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|Sociology Notes and Topics on Sociology
Monday, June 13, 2011
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here i am going to share notes of sociology.
These are not my personal notes but they proved very helpful.
The purpose of sharing them here is not to get any credit just to help others.
Remember me in ur prayers.
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Monday, June 13, 2011
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I. What Is Sociology?
The American Sociological Association (2006) describes “sociology as the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. The ASA contends that “sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.” Sociology is the scientific study of society and human behavior. This means, when sociologists apply their trade, they use a rigorous methodology.
The influence of society is the central question asked by sociologists when they attempt to explain human behavior. People are social beings more than they are individuals. Our thinking and motivation are largely shaped by our life experiences as we interact with one another. According to Barkan (1997:4), "society profoundly shapes their behavior and attitudes." We exist within social structure, which refers to patterns of social interaction and social relationships. Social structure, in turn, has great influence on who we are as individuals. It influences our behavior, our attitudes, and our life chances. Social structure is complex and often contradictory.
A. Topics of Study
Subject areas in Sociology are as varied as society itself.
Sociologists can study very small social relationships involving only a few people (such as the family). They can also explore relationships in much larger social collectivities such as organizations and institutions.
Sociology may be concerned with issues revolving around social class, poverty, gender, race and ethnicity, or religion as well as social mobility and education. Other topics may include culture, socialization, conflict, power, and deviance.
Very large social relationships such as those between nation states are also the domain of sociology as are the characteristics of the economy and political system. In fact, the whole topic of globalization is relevant to sociologists.
B. The Relationship between People and Structure
Within the vast field of sociology, the common denominator is people. Sociology explores the “forces that influence people and help shape their lives … Society shapes what we do, how we do it, and how we understand what others do“ (Univ. of Limerick 2007). Options in life are determined in the past and are molded by currently existing structures that provide well-established guidelines for how individuals conduct their lives. To quote Macionis and Plummer, “In the game of life, we may decide how to play our cards, but it is society that deals us the hand” (Univ. of Limerick 2007).
C. Critical Thinking
Sociology requires one to look at the world critically. Peter Berger argues that students of sociology should acquire a healthy skepticism regarding overly simplified (or commonly accepted) conceptions of human affairs. Critical thinking is a willingness to ask any question, no matter how difficult; to be open to any answer that is supported by reason and evidence; and to confront one’s own biases and prejudices openly when they get in the way (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:5).
Given that Sociology explores problems of pressing interest; its topics are often objects of major controversy and conflict in society itself (see Giddens, 1987:2). Rarely do sociologists "preach" revolt, but they do call attention to the fundamental social questions of our day. Sociology helps bring contentious issues into sharper focus. In doing so, however, feelings may get hurt and individuals may become insulted. I will probably step on everyone's toes at least once. In advance, I apologize. It's important in a class like this one that we agree to disagree. I hope that we can be as polite as possible. The general point of this class is to understand that alternate points of view exist. It is not designed to support one view over another.
Stepping on toes, after all, is nothing new for sociology. Sometimes sociologists step on toes on high ranking officials to the point where national governments advocate a policy of limiting the number of sociologists.
D. Multiple Perspectives
“Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world, generating new ideas and critiquing the old” (ASA 2006). Sociology, as a matter of course, utilizes multiple perspectives when critiquing social phenomena. It, likewise, employs a wide range of methodological techniques to answer questions that have social relevance.
We should come to realize that there are a variety of points of view on any given subject. These points of view are perspectives. Perspectives are limited. Social facts, therefore, are understood in the context of many perspectives which are often complex and contradictory. Sociology is a method of organizing your thoughts about society and your place in society.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane
by those who could not hear the music"
-- A. Monet
II. Debunking and Being Skeptical
According to Berger, it's the job of sociology to debunk commonly accepted notions about society. Debunking is a process of questioning actions and ideas that are usually taken for granted. It refers to looking behind the facade of everyday life. It refers to looking at the behind-the-scenes patterns and processes that shape the behavior observed in the social world (Andersen & Taylor, 2001:6).
B. Being Skeptical
Barkan (1997:5) contends that sociology, given the emphasis on the structural basis for individual behavior, often challenges conventional wisdom. He cites Max Weber in arguing that one of sociology's most important goals is to uncover what Weber called "inconvenient facts." Peter Berger (in Barkan, 1997:6) contends "sociology refuses to accept official interpretations of society." Often official interpretations are filled with propaganda. According to Berger, it's the job of sociology to debunk this motif. With this in mind, students of sociology should acquire a healthy skepticism regarding overly simplified (or commonly accepted) conceptions of human affairs. It is tempting to look for simple answers or what Ross Perot (1992) calls "sound bites" to explain complex social phenomena.
Example: Hitler blamed Germany's post-World War One problems on the Jews.
Example: Few realize the benefits associated with undocumented immigration.
Example: Are drugs bad? Many don't consider that the United States exports dangerous drugs (e.g., tobacco).
III. The Myth of Objectivity
Many often claim to strive for objectivity. Objectivity is sought both in the subject under study and as a strategy for teaching students. At some level, however, the concept of objectivity is a myth. What appears objective may simply be a political event. The positions defined and accepted as objective may, in fact, represent the positions of people, organizations, or governments who happen to hold power.
While objectivity in the strictest sense is a myth, it is at least possible, and desirable, to strive for a common understanding. Often, social concepts and even vocabulary is vague. For example, many may state a desire to reduce levels of inequality in the U.S. What, exactly, does 'reducing inequality' mean? Do we mean 'equal opportunity' as inferred by affirmative action? Do we mean reducing the income-gap or wealth-gap between the wealthiest and poorest in our society? Or, do we mean 'radical leveling' as practiced by the Khmer Rouge in the Killing Fields of Cambodia? How can we recognize whether we have achieved our goal? Arguably, Cambodia had greater 'equality' between citizens in 1978 than the United States now has. I doubt, however, that many would consider their means or ends desirable.
A. What is an Operational Definition?
In order to explore important social issues a common ground and a common language is necessary. An operational definition is a precise way used to measure variables (Henslin 2008:20-21).
For example: Regarding inequality, we might devise a poverty threshold. Poverty rates are something most people understand. Poverty rates are by no means perfect, but at least when we talk about a 'poverty rate' we all tend to understand what we mean when we discuss poverty.
B. Should Sociologists be Value-Free or Activists?
How much should a sociologist get involved in the subject under investigation? Some, like Max Weber, argue that, in order to truly understand a social phenomenon, the researcher should be value-free or neutral. Personal values should have no influence on research. The proponents of this view argue that once a researcher becomes personally involved he or she loses their perspective. They become biased. Those biases influence their study of society.
Others would argue that it is useless to study something like social problems unless one intends to fix those problems. The point, according to Marx, is to change things. The goals of the sociologist should be to empower people so that they can change their lives.
Which point of view is correct? Currently, this issued remains unresolved.
C. The Debate between C. Wright Mills and Talcott Parsons.
Henslin (2004:1) offers a synopsis of this debate.
Essentially, Parsons was an abstract theoretician who created abstract models on how society functioned as a harmonious unit. He might argue that sociologists should focus on analyzing some aspect of society and then publish those findings in journals. Parsons did nothing for social activism.
Mills, on the other hand, sought to direct the efforts of sociologists back toward social reform and activism. The goal of people like C. Wright Mills would be to transform society according to some ideological prerequisite. Mills provided some of the theoretical foundations for the 1960s student rebellion.
D. Social Darwinism
Henslin (2004:4-5) describes Social Darwinism as distinctly non-reformist. Spencer, the father of Social Darwinism, argued that societies evolve from lower to higher forms. As generations pass, the most capable survives while the least fit dies out.
Spencer argued that if one helps the lower classes, it interferes with the natural process. Programs designed to help the poor will ultimately weaken the social order, according to Social Darwinism. He argued that society would advance if "do-gooders’ did not help the unfit survive.
IV. A Sociological Imagination:
Personal Troubles and Public Issues
The sociological imagination refers to the ability to grasp the relationship between our lives as individuals and the large social forces that help shape them. Human behavior must be understood in a broader social context. Americans have a long cultural-heritage which encourages self-reliance and independence. Perhaps as a result of our culture we tend resort to "blaming the victim" to explain problems such as unemployment and inequality. Despite our "heritage of self-reliance" Americans are also bound by social structure and history. Daily common sense might suggest that one who is poor should consider getting a job. It might also argue in favor of "pulling one's self up by their bootstraps."
Perhaps, as is often the case, the solutions to problems experienced by individuals do not have simple solutions. According to Marx (1978:595):
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past.
To paraphrase C. Wright Mills (1959):
People do not usually define their personal problems in terms of historical change and institutional contradictions. People do not usually think of the connection between the patterns of their own lives and the course of world history. People live out biographies in the context of world events that are in turn determined by historically specified conditions. Both the lives of individuals and the course of world history are understood simultaneously.
One of the challenges of sociology is to break away from the idea that western modes of life are somehow superior and therefore sets standards for those cultures found elsewhere. "Such a belief is encouraged by the very spread of western capitalism itself, which has set in motion a train of events that has corroded or destroyed most other cultures with which it has come into contact" (Giddens, 1987:19).
