Discuss the importance of social structure from a global perspective.

 Discuss the importance of social structure from a global perspective.

 (course objective 5.9) When we look out beyond our own society we see that there are many variations of social structure.  These variations have real consequences for the interactions between nations because they result in different ways of life for the people of those nations.  In fact even within our nation, or any nation, we can find variations of social structure.

  • What causes these variations? 
  • What factors made them as they are? 
  • What factors cause further changes?
  •  What is the effect on one society when another one changes? 
  • What is the effect on a society when structural changes affect different parts of it unevenly or at later times?

 

If we can come to a better understanding of the answers to these questions we have a better chance of understanding global, national and political events.

Objective 5.9 has two parts. Both use technological change to understand global variation.

The first (5.9.1) looks at fundamental concepts from Durkheim and Lenski about the relationship between technology and the way we interact and form groups.  The second (5.9.2) takes a longer view of society and tries to explain, or at least categorize the way we got to be the kinds of societies we are.

Objective

Discuss the importance of social structure from a global perspective.

Read

 
Key Terms  
Define  
   
Slides  
Evaluation  Quiz 5.9
Additional resources You should review the video Guns Germs and Steel, parts 1-6 available at YouTube. 
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Analyze the importance of social institutions.

Analyze the importance of social institutions.

  Write short intro

Objective 5.8

Analyze the importance of social institutions.

Read

 
  Be able to write an essay on why social institutions matter in our lives.
Key Terms  
Define  
Slides Hospitals as an example of a social institution
Evaluation  Quiz 5.8
Additional resources  

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Discuss the impact of social networks and technology on social relationships.

Discuss the impact of social networks and technology on social relationships.

   

Objective 5.7

Discuss the impact of social networks and technology on social relationships.

Read

 
  Review the pros and cons of the new communication techniques.
Key Terms  
Define  
Slides  
Evaluation  Quiz 5.7
Additional resources  

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Describe the various types of groups.

Describe the various types of groups.

   

Objective5.6

Describe the various types of groups.

Read

 
  Be able to name and define all the types of groups. 
Key Terms None
Evaluation  Quiz 5.6
Additional resources  

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Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

 5.5.2 Sociologists use the word group to refer to different types of behavior that do not involve interaction, in-group and out-group are defined by individuals to describe where they stand in relation to others in society. Reference groups also serve to help us establish our relative standing, but they also provide guidance about the kinds of norms we should follow. Coalitions are different.  Coalitions do involve some degree of real interaction, although the interaction is often indirect and through a large social network or a result of like mindedness among people who otherwise don’t know each other.

Remember that the term “Social Group” only applies to groups in which there is direct or indirect interaction. The 4 groups described above can have interaction but it is not required.

Objective

Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

Read

 
   
In-groups The In Crowd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WWsOUk9O5g The in-group feels a great deal of power as a result of its popularity.  There is a sense that this group has privileges others are denied, but at the same time the sense is that it’s ok for them to have this power. In-groups are defined by their members as being “in”, usually this is based on the perception they have of their own power. In groups mark the boundaries of behavior so that you must conform to enter.  A child might not be invited to an “in” party because they have the wrong clothes.  Parents can say this is “shallow” but the entire point of being an “in” group is exclusivity and the ability to exclude or include whomever you choose.

The Asch experiment applies to all groups and has relevance for understanding “groupthink”.  It is especially relevant to in-groups because of their closed nature.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRh5qy09nNw

On the macro-level in-groups look a little different, a bit more like a mass of people with the same beliefs or belief system.  This might be organized around national or religious lines, or on a smaller scale around a ritual or holiday.  On this scale an in-group can look like national pride or ethnocentrism or pride in the home team.  Individuals don’t have to know one another to be part of the “home team”, people display signs and symbols and engage in behaviors that mark show they belong to their favorite side.  They are “in”.  Just think about all the fan paraphernalia that sports teams sell, each piece a marker for belonging to the team group, the in-group; or flags, or pieces of jewelry that mark religious preference.

