Symbolic Interactionist- Sees the world as socially constructed and changeable
Chapter 3 – Culture
•Values – “shared, relatively general beliefs that define what is desirable and what is undesirable”
(Carroll 2011, 41). One such example of a value is that divorce should only be a last resort for
couples who are experiencing problems.
•Norms – “precise rules specifying which behaviors are permitted and prohibited for group
members” (ibid). One such example is the norm against rape.
•Most laws are norms, while at the same time there are many norms that aren’t laws (e.g. the
social norm against having an affair while you’re in a relationship).
•Folkways – “norms that do not evoke severe moral condemnation when violated” (ibid, 42).
One such example is the folkway against streaking.
•Mores – “norms whose violation provokes strong moral condemnation” (ibid). One such
example is the more against murder.
•Role – “a [series] of behavioral expectations associated with a particular social position within a
group or society” (ibid, 43). One such example is Jason’s role as a T.A.
•Role conflicts – “situations in which the behavioral expectations associated with one role are
inconsistent with those associated with another concurrent role” (ibid). One such example of a
role conflict is evident upon an examination of work-family conflict amongst parents.
•Institution – refers to the set of norms and values that members of a society or subculture agree
upon to regulate a broad aspect lives (i.e. as evident within a society’s economy, political system,
educational system, etc.)
•Berdache – Two spirited people
•Thrifty Gene – Research that claimed certain races were “cheaper” than others
Aspects of Culture
•Since the 19 century, three primary observations have been imperative to the study of culture:
°There is a substantial amount of variation across cultures regarding their values, norms,
°There are few cultural elements that are common to all societies.
°The cultural elements within a society are often interrelated.
Studying Culture •Ethnocentrism – “refers to the tendency to see things from the point of view of the observer’s
culture rather than from that of the observed” (Carroll 2011, 51). In its most extreme form,
ethnocentrism leads to people viewing their own culture as superior to all others.
•There are two forms of ethnocentrism that are more subtle:
°Eurocentrism – a perspective which assumes that the values and experiences of
the white, middle class in Western industrialized societies are shared across all
°Androcentrism – “a bias that involves seeing things from a male point of
view or in a way that reinforces male privilege in society” (ibid, 53). Androcentric
biases lead sociologists to neglect female experiences during their studies.
Theoretical Perspectives on Culture
•Cultural materialism – “de-emphasizes ideas and ideology as determinants of cultures, and
instead sees cultures as adaptations to the needs forced upon social groups by their specific
physical environments” (Carroll 2011, 58).
°Refer to chapter 10 in “Images of Society” (“Mother Cow” by Harris 1974)
for an example of a study utilizing cultural materialism.
•Referring back to what you read in chapter 1 of the textbook (“What is Sociology?”), “feminist
sociology [is] defined as one of women from their standpoint and for women in the political sense
of change” (Teevan and Blute 2011, 10).
°One example of a feminist investigation of culture has involved scholars arguing
that, in pre-Agricultural societies, the gathering activities of females were more
important to the origin of human social institutions than the hunting pursuits of males.
•Refer to the structural functionalist and conflict theory approaches to culture in the textbook (pg.
55 – 58) for help in answering the discussion question.
A given norm or value or cultural practice is explained by showing how it contributes to
the overall stability or survival of the society in which it is found
Every norm or value in society serves a purpose in that specific society, it may not be true
in other societies
A norm that is considered successful in one society does not make it successful in another
Cultural norms and values promotes inequality or legitimates existing inequalities in
wealth and power
The gendered division of labour
Chapter 4 – Socialization •Nature versus nurture debate – the debate over the extent to which human behavior is
affected by genetic vs. social factors.
Differential socialization- socializing a child differently based on their gender
•Socialization – the means by which someone is made “fit” to live among other humans.
•Epigenic – in human development theory (like Erikson’s), the person is likened to a flower,
which has genetically preset stages of growth, the outcome of which depends on how well,
or poorly, the environment nurtures it during that stage.
Sociological Perspectives on Socialization
•Functionalists tend to view socialization as a necessary and benign process inherent in all
groups and societies.
•From this perspective, socialization performs several vital functions that maintain the
structure of groups and societies, particularly from one generation to the next.
•Socialization plays a major role in the formation of the individual personality, while
moulding people’s attitudes and behaviors to conform to group values and needs.
•Socialization also represents a set of processes and contexts responsible for cultural
•Socialization also performs the function of social integration.
