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SOCI 241, First 4 weeks of lecture

by: Ny Pham

SOCI 241, First 4 weeks of lecture SOCI 241

Marketplace > University of Louisiana at Lafayette > Sociology > SOCI 241 > SOCI 241 First 4 weeks of lecture
Ny Pham
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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These are the notes that will be covered on the first exam.
Social Problems
Dr. Candace May
sociology, UL, SOCI 241, soci
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This 14 page Bundle was uploaded by Ny Pham on Saturday February 6, 2016. The Bundle belongs to SOCI 241 at University of Louisiana at Lafayette taught by Dr. Candace May in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 34 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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Date Created: 02/06/16
1/15/16  Sociology—the systematic study of human societies  Society—term referring to people who live within a territory and share many patterns of  behaviors  Culture—refers to a way of life including widespread values, beliefs, and behavior;  expectations, norms, roles, etc.  People experience social problems in very personal ways  Sociology imagination links these smaller processes to reflect the operation of society  itself  C. Wright Mills used the sociological imagination to show that our personal troubles are  really social issues that affect many people—ourselves included  New representation of men in media (ex. commercials of men and cleaning products)  Social problem—a condition that undermines the well­being of some or all members of  society; usually a matter of public controversy o Even if a social problem is identified, the solution is often controversial o Determining social problems can be controversial  Subjective and objective realities may actually end up being quite different  What people identify as the most serious social problems varies over time  Economic depression vs. recession—social problems in economy, Table 1­1  Social constructionist approach o Social problems arise as people define conditions:  As undesirable  In need of change o Problem with this definition: it translates to, “problems are created when you  define them”  Additional social problems created when it is defined: conflict around  social problems are worse than the actual problem, we create problems  where there wasn’t a problem was before (gets back to our position in  society), who brings about the issue (who presents it affects its reception),  etc.  o School shootings do not objectively kill as many people—not a serious social  problem, subjectively we do consider it a serious social problem  Claims making—process of convincing the public that a particular issue or situation  should be defined as a social problem o Ex. global climate change, health care reform, taxation and fiscal responsibility o Politicians often get into office to present solutions or raise awareness about a  social problem  Defining social problems—one indication that people recognize an issue as a social  problem is the formation of a social movement o An organized effort at claims making that tries to shape the way people think  about an issue in order to encourage or discourage social change o Pro­life, BLM, feminist movement, animal rights, environmental o A lot of movements, once they become mobilized, an opposition movement will  form  Ex. prolife, prochoice; LGBTQ+, religious/family movements  o Emergence—issue coming out; ex. environment affecting bird’s egg shells and  population decline of birds o Coalescence—forming a group o Formalization—claim is recognized as part of the political debate o Decline—public interest in the issue goes down 1/20/16  Social Problems: Eight Assertions o 1. Social problems result from the ways in which society operates o 2. Social problems are not caused by bad people o 3. Social problems are socially constructed as people define condition as harmful  and in need of change o 4. People see problems different  people define is differently and to different extents  Ex. access to gender relevant restrooms o 5. Definitions of problems change over time o 6. Problems involve subjective values as well as objective facts  ex. people that have never dealt with trans issues will not have the same  perception on access to bathrooms o 7. Many­but not all­ problems can be solved  in solving one problem, we may create even more  ex. nuclear energy—super cost effective, but potential problems o 8. Various social problems are related  Looking Beyond ourselves: a global perspective o A global outlook shows: Harmful conditions often cross national boundaries,  Many of the problems that we in the U.S. face are more serious elsewhere  Ex. feral cats breeding  Ex. high levels of lead in the water in Flint/Detroit  But even this problem, when we look at the issue of water in other  areas of the world, we see water access is even an issue  Analyzing social problems: the role of theory o Theory—a statement of how and why specific facts are related o Theoretical approach—a basic image of society that guides thinking and research  three primary approaches  structural functional approach—a theoretical framework that sees  society as a system of many interrelated parts o social institutions—the main parts of this system(organized to meet basic human needs)  education—public participation in politics, problem  