If social evolution is seen as the capacity of a culture to master its environment, then western style capitalism seems to have done this. Undeniably, it has "unleashed material productivity vastly greater than that of any other societies which have preceded it in history" (Giddens, 1987:19).
Evolutionary schemes, however, express an ethnocentrism that takes the position that one's own culture is somehow to be used as a measure to judge other societies. The "conviction of superiority has been in some part an expression, and a justification, of the greedy engulfing other modes of life by industrial capitalism" (Giddens, 1987:19-20).
A. What is meant by the term diversity
and why is diversity desirable?
Diversity refers to the social relations and interaction of many different kinds of people (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:6).
Why is diversity desirable and important for a society?
Diversity enriches an individual's experiences as well as the society.
Diversity helps us to be more accepting of other people.
Diversity provides greater perspectives in problem solving.
V. Why Study Sociology?
A. Careers in Sociology
1. Within Academia
Most employment specifically in sociology occurs in the context of academia. Colleges and universities often hire sociologists where they teach or engage in social research.
2. Outside Academia - Applied Sociology
Henslin (2006:8) contends that applied sociology lies between the two positions articulated by C. Wright Mills and Talcott Parsons. Applied sociology is one area when sociologists might find employment outside academia. These efforts do not fall in the realm of social reform. Applied sociology does not, for example, advocate rebuilding society. Rather, it tackles specific problems.
Example: An applied sociologist might be employed at a computer company developing user-centered software.
Outside the university, applied sociologists use sociology to solve specific social problems. Applied sociologists may focus on problems in the work place or “virtually any aspect of social life such as street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, how people express emotions, social welfare, education reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and war” (ASA 2006). Many sociologists find employment in governmental agencies, such as the Census Bureau, that are concerned with the distribution of people.
B. Beyond Sociology: Benefits of Studying Sociology
There are numerous reasons why one might want to study sociology even if they do not work in sociology directly. World Wide Learn (2007) points out that a background in sociology:
· assists one in recognizing trends and patterns in society.
· allows the development of critical thinking skills.
· encourages good research skills in data collection
· instructs in creating concise reports and essays.
· develops planning and organizational skills.
· augments oral presentation skills and interpersonal communications.
· enhances management skills and grant writing ability.
Sociology is useful in “social and marketing research, sport development, psychology, law, human resources management, information science, journalism, and corporate communications, geography and environmental management, and development studies” (University of Johannesburg 2007).
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I. What is a Theoretical Perspective?
Perspectives might best be viewed as models.
Each perspective makes assumptions about society.
Each one attempts to integrate various kinds of information about society.
Models give meaning to what we see and experience.
Each perspective focuses on different aspects of society.
Certain consequences result from using a particular model.
No one perspective is best in all circumstances. The perspective one uses may depend upon the question being asked. If one is exploring bureaucratic organization, then one might like to use a perspective that is concerned with social order. On the other hand, if one is concerned with social inequality, then perhaps the conflict perspective is more useful.
Perhaps the best perspective is one which combines many perspectives.
II. The Functionalist Perspective
The origins of the functionalist perspective can be traced to the work of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim.
The problem of maintaining social order is a central problem for understanding society.
Understanding society from a functionalist perspective is to visualize society as a system of interrelated parts. All the parts act together even though each part may be doing different things.
Institutions, such as family, education, and religion are the parts of the social system and they act to bring about order in society.
Integration of the various parts is important. When all the "parts" of the system work together, balance is maintained and the over all order of the system is achieved.
Social structures in society promote integration, stability, consensus, and balance.
A. A System With Parts
The parts of society, while performing different functions, work together to maintain the stability of the whole social system.
In order to understand the idea of "social system," it may be helpful to visualize a different kind of system. For example, biological organisms are systems. In fact, many sociologists use biological models to explain human society. The biological metaphor is successful in that it calls attention to how a social "organism" consists of various unique parts. Those parts, in turn, function together to support and maintain the whole system.
B. What's the Purpose?
Functionalists, like Emile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton, are interested in how the parts of the social system contribute to the continuation of the social system. When functionalists encounter the various aspects of society, they may ask "What is its purpose?" A primary purpose of all parts (institutions like police, newspapers, religion) is to encourage consensus.
Merton (see Robertson, 1989:12) distinguishes between manifest functions, latent functions, and dysfunctions.
1. Manifest Functions
Manifest functions refer to functions that are obvious.
The manifest function of schools is to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The manifest function of the military is to defend the nation.
The manifest function of criminal justice is to keep the streets safe for a society's citizens.
2. Latent Functions
Latent functions are functions that are unrecognized. They may even be important functions, but their consequence is not obvious.
College students, in the course of pursuing their education, may make good friends.
Merton described college as a "mate selection market" where students meet prospective marriage partners.
A perspective that is highly concerned about order is by definition concerned about what happens when social order breaks down. Merton uses the term dysfunction, which refers to a negative consequence that may disrupt the system. Dysfunction also conjures up the notion that a social phenomenon can be functional in one setting and dysfunctional in another.
C. Critique of Functionalism
1. Functionalism Resists Change
Invoking a biological model has certain built-in assumptions connected to it. Biological organisms do not perform very well when they encounter great change in their environment. Society, however, is not biological. It is social. Social systems can tolerate much greater change than can biological systems.
2. Functionalism is Inherently Conservative
Change tends to be viewed as a negative consequence. All the parts of society act as a part of a unified system. Altering one part of the system has impact on all the other parts. There fore, there is a tendency is to protect existing institutions out of a fear that change in one area of society will adversely influence other parts of society. Fear of creating disorder in society is often used as a justification for avoiding change.
III. The Conflict Perspective
Conflict theorists see society less as a cohesive system and more as an arena of conflict and power struggles. Instead of people working together to further the goals of the "social system,"
People are seen achieving their will at the expense of others.
People compete against each other for scarce resources.
Basic inequalities between various groups is a constant theme of conflict theory.
Power, or the lack of it, is also a basic theme of conflict theory.
Since some people benefit at the expense of others, those who benefit use ideology to justify their unequal advantage in social relationships.
Marx is a conflict theorist. He argued that the struggle between social classes was the major cause of change in society. Much change, in fact, happens as rich people and poor people compete over scarce resources.
Not all conflict theorists are Marxist. Weber is also a conflict theorist. Where as Marx focused on class conflict as the "engine" of historic change, others see conflict among groups and individuals as a fact of life in any society. Conflict can occur over many other aspects of society unrelated to class. For example, conflict can occur over water rights (in West Texas and New Mexico). Conflict occurs when two people have a car accident. Conflict occurs between men and women.
A. Conflict and Change
As a result of tension, hostility, competition, and disagreements over goals and values, change is one of the basic features in society. In general, change occurs because of inequality and the battle over scarce resources. Conflict occurs because people want things (power, wealth, and prestige) that are in short supply. One should realize that conflict is not intrinsically bad. Conflict provides grounds where people unite in order that they may act on their common interests. Conflict is the motor for desirable change.
B. Who Benefits?
Like the functionalists, conflict theorists recognize the existence of social structures, but instead of structures existing for the good of the whole system, social structures (institutions) serve the interests of the powerful. One should also recognize the flip side of this coin. Structures that serve the powerful also are designed to keep other groups in society in their place for the privilege of others.
Instead of following the functionalist path of addressing dysfunction (i.e. something that doesn't work) conflict theorists would ask "Who Benefits?"
Example: Acid rain
Acid rain is not "bad" for everyone. The powerful people who control polluting industries stand to make huge profits by not providing proper air purification.
Cooperation is not assumed.
The idea of society being an integrated system based on consensus is a manufactured idea.
The powerful influence or coerce the rest of the population into compliance and conformity.
Social order is maintained, not by popular agreement, but rather by the direct or indirect exercise of power."
IV. The Interactionist Perspective
The Interactionist perspective takes the position that it is people who exist and act. All the other "structures" found in society are nothing but human creations. For the Interactionists, society is always in a process of being created, and this occurs through communication and negotiation.
Symbolic Interactionists are called micro-sociologists.
The scope of investigation for these sociologists is very small. Interactionists prefer to explore the interaction of individuals or groups of individuals.
Interaction is generally face-to-face and addresses "everyday" activities. Society occurs as a result of interaction between individuals and small groups of individuals over long periods of time.
They are interested in the way individuals act toward, respond to, and influence one another in society.
People negotiate meaning in their lives. Each communication produces new perspectives, expectations, and boundaries that individuals use to assure continual interactions in the future.
Micro-sociologists are not interested in institutions (e.g., the economy and government), social class, and nation-states.
Society is dynamic.
Change occurs as a result of interaction between individuals.
Continuous change, not stable patterns, characterizes the real nature of society. This kind of change is much less deterministic than change associated with the conflict perspective. Marxists look for change that is determined by characteristics in the social structure. Change from the Interactionist perspective is free-form.
B. Reference Groups
Much interaction takes place in "reference groups."
Reference groups include professional organizations, friendship groups, doctors and medical people, education, and the community in which we live.
Some are more stable than others, but change is a common feature in all reference groups.
Change occurs as people communicate with one another.
C. Symbolic Interaction
Symbolic interaction is a major sub-category of the Interactionist perspective. Robertson (1989:15) argues that "the interaction that takes place between people occurs through symbols." He calls a symbol "anything that can meaningfully represent something else."
