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Sociology Final - postmidterm


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Biological inheritance
Environment raised in
Who proposed natural selection?
Natural selection
Certain physical characteristcs help certain species (or members of the species) survive
Who proposed Social Darwinism?
Social Darwinism
1. Basic ideas about natural selection apply to humans
2. Explains why some societes thrive and others fail
3. We should let nature run its course (let the people who "aren't making it" die off)
4. Eugenics
1. "selective breeding" (get rid of inferior species)
2. Continued into the 70s in the US (sterilizations, etc.)
1. NOT the same as Social Darwinism
2. Most of our culturally expressed characteristics are scientific in origin
3. Edmund Wilson
Two types of cultural change
1. Innovation
2. Diffusion
Internal change
External change - traits from one culture influence another
Culture seeks a kind of equilibrium - grinding away until they become "fused"
Cultural Lag
Non-material culture changes slower than material culture (morality can't keep up with the technological change)
distinctive lifestyle groups (values, norms, and beliefs) within the larger society
Groups that can make up a subculture
1. Occupation (police)
2. Religion (Amish)
3. Political (militias)
4. Geographical (Appalachia)
judging by your group's own standards
Cultural Relativism
Look at every culture based on its own merits (thought of as opposite of ethnocentrism, but really there are very few true relavists)
Edward Shils
Core/periphery model
Central value system
1. Promotes the CVS
2. Institutions and groups that shape social life and public culture
Groups that are somehow at odds with the CVS (but not necessarily substandard)
What were the French and Industrial Revolutions?
Culminations of long efforts of people, BUT the moment when the movement crystalized
Why did the French Revolution shake Europe?
1. nobility marginalized
2. church marginalized
3. changed who could inherit what
How did the Industrial Revolution change society?
1. intimate social relations obliterated - only factories important
2. factories -> jobs -> move
3. rise of cities as the dominant social experience
Ferdinand Tonnies
Basic social question: What caused the transition from pre-modern to modern society?
How did people live for most of human history?
small groups, simple, follow herds, knew everything about each other - SIMILARITY BONDED US TOGETHER
How does modern society hold together?
differences themselves hold us together
Shift from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft
still some gemeinschaft in world today; the shift is not entirely complete
What is gemeinschaft based on?
connection, shared obligation, affection is a part (ex. family)
Relationships in gemeinschaft
share access to resources, mutual assistance, take into account other person's best interest (NOT a business transaction)
Kinds of gemeinshaft
1. blood and marriage (family)
2. geography (mostly gone by now)
3. "gemeinschaft of the mind" (ex. people you share religious beliefs with)
Gemeinschaft misc. info
1. enter into these relationships over time; distance doesn't matter
2. value of objects based on relationship, memories, etc.
Relationships in gesellschaft
1. essentially about business
2. roles have nothing to do with how much you like the other person
3. no common ownership
Why is gesellschaft important in the modern world?
We need it; otherwise we'd exhaust ourselves
The Great Crisis
we want community, but our society is set up as a society (how will the human animal survive in gesellschaft?)
The foundations of social order
1. own self-interest vs. communal self-interest
2. sociology and political science
Why does society evolve?
(Collins and Social Contract theorists)
humans recognize that some goals are better achieved when we work together (security, specialization)
We do what we doe because it advances out interest
Society evolves
Society is a product of rational deliberation
Rationality is not suffiecent to explain social life
Functional rationality
procedural - just follow the rules and youll get the desired end
Substantive rationality
this is the desired end
A problem with rationality
acting rationally means assuming that the other person will act rationally as well (no room for trust)
Free-Rider Problem
donations: rational is to pretend to give; eventually no one's paying
"Pre-contractual solidarity"
trust - it's not rationaly, but it makes rational agreement possible (comes from natural law)
Bystander effect
everyone assumes that someone else will act - diffusion of responsibility
Rational choice
Society is the location in which our trades take place
1. mulitple links, small relationships and networks
2. works b/c we have a vested interest in making sure trade networks stay open
Interactionist theories (dramaturgial)
Society is location where we learn symbolism
Who were some structural functionists?
Durkheim, Parsons, Merton
Structural functionalism
1. society is a smooth-running organism
2. whatever exists must serve some purpose to that end
What is the main question structural functionalists ask?
How does it contribute to the smooth running of society?
