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Final Exam Study Guide

by: Irvane Ngnie Kamga

Final Exam Study Guide Sociology 101

Irvane Ngnie Kamga
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About this Document

These are my extensive notes from Professor Dennis' lecture and the manual "Sociology Matters". It covers chapter 11 and the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Introduction to Sociology
Rutledge Dennis
Study Guide
sociology 101, final exam, definition, key concepts, professor dennis rutledge
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by Irvane Ngnie Kamga on Thursday December 10, 2015. The Study Guide belongs to Sociology 101 at George Mason University taught by Rutledge Dennis in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 416 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Sociology at George Mason University.


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Date Created: 12/10/15
Chapter 11: Social movements, social change, and technology Social Movements Social change: significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and culture. Education can serve as a vehicle of social change. Social change can be economic (from one economic system to another), political, cultural (e.g. interracial marriages), etc… Social movement: an organized collective activity to bring about or resist fundamental change in an existing group or society; “collective enterprises to establish a new order of life” (Herbert Blumer). Social movements are the most powerful source of social change. They have had a dramatic impact on the course of history and the evolution of social structure in many nations throughout time (e.g. abolitionists, civil right workers, and activists against the war in Vietnam). Why do people mobilize? THE RELATIVE DEPRIVATION APPROACH In many nations, certain groups have advantages over others (e.g. Whites over Blacks or Jews over Irish people) due to their social background or experience. Those groups are more prepared and have better life chances. Relative deprivation: the conscious feeling of a negative discrepancy between legitimate expectations and present actualities. A relatively deprived person is dissatisfied because he/she feels downtrodden relative to some appropriate reference group. Following the relative deprivation approach, in order for discontent to be channeled into a social movement, not only must people feel relatively deprived, they must also feel that they deserve better than what they have, and that they cannot attain their goals through conventional means. THE RESOURCE MOBILIZATION APPROACH Resource mobilization: the ways in which a social movement utilizes money, political influence, access to the media, and personnel. The growth and success of a social movement depends greatly on the resources it has and how effectively it mobilizes them. Leadership is a central factor in the mobilization of the frustrated and disgruntled into social movements (often led by charismatic figures). Karl Marx, who wanted the proletariat to revolt against the bourgeoisie and overthrow the existing social structure, recognized that first the workers needed to become aware of their oppressed status and overcome false consciousness to develop a shared class consciousness. False consciousness: a particular state of mind that prevents individuals from recognizing the injustice of their current situation and thus from combining their efforts and taking action to have a better life than they currently have. Social movements require courage and the ability to confront; therefore, mobilizing the discontented is often the hardest part in starting a social movement. NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENT New social movement: an organized collective activity that addresses values and social identities as well as improvements in the quality of life, instead of focusing on economic issues (e.g. the contemporary women’s movement and the movement for lesbian and gay rights). Unlike most traditional social movements that operated on a local level, new social movements have a worldwide focus. They take a broader, global perspective on social and political activism. Theories of Social Change EVOLUTIONARY THEORY th Darwinism (19 century) stresses a continuing progression of successive life forms. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection opposes human purpose as stated in religious texts. Proponents of the evolutionary theory claim that society moves in a definite direction, where each stage is better relative to the previous one. Auguste Comte (French thinker) saw human societies as moving forward in their thinking from mythology to the scientific method. His 3 stages of evolution are: the metaphysical stage, the theological stage, and finally, the positivist stage. Émile Durkheim maintained that society progressed from simple to more complex forms of social organization. FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE Talcott Parsons viewed society as being in a natural state of equilibrium. To him, even prolonged labor strikes or civilian riots were mere temporary disruptions in the status quo rather than significant alterations in social structure. According to his equilibrium model, in order to maintain societal stability/balance, modest adjustments must be made to accommodate social change. Social differentiation: the increasing complexity of social organization. Adaptive upgrading: the increasing specialization of social institutions. Value generalization: the development of new values that tolerate and legitimate a greater range of activities. CONFLICT PERSPECTIVE Karl Marx believed that society proceeds through a series of stages, each of which exploits a class of people (slaves in the Ancient Society, serfs in the estate system, the working class in modern capitalism). He and other conflict theorists thought that social change is necessary to correct social injustices and inequalities. According to the Marxist theory, people do not have to be passive and simply accept their