D. Shared Meaning
As individuals and small groups first negotiate patterns of social interaction, and then come to reply on those patterns, expectations become more fixed in social structure. Eventually, people come to accept those patterns as part of their reality. Often they cannot see beyond that reality. Choices are made within that reality. Once people that accept certain aspects in society are "real," real consequences flow from that realty. The "witches" at Salem discovered this the hard way.
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I. Why Is Sociology a Science?
Why is social science (sociology) science? Is sociology simply a pseudo-science? After all, its ability to predict the future is questionable! Isn't it? What is science? In mathematics, 2 + 2 always = 4. Sociology often cannot make precise predictions.
In response, one might argue that just because the subject matter of sociology is more difficult to study than the subjects pursued in other sciences, it does not mean that the scientific method is inappropriate for the social sciences. The subject matter of sociology experiences continuous change. This fact alone renders efforts at prediction difficult. Problems relating to prediction can be found in the biological science as well. One should note the problems encountered as biologists try to track the AIDS virus. It too continually mutates.
Sociology is a science every bit as much as biology or chemistry. Social sciences, like natural and biological sciences, use a vigorous methodology. This means that a social scientist clearly states the problems he or she is interested in and clearly spells out how he or she arrives at their conclusions. Generally, social scientists ground the procedure in a body of existing literature. This is precisely how other sciences function.
II. Alternatives to Science
The scientific method of understanding society is relatively new in the grand course of human history. It arose during the Enlightenment period in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Before exploring scientific sociology, let's begin with a brief discussion of other sources of social knowledge about society. I do this for two reasons:
In order to understand where we are, it is sometimes helpful to understand where we have come from and where we are going (with the lectures to follow). That is why we study history!
Further, a good way to determine the worth (or lack of worth) of anything social is within a comparative context that offers alternatives.
Often, we get our knowledge from significant others like parents, teachers, books, or political leaders. When one accepts something as true because someone in authority says it is true, then they are relying on authority. It is a quick, simple, and inexpensive way to gain information (Neuman, 1994:2-3).
The problem associated with relying on authorities is that overestimating the expertise of someone or some publication is possible. An expert in one area might ...
try to use his or her expertise in an area where the authority has little if any knowledge. Neuman (1994:3) reminds us that "experts" used to measure intelligence by counting the number of bumps on the skull.
An over reliance on authority may also produce problems in a democratic society. Allowing authorities to wield too much authority can be dangerous! Over reliance on authority might lead to dictatorship.
Neuman (1994:3) contends that tradition is a special case of authority, the authority of the past. "It has always been done that way." One problem with relying on tradition as a source of information is that conditions change. People can cling to past traditions without understanding why something was true in the past (e.g., A shot of whiskey cures a cold). Tradition can also be based on simple prejudices that people pass down from one generation to the next. Even if traditional knowledge was once true, it can become distorted over time. (E.g., The best way to plow a field is with a mule-drawn plow, or one should always plant by the full moon.)
C. Common Sense
Common sense is the knowledge people gain about the world through their everyday experience. It works sometimes. In fact, sociology might require that one use a little common sense when engaging in research projects. On the other hand, one still has to remember that common sense is not truth in any objective sense. It is only a shared social idea that people find comfortable and safe.
Example: Simple Dichotomies
The seemingly persistent tendency for human beings to think in terms of simple dichotomies to understand society perplexed Fernando Henrique Cardoso. To emphasize the simplicity of such thinking he used the metaphor of two space travelers encountering earth for the first time. The space travelers express shock at the simplicity of the earthlings. They might say, "the brain of these beings appears to limit their images and thoughts to binary opposites" (Cardoso, 1977).
Example: Who is Rich, Who is Poor?
Asian-Americans have the highest per capita median income in the United States while Native-Americas have to lowest. This contradicts the usually accepted notion that Blacks and Whites define the top and bottom of American society.
1. Problems with Common Sense
a. Our Experience is Limited
We cannot possibly know everything everywhere.
b. Our Interpretation of Experience is Biased
Our minds play tricks on us. We are likely to see what we want to see. We are likely to look for easy explanations and we are likely to accept ideas of people that are attractive to us. Sociologists have dubbed this tendency the "halo effect."
Example: What is Suicide?
When is a death suicide? If someone attempts to fake a suicide but actually succeeds in killing themselves, is their death suicide or accidental death?
Example: Suicide in Religious Communities
Some religious communities show a low suicide rate. Does this mean that people in these communities kill themselves at a lower rate? In some religions suicide is a mortal sin. Perhaps religious communities attempt to cover up suicides more than non religious communities. One explanation might be that suicide in religious communities would have more serious social impact on the survivors than it would in non religious communities.
Example: The Problem of "Illegal Aliens"
Common sense tells us that undocumented workers take jobs from Americans and that, in general, they create a burden for the U.S. taxpayers. Facts, however, show us that undocumented workers add more to the United States economy than they cost. Further, they tend to take jobs that most Americans don't want.
Example: Buy American! What Does This Mean?
As Americans struggled with the global economy in the 1980s, many advocated buying American products from American companies. Common sense told us that buying American would put Americans to work and make the U.S. economy stronger. Unfortunately, distinguishing between global and domestic economy became highly problematic in the 1990s as the domestic and international economies became more interconnected (See Keohane and Nye, 1977; Reich, 1991).
General Motors is an American company, but look at the international involvement the creation of a General Motors product like the LeMans (from Reich, 1991).
Of the $20,000 paid to GM, about $6,000 goes to South Korea for routine labor and assembly operations, $3,500 to Japan for advanced components (engines, transaxles, and electronics), $1,500 to West Germany for styling and design engineering, $800 to Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan for small components, $500 to Britain for advertising and marketing services, and about $100 to Ireland and Barbados for data processing. The rest -- less than $8000 -- goes to strategists in Detroit, lawyers and bankers in New York, lobbyists in Washington, insurance and health care workers all over the country, and General Motors shareholders -- most of who live in the United States, but many who are foreign nationals (Reich, 1991:113).
D. Media Myths
This one is obvious. Have you ever heard Arnold Schwarzenegger say "Hasta la vista baby" for George Bush? The TV is notorious for distorting reality about crime, romance, etc. The news also can distort truth whether intentionally or otherwise (to meet deadlines, etc.) (Neuman, 1994:4).
III. The Scientific Method
The scientific method is a systematic, organized series of steps that ensures maximum objectivity and consistency in researching a problem (Schaefer and Lamm, 1992:35). The following are some components of the scientific method.
A. Test Ideas
Don't take assumptions for granted. Don't rely on common sense. Don't rely on traditional authority figures.
B. Evidence must Be Observable
Evidence should be observable because other Sociologists might want to perform the same study in order to verify or refute findings.
1. Social Facts
Henslin (1999:16) notes that Durkheim stressed social facts. He calls them "patterns of behavior that characterize a social group." Appelbaum & Chambliss (1997:12) defines social facts as "qualities of groups that are external to individual members yet constrain their thinking and behavior." For example, one may display a particular behavior when with friends, but feel constrained to act differently when in a more formal setting. The effect of a social group on individual behavior is a social fact.
C. Describe How Evidence is Gathered
Any study of society should specify the methods the researcher used to obtain his or her information, the setting (where the researcher conducted the study), and the population (whom they studied). This is done so that other social scientists may test your findings. Social scientists are cautious in accepting the findings of other. Studies are often replicated to verify findings of initial studies.
A theory is a set of ideas [generalizations] supported by facts. Theories try to make sense out of those facts. Social scientists seldom accept theories as laws. Often they are not considered totally true. Furthermore, the subjects they attempt to explain (i.e., people and social institutions) are variable. Gergen (1982:12) in D'Andrade (p 27) states:
"It may be ventured that with all its attempts to emulate natural science inquiry, the past century of sociobehavioral research and theory has failed to yield a principle as reliable as Archimedes principle of hydrostatics or Galileo's Law of uniformly accelerated motion."
Because theories are general ideas, social scientists do not test them directly. A hypothesis is a speculative (or tentative) statement that predicts the relationship between two or more variables. It is, in essence, an educated guess. It specifies what the researcher expects to find. To be considered meaningful, a hypothesis must be testable; that is, capable of being evaluated (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 38).
IV. Basic Statistical Concepts
A. Measures of Central Tendency: Mean, Median, and Mode
The mean, or average, is a number calculated by adding a series of values and then dividing by the number of values. For example, to find the mean of the numbers 5, 19, and 27, we add them and divide by the number of values (3). The mean would then be 17 (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 36).
The mode is the single most common value in a series of scores. For example, if we were looking at the following scores on a ten-point quiz: 10, 10, 9, 9, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 5, we would determine the mode by observing which score occurred most frequently. Now, the mode would be 7 (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 36).
The median is the midpoint or number that divides a series of values (which are ranked in ascending or descending order). For the quiz discussed above, the median is 8 (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 36).
B. Rates & Percentages
A percentage is a portion based on 100. Use of percentages allows one to compare groups of different sizes.
Example: Comparing Populations of Different Sizes
If we are comparing contributors to a town's Baptist and Roman Catholic churches, the absolute numbers of contributors could be misleading if there were many more Baptists than Catholics living in the town. With percentages, we can obtain a more meaningful comparison, showing the proportion of persons in each group who contribute to their respective churches (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 36).
