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Sociologist Studies Essay

1. Some people accuse sociologists of observing conditions that are obvious. How does looking at sociology as “making the familiar strange” help counter this claim? How does sociology differ from simple commonsense reasoning?

Sample answer: Sociologists may appear to study conditions that are obvious, but by making the familiar strange, they are able to move beyond commonsense reasoning and use evidence to really understand a topic. For example, students will say that they plan to marry for love, but society narrows the field; they are more likely to marry individuals of the same race, ethnicity, age, educational attainment, and social class. Making the familiar unfamiliar also helps to explain how society shapes our lives. Sociologists ask questions about those influences outside the control of individuals. For example, if someone is successful, is he perceived as superior? If he fails, is he seen as personally lacking? A sociologist will look at evidence and external factors that might influence a person’s decision rather than accepting commonsense answers.

2. What is the sociological imagination and how do history and personal biography affect it? If a sociologist studies the challenges experienced by a student earning a college degree, how could the lessons gained be described as “terrible” as well as “magnificent”?

Sample answer:A sociological imagination provides the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and society at large, as well as the ability to distinguish between personal troubles and social issues.History focuses on the uniqueness of events, whereas sociology focuses on commonalities. In examining history, we can see how events affected society and how an individual’s personal biography may be part of a much larger picture.

For example, a college student experiences her individual stress and turmoil as personal, but when sociologists study large populations of students, they can understand the larger social forces that may be contributing to this student’s hardships, such as a poor job market. These findings might show that the student was not in complete control of his or her own difficulties. This can be seen as terrible, because it shows that no one is in total control of his or her own fate. It can also be seen as magnificent because it gives us insight into how the world really works.

3. What is a social institution and how does it relate to social identity? Choose a sports team or another social institution to illustrate your answer.

Sample answer: Social institutions include the family, religion, education, the economy, the government, and even sports. The goal of a social institution is to meet the basic social needs. The initial goal of playing sports is to have fun and win. It can even be a profession. But the institution of sports does more than that. It can be an important part of shaping someone’s identity. For example, boys who play baseball may learn that it is important to be part of a team. They may also learn that it is bad to “run like a girl.” Fans of some sports teams can also find an identity, such as being loyal to the team that always loses.

4. A sociologist studies the way a group of fast-food restaurant employees do their work. From what you read in this chapter, how would Weber and Durkheim differ in their study of these workers? Sample answer:Weber would be more likely to focus on how the workers make meaning of their work and day-to-day interactions. Durkheim, on the other hand, would probably focus more on the division of labor and how it helps to foster and maintain a sense of social solidarity within the workplace.

5. Compare functionalism and conflict theory. How would the two differ in their understanding of inequality? Sample answer:Functionalism focuses on how different parts of a society work together to create social cohesion. In contrast, conflict theory focuses on power and the struggle to control resources. Functionalists, therefore, look at social inequality as necessary to the smooth functioning of a society in that it helps allocate people to different jobs that need to be done. It can also help to create incentives for work within the society. Conflict theory emphasizes the ways in which the groups in power use that power to disproportionately control and benefit from the resources within a society.

6. You tell a friend that you’re taking a class in sociology. There’s a chance they know about sociology and are quite jealous. There’s also a chance they’re confusing sociology with another social science. How would you describe sociology? How does sociology differ from history and psychology? Sample answer:Sociology is the study of human society and its components, including sports, religion, music, and medicine. In addition, it examines populations of people across time and geographic distances. History focuses on the uniqueness of past events as opposed to the sociological focus on finding commonalities. Psychology focuses on individuals to determine why they do the things they do, whereas sociology is more concerned with the larger picture of group influences and interactions.

7. Sociology, like any discipline, features some divisions. What are some of the cleavages in the field and why might they be described as false dichotomies?

