Unit 5 Discussion Board Question Introduction to Sociology

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How do schools and families maintain social control as well as facilitate social change? Does the “hidden curriculum” that is in schools adversely affect students? If so, how? Were you ever affected by it?

Unit 5 Discussion Board Question Introduction to Sociology
SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology 1 Cou rse Learning Outcomes for Unit V Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to: 1. Analyze the ideas of sociological theorists in terms of their historical, economic, and social contexts. 1.1 Examine the role of education from a sociological standpoint. 1.2 Discuss the basic forms of religion as an organization. Reading Assignment Chapter 7: Families Chapter 8: Education & Religion Chapter 9: Government and Economy Unit Lesson Institutions In sociology, we recognize several major institutions in society, such as family, education, media, and government. Each institution operates in such a way as to strengthen and maintain the social structure. Functionalists argue that each institution meets one or more of society’s needs: the need to maintain order, provide a sense of purpose, and provide a means of socialization. For example, media meets our need for communication and entertainment, and education teaches socialization. From the conflict perspective, these institutions really meet the needs of those in power, thus ensuring that those at the top stay at the top. For example, they argue that the senior volunteer requirement at some high schools act s to provide local businesses with free labor. In this unit, we will cover several important institutions. Family One of the major institutions, fa mily , is an important part of the social structure. Unlike a household, where people simply live together, we often define families using a substantive definition that includes people who consider themselves related by blood, adoption, or other recognized means. Many families form when two people get married. The question of who can marry whom is a controversial issue in the United States for a variety of reasons. For example, there are those who believe in polygamous marriages in which men can marry more than one woman (polygyny) or a woman can marry more than one man (polyandry). Some believe that people should only marry within their own group (endogamy), while others believe we should marry outside of the group (exogamy). An example of endogamy that comes to mind happens within Amish communities whereby Ami sh young adults are encouraged to marry within the Amish faith. An example of an exogamy rule is the law that prohibits marriage between closely -related family members. According to the Center for Disease Control (the official marriage and divorce statis tics), the marriage rate in 2011 was 6.8 per 1000 people, and the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1000 people. This means that about half of the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Macro reasons for divorce include the lessening of social UNIT V STUDY GUIDE Institutions SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology 2 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title disapproval of divorce , higher expectations of the marital relationship, and the Western ideal of individualism. Micro issues include short acquaintanceship, dissimilarity of backgrounds, and incomplete educations. One of the greatest contributors to divorce is disagreement con cerning marriage roles. If one spouse believes in a conservative definition of “wife” or “husband” and the other does not, expectations will not be met by either party. This, coupled with no -fault divorce laws, means that unhappy marriages can be terminate d with relative ease. We previously discussed the concept of socialization and suggested that socialization begins in the home. This is especially true for gender. Gender socialization studies have largely centered on the study of appearance norms taught within the family. From birth, parents socialize their children to wear the “right” colors (pink for girls, blue for boys), and the “right” clothing types (dresses for girls, but not for boys). Toys also reflect this gendered socialization. If you walk in to a Toys ‘R’ US store in the United States , you are likely to find primary -color Legos in the boys’ section and pastel Legos in the girls’ section of the store. Education The institution of education is based on a formal system that teaches knowledge, values, and skills. Functionalists argue that one of the main functions of education is to train the next generation to fulfill all of the positions in society. Another function is to transmit culture. If you think about the various ways in which culture is transmitted to students, you will note that education favors a Western theme. Classes take place in English, in Western -style buildings, stressing W estern values. You will also see that American educators stress individualism. American teachers rarely r ely on teamwork, favoring individual work for grades. In Eastern systems of education, children learn that they are part of a greater whole and thus the need for individualism is not important. Competition is another important element that education teac hes to children. Functionalists point out that teachers use games, spelling bees, and sports to teach children to strive hard to better society. Conflict theorists point out that teaching competition is simply a means to teach the new generation the founda tion of a capitalist society and to maintain status positions. Sociologists recognize that there are certain mechanisms built into the education system that work to influence what happens to a child in the future. Gatekeeping, or social placement, functions to open and close the doors of opportunity. For example, we take exams to get into a school or to graduate from a school. Part of gatekeeping is tracking students. Often, schools have three tracks: college prep, general education, and vocation al. Teachers and counselors encourage and sometimes push students toward one of the tracks. Many times, this is because of perceived abilities and/or readiness. At other times, decisions are based on race, class, or ethnicity. Students in lower socioeconom ic classes tend to be put in vocational or general education classes, while students in higher socioeconomic classes find themselves tracked into college -prep and AP classes. Why? One explanation might be the perceived lack of ability due to speech pattern s. Teachers often equate the use of slang with lesser abilities than they do for the use of “proper English.” Religion For most people, religion is about a faith and a doctrine that says that their god is real. However, sociologists cannot measure whethe r there is a god, much less, whether he/she is real or not. Although we study religious affiliation and organization, we do not argue theology. We do measure the extent to which a person is religious ( i.e., their religiosity), and the effects that religiou s belief and practices have on people’s lives. Emile Durkheim studied