C. Statistical Control vs. Control Groups
In a sociological sense, control means that you neutralize all social characteristics (variables) except that which is under consideration. This is different from a control group. A control group is something associated with an experiment. If one is testing, say a new drug, one would get two similar populations. The new drug would be given to one group (an experimental group) and withheld from the other group (a control group). Any difference between the experimental group and the control group is probably due to the intervention (e.g., the new drug in this example).
D. Target Populations and Samples
The target population refers to everyone in a group that is studies. For example, if one wants to know how people will vote in an election, the target population is everyone who is eligible to vote. How can a researcher study a population as large as that of the United States? The answer is that one cannot study entire populations. Large populations are simply too big. The researcher, therefore, needs to look at a small subset of the population. We call this subset a sample. The trick is to make sure that your sample closely parallels the characteristics of the larger population.
1. Random Sample
Henslin (1999:126) contends that a random sample is one in which everyone in a population has the same chance of being included in a study. A random sample is necessary if one is going to attempt to generalize the findings in a study to the larger population.
A hypothesis poses a relationship between two or more aspects of social relationships. These aspects are called variables. A variable is a measurable trait or characteristic that is subject to change under different conditions. Income, gender, occupation, and religion are variables. Variables may be independent or dependent.
1. Independent Variables
Independent variables in a hypothesis are those that influence or cause changes in another variable. In other words, an independent variable is something that is chosen by the researcher to cause a change in another variable.
2. Dependent Variables
The dependent variables are those variables are believed to be influenced by the independent variable (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992:38).
Example: Independent and Dependent Variables
Higher levels of education produce greater earnings. Education is the independent variable (it causes the change in income levels). Income level is the dependent variable. The income an individual earns "depends" or is determined by the influence of education.
One of the most common research mistakes is to assume that a high correlation between two variables means that one variable (independent) causes some change in another variable (dependent).
A correlation exists when a change in one variable coincides with a change in another variable. The fact that a correlation exists means that the two variables are associated statistically with one another. However, the mere fact that associations exist, does not necessarily mean that a change in one variable causes a change in another variable. Correlations are an indication that causality may be present. They do not necessarily indicate causation (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 38).
G. Spurious Correlations
A spurious correlation is one where the apparent correlation between two variables is actually caused by a third variable (Henslin, 1999:130)
H. Causal Logic (Cause and Effect)
One of the most common research mistakes is to assume that a high correlation between two variables proves that there is a causal link between them. In other words, people assume if two variables are related, then obviously one causes the other.
Causality is rather difficult to demonstrate. How can one tell whether a change in one variable is "causing" a change in another variable? There are three requirements that must exist before one can begin to think about whether there is a cause and effect relationship.
1. Temporal order:
The independent variable has to occur before the dependent variable.
2. Association (or correlation):
A change in one variable is associated with a change in the other variable.
3. Elimination of plausible alternatives:
The researcher has to ensure that the association between the two variables is not caused by a third variable (e.g., there are no spurious correlations). In order to show that one variable cause a change in another variable the scientist has to control for other factors that might be influencing the relationship
4. Does it make sense?
Finally, there is also an implicit fourth condition. The causal relationship has to make sense or fit within a theoretical framework (Henslin, 1999:131).
I. Validity and Reliability
Validity exists when concepts and their measurement accurately represent what they claim to represent while reliability is the extent to which findings are consistent with different studies of the same thing or with the same study over time.
V. Methods of Gathering Data
Weber suggested that sociology needs several methods of investigation. The following material provides various benefits and problems associated with four methods of gathering data.
A. Case Studies (field study)
Case studies (or field studies) explore social life in its natural setting, observing and interviewing people where they live, work, and play (Kendall, 1998:25).
Its advantages are that the researcher can study individuals in their natural setting (e.g., at home, at work, playing, etc.). Case studies provided volumes of information such that at the end of the study the researcher has a thorough understanding of the individuals involved in the study.
Drawbacks to the case study include the fact that social scientists cannot usually investigate many cases because of time constraints. Another problem with the case study is that the results may not be generalizable to the population at large.
B. The Survey (Interviews)
The researcher asks questions of the cases face to face or in a questionnaire.
The advantages are that data collection is more systematic (you ask the same questions of every case).
Because it is systematic and generally more condensed, the researcher can investigate more cases. Survey research can, in fact, be applied to several thousand (or million) cases. The U.S. Census begins as a survey of the population.
Findings may be generalizable to larger populations.
When relying on a survey questionnaire, much information is lost. Facial expressions are not recorded. Environmental considerations are missed.
Furthermore, information can be lost because the interviewer failed to ask the right question.
Kendall (1998:26) describes an experiment as a "carefully designed situation (often taking place in a laboratory) in which the researcher studies the impact of certain factors on subjects' attitudes or behaviors."
The experiment offers a high degree of exactness because one can control everything in a laboratory setting.
Variables can be precisely studied. Natural science uses this approach most often. So does psychology.
It is easier to determine cause and effect relationships.
One disadvantage with the experiment in studying social phenomena is that the environment is contrived. People do not normally carry out their lives in a laboratory setting.
Ethical issues may also arise when performing experiments on people. The Nazi death-camp experiments represent extreme instances of ethical violation. Even in ordinary university type experiments deception and misinformation are often employed. Many consider these ethical violations.
D. Existing data
Existing data includes government records (census), personal documents, or mass communication (published books, the news, movies).
The Statistical Abstract of the United States is an excellent source of existing data.
The advantages are that data are generally easy to obtain. They already exist and can be found in most university libraries.
Much existing data are also standardized. Standardization makes it easier to compare one set of data with another.
One problem associated with existing data is that the researcher must use the format provided. For example, a researcher studying poverty would be frustrated with the census before 1970 because there was no poverty rate in 1960 and before.
V. Problems with Science
A. Science as a Bias
The scientific perspective might cause one to look for cause and effect type relationships. Researchers may assume relationships are cause and effect where, in fact, many actions undertaken by individuals, groups, etc. involve choice. Further, while one expects cause and effect to travel in one direction, it may actually travel in the opposite direction. Furthermore, what may appear to be a cause and effect relationship between two variables may be driven by a third variable.
Example: Science as a Bias
Science itself may play a role in how one interprets a given social phenomenon. Furthermore, it may influence the solutions for social problems.
What is the Hawthorne effect?
The researcher's impact on his or her subjects may affect the research results. In the study of Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant, researchers wanted to discover ways to improve the efficiency of female workers. The researchers manipulated light levels, pay scales, and other variables. To the surprise of the researchers, everything they did influenced the women's' output in positive ways. The women were motivated, not by the specific interventions, but rather by the knowledge that someone was interested in them at all (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:27).
B. The Power Structure of Science
People who hold positions of power within universities, private enterprise, and the government have the power to decide what is studied and published. Breaking in is difficult for dissenters. When government agencies or corporations pay "big bucks" for science, they can determine what subjects are studied and which results become public.
A quotation that appears in many research methods texts argues that "there are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics." Perhaps statistics do not really lie, but the same statistics can be manipulated to defend a variety of positions.
D. Ethical Considerations
Example: Laud Humphreys's Tearoom Trade Study
The Laud Humphreys's (Humphreys, 1975) tearoom trade study was an investigation into the sexual habits of upper-class male homosexuals. The setting was a public restroom. Approximately a hundred men were observed engaging in sexual acts. Humphreys, while playing the role of a "watch queen," followed members of the establishment to their cars. There, he secretly recorded their license plate numbers.
Humphreys later obtained names and addresses of the tearoom patrons from police registers while posing as a market researcher. A year later, in disguise, Humphreys went to the homes of the tearoom patrons to gain more insight into the lives of upper class homosexuals. To gain entry, he used a deceptive story about a health survey. Humphreys was careful to keep names in safety deposit boxes, and identifiers with subject names were burned. He significantly advanced knowledge of homosexuals who frequent "tearooms" and overturned previous false beliefs about them. There has, however, been significant controversy surrounding the study: The subjects never consented. Deception was used. Further, their names could have been used to blackmail subjects, to end marriages, or to initiate criminal prosecution. The mental anguish brought upon the tearoom patrons was severely criticized (Neuman, 1994:432).
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I. Culture and Society
A. What is Culture?
Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted behavior.
Culture is all the values, norms, and customs that people share with one another.
Culture includes language and beliefs
Culture is all of the material objects such as monuments, three-piece suites, the lottery, fur coats, and fine automobiles.
Culture is ideas (like the belief in democracy and freedom) found within a society.
Culture is what individuals think is right and important as they interact (Schaefer, 1992:67).
Culture is a way of life. When people talk about "the way of life" of people with a distinctive life style, whether they live in Appalachia or Norway, they are talking about culture. It defines what is important and unimportant. Culture refers to everything that people create. Values, norms, goals, and culture in general, develop as people interact with one another over time.
Culture accounts, in part, for the unprecedented success of the human species. It allows us to adapt to extreme environments. We could not survive without our culture. In a sense, we create our culture, but our culture, in turn, recreates us (See Robertson, 1989:38-42).
Culture provides the context (back ground) that we use to interact with each other. It defines boundaries that we use to distinguish us from them.
Henslin (2006:38-40) notes that language is the primary way people communicate with one another.
