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•Systematic inequalities between groups of people
-As a consequence of social processes, relationships


•18th century
•private property creates social inequality, which leads to social conflict

Ferguson, Millar

•agreed with Rousseau, but argue inequality is good
-It means some are getting ahead, creating assets


•Viewed inequality favorably, as a means of controlling population
•Equal distribution of resources would increase world population to unsustainable levels
-Mass starvation, conflict


came up with the master-slave dialectic theory about inequality

master-slave dialectic

•Most social relationships based on master-slave model
•Will die out as society gains more free people over time

Ontological equality

Everyone is created equal in the eyes of God

Equality of opportunity

•Inequality is acceptable if everyone:
-Has the same opportunities for advancement
-is judged by the same standards
•was key to the arguments of civil rights leaders in the 1960s

Equality of Condition

Everyone should have an equal starting point from which to pursue their goals

Equality of outcome

•Everyone should end up with the same "rewards"
-Regardless of starting point, opportunities, contributions


A class is a group characterized by common life chances and opportunities

Status hierarchy system

Based on social prestige

Elite-mass dichotomy system

Based on a governing elite-a few leaders who broadly hold the power of society

Socioeconomic status

•Refers to an individual's position in a stratified social order
•Occupation, Wealth, Income, Education

Social Mobility

the capacity for someone to move up and down a system


•Condition of deprivation due to economic circumstances
-Severe enough that one cannot live w/ dignity in society

Poverty Line

•Federally defined income limit
•Estimates level of absolute poverty
-Assumes food is 1/3 of expenses


•families living above poverty line cannot necessarily support themselves
-Food costs have decreased, but the cost of living (rent, utilities, etc.) as increased

Poverty and social problems

Poverty connected to crime, poor educational outcomes, divorce

Culture of Poverty

The poor adopt certain practices, which differ from middle-class, "mainstream" society, to adapt & survive


exchange time, money, etc. to cover temporary shortfalls


•The poor are not only different, but increasingly deviant, even dangerous
•Response to perverse incentives or welfare
•Rewards that stimulate counterproductive behavior

William Julius Wilson

•Deemphasized welfare, saved urban poverty caused by: deindustrialization, globalization, suburbanization
•Child poverty rate 22%

How poverty affects children?

•3 theories
-1) kids are deprived of basic necessities
-2) parenting stress hypothesis: stress of poverty leads to detrimental practices (shouting, hitting)
-3)personal characteristics that cause poverty also cause negative parenting

What money can't buy?

•sociologist Susan Mayer challenged the common assumption that poverty directly causes poor health, behavioral problems, and a host of other problems for children
•Very little evidence that parental income has an effect on children's outcome

Moving to opportunity

•Families in public housing randomly selected to move through low poverty areas
•Adults: happier, healthier, less stress, from fear violence
•Children: school outcomes improves, injuries & asthma decreased


Biological differences (like chromosomes, genitalia, physical features)


Social construct consisting a set of norms built around sex


Sexual desires, preferences, identities, behaviors

Gender roles

•Behavioral norms
•Related more to social status than biology

Hegemonic masculinity

Ideal of masculinity so dominant that it is regarded as the norm


•Intellectual, consciousness-raising movement
-Women and men should have equal opportunities and respect

Feminism (more modern way of feminism)

•Gender is an organizing principle of life
-Structures social relations unequally, so power is intertwined w/ gender differences


Nearly universal system involving the subornation of femininity to masculinity

The Woman Question

Many theories and approaches can be applied to the study of gender and power

Psychoanalytic theories

•Focus on individualistic explanations as opposed to societal ones
•Assumption: natural differences b/t sexes dictate behavior


•Gender differences exist to fulfill necessary functions in society
•Doesn't allow that:
-Other structures could fulfill the same functions
-Structures change throughout history


•sex role theory: argues that there are 2 biological based needs: a males figure who earns income and the homemaker who winds up taking care of domestic duties; argues that this was ideal
-Breadwinner/ homemaker model ideal for reproducing workers

Conflict theory

•the idea that conflict between competing interests is the basic, animating force of social change and society in general
•Patriarchal capitalists benefit through systems that subordinate women

Socialist feminist

argue that all social relations are influenced by gender inequality


Explaining social phenomena in terms of natural ones

Biological determinism

•Your social behavior should be as a direct result of your sex
•line of thought that explains social behavior in terms of biological givens

