Social Stratification 11/26/2012 7:28:00 AM
Chapter 4: Gender & Sexuality
Compulsory Heterosexuality: The assumption that individuals should
desire only members of the “opposite” sex.
Essentialists: Observe male – female differences in sexual scripts, the
division of labor at home and in the workplace, mate selection, sexual
aggression, jealousy, promiscuity, fidelity, and so forth. They then
interpret these differences as natural and universal.
Gender: Encompasses the feelings, attitudes and behaviors that are
associated with being male or female as conventionally understood.
Gender Identity: Refers to identification with, or a sense of belonging
to, a particular sex, biologically, psychologically and socially.
Gender Roles: Comprise the repertoire of behaviors that match widely
shared expectations about how males and females are supposed to act.
Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: Involves sexual jokes,
comments and touching that interfere with work or create an unfriendly
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: Involves sexual threats or bribery
used to extract sexual favors as a condition of employment decisions.
Sex: Refers to being born with distinct male or female genitalia and a
genetic program that releases either male or female hormones to
stimulate the development of one’s reproductive system.
Being male or female involves not just biology but also certain
“masculine” and “feminine” feelings, attitudes and behaviors.
Sexual Orientation: Refers to the way a person derives sexual pleasure,
including whether desirable partners are of the same or a different sex.
Sexual Pluralism: Assesses sexual acts only by their meaning for the
Sexual Scripts: Are assumptions that guide sexual behaviour by telling
us whom we should find attractive, when and where it is appropriate to
be aroused, what is sexually permissible and so on.
Social Construction: Is the main alternative to essentialism. Social
construction argue that gender differences are not the product of biological properties, whether chromosomal, gonadal, or hormonal.
Instead, gender and sexuality are products of social structure and culture.
Sociobiology: Best known variant of essentialism. It holds that all
human beings instinctually want to ensure that their genes get passed on
to future generations. However, the different reproductive status of men
and women means that they have had to develop different adaptive
strategies. This gave rise to “masculine” and “feminine” patterns of
behavior that presumable became genetically encoded because of their
Transgendered: When peoples gender identity does not exactly match
the sex assigned to them at birth. They blur widely accepted gender roles
by, for example, cross dressing.
Transsexuals: Identity with the opposite sex from that assigned to them
at birth, causing them to change their appearance or resort to a sex
Essentialism: - 3 Most Popular Variants:
Brain: The left hemisphere is generally associated with language
abilities, the right with non verbal perception and visual and spatial skills.
Sociobiology: E.O Wilson argues that all human beings instinctually
want to ensure that their genes get passed on to future generations. Four
adaptive strategies or “universal features of our evolved selves” govern
the relations between the sexes and contribute to the preservation of the
human species: First, men want casual sex with women. Second, men
treat women’s bodies as men’s property. Third, men beat or kill women
who incite male sexual jealousy. Fourth, women are greedy for money.
Men are more concerned with a women looks, physique rather than
women who are more concerned with a man’s career, ambitions.
Freud: Freud believed that sexuality is the main human instinct. In his
view, it motivates for the development of distinct masculine and feminine
gender roles. Children are the age of 3-5 pay attention to their genitals.
Pay particular attention to Oedipus and Electra complex. “Penis envy”
young girl develops a sense of inferiority.
Criticism of Essentialism:
1. Essentialists ignore the historical and cultural variability of gender and
sexuality. Not all society’s enforce gender related concepts nor are they
static. Culture is ever changing. 2. Essentialists ignore the fact that gender differences are declining rapidly
and in some cases have already disappeared.
3. The research evidence employed by essentialists is often deeply flawed.
4. Essentialists tend to generalize from the average, ignoring variations
within gender groups. Ex. All men are aggressive .. not necessarily true.
5. Essentialists exaggerate the degree to which gender difference are
unchangeable. Men want sex, women want money. This is a
generalization. Women express less preference for older men, and men
less preference for younger women, in a more gender egalitarian society.
6. Essentialists offer explanations for gender differences that ignore the role
of power. Freud simply assumes that men are superior to women and
then creates a speculative theory that justifies gender differences.
o Social Constructionalism: Main alternative to essentialism. Social
constructionists argue that gender differences are not the product of
biological properties, whether chromosomal, gonadal or hormonal.
Instead, gender and sexuality are products of social structure and culture.
o Culture: Composed of shared systems of meanings.
o Social Structure: Refers to the way major institutions, such as families,
the economy and the political system are organized.
o Social constructionist’s stress 3 main socio-historical changes that
led to the development of gender inequality:
1. Long Distance Warfare & Conquest: Anthropologists have shown that a
high level of gender equality existed in foraging or hunting an gathering
societies, the dominant form of society for 90% of human history.