It’s a system of symbols which all us to communicate abstract thought (Henslin, 2004:40).
It’s a perspective which allows culture to exist.
Language is universal in that all cultures have it, but it is not universal in that people attach different meanings to particular sounds.
1. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argues that language provides categories through which social reality is defined and constructed. It argues that thinking and perception are not only expressed through language but also shaped by language.
We need to keep in mind the notion of perspective when talking about culture. A culture is a "shared perspective." It is not absolute truth. Perspectives are limited by their nature. They allow us to see life from only a certain angle. As we interact, we come to share ideas about the way the world is. Perspectives filter what we see (Charon, 1986:199-203).
Example: "The Allegory of the Cave"
Ethnocentrism, according to Farley (1988:16-17), refers to the tendency to view one's own culture as the norm. There is a tendency to assume one's culture is superior to others. "Our" truths and values are so central to whom "we" are that it is difficult to accept the possibility that our culture represents only one of many. A particular culture does not represent universal "TRUTH." This is not to say that to be proud of one's heritage is inappropriate. On the contrary, a little ethnocentrism is beneficial because of its bonding effect. Ethnocentrism becomes a problem when we expect others to become like us.
An American who thinks citizens of another country are barbarian because they like to attend bull fights is an example of ethnocentrism.
E. Cultural Relativism and Verstehen
To accurately study unfamiliar cultures, sociologists have to be aware of culturally-based biases. Max Weber advocates the use of "value-free" Sociology, which means that one should eliminate, as much as possible, bias and prejudice.
Weber calls attention to the German idea of verstehen to describe the practice of understanding unique culture from the standpoint of others. Cultural relativism refers to the understanding of a culture on its own terms. In essence "you have to be able to stand in the other persons shoes." When you can "see" from the perspective of another, then you can understand that culture.
II. Components of Culture
A. Cultural Universals
Cultural universal refers to a cultural item that exists in all cultures part and present. Items like religion and language are found in every culture. They are examples of cultural universals
Innovation is the process of introducing an idea or object that is new to culture. There are two forms of innovation: discovery and invention.
Sociologists use the term diffusion to refer to the process by which a cultural item is spread from group to group or society to society. Cultures learn from one another.
Diffusion can occur through a variety of means, among them exploration, military conquest, missionary work, etc. (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 70).
Henslin (2004:51) contends that when groups make contact with one another, they most often exchange nonmaterial culture.
D. Cultural Leveling
Henslin (2004:51) uses cultural leveling to describe a situation in which cultures become similar to one another as a result of travel and communication. The fact that one can find a McDonalds or a Coke nearly every where in the world is an example of cultural leveling.
E. Material Vs. Nonmaterial
Culture is easily divided into material or nonmaterial concepts (See Robertson, 1989:29). Material culture includes:
Anthropologists study material artifacts when exploring cultures which have been extinct for hundreds or thousands of years. All which remains from ancient cultures are artifacts of their material culture.
Often Sociologists will investigate nonmaterial aspects. Nonmaterial culture refers to abstract human creations. Included in this category are:
F. Ideal Culture and Real Culture?
Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:42) contend that ideal culture refers to the norms and values that a society professes to hold. Henslin (2004:49-50) ideal culture describes models to emulate and which as worth aspiring to.
Real culture refers to norms and values that are followed in practice.
Example: Henslin (2004:49-50) notes that Americans glorify academic achievement and material success. However, most students do not graduate with honors and most citizens are not wealthy. Thus there is a gap between ideal culture and real culture.
G. Culture Lag
Culture lag refers to the tendency for culture to be slow to adapt to changes in technology. Technological change can happen over night while some times it takes culture a few generations to adapt to changes in technology (Henslin, 2004: 50).
Example: When Napster provided free music exchange, the record producers argued that the practice was unfair, but yet no laws existed which made music sharing illegal. This example highlights the lag between technology and social adaptation.
Henslin (2004:50) calls this the distinction between material and non material culture. Material culture runs ahead of non material culture.
H. Culture Shock
As people grow, they develop a sense of what to expect in their familiar surroundings. "Culture becomes the lens through which we perceive and evaluate what is going on around us" (Henslin, 1999:36). We don't generally question these assumptions. When one travels into a completely different culture, for example, a rural village in Africa, one encounters different assumptions that might violate what we come to expect as normal. An individual suddenly immersed in a unique and unfamiliar setting experiences disorientation. This is known as culture shock (see Henslin, 2004:35).
A rural individual who is suddenly taken to a large city
III. Norms and Values
Norms are rules that govern our lives and values are the goal of our lives. Norms are the expectations, or rules of behavior, that develop out of values. Norms are guidelines for our behavior.
Norms may be informal or they may be formalized into laws.
Values are principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable.
Norms are rather specific while values are abstract and general in nature.
Norms are the shared rules or guidelines that govern our actions in society. Norms can be laws, but they also can be procedures, morals, customs or expectations. Many times, One's position within the social structure determines the definitions of norms. Often norms are outward expressions of a society's deeply held and shared values.
Norms are important for defining boundaries. The text uses gangs as an example again. In order to belong to a gang, a potential gang member has to learn the "norms" of the gang. Norms define us and them.
Folkways are norms that ordinary people follow in everyday life. Conformity is expected, but not absolutely insisted on. Folkways are not strictly enforced.
Example: "No shirt, no shoes, no service"
Mores are norms are taken more seriously and are strictly enforced. Henslin (1999:44) considers them as "essential to our core values." Henslin suggests that we insist on conformity.
Example: Flag burning, murder
Taboos approximate super mores. Henslin (1999:44) argues that taboos are so "strongly ingrained that even the thought of its violation is greeted with revulsion."
Examples are Incest and cannibalism.
A law is a norm that is formally enacted by a political authority. The power of the state backs laws.
5. Social Control
Society always establishes a way of ensuring that people "behave in expected and approved ways"
Henslin (1999:43) contends that sanctions are positive or negative reactions to the ways in which people follow norms. They can be either positive or negative. Rewards accrue for conformity and punishment for nonconformity. They can be material, such as a fine for not adhering to a norm, but they can also be gestures, "such as frowns, stares, harsh words, or raised fists" (Henslin, 1999:43).
Each culture has a general consensus of what is worth working for (ends).
Values refer to that which we consider important or unimportant, desirable or undesirable, good or bad, and beautiful or ugly.
They guide most of our actions.
Values are long range commitments to ends that people share culturally.
Values are abstract and general.
Essentially, values describe our "moral" goals in society.
Values indicate the standards by which people define their ideas about what is desirable in life.
IV. Variations Within Cultures:
Sub-Cultures and Counter Cultures
Some cultures in the U.S. have remained relatively isolated from the dominant culture. These are subcultures. Charon (1986:199) points out that subcultures have goals, values, and norms that are different from those of the dominant culture. Although their culture differs from the dominant culture, they do not openly oppose the dominant culture. Members of subcultures are usually content to avoid the dominant culture.
Countercultures, on the other hand, like the SDS, Hippies, and the Black Panthers are examples of subcultures that openly oppose the dominant culture. Countercultures actively seek to change the dominant culture.
The following are two examples of subcultures. They are not counter cultures. Neither group seeks to change the status quo.
A. The Amish
The Amish represents a subculture. Hostetler (1980 in Charon, 1986:218) describes the Amish as governed by the teachings of the Bible. There is a strong desire among the Amish to separate themselves from the outside world. They have a dualistic view of the world. They see good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood. The Amish have little interest in improving the material world. Instead they seek salvation.
The goal of the Amish to separate themselves (as much as possible) from the "negative." They define negative as urban and distant from god. They see the city as the "center of leisure," of nonproductivity, and wickedness. To avoid evil, the Amish forbid all intimate contact with outsiders. Contamination by the outside world tempts one away from the kingdom of god. Part of the separation from the outside includes not using electricity, telephones, or automobiles. Married men grow beards, but are not allowed to grow mustaches. They do not encourage formal education past elementary school. The Amish use horses and other nonmechanical equipment for farming.
B. The Vice Lords
The Vice Lords is another subculture. In a book called Vice Lords R. Lincoln Keiser (in Charon, 1987:221-4) discussed four aspects [which Keiser calls ideological sets] that the Vice Lords use to define their world and guide their actions. Keiser defines four ideological sets which he calls Heart ideology, Soul ideology, brotherhood ideology, and game ideology.
1. Heart Ideology:
Heart ideology refers to the displays of courage and daring which are important for the Vice Lords. A member has to show that he's willing to put his personal safety on the line. An individual who talks a lot about fighting, but who doesn't back up his rhetoric is a "punk."
2. Soul Ideology:
Soul for the Vice Lords has the same general connotation as it does for the Black community. Soul refers to ways of conducting ones self that strips away the superficial surface and gets down to the nitty-gritty. Soul is the essence of the Black community. The Vice Lords judge one another in terms of soul.
3. Brotherhood Ideology:
The spirit of brotherhood is also important. Drinking wine is an important shared social experience for the group. Each person contributes what money he has for a "bottle." Each then gets an equal amount regardless of how much money he puts in. Drinking wine reinforces the brotherhood.