This is a video of the 1980 Olympic Hockey game between the United States and our arch enemy of the cold war the USSR.  The Russian team was one of the best and ours was one of the best.  As you watch the video notice the symbols of national pride on players and in the audience.  The video runs 7 minutes but the first  2 or 3 should give you the idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2VVCRJ-688

 

Out-groups Out groups are negatively valued.  The idea is to join the more powerful in-group, where advantage can be had and not be left out.  The in-group gets to define who is in and who is out, so the individual who is left out is marked as less desirable in the process.  The most extreme example of an out-group is an enemy.  http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/problem/outgrp.htm
Reference Groups Reference groups are groups that we use to evaluate ourselves and others.   The show us the established norms and they provide a measuring stick against which we can determine how well we are doing comparatively.  We can also use them to make judgments about how others are doing.
Coalitions Coalitions form when groups with differing interests work together toward some end that all the group see as desirable.  Those of us who watched “Survivor” are very familiar with coalitions, and were able to observe them forming and breaking up as various competitors decided to work together or not. 
   
Key Terms  
Define In-groups
  Out-groups
  Reference groups
  Coalitions
Slides none
Evaluation  Quiz 5.5.2
Additional resources none

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Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

 5.5.1 There is more to social structure than statuses, roles, and institutions.  Social groups are the powerhouse that makes social structure function because these are the interpersonal associations within which social actions take place.Sociologists also use the word group to refer to different types of behavior that do not involve interaction.  Remember that the term “Social Group” only applies to groups in which there is direct or indirect interaction.

Objective

Discuss the contribution of groups to the function of social structure.

Read

 
View http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnE1tiwQ57M
Primary Groups There are three essential features of primary groups.

  1. They are small. Usually less than 11 people although some researchers claim they can be as large as 21.
  2. They are intimate.  This refers to physical and emotional closeness meaning that the members of small groups allow other members to be physically closer (think of the physical distance we keep between co-workers, then think of the distance we keep between ourselves and good friends, family, lovers and children to understand this). In small groups interactions tend to be face to face.
    1. Source for above: http://www.internalmedicine.osu.edu/hemonc/857.cfm
    2. 3.    They are characterized by cooperation. People within small groups work together to meet their needs and challenges.  Most sociologists would add that primary groups are not usually organized to perform a single task or goal, but work together to assure the well-being of everyone in the group.  
Secondary Groups Secondary groups are more formal, larger and organized around the accomplishment of goals.  Secondary groups can be small:  a 2 person team working on a project who are not otherwise friends or relatives is a secondary group; 5 students in a band may be a secondary group if they don’t’ have closer ties between them other than the band. Work groups are usually secondary, regardless of size and at work friendliness, just think about how rare it is for work “friendships” to survive once we leave our jobs and don’t share that common tie of working toward company goals.Source:  Introduction to Sociology by Ron J. Hammond.  Published online @ http://freebooks.uvu.edu/SOC1010/index.php/about.html
Key Terms  
Define Primary Groups
  Secondary Groups
   
Slides none
Evaluation  Quiz 5.5.1
Additional resources none

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Identify and describe the various types of social role situations.

Identify and describe the various types of social role situations.

 5.4 There are three major situations that complicate our ability to perform roles: role conflict, role strain and role exit.

Objective

Identify and describe the various types of social role situations.

Read

 
Social Roles It is helpful to review the concept of social role.  Goffman uses the metaphor of a part in a play, so that when we step into a role we know that we are expected to follow a script.  We are not expected to perform roles robotically, in fact in most social situations strict adherence to the norms of a role would be a bit upsetting to the people we interact with.  We are expected to customize our performance in some way, even if it is only in the tone of our voice or through body language that reflects something of our unique personality. Of course there are situations; especially formal situations such as some jobs in which we are expected keep our behavior very close to the established script.  Those of us who have dealt with telephone sales reps and customer service persons know that this behavior can be somewhat frustrating. It is also true that in some cultures it is essential that the customary forms of behavior must be followed exactly in specific circumstances.  Even in the less formal culture of  United States, there are still situations in which our behavior must be very close to the formal requirements of the role. Most situations are more casual, meaning that we can stray from the ideal behavior without risking serious sanctions.A role is the set of norms that accompany the status we are currently holding.  We move from one role to another, from home to work, from work to home; from parent to child, from friend to boss or employee.  We change our behavior with each role change according to the norms we’ve learned through socialization.  If we make a mistake it is noticed, but generally we have some freedom to “be ourselves” and make the role our own while we occupy it as long as we play our part well enough that others know which role we are playing.

