Starting Points chapter 11: Families and Socialization
- Families teach children rules, and children grow up and form families to pass those rules on. It’s a circle! Today there are a lot of different types of families. But which type is the
best? Are you ready to make babies? And be a parent?
- Family is fluid and malleable, but also basic and necessary. It’s the primary unit (quantum) of society. Today norms about what constitutes a ―family‖ are changing, and this causes
confusion. e.g. polygamy; divorce.
- Though families have changed and diversified, they retain one characteristic: families are agents of socialization. Our parents teach us how to behave — and our first years are
most formative. e.g. We need to learn to share! And to realize that our desires can’t be satisfied all the time. And to learn to care for others. etc.
WAYS OF LOOKING AT FAMILY
- Family is the central institution in society. It’s a microcosm for society, with each family member contributing to a unified whole. Kind of like what an 2 O molecule is to water.
Or a cell is to an organ. Or a byte is to digital data.
o So, changes in family mirror changes in society.
- In modern industrial societies, family life is complicated. Socialization is the manufacture of new citizens, and it’s complex. Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales (1955) view family’s
division of labour as its key to success.
o i.e. Husband keeps food on the table, make decisions (instrumental)
o Wife nurtures and is the emotional centre (expressive)
- Through this specialization, families are effective at satisfying physical and emotional needs of its members, and socializing children. Of course that was the 50s and the times they
are a-changin’so it doesn’t apply as much now.
- Are some family forms ―natural‖/―inevitable‖? Psychiatrists Ronald Immerman and Wade Mackey (1999) say yes.
o They argue that almost all marriage systems in the world support monogamy.
o Monogamy is favorable because it limits STDs, out-of-wedlock births, infant morbidity, etc. So monogamous societies tend to function better than communities that
do not maintain pair bonding. So monogamy is functional.
- Linda Waite (2000) argues cohabitation is inferior to traditional (legal) marriage. (Guess she doesn’t want to Waite for a proposal any longer! Ha ha!)
- Cohabitation fails to provide the economic and psychological benefits, such as access to extended families, and provides less support in crisis. She thinks that married monogamy
contribute to the survival of society.
- Critical theories don’t look for no universal truths about family life, or support certain forms of families neither. Rather, they take a historical approach and look at changes in
- With industrialization, families went from self-sustaining (farmers) to consumption units (dual-income households that purchase goods and services). They become dependent on
external sources of income.
o Implication? Men had to sell their labour while women gained exclusive control over (were relegated to) the household — sometimes called social reproduction.
o But women took care of the household without $$$$! This specialization only increases gender inequality, under conditions of exploitive capitalism.
Feminists: just as workers depend on capitalists, wives depend on husbands. Such dependence easily turns into subordination!
- Patriarchal tendencies were old and pre-industrial, but industrialization affirmed them. These tendencies are especially strong in traditional communities, industrial or pre-
o But some women in traditional communities are turning feminist too. e.g. evangelical feminists say evangelism is ―a strategic form of women collective action‖. But
single mothers, working mothers, bisexuals, or lesbians are excluded.
- Focus on micro level. Ways members of a family interact and resolve conflicts.
- Social constructionists focus on ―family values‖ by right-wing religious leaders + politicians. By appealing to people’s concern for their family, they channel common anxieties
into hostility against single mothers, LGBTQ, etc. Republicans. Use traditional ideologies to hurt vulnerable families instead of supporting them. Produces dangerous citizens of
tomorrow due to poor socialization.
WAYS OF LOOKING AT SOCIALIZATION
Two main views: functionalist vs. symbolic interactionist.
- Socialization occurs top down: children internalize social norm and conform. Talcott Parsons described this in Family, Socialization, and Interaction Process (1955). Parsons says
top-down learning is necessary for society, because it creates conformity and consensus. Ideal society characterized by social integration, with homogenized values, etc (∫ℝds =
- Criticism: People may not be completely shaped by norms and expectations. Dennis Wrong (1961) says Parsons is Wrong. Parsons’s view may be ―over-socialized‖. Feminists
also don’t like this view — it justifies the socialization differences between man and women, and by extension, differences in socioeconomic statuses. Why aren’t there more
women in engineering?
o Adomo et al (1950) say that top-down socialization may be effective at homogenization, but it also produces anger, prejudice, racism, homophobia, etc.
o Also what about socialization from bottom up? (i.e. children teaching themselves and each other?)