solving, think in a logical way of comparing facts  and ideas, teaches you to be a good citizen in a  society, jobs, etc.  family—people skills, socialization, initiating into  values and beliefs, then we go to education  economics—a mechanism of distribution,  distributing people into the economy which  contributes to the functioning of society  politics—rules and laws, leadership, hierarchy,  creates a consensus (everybody has a voice),  mediate conflict, binds people together  religion—gives people hope, moral and values o they all work together to create and maintain stability  ex. religious differences sparking war and being  settled by politics o formal regulations help with scale of a population o problems with this theory:  whats important to be taught in education  does not take account of external effects  internal and external terrorists  system doesn’t handle conflict well  optimistic way of viewing the world o Early functionalism—problems as social pathology o The Chicago School”: problems are disorganization  Problems created disorganization and resulted in a  reorganization  Ex. moving of people to a new area because  of disaster causes a strain on resources  (healthcare, jobs, education), but society will adjust gradually. Meanwhile we may have  higher crime rates, more accidents on roads  but society will adjust o More recent functionalism: problems as Dysfunctions  Manifest versus latent functions  Manifest function—school, skills for work  that we may not be prepared to do; are the recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern, while latent functions are those unrecognized and unintended consequences. To analyze the manifest functions of any social institution, we have to study its contribution to the continuation of a group, community, or society.  Latent functions—functions that allow  society to function in; a side effect of  education; social interactions,  responsibilities, potentially to meet future  partner; public universities are good for the  local area, keeps you out of the job market,  as a result unemployment rates remain down o Latent function of kindergarten— first experience with a bureaucratic  system, hierarchy o  Eufunctions versus dysfunctions  Social conflict approach o A theoretical framework that sees society as divided by  inequality and conflict o Social problems arise because our society is divided into  “haves” and “have nots” o Were arguing women and men were born to fulfill certain  roles in society  Men were rational and could work outside the home  Women were caretakers and should stay in the  home so we don’t need equality o Inequality in access to equal pay, jobs, roles, etc. results in  conflict o Marxism—problems and class conflict; massive inequality  Capitalists—people that own property, own  technology, own all the land, own all the means of  work  Proletarians—people that only own their work/labor  Labor market owns the wages  If theres a lot of a supply in the market, the  price goes down o Ex. wages go down with more  people looking for work  Unless theres a low supply and high  demand, prices go up  Marx says the massive inequality leads to social  conflict  He was an activist for workers  He thought that capitalism should go away  because its rewards were unequivocally  distributed o Multiculturalism—problems of racial and ethnic inequality o Feminism—problems and gender conflict  Symbolic­interaction approach o A theoretical framework that sees society as the product of  individuals interacting with one another o A more personal approach, more inter­subjective o Learning theory  Problems and the social environment  Learning about something from the people that  teach you it (people in your social  group/environment) (ex. being exposed to  marijuana)  Ex. robbing banks, learning behaviors from other  people, learning local vernacular (communication),  learning how to dress, morals, interests and identity, learning how to be a decent human being (please  and thank you, holding the door open, helping  someone who tripped)  We get into nature vs. nurture debate in this theory  You don’t exactly choose who you hang out with,  sometimes you’re born into social situations until  you move or actively change/are told to find a new  social group  We’re reinforcing ideas in the learning process on  how to function in society o Labeling theory  Problems and social definitions  Says that how people label you will influence your  behavior  Milgrams experiment on authority: someone of  authority telling another person to shock someone  who is in pain; shows blind trust in authority;  experiment was designed to test the basis of why  the Holocaust came around  Blue eyed and brown eyed students: people with  brown eyed students got bans around their arms and were told to the blue eyed students that the brown  eyed were ill mannered and mean, etc.; the result  was that the brown eyed kids were treated horribly  by blue eyed kids; gets at racism and stigma  attached; all about labeling  When people are labeled a certain way, it changes a  group dynamic 1/22/16  Finding the facts: methods of sociological research o Four major methods  Survey research  Surveys and interviews: asking questions o A researcher asks subjects to respond to items in a  questionnaire or interview  A questionnaire is a series of items a researcher  presents to subjects for their response  In an interview, the researcher meets face to face  with respondents