Contemporary Social Problems Week 2 Chapter 1
Contemporary Social Problems Week 2 Chapter 1 SO 1103
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katerina Kushla on Friday August 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SO 1103 at Mississippi State University taught by Laura Jean Kerr in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Social Problems in Sociology at Mississippi State University.
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Date Created: 08/26/16
Week 2 8/22/16 – 8/26/16 Foundation of Understanding Social Problems Culture is defined as the meanings and ways of life that characterize a society Elements of Culture: Beliefs Values These are used to “dissect” a social Norms problem Sanctions Symbols Beliefs are definitions and explanations about what is assumed to be true – Is secondhand smoke dangerous? Values are social agreements about what is considered good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable. Value of human life. Racism, sexism, and heterosexism violate the value of equality and fairness Symbols are something that represents something else. Language, gestures, and objects whose meaning is commonly understood by the members of society Norms are society’s specific rules of right and wrong behavior - Norms tell us what we should or should not do Characteristics of Norms: o Most are unwritten o They are instrumental o Some are explicit while others are implicit o They change over time o Most are conditional o Norms can be rigid or flexible * Explicit: Directly specified, written down, laws * Implicit: Implied, understood, common courtesy Elements of Culture Three types of Norms: Folkways – customs, habits, and manners of society Laws – formal norms backed by authority Mores (Pronounced “More A’s”)–norms with moral basis Sanctions are positive and negative consequences for confirming or violating norms POSITIVE NEGATIVE INFORMAL Praise from a peer Gossip FORMAL Receiving an award Fines for speeding Structure ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Society is the people~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~Culture is the way they act together~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Subculture~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~Subculture~~~~~~~ *There can be subcultures within subcultures Elements of Social Structure The structure of a society refers to the way society is organized ~~~~~~~Social Institutions~~~~~~ ~~~~Social Groups~~~~ ~~Statuses~~ Roles Statuses: A status is a person that a person occupies within a social group and within society – our interpretations of social problems are often subjective to this position Ascribed Statuses: One that society assigns to an individual on the basis of factors over which the individual has no control (decided by society) ex child, teenager, senior citizen, age and race Achieved Statuses: An achieved status is assigned on the basis of some characteristic or behavior over which the individual has some control (self-decided) College graduate, spouse, parent, manager, convicted criminal Master Status: Single most important status (usually self-decided) has influence of all other statuses Roles: The set of rights, obligations, and expectations associated with a status Roles guide our behavior and allow us to predict the behavior of others Roles are based on mutual obligations Students are expected to read, take notes, write papers, and attend class Professors must grade the papers written by the students Social group is defined as two or more people who have a common identity, interact, and form a social relationship Primary groups are characterized by intimate and informal interaction. Friends, (close) family Secondary groups are task oriented and characterized by impersonal and formal interaction. Coworkers, classmates Criterion: o Frequency of meeting o Sense of identity o Task Orientation o Emotional intimacy Each individual belongs to many different social groups Elements of Social Structure Organization Institution: is an established and enduring pattern of social relationships – we like these things so much that we “built” them and maintain them. The five traditional institutions are o Family o Religion o Politics o Economics o Education *Mass Media can be under any of these Sociological Imagination The sociological imagination: C. Wright Mills (1959) developed, refers to the ability to see the connections between our personal lives and the social world in which we live “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” ~ C. Wright Mills When we use our sociological imagination, we are able to distinguish between “private troubles” and “public issues” and to see the connections between the events and conditions of our lives and the social and historical context in which we live This is the theory we must use, the observation. The perspective is the “big view.” The theory is within the perspective. Theoretical Perspectives Two levels of analysis: Macrosociology looks at the “big picture” of society and suggests how social problems are affected at the institutional level Microsociology is concerned with the social psychological dynamics of individuals interacting in small groups Top Three Perspectives Structural Functionalism (Functionalism) or (F) Macro Conflict Macro Symbolic Interactionist (S.I.) Micro Structural-Functionalism Perspective Society is composed of parts that work together to maintain a state of balance often described as a machine or a body with different parts working