- Most accepted view of socialization, by Charles H. Cooley and George Herbert Mead. Notes that people participate in their own socialization. How does a child develop its sense
of self, and how does family help/hinder this development?
- Parents try to train child top-down, with language, punishment, etc. But child also evaluates itself according to others — looking-glass self by Cooley. The reaction of others is
o But how important? Depends on our self-awareness and importance we attach to various reference groups.
- Mead believed self-concept was made up of the I and the me. The I is our spontaneous, creative, unique self; the me is the self we develop for social purposes. (We put on a mask
sometimes.) e.g. you may sing songs in your shower but not on subway, for example.
(Mead may be right, but a shower also has much better acoustics than what you can find on TTC.)
- Mead: playground is one key public setting. Children has opportunity to practice socially learned roles and expectations. Through play and interaction children develop concept
of generalized other — notion of attitudes and expectations of society at large. The reason you don’t strip in public is probably due to this generalized other. This helps us act in a
socially approved manner.
Classic Studies: World Revolution and Family Patterns
- William Goode is a Goode sociologist and is Goode at tracing family patterns. Goode looked at relationship between changing family patterns and industrialization.
- Family patterns everywhere are moving towards nuclear family model. (Though rate of change is not uniformly distributed, ∇(∂F/∂t)≠0) Families are getting small — a self-
sustaining unit of production and consumption. Individual family members have more freedom; parental authority has declined; husband’s control over wives dwindled; dowries
- Industrialization and urbanization encourage smaller, more flexible family units, to meet industrial changes. e.g. they can migrate more easily. But of course there are still
―barriers‖ such as housework or child care. Sometimes nuclear families emerge before industrialization; sometimes extended families persist after industrialization.
- Goode’s work is Goode (significant) because it attempts to ambitiously define laws of family change under industrialism and because of its global scale. Goode predicted that
industrial growth and education would alter women’s roles.
- Some stats: (In 2006)
o As Goode ―might have‖ predicted, Canada’s families are increasingly diverse: nuclear families + cohabiting + single-parent + … In 2006 married couple accounted
for 69 percent of all census families — decreased from 83% two decades ago.
o In 2006 number of unmarried Canadians aged 15+ outnumbered number of legally married couple. 52% (now) vs. 39% (before).
o Same-sex couples represent 0.6% of all couples in Canada. 16.5% of these were married. More men couples than women couples. Half of these live in MTV
(Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver).
o Single-parent families increased from 11% to 16%.
o Cohabitation from 6% to 15%.
The Idea of ―Family‖
- Is the family in trouble? Are people turning away from responsibilities of marriage and parenthood? Public polls still show that family is important to Canadians. In fact most still
believe in a nuclear family ideal. Why? Let’s look at functionalism.
- Functionalists consider family to be a social institution with one preferred structure that meets the most societal demands. They seemingly ignore the fact that a variety of family
forms can satisfy need for love, attachment, and understanding among members. So nontraditional families — cohabiting, non-nuclear, etc. — are important too. e.g. modified
extended family. Relatives don’t share a household but live close to each other.
- Census family is a broader definition of family. But the textbook says it’s still not broad enough. Because: 1) many units that meet structural definition do not behave like ideal families and
2) many units that behave like ideal families do not meet structural definition.
(Form or function?)
- So let’s talk about family processes instead of forms:
o Dependency and intimacy: long term commitment & attachment to each other and to family as a social unit.
o Sexuality: long term exclusive sexual relationship. Do it with your spouse only!
o Protection: guard each other against all kinds of dangers. e.g. keep kids away from drugs.Take a bullet for your wife.
o Power: the more powerful members protect the less powerful ones. May contribute to patriarchy though.
o Violence: families are also often marked by violence. Usually it’s when a male assaults a female. Not ideal but sadly true.
- Socialization. One universal feature of family life. Through childhood and adolescence people experience a very intense primary socialization. Then they go on to live their lives
and undergosecondary socialization.
