Introduction to Sociology - Foundations and Keywords

Summer Pearce
Flashcards by Summer Pearce, updated more than 1 year ago
Summer Pearce
Created by Summer Pearce almost 6 years ago


Includes; - Nature vs nurture argument and evidence - Definitions of culture, norms, values, sanctions, social control and socialisation - Process of socialisation (primary and secondary) - Case studies of feral children (Shamdev and Isabelle) - Status and role - Diversity and identity - Inequality in society - Research methods

Resource summary

Question Answer
What is the argument of nature or nurture? People disagreeing whether it is our innate (inborn) instincts or our upbringing in society that governs our behaviour.
What do biologists argue our behaviour is caused by? Our behaviour is mainly shaped by natural instincts. These instincts do not have to be learnt, they are an automatic response. In the animal kingdom, animals don't have control over them. They claim that humans have natural instincts for; - reproduction - self-preservation - maternal instincts in women
What is an instinct? An innate, fixed, pre-programmed pattern of behaviour that is shared by all members of a given species.
Give some examples of instincts in the animal kingdom. - Blackbirds reared in isolation always sing the same song - birds migrating for the winter
How do we know if the so-called 'human instincts' are correct? Look at examples, research says; - we all have a sex drive to reproduce, but we all respond in different ways (eg. promiscuity, monogamy, polygamy and celibacy) - we all have a drive for self-preservation but people still commit suicide and go to war - women cannot have maternal instincts that make them good parents because there are cases of women abandoning and abusing children. 20% of women in the UK choose not to have children at all.
Why is there such a vast variation in human behaviour? Sociologists argue that behaviour must be learned, and therefore, we are all taught slightly different ways of behaving. Most of this learning occurs in our early years.
Give some examples of behaviour learnt through primary socialisation. - language - morals - practical skills like dressing yourself - table manners
What is culture? Things that are learned and shared by members of a society or group, passed from generation to generation. Culture includes; customs, traditions, language, skills, knowledge, beliefs, norms and values, and whatever else a society may consider important.
What are values? General principles or goals. They tell us what is good and what we should aim for. For example, in Western society, academic achievement is highly valued. Native Americans value people fulfilling their duties within the group and sharing their wealth accordingly.
What are norms? Specific rules that govern behaviour in specific situations. Some norms are formal (laws), and others are informal (table manners).
What makes us obey these norms? Sanctions. A positive sanction: someone has worked hard in school, so they get to go to university. Negative sanction: someone robbed the bank, so they have to go to prison.
What is social control? A way of ensuring that society's members behave as we expect them to.
Describe the case of Shamdev, 1970's. - five year old Indian boy found playing in a forest with wolf cubs - appeared he had had no human contact
Describe some of Shamdev's behaviour. - cowering from people, only playing with dogs - hated the sun, curled up in shadows - had to be tied up to ensure he didn't follow the jackals - scamper towards the smell of blood - caught and ate chickens alive - developed his own sign language, made a flapping signal for 'chicken' or 'food'
Describe the case of Isabelle, 1970s. - Six years old when found - Child to deaf, mute, single mother - Both mother and child where locked in a darkened room - In two years, she was able to learn what would usually take 6 years
Describe Isabelle's behaviour. - like that of a wild animal - didn't speak, but made a croaking noise - like an infant - hard to tell whether she could hear or not - unable to walk properly
What is socialisation? Learning (or internalising) your culture from other members of society, and ensuring you know every you need to be accepted as a full member of your society.
What is primary socialisation? The process of learning basic skills from our families such as language and norms. This takes place in early years.
What is secondary socialisation? The process of learning more about one's culture from an individual's peers and educational life.
Which factors play a part in socialisation? Family, peer groups, mass media and religion
What is status? A position in society.
What is ascribed status? A status that is given to an individual based on fixed characteristics that we cannot change. eg) 'little sister', cannot help when we are born, or what our gender is
What is achieved status? A position in society that is gained through our own individual efforts. eg) 'manager', person has worked to be promoted