Problems with structural functionalism
1. Remarkably conservative
2. At what point does mass chaos disprove it?
Merton's refinement to structural functionalism
Manifest and latent functions (if something isn't contributing to society, it will eventually die out)
Manifest function
expressed purpose for which something exists
Latent function
not reason for existing, but still does it (Merton)
Conflict theory (normal)
1. society is about confict and struggle
2. somebody is always manipulating someone else
Main question of conflict theory
Who benefits?
Marxist variation of conflict theory
Competition between classes
Marx's model of society
BASE (division of labor) and SUPERSTRUCTURE (everything else)
Two classes left in modern society (Marx)
bourgeoise and proletariat (everything determened by which you're in)
owners - have access to resources
workers (need class consciousness)
Weberian version of conflict theory
Basic conflict in society is between spheres (money, religion, family, politics, etc.) - ALSO in indvidual, not just society
behavior that violates the norm
an identity attacted to a person whose behavior violates the norm (not everyone who engages in deviance is a deviant)
deviance is a malfunction of behavior - determined by standards that transecent context (usually divine agency), good and bad are predetermined
Moral identity (absolutism)
a person's whole identity - tend to go toward stereotypes
Relativism - definition
sees complexity and context (the rightness and wrongness of an action is at least partially determined by circumstance)
Relativism - characteristics
1. NOT the same as moral relativism
2. not pro-deviance, but have to pay attention to the context
3. who did the defining of right/wrong?
4. recognizes inequality in society
Three elements of deviance
1. expectation
2. violation
3. reaction
behavioral expectation must exists, and be somewhat clear (may or may not be widely shared)
may be real or alleged
someone in the society must object to the behavior, and respond
Difference between deviance and the law
Law is wrong even if no one sees
Deviance changes with time
Deviance changes with time
Liberal explanations of deviance
the criminal or offended is not totally to blame
Conservative explanations of deviance
calls for more enforcement or punishment
Sociological explanations of deviance
focuses more on the concept of deviance itself
Sociological explanation: Functional
deviance is good for society (Durkeim was first)
Why is deviance good for society? (Functional)
1. defines moral boundaries
2. gives "good people" a rallying point
3. reaffirms norms of social life (society may manufacture in order to "blow off steam" - Salem Witch trials, Red Scare)
Anomie theory
we're all socialized for the same definiton of success ("American Dream"), but some are cut off from legitimate means
Deterrance theory and sanctions
positive/negtive and formal/informal - why don't more people commit deviant acts?
Formal sanctions
reward or punishment within the system (bonus points, take cell phone away)
Informal sanctions
still effective, just less formal (congratulatory remark, dirty look)
Labeling theory
why are some acts deviant, while other are not? who has the power to decide what's right and wrong?
Dramatization of evil and self-fulfilling prophecy
(boys on street corner)
non-deviant acts become sign of deviance; if you watch someone long enough, you'll see them commit some form of deviance
Label (deviance)
once a person has been labelled as deviant, everthing they do is viewed throught that lense
Problems with medicalization of deviance
1. who gets to do the defining of acceptable behavior
2. consequences for a society that's so fast to define everything as an illness
3. medicine becomes a form of social control
4. dismiss the "ill"
Structural functionalist view on stratification
society needs certain tasks to be done - allocate resourcces based on the need/skill involved; inequality is the inevitable result (comes about naturally)
Problems with the structural functionalist veiw on stratfication
1. some people get paid more than they should
2. can overlook discrimination
3. whose needs are getting met?
Conflict theory's view on stratification
its' all about protecting the already strong... they run the system
Karl Marx and stratification
1. superstructure reflects the base
2. class consciousness - developing an identity as "worker"
3. false consciousness - workes don't recognize their ID as worker due to the propaganda of the owners
Social class in everyday life in America
strange relationship: never took off as a concept for our society, but we're all well aware of it
conceived of in subsistence terms: enough to maintain health - "not the absence of abundance, the absence of adequacy"
Absolute poverty
fall below the poverty line
Relative poverty
some people technically below the poverty line are less poor than others also below the poverty line
Poverty line
threshold where everyone below is in poverty
Poverty rate
percentage of population below the poverty line (approx 13% in America)
Age and poverty
before 1930, elderly most likely; now dramatically reduced (Social Security)
Feminization of poverty
"new face of poverty" - female-headed households with children
Consequences of poverty
1. homelessness
2. illness (less effective treatment, malnutrition)
3. psychology (stigma of failure)
Managing the poor
1. ensures a pool of low-wage workers
2. career paths for middle class (ex. social workers)
3. cultural warnings
4. political scapegoats
a category of people who are defined as similar because of a number of physical characteristics)
Differences in the comcept of race
America: black v. white
Africa: Hutsu v. Tutsi, etc (but all black)
Ethnic groups
1. share a distinct cultural tradition (language, religion, ancestral story)
2. race is genetic, ethnicity is learned
3. associated with origin (geography, ancestors, etc.)