- Primary socialization usually takes place within the family context. Helps form personality and charts course of personal development. Child learns social skills. Parent are
important because they are the first people a child interacts socially with. They also control child’s learning environment.
- Primary socialization is interesting to both macro- and microsociologists.
o Macro: primary socialization integrates people into society, teaching them to fulfill societal roles. Humans are tabula rasa. Through this teaching and imprinting,
society is able to reproduce itself into the future. But this also perpetuates inequality.
o Micro: study how socialization forms people’s concept of self.
- Secondary socialization is less fundamental. Involves learning specific roles, norms, attitudes, beliefs, etc. e.g. We know how to be a parent only when we become one. Occurs
outside of family and is based on knowledge accumulated in primary socialization.
- When we prepare to enter a role, we engage anticipatory socialization.
o e.g. in med school, you also learn about how to behave as a doctor socially.
o e.g. frosh week; employee orientation; prenatal parenting, etc.
- Some other times though, we don’t have a chance for anticipatory socialization if we get fired. Then we’d need to improvise
- Sometimes we want to become a ―new person‖ through resocialization.
o e.g. job-training; grief counselling; soul-searching.
- Erving Goffman describes total institutions to resocialize their clients drastically through surveillance and punishment.
o e.g. asylum, monastery, boot camp, etc.
Classic Studies: The Authoritarian Personality
- Where do violence and prejudice come from? Social isolation — according to Theodor Adorno, who Adorno’ed himself with honour after his work is published in 1950. Socio-
psychological model that centers on individual personality traits and childhood socialization experiences.
- Findings: faulty socialization -> overt racism, etc.
- Adorno measured ―authoritarianism‖ using an ―F-scale‖. F for fun! No not really. F for fascism. The antithesis of fun.
- Adorno identified nine characteristics of the authoritarian personality using his F-scale:
1. Conventionalism: rigid adherence to conventional middle-class values;
2. Authoritarian submission: submissive, uncritical attitude to idealized moral authorities in group;
3. Authoritarian aggression: tendency to be on lookout for and condemn people who violate conventional values;
4. Anti-intraception: objection to tenderness or the imaginative;
5. Superstition and stereotyping: (self-explanatory);
6. Power and “toughness”: preoccupation with dominance; exaggerated assertion of strength;
7. Destructiveness and cynicism: generalized hostility; vilification of the human;
8. Projectivity: belief in wild and dangerous things going on in the world; projection of outward unconscious emotional impulses;
9. Preoccupation with sexual goings-on: Exaggerates sexual occurrences and practices.
1) Prejudice is a generalized tendency — people who hate Jews also tend to hate other minorities.
2) Prejudice is linked to political and social conservatism — opposing social welfare, etc. 3) Prejudice is related to a variety of personal beliefs (superstition, fatalism, etc.) and to anti-
- A bully grows up in a family where people do not inspect or reveal their feelings. A bully may glorify his parents to hide his insecurities. A non-bully is more accustomed to
expressing disagreements — starting with arguing with his parents, based on secure and warm relationships.
- A bully attributes his insecurities to others through a Freudian process, projection.
o Aside: Freudian theory of repression. People who are forced by cruel (or unfeeling) parents to hide their fears and desires express them in veiled ways, such as in
dreams, fantasies, and groundless anxieties.
o Criticism: methodological flaws and researcher bias. Tamotsu Shibutani notes that study is more psychological than sociological.
- Generally, families which are more cohesive and adaptable tends to deal with social stresses better.
- Sociologists view the development of socially recognizable gender differences as a main social phenomenon. Though sometimes parents reinforce gender socialization (―Boys
don’t cry.‖), most of the time it’s unintended. e.g. Toy packaging, TV ads, etc.
Racial and Ethnic Socialization
- This includes all of the ways parents shape their children’s learning and understanding of race and race relationships.
- Parents communicate about their life experiences and feelings about their place in society. Children learn the social hierarchy. This socialization affects the children’s future goals
o e.g. independent thinking and hard work vs. luck and charm?
- Children who are taught that hard work is irrelevant, school is a waste of time, and all that counts is who you know, not what you know are less likely to succeed. As Thorstein
Veblen notes: the poorest and the richest members of society are similar — neither is part of the contest for success.