to discuss a particular issue  While questionnaires offer a chance for greater  breadth of opinion, interviews can provide greater  depth of understand  Field research: joining in  Also called participant observation  Involves researchers observing people while joining in their  everyday activities to various degrees  Experimental research: looking for causes  Experiment—a method by which a researcher investigates cause­ and­effect relationships under highly controlled conditions  Most experiments are carried out in specially designed laboratories  Secondary analysis—a common major research method that is based on  collection of data originally collected by others 1/25/16  Paradigms—Truth, science, and politics (different approaches by sociologists) o Positivism­­idea is that you need to be the neutral removed scientist; go right for  the data; belief that it will capture the objective reality that is out there  “value­free” approach  purpose of societal control  better medicine, better government, better management—all to keep the  population running smoothly  “if theres no social problem, then nothing is happening” o interpretivism—to understand people in whatever context and how they are  experiencing the social world and how they understand it; about understanding  other people; in this, their understanding and their experiences are a  representation of the real world  verstehan—empathetic understanding  purpose of useful knowledge for people  this whole idea does not mean you agree with their views  “if theres a social problem, people will be aware” o critical—says objectivity is near impossible; their understandings are that your  understandings are distorted  is “objective” research even possible?  Purpose is to change the world  Carl Marx—believed the workers of the world during his time were  exploited and oppressed, but they weren’t organizing to do anything about  it; he tried to lead by forming unions; he took an activist approach; he  said, “here is a problem even though the workers don’t think theres a  problem”  Is there a problem? If there is, how do we raise awareness?  “if theres a social problem, people aren’t aware”  Truth and statistics o Check how terms are defined o Numbers are subject to error o People often “spin” their statistics o  all represent the same data but show different representation of data  it all has a different agenda  stats don’t lie, people do  responding to social problems—social policy o social policy refers to formal strategies to affect how society operates o evaluation of social policy  how is success defined?  What are the costs?  Whom should get the help?  Policy and politics o Conservatives—seek to limit the scope of societal change (focus is on  shortcomings of individuals, not society) o Liberals—favor more sweeping change in society (see problems in the  organization of society) o Radicals—support policies that go beyond mere reform  Can either by ultra liberal or ultra conservative o o We’ve actually moved more towards conservatives  Politics—Constructing problems and defining solutions o The political spectrum­a continuum representing a range or political attitudes  from “left” to “right o Social issues—political debates involving more judgments about how people  should live o Economic issues—political debates about how a society should distribute material resources  Who thinks what? o Two good predictors of political attitudes are education and wealth—both of  which are elements of social class o The fact that social class affects social and economic attitudes differently means  that most people have some combination of liberal and conservative attitudes o The higher the education, the more liberal your social views are o The richer you are, the more conservative your fiscal views are 1/27/16  Economic inequality in the US o Social stratification  The system by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy  Power, prestige, and wealth o Stratification produces social classes  Categories of people who have similar life chances:  access to resources  and opportunities o Power—ability to get what you want despite resistance; political and monetary  abilities  Knowledge can be coercive o Income—salary or wages from jobs plus earnings from investments or any other  source o Wealth—value of all economic assets owned by a person or family minus any  debts; determines where you are going to fall in the stratification system o The wealthiest 5% of families in the US own 60% of all wealth  The wealthiest 20% control 85% of all wealth o 50% all families in the US have no wealth at all o any discussion of problems such as poverty must include income and wealth o taxation—common device used by the government to reduce economic inequality  taxes go to things we all use   ex. barricades for mardi gras  taxation—fiscal policy  progressive—the more you make, the more you pay   regressive—the less you make, the more you pay; sales tax, gas  tax, excise taxes  proportional—everyone pays the same percentage; sales tax, gas  tax, excise tax  rich pay nearly the same as the middle class  excise taxes—luxury goods; cigarettes and alcohol o in some states, feminine goods are taxes as luxury goods  the rich and poor—a social profile o the “rich”—those families who fall within the top 10% of income distribution o the “poverty line”—a standard set by the US government for the purpose of  counting the poor, referring to the level of annual