What is role (in relation to status)? With every status, there is a general set of norms that are attached to it. eg) A teacher must mark student's work and plan lessons.
What is the role of socialisation in relation to status? Socialisation not only helps individuals learn their culture, but also how to perform particular roles within society. eg) how to be a good mother, how young men should behave
What is the nature of someone's identity according to Functionalists and Marxists? Fixed and difficult to change
What do Marxist theorists believe the source of someone's identity is? Their social class
Where do people form their identity from (according to postmodernists)? Because most individuals are part of smaller subcultures (eg. ethnic, religious and peer groups, nationality, regionality and sexuality), people can pick and choose elements from these different groups to shape their unique identity.
Why do people criticise postmodernism (in terms of inequality)? They argue that this theory ignores how little society has changed and how an emphasis on social equality is still needed. Also, the theory overlooks how people are often limited by social inequality.
What percentage of people in Britain own 44% of the country's wealth? 10%
What percentage of Britain's total wealth do the poorest half of the population own? 9%
What is social stratification? inequalities between groups such as social classes, men and women, ethnic groups and age groups
What is the concept of 'life chances'? Life chances refer to the chances of enjoying the ‘good things’, such as educational success, a long and healthy life, high quality housing, and well-paid, interesting work. Different classes, genders, ethnic groups and age groups tend to have different life chances.
Give some reasons that women are still unequal to men in our society. - There are more women in poverty than men. - Most poor pensioners and low-paid workers are female. - The average woman earns 15% less that the average man.
Give some evidence to suggest that the genders are becoming more equal. Girls are overtaking boys in school.
How does a sociologist define a person's class? Different occupations are organised in a hierarchy. It depends where someone's occupation fits in to that hierarchy as to what their class will be.
Give an example as some occupations that would make someone middle class. Non-manual jobs, such as doctors, teachers and office workers
Give examples of occupations that would make some defined as working class. Manual jobs such as electricians, bus drivers and street sweepers
How does someone's class affect their lifestyle? - Manual workers earn less than non-manual workers and are more likely to become unemployed. - Unskilled manual workers (eg cleaners) are three times as likely to be smokers and nearly five times as likely to die of lung cancer, compared to middle class people - The infant mortality rate (deaths during the first year of life) is nearly twice as high for babies in working class as for those in middle class.
What is ethnicity? Shared culture and heritage, often including the same language or religion
How can someone's ethnicity affect their life chances? - Unemployment is almost twice as high for ethnic minorities as for whites. - Minority employees tend to earn less than whites and are more likely to work shifts. - The infant mortality rate of African Caribbean and Pakistani babies is more than double that of whites.
How can someone's age affect their life chances? - In many traditional societies, the old are ascribed high status. By contrast, in today’s society, they have a low status. - Children in today’s society are economically dependent on adults and legal restrictions prevent them from working. This is not the case in all societies. - The old and the young are more likely to be poor, compared with other age groups.
Give an example where different forms of inequality overlap. Age and gender. Elderly women will have less money than elderly men because they may not have worked full time as long as men, because of childcare responsibilities.
Why do sociologists carry out research into society? To reinforce existing theories and provide evidence for new ones.
What are social surveys? A method of asking a sample of people a series of questions either in an interview or written questionnaire
What is participant observation? the sociologist joins in with the group they are studying in order to gain deeper insight into their lives
What are official statistics? Figures compiled by the government (for example on educational achievement, family size, unemployment and crime rates).
What must a sociologist consider when deciding which research method to use? The potential strengths and weaknesses of each method
Give a strength and weakness of social surveys. Strength: good for examining a large section of the population Weakness: lacks detail
Give a strength and weakness of participant observation. Strength: sociologist gains a lot of detail, through first-hand experience Weakness: can only study a small group at a time
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