Chapters 1, 2, & 10 Study Guide
Chapters 1, 2, & 10 Study Guide Syg2010
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This 12 page Study Guide was uploaded by Sierra Gnecco on Thursday September 22, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to Syg2010 at Florida State University taught by Kaley Boggs in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at Florida State University.
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Date Created: 09/22/16
SYG2010 Chapter 1 Studying Social Problems ● Sociology- the systematic study of human societies. ● Society- people who live within the same territory and share many behavior patterns. ● Culture- way of life including widespread values, beliefs, and behavior. ● Social structure- pattern of behavior, relationships, and institutions that make up society. Social Problems ● Social problem- condition that undermines the well-being of some or all members of a society and is usually a matter of public controversy. ● A social problem is rarely harmful to everyone. It most likely has some good and bad effects. ● Public’s view of social problems changes over time. ● Ex: In the documentary “Inequality for all”: economic and social inequality Sociological Imagination ● Society teaches us that we are personally responsible for whatever happens to us. As a result, we all value individualism. ● However, when sociological imagination is applied, this picture changes. ● Sociological imagination- point of view that highlights how society affects the experiences we have and the choices we make. It transforms personal problems into public issues. ● Ex: A man is fired from his job. He immediately believes that it is his fault that he was fired. He thinks to himself that he should have taken that job in Ohio or that he should have performed at a higher level than he had at his previous job. As an individual of today’s society, he feels personally responsible for being laid off. If sociological imagination is applied, he would understand that he lost his job due to the recession, over employment, loss of business, or any other ethical reason 2 caused by society at the time. This transforms his personal problems of bad work ethic and choices into public issues. Sociological Approaches ● Social-Constructionist Approach- Assertion that social problems arise as people define conditions as undesirable and in need of change. ● Reflects people’s judgements about the world. ● Two factors of the social construction of social problems: objective facts and subjective perceptions. (Is it subjectively considered a very serious problem? Does it objectively cause serious harm to thousands of people?) ● Structural-Functional Approach- theoretical framework that sees society as a system of many interrelated parts. ● Made up of social institutions (societal subsystems, organized to meet a basic human need) ● Feminist Approach- approach that explains social problems in terms of men’s dominance over women. ● Seeks social equality of women and men. ● Symbolic-interaction approach- theoretical framework that sees society as the product of individuals interacting with one another. Research ● Two types: Basic & Empirical ● Goal is to understand causes and consequences of social problem. ● Record of one’s direct observations and experiences. Analyzed quantitatively (statistics, numeric, etc.) or qualitatively (personal experiences). ● Variable- A property of people or object that can have two or more values (gender, race, income, etc.) ○ Independent variable- causation variable, factor that is manipulated in the experiment that accounts for the dependent variable change. ○ D ependent variable- outcome/effect variable, what is to be explained and is a result of the independent variable. ● After identifying the two variables and proving it through research, a solution must be found. 3 Social Solutions ● Claims making- process of identifying a problem, and convincing the public that it should be defined as a social problem. ○ Leads to the emergence of social movements. ○ Social movement- an organized effort that tries to shape the way people think about an issue in order to encourage or discourage social change. ● Social innovation- a unique approach to a social problem. ● Social policy- the enactment of a course of action through a formal law or program. ○ Can take the form of a social policy or program. Chapter 2 Wealth & Poverty ● Economic Inequality (the unequal distribution of economic resources in the US) is increasing over time. ● Economic indicators of economic inequality: inequality of income and wealth, trend toward economic inequality, and taxation. 2.1: The Distribution of Income and Wealth in the U.S. ● Social stratification is society’s system of ranking categories of people in a hierarchy. ○ Produces social classes (categories of people who have similar access to resources and opportunities). Being born into a specific social class affects people’s life chances such as their amount of school, diet, kind of work they do, chance of finding a job, etc. Inequality of Income and Wealth ● Income- salary or wages from a job plus earnings from investments and other sources. 4 ● Annual income of the highest paid 20% of U.S. families increased by 55% and the people of middle income also gained 12%. However, the lowest paid 12% lost money. Thus meaning that economic gains have been huge for the rich and small for most others. ○ Due to this, economic inequality ↑ ○ Economic inequality is greater when it comes to wealth. ● Wealth- the value of all the economic assets owned by a person or family, minus any debts. ○ Made up of money earned, and the value of homes, automobiles, stocks, bonds, real estate, and businesses. ○ Income vs wealth- salary from wages vs value of economic assets and debts. Trend Toward Increasing Economic Inequality ● U.S. has experienced ↑ in economic inequality in recent decades. ● Income inequality is now widely viewed as a social problem. Taxation ● Taxation is an important government policy that affects income inequality. ● There are 3 reasons the government uses taxes: ○ To provide the government the money it needs to operate. ■ Military schools, public projects, salaries of government employees, etc. ○ To discourage certain types of behavior. ■ Ex: High taxes placed on cigarettes discourages smoking. ○ To redistribute income and to reduce economic inequality. ■ Government reduces economic inequality through progressive taxation (policy that raises tax rates as income increases). ● Not all taxes are progressive. Like the tax on gasoline which is standard tax per gallon. This makes the gasoline tax regressive for the tax takes a bigger bite out of lower income budgets. 