•Conflict theorists do not disagree with functionalists regarding the basic nature of
socialization processes, but they tend to disagree about how benign some of these processes
are, how neutral their outcomes can be, and even how necessary some socialization is.
•Instead, conflict theorists focus on the concept of social reproduction, namely, the ways
in which societies reproduce themselves in terms of privilege and class.
•Conflict theorists argue that people do indeed learn about appropriate attitudes and
behaviors, but these attitudes and behaviors vary by social class, gender, and race, so people
within each of these social categories tend to learn things that perpetuate those categories.
•Feminist sociologists have many of the same concerns as conflict theorists with respect to
the nature and outcome of the gender socialization processes.
•Feminist sociologists are particularly concerned with gender socialization. Especially
important is the internalization of norms specifying gender inequality and gendered
division of labour. •Feminist sociologists and conflict theorists are interested in first recognizing social
inequalities, and then modifying socialization processes to help address those inequalities.
•This approach to socialization takes the position that interactions among individuals are
mediated by symbols (in the form of language and gestures) that form and shape the self.
•Symbolic interactionists argue that individuals constantly monitor themselves and others
in attempts to give meaning to events. In doing so, they observe the actions and reactions of
other people towards them, and they then incorporate these responses to themselves
°They then take the meanings about themselves and others they acquired from
previous interactions and use them to give their current conduct meaning.
•Looking-glass self – Cooley’s idea that personality is shaped as individuals see themselves
mirrored in the reactions of others.
George Herbert Mead’s Theory of How the Self Forms
•George Herbert Mead developed a theory of how the self forms.
•At the centre of G.H. Mead’s theory is the concept of role-taking.
°Role taking – Mead’s term for individuals’ attempts to put themselves in others’
shoes to imagine what they are thinking, thus enabling them to see themselves as
others see them.
•G.H. Mead contended that the development of the self takes place in two stages.
°When children acquire a sufficient vocabulary to begin naming people and objects
they observe, they begin to play-act roles in what Mead called the play stage.
°In the game stage, children develop more unified conceptions of themselves as
they learn to simultaneously take the role of multiple others.
Thus, through informal and formal play, children learn how to conceive
of a generalized other rather than of single, specific others.
Generalized other – an individual’s conception of what is expected,
providing a unified basis for self-reference.
•G.H. Mead also thought it useful to think of two complementary processes associated with
the functioning of self: the I and the me.
°The I represents the impulsive side of the self, which is spontaneous and
creative. °In contrast, the me is the more deliberate, reflective side of the self; it takes time
to evaluate how others might react to the actions of the I.
•Mead also believed that people are influenced by significant others.
•Benedict (1938) argued that most pre-industrial societies provide for a continuous
passage from childhood to adulthood.
°By doing so, cultural continuity was safeguarded, and individual members of the
society did not experience serious personal difficulties in making transitions
through these social statuses.
•Western societies, however, are age-graded, largely segregating children, adolescents, and
adults from each other.
•In pre-industrial societies, it is thus easier for younger members to learn over a period of
time the skills necessary for adult functioning and experience the realities of life.
Chapter 5 – Deviance
Theories of Crime
Pre-Scientific Theories of Crime
•Religious beliefs were traditionally used in order to define and punish deviants within societies.
•The majority of countries today have a secular system to deal with deviance and punishment.
•Classical criminology is the basis of all Western criminal justice systems, and is based on two
°Official punishments for crimes must be clear.
°Punishments must occur as soon as possible after a crime is committed.
•Classical criminology is based on the idea of hedonistic calculus – the assumption that “people
behave in light of conscious considerations of the anticipated costs and benefits of their actions”
(Hewitt et. al 2011:427).
Environmental Criminology •Rather than utilizing a formal system of law and punishment to reduce crime, environmental
criminology “involves efforts to reduce crime and deviance by changing the physical
environment in ways that make such behavior impossible or more difficult” (ibid:426).
•Environmental criminology uses three primary techniques in order to reduce crime rates:
°Target hardening – entails modifying the physical environment so that
the opportunities for crime are reduced (i.e. erecting fences around a building
to reduce the preponderance of vandalism).
°Enhanced visibility – involves modifying the physical environment in a
manner that makes potential crime targets more visible, with the aim of
instilling fear in potential deviants that they will be caught if they commit
a crime within that specific area.
°More guardians – involves placing more supervisors within a specific
area in order to prevent crime from taking place.