income below which a person  or family is defined as poor and thus entitled to government assistance o “poverty gap”—the difference between the official poverty line and the actual  income of the typical poor household o United way in LA estimated that 40% of people in LA are in hardship—LA has a  19% poverty rate o  you can see the economy matching up with the poverty rate in the US o the poor  profile of the US poor  age: at greatest risk are children  race: African Americans and Hispanics o proportional to group size  gender: women  family patterns: single mothers  region: the south and the west (rural areas)  when we think poverty, we think of intercities; however the largest  concentrations of poverty are in rural areas  right now in suburban areas are the highest growing poverty rates  working vs. non­working poor  work poor—18% of the heads of poor families work full time;  remain below poverty line  non­working poor—may have bad health and/or lack skills or self­ confidence  the underclass—poor people who live in areas with high concentrations of  poverty (40% below poverty line) and limited opportunities  stores that will open in these areas are like dollar stores, walmarts,  etc.  these are called food desserts—no grocery store within 2 miles  persistent poverty versus temporary poverty  a lot of people move in and out of poverty  problems linked to poverty  poor health—the link between poverty and health is evident from  birth to old age o the infant mortality among the poor is twice the national  average o death comes earlier to the poor, who are more likely to die  from infectious diseases and violence at any age  substandard housing or the homelessness—about 500,000 people  are homeless in the US right now; up to 3.5 million people are  homeless at some point during the year  limited schooling—poor children are less likely than rich children  to complete high school o tracking—poor children seen as less able; less likely to be  tracked to college  social problems linked to poverty  crime and punishment—poor are more likely to face arrest, trial,  conviction, and prison; access to lawyers is a problem vs access to  public defenders; wealthy people also make different types of  crime  political alienation—voters in 2012: 54% of people earning less  than $40,000; 80% of people earning at least $100,000  Responding to poverty: the welfare system  Social welfare program—organized effort by government, private  organizations, or individuals to assist o Large government run welfare programs have three  characteristics: benefits depend on what/who is defined as  worthy, they benefit most people (the elderly, veterans,  students, and farmers), they do not significantly change  income disparity  When we think of welfare, we mainly think of the poor, but it also  benefits the middle class and corporate groups  History o Colonial era (1600s, 1700s)—were called poor and bums;  shamed for needing help o Earlier industrial era (19  century)—attitudes toward the  poor became more negative th o The 20  century—soaring immigration and the 1929 Great  Depression, and Roosevelt’s “New Deal” o Recent welfare reform  Changes in the welfare system—began when  President Clinton pledged in 1992 to “end welfare  as we know it”; the result was the welfare reform  act of 1996  Welfare reform act 1996—replaced federal  aid to families with dependent children  (AFDC) program with a new state related  program—temporary addistance for needy  families (TANF) o New rules require able bodied people receiving benefits to find a job, or  enroll for job retraining within two  years—max of 5 years to receive  benefits  The public remains divided over whether people  deserve help  Idea of the Welfare Queen—has babies to  collect welfare   Drug testing for welfare  Theoretical analysis: understanding poverty o Structural functionalism—some poverty is inevitable  Social pathology theories—personal deficiency  Social disorganization theory—too much change  Recent functional theory  Highest paying jobs in society reflects importance in society— healthcare, engineers, sanitation, waste management, etc.  Davis and moose—inequality actually helps society function  efficiently; reward system; pay should reflect respect in society  Herbert Gans—poverty exists because many people benefit from  it; people that benefit like politicians, people that study it,  marketing system about poverty, the 1%ers, we all benefit from  poverty to a certain extent (it forces people into jobs that we don’t  want to take) o Symbolic interactionism—defining the problem; highlights the social construction of problems and solutions  Explores the meanings that people attach to those who are poor  How these views lead to particular understandings of who or what  is responsible for poverty  Poor people blame the poor  Blaming the victim o Social conflict analysis—poverty can be eliminated; “nobody in our society at this time should be in poverty”  Marxist theory—poverty and capitalism  Cultural capital—poverty involves more than money; involves difference  in skills, knowledge’s, beliefs, and values; different ways of viewing the  world because of your class position  Multicultural theory—poverty, race, and ethnicity, sexuality  Feminist theory—poverty and patriarchy; women are the highest group on  poverty  Intersection theory—multiple disadvantage; crossing cutting forms of  inequality


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