leadership – especially the predominant influence of one state over others. Northern states seemed to be dominating Southern states
culture wars
a metaphor used to claim that political conflict is based on sets of conflicting cultural values. (Ex: Same-sex marriage, abortion)
how is the concept of culture wars at odds with thte multicultural landscape of the U.S?
there are two dominant cultures squaring off against each other: a liberal culture and a conservative culture
refers to beliefs or policies promoting the equal accommodation of differentethnic or cultural groups within a society
cultual relativism
evaluating cultural meanings and practices in their own social contexts
global culture
the ongoing interconnection of people across the planet make this an increasing plausible idea, if not yet reality
protestant ethic
sociological term used to define the Calvinist belief in hard work to illustrate selection in elite group
national culture
the set of shared cultural practices and beliefs within a given nation-state, is an important principle for sociology
what produces and reproduces global and national cultures, and what effects do they have?
many important social, political, economic, and cultural institutions are organized along national lines and these have systematic effects on the way people live their lives and the kinds of attitudes and worldviews they develop
the fact that people think of themselves as inherently members of a nation-was a large scale cultural transformation, perhaps even a sign of a new global culture
how do our cultural practices relate to class and status?
the chances are that you know because of cultural signs-the way someone dresses, how they speak, the sports they play, the music they like, the kinds of things they like to do and taste-their cultural preferences
what is cultural capital, and in what ways have American elites become cultural omnivores?
the U.S. has a more pervasive mass culture than many other countries, and recent research has suggested that American elites are becoming less snobbish and increasingly behaving as culture omnivores or cultural elites who demonstrate their high status through a broad range of cultural consumption, including low-status culture
cultural capital
amount of education, knowledge, taste, skills, manners, and linguistic styles possessed by individuals
cultural omnivores
cultural elites who demonstrate status through cultural consumption, including low-status culture
symbolic boundary
the kinds of distinctions that people make between themselves and others on the basis of taste
how do symbolic boundaries relate to culture?
the symbolic boundaries associated with cultural practices have spatial boundaries as well
class reproduction
the processes that cause class boundaries and distinctions to be maintained over time
what explains class and status reproduction over the long term?
who produces culture and why?
in 1845, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels argued that the people who have the most wealth and power in a society generally also have the greatest ability to produce and distribute their own ideas and culture
how does the concept of the public sphere explain how culture is produced in society?
in an ideal public sphere, citizens set aside their own interests, as well as their wealth and status and meet as equals to collectively debate and generate ideas about how to govern collectively
public sphere
an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action
counter publics
alternative public spheres through which they produce and circulate their own values, beliefs and ideas
networked publics
online public sphere
culture industry
the popular culture that dominates the public sphere encourages a passive, conservative public
is popular culture an industry or a cultural democracy?
the debate between the culture industry and cultural democracy perspectives on cultural production generally concerns the kinds of art and media produced by large corporations
does communication change with the form or medium?
different forms of communication can provide very different experiences even when communicating the exact same content
what is the relationship between media and democracy?
the connection between newspapers and the city is actually a strong one
how do journalists make the news?
by deciding what to cover and how to cover it journalists don’t simply report on the news, they actually help to create and change it
it is a form of communication: it is the production and dissemination of information of general public interest
why do certain topics get very little news coverage?
the concentration of media ownership in a small number of wealthy hands
the fact that that advertising is the primary source of revenue for the media
the media reliance on government officials, corporate leaders and public relations as sources for reporting
the power of governments and big business to discipline and threaten media that is too critical
the ubiquity of anticommunist sentiment to be aroused
reporters cover a diversity of topics but they tend to do so through certain existing story lines and narratives
how much choice do u.s. media consumers actually have?
corporate consolidation inevitably means that media are less responsive to the local communities that they serve, and the quality of democratic politics and cultural life suffers as a result
in what ways has the internet created new opportunities and new dangers for the free media and democracy?
there is no doubt that activists are using Twitter as a key tool for communicating and mobilization but we don’t yet know if this actually makes a difference to the outcomes
what are the distinct forms of power?
power involves situations where we can see power at work when one party prevails in a conflict
becomes visible once we consider the ways in which those with power prevent or deflect challenges to their authority from arising in the first place
those with power convince those without power that the current arrangement is good enough
who has power in the one-dimensional view?
a power elite
power elite
a political theory espoused by C. Wright Mills which holds that an elite of corporate leaders, top military officers, and key political leaders make most political decisions
a theory of government that holds that open, multiple, and competing groups can check the asserted power by any one group
agenda setting
the act of consciously or unconsciously averting the challenge of potential issues, issues that threaten the interests of the dominant or powerful
why is agenda setting in politics important?