Binary sex

Only male & female, heterosexuality assumed


1-3 of 1,000 babies born with ambiguous genitalia

Social construction of gender and sexuality

"normal" and "abnormal" defined by social environment, not by nature


Social identity of one who has sexual attraction and/ or relation w/ the same sex

Acts vs. Identities

•Until 19th century, only 2 types of sex acts
-Socially approved: sex within marriage for procreation
-Socially disapproved: same-sex acts, oral sex, masturbation

Emergence of Sexual Identities

•Late 1800s (19th century)-growing body of medical literature classified people as homosexuals
•American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from list of disorders in 1973


•Semen=vital life force
•Female fluids=poison
•Boys initiated into manhood through regular fellatio on older boys and men

Kinsey Report (1948)

•Americans have wide variety of sexual behaviors, desires
•Public reaction-disbelief, concern about morality

Kinsey sexuality scale

based on sexual thoughts, behaviors, identity

The Integrative Perspective

•Sexual identities determined by both social and biological factors
•Some studies link biology (genetics, sex hormones) to sexual orientation


•A group who share a set of characteristics (usually physical) and are said to share a common bloodline
-All humans=99.9% genetically identical
•A social construct, changing over time and place


•Belief that separate races possess different and unequal human traits
•Many historical efforts to explain race were biased due to ethnocentrism

Biblical explanation

Africans descend from Ham, cursed in Genesis 9

Scientific racism

Early theories investigating origins, explanations, and classifications of race

Race in the Early Modern World

-White Europeans=norm


Racial classification based on skull measurements

Social Darwinism

•"survival of the fittest"
•All races=same species
•Some races were more evolved, better fit to survive or rule others


Races have social-psychological traits transmitted through bloodlines

Fertility control

can shape traits of the population


Movement to protect land and culture from polluting effects of new immigrants

The One-Drop Rule

•Belief that one drop of black blood makes a person black
•Applying this rule kept the white population pure


•Multiracial marriage
•Dated, politically-charged term
•Laws against intermarriage overturned by Loving v. Virginia, 1967

Race and Ethnicity

•Race is externally imposed, involuntary, characteristics are physical (usually), hierarchal, exclusive
•Ethnicity is self-identified, voluntary, cultural, nonhierarchal, fluid and multiple, not power-based

Symbolic ethnicity

•Individualistic in nature, without real social cost
•a nationality, not in the sense of carrying the rights and duties of citizenship but identifying with a past or future nationality


Formation of a new racial identity in which new ideological boundaries of difference are drawn around a formerly unnoticed group of people


•Socially constructed
-Depends on historical period
•Involves "invisible" privileges

Minority-Majority Group Relations



•Process in which immigrants arrive, settle in, and mimic local behaviors
-Eventually blend in completely


Ethnic ties are fixed for biological or cultural reasons


•Presence and engaged coexistence of numerous distinct groups in one society
-No single majority
-Or, minorities live separate but equal


•Legal or social practice of separation based on race or ethnicity
•Official U.S. policy until the 1960s
•Still evident in today's school, housing, and prisons

Origins of the "ghetto"

•"Great Migration" of blacks from South to North
•Neighborhoods exclude blacks
•"White flight" to suburbs


slums demolished for high-value developments, former slum dwellers move to housing projects


Mass killing of a population based on racial, ethnic, or religious traits


Negative thoughts and feelings about an ethnic or racial group


Harmful or negative acts against people deemed inferior based on race

Sick role (Parsons)

-Not to perform normal social roles
-Not to be held accountable for their condition
-Try to get well
-Seek competent help, comply with doctor's orders

Social Construction of Illness

Definitions of health and sickness change by time and place


Process by which issues become framed as medical

Social determinate theory

Social status position can determine health


•Determines by genetics and environment
•Black women born in 1980s are ½" shorter than previous generation (1960s)
-Mid to low income only

Whitehall Study

•a study conducted on civil servants in Britain
•Lower status=higher rates of morbidity (illness) and mortality (death)
•Conclusion: stress from low social status leads to poor health

Health Discrepancies

•Starkest differences are b/t whites and blacks
-Socioeconomic status
-Racist environment
•Women live longer, Types of illnesses, Willingness to seek care, Married live longer

Married live longer

•Benefit greater for men
•Unclear whether marriage benefits health or if healthier people more likely to marry

Infant mortality

The rate of death among infants

Whose ideas about private property and social conflict could be said to align most closely with those of Karl Marx?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Both thinkers believed that private property leads to social inequality.