- Values like ambition, responsibility, and independence are transformative. They are means by which (middle-class) families prepare their children for adulthood. Middle-class
preferscultivation, with enrichment lessons. The poor and the rich prefer natural growth.
- But of course, your values may change significantly during adolescence.
- Hochschild says that ally the ways humans feel and express emotions are largely social. We are taught what to feel by culture. We follow ―feeling rules‖ as much as other rules of
behaviour. We try to be happy at a party or sad at a funeral, and wonder if we are normal if we can’t summon the appropriate feelings.
o ―I told her Mother had died. She wanted to know how long ago, so I said, “Yesterday.” She gave a little start but didn’t say anything. I felt like telling her it wasn’t my
fault, but I stopped myself because I remembered that I’d already said that to my boss. It didn’t mean anything. Besides, you always feel a little guilty.”
- A. Camus, L’Étranger
- Theory of ―emotional labour‖ – work one must do to develop the ―right‖ emotions for themselves. Emotions are commodified. e.g. Sales; flight attendants in The Managed
- Also focuses on division of emotional and physical work in modern families (with a working wife) in The Second Shift (1989).
- Also interviewed Fortune 500 people to see how their work lives compare with their family lives in. The Time Bind (1997). Though most CEOs say they value family, for many
people the workplace culture provides a better sense of community, appreciation, support, and competence than home.
- Melissa Milkie et al. (2009) used Hochsschild’s concept of the ―second shift‖ to study employment and domestic workloads of mothers with full-time jobs whose partners also
worked full-time. Total workload of these women — ―focal mothers‖ — exceeds their partner by 10 days a year. They are slightly more pressured, though not by much.
- Sayer et al (2009) did a similar study, found little difference. Uhde (2009) looked at social inequality with caregivers. Uhde sees a need to recognize and ensure justice for the
many immigrant women caregivers.
- Mitsuhashi (2008) studied emotional burnout in Japanese care workers, finds that burnout most likely to happen when workers are unable to do emotional work, rather than when
they actually do it.
- Hansen and Andersen (2008) explore what influences a person’s decision to work when sick. Sickness presence vs. sickness absence. They found that supervisors, people working
long hours, and people in small convivial companies are prone to sickness presence (duh).
- Brook (2009) takes Hothschild’s position further, saying commodification of emotions leads to exploitation. - Ozkaplan (2009) says the study of care labour — especially emotional labour — can be considered a sociology of women’s work.
- Hesmondhalgh and Baker (2008) researches how television program research team deals with stress and handles emotions.
Blakely (2008) looks at emotional aspects of a different kind of work — e.g. wedding planning.
- A lot of buzz on Hochschild. She belongs to the fusion approach!
Chapter 12: Schools and Formal Education
- Education used to be a privilege; now it is a way to gain credentials, which leads to credentialism— the rising need for ever more sophisticated educational qualifications.
- Besides work training, education also instills societal values. So it is a form of primary socialization. Students learn to behave as responsible and informed — in other words
functional — citizens.
- Education isn’t a level playing field. (E.g. Harvard. Social advantages are passed down through higher education. Both socio-economic inequality and values and aspirations are
important in the study of education.)
- Meritocracy would be nice: but how would you differentiate between people? Wouldn’t the criteria themselves be biased? Tests are not always fair. Sigh my SATs but never mind
- Schools have limited resources (except maybe Harvard). People have limited time and energy and money. Politicians are swayed by popular opinion.
- Diversity in student body may create conflict, but more often widens students’ horizons. What is it about schools that result in formation or destruction of social bonds? We will
find out by studying formal and informal education.
WAYS OF LOOKING AT EDUCATION
- Functionalists focus on manifest and latent functions of education.
o Manifest: give students literacy and numeracy, maybe training for jobs or being informed citizens.
o Latent: warehousing unemployed (or unemployable) people, especially during times of high unemployment. Keep young people off the streets.
o Critical theorists often focus on latent functions of education.
- They studied schools as a source of hidden curriculum.
o Maybe the boredom you experience at school PREPARES you for the boredom at work!?! (No. That’s a horrible way to live. A life without passion.)
o Schools are meritocratic — sends an ideologically suitable message in a capitalist society.
o Schools also teach students how to dress and behave. As girls or boys. Or even as doctors, lawyers, managers, etc.