2. Plow Agriculture: Men’s strengths and enhanced male power and
3. The Separation of Public & Private Spheres: Men worked in public spheres
while women mostly maintained jobs in domestic or private ones.
o Constructing Gender Through Socialization:
o Primary Socialization: From the moment of birth infants boys and girls
are treated differently by parents, particularly their fathers.
o Secondary Socialization: The process of channeling girls into roles
culturally defined as appropriately feminine and boys into roles culturally
defined as appropriately masculine continues in schools.
o The Mass Media: The symbolic representation of gender in the mass
media also creates and reinforces gender stereotypes. o
Sexual Assault: Most common in women. Surveys suggest that 1/8 girls growing up in
Canada today will be a victim of serious sexual abuse before the age of 16. Significantly
rates of rape are highest in war situations, when many conquering males soldiers feel
justified in wanting to humiliate the vanquished, who are powerless to stop them. This
suggests that in general rape involves using sex to establish dominance.
Chapter 5: The Mass Media
Media is the plural of medium, or “middle” hence the idea of media as the
means for connecting two or more points
Communications means brining together or unifying by establishing
shared meanings and understandings between groups and individuals.
Mass Media: Technologically mediated means of communication in which
the flow of messages is largely one way, from a single point of
transmission to a large, anonymous, dispersed audience of receivers (ex.
Interactive Media: Technologically mediated means of communication
in which the flow of messages is two way – between actors who transmit
and receive messages (ex. Telephone)
Technological theories hold that different media technologies determine
social perceptions, interactions and institutional arrangements. Critical
theorists argue that social values, interests and conflicts shape the
technological development, use and impact of the media.
Time Biased Media: Modes of communication that endure over time but
are relatively immobile across space, such as writing on stone or clay
Space Biased Media: Cover much greater space but are less durable
over time – for example, writing on paper or transmitting sounds over
McLuhan argued that the relationship between communication on one
hand and institutions and culture on the other, was mediated by the way
that forms of communication change our sense perceptions and cognitive
The impact of TV is crucial for two reasons. First, unlike print, TV does not
rely exclusively on one sense (sight). It integrates sight and sound and achieves a better sensory balance. Second, TV allows communication to
be almost instantaneous; there is no significant delay between
transmission and reception of the message.
It is remarkable that McLuhan’s argument that electronic media would
create a “global village” predated the arrival of the Internet and other
new communications technologies between two decades.
According to the critical perspective, institutions, such as the news media
and processes, such as socialization and social control, cannot be
understood from the viewpoint of society as a whole, but only from that
of unequal and conflicting groups and classes. In fact, the critical
perspective has two variants, one emphasizing the relationship between
media and inequality, the other emphasizing the relationship between
media and social conflict.
First variant of critical perspective is derived from orthodox
Marxism – Media serves economic interests and political power of
those who own and control the means of material production.
Dominant Ideology: Compromises the interests, perspectives,
viewpoints and understandings of the dominant class and other powerful
Horkheimer and Adorno developed the argument in regards to seeing
mass media as part of a broader “culture industry” that functions to
create “mass deception” about the exploitative and oppressive character
of capitalist society.
Propaganda Model: Horkheimer & Adorno
1) The media’s orientation to profit making
2) Their dependence on advertising for revenue and profit
3) Their reliance on powerful institutions and individuals as sources of
4) Negative reaction – what they call flak – if the media deviate from
promoting elite interests and values
5) Their adherence to anti-communism as an overarching belief system.
With the decline of communism, the fifth filter has morphed into the “war
Hegemony: The exercise by the dominant class of cultural leadership by
using the media to naturalize and universalize dominant ideology and to
absorb the challenge of alternative and oppositional points of view. Political economy forces on the ownership and control of economic
resources and the effect of technology and economic power on cultural
values, social structure and political decision making.
Horizontal Integration: The ownership of different outlets in a media
chain for purposes of sharing resources
Vertical Integration: Refers to a media corporation’s ownership and
control of the means of production at all stages of the production process
– for example, from producing newsprint to delivering newspapers.
The recent development of digital technology has enhanced horizontal
and vertical integration, and has led to a series of corporate mergers,
such as Time Warner, that have strengthened the position of multimedia
chains as the dominant form of organization.
Cultural Imperialism: Is a situation in which one society’s media exert
an overwhelming and unilateral influence over another society’s culture.
As TV becomes more differentiated, audiences become more fragmented,
a process that is captured by the term narrowcasting. With this
development, the role of TV as an agent of common culture is open to
Representation: The use of language, visual images, or other means of
communication to portray something in a coherent and meaningful way
that others can understand.