What is an example of an asset?

a piece of property

Adam Ferguson and John Millar argued that inequality was

a prerequisite for social progress

free rider problem

the notion that when more than one person is responsible for getting something done, the incentive is for each individual to share responsibility and hope others will pull the extra weight

What is an example of the free rider problem?

A group of six teenagers is trying to get 100 signatures for a petition in two weeks' time. They meet three days before the deadline to see how they are doing. Two of the teens have gotten 50 signatures between them. But the other four have only collected 25 signatures between, so they are still 25 signatures short. The two teens who collected the most signatures are irritated about the poor results from the other four.

caste system

a form of a religion-based system of stratification

Contradictory class locations

idea that people can occupy locations in the class structure which fall between the two "pure" classes

The 3 partners/owners of a small graphic design business fit into what Erik Olin Wright calls contradictory class locations b/c

the fact that they own their own business puts them in the capitalist class, but at the same time, they don't control the labor of others

In responding to surveys asking them to rank various occupations according to status, people say they place more emphasis on the _____ of the position than the position's _____

educational requirements; income level


a society where status and mobility are based on individual attributes, ability, and achievement

C. Wright Mills

sees the consolidation of power among a small number of institutions and leaders as harmful to the interests of the masses

How did the post-World War II economic boom contribute to a "blurring of the lines" between the middle class and the working class?

Higher wages for working-class laborers gave these individuals greater access to markers of a middle-class lifestyle such as home ownership, a college education for their children, & more leisure time activities.

What has been the pattern in income growth among low-, middle-, and high-income earners in the United States over the past 30 years?

Income growth for high-income individuals has far outpaced that of middle- and low-income individuals

Structural mobility

the mobility that is inevitable from changes in the economy

The decline in manufacturing jobs and the growth of service sector jobs over the last 30 years creates opportunities for what kind of mobility?

Structural mobility

Mobility tables

help us to analyze individual mobility by comparing changes in occupational status between generations

Exchange mobility

occurs when some people move up into better jobs and others move down into worse ones, but the overall number jobs stays the same

estate system

a politically based system of stratification characterized by limited social mobility

The interview with Jeffrey Sachs highlights the structural, ecological, and historical aspects of global inequality. Industrialized nations have provided agricultural, medical, and other types of assistance to African nations to help improve economic conditions. What type of mobility might citizens of these nations experience as their country becomes more industrialized?

Structural mobility

Michael Hout's interview on the value of a college degree explains the difficulties for certain families to sacrifice and send their children to college. In what way does policy help to reproduce increased social stratification instead of social mobility?

tuition hikes in the University of California system are a bigger burden for low- and middle-class families


argue that gender matters because it structures social relations between people

Gender studies

can be said to focus on the relationship between nature and nurture

When we look back in history to examine ideas about sex, we find that?

he binary sex system with which we are familiar has not always been the standard model

Which of the following statements offers an essentialist explanation for gender differences?

Women are overrepresented in professions such as nursing, teaching, and social work because they are inherently more nurturing and caring than men

Gender categories

a social construct that vary in different cultures

What does the existence of the nadle in Navajo tribes or the berdache in other Native American cultures teach us about gender?

Concepts of gender are not absolute and unchanging

Talcott Parsons's sex role theory

proposed that a healthy, harmonious society exists when women and men play distinctive roles that fulfill specific societal needs

Structural functionalism

a theoretical tradition claiming that every society has certain structures (the family, the division of labor, or gender) which exist in order to fulfill some set of functions (reproduction of the species, production of goods, etc.)

Your introductory sociology professor believes that gender roles serve a purpose in society to fulfill certain functions. What type of theoretical background is your professor espousing?

structural functionalism

microinteractionist theory

associated with the idea that gender is a process—a product of our everyday social interactions

What is most closely associated with a conflict theory approach to gender studies?

Men benefit economically from women's inferior position in the family and the workplace

Black feminists

challenged the notion that all women experience oppression in the same way

Michel Foucault

argued that the development of homosexuality as a social identity was related to the development of states and scientific disciplines and a desire in both arenas to monitor and categorize people and their behavior

Louise Howe

defined "pink-collar" jobs as feminized, low-paid secretary or service industry jobs

Which of the following jobs could be described as a "pink-collar" job?

executive assistant

According to some sociologists, what happens when the number of women in a given profession starts to increase?