- Increasingly, institutions of higher education is interested in producing knowledge and translating knowledge. i.e. Research.
Classic Studies: The Academic Revolution
- 1968 by Christopher Jencks and David Riesman (looks like Riemann). Looks at historical ties between schools and societies, and examines evolution of higher education in post-
- The Academic Revolution recounts rise of ―research universities‖ in the 20th century. American society bureaucratized, leading schools to transform into a national system of
higher training. Top high school students go into top undergrads go into top graduate schools.
- University characterized by specialized curricula, heavy research agenda, and an all Ph.D. faculty. University without these are considered sub-par.
- So universities increase research and decrease undergraduate teaching (cough cough) to raise their international profile. Professors gained greater visibility and importance.
Increasingly these professors — concerned with research and graduate teaching — determine the character of undergraduate education. These professors promote meritocracy.
- Of course this shift created conflict. Youth who resent adult authority, locals who resent foreigners, the religious who resent secular education, social elites who resent lower
classes oppose this change — ―generational war‖.
- This academic revolution has not succeeded fully. Positions at top universities are limited, students from wealthy backgrounds continue to gain entry the most easily. (Cough
cough … Harvard). Jencks and Riesman say that this is due to unequal structure of American society. (Well. Yeah.) And more energy must be directed to make society more equal.
Otherwise efforts to create meritocracy will be futile.
- But still, education has been important to upward mobility. As John Porter had said.
- More recently Jonathan Cole said in The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must be Protected: social values and social
and economic structures behind each research university is important. Why do universities produce scientific research and technological innovation? Because they have a standard
of excellence in accordance with scientific research. (As opposed to religion).
- Jencks and Riesman described the US situation but what about Canada? Canada has a smaller system (even per capita) with smaller inequality. The best are not THE best and the
worst are not THE worst. Comme ci, comme ça. Canadian universities focus on research too though. So students pay more and more. Right now half of a university’s operating
costs are paid by student tuitions.
- Andrew Hacker is not happy. He wrote Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It. He said tuition fees are
too much, tenured professors don’t teach and relegate the job to adjuncts, graduate programs are too big for their own good, Ph.D.’s can’t get jobs, all the money goes to med
school, science, or business with none left for humanities. Students get an education they don’t need and can’t use, while putting themselves in debt for the next 10 or so years.
- Criticisms for Jencks and Riesman.
o Tedious read! with no new insights. (Bidwell, 1969.)
o Suggestions for reform are half-hearted.
o Ad hominem! People feel personally attacked by remarks on ―marginal colleges‖: the local, black, religious, and women’s colleges.
o But others find it revealing and persuasive! Bidwell said their secondary analysis of various data on college and university attendance is especially praiseworthy.
- Schools did a good job to level the playing field. Do you know that girls to better than boys at elementary, secondary, and even (whatever that’s supposed to mean) at post-
- Continuing gender differences — in salary and rank — reflect not a failure of education. It’s just that, most women don’t choose -higher-paying, traditionally male-dominated
careers. Some blame higher education, but self-selection is important too.
- Ethnic groups have experience increases in education too. Although to be fair it may have to do with immigration policies. The unnecessary requirement of Canadian working
experience often forces educated immigrants to work for jobs for which they are over-qualified. Immigrants push their children to work hard and get college/university education.
Aboriginals though are still underrepresented. There are some stats in the book check it out.
- Children from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are generally less likely to gain a higher education. This begins early in life.
Classic Studies: The Adolescent Society
- James S. Coleman based The Adolescent Society on a survey of US high school students. Coleman finds out that — academic achievement means nothing, and looking good means
everything! If you are academically successful but unattractive, well, GG.
- Coleman argues that this teenage subculture is largely separate from the adult world. Where, well, good looks do count but so does hard work. The adolescent way of thinking
discourages academic ambition and undermines the preparation for workforce.
- Why has this culture developed? Industrialization separated adolescents from adults, leading them to gain approval from peers. New non-adult bases of evaluation developed.
Academic success is viewed as conformity.
