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GSU / Sociology / SOCI 1160 / What are the 3 fundamental assumptions of the sociological perspective

What are the 3 fundamental assumptions of the sociological perspective

What are the 3 fundamental assumptions of the sociological perspective


School: Georgia State University
Department: Sociology
Course: Intro to Social Problems
Professor: Mindy stombler
Term: Summer 2015
Tags: sociology and Social problems
Cost: 50
Name: SOC 1160 Exam 1 Study Guide
Description: I filled in the answers for the concepts on the list Dr. Stombler gave us. Let me know if you have something to add!
Uploaded: 01/30/2016
6 Pages 37 Views 8 Unlocks

Social Problems

What are the 3 fundamental assumptions of the sociological perspective?

Concept List for Exam 1

There will be approximately 10 questions from the articles assigned listed for  this exam in the syllabus.  The other approximately 30-40 questions will come  from the material identified below:


-Email protocol (and how NOT to email me)

stombler@gsu.edu (Put “9:30 Social Problems” in the subject line) -Do NOT email her or TA through D2L (Brightspace)

-Name of instructor  

-Mindy Stombler

-Name of T.A.

-Molly Harmon

-Basis for Grade (and percentage breakdown)

-4 exams (78%)

-Focus on Social Problems Photography Project (12%)

-10 In-Class Social Change Essays (10%)

Who benefits from how power is concentrated in u.s. society?

-Make-up Exam policy

-NO makeup exams besides those required by the university

-Exam drop policy

-You can drop the lowest of your first 3 exams; May NOT drop exam 4 -Focus on Social Problems Photography Project (topics eligible for each photo, when  the photo must have been taken, who must take the photo, whether or not the photo  should be candid or staged, late policy, voting and awards, whether or not posting  illegal activity is allowed)

- 4 Photos depicting social problems we’ve discuseed in class/ articles - Must be a candid photo taken this semster by YOU (no screen shots/ pics  of computer or tv screens) We also discuss several other topics like What are the basic characteristics of living organisms?
Don't forget about the age old question of What is mosque?

-No illegal activity to be shown in the picture; no late photos will be credited -In-class Social Change essays—late arrival, early leaving, make-up policy, how to  get full credit, what is each one worth

Why states want private prisons?

We also discuss several other topics like What is an essential nutrient?

-There are NO makeups if you are absent or arrive late

-You may NOT leave the room during 5-7 minute essay if you want full credit -In-class electronics, phone, laptop Policy

-Turn off electronic devices that make sounds (phones, iPods, etc.) -Laptops and tablets to be used for notes only


-Definition of Sociology

-Sociology= A systematic study of society and social interaction 

-3 Fundamental assumptions of the sociological perspective

1) Individuals are a product of their enviroment

-Ex: affluenza & the Zimbardo Prison Experiment

2) We examine the structure of society

-Ex: social institutions (media, family, education, justice system)  establish patters of reoccuring relationships

3) Sociologists adopt a critical stance toward all social forms -Ex: crack Vs. Cocain issue

-Zimbardo prison experiment (know findings and what this is an example of) -mock prison created to see hoe being a “prisoner” or “guard” affected  behavior We also discuss several other topics like What is heterotrophic?
If you want to learn more check out Describe the most common form of government in pre­modern times. who had the right to rule? what idea or ideas were used to justify this type of government?
If you want to learn more check out What makes an effective speaker?

-the men ultimately locked into their roles and it became real-life for them -VIDEO:  Wealth Entitlement (know findings and what this is an example of) -ADHD, know the structural reasons we covered for increases in diagnoses (know  findings and what this is an example of)

- There has been a subtantial increase in ADHD diagnosis

-What’s causing this increase?:

-Advancement in technology, profit for pharmaceuticals/  

advertisement to consumers, changing in defintion, education system  (crowded classrooms, individuals W/ disabilities needing tutors) -C.Wright Mills’ sociological imagination

-“Sociological Imagination”= the ability to appreciate the structural basis for  individual problems

-Illegality/harm of certain drugs, sentencing disparities between crack and powder  cocaine before and after Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, retroactive application of the  new FSA Sentencing Guidelines and what it would mean (know findings and what  this is an example of)

-Sociologists have been studying the drugs Crack and Cocain to see: -who uses which (Black people= Crack, White People= Cocaine and - who gets more felony convictions and longer prison sentences (black  people do) Prior to 2010 the ratio was 100:1, after 2010 the ratio was  18:1