the study of agenda setting has paid special attention to the mass media
when is power least visible?
if power over others consists of the ability to affect others’ interests in a negative way, then this does not necessarily result from positive actions by the powerful
how does the state distribute power in a society?
governments make laws, spend large sums of money on a huge number of areas, tax individuals and companies and prepare for war
how do states regulate the economy?
through regulation the state tries to prevent economic actors from harming innocent third parties
how do states impact who gets what in a society?
states set or alter the rules of the game within which individuals and groups contest each other for power
states allocate a huge amount of resources through various kinds of spending programs, known as the welfare state
why do states tend to promote the interests of the powerful?
the business confidence theory of the state
the relative political power of different groups
who has the power in the u.s. states today?
one leader with the people’s consent
a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them
progressive income tax system
the rich are expected to pay a greater share of their income than are the middle class
what do tax policies tell us about how power is distributed in the U.S?
other changes to the tax code in the U.S. in recent decades have benefited the super-rich and typically enable them to pay much less than the official tax rate would suggest
social problems
a wide range of issues that are thought to have harmful consequences
why are there only two political parties in America, and why does it matter?
the electoral system established by the Constitution-a “first-past-the -post” electoral system, which the candidate winning the most votes in a single district wins the seat-makes it virtually impossible for third parties to gain traction
proportional representation
found in most other countries allow minority parties to gain representation based on the share of the vote they win
political action committees
organized by a wide range of individual businesses and business associations, unions, professional associations and ideological groups
what contradictory views do Americans hold on policies involving the unequal distribution of income?
most Americans believe that the political system favors the preferences of the powerful that the rich should pay more taxes than the poor
most Americans have also come to accept the view that government overall is too big that in the abstract the market is better at solving social problems than the government
representative sample
a small group of people selected at random
public opinion
to characterize the results of opinion surveys
social stratification
examines inequalities among individuals and groups
has the enormous gap between rich and poor always existed?
without significant opportunities for some individuals to gain at the expense of others there was relatively little possibility for large inequalities to emerge
one of the first ways that systematic inequalities began to appear
a social order in which those who own land are entitled to receive the products of the laborers or serfs
they are legally obligated to work for the landowner
in what specific ways are societies unequal?
income refers to the receipt of money or goods over a particular accounting period
wealth by which we mean the net value of the assets owned by individuals or family is another important indicator of long-term household resources
net financial assets
include the total value of savings, investments and other convertible assets
what individuals and families households are actually able to buy and consume-provides a different perspective on their well-being than income alone
captures a number of different dimensions of life that are essential to our everyday lives but that are distributed unequally
middle class
a social class made up of skilled workers, professionals, business people, and wealthy farmers
identify groups of people in similar social and economic positions who have opportunities in life and who would benefit by the same kinds of government policies
class analysis
the study of how, when, and where classes exist along these four dimensions
in capitalist societies this meant that the important class distinction was between business owners
workers who do jobs for pay
socioeconomic status
a person’s position in society as determined by income, wealth, occupation, education, place of residence, and other factors
how is inequality justified?
those with “talent” are given proper encouragement to develop their talents and pursue excellence for the benefit of all
it leads to greater economic efficiency by encouraging people to take risks and invest in business in the hopes of receiving higher returns than if they just worked for someone else
where disparities between the poor and the rich are small-achieving growth rates and standards of living comparable to those of the u.s
why is America so unequal?
inequality is also higher than in any other rich, democratic country
in spite of its enormous wealth, the U.S. has more people living in poverty than most other similar countries
how does income inequality in the U.S. compare to other countries around the world?
the U.S. is very unequal compared to other rich countries
we have twice as much inequality as Sweden and about one-third more than most other European countries
why has economic inequality in the U.S. increased since the 1960’s?
the fact that inequality has also risen in most advanced industrial countries suggests that at least some of these factors are shared across the industrialized world
the fact that inequality is higher and has risen faster in the U.S. than in other countries suggests that something different is going on
skill-biased technological change
technological advancements are creating jobs that require high skill which usually means a college degree or more
the contracting of parts of the production process to another party, often abroad, such as when the customer service representative who helps you with your credit card bill issue does so from India
economic restructuring
changes in the way the economy, firms, and employment relations are organized that have taken place sine the 1970s
measure of the output per worker per hour
progressive tax system
one in which tax rates are higher on richer people than poorer people with the idea being that it is fairer to ask those who can afford to pay more to do so
minimum wage
a minimum price that an employer can pay a worker for an hour of labor
who is the “1 percent”?
individuals and families in the top 1 percent of income and/or wealth
do we all have an equal opportunity to succeed in life?