Biological and Psychological Theories
Biological explanations of deviance are generally rejected by sociologists because they pay
insufficient attention to the social factors that interact with their explanations.
Although psychological theories of deviance are generally more appealing to sociologists than
biological ones, they are also criticized for the difficulty of measuring some of their concepts and
for underestimating the influence of the social factors that precede psychological factors in
Durkheim (1949) took a functionalist position, arguing that definitions of deviance arise out of
what he called the collective conscience, the values held in common by the vast majority of a
Deviance is considered to be normal or inevitable
Can be beneficial as long as they are not widespread or serious enough to undermine the
basic fabric of society
o Deviants can become scapegoats
o Unite conformists to fights deviance
Used to mark bottom layer of society
Call attention to flaws in the social system, serves as a warning that something is wrong
According to Durkheim, society is the source of definitions of deviance.
The discrepancy between the goals a society instills and the legitimate means it provides to
achieve those goals can lead to a state of normlessness, a large-scale breakdown of rules, called
anomie. °According to Merton’s (1957) functionalist model, the greater the discrepancy, the
greater the anomie, and the greater the amount of deviance that can be expected.
Conformists accept the goals of society and possess the means to achieve them. Individuals
without such access to legitimate means then have four options, each considered deviant in some
°First, they can lower their goals to the level of their means, and engage in
°The second option for those who lack legitimate means is to keep the goals but to
engage in what Merton called innovation. Innovators are individuals who use deviant
means to achieve non-deviant ends.
°Retreatism involves rejecting both the means and the goals of society and, instead,
withdrawing from society.
°Rebellion is the fourth option.
Feminist perspectives on deviance arose in response to the imbalance inherent in a field written
by, and generally about, men.
Focused on acts of deviance that exploited women (Sexual assault, spouse battering)
Differential association – a theory that sees deviance as learned in small-group interaction,
wherein an individual internalizes pro-deviant perspectives.
Sykes and Matza (1957) argued that most delinquents feel guilty and can engage in such illegal
behaviour only after rationalizing that guilt through techniques of neutralization.
°Techniques of neutralization – rationalizations that allow deviants to define their
behaviour as acceptable.
Labeling theory – the explanation of deviance that argues that societal reactions to minor
deviance may alienate those labeled deviant and may cut off their options for conformity, thus
leading to greater deviance as an adaptation to the label.
Social-control theory is a structural theory, but one quite distinct from strain theory. The biggest
difference is that it sees all people as potential deviants, and then argues that social bonds
constrain most individuals into conformity.
°Rather than asking why people deviate, it asks why don’t people deviate. Conflict-Structural Explanations
Believe that society is held together by coercion rather than cooperation
People that perform deviant acts do not do it to benefit the society but rather have their own
reasons that benefit themselves
The elite members define what is considered deviant in the society
In their explanation of deviance, radical conflict theorists see much bias in the criminal justice
system, focus almost exclusively on capitalism, and often proclaim the necessity for revolution.
Less radical conflict theorists are aware of things like capitalist pollution and price-fixing, but
also include crimes not specific to capitalists in their analyses, like the daily physical assaults to
which the oppressed are so frequently vulnerable. These theorists also place somewhat less blame
on the police and courts, and accept the possibility of reform.
The two views agree, however, that power is a crucial factor in any explanation of deviance.
Chapter 6 – Social Inequality
Major Theories of Social Inequality
Marxist Position on Social Inequality
•Each major societal form is characterized by a struggle between the “haves” and “have-nots.”
•Productive property is the source of the division called the “means of production.”
•Bourgeoisie: control means of production.
•Proletariat: workers who would overthrow the bourgeoisie transforming capitalism to socialism
and a classless society.
Weber’s Critique of Marx
•According to Weber, power comes from multiple sources:
°Class – according to one’s economic power.
°Status group – according to status honor or prestige.
°Party – power arising from political groups.
•Weber proclaimed that bureaucracy poses a threat to equality and freedom and is even more
oppressive in socialist systems.
Structural Functionalist Position on Social Inequality
•The structural functionalist position on social inequality differs from the Marxist position with
regard to consensus, individual action, and pluralism of power.