4. Game Ideology:
In "game ideology" the gang member attempts to manipulate other gang members by playing games. Manipulating others through games is a significant part of the Vice Lords life. Such games may include hustling money from strangers. A "light weight" game player may simply ask for money. More than likely he gets turned down. A "heavy" on the other hand may concoct a story that another street gang is going to jump the stranger. There for the stranger should pay protection money to the "lords."
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I. Nature Vs. Nurture
The nature vs. nurture debate explores the relative importance of cultural (social environment) and biological (heredity) factors in the developmental process of human beings. Is our biology most important in determining who we are or is our social environment? Do we learn our character or is it determined at birth genetically? In all likelihood the answer to this question is a complex interaction between the two.
Few would reject the position that biology plays an important role. Biology provides us with large brains that allow us to think abstractly (e.g., we can create things in our minds and build them in reality). Biology also provides us with opposable thumbs that allows us to grasp tools.
Learning is also very important in determining who we are. The chapter on culture points out that culture defines much of what is important to people. Further, it is responsible for our ability to adapt to the environment.
A. Twining Studies
It is often difficult to separate learning from our biology because we begin learning at the moment we are born. In order to document the effects of learning, social scientists sometimes use "twining studies."
By following the life course of twins, which are separated at birth, we are able to lend support to the hypothesis that the environment (e.g., learning) has far-reaching effects in human development. Social experiences appears to override biology.
For example, Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997: 103-104) describe research involving twins, which compares criminal records of twins. The research shows a low correlation between genetic factors and criminal behavior. In other words, people learn criminal behavior.
II. Problems with the Concept Human Nature
A. What is Human Nature?
Charon (1987:56-59) points out that our acts and beliefs are often based on our assumptions about human nature. Human nature refers to nearly permanent qualities which humans' posses. They are also biologically based. One should be able to see these characteristics in every culture (e.g., people have an innate urge to reproduce, find shelter, and find food).
Human nature should not be used to refer to characteristics that come about because of the environment or our society.
B. Impossible to Determine Human Nature
Biology certainly determines part of what we are, but we start learning as soon as we are conceived. Sense what we learn is so important to who we are and what we do, how can we separate biologically determined behavior from learned behavior
C. Human Nature: An Excuse to End Discussion
The second problem is that human nature is often used as an excuse to close off discussion on social topics. Human nature is used to justify inequality rather than search for reasons for inequality.
If we blame prejudice on human nature, we may tend to assume that solutions to that social problem do not exist. Note how in South Africa, "it's natural to hate."
III. Social Survival
Physical contact with others is essential to meet our social and emotional needs. The very survival of the individual and the group depends on its members being properly socialized (See Robertson, 1989:69-74).
A. Feral Children
Feral means untamed, savage, and wild. Feral children literally describe children raised in the wild by wild animals. Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:68-70) contend that numerous accounts exist which describe children raised by animals. They argue that most stories of children raised in the wild are untrustworthy.
Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:68) call attention to one reasonably well documented case of a boy named Victor who was apparently found in a rural area of France. Victor, a seven-year-old boy had apparently been raised in the wild.
In general, the explanation that "wild children" are raised by wild animals is more than likely an excuse to cover up extreme child abuse. On occasion, children are discovered who have few social skills and who lack the ability to speak. Upon closer inspection, it is discovered that these children suffer from extreme social isolation.
B. Children Raised in Isolation
There are numerous accounts of children raised in near total isolation. Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:70) introduce us to a girl named "Genie." Genie was raised in near isolation for the first twelve years of her life. She was often strapped to a child's potty or confined to a sleeping bag. She saw only her father and mother and this contact was occurred only at feeding. Needless to say, she failed to develop social skills.
It is apparent that sever social isolation contributes to poor social development, but it's difficult to prove "scientifically." Social workers encounter children raised in isolation at the end of the process of isolation. (Presumably, the children are removed to more "humane" surroundings.) It's impossible to say whether the "wild" behavior is a result of the isolation or the result of genetic problems that may have caused the isolation in the first place.
Ethics rule out doing experiments on the effects of isolation on children. One cannot simply isolate a child from human contact to see what happens. There fore, research on isolation has to focus on children who have experienced isolation in the past or it has to investigate the effects of isolation on animals.
C. Institutionalized Children: Rene Spitz
Rene Spitz explored the development (or lack of development) of institutionalized children. In the 1945 study involving human babies, Spitz's followed the social development of babies who, for various reasons, were removed from their mothers early in life. Some children were placed with foster families while others were raised in institutions (e.g., a nursing home). The nursing home babies had no family-like environment. The setting was very institutional. Care was provided by nurses who worked eight hour shifts. The babies raised in the nursing home environment suffered seriously. More than a third died. Twenty-one were still living in institutions after 40 years. Most were physically, mentally, and socially retarded.
D. The Harlow Study
The importance of the social environment is demonstrated by Harry and Margaret Harlow. In a laboratory setting, the Harlow's removed baby monkeys from their mothers at birth. The babies were provided with all the necessities of life such as food and warmth (temperature), but the babies had no contact with other monkeys. Bazaar behavior developed. The Harlow's concluded that social isolation caused the monkeys raised in isolation to develop abnormally.
Research like that of Spitz and the Harlow's prove that people need physical contact throughout life. Isolation will bring on hallucinations, extreme apathy, anxiety, and the loss of the sense of self.
Socialization is learning (see Charon, 1987:63-69). Socialization refers to all learning regardless of setting or age of the individual. Socialization is the process by which we learn the ways of a particular group. In every group one has to learn the rules, expectations, and truths of that group, whether the group is your family, the army, or the state (nation).
Socialization is the process where by people acquire personality and learn the way of life of their society. Essentially, one has to learn Culture. Learning culture encompasses all the truths, values, rules, and goals that people share with one another. Culture is a shared perspective.
The most important time when socialization occurs is between the ages of one and ten. We obviously learn throughout our lives, but this first ten years is most important in determining who we are for the rest of our lives.
A. Primary SocializatioN
Primary socialization is the process whereby people learn the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture. For example, Eskimos learn to enjoy eating the raw intestines of birds and fish while Chinese people eat Carp's heads and the tripe (stomach tissue) of pigs (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 98).
B. Anticipatory Socialization
Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person "rehearses" for future positions, occupations, and social relationships (See Appelbaum & Chambliss, 1997:76). Henslin (2004:71) offers the example of a high school student who, upon hearing he had been accepted to a university, began to wear college student-type cloths.
In his last semester of high school, Michael has received word that he has been accepted to State University. Soon he begins to dismiss high school activities as being "too high schoolish," and begins to wear clothing styles and affect mannerisms that are characteristic of State University students. Michael is exhibiting signs of anticipatory socialization.
The Looking-Glass Self
The looking-glass self is the term Charles Horton Cooley coined to describe the process by which we develop a sense of self. We see ourselves through the eyes of other people. We may even use those views of ourselves when formulating our own self-concept.
Mattie is a new sociology professor at the local college. During her first lecture, she noticed that some students were yawning. Based on her interpretation of the students yawning, Mattie has decided she is a boring teacher.
C. Gender Socialization and Gender Roles
Henslin (1999:76) contends that "an important part of socialization is the learning of culturally defined gender roles." Gender socialization refers to the learning of behavior and attitudes considered appropriate for a given sex. Boys learn to be boys and girls learn to be girls. This "learning" happens by way of many different agents of socialization. The family is certainly important in reinforcing gender roles, but so are one’s friends, school, work and the mass media. Gender roles are reinforced through "countless subtle and not so subtle ways" (1999:76).
Henslin (2004:66) suggests that the fact that parents let their preschool boys roam farther from home than their preschool girls illustrates the how girls are socialized to be more dependent.
A parent who buys hi male children trucks while buying his female children dolls is engaging in gender socialization.
Resocialization is the process of learning new norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors. It refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and accepting new ones as part of a transition in one's life. Resocialization occurs throughout the human life cycle (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 113).
Resocialization can be intense with the individual experiencing a sharp break with past and the learning and exposure to radically different norms and values. An example would be the experience of a young man or woman leaving home to join the Marines. Radical resocialization occurs in a total institution.
E. Total Institutions
This term was coined in 1961 by Erving Goffman and was designed to describe a society which is generally cut off from the rest of society but yet still provides for all the needs of its members. Therefore, total institutions have the ability to resocialize people either voluntarily or involuntarily. For example, the following would be considered as total institutions: prisons, the military, mental hospitals and convents (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 113).
Goffman lists four characteristics of such institutions:
All aspects of life are conducted in the same place and under the same single authority.
Each phase of a members daily activity is carried out in the immediate company of others. All members are treated a like and all members do the same thing together.
Daily activities are tightly scheduled. All activity is superimposed upon the individual by a system of explicit formal rules.
A single rational plan exists to fulfill the goals of the institution.
V. Agents of Socialization
Agents of socialization are people and/or groups that influence self concepts, emotions, attitudes and behavior (Henslin, 1999:76-81)
A. The Family
The family is the most important of the agents of socialization. Family is responsible for, among other things, determining one's attitudes toward religion and establishing career goals.
B. The School
The school is the agency responsible for socializing groups of young people in particular skills and values in our society.
C. Peer Groups
Peers refer to people who are roughly the same age and/or who share other social characteristics (e.g., students in a college class).