together. Functions are purposes and activities to meet different needs that contribute to a society’s stability Dysfunctions have negative impacts that disrupt society’s stability Two types of functions: Latent – Consequences that are unintended and often hidden Manifest – Intended and commonly recognized Structural-Functionalist Theories of Social Problems Social Pathology – Social problems result from “sickness” in society Social Disorganization – Rapid social change disrupts norms in society. When norms become weak, unclear, or are in conflict with each other, or are in conflict with each other, society is in a state of anomie, or normlessness. Conflict Perspective Views society as a composed of groups and interests competing for pwer and resources Explains various aspects of our social world by looking ta which groups have power and benefit from a particular social arrangement Karl Marx - The origins of the conflict perspective can be traced to the works of Karl Marx - Marx suggested that all societies go through stages of economic development - Industrialization leads to two classes: o the bourgeoisie - the owners of the means of production; o the proletariat - the workers who earn wages - The bourgeoisie use their power to control the institutions of society to their advantage Marxist Conflict Theories: (Marx) (Karl Marx comes from a very socially structured society therefore his theories evolve around social rank) Social Problems result from class inequality inherent in a capitalistic system Marxist conflict theories also focus on the problem of alienation, or powerlessness and meaninglessness in people’s lives Non Marxist Conflict Theories (Non-Marx or Values) - Concerned with conflict when groups have opposing values and interests. o Antiabortion activists value the life of unborn embryos; pro-choice activists value the right of women to control their reproductive decisions o These value positions reflect different subjective interpretations of what constitutes a social problem Symbolic Interactionist Perspective (Symbols must be Recognized) A basic premise is that a condition must be defined or recognized as a social problem for it to be a social problem The people must decide if it is a problem Three types o Blumer’s Stages of a Social Problem (Stages=steps) o Labeling Theory o Social Constructionism Blumer’s Stages of a Social Problem: Herbert Blumer suggested social problems develop in stages: 1) Societal recognition is the process by which a social problem is “born” 2) Social Legitimation takes place when the social problem is recognized by the larger community 3) Mobilization for action that leads to the development and implementation of a plan for dealing with the problem Labeling Theory: a social condition or group is viewed as problematic if it is labeled as such - Labels change overtime therefore a social problem can be resolved Social Constructionism: argues that reality is socially constructed by individuals who interpret the social world around them - Media, universities, governments, researchers can “create” through reporting – influencing how the public perceives an issue. Stages of Conducting a Research Study 1. Formulating a research question 2. Reviewing Literature 3. Defining Variables a. A variable is any measurable event, characteristic, or property that varies or is subject to change. b. Researchers must operationally define the variables they study i. Specifies how a variable is to be measure c. Operational Definitions are particularly important for defining variables that cannot be directly observed 4. Formulating a hypothesis a. A hypothesis is a prediction about how one variable is related to another b. The dependent variable is the variable that the researcher wants to explain c. The independent variable is the variable that is expected to explain change in the dependent variable Methods of Data Collection 1. Experiments a. Are a research method that involves manipulating the independent variable to determine how it affects the dependent variable b. Carefully controlled artificial situation c. Experimental group exposed to the independent variable d. Control group not exposed e. Advantages: can test cause-effect f. Disadvantages: artificial, high attrition 2. Survey research involves eliciting information from respondents through questions a. A sample is a portion of the population, selected to be representative so that the information from the sample can be generalized to a larger population – is it really representative? b. Web-based surveys are growing in popularity and are thought to reduce many of the problems associated with traditional survey research 3. Questionnaires: a. Mailed or given to a sample of respondents b. The disadvantage of mail questionnaires is that it is difficult to obtain an adequate response rate 4. Interviews a. Trained interviewers ask respondents question and make written notes about or tape-record the answers Quantitative Qualitative 5. Field Research a. Observing social behavior in settings in which it occurs naturally b. Participant: researcher participates in the phenomenon being studied to obtain an insider’s perspective c. Nonparticipant: researcher observes the phenomenon being studied without actively participating 6. Secondary Data Research a. Data already collected by other researchers or government agencies or that exist as historical documents b. The disadvantage is that the researcher is limited to the data already collected
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