YouTube has a clip titled ‘The Perfect Dinner’ which has two clips from the movie American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes, I am not requiring this clip because it contains strong language, but if you watch it notice that the family is doing a very poor job of playing the roles associated with the institution of family even though they are trying to play them perfectly.

Role Conflict Role conflicts are very easy to understand because almost everyone runs into the situation at some time or another when one of their roles makes a demand on them that makes it impossible for them to fill the requirements of another role.  Every working parent may have to eventually make a choice between taking care of a sick child and going to work:  birthday parties or weddings may fall on the same days as important meetings at work or an equally important event on the other side of the family… just think about how difficult holiday dinners can be when we may have to join the celebration with both sides of the family.  These are role conflicts.
Role Strain Role strain happens when we have two responsibilities in the same role that just can’t happen together.  Many jobs are filled with role strain.  A cashier may have to keep the line moving, be friendly with customers, keep the cash accurate, offer to sign people up for credit cards and inform customers of their savings, look for stolen goods and keep their station clean among other job duties. This is role strain.  All that is required for role strain to occur is that a single role make demands on a person that are either very difficult to fill in the required time or are impossible to complete in the required time. 
Role Exit We move through statuses in a pattern that more or less conforms to the life course that our culture sets out for us.  The culture places strong expectations on us about the statuses we hold whether they are achieved or ascribed.  There comes a day when we must go to kindergarten, college, start a job or retire.  Most of us come to a time when we choose to become enter a relationship, marry, become parents or when regardless of our choosing we end a relationship, see children leave home, depart from our employment or move to a new area.  When we leave our statuses we exit the roles associated with them. Usually we prepare for the event (anticipatory socialization) but whether we are ready or not we all come to a time when we must “move on”. Leaving a role is difficult.  The old behaviors must be shed, they won’t serve us well in our new status, they may interfere with how well we perform in our new role. Most of us have heard of “the empty nest syndrome” in which parents have to readjust to a life without children.  Retirement also leaves us feeling at a loss, even when we prepare. In this song “The Watch” the singer compares his retirement to the scrapping of a ship.  Unfortunately the last verses of the song is missing from the video below.  The lyric is

The Watch by Stan Rogers

They dragged her down, dead, from Tobermory,
Too cheap to spare her one last head of steam,
Deep in diesel fumes embraced,
Rust and soot upon the face of one who was so clean.
They brought me here to watch her in the boneyard,
Just two old wrecks to spend the night alone.
It’s the dark inside this evil place.
Clouds on the moon hide her disgrace;
This whiskey hides my own.
CHORUS
 
It’s the last watch on the Midland,
The last watch alone,
One last night to love her,
The last night she’s whole.
My guess is that we were young together.
Like her’s, my strength was young and hard as steel.
And like her too, I knew my ground;

  

 

I scarcely felt the years go round
In answer to the wheel.
But then they quenched the fire beneath the boiler,
Gave me a watch and showed me out the door.
At sixty-four, you’re still the best;
One year more, and then you’re less
Than dust upon the floor.
CHORUS
So here’s to useless superannuation
And us old relics of the days of steam.
In the morning, Lord, I would prefer
When men with torches come for her,
Let angels come for me.

  

 

 
It is depressing to compare retirement to death, but all role exit is a departure.  Some are more devastating than others, and sometimes a role exit, hard as it may be, is an open door to a better status and more comfortable roles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU5LxRP18Is&feature=related

   
Key Terms  
Define Role conflict
  Role strain
  Role exit
   
   
Slides  
Evaluation  Quiz 5.4
Additional resources  

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