Definition of a social problem (know well and ALL details)

-Social Problem= social phenomenon that affect large #s of people negatively -Must cause phsychic/ material suffering for a segment of society -Must be recognized or perceived as unacceptbale by an (influential)   group(s) of people

-Conditions must be indentified and targeted for social change/ action The subjective foundation/component of a social problem

-based on our own beliefs     Ex: our varying thoughts on poverty in the world The objective foundation/component of a social problem

-measurable aspect/ proof   Ex: amount of pollution in the air/ # of  unemployed

-Social construction of a social problem (including example of domestic violence) -Social constructionist approach to social problems  

- focuses on how a social problem is constructed/ the process of it -How definitions can change over time

-Process for convincing people a problem exists:  Claimsmaking, Counterclaims -Claimsmaking= process of convincing the public and important public  officials that a particular issue/ situation should be defined as a social  problem

-Counterclaims= the argument in direct opposition to the original claims -How success is measured in the process of constructing a SP (results of  claimsmaking—what is success?) Success is shown in the form of Policy Changes -Person-blame versus system blame—know how to apply

-Person-blame= social problems come from the pathologies of the individual  in the problems  

Ex: in poverty- poor people are poor by their own fault; in the school  system- students have no drive, parents are poor role models, bad  teachers

-System blame= social problems emanate from the situations in which the  individuls are involved

Ex: in the school system- lack of funding, poor curriculum/ poorly  paid teachers, parents working 2+ jobs, federal policy

-Critique of person-blame perspective

-required a person-change treatment program; frees all of the institutions  from blame  

-Critique of system-blame perspective

-by looking at the system, you’re ignoring the possibility of individuals being  problematic

-individuals have agency (ability to act)

Structure/agency dialectic

-agents???? create structure???? structure impedes

THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY:  BIAS IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM Power elite occupy power roles in society

Who are the power elite—where is their power concentrated/what do they control (2  main areas)

-The Power Elite (ex: president, key members of congress, Federal reserve  members, Supreme Court members) control 1) Corporations & 2) Goverment Who benefits from how power is concentrated in U.S. society?

-Those in power will be disproportionately benefited, especially stockholders Examples of how the wealthy benefit disproportionately from decisions of power elite (such as what types of favorable treatment do corporations receive? Such as tax breaks,  low-interest loans, infrastructure improvements, etc.)

-CEOs, Board of Directors receive tax breaks, incentives, low-interest loans -hold on to money from campaign financing

-Conclusions of Princeton study that examined 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981-2000 -Government decisions are often based on “trickle down” philosopy—know what it is,  and whether or not it is working well

- corporations sell the “trickle-down structure” to the public; says that everyone  benefits from the success; people trust these corporations but never reap  benefits

Major way the power elite’s power is reinforced (how they influence politics) -Campaign financing funds them, and the people elect officials into position -4 ways the massive influx of money into politics sabotages democracy 1) makes is harder to solve any social problems we have that would make us  more equal as a culture

2) have-nots (non power elite) arent represented among decision makers 3) requires politicians to chase after money during times they should actually  be govrning and making laws

4) voting: many people are discouraged from voting and civic participation bc  they feel like their vote is unimportant

-VIDEO:  Citizen’s United vs. FEC

-corporations are using their pull to get officials elected that favor their values  rather than those of the citizens; corps have TOO much power in democracy -the goal of all corporations is to make as much profit as possible

-2010 Supreme Court Case= ruled it unconstitutional to put any limits on how  much money corporations can spend on influencing elections

-Democracy is generally ideologically about equality.  Capitalism generally generates  inequality.  Know this and why it is a problem.  Examples?

-Capitalism generates inequality because of conflicts of interest when it is driven  by profit   Ex: Prison Industry

-Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration

-private prisons have been built with haste with a profit motive to incarcerate  masses of people; convicts essentiall bought and sold n the prison market -U.S. incarceration rate compared to other developed countries  

-America’s rate is much higher than most other countries

-Relatively recent trend—since 1980 change in incarceration rates in U.S. (was 150 per  100,000 and now what?) 710 prisoners per 100,000 citizens

-Major causes of change in incarceration rate

1) War on drugs (convictions went up 10x from 1980-1996)

2) Mandatory minimum sentencing

-Proportion of America’s federal inmates in prison for drug convictions -Who is responsible?  Democrats?  Republicans?  Independents?  Tea Party members? -The Power Elite defines what a criminal is and who gets to profit from it -And what did they decide to do regarding sentencing?