Sample answer:Some sociologists do surveys and use other quantitative methods. Other sociologists use ethnographic methods and interviews; these are qualitative methods. Some people could try to argue that one approach is better than the other, but they can work together. Each approach provides different kinds of information. Some questions are better suited to quantitative methods and others are better suited to qualitative methods. In many cases, both methods can be used to get different kinds of information on a subject, which can help researchers understand the subject better than either approach would alone.

8. Why do people go to college, and how does Randall Collins’s book Credential Society make the familiar reality of college education seem strange? Sample answer:In order to enhance their standard of living, people need the right credentials, and going to college is one way to acquire them. In fact, according to Collins, going to college is the fastest way to obtain these credentials. On-the-job training or apprenticeships provide limited documentation of qualification and require a person to put in more time in order to achieve a higher standard of living. Without the credentials provided by graduation from college, a person may find it nearly impossible to work in a prestigious occupation.

Chapter 2

1. What is the difference between causality and correlation? Use the example from the beginning of the chapter, on the link between health and income, to illustrate this difference. Correlation exists when we simply observe change in two things simultaneously; causation exists when we can prove that a change in one factor causes the change in the other factor. Causality is the idea that a change in one factor results in a corresponding change in another factor. People with higher levels of Income tend to enjoy better health overall. Higher the income- Leads to better health, you can afford doctors, fresh fruits. Lower Income – poorer health.

2. Describe one of the studies discussed in this chapter, its methodology (e.g., interviews), and general findings. Then imagine how an additional study using a different methodology (e.g., comparative research) might build on these findings and generate new questions. Feminist methodology treats women’s experiences as legitimate empirical and theoretical resources, promotes social science that may bring about policy change to help women, and is as conscious of the role of the researcher as that of the subjects being studied. Participant observation, interviews, survey research, historical methods, comparative research, experimentation, and content analysis are all types of data collection used in social research. Comparative research : a methodology by which two or more entities (such as countries), which are similar in many dimensions but differ on one in question, are compared to learn about the dimension that differs between them.

Suverys: what people think about feminism

Interviews : Ask famous people on their take

3. A sociologist observes the work-seeking habits of welfare recipients. After weeks of observation, trends emerge and the researcher forms a theory about the behaviors of this group. Is the sociologist in this example using a deductive or inductive approach? How would the sociologist study this phenomenon using the other approach? A sociologist was using an inductive approach to research, where we start with empirical observation and then work to form a theory.If he was using a deductive approach to research, then he will start with a theory, develop a hypothesis, make empirical observations, and then analyze the data collected through observation to confirm, reject, or modify the original theory.

4. A sociologist analyzes the effects of social class and gender on intelligence based on standardized test scores. The test consistently gets similar results but actually measures the ability to read quickly. What are the dependent and independent variables in this example? Are the results of this study valid or reliable?

A dependent variable is the outcome that a researcher is trying to explain; – he is trying to explain the effects of social class and gender on inteligence based on standard test scores an independent variable is a measured factor that the researcher believes has a causal impact on the dependent variable. – This test get similar results but in addiction measures the ability to read quickly.

5. Participant observation research is often long, painstaking, and personally demanding for the sociologist. Why bother with this data collection method? Use the example of Lynne Haney’s research to support your answer.

Participant observation research seeks to uncover the meanings people give their behavior by observing social actions in practice Hanney Chose as her sites a probation center and a group home for incancarated teen mothers. These sites allower her to compare different institutional settings within the juvenile justice system. In both sites she began her research by intervieving key officials. she then worked as an assistant to a parole officer in one site and as a tutor in the other . She attended meetings between clients and stuff, spent time with the girls, and accompanied them on shopping trips.

By engaging in all these activites she was able to estabilish relationshipv with both girls and the stuff. this gave her acces to vide variety of information. prevelaing theories argued that the state imposed agenda on women, but Hanney found somethign else. She found conflict bettween stuff, workers and clients. The staff wanted to empower the girls, making them less dependent on public and private sectorsm and also separate them from their homeboys. if the girls were separated from their homeboys they would bring the men in question for the next meeting

6. Surveys are complicated to design and costly to administer, and potentially suffer from response bias with respect to who answers them. Why use this data collection method? Draw on the case of the General Social Survey to support your answer.