2.2: The Rich and Poor ● In 1964, the federal government launched a “war on poverty” and devised the poverty line (an income level set by the U.S. government for the purpose of counting the poor). ○ Poverty line represents a $ amount of annual income below which a person or family is defined as “poor” and may therefore become eligible for government assistance. ○ 2012 poverty line for a family of four $23, 492. 5 ○ Poverty gap- the difference between the actual income of the typical poor household and the official poverty line. ■ Has been growing in recent years. ■ The greater the poverty gap, the greater the hardship caused by poverty. Who are the poor? ● In 2012, the federal gov. counted 15% of the U.S. population as poor. ● We can profile the poor in the U.S. according to age, race, gender, family patterns, and residence. ○ Age: Children at highest risk of poverty (used to be the elderly a generation ago) ○ Race: African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are at higher risk at being poor. ○ Gender: Women are at greater risk ○ Family patterns: Single individuals at greater risk. ○ Region: South and West have higher poverty rates. Poverty is lowest in areas that offer more jobs and more educational opportunity. The Working Poor ● Work full time, at least fifty weeks during the year and 50% of the time, yet remain below the poverty line. ● 15% of families. The Nonworking Poor ● Those in poverty who do not have a steady income. ● 55% didn’t work at all while 30% worked part-time. The Underclass ● Underclass poor people who live in areas with high concentrations of poverty and limited opportunities for schooling or work. ○ Largest concentration live in inner cities in a condition sociologists call hypersegregation (cut off from the larger society and having no access to either good schools or goo paying jobs). ○ 12 % of U.S. population 2.3 Problems linked to Poverty ● Six problems linked to poverty: poor health, substandard housing, homelessness, limited schooling, crime, and political alienation. 6 2.4: Responding to Poverty: The Welfare System ● To address the poverty problem, all high-income countries rely on social welfare programs (organized efforts by the government, private organizations, or individuals to assist needy people considered worthy of assistance). Ex: gov. Benefits for workers who lose their jobs, Red Cross benefits for flood victims, etc.) ● Largest welfare programs typically have 3 characteristics: ○ They benefit people or activities defined as worthy. ○ They benefit most of the U.S. population. ○ They reduce economic inequality (a little). 2.5: Theories of Poverty Structural-Functional Analysis ● Some poverty is inevitable. ● Social Pathology Theory- Poverty is due to personal deficiency (flaws). ● Social Disorganization Theory- due to too much social change. ● Modern Function Theory- Some inequality is useful for operation of society and social order. Symbolic-Interaction Analysis ● Highlights social construction of problems and solutions. ● Explores how members of society build an understanding of poverty causes and how they view the poor. ● Calls the old structural-functional “personal deficiency” approach which defines poverty as a reflection of the shortcomings of the poor themselves. Ex: lack of intelligence. ○ Blaming the victim finding the cause of a social problem in the behavior of people who suffer from it. Social- Conflict Analysis ● Poverty isn’t inevitable or natural. It is constructed and can be fixed as a societal problem. ● Rejects personal deficiency explanation and blames societal operations for poverty. Politics and Poverty 7 ● Conservatives believe that people should take responsibility for the wellbeing and that social character is a key to personal success. (personal responsibility) ● Liberals personal responsibility and a market economy are solutions to poverty. Poverty causes lie in society. (societal responsibility) ● The Radical Left poverty is a societal issue, but is built into a capitalist society. (change the system of capitalism) SYG2010 Chapter 10 Economy & Politics By Sierra Gnecco 10.1: Economic Systems: Defining Justice, Defining Problems ● There are two economic models: capitalism and socialism ○ No nation is completely capitalist or socialist. (Meaning they are mixed systems) The Capitalist Model ● Capitalism- An economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are privately owned. ● In a capitalist system, individual men and women own a society’s productive property. ○ Productive property includes includes investment banks, health care corporations, auto factories, large farms, and field and forests. ● Capitalism culture teaches people to think that everyone should behave according to their self-interest. ● How do capitalist systems work? ○ Capitalism operates as a system of market competition in which people buy and sell goods and services from each other at the best prices they can get in a negotiation called “forces of supply and demand”. ● Some claim that a market system is most productive when it operates with little or no government interference. 