religion and found that there are only two universal beliefs: elements that are either sacred or profane. The sacred encompasses things that garner deep respect and awe involving the supernatural. For example, some religions believe that a book is sacred, while others might believe that the symbol of an animal is sacred. The profane represents everything else — the everyday and the mundane. Durkheim also studied the practices of various religions that centered on things that the group deems sacred (e.g., a mass or meeting, a wedding, or prayer). He noted that a moral community (or church) results from the practices and beliefs of the group. SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Functionalists recognize that religion meets m any needs of the community. For example, religions provide members with ultimate meaning by answering the question “What is the meaning of life?” Religions also offer comfort, especially in times of sickness and death. Religion provides people with guideli nes for their everyday behaviors ( e.g., as the 10 commandments or the Wiccan reed). Even social change can occur because of religion. For example, in the 1960s, church leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., led the civil rights movement. Today, man y churches are involved in social activism for everything from helping the homeless to supporting the SPCA. Conflict theorists leave functionalists to study the benefits of religion. For these sociologists, it is also important to recognize that religion is not always beneficial. They point out that those who identify too closely with their religion can end up becoming intolerant of other religions, seeing their god as the only god, and their way as the only way. One need only look at how some Muslims vie w Christians, or how some Christians view Muslims, to see intolerance. Conflict theory argues that religion is generated and managed by the ruling class : how religion justifies the status quo, and how it acts as an opiate of the people by teaching acceptan ce of earthly suffering. Symbolic interactionists focus on meanings that people give to things and to their experiences. The cross is an example of a present -day symbol. When a person wears a plain cross, he symbolizes his belief in Christ and that he ma y be a follower of a non -Catholic faith. When a person wears a crucifix, he shows his following of Christ in the Catholic tradition. Other examples of religious symbols are the Star of David, the chi, a pentagram, and a bag of sage. These all tell onlooker s who are familiar with their traditions something about the person with the symbol. Government and the Economy To introduce this chapter, we will first discuss the concept of ideology . Ideologies, or sets of ideas that explain how the world operates, o ften try to justify a group’s actions in pursuing its own interests. We can break this down into four important points. First, an ideology is a set of ideas that explains how the world operates. The social world is composed of many social groups; therefo re, there are many ideologies. Second, groups use ideologies to justify their actions that pursue the interests of the group. Third, in order for ideologies to work, groups must present them in a subtle manner. Ideologies present things in ways that sugges t how society should be and not how society actually is. Finally, ideologies have consequences for the stability of, or changes in, the way things are. Perhaps some examples might help clarify this concept. One American ideology is that of the Horatio Al ger stories. These types of stories all revolve around a common theme: a young boy overcomes poverty because of hard work, determination, and bravery. A critical sociologists’ job is to unravel what is involved in this ideology. We ask ourselves, what do es this story support? The American ideology stresses individualism and self -sufficiency. How does the social world operate in this example? What group in American society does this example help to perpetuate? How does it aid this group in pursuing its o wn interests? The writings of Horatio Alger, often called myths, were not written about actual people who “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps ,” they were written about an imagined possibility to do so. Is it possible , p erhaps. W hat are some of the mechanisms in place for people to do so? Is it likely , m aybe not. What are some mechanisms in place that work against poor individuals who want to work hard? Suggested Reading Look in the databases of the CSU Online Library to learn more about this week’s topics. The following are examples of what you can find in the General OneFile database: Cameron, S. (1996). Shifting parameters in the economic model of divorce: Evidence from the United Kingdom. The Journal of Socio -Economics, 25 (6), 663 -670. SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology 4 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Ducanto, J. N. (2008). A modern divorce -tax tale, or divorce without remorse. American Journal of Family Law, 22 (1), 4 -17. Moghissi, H. , & Rahnema, S. (2001). Clerical oligarchy and the question of “democracy” in Iran. Monthly Review, 52 (10 ), 28 -41. Nichols, K. S. (2007). Breaking impasses: Strategies for working with high conflict personalities. American Journal of Family Law, 20 (4) 226 -234. Reimer, B. (2006). The informal economy in non -metropolitan Canada. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 43 (1), 23 -50. Stevenson, P. (1997). State autonomy or class dominance? Cause studies on policy making in America. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 34 (4), 448 -449. Learning Activities (Non -Graded) SocThink Your textbook prov ides several opportunities for you to explore relevant topics, from personal self -exploration to challenging questions concerning topics being studied in this unit. Taking the time to read and respond to these opportunities will help you learn and apply th e information being studied. These opportunities can be found on the following pages:  Chapter 7 o Pg. 155 o Pg. 157 o Pg. 160 o Pg. 163 o Pg. 165  Chapter 8 o Pg. 180 o Pg. 182 o Pg. 185 o Pg. 186 o Pg. 188 o Pg. 191 o Pg. 192 o Pg. 193 o Pg. 194 o Pg. 203  Chapter 9 o Pg. 211 o Pg. 213 o Pg. 215 o Pg. 219 o Pg. 220 o Pg. 221 o Pg. 222 o Pg. 223 o Pg. 226 SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology 5 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Check Your Learning Quizzes are a way to self -test to see if you understand what you are studying. The textbook provides a brief “Pop Quiz” for each chapter. Take advantage of this learning tool to enrich your learning experience! The answers are provided, so you can check and see how well you did. For this unit, the quizzes are available on the following pages:  Chapter 7 – Pop Quiz, Pg. 176  Chapter 8 – Pop Quiz, Pg. 207  Chapter 9 – Pop Quiz, Pg. 235 The se are non -graded activities , so you do not have to submit them . However, if you have difficulty with any concepts, contact your instructor for additional discussion and/or explanation.

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