- Some critics say that those teens’ parents are just shallow. So this book is a hidden critique of American culture and society. Problems schools and educators face are indeed
cultural and motivational, not merely economic.
- Teenage relationships are inherently conflictual. So much drama!
Ability Grouping or Streaming
- Some schools segregate different kinds of students by ability grouping/tracking/streaming. Debate continues.
- Three main types of ability grouping
o 1. Ability grouping: common in elementary schools. Students are divided into ―slow‖, ―average‖, and ―advanced‖ readers. etc.
o 2. Setting: ―Honours‖, ―academic‖, ―applied‖ course codes, etc.
o 3. Tracking/Streaming: students move as one block, taking all classes together. Referred to as a ―core group‖.
- Advantages of streaming: pupils advance according to their abilities; failures are reduced; bright students are not bored; less likely to confront students with their inadequacy.
- Disadvantages: lack of able students to stimulate learning; stigma; unnecessarily trap young people if assessment not accurate (Einstein wasn’t very bright as a child); higher levels
simply receive more work rather than different work. Teachers may not want to work with slower students. Minorities are not socialized to be ambitious. Lower-stream students
receive instruction that is slower-paced and of lower quality.
Segregation or Distance in Schools - Not all students are created equal. Some parents choose private schools. Reason? Better education, less student variety, more instillation of values. Currently they are even thinking
of ―black schools‖, like segregation all over again, which of course the textbook scoffs at.
- Some parents home school. It’s an increasing trend. Children remain at home to be taught and it is considered legal. But there are difficulties with respect to the curricula. Why?
Don’t want to be brainwashed, don’t want to be multicultural or egalitarian, don’t want to be secular or scientific. Which of course the textbook scoffs at.
- Some parents isolate their children from the opposite sex. Does it help? Research is inconclusive. On one hand this saves time and energy. On the other students don’t know about
the opposite sex which can cause trouble.
Classic Studies: Crestwood Heights
- What is the connection between family life, school experience, and mental health? John R. Seeley wrote a book.
- Crestwood Heights is a project to learn about the mental health of children in Canada. Post WWII. Seeley wants to study ―the culture of the child under pressures of conformity‖.
What’s a child’s culture? What’s his values, goals in life, and problems? (see UP) Focused on Forest Hill community of Toronto.
- To the residents of Forest Hill, the child is a problem to be solved. Like other things in life. They want a trophy child. A child that they can be proud of. These parents are
successful and upwardly mobile people, usually businesspeople or professionals. To varying degrees they all want their homes to look like Hollywood movies or haute-couture
- They teach their children to be ―perfect‖: competitive and successful in their pursuits. Children are a reflection of the parent. They need to be successful in scout groups, music
lessons, and in school! School is a place where children can prove their worth. Thus the Parent-Teacher Association becomes important. It retrains parents and restrains teachers.
- There is tension. Parents don’t like their children below A which leads to grade inflation. Which means they’ll get destroyed in universities.
o Small and biased sample space. (Bidwell, 1957, good to see him again).
o Elkin (1957) said book is descriptively vague and lacks a theoretical framework. Mostly anecdotes.
- Praised for ―faithful ethnography‖.
o Even 50 years later many of the same patterns exist. Especially immigrant parents socialize their children to be ambitious and independent (rather than, say, dutiful,
generous, or pious). Often the values schools promote are just an extension of parents’ values — ambition and advancement.
But social capital and cultural capital matter too.
Abuse or Violence in Schools
- Bullying is bad and a source of concern. With Internet comes cyber-bullying. Bullies terrorize their victims, physically, emotionally, or socially. They consume their souls. Bullies
are either buff or popular at school (or both). Forms include a ―roughing up‖, threats, or gossip (this one is usually by girls), or exclusion.
- Childhood bullies are also likely to display anti-social behaviours in adulthood — 40% of childhood bullies have violent tendencies as adults. Motives originate at home, and
bullies often imitate their parents. Bullies show aggression to many people, even teachers and parents, with little empathy.
- Victims are often associated with tension, fears, worry, low self-esteem, and depression. Bullies grow up to be bullies. Victims may or may not still be victimized when they grow
Five out of six students say they feel uncomfortable when they see someone get bullied.
