SOCI 241, First 4 weeks of lecture
SOCI 241, First 4 weeks of lecture SOCI 241
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Popular in Social Problems
Popular in Sociology
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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