Framing: Process of defining the boundaries of a representation and the
organization of its contents. Framing pertains to the selection of what is
included and excluded, what is accentuated and what is played down.
Conservatives argue that the news media have a “left-liberal” bias that
runs counter to the views and interests of society’s mainstream.
Bias (according to conservatives) operates in 3 related ways:
1) Media have an anti-corporate bias and are critical of market-oriented
solutions to social problems
2) Journalists give greater or more favorable attention to the views of
interest groups and constituencies that their personal liberal or left-wing
3) Mass media concentrate on negative events, issues and news angles,
ignoring the positive aspects of social life. News Values: Include such criteria as immediacy, personalization and
extraordinariness, in terms of which news media define and represent
events and issues.
Three Major Criteria:
1) Immediacy – What is new or immediate, report these news as quickly
2) Personalization – When news does deal with causes and
explanations, it often reduces them to the level of individuals motives
3) Extraordinariness – Above all, news concerns events and issues that
are out of the ordinary and that entail conflict, confrontation, deviance
News media also take account of a fourth news value: objectivity or
fairness. Objectivity translates into an attempt to achieve a balance of
sources representing the different, often antagonistic, viewpoints that are
involved in the event or issue being reported.
Official News Sources: Authoritative voices – for example, politicians,
police officers and professional experts – that the media use to define the
meaning of an event or issue.
Ordinary News Sources: News sources that do not derive from
organizations or groups, such as eyewitnesses or victims of news events
Alternative News Sources: Representatives of social movements and of
social advocacy groups whose viewpoints often diverge from those of
dominant social groups and their representatives.
Two Approaches of the Study of Media Effects:
1) Study of media violence and it deals most directly with the negative
aspects of the media’s influence.
2) Second focuses on audience interpretation, the way viewers make
sense of what they see and hear on television.
Cultivation Analysis: Examines the long-term effects of television
viewing on beliefs about social reality. People who watch TV a lot tend to
see the world as more violent and dangerous than it really is, and tend to
be more fearful
This tendency is what Gerbner and his colleagues call the “mean world
syndrome” The second approach focuses on TV’s effects on behaviour. The
predominant view is that TV does play a limited role in generating real-
The lab experiments have shown that TV violence has an effect on real-
life violence independent of the intervening factors that have been shown
to affect overall levels of aggressiveness.
The most sociological of these is social learning theory, according to
which violence must be learned like any other behaviour and media
violence provides scripts that teach children how and when to act
aggressively. Social learning, however, does not occur in isolation from
Computer Mediated Communication: Refers to social interaction or
information gathering through the use of computer technology.
Digital divide is a term that is commonly used to explain how access to
and use of CMC reproduces structural inequities. While access to the
Internet has grown rapidly, not only in developed nations but also in
developing countries, disparities persist in terms of race, class, gender
Chapter 6: Social Stratification Social Stratification: Refers to persistent patterns of social inequality
perpetuated by the way wealth, power and prestige are distributed and
passed on from one generation to the next.
Status: Culturally and socially defined position that a person occupies in
Ascribed Status: Is a status, such as age, gender or race that is
assigned to an individual, typically at birth, not chosen by the individual.
Achieved Status: Is a changeable status that is acquired on the basis of
how well an individual performs a particular role.
Meritocracy: A society in which most or all statuses are achieved on the
basis of merit (how well a person performs in a given role)
Social Mobility: The process whereby individuals, families or other
groups move up or down a status hierarchy.
Open Stratification System: A stratification system in which merit,
rather than inheritance (or ascribed characteristics), determines social
Caste System: Closed stratification system, most common in Indian,
with strict rules regarding the type of work that members of different
castes (the strata of society into which people are born) can do.
Closed Stratification System: A stratification system in which little or
no social mobility occurs, because most or all statuses are ascribed.
Class Structure: Relatively permanent economic hierarchy comprising
different social classes.
Socio economic status: Refers to a person’s general status within an
economic hierarchy, based on income ,education and occupation.
Karl Marx: Capitalism, Exploitation & Class Conflict
Marx called the overall system of economic activity in a society its modes
In turn, its major components were the means of production
(technology, capital investments, and raw materials) and the social
relations of production (the relationships between the main classes
involved in production)
Within industrial capitalism, Marx identified two major classes: the
capitalist class, or bourgoise, which owned the means of productions:
and the proletariat or working class, which exchanged its labour for wages. He also described a middle class – the petite bourgoise –
compromising independent owners/producers (farmers, for example) and
small business owners.
Surplus Value: According to Marx, is the value of goods in excess of the
cost of production, which takes the form of profit when the product is
Class Conflict: According to Marx, is conflict between major classes
within a mo