not just numbers; people who recieve differe treatment based on physical or cultural differences
Determining race
1. genetics
2. legal
3. social
minority groups conform their ways to the dominant culture
Problem with assimilation
becomes "us v. them"
the result of NOT assimilating; embraced as a goal in its own right - differences are to be valued
holding back of African-Americans broke the assimilist view (if they get to do what they want, why can't we do what we want?)
the belief that humans are "naturally" subdivided into groups with different behaviors and capacities - these differences imply hierarchies
acting on the rank that racism implies through different groups
acting on a prejudice
Merton's four types of people (racism)
1. unprejudices non-discriminator (equality)
2. unprejudices discriminator (social differences)
3. prejudiced non-discriminator (differences, but don't act on them)
4. prejudiced discriminator
Institutionalized prejudice and discrimination
written into the system - Jim Crow laws, a societal taboo you can't imagine breaking
Symbolic racism
in general, most people won't support racist policies, but in the specific they do (bussing, affirmative action)
Sociological interpretations of racism
the goal is not to excuse, but to base it on something other than just negative attitudes
Allocation of resources
limited recources, self-interest
Group closure
setting up boundaries (sort of an adding up of all the resources you want to control)
biological or anatomical differences
Sexual activity
what it sounds like
psychological, social, cultural dfferences
Where does gender inequality come from?
Religion, to some extent (but why is religion that way?
Gender inequality - Functionalist
instrumental and expressive roles (women fill expressive roles b/c they are the only ones who can care for kids)
Gender inequality - Conflict
why would those with privilege based on gender (including power) want to change the system?
Rationalization drives human history
Short history of human society
1. hunter-gatherers
2. pastoral
3. traditional societies (egypt)
4. modern society

Historical shift that signifies transition between phases of history
significant number of changes in a short period of time (political, religious, etc.)
MODERN: Reformation to 18th century - French Revolution was crystallization
Weber's characteristics of a modern society
1. nation-state
2. capitalism
3. disenchantment
Weber's characteristics of modern society: nation-state
new political organization embodied in beauracy - rational-legal authority
Weber's characteristics of modern society: capitalism
linked to industrialization: demands more from population, surplus is profit and its own end
Weber's characteristics of modern society: disenchantment
1. epistemolgy, the rise of science
2. embraces the idea that the answers are out there and the human mind can figure them out
Weber's three types of authority in social relationships
1. charismatic
2. traditional
3. rational-legal
Charismatic authority (Weber)
1. oldest
2. innovative, good speakers, anti-status quo
3. problems: larger movement = sub-leaders, eventually 2nd generation (not as good as original)
Traditional authority (Weber)
based on the habit of the people (monarchy), backward-looking
Rational-legal authority (Weber)
1. written-down rules (can always be checked)
2. doesn't recognize special cases - equal before the law
Weber's main question in regards to modern society
Why did modernity happen in the west (as opposed to China or an Islamic country)?
process by which nature, society, and individual action are increasingly mastered by an orientation to planning, technical procedure, and deliberate action
Sociological study of religion
1. takes no positions on questions of religious truth
2. methodical study of religious phenomena
3. religion's role in social life
body of truth that you don't question
Tocqueville on religion and the social order
we need dogma, but modern life is all about questioning everything we've inherited from the past
the idea that the world is coming out from under religious control
Problem: as the world modernizes, it has to secularize
1. epistemology (modernity means a change in the way people think)
2. pluralism
Options in dealing with secularization
1. withdrawal
2. accomodation
if you want to keep your old religious beliefs, that’s fine; but you have to sort of leave modern society
put down the ideas that are “so obviously” out of step with modernity
Surprises related to secularization
1. Fundamentalism
2. Religious nationalism
3. Religious Right
4. Pentecostalism
5. Militant Islam
6. Church growth
Levels of secularization
societies may have secularized, but individuals stayed religious or vice-versa (theory isn’t wrong, just takes a different form than previously though)
Western Europe – exceptionalism
in our experience, modern = secular; we assumed that the same model would be followed by the rest of the world, but hasn't(we’re the ones who are out of step?)

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