equality of opportunity would exist in a world where all children have similar chances to succeed in life, regardless of whether they were born in wealthy or poor families
social background
their family, the community they live in and grow up in
social mobility
the pattern of intergenerational inheritance in a society
caste society
one in which the advantages or disadvantages of birth determine fully your social position
how do chances for mobility in the U.S. compare to other countries?
when we look at differences in mobility rates across countries, we find that there are, indeed, societies that provide more opportunity to their citizens for upward mobility, regardless of their family backgrounds than others
a situation in which individuals are unable to move from one economic or social class into another
what factors affect how much mobility there is in a society?
the amount of mobility will depend on how families work, on how individuals are slotted into jobs within labor markets and on the policies that governments adopt
labor markets
the available supply of labor considered with reference to the demand for it
what is the relationship between education and social inequality?
education has a dual character with respect to attaining privileged, high-status positions
education systems can function to challenge other traditional forms of allocating privileged positions in society
a system where rewards and positions are distributed by ability not social background or personal connections
how much poverty exists in the U.S. and around the world?
in 2010 about 15 percent of Americans lived in poverty
poverty line
a threshold of minimum income necessary to afford basic necessities
relative poverty
attempts to capture changes in living standards
absolute poverty
one that attempts to define the minimum amount of income necessary to meet basic needs, but one that does not adjust for changes in living standards
which factors increase the likelihood of poverty?
education, employment status, minority status, age, and family structure
working poor
people who cannot make enough income to be free from poverty even if, as many do, they work full time
how does the level of poverty in the U.S. compare to similar countries?
the U.S. has experienced similar economic trends in terms of deindustrialization and economic restructuring which suggests levels of poverty similar to other wealthy countries
how does growing up in poverty harm children?
stress is extremely bad for children
literally the lack of permanent shelter to live in
what is social theory?
systematic ideas about the relationship between individuals and societies
what three common themes have all of the major sociological theories sought to address?
what is the nature of the individual, and what are the capacities of the individual to act in the context of society?
what is the basis for social order, what is it that holds societies together?
what are the circumstances or conditions under which societies change?
how did the early social theorists make sense of the world?
the foundations of modern sociology, and of social theory as we know it today can be traced to the writings of a handful of key thinkers working in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century
why did Marx think that societies were so heavily shaped by their economic systems?
Marx believed a society’s economic system generated tensions between groups that ultimately give rise to conflict and in extreme cases social revolutions
modes of production
ancient societies, feudalism, capitalism
ancient societies
based on slavery
economies organized around market-based exchange
a political advocate of socialism
an advocate of communism
forces of production
the technological and productive capacity of any society at a given point in time
social relations of production
the relationships and inequalities between different kinds of people within the economy
can be used to finance business investments and everyone else
welfare states
have established many programs such as social security, unemployment insurance and free or low-cost health insurance designed to reduce poverty and inequality even in the context of thriving capitalist economies
social facts
regularities and rules of everyday life that every human community has
social forces
largely interchangeable
according to Durkheim, what social forces regulate behavior so that we may live together?
mechanical and organic solidarity, each of which connected with different kinds of shared morals reflecting the different kinds of societies in which they arise
mechanical solidarity
the dominant form of solidarity in what Durkheim called “primitive” societies
division of labor
division of work into a number of separate tasks to be performed by different workers
collective consciousness
certain ways of acting as right and others as wrong and shared by all members of the community
organic solidarity
a very extensive division of labor and mutual dependence among people can be found
those objects, places, beliefs and behaviors that are treated with exceptional deference
those objects or behaviors that have no special religious significance
how did Weber explain the principles or motivations behind the social action?
instrumental rationality-behavior oriented towards gaining or achieving some specific reward
value rationality-behavior guided by a belief in some ultimate value regardless or rewards
affectual motives-action that is guided by positive or negative emotions
traditional motives-action guided by a belief in following established traditions
interpretive sociology
arguments that draw on recognized experts or persons with highly relevant experience
we obey them not because of the threat of force but because we believe obeying their orders is the right thing to do
what is the distinction between power and authority according to Weber?
power-one person’s capacity to do something regardless of resistance from someone else
authority-arguments that draw on recognized experts or persons with highly relevant experience
traditional authority
legitimacy arising out of tradition
charismatic authority
legitimacy that arises out of the perception that a leader is endowed with special powers of gifts
legal-rational authority
legitimacy based on explicit rules
a form of organization that operates through impersonal, uniform rules and procedures
status group
people who have the same prestige or lifestyle, independent of their class positions
how does social closure explain how some status groups seek to gain advantage over others?
