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Sociology Textbook Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

April 20, 2013 Sociology Textbook Notes Chapter 10: 232-241 Macro-sociological Processes - The Functions of Education  Many Canadians believe that only the smartest, most intelligent students achieve the highest positions in life.  Educational Attainment: Based on the outcome of individual talent and hard work  Educational Achievement: How much a student actually learns.  The view that schools sort students based on talent and effort is a central component to the functional theory of education.  Functional theory also stresses the training role of schools  In schools, people learn to read, write, count, calculate ad perform other essential tasks, which are essential to the workings of postmodern society.  The third function of the school is to socialize students.  Schools teach students to view Canada with pride, respect the law, think of democracy as the best form of government and value capitalism o Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.  Lastly, schools transmit culture from generation to generation, which fosters a common identity and socially glues them together in the process.  Schools play role in assimilating the disadvantaged, minorities, and immigrants into Canadian society.  However, common identity has been based on respect for cultural diversity.  Emile Durkheim emphasized the role of schools in socializing the young and promoting social integration.  People are torn between egoistic needs and moral impulses  Educational institutions must ensure that the moral side predominates. April 20, 2013  By instilling a sense of authority, discipline and morality in children schools make society cohesive.  Manifest functions: positive goals that schools accomplish intentionally  1. Sorting  2. Training  3. Socializing  4. Transmitting culture  Latent functions: unintended functions  1. Necessary and normal peer socialization and challenge to primary groups’ socializing  2. Mate selection  3. Supervision  4. Prevention of flooding of labor force  5. Dissent and social change  Ex: Schools encourage the development of a separate youth culture that often conflicts with parents’ values. Especially at college and university levels, educational institutions bring potential mates together, thus serving as a “marriage market.” - The Effect of Economic Inequality from the Conflict Perspective  Chief problem with functionalist view is that it exaggerates the degree to which schools sort students by ability and thereby ensure that most talented students eventually get the most rewarding jobs.  Conflict theorists argue that schools distribute the benefits of education unequally, allocating most of the benefits to children from upper classes and higher-status racial and ethnic groups.  Because amount and type of formal education are strongly correlated with earning power, schools tend to reproduce the stratification system generation after generation.  Ex: On pg. 233, Figure 10.6 shows that Canadians from high- income families (top 25% of family income) are 61% more likely to be enrolled in university at the age of 19 in comparison to Canadians from lower-income families (bottom 25% of family income).  Four mechanisms that operate in conjunction with the school system to reproduce inequality: 1) Financial constraint April 20, 2013 2) One-parent households  Financial problems due to lack of two-parent household incomes 3) Lack of cultural capital  Cultural capital: “Widely shared, high status cultural signals (attitudes, preferences, formal knowledge, behaviors, goals and credentials) used for social and cultural exclusion.  University education provides people with cultural capital that they can transmit to their children. 4) Streaming  The more intelligent a person is, the more likely they are to do well later in life.  IQ tests: standardized tests to sort students by intelligence. o Depends on two factors: 1. How effectively an individual absorbs what his or her environments offers 2. How closely his or her environment reflects what the test includes o Therefore, the underprivileged score lower because they don’t have the training and cultural background needed to score high. o Problem with IQ tests and other standardized tests is that they can only measure acquired proficiency in a given cultural system.  Streaming reproduces class differences, determines who goes to university and who doesn’t and influences who enters which social class in the larger society. - Case Study: Functionalist vs. Conflict Theories of the Community College  Two social forces contributed most heavily to the rise of the community college system  1) The country needed skilled workers in industry and services  2) The belief grew that higher education would contribute to upward mobility and greater equality. April 20, 2013  Functionalists see that the community college system creates new opportunities for disadvantaged youth who might otherwise have less rewarding jobs.  Conflict theorists deny that the growth of community colleges increases upward mobility and equality: it is the entire stratification system that is upwardly mobile.  The quality of most jobs improves, but the relative position of community college graduates vs. university graduates remains the same.  Community colleges do create opportunities for individual upward mobility  However, community colleges do not change the overall pattern of inequality in Canadian society.  