D. The Mass Media
E. Other Agents: Religion, Work Place, The State
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I. A General Definition of Deviance
Deviance is behavior that some people in society find offensive and which excites, or would excite, if it were discovered, disapproval, punishment, condemnation, or hostility. Deviance is behavior that is likely to get you into trouble. Deviant behavior is outside the bounds of the group or society (Goode, 1997:37).
Many times during a day we disagree with people, but we don't usually label those we disagree with as deviant. Deviance is not simply behavior. It involves a moral judgment. Deviance involves a judgment made by somebody. Actually, any act can be defined as deviant (See Henslin, 1999:192).
II. Deviance: A Relative Term
It's not possible to isolate certain acts and find them universally condemned by all societies as deviant acts (Not even murder or incest). Even within a given society, behavior defined as deviant continually undergoes redefinition.
Deviance, furthermore, is relative to time and place. It is not possible to find something that is absolutely condemned by all societies. Behavior that is deviant in one society may not be in another. Even within one society, what is deviant today may not be deviant tomorrow.
Three examples that highlight the relative nature of deviance are provided below:
A. Is killing wrong?
Usually it is. But, is murder wrong when it is done in self-defense or in warfare? Vietnam veterans were taught to be efficient killers for war, but could not control themselves when reintroduced into civilian life.
B. What about the case of Nelson Mandela?
For years, the ruling party in South Africa viewed him as a "dangerous political deviant." To most South Africans, those who are Black, Mandela is a revered leader of the freedom movement (see Kornblum, 1988:201).
C. Was Panache Villa a deviant?
The social status of a bandit, particularly one whose activities have political overtones, is ambiguous. To those who are being robbed, as the bandit gains status (and wealth and power), the bandit is seen as even more deviant. To the poor, however, bandits are sometimes seen as rebels who reject the normal roles that poor people are expected to play. Through their bandit activities people like Pancho Villa are able to display courage, cunning, and determination (See Kornblum, 1988:212).
III. Examples of Relative Definitions of Deviance:
Using Mental Health Examples
Definitions of mental disorders occur in much the same fashion that other forms of deviance receive their definitions. Many times the definition is quite vague and varies "depending on the culture, audience, and context." Behavior alone does not add up to mental disorder. Context is important (Eitzen, 1986:456-7).
A. Class Context
If a poor woman shoplifts a roast, people call her a common criminal. On the other hand, if a rich woman steals a roast, her deviant status is kleptomaniac -- a form of mental illness.
B. Sexual Context
If a woman is sexually promiscuous, she might find herself labeled as a nymphomaniac, while a man is a stud, macho, swinger, etc.
C. Professional vs. Domestic Context
A man may be punctual and obedient during the week while he is at work, but on Saturday afternoon he raises hell while watching the afternoon foot ball game. Both behaviors, while appearing contradictory, are "normal" in their respective contexts. But, if he took Saturday's behavior to the office he would find himself labeled as strange and he might even get fired. On the other hand, passive behavior at a Saturday afternoon football game would be considered a social drag and his peers would not want to watch football with him anymore.
D. Cultural Context
Abstinence for two years after marriage in the West would be viewed as weird and grounds for annulment. Such behavior is, however, required for newlyweds in the Dani Tribe of New Guinea. Sexual activity for the Dani before two years would be viewed as sexual deviance.
E. Time Context
People used to be burned at the stake for engaging in behavior that most twentieth-century people see as normal.
IV. Demonic Possession:
Religious Explanations of Deviance
For a long time the Western view of deviance has been strongly influenced by the church's view which dates back to the 4th century. Religious Explanations are the oldest of all explanations for deviance. Goode (1997:65) notes that from the beginning of time to roughly the 1700s, the most dominant explanations of deviance invoked visions of evil spirits. The deviant is seen as morally deprived and perhaps possessed by the devil. The cause is seen as residing inside the individual.
Evil spirits possess the victim. Alcoholism is seen as a weakness, mental illness is seen as irresponsibility, criminal and deviant acts result from giving in to our evil nature, sexual deviance is seen as moral depravity, and rebellion is seen as immaturity. In each case the cause of deviance lies within the individual.
It is easy to blame individuals. Societal-based problems are difficult to understand and even more difficult to correct. People seem to prefer what is easiest. Even today, people have trouble understanding that the cause of conditions they do not like may, in fact, be social in origin.
Solutions used to correct demonic possession seem bazaar. Holes were drilled in the head of hosts to let the evil spirits escape. Exorcisms were also employed. The witches of Salem were brutalized! Demonic possession lost it popularity around the 1700s.
V. The Positivist School:
Biological Theories of Deviance
The positivist school of the second half of the 19th century argues that deviant behavior was dictated by forces beyond the control, or even the awareness, of individuals. Positivists argued that biological abnormalities provided valid explanations for deviance. In essence, genetic predispositions create inborn tendencies to commit deviant acts.
According to the positivist philosophers, only through scientific inquiry could one understand the forces that drive society.
Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909), a well-known positivist, argued that physical abnormalities that afflict people cause them to pursue deviant (or criminal) activity. Lombroso argued that criminals were throwbacks to some sort of pre-human. Lombroso (in Kendall, 1998:191) called these criminal types Atavists. He claimed that prisoners had "low foreheads and smaller than normal human cranial capacities" (1998:191). Lombroso thought that he could predict deviant behavior based on skull and body types.
Biological explanations for deviance are almost useless. There is no consistent evidence that supports the belief that social temperament is related to body type. This approach ignores the interactions of the individual with the environment. Research shows that most people, who have suspect genetic traits, are not deviant. Furthermore, the vast majority of criminals do not have irregular genetic patterns.
Perhaps the very fact that people look different than the general population draws attention to those people. When that individual does something deviant, attention is already focused upon that individual. Previous suspicions become justified.
B. A Variant on Positivism
A new type of sociobiological theory tries to apply positivist philosophy to street crime. The general argument here is that it requires stamina to be a criminal so those people with the most stamina will be more likely to commit crimes. This would include the young and men.
Other biological theories look for links between higher rates of aggression in men to levels of testosterone or chromosomal abnormality. This research, however, produces no consistent findings (Kendall, 1998:192).
Functionalist theories focus on the preservation of social order. Deviance helps maintain social cohesion and the collective conscious.
A. Functional Deviance
1. Deviance Contributes to Social Order
Durkheim emphasized the importance of deviance in society as a tool for boundary maintenance. The media, who reports on deviance and the accompanying punishment, serve to educate the public by restating society's rules. Punishing violators reaffirms the rightness of society and its rules.
Rituals play a role in boundary maintenance (see Henslin, 1999:211). A group that discovers a deviant in their fold will attempt to "mark" that deviant for everyone can see. The individual is called before the group to account for his or her deviance. People will testify against him. The individual is found guilty. Finally, an effort is made to strip the individual of his or her group membership. An example of degradation ceremonies is a court martial where a guilty officer is publicly stripped of his rank. The officer is forced to stand at attention while the insignia of his rank is ripped from his uniform (Henslin, 1999:211).
2. Deviance Contributes to Social Change
Deviance is an important element of social change because it offers alternative definitions to what is right. Sometimes the alternative becomes acceptable and it may even become the dominant view.
Durkheim noted that the death of Socrates paved the way for intellectual freedom. Much of the civil and human rights legislation, as well as public sentiment, have been influenced by the behavior of those whose actions were originally judged to be in violation of the law or accepted moral convention. For civil rights, deviant behavior called attention to inadequacies in the existing system of race relations. Today's crime may be tomorrow's accepted behavior.
3. Dysfunctional Deviance
Functionalists (Goode, 1997:100-101) like to concern themselves with those forms of deviance that assist in maintaining the social order. Dysfunctional deviance would be those types of deviance that threaten the social order. I suppose some forms of political deviance might be considered here.
B. Control Theory
Kendall (1998:193) suggests that one functionalist perspective raises the question, why don't people engage in more deviance than they do? An assumption of Control Theory is that people have a strong desire to be deviant. Control theory assumes that people are hedonists.
Henslin (2004:143) suggests that people often do not engage in deviance because they have outer containments emanating from a supportive family and friends. Significant others reinforce the idea that deviance is wrong. People also have inner containments such as self-control and a sense of responsibility that reduce deviance.
Anomie or Strain Theory:
Robert Merton's Typology of Deviance
The historic foundations of the Anomie or Strain Theory go back to the work on Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton. For both sociologists, the cause of deviance is found in disturbances in the social structure. People who encounter disturbances in social structure experience stress. Durkheim was the first sociologist to investigate how disturbances in social structure prompt one to commit suicide. Both wanted to know what accounted for the varying rates of deviancies found cross-culturally and between social classes. Durkheim called the sensation associated with stress anomie.
Anomie or Strain Theory contends that social structure puts varying degrees of stress on individuals in society. In order to cope with the stress individuals will begin to purse unconventional means to relieve that stress. In essence, deviance (unconventional means) arises from purely conventional sources.
I. Robert Merton's Explanation of Deviance
The following material represents Merton's attempt to explain deviance. According to Merton, deviance is an adaptation by individuals to the dominant culture. Discrepancies exist between cultural (material) goals and structural opportunities. As the discrepancy grows between the material goals of society and the means to achieve those goals, the individual experiences more and more internal conflict.
