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Sociology Concepts

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1. Social action is defined as day to day decisions and actions of individuals within the social world. Social actions both influence and are patterned and influenced by social structure. According to Marx's theory, in order for the potential of social action occurring to take place a society must face resistance and revolution. According to Marx's theory societies are already divided into two main groups, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are the upper class who are owners of capital and exploiters of labor, while the proletariat, or lower class, are the blue collar workers who use their hands or a certain skill to perform some sort of labor. The proletariat usually work and answer to the bourgeoisie. Marx's theory states that a critical element of society is social control and that the social structure is based on the oppression of some people by others. According to Marx's theory the class you are born in is very likely going to be the class you die in. Furthermore, the class that your great grandparents belonged to is more or less going to be the class that your great grandchildren will belong to. Moving from class to class is very rare and is very difficult to accomplish. The only way for class movement is through resistance and or revolution. According to Marx's theory the potential for resistance and revolution is present in all social situations because the less powerful can always, and are very likely to, act against the status quo. Due to the fact that the social structure is so well defined the only way to have any sort of social action is through some sort of radical means. Looking back on history at times where there were two very distinct class structures the only way that the social structure changed was through revolution. For example, the Civil War. Though the Civil War was not fought solely over slavery, slavery was a big issue. The only way the distinct class differences between slaves and slave owners could come to an end was through war and revolution. Without radical resistance and revolution the class structure would have never changed and social action would have never occurred.

2. Social research is never a routine matter. There are so many different variables involved in each study that the same study could be done over and over and the response would differ slightly each and every time. All social research contains variables and when there are variables involved the study cannot be routine. Every detail, no matter how slight, affects the variable and can affect the outcome. This creates a situation that requires a very large attention to detail from the sociologist. Social research measure qualitative data a majority of the time. Qualitative data is data that cannot be assigned real numbers. Instead it is data that is made up of detailed reports of behaviors, quotes from research subjects, and observations of the settings. When researching this data and correlating it, it takes a lot more time and thinking than when doing the same with quantitative data. As a result a sociologist must be very detailed, because the research is never routine.

3. Gender socialization is the process of learning to see oneself as a male or female and learning the roles and expectations associated with that sex group. It is a perfect illustration of the interaction of biological and environmental influences. The biological influences associated with gender socialization refer to the "natural instincts" of the two different sexes and how they are both born with different types of behaviors. For instance, a male, in most cases, is born with a natural attraction towards the female. This attraction gives them a natural ability of wanting to watch over and protect a female. This is a naturally occurring behavior in nearly every male. A female on the other hand is born with the biological influence of being more emotional and caring than a male. This instinct stems from the motherly role that the female is born to take upon. Other biological factors are the body structures of males and females. Males are naturally much more muscular than females and this occurs because the male's role is that of protector and the female's role is one of being a mother. The environmental influences refer to the changes or manipulations of behavior that occur as a result of the environment a person grows up in. For instance a female who grows up in a broken home without a father figure may have the expectations that a single parent family is fine, while a girl growing up in a two parent household may see a single parent family as not OK. These two girls will also have different expectations of what a mother is responsible for. The girl from a single parent family will see the mother as someone who cares for her, provides for her, protects her, and raises her. The girl from a two parent household may see the mother as only someone who cares and raises her because a father figure assumed the two roles. As shown, gender socialization shows many examples of biological and environmental influences.

4. Ascribed status, such as gender or race-ethnicity, is commonly associated with an individual's social capital and power. Social capital refers to the resources or benefits that people gain from their social networks. Race or ethnicity is commonly used to measure a person's social capital and power. For instance, if a Caucasian male who speaks very proper English was to go to a BMW dealership to look at an $80,000 car he will be treated much more seriously than a Latino male, who speaks broken English. The assumption is made, by a simple observation, that the white male has more social capital and power. It is commonly assumed that white, middle aged males who present themselves well have a great deal of social capital and power and they are very rarely treated with disrespect. The reason they are prescribed this status is due to the roles middle aged white men play in this country. The president has always been a middle aged, white male and a majority of the countries lawmakers are middle aged, white males. These images of middle aged, white males are drilled into American citizens from birth and it becomes natural for an American citizen to accept the ascribed status that middle aged, white males have a great deal of social capital and power.

5. Prejudice and discrimination is very influential of a minority group's cultural identity. Cultural identity is how you come to see yourself as being part of a culture or a cultural group. Feeling part of one's culture can help a person feel secure and more connected to others, but in the case of being in a discriminated against minority group it can make you, as a group, feel inferior to others. The opposite affect is ethnocentrism and refers to when a group feels their own culture



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