When you want somebody’s opinion, you ask for it. Right? That’s easy enough when you’re just dealing with one or a few people. But what if you want to know the opinion of an entire town or an entire population? Getting an answer out of everyone in your town or every member of a particular group is nearly impossible. So how do you get an idea of what these folks think? You use a survey.Conducting surveys can be done very simply, or it can be very complicated, depending on how much you want to ask on the survey and the number of people to whom it is administered. This section will mainly focus on doing surveys on a fairly small local scale, and we will give you some ideas about where to find information should you need to do a survey on a larger scale.You can use surveys to measure ideas or opinions about community issues related to your initiative.

For example, you may want to know how many people use your services, what users think about your services, what new users expect from your services, and whether users are satisfied with what you provide.The General social survey run by the National opinion research center of the University of Chicago is one of the premier surveys in the US. In 1972 survey asked a battary of questions to their respondents asking questions about their social and demographic characteristic and their opinions on wide variety of subjects, THis study helped the researches track american attitudes about a range of different important issus, from race to politics, beliefs of sexual orientation.

7. Why do sociologists have to run their projects by institutional review boards? What are the “golden rules” sociologists should keep in mind when conducting research?

The Common Rule mandated,among other things, that any institution receiving federal funds for researchmust establish an institutional review committee. These committees, known asinstitutional review boards (IRBs), have the job of watching over all research proposals that involve working with human subjects and animals. Universities and colleges that receive federal funding for research on human subjects are required byfederal law to have review boards or forfeit their federal funding. IRBs are responsiblefor carrying out U.S. government regulations proposed for human research.

They must determine whether the benefits of a study outweigh its risks, whetherconsent procedures have been carefully carried out, and whether any group of individualshas been unfairly treated or left out of the potential positive outcomes of a given study (Beyrer & Kass, 2002). This is, of course, important in a hierarchically structured society where we cannot simply assume racism, sexism, homophobia,and classism are not present in research.1 3 golden rules.

First rule – Do no harm, do not do physical harm to your subjects, but what about psyhogical or emotional harm, what if man and women have different views about abortion, and the respondent becomes very upset? Its good to tell people that they will no experience more harm then they encounter in their every day lives. 2nd – Informed consent- subjects have a full right to know in what they are participating, and what will that study consist of. 3rd – voulontary participation . People have a right to decide if they want to participate in your study, and they can stop partycypating in any time with no penalty, if the participant refuse to answer question or stop participating that is his full right to do so. there are people like pregnant woman, prisoners , people with disabilites that need additional approavl to study.

Chapter 3

1. Keeping in mind the story of Jill and Kevin’s wedding dance or recent “reality” television shows, define celebrity and cultural icon. Are people celebrities because they are talented, or can anyone achieve this status? How might these questions parallel debates about high culture versus low culture?

An icon is someone you look up to; someone that represents the best at what he/she does and is a good role model (i.e. Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Princess Diana). A celebrity is just someone who is in the media a lot. There are more celebrities than icons. While people may gain celebrity status as a result of a successful career in a particular field (primarily in the areas pertaining towards sports and entertainment), in other cases, people become celebrities due to media attention for their extravagant lifestyle or wealth (as in the case of a socialite); for their connection to a famous person (as in the case of a relative of a famous person); or even for their misdeeds (as in the case of a well-known criminal). Celebrities may be known around the world (e.g., pop stars and film actors), within a specific country (e.g., a top Australian rugby player); or within a region (e.g., a local television news anchor).