Conflict Theorist Views structured inequality as something imposed on be the people in power
Inequality occurs because the dominant group owned all the resources (productive
property), determined distribution
Only the dominant group benefited from work
Status is earned through hardwork
Inequality is based largely on a underlying awareness and agreement about the value put on
various positions in the social structure
Value given to each position/status depends on:
o Importance to society
o Scarcity of people with talent or qualifications for the position
Social inequality is inevitable
Individual action (education, occupation) plays a role in defining social inequality
Inequality in Canada
•Examine how social inequality in Canada occurs with regard to level of educational attainment,
race / ethnicity, age, political power, and between urban & regional areas.
Chapter 7 – Gender Relations
Biological and Social Determinism
•Human behavior is influenced by both culture (nurture) and biology (nature).
°Nature implies fixed; nurture a possibility of change.
Sex and Gender: Some Definitions
•For sociologists, sex and gender are not the same.
°A person’s sex is a biological trait characterized by the XX chromosomes and
estrogen for a female and the XY chromosomes and testosterone for a male.
°Gender is a social construct based, in part, on definitions of masculinity and
femininity and consisting largely of the norms and expectations that encourage
people to behave in a “sex-appropriate” manner.
•Gender identity is the perception of oneself as male or female. It is not to be confused
with sexual orientation, and is not necessarily consistent with a person’s sex.
•Gendered order is a macro-level concept and refers not to individuals but to social
structure. It includes gendered norms, gendered roles, and a gendered ideology, which
together make social life gendered, directing how male and females should act.
°Its biggest influence is to create a gendered division of labor in which males
and females, in both the unpaid and paid labor arenas, tend to act “sex-
appropriately”. •Gender is just another of the social conventions that maintain order and promote social
•This functionalist perspective claims that men have access to the public realm of paid
labor and perform the instrumental tasks needed for survival.
•On the other hand, in the traditional functional argument, women are relegated to the
private realm of the home, providing unpaid domestic labor and being responsible for the
expressive tasks like nurturing and providing emotional support.
•In this public/private division of labor, partners are seen as complementing each other,
making social order possible.
•Each binary duality should be thought of as a continuum, with shades of grey where men
do some housework and women earn money, even though neither realm is equally shared.
Major Theoretical Perspectives on Gender
The main functionalist position is that social practices, such as gendered division of
labor, persist because they benefit society.
Gender maintains order and promotes social stability
Gendered division of labour is the natural outcome of the need to reproduce
o Females dependent on males
The Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
•Symbolic interactionists see the world as socially constructed and changeable.
•Unlike functionalists, they do not see the gendered division of labor as a natural outcome
of the need to reproduce, and are especially critical of extensions of this position that
generalize to a female dependency and a male dominance.
°Definitions of masculinity and femininity, gender roles, and gender norms are all
•Brown and Gilligan (1992) argued that children learn gendered behavior through a variety
of processes, such as imitating others (especially significant others) and receiving rewards
and punishments for behavior defined as gender-appropriate or gender-inappropriate.
Marxist Conflict Perspective
•Marxists put primary emphasis on economic forces; therefore, gender inequality was not
an issue for Marx.
•Today, Marx would be called a sexist as most of his writings were about male workers.
•Marx’s co-author Engels (1884) paid more attention to women, likening their position in
the family to that of the oppressed working class in the larger society.
•Feminists generally concur that the main force behind women’s oppression is patriarchy,
a system in which the traits associated with men are valued more than those associated
with women and thus gives men greater privilege.
•Liberal feminism argues that gender inequality can be remedied by giving women greater
opportunity. •Socialist feminism agrees that patriarchy must be eradicated, but methodologically
speaking, seeks a longer causal chain.
°According to socialist feminists, capitalism is the real issue: it leads to patriarchy
and the relegation of women to isolated homes and domestic labor that is always
•Radical feminism has one goal, the abolition of male supremacy, and two connected
focuses: biological reproduction and paid labor.
°Some radically feminists thus argue for alternative reproduction strategies, like
in vitro fertilization, to permanently eliminate men’s domination of women’s
Chapter 8 – Race and Ethnic Relations
Ethnic Group, Race, and Minority Group: Some Definitions
•Is an ascribed status, conferred at birth.
•Is a form of social organization with boundaries maintained by social norms governing
interaction (e.g. endogamy).
•Inherited physical traits may become socially defined as very significant.
•Social category – a collection of individuals who share a trait(s) regarded as meaningful.
°The social meaning associated with racial or ethnic categories can include the
assignment of a rank (i.e. subordinate or superordinate compared to other racial or
•Race – “an arbitrary social category in which membership is based on inherited physical
characteristics (e.g. skin color), characteristics which are defined as socially meaningful” (Hewitt
et. al 2011:430).