8 ● Highly productive, but generates a high level of economic inequality. The Socialist Model ● Socialism- An economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are collectively owned. ● In a socialist system, government limits the right of individuals to own productive property. Instead, the government own and operates productive property (farms, factories, and offices), claiming to do so in the interest of the people as a whole. ● Encourages a collective orientation not motivated by self-interest but by a desire to serve the common good. ● Can lead to a relatively low standard of living and the government can limit individual freedoms. ○ Individual freedoms- ability to start new businesses, speak out, and move freely from place to place. Mixed Systems ● U.S. is a mix of private and government activity, but is the most capitalist of all nations. ○ The U.S. has 82% private and 18% public GDP (gross domestic product) . 2.2: The Economy and Politics ● Political economy- the closely linked economic and political life of a nation or world region. (economy + politics) ● Political left and right: ○ Political left supports the government controlling economic production because it promotes economic equality. ○ The political right supports the free market because it increases economic productivity. ● Some point out, concerning capitalism, that limited government provides people with the right to vote, and the freedom to work, travel, and speak according to their individual desires. Socialist supporters claim that capitalism reduces personal security for most and concentrates wealth and power to such a degree that a small share of the population has most of the wealth. The real power lies in the wealth. The economic elite dominates the society’s political life. 9 Democracy ● Democracy-A political system in which power is exercised by the people as a whole. ● Socialist countries are democratic b/c people have no voice in selecting their leaders. Authoritarianism and Monarchy ● Authoritarianism- A political system that denies popular participation in government. ○ The opposite of democracy. ● Authoritarian countries can have various types of economies and structures. ○ Iran- authoritarian nation run by a religious elite. ○ Malaysia and Singapore- authoritarian nations that have elections but have been long controlled by a single political party. ● Monarchy- A political system in which a single family rules from generation to generation. ○ Saudi Arabia- most of the wealth is in the hands of an extended royal family of several thousand people, who dominate economic and political life. 10.3: Problems of the U.S. Political Economy The Power of Corporations ● Corporations- businesses with a legal existence, including rights and liabilities, separate from that of their members. ● In the U.S., as a capitalist society, the economic activity of corporations is far greater than that of gov. ● U.S. gov.’s manage public resources, run libraries and universities, oversee parks and beaches, and operate the U.S. military. Yet most economic production takes place in the private sector, which is dominated by huge corporations. ● Far more taxpayer $ in the U.S. goes to wealthy corporations than poor families. 11 ● Challenges the claim that the U.S. is democratic. ● “Rule by the few” 10.5: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions ● Theory provides helpful insights about the economy and politics, but what the problems are and the solutions are the matters of public opinion. ● Political positions on economic and political problems: conservative, liberal, and radical-left. Conservatives: The System is Working ● Conservatives credit economic expansion with the increase of life length, safe housing, electricity, good medical care, etc. As the U.S. industrialized, the economy generated more products and services, so that cities grew and living standards rose for everyone. ● Have supported the creation of enterprise zones (areas in the inner city that attract new businesses w/the promise of tax relief) ● Oppose the growth of gov. social welfare programs. ● Conservative approach: the strength of a city/society lies partly in its economic prosperity but mostly in the moral character of its people. Liberals: Government Reform ● Liberals believe that we have serious social problems due to social inequality. ● They look to the government to take action and stabilize the unbalanced economy resulting from free-market policies. ● Liberal solution to urban problems: enforce antidiscrimination laws, gov. should reduce the income and wealth gaps, raise taxes paid by the rich, and create needed jobs and provide transportation to suburbs and other areas where jobs are more readily available. ● They see gov. as the solution to problems affecting our cities. 12 The Radical Left: A Call for Basic Change ● Radicals on the left believe that the U.S. is in crisis and has high economic inequality and racism. ● They believe that basic change in our economic and political systems will solve urban problems. ● Reject the conservative reliance on the market system to guide city development. Giving free reign to market forces leads to an increase in urban problems like poverty, crime and urban sprawl. ● They believe that reforms proposed by liberals don’t go far enough for they rest on the foundation of capitalism. ● Seek more basic change in the economic foundation of U.S. society. Welfare State ● Welfare State: a range of government policies and programs to protect the wellbeing of citizens, especially those in financial need. ○ More than just low-income programs. ○ Ex: Social security, college grants, subsidized college loans, etc. ● F.D. Roosevelt created the foundation of the current welfare state in the 1930’s. Domhoff: Who Runs America? ● The idea that the power elite control the economy goes against the American grain. ● Corporate community‐ corporations, banks, agri‐businesses that dominate federal government. ● Policy formation networks‐ non‐profit organizations interested in policy.
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