High culture most commonly refers to the set of cultural products, mainly in the arts, held in the highest esteem by a culture. It is the culture of an elite such as the aristocracy or intelligentsia. In contrast, low culture refers to that of the less well-educated or the masses, encompassing such things as gossip magazines, reality television, popular music, yellow journalism, escapist fiction, and camp. People may become celebrities in a wide range of ways: from their professions, following appearances in the media, committing a mass murder,[5] or even by complete accident. The term “instant celebrity” describes someone who becomes a celebrity in a very short period of time. Someone who achieves a small amount of transient fame (through, say, hype or mass media) may become labeled a “B-grade celebrity”. Often, the generalization extends to someone who falls short of mainstream or persistent fame but who seeks to extend or exploit it.

2. The experience of eating at an American fast-food chain in Qatar has seemingly changed over the last years. Using this example, how would you describe the relationship between “soft power” and consumerism?

Soft powerthe cultural and diplomatic dominance that persuades, rather than forces, others to do one’s bidding Which of the following is an example of soft power?the enduring worldwide popularity of Michael Jordan With the global reach of media today, American culture can be found in the farthest corners of the world. This soft power—the effects of culture, values, and ideas on others’ behavior—has experienced a backlash recently, in part due to negative reactions to certain American foreign policy measures. ConsumerismBelief that happiness and fulfillment can be achieved through material possessions

3. How does Herbert Gans’s Deciding What’s News (1979) help us understand the way that cultural production simultaneously reflects and creates our world?

powerful boards of directors regulate the various media, writers casting agents directors and producers decide what goes into sitcoms , soap opears and after school specials the media are produced by hu,am beings all of whom have their own biases. Professional juournalists may try to minimize the extennt to which their own beliefes affect their work, but it is important to keep in mind invisible infuleces in the media

4. Goths are visible as a subculture, in part because of their taste in music and fashion. Using these criteria, identify another subculture. In which ways might this group’s values oppose dominant culture?

The study of subcultures often consists of the study of symbolism attached to clothing, music and other visible affectations by members of subcultures, and also the ways in which these same symbols are interpreted by members of the dominant culture. According to Dick Hebdige, members of a subculture often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style, which includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot.[7]

In modern Japanese slang, the term otaku is mostly equivalent to “geek” or “nerd”.[3] However, it can relate to any fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or form of entertainment.[3] “When these people are referred to as otaku, they are judged for their behaviors – and people suddenly see an “otaku” as a person unable to relate to reality”.[8][9] The word entered English as a loanword from the Japanese language. It is typically used to refer to a fan of anime/manga but can also refer to Japanese video games or Japanese culture in general. The American magazine Otaku USA popularizes and covers these aspects.[10][11]

The usage of the word is a source of contention among some fans, owing to its negative connotations and stereotyping of the fandom. Widespread English exposure to the term came in 1988 with the release of Gunbuster, which referred to anime fans as otaku. Gunbuster was released officially in English in March 1990. The term’s usage spread throughout rec.arts.anime with discussions about Otaku no Video’s portrayal of otaku before its 1994 English release. Positive and negative aspects, including the pejorative usage, were intermixed.[11] The term was also popularized by William Gibson’s 1996 novel Idoru, which references otaku.[12]

Counter-culture
any group of people whose beliefs, values, styles, and attitudes differ from that of the prevailing culture. Counter-culture began with the hippie movement back in the late 60’s and 70’s. In today’s society, counter-culture is most often seen in the alternative subcultures.

5. A student holds the widespread cultural belief in upward social mobility through education and therefore studies thoroughly before an upcoming sociology exam. How might this represent an example of hegemony?

The concept of hegemony, which is different from domination, is important for understanding the impact of media on culture and for examining how people and societies shape, and are shaped by, culture. The term “hegemony” refers to the leadership, dominance or great influence that one entity or group of people has over others. Historically, this term often referred to a city-state or country that exerted power over other city-states or countries indirectly rather than through military force. Modern uses of “hegemony” often refer to a group in a society having power over others within that society. For example, the wealthy class might be said to have hegemony over the poor because of its ability to use its money to influence many aspects of society and government.