social closure captures the various ways that groups seek to close of access to opportunities by other groups
stratification system
those inequalities between individuals and groups that persist over time
social closure
captures the various ways that groups seek to close of access to opportunities by other groups
in South Africa where blacks were often legally prevented from attending the same schools, using certain public facilities, marrying whites, or living in the same neighborhoods as whites
how do Simmel’s insights on social circles and social distance help us understand how individuals and groups relate to one another?
his insight about the stranger raised larger questions about the nature of relationships between individuals and within or between groups
social distance is the concept he introduced to describe the quality of the relationships between people and later sociologists would develop measures of the degree of closeness or distance that individuals and groups feel towards one another
social distance
the attempt to map how close or distant individuals or social groups are from one another
network analysis
the study of how individuals are connected to other individuals and the consequences of those connections
belief that one race is superior to another
according to Du Bois, what are the diverse ways in which racism influences the lives of African Americans?
the role of racism in American life and how it impacted African Americans was dissected in a different way in Du Bois’s most famous and influential work
why did Du Bois argue that black Americans experience a “double consciousness?”
unlike white Americans, blacks had to live multiple lives one as a black person and one as an American
structural functionalism
a theory of society in which individuals, groups, and the institutions of any society are guided by an overarching social system
according to structural functionalism what roles do norms, values, and institutions play in society?
norms, roles, and values arise and persist because they prove to be good ways of maintaining social order
how did conflict theory attempt to explain social inequalities?
some of those conflicts had been channeled into the relationship between unions and employers or into the policies of governments
conflict theory
a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources
social welfare
programs to help certain groups of people
how are symbols key features of the social world?
symbolic interactionism focuses on how people interact with one another and the role that symbols play in those interactions
in what ways, according to Erving Goffman is “all the world a stage”?
he compares social life to theater, arguing that our behaviors are similar to the performances of actors
significant others
people, such as parents, who have special importance for socialization
generalized other
Mead’s term for widespread cultural norms and values we use as a reference in evaluating ourselves
capitalist state
the government institutions of a capitalist society
how did neo-Marxists expand upon Marx’s ideas about the capitalist state, the relations between economic classes under capitalism and globalization?
the increasing flows of goods and services across national borders-long before social scientists in other theoretical traditions began to pay attention to an increasingly global world
what do sociologists mean by intersectionality when it comes to inequality?
the theoretical approach highlights the interlocking nature of inequalities or what has come to be known as intersectionality: a focus on the linkages among disadvantaged groups
how did Foucault view power?
power is everywhere, operating in hidden as well as open forms
feminist social theory
which placed gender and gender inequality at the center of its theoretical lens, challenging many of the presuppositions of classical social theory for its male-centered biases
a form of social organization in which a male is the family head and title is traced through the male line
biological characteristic
the social meanings ascribed to being a “man” or a “woman”
social constructions
that societies create gender categories and these differences typically are translated into inequalities
sex differences
the different ways the world worked for men and women
a focus on the linkages among disadvantaged groups
what do analytical sociologists mean by structural individualism?
a theory that starts from the proposition that societies rest on the choices and action that individuals make, individually and together, even though these choices and the actions that follow from them are always constrained by society as a whole
what we talk or write about in attempting to understand the world around us and the words and concepts we use to judge things
middle-range theories
theories that make specific, researchable propositions about particular aspects of society-are the best approach to developing social theory
analytical sociology
sociologists and social theorists have argued that the problem with many existing approaches in contemporary social theory is that they fail to pay adequate attention to the ways in which individual actions and motivations provide the foundation for how societies operate and how they change
structural individualism
a theory that starts from the proposition that societies rest on the choices and action that individuals make
self-fulfilling prophecy
the idea that if you start to think or predict something will happen, it becomes more likely to actually happen than if you had not
unanticipated consequences of social action
the idea that the outcomes of any action we undertake may well be unanticipated
the processes in which one thing causes something else
information about the consequences of a course of action given from one person or group to another
how much individuals or groups are willing to trust other individuals or groups
what is religion and how is it organized?
sociologists have no single agreed-upon definition of religion. They understand that the actual religious behavior of people in every religion is enormously variable and fluid. This section examined the incredible number of religions throughout the world and throughout history, the concept of religion as a social institution and the social function of organized religion
what are different ways that sociologists define religion?
religion as a social institution
what is the function of the religious social institutions?
what role do denominations and congregations play in organizing religious activity?
a set of ideas that constitutes one’s goals, expectations, and actions.
attributed to a force or entity beyond scientific understanding and the laws of nature
civil religion
the sacred beliefs, practices, and symbols associated with a particular nation-state or community, which may or may not contain elements of a traditional organized religion.
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