The profession loses some of its desirability for men, so fewer men enter the profession and it eventually becomes dominated by women.

glass ceiling

covert barriers that exist while policies that overtly discriminate against women have mostly been driven from the workplace

Women working in male-dominated professions often find that there are _____ opportunities for advancement, and men working in female-dominated professions often advance _____ their female colleagues.

limited; more quickly than

"Opting out"

refers to a perceived trend among middle-class, career women to leave the workforce and concentrate on being wives and mothers

The interview with Paula England highlights the changing gender dynamics of relationships for college students. In what way have the female college students that Dr. England describes lost a level of equality with male college students?

Women encounter a lack of reciprocal sexual pleasure.

In the United States, the one-drop rule lumped together anyone with any amount of black blood into one category, black, setting up an essentially binary racial system of black and white, with little thought for other minorities such as Asians or Native Americans. In South Africa, on the other hand, there are four racial categories and in Brazil there are up to a dozen racial categories depending on whom you ask. What conclusion can we draw from these differences in racial categories?

Racial categories are social constructs, not biological absolutes that transcend time and place.

How was racism expressed in Ancient Greece?

There is no evidence that racism was a part of Ancient Greek culture.


the judgment of other groups by one's own standards and values

The Nazi regime's belief that it had to protect a superior race from contamination by inferior races stemmed in part from _____.

the notion of social Darwinism

How was the one-drop rule related to laws forbidding miscegenation in the United States?

The one-drop rule reinforced antimiscegenation laws because any offspring of a mixed-race union would be categorized as black.

What is an example of symbolic ethnicity?

A woman whose maternal grandparents came to the United States from Norway participates in a Norwegian folk dance group and bakes Norwegian pastries for special occasions.

Which ethnic group in the United States experienced the most dramatic forms of forced assimilation?

Native Americans

Why are Latinos sometimes referred to as an "in-between" ethnic group?

The Latino population in the United States is very diverse—a mix of European, indigenous, and sometimes even African roots. Sometimes Latinos are categorized as white and sometimes as a separate race.

Why are Asians considered a model minority group?

Compared to other minorities, the majority of Asians have achieved much success in the United States in terms of educational achievement and income.

What are the differences between Robert Park's and Milton Gordon's models of assimilation?

Park's model assumes that all immigrants reach the end stage; Gordon's model recognizes that some people may get stalled in the assimilation process.

pluralistic society

one in which numerous distinct cultures engage and coexist peacefully within one large sociocultural framework

What factors contributes to the development of black ghettos in the United States?

public housing, redlining practices by federal loan agencies, white flight


refers to physical racial characteristics, mostly skin color

What is an example of passing?

A black woman always avoids the sun and uses various products that will supposedly lighten her skin.

Collective resistance

an organized effort to change a power hierarchy on the part of a less-powerful group in society

A Muslim classmate from your introductory sociology course helps organize and participates in a march protesting discrimination against Muslim Americans on campus. Over 300 Muslim American students from area colleges show up to participate. What type of action is this representative of?

Collective resistance

Ray is very disappointed that his daughter is marrying a Latino immigrant because he thinks Latinos are not very upwardly mobile and that they aren't supportive of women working and having successful careers. This is an example of _____.


The "new racism" couches its rhetoric in terms of _______ between groups rather than _____.

cultural differences; physical differences

wealth gap

least explored and perhaps the most striking of the disparities in social outcomes between blacks and whites in the United States

In her interview, Jen'nan Read describes the differences between Arab, an ethnicity, and Muslim, a religious categorization. As a group, Arab-Americans were mostly unnoticed in the United States until the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Since then, as the story of Zaid Ismail highlights, Arab-Americans have been the targets of racism and discrimination. What important sociological concept have Arab-Americans undergone as a group?



typically been seen as rather exclusive, however, new research suggests that the definition of "whiteness" is becoming increasingly inclusive

Jennifer Lee's interview on the changing racial makeup of the United States indicates that our society is moving from a white/non-white toward a black/non-black divide. In a way, this is a complete turnaround from the boundaries of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries known as what?

one-drop rule

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