Hegemony more often refers to the power of a single group in a society to essentially lead and dominate other groups in the society. This might be done by controlling forms of communication, by influencing voters or by influencing government leaders. Some lobbying groups, for example, might have hegemony status over leaders in congress. Rules that would prohibit or limit political spending by special interest groups are designed to reduce their dominance and allow individual voters to have more control. The student tries to be above other in grades by studing throughly before an upcoming exam. The student tries to get his grades up above others.

7. Let’s consider how we are part of a consumer culture. Think about a consumer good you recently acquired and care about, for example, an item of clothing. Does this item in any way help establish or demonstrate who you are, what you are about, and how you perceive yourself?

Consumer culture theory is a marketing school of thought interested in studying consumption choices and behaviours from a social and cultural point of view, as opposed to an economic or psychological one. It does not offer a grand unifying theory but “refers to a family of theoretical perspectives that address the dynamic relationships between consumer actions, the marketplace, and cultural meanings”.[1] Reflective of a post-modernist society, it views cultural meanings as being numerous and fragmented[2] and hence view culture as an amalgamation of different groups and shared meanings, rather than an homogenous construct (e.g. the American culture).

Consumer culture is viewed as “social arrangement in which the relations between lived culture and social resources, between meaningful ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend, are mediated through markets”[3] and consumers as part of an interconnected system of commercially produced products and images which they use to construct their identity and orient their relationships with others.[4]

8. How do blogs and YouTube potentially change the dynamics of media coverage in the context of a system controlled by a few large companies? Could bloggers and YouTube posters like Jill and Kevin be considered culture jammers?

Much faster news, pepople views on events, no potenrial interference from news. Culture jamming is a form of subvertising.[6] Many culture jams are intended to expose apparently questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture. Common tactics include re-figuring logos, fashion statements, and product images as a means to challenge the idea of “what’s cool” along with assumptions about the personal freedoms of consumption.[7]

Chapter 4

1. How does George Herbert Mead’s concept of “generalized other” explain why, at the beginning of class, you became silent when your professor started speaking?

George Herbert Mead developed a theory about how the social self develops over the course of childhood. Infants know only the “I,” but through social interaction they learn about “me” and the “other.” Finally, they develop a concept of the “generalized other,” which allows them to apply norms and behaviors learned in specific situations to new situations. A social expectation of others in variety of settings, regardless whatever we ecountered those people or places before.

2. How does the case of “Anna” affect your assessment of early socialization programs like Head Start?

Head Start is good at improving short term cognative and educational goals. However by third grade Head start kids were no different from their low income peers in thers of math scores, repainitg a grade or getting suspended. Making sure they are ready for kindergardenr Head Start Program is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. The program’s services and resources are designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment to develop strong cognitive skills. The transition from preschool to kindergarten imposes diverse developmental challenges that include requiring the children to engage successfully with their peers outside of the family network, adjust to the space of a classroom, and meet the expectations the school setting provides.[1]

Anna was six years old when she was found (Davis, 1940/1947), having been kept in a room for most of her life. She was an illegitimate child and her Grandfather disapproved of his Daughter’s behaviour. Anna’s Mother tried giving her to several child agencies however these attempts were unsuccessful. She was kept in a dark room for most of the five and a half years, given barely enough to keep her alive. She was tied to a broken chair which was too small for her, and believed to have been tied in a cot for much longer then most children are placed in them. When she was found she was suffering from malnutrition as well as her muscles showed signs of atrophy. She was immobile, expressionless and indifferent to everything. She was believed to be deaf as she did not response to others (later they found that her deafness was functional rather then organic).

She could not talk, walk, feed her or do anything that showed signs of intelligence. Anna was born in March 1932 in Pennsylvania. She was her mother’s second illegitimate child. She had tried to give Anna up for several months but no agency was willing to take the financial burden (America was in the grip of the Great Depression). She was kept in a store room out of the way of her grandfather as her presence made him angry. She was kept on a diet of milk which left her malnutritioned. Her mother resented the trouble Anna caused her and gave her little attention. She was never bathed, trained or even caressed.