plight; they have the ability to change their lives and gain their freedom from injustice if they want to. Ralf Dahrendorf noted the compatibility between the functionalist and conflict approaches, despite their many areas of disagreement. Indeed, they reflect appropriately the contradictory nature of society: although human societies are stable and long-lasting, they also experience serious conflict. Resistance to Social Change Thorstein Veblen coined the term vested interests to refer to the powerful individuals and groups in society who will suffer in the event of social change and who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. This elite which has a disproportionate share of society’s wealth, status, and power, benefits from the way things work and has a vested interest in preserving the status quo. For economic reasons, owners of big corporations also tend to resist to social change when it compromises their profit (e.g. stricter safety standards). th William Ogburn (20 century) distinguished between material and nonmaterial aspects of culture and introduced the term cultural lag. He pointed out that because one cannot devise methods for controlling and utilizing a new technology before its introduction, nonmaterial culture must typically respond to changes in material culture. Culture lag: period of maladjustment when the nonmaterial culture struggles to adapt to new material conditions. Resistance to Technology Technology: cultural information about the ways in which the material resources of the environment may be used to satisfy human needs and desires. During the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of power-driven machinery reduced the need for factory workers and made it easier for factory owners to cut wages, provoking strong resistance from said-workers. Luddites: masked craft workers who rebelled against the Ind. Rev (in England) by raiding factories and destroying factory machinery. Neo-Luddites: those who, in the postindustrial society, are wary of technological innovations and who question the incessant expansion of industrialization, the increasing destruction of the natural and agrarian world, and the “throw-it-away” mentality of contemporary capitalism, with its resulting pollution of the environment. Technology and the Future Access to new technologies (to Internet for instance) is differential: poor developing countries have more trouble getting onto the information pathway. However, some semiperiphery nations such as India have begun to benefit from microfinancing and from the offshoring of service and professionals jobs. Microfinancing: the lending of small sums of money to the poor so they can work their way out of poverty. Offshoring: the transfer of work to foreign contractors. Biotechnology: any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use. Genetic engineering is one startling biotechnological advance that has enabled the alteration of human behavior or physical traits, raising difficult ethical and political questions. One recent example of genetic engineering is the implantation of human genes in pigs to provide humanlike kidneys for organ transplant. Several biotechnological advances are controversial because their possible effects on the environment and on our health are unknown and could very well be harmful. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 1.It was in the slaveholders’ best interest to keep slaves ignorant, notably by forbidding them to learn to read or write. The less intellectual the slaves were, the less likely they were to revolt, the better it was for the slaveholders. Slaveholders feared –with reason – that knowledge would make for non-functional slaves. 2.Knowing that literacy would give slaves a sense of self-sufficiency and capability, Whites held power over Blacks by keeping them ignorant, uninformed and misinformed. They tried to keep their Black slaves as silly and deprived of intellect as possible. 3.Edward Covey was a slave breaker. Douglass was sent to be with him because he was deemed unsubdued and impertinent by his master who wanted Covey to break Douglass’ spirit. Covey was nicknamed the “snake” by the slaves because he always snuck up on them in the field. They never knew if he was nearby watching them, and that is how he kept them on their toes. 4.Douglass’ rough time with Covey was what prompted him to state “how a man was made a slave”: he was turned into a brute/dehumanized by the exhausting work and Covey’s repeated punishments. Covey’s harsh treatment caused Douglass to lose his spirit, intellect, desire to learn, and natural cheerfulness. 5.Ultimately, one day, Covey decided to fight back against Covey. Refusing to be treated like an animal any longer, he struggled as Covey tried to tie him to whip him. That is the situation that prompted Douglass to state “how a slave was made a man”. 6.Douglass’ grandmother, Betsey Bailey, cared for him and other children on the plantation. 7.Too young to work in the field, Douglass was given some not too demanding tasks and had quite a lot of leisure time as a child. 8.The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to free states with the aid of abolitionists. Douglass referred to it as “The Upperground Railroad” as well because it was supposed to be a covert system, but it was so known of and talked about that it seemed it was more a warning to slaveholders than an aid to slaves: it put slaveholders on high alert, more than they would have been had they not been aware of its existence. 9.Contrary to what he thought because Northerners held no slaves, Douglass notes after his escape to New Bedford that the North is actually quite prosperous. Even the city’s Blacks enjoy good living conditions and many of them are actually more politically aware and educated than most Southern slaveholders. 10.After escaping to New York in 1938, Douglass continued to feel insecure and adopted the motto “Trust no man” out of fear that someone would inform his former master of his whereabouts for a reward.


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