- Bullying is not merely psychological but also social. E.g. bullying serves a function in the ―adolescent society‖ of Coleman — to distinguish winners and losers. Bullying often
focus on certain culturally supported stereotypes — handicaps (deafness, blindness, obesity, etc.), unpopularity, or homosexuality. e.g. Calling victims ―gay‖. Hyper-masculine
activities (like football) are especially likely to encourage bullying.
The Integrating Power of Schools
- It is in the school setting that children broaden their base of close friendships. School brings people together by driving them apart. We are cleaved from our parents and able to
form relationships with our peers.
- Early in life, we are most concerned with our relations with parents. But at school we are aware of a much larger world. We are confronted with moral doubt. And we grow and see
identities and goals of our own. We want to find our true selves but also be part of the crowd.
- Schools contribute to the evolution of independence. From adolescence into adulthood. How?
o 1) Schools bring together large numbers of young people, giving them an opportunity to communicate and interact easily.
o 2) Most children want to make friends, and school provides this opportunity.
- Erik Erikson (nice name…) said that we all grow up following a predictable human life cycle, made up of 8 stages. At each stage we are faced with a specific task. If we complete
it and beat the boss, we can advance to the next level. We’ll look at two of them.
o Stage 4: latency stage, 6-12 years old. Children learn new skills, developing a sense of industry and competence. They also develop socially, comparing themselves to
others and (sometimes) feeling inadequate and inferior. As these times they confront problems with their self-esteem. Most significant relationships are school,
neighbourhood, and peers. Parents are important but not the most important.
o Stage 5: 12-19 years old. Development depends mainly on what they do, not what others do to them. Neither children nor adults – life gets more complex as young
people try to find their own identities, struggle with social interactions, and grapple with moral issues. Ultimate goal is to find the self to move forward.
- At this stage adolescents may distance themselves from their families: Erikson calls this a ―moratorium‖ of family relations. Because they lack experience, adolescents substitute
ideals for experience. They develop strong devotion to friends and causes, wanting to idealize them. Most important relationships are often peer groups.
- It’s so good to be young!
James S. Coleman
- A Columbia grad, Coleman understands well how young people influence one another. Coleman did one of the largest studies in history and surveyed over 150000 students. This
report is calledEquality of Educational Opportunity. Aka Coleman report.
- Coleman said that students’ achievements do not depend on school funding but depends on student’s background and socioeconomic status. e.g. Black students perform better in
mixed schools instead of segregated schools — leads to desegregation!
- Coleman is interested in how schools provide cultural capital (as opposed to the Frenchman, Bourdieu, who contended that cultural capital are passed down through inheritance.
Kind of an interesting illustration of American vs. French thinkings.) and social capital.
- Lillbacka (2006) is the first to try to measure social capital empirically, through indicators as 1) interpersonal trust, 2) a strong social network, 3) self-confidence, and 4) belonging
to voluntary associations.
- Healy (2004) said that social capital is contextual. What works in one situation may not work in another. So social capital is kind of like currency – Canadian dollars may not work
in Sri Lanka!
Healy and Lillbacka say that these contextual problems cannot be solved. But they can be improved!
- Barnett (2005) tested Coleman’s hypothesis that ―Catholic schools instill more social capital than public schools‖, and therefore Catholic students do better in school. Barnett
found that Catholic school students do have more social capital but not necessarily do better.
- Bankston (2004) looked at immigrant children — ethnicity is a kind of social capital. But it’s only beneficial if that ethnicity endorses cultural values that pertain to school
- Ethnic minorities — especially, immigrants — benefit from what Raymond Breton (student of Coleman) called ―institutional completeness‖. Students benefit from integration into
their ethnic group, and they benefit from higher aspirations. That’s not it though. They benefit most from an interaction of the two.
o e.g. Chinese Canadians will have more educational payoff than integration into a culture that doesn’t value education that much. So education depends also on
- Bonikowski (2004) says that stratification studies like Coleman’s (which emphasize on socioeconomics) do not consider the effect of curriculum on academic outcomes.
Curriculum design itself may be influenced by socioeconomy. So Bonikowski says that the theory is incomplete — did not consider all variables.