-Correctional Vendors Association lobby for minimum sentencing  

Knowing what we know about the power elite, we should assume their solutions  augment their own status

-Why states want private prisons

-private prisons take away some of the expense prisons have on the government  (private prisons generally don’t have to pay wages, pensions, or insure employees) -Money spent on prisons vs higher education in the past 20 years (general trend) -Largest private prison corporation

-Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)

-What distinguishes CCA from most other publicly traded companies -Occupancy requirements

-states have to fulfill occupancy rates in the prisons or they are charged fees -Profit motive of private prisons and how that affects rehabilitation programs and  recidivism

-the system is designed to fail felons so they are sent back to prison and  perpetuate the cycle so private prisons can make money off of their incarceration Convicts as commodities  

-modern day prison industrial complex comparative to slavery as private prisons  buy and sell them to other prisons for profit

Who else profits besides the corporate prisons and in what ways?  (Investors, vendors,  etc.)

-Companies providing phone services, clothing, soap, bail bonds, private parole  offficers, and  

-Political impact in terms of representative government

-Felony disenfranchisement and voting (and stats on disenfranchised voting population) -the system set up totake away voting rights and essentially the voice from  formerly convicted felons

-Consistency/distribution of felony disenfranchisement laws

-The “flesh” of the prison industry

-Black people are the bulk of prisoners in the prison industry

-African Americans= 13% of U.S. population; 40% of U.S. prison industry -Crack use data (percentage of White and Black Americans who have used crack) - African Americans =4.5%; White Americans= 3.6%

-Crack use data in sheer numbers (percentage of crack users who are white, black) -Black= 17%; White = 69%

-Percentage of those convicted in crack cases that are black   83%

-African American sentencing for drug offenses compared to white sentencing for  violent offenses   More blacks are jailed for minor drug offenses like Marijuana than  white ppl  

    are for violent crimes

-Percentage difference in length of sentences for similar crimes (black v white) -Black men do 20% more time than white men for the samw offense POWER, INCOME AND WEALTH INEQUALITY 

4 conditions that must be present for “ideal” capitalism to exist

1) “ideal type”= private ownership of private property

2) pursuit  of the maximum personal profit

3) competition

4) Principle of Laissez Faire (government is hands-off of economy)

-Which is associated with intergenerational mobility and the American Dream -“ideal type”= private ownership of private property

-Our mobility compared to comparable nations

-Location of our “stickiness” in terms of mobility

-Why Adam Smith and other economists believed capitalism was a good fit for humans and creating social order

-Capitalism seemed like a good fit because the government didn’t have much  influence in economic affairs and couldn’t take advantage of the market -First major discrepancy between ideal capitalism and our current system -major corporations control the bulk of the market

-Examples of how that discrepancy plays out (creating and controlling demand) -Monopolization (huge companies that already have pull on the public  supply  excessive products/ services to create demands)

-Manufactured demand (and examples)

-creating and controlling demands for the market/ we don’t NEED it but they  make us WANT it   Ex: Snuggies

-VIDEO:  Bottled Water  (content included and what it was illustrating) -The bottled water industry feeds into consumerism and maufactured demand  because they advertise “purified water” to make it seem better so we want it ex: Figi -Shared monopolies

-4 or fewer companies that supply 50% or more of a market  

Ex: cereal (General Mills, Kellogs, Post)

-Inevitability of monopolies (Marx)

-State of monopolies in media (how much controlled—know how many companies  control 90% of the media)


-Large corporations join to create one giant corporation hat controls a large  percentage of the market in an industry

-Result of megamergers (and monopolization)

-Loss of jobs, Reduced competition???? increased prices, incredible power,  increase in profit goes to CEOs, lawyers and bankers

-Why the competition that does exist among mom-and-pop stores does not have a large  impact on the market

-The profit is miniscule compared to larger companies

-Result of increasing globalization of megamergers

-U.S. corporate power increased

-shifts assets to other countres, thus drying up skilled and unskilled jobs in U.S. -multinational corporations in U.S. control world economy

-medalling in foreign affairs

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