•Racist ideologies – claim that racial categories are natural genetic groupings, with behavioral
•Minority group – a category that occupies a subordinate rank in a social hierarchy.
May outnumber a dominant group
•Social control of minority groups can involve: °Expulsion / forcible removal.
°Discrimination – involves the denial of opportunities that are available to
members of dominant groups.
°Systemic discrimination – is a by-product of the ordinary functioning of social
institutions, and not an action by individuals (i.e. job applicants being excluded on the
basis of strength requirements).
•The relationship between prejudice and discrimination is complex.
°A prejudiced person may not discriminate.
°Gradually, “majority attitudes toward minority groups have become more tolerant
and accepting” (ibid:188).
The Development of Race and Ethnic Relations in Canadian Society: An Overview
•Refer to chapter 8 for details on: colonialism and the First Nations, French and British
Canadians, mass immigration to Canada during the last couple of decades.
Perspectives on Canadian Race and Ethnic Relations
•Assimilation – “the view that ethnic diversity gradually and inevitably declines as group
members are absorbed into the general population, in the process becoming more and more like
the dominant group” (ibid:423).
•Park’s (1950, 1952) race relations cycle describes four successive stages in the relationships
between dominant and minority groups in society:
°Competition (if resources are limited).
°Accommodation of weaker groups.
•It’s important to distinguish between acculturation and structural assimilation.
°Acculturation – “the learning of the language, values, and customs of a
dominant group by an ethnic group” (ibid).
°Structural assimilation – “acceptance of a minority group by a dominant group into its intimate, primary, and social relationships” (ibid:433).
Pluralism and Multiculturalism
•Pluralism is the perspective that “ethnic diversity remains a central feature of contemporary
societies, and that ethnicity continues to be an important aspect of individual identity and group
Post-Colonial and Postmodern Perspectives
•The post-colonial perspective on race & ethnic relations claims that racism is vital to the
structure of a society, and that all members participate in the arrangements that are conducive to
•The postmodern perspective aims to deconstruct the assertions of those with power and
authority (concerning race & ethnic relations). This perspective studies how these
ideas are constructed are controlled.
°This perspective studies the experience of the colonizer and the colonized.
Chapter 9 – Aging
The Study of Aging
•Sociologists can study aging in many different ways, of which the following are prevalent in
°Comparing older people with other age groups.
°Examining age effects – the changes that are a result of aging.
°Examining period effects – whether changes associated with aging are the result
of having been a certain age at a certain historical period.
•Refer to in-tutorial lecture conducted on March 16.
Trends in Family Ties and Social Support in Later Life
•Most 65+ people are married, but with age women are less likely to be married. Growing
proportions will be divorced.
•On average, married women are likely to retire earlier than their husbands.
°This could lead to a later disadvantage for them.
•Women are more likely to be caring for an ill partner. •Widowhood and divorce can leave women at a financial disadvantage and men isolated.
•In old age, single women tend to fare better than single men.
•Siblings are as important as close friends for most elderly. The closeness between siblings
typically increases with age.
Social Policy and Future Directions
•The aging of the Baby Boomer generation and intergenerational equity will be important future
issues with regard to aging in Canada.
Chapter 10 – Families
Definitions of Marriage and Family
Consanguine Family – A family that has a common ancestor
Nuclear Family – normal family with 2 adults and 2 children
•Expressive exchange – emotional dimension of marriage including love, sexual gratification,
•Instrumental exchange – task-oriented dimension including earning a living, spending money
and maintaining a household.
•Family – two or more people related by blood, adoption, or marriage (legally sanctioned or
otherwise), and who reside together. If they are not related then it is a household, not a family.
Uniformity and Family Patterns
•Most societies regard marriage and inheritance to be extremely important, and also have an
•Two changes have occurred in families (within developed countries) over the last 150 years.
The First Transition (1870 – 1950)
•The first transition (1870 – 1950) resulted in smaller families.
The Second Transition (1960 – Present)
•Can be sub-divided into three sub-stages:
°The 1st sub-stage (1960 – 1970) involved the end of prevalent young
marriage, along with a rise in the divorce rate.
°The 2nd sub-stage (1970 – 1985) involved the rise of common-law unions. °The 3rd sub-stage (1985 – present) involved the divorce rate leveling off,
along with a rise in post-marital cohabitation, a