Example: Poor people internalize middle-class goals, like wanting a home in a middle-class suburb. They learn to want goals, such as owning a color TV or new home, from sources such as the mass media or school. The means to achieve their goal, however, is difficult to find. Good paying jobs are scarce. Society has not provided the means to achieve those goals. Unable to achieve their goal, they experience stress.
In order to relieve the stress the individuals violate the "goals" defined important by society or they violate the "means" to achieve those goals. Note that individuals approach the means-ends discrepancy in different ways.
Merton argues that poor people, who cannot achieve goals determined worthy by the dominant society, use illegitimate means to achieve legitimate goals. Society defines success through the ownership of material possessions such as cars or color TVs. The individual, however, cannot find legitimate means, like a job, to finance that TV. The next course of action for the individual is to use illegitimate means, like stealing, to get that TV.
People from the middle-class, however, are less inclined to steal. They have more at stake in the system. A person from the middle-class who steals may suffer greater criticism compared with a poor person who steals the same TV. When people from the middle-class experience discrepancies between goals and opportunities, they tend to use illegitimate goals while using conventional means. A response by a middle-class person may be to continue to "work hard," but deny that they need a new home or color TV.
Merton presents the following typology of Deviance. According to Merton, people conform to either the opportunities and goals defined by society or they engage in four types of deviance:
II. Merton's Typology
Conformity: The individual conforms to the dominant culture. Here the individual experiences no problem in terms of goals and the means that society provides to achieve those goals. There is, therefore, no need to engage in deviance to obtain goals deemed worthy by society.
Innovators are people who accept the goals of society. For some reason, like poverty, they cannot achieve societies' goals by legitimate means. They have to use illegitimate means such as stealing.
People who ritualize have similar problems that the innovator experiences, but for ritualists the individual rejects the goals, but accepts the means. The individual may, for example, choose to work hard knowing that he or she is not going to achieve the goals that society defines as worthy because they do not get paid enough.
People who are retreatists reject both the means and goals of society. Drug addicts and vagrants are examples of people who retreat.
The individual rejects the culture (values, goals, norms). These individuals pursue alternative cultures. Included in this group are revolutionaries and some gangs.
III. Critiques of Merton's Typology
Many functionalist arguments, like the ones presented above, are easy to critique because their positions are usually very rigid and simplistic. They assume that what exists and is dominant is correct.
Functionalists assume that people who are not a part of the dominant culture automatically use the dominant culture as their point of reference. Note that functionalists define legitimate and illegitimate from a middle-class point of view.
Even if we accept the middle-class point of reference, Merton assumes that people who do not have access to goals by legitimate means automatically have access by illegitimate means. How do you steal a color TV? Criminal activity is also a skilled profession. An individual does not just wake up one morning and say to him or herself: "I think I'll rob a TV store today!"
Merton assumes that people who have access to legitimate means and goals automatically use legitimate means and goals. The drug "problem" in middle-class high schools demonstrates that people who have access to legitimate means still engage in deviance. Another example that contradicts Merton's claims is the large number of middle-class teenagers who shoplift merchandise at shopping malls. They do not engage in this activity because they do not have access to means and/or goals. They shoplift because their life is boring.
There is also a problem with cause and effect. We assume that because a person cannot achieve legitimate goals in society that he automatically turns to deviance (like drug use). Perhaps the cause and effect travel in the opposite direction. The individual may get into drugs, which in turn blocks their access to legitimate goals in society (via drug tests).
Finally, when an individual cannot achieve legitimate goals, Merton assumes failure with reference to the person engaging in the deviance. This assumption is misplaced. If someone is a successful "hustler," how can we say that person is a failure? He or she is achieving something illegitimately, which means that the individual must have to work extra hard to be a success at his or her deviant profession.
VII. Social Disorganization
and the Chicago School
In the early and mid-1900s the Chicago school emerged and shifted the emphasis away from individual pathology to social structure. It represented an attempt to uncover the complex relationship between deviance and neighborhood. The Chicago School discovered the highest rates of deviance in neighborhoods that were considered transitional in that there was a lot of in-0 and out-migration. According to the Chicago perspective, entire neighborhoods had become disorganized.
The transitional neighborhood where one would expect to find deviance according to the Chicago school has the following characteristics:
They are neighborhoods where immigrants first came.
The population is geographically unstably. There is rapid movement of populations into and out of the transitional neighborhood.
The transitional neighborhoods contain a variety of racial and ethnic groups.
Population density is very high.
Low levels of education.
A. Gangs and the transitional neighborhood
Frederick Thrasher found a greater number of gangs in transitional neighborhoods than in more stable neighborhoods. He noted that the gang is a social creation. The gang is the way people organize themselves to cope with disorganized neighborhoods. The gang functions in two ways. First, it offers a substitute for what society fails to give. Second, it provides relief from suppression and distasteful living conditions. In this respect the gang fills a gap and affords an escape at the same time.
B. A Critique of the Chicago School
There is a bias associated with the Chicago school perspective. "Disorganization" uses middle-class points of view.
1. Research that followed the Chicago school found that, in fact, ghetto neighborhoods demonstrate a lot of organization. The kind of organization found in poor neighborhoods, however, is simply different from that found in middle-class neighborhoods.
Example: The Role of the Church in Black Communities.
2. Furthermore, many of the activities viewed as deviant in poor communities, were also committed in middle-class suburban areas.
VIII. Interactionist Perspective:
Differential association is the first of two Interactionist perspectives. Goode (1997:87-90) contends that Edwin Sutherland's Differential Association Theory is one of the more important theories in the study of deviance. It arose as a critique to those theories that sought biological explanations for deviance. According to differential association theory, people learn to be deviant (see Henslin, 1999:198-99).
Goode (1997) maintains that one learns deviance the same as one learns to brush their teeth. People learn to be deviant by associating with people who are deviant. Criminal knowledge, skills, values, traditions, and motives are passed on by word of mouth.
A. Differential Association: Priority and Intensity:
People develop deviant life styles when they deferentially associate with people who support norm violations. It is not especially necessary for people to associate with actual criminals, all that is needed is that criminal definitions are common.
The earlier in life that one is exposed to deviant attitudes, the greater the chance the individual will learn and internalize those attitudes.
The more one associates with deviants, the greater the chance the individual will develop deviant attitudes and skills.
B. A Critique of Differential Association
As with all perspectives, this one has it pet biases. In this case, the critique centers on the proposition that deviance is learned. Not all deviance can be accounted for using this assumption.
Some individuals, in fact, create deviance anew.
Certain types of crime (or deviance) do not fit the differential association pattern. Crimes of passion are a good example. Also, upper-class crimes may fit here. Wartime black market activities may also fit.
Further, many people are exposed to deviance, but are generally law abiding.
Illegitimate Opportunity Structure
In order to be a successful at anything, one has to have opportunity. In order to be a successful teacher, one has to have access to college and teaching opportunities. One might call access to college and teaching opportunity, a legitimate opportunity.
In order to be a successful criminal, one has to have an "opportunity" to engage in crime. A person cannot just decide to be a criminal. He/she would be a miserable failure because he/she does not have contacts. Henslin (2004:149) notes that in poor neighborhoods, people have an unusually high access to illegitimate opportunities to engage in robbery, theft, drug dealing, etc.
IX. Interactionist Perspective:
Henslin (2004:144) argues that labeling theory focuses in the names and reputations of names or reputations given to people when they engage in certain types of behavior. Kendall (1998:196)argues that "delinquents and criminals are people who have been successfully labeled as such by others."
The labeling, according to Howard Becker, is done by moral entrepreneurs. They are people who use their own views of right and wrong to establish rules and label others as deviant. Kendall (1998:196) contends that the process of labeling is "directly related to the power and status of the people who do the labeling and those who are being labeled."
Labeling theory calls attention to two kinds of deviance.
A. Primary Deviance
This refers to the act of breaking a rule.
B. Secondary Deviance
Henslin (2004:146) notes that sometimes people become more deviant as a result of being labeled as deviant. This happens because the label becomes a part of the person's self-concept.
Secondary deviance is the process that occurs when a person who has been labeled a deviant accepts that new identity and continues the deviant behavior (Kendall, 1998:196).
According to Henslin (2004:146), labels open and close doors. Once a person is labeled as deviant, often that person is forced to have almost exclusive contact with other deviants.
Saints and the Roughnecks
Under the topic of the power of labeling, Henslin (2004:146) provides a study where a group of troubled kids are labeled as Saints and Roughnecks. The Saints were treated positively and none had future arrest records while the Roughnecks were treated as if they were degenerates, and later on experienced numerous problems with the police.
X. Conflict Theory: Deviance as
Acts Condemned by the Powerful
The community defines deviance. People, as they interact, define what is appropriate and what is not. Some people in the community have more power than other to define deviance. People who occupy high positions within economic and political sectors are in a better position to determine what laws are enacted and to enforce their definitions of deviance.
The upper class is in a better position to determine what crimes are seen as serious and they tend to point to problems associated with the lower classes. Organizations with financial backing are better equipped to present its impressions of deviance.
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Where are the notes after DEVIANCE...?
i want to go through the topics like SOCIAL INTEGRATION PERSPECTIVES IN PAKISTAN..?
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Excellent contribution....please Do share theories by Max weber,Marx & Durkheim....
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please important questions for 2013
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