Functionalists paint a somewhat idealized picture of the education system. - Gender and Education: The Feminist Contribution  Women in colleges and universities have higher grade point averages and complete their degrees faster.  More females than males in post-secondary education  Females are constrained by social stereotypes placed on them by their parents.  Gender segregation in the labor market tend to direct boys and girls toward what they regard as masculine and feminine.  Also influences choice of field of study.  Gender structures the educational experience and its consequences. Micro-sociological Processes - The Stereotype Threat: A Symbolic Interactionist  Symbolic interactionists suggest that self-fulfilling prophecy plays a large role in education.  Self-fulfilling prophecy: Am expectation that helps bring about what it predicts.  Stereotype threat: The negative impact on a school performance of disadvantaged groups.  Many teachers make assumptions about students based on stereotypes and this can cause these students to perform badly in school. April 20, 2013  Stereotype threat at the microsociological level combines with the macrosociological processes to help reproduce the stratification system. Canadian Education in an International Perspective - Compulsory mass education became a universal feature of European and North American life by the early twentieth century, and nearly universal literacy was achieved by the middle of the twentieth century. - Education hrd become more valuable universally. - Canada 3 overall in world education ranking (SNAP!) Chapter 12 Technology: Savior or Frankenstein?  Technology: the practical application of scientific principles  Normal accident: Accidents that occur inevitably though unpredictably because of the very complexity of modern technologies. o Ex: Your computer crashes at home.  Ulrich Beck coined a term that struck when he said we live in a risk society o A society in which technology distributes environmental dangers among all categories of the population, albeit to varying degrees.  The four questions… 1. Is technology the great driving force of historical and social change? o Sociologists believe that technology is able to transform society only when it is coupled with a powerful social need. o People control technology as much as technology transforms people. 2. If some people do control technology, then exactly who are they? o Sociologists: The military and big corporations now decide the direction of most technological research and its application. 3. What are the most dangerous spinoffs of technology and how is risk distributed among various social groups? April 20, 2013 o Sociologists: They focus on global warming and “genetic pollution.” o They show that although these dangers put all of humanity at risk, the degree of danger varies by class, race and country. o The socially and economically disadvantaged are most at risk. 4. How can we overcome the dangers of environmental degradation? o Markey and technological solutions are insufficient by themselves. o Much self-sacrifice, cooperation and political activism will be required. - Technology and People Make History  Nikolai Kondratiev was the first social scientist to notice that technologies are invented in clusters.  Kondratiev argued that flurries of creativity cause major economic growth spurts beginning 10-20 years and lasting 25-35 years each.  Kondratiev created technological determinism o Technological determinism: The belief that technology is the main factor shaping human history. - How High Tech Became Big Tech  In the late 1870s, Thomas Edison created the first “invention factory” in Menlo Park, New Jersey. th  At the beginning of the 20 century, the scientific or engineering genius operating in isolation was only rarely able to contribute much to technological innovation  By mid-century, most technological innovation was organized along industrial lines.  By the time of Hiroshima, the era of big science and big technology had arrived.  However, only governments and increasingly, giant multinational corporations could afford to sustain the research effort of the second half of the twentieth century.  During the 20 century, the number of research scientists in N. America increased a hundredfold. April 20, 2013  As a result of these developments, the military and profit- making considerations now govern the direction of most research and development.  Close to a majority of leading biotechnology scientists have industry affiliations.  Some scientists wonder whether work on particular topics achieves optimum benefits for humanity.  However, a growing number of scientists and engineers recognize that to do cutting-edge research, they must still any residual misgivings, hop on the bandwagon and adhere to military and industrial requirements and priorities. - Global Warming  The biggest side effect of the development of technology that causes people concern is environmental degradation.  Two aspects we must consider are: Global warming and genetic pollution.  Global warming: A gradual increase in the world’s average surface temperature.  Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning increasing quantities of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gasoline, natural gas, etc.)  The burning of these fuels releases carbon dioxide in the air which when accumulated allows more solar radiation to enter the atmosphere and less heat to escape.  As temperature rises, more water evaporates  This causes more rainfall and bigger storms, which leads to more flooding and soil erosion, which in turn leads to less cultivable land. - Genetic Pollution  Genetic pollution: The potential dangers of mixing genes of one species with those of another.  