Once Anna was taken away and placed in a foster home she showed signs of improving. At the age of nine she began to develop speech. She had started to conform to social norms and was able to feed to herself, though only using a spoon. Her teachers described her as having a pleasant disposition. Unfortunately Anna passed away in August 1942 of Hemorrhagic Jaundice. One of Paul Lutus’ arguments against psychology being a science is that clinical psychologists do not really know how treatment will affect their clients, and that any success becomes research (Lutus, 2009). This is certainly true for Anna and other cases like hers. Davis compared the apparent failure of Anna’s treatment to the success of treating another girl called Isabella (Isabella’s story bared a number of similarities with Anna’s but with one major difference, Isabelle had learnt to communicate with her deaf Mother through hand gestures (Mason, 1942)).

However there is no other way to research this area other than case studies. It would be completely unethical to perform social isolation experiments on children in controlled experiments, or at least for the length of time needed to have validity in cases such as Anna’s. Case studies such as Anna’s may not be controlled experiments but that does not mean they are not scientific. Theories obtained through case studies may be falsified by future studies. They are valid, cases like Anna’s and Isabelle’s may help form a treatment program for others, such as the victims of Josef Fritzl (BBC, 2009). They are also reliable as several case studies have found similar results. Case studies may not be the best way to study psychology; however they can provide useful information, and sometimes help make the most of a bad situation.

3. School plays an important role in our socialization. Think about the way socialization works: What are some of the things we learn from schooling (e.g., the first years in elementary school), and how does this learning differ from what we are taught by our teacher? How are things like gender performance shaped in school?

You learn when to raise your hand, stand when the teacher enter class, sit facing the front of the clasroom, not to speak when teacher is talking or not to interfere when other person is speaking –

Teacher main goal is to socialize you, teaching you to share, take turns, resolve conflict with words, be quiet when necessary. People who care about appearance could be called “‘gay’or a fag, if they act like they care how they look. With the girls such problems dont exist, Girls have problems with boys that tehy receive sexual harassment from them, such boys called ‘fags”would try for example prove that they are not gay and try to get a girl.

4. Parents of different social classes socialize children differently. For example, middle-class parents are more likely to stress independence and self-direction, whereas working-class parents prioritize obedience to external authority. Using this example, how does socialization through families potentially reproduce social inequality?

Middle class parents would stress independence and self direction where working class parents prioritaze obidiance to authority. Middle school parents are more likely to engage their children in formal activities such as soccer and piano lessons to foster their talents. WOrking class parents would give children the room and resoruces to develop but would leave it to their kids to achieve natural growth, Middle class kids spent most of the time with authority figures, how to talk to strangers, how to follow rules and manage scheudles.. Low working parents would usually say “because i said so” explaininig to kids why they cant get what they want. Middle class kids would discover confidence that comes from achievemnt

5. You are a university student, but you also wait tables at a restaurant. One evening, one of your professors happens to come in for a meal (seemingly, on a date!). Use role theory to describe the interaction (and possible role conflict) that ensues. role conflict that can ensue with the proffesor how he supposed to act, how should i refer to him, how should I act to him, can I be to friendly, should I be too friendly,

6. What do sociologists mean by “social construction of reality”? How does the idea of social construction bring into question certain elements of everyday life, like gender roles?

To say that something is socially constructed is to say that people give meaning or value to ideas or objects through social interactions. Social construction is an ongoing process that is embedded in our everyday interactions. be born a man or a woman in any society is more than a simple biological fact. It is a biological fact with social implications. Women constitute a distinct social group, and the character of that group, long neglected by historians, has nothing to do with feminine “nature.”

“Gender” is the term now widely used to refer to those ways in which a culture reformulates what begins as a fact of nature. The biological sexes are redefined, represented, valued, and channeled into different roles in various culturally dependent ways. An American anthropologist has put it well: a “Sex/gender system [is] a set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality in to products of human activity, and in which there transformed sexual needs are met.


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