- Elster (2003) says Coleman is perceptive but dogmatic. Apart from lack of variables, Coleman is following the ―rational choice theory‖, saying that social investment is conscious.
It may not be. e.g. Teens and their fixation on sports and acne? Oh gee.
- Lindenberg (2003) says that Coleman isn’t practical enough. Coleman did very little institutional design, so why should anyone listen to him? (Article: How to Keep Learning as
an Expert). Lindenberg says that Coleman is trying to be all microeconomical, but life isn’t microeconomics!
- Coleman’s later work involve ―economic sociology‖ and ―mathematical sociology‖ — often hard to understand! Some sociologists are simply not good at math. Others view it as
and oversimplistic, overidealized approach. But Coleman may have potential.
- Coleman is trained as both an engineer and a sociologist and he deserves some respect. Chapter 13: Churches and Religion
- For the pious, religion reveals truths — truths as solid and unequivocal as trees, but infinitely more important. Truths of unassailable significance and validity.
- Sociologists view religion as just beliefs — beliefs not unassailably true. Sociologists are interested in how certain beliefs are legitimized, and who controls this process. How do
religions rise and fall? And why have some existed for so long, while others dwindled?
- For a sociologist, religion is a (merely) social phenomenon (don’t get offended). Marx viewed religion as a form of socially organized self-deception (in response to whose theories
Nietzsche envisioned Übermensch — Superman — that shall rule over the meek, made weak by Judeo-Christian beliefs of sacrifice). Durkheim viewed it as an opportunity for
group celebration. Weber viewed it as a set of beliefs that gives life meaning and purpose.
- A standard account of modernity:
o Past few centuries saw much rationalization of society and accumulation of scientific knowledge. Religion lost much of its social relevance in the West, in fact many
comes to deny the sacred texts and teachings
- Is this account accurate? Ask yourself. 60% of Canadians still consider themselves to be moderately or highly religious. There are new religious movements (NRM) which people
view as better serving their needs. People may have given up on traditional worship but they have not given up on religion.
- For multicultural Canada we have a problem: should religions be presented in the public sphere? Some serious devouts would think that only their religion deserves public
attention, etc. 80% of Canadians identify themselves as ―more or less‖ Christian, so it is still tied to our lives.
- Another issue: some religions have been traditionally patriarchal. But modern women are equals of men! How do we reconcile with this? Of course we can’t just send all the
clergies to jail?
- Would society be better or worse off if religion disappeared? (If we manage to, as Weber suggests, thoroughly ―disenchant‖ the world through rationalization?)
WAYS OF LOOKING AT RELIGION
- Durkheim is a functionalist: interested in religion’s role to promote solidarity. Why are religions universal? He asks. Conclusion is that religion has the power to bring people
o Religion perpetuates social solidarity by reaffirming shared values. But of course modernization will eventually lead to decline of religion. What will be in its stead?
- Marx established critical theory. He thinks religion is a form of social control and therefore cause of conflict (complete antithesis to Durkheim’s argument). Religion forms part of
the dominant ideology — opiate of the masses, making them subdued, uncritical, easily manipulated. It numbs the pains of oppression and diverts working class’s attention.
o Marx predicts that after a proletarian revolution, there would be no need for religion. Class concerns alone should occupy worker’s concerns. But experimentally Marx
- Weber focused on subjective meaning and personal experience of religion. He believed that people have an inner need to understand the world as ―meaningful‖ (rationalization).
Else how can we deal with our existential angsts? In a universe where nothing is certain except death, we’ve devised religion as a sweet nepenthe that makes us oblivious of how
utterly insignificant and meaningless we are. He wrote The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (See Week 3; Chapter 4).
Classic Studies: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
- Written by DURKHEIM. His final work. Durkheim wants to understand the universality of religion–preferably at its birth. But neolithic communities don’t keep records too much.
So instead Durkheim asks: how might religion come to be? What might it have been devised to solve?
- Totemism – the use of natural objects and animals to symbolize spirituality. Preliterate societies use this emblems to symbolize their faith in a higher power. An emblem is
meaningless but it unites a tribe. It evokes collective loyalty.
- Rituals and ceremonies further reinforce these tote