Genetic pollution is the second main form of environmental degradation.  DNA is transmitted to offspring from the father.  Recombinant DNA is the opposite  Recombinant DNA: Removing a segment of DNA from a gene or splicing together segments of DNA from different living things, thus effectively creating a new life form. April 20, 2013  Recombinant DNA will also enable farmers to grow disease and frost-resistant crops with higher yields.  It will allow miners to pour ore-eating microbes into mines, pump the microbes above ground after they have had their fill.  Recombinant DNA will also allow companies to grow plants that produce cheap biodegradable plastic and microorganisms that consume oil spills and absorb radioactivity.  We cannot predict the exact environmental consequences of the increasing immunity that plants will eventually have towards herbicides, pests and viruses, which will induce the birth of superbugs, super-weeds and super-viruses.  That is why the insurance industry refuses to insure genetically engineered crops against the possibility of their causing catastrophical ecological damage. The Social Construction of Environmental Problems - Environmental problems don’t become social issues spontaneously. - Before they can enter the public consciousness, policy-oriented scientists, the environmental movement, the mass media, and respected organizations must discover and promote them. - The Social Distribution of Risk  When disaster strikes, economically and politically disadvantaged people almost always suffer most.  Their circumstances render them most vulnerable.  Environmental racism: The tendency to heap environmental dangers on the disadvantaged, and especially on disadvantaged racial minorities.  Canadian Case  In Canada, environmental racism is evident.  The uranium used to construct the atomic bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II was taken from Port Radium in the N.W. Territories.  More than 30 Dene hunters and trappers were recruited from the nearby village of Deline to mine the uranium. April 20, 2013  While the governments of Canada and the USA knew about the dangerous effects of uranium, they didn’t tell the Dene people.  Therefore, all the people were affected as they ate fish from the uranium-infected waters and used many of the uranium-infected materials for clothes, tents, etc.  Before, elders lived till 90.  After the exposure to uranium, elders lived only to their 60s-70s and many died from cancer.  The village of Deline became known as the “Village of Widows”  The people or the village never got an apology from either government.  This is an example of environmental racism because the people of Deline were disadvantaged, as they didn’t have any protection from the effects of uranium. They were taken advantaged of.  Furthermore, they were Indigenous people and so they were treated this way due to their race, as well.  There is a disturbing association in Canada between level of contamination and the concentration of Aboriginal populations.  Class also structures exposure to environmental risk in Canada  Ex: Sydney, Nova Scotia.  A poor, working-class town with the highest rate of cancer of any city in Canada  This is because Sydney was home to a large steel mill for a century.  Waste from the mill poured into tar ponds, a 50- hectare site polluted to a depth of 24-metres with cancer-causing chemicals.  The Less-Developed Countries  The underprivileged face more environmental dangers than the privileged: This is due to the fact that they are industrializing rapidly and therefore using more resources, which cause more environmental damage. April 20, 2013  Less developed countries are more concerned with environmental danger than richer countries  Richer countries cause most environmental damage.  Inequality and Biotechnology  Basically, social inequalities are evident in the field of biotechnology, in which biopiracy- harvesting genetic materials from less-developed countries and profiting from them- and genetic engineering might ultimately contribute to the increasing gap between the haves (genetically superior) and have-nots (genetically inferior) What Is to Be Done? - The Market and High Tech Solutions  We have adapted new technologies that are environmentally friendly in order to combat the worst excesses of environmental degradation.  They believe that human inventiveness and the profit motive will combine to create the new technologies we need to survive and prosper.  There are three factors, however, that suggest market forces cannot solve environmental problems on their own: 1) Imperfect price signals: the market fails to send signals that might result in the speedy adoption of technological and policy fixes; 2) The slow pace of change: We need to increase the speed of change; all of the world’s renewable resources are in decline; 3) The importance of political pressure: Without the efforts of many organizations concerned with the issues of the environments, it is doubtful that many environmental issues would be defined as social problems by corporations and governments. - The Cooperative Alternative  The alternative to the market and high-tech approach would involve people cooperating to reduce greatly their over- consumption of just about everything.  It is not realistic however, as it would be political suicide for anyone in the rich countries to propose the drastic measure & people are not willing Social Movements April 20, 2013 - Collective action: Occurs when people act in unison to bri
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