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AS and A Level: Sociological Differentiation & Stratification

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UK trends - gender

  1. 1 Men tend to outperform women in terms of income, wealth, promotion at work; they are more likely to have full time and /or permanent contracts.
  2. 2 In the home men do less housework than women and are much less likely to suffer domestic violence than women. Men are more likely to have control of finances and power in decision making in the family.
  3. 3 Women have better life chances in terms of life expectancy, preferential treatment by courts when awarding custody of children, some evidence of greater leniency in sentencing, more time off paid work with their children, lower suicide rates and are doing better in schools.

Key UK trends - social class

  1. 1 At work, those in the working class are more likely to have a below average paid job, a temporary contract and work part time.
  2. 2 In terms of policing and the criminal justice system, the working class are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and to be arrested.
  3. 3 In the family people from working class backgrounds are more likely to marry younger and to get divorced.
  4. 4 In terms of health the working class are more likely, more likely to smoke, to miscarry their baby, to die of an accident at work and to die before their first birthday.
  5. 5 In education the working class are more likely to be placed in lower streams or sets at school, to leave school with fewer educational qualifications, and much less likely than the middle class to go to university.

Key UK trends - ethnicity

  1. 1 African Caribbean Britons are at high risk of being stopped and searched, getting longer custodial sentences, being excluded from school, being unemployed, living in a single parent family and achieving the lowest average GCSE scores.
  2. 2 British Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have the highest rates of poverty, living in cramped housing and female unemployment.
  3. 3 British Indians and British Chinese have higher than average educational success rates.
  4. 4 White Britons have better life chances than ethnic minorities in nearly all areas, with the exception of the British Indians and British Chinese.
  5. 5 There are significant differences WITHIN ethnic groups, so men and women, people from different social classes and ages have significantly different life chances.

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  1. Friederich Engels: Industrial Manchester, 1844 In the city of Manchester at the time, there were divisions put in place to break up the city.

    He take the Ducie Bridge, and bridge that crosses the Irk stream, as a view point to describe the deplorable conditions that the working-men lived in. He uses some of the most powerful descriptive writing to convey images of slums and deterioration that was present all along either side of the river.

    • Word count: 287
  2. Evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties

    This would raise ethical issues such as deception of both the children and staff. If access is successful, the method will allow the researcher to ?witness directly the pupils behaviour? wiping out the chance of creating a hawthorne effect and increasing validity. The second practical issue is the characteristics of the researcher. The sociologist may have a hard time fitting in unless they possess the characteristics a working class boy might respect.

    • Word count: 532
  3. Assess the sociological explanations for ethnic differences in educational achievement.

    Another factor is Language which has also been examined as an indicator for differences in ethnic minority achievement. For many EM students, English is a second language and their difficulties in communicating may be viewed as a lack of ability by teachers. However, both Driver and Ballard and also Modood found that Asian and white students had a similar level of language development by the age of 16 with it only being a temporary disadvantage for Indian pupils. Furthermore family life is a factor, with Bhatti?s study of B, P and I parents showed how parents had a high level of interest in their children?s education which was supported by close family and community ties.

    • Word count: 922
  4. Evaluate sociological explanations for ethnic differences in educational achievement.

    Another factor is Language which has also been examined as an indicator for differences in ethnic minority achievement. For many EM students, English is a second language and their difficulties in communicating may be viewed as a lack of ability by teachers. However, both Driver and Ballard and also Modood found that Asian and white students had a similar level of language development by the age of 16 with it only being a temporary disadvantage for Indian pupils. Furthermore family life is a factor, with Bhatti?s study of B, P and I parents showed how parents had a high level of interest in their children?s education which was supported by close family and community ties.

    • Word count: 921
  5. Evaluate the contribution of Marxist theories to our understanding of the role and functions of religion in the world today

    Marx is further supported by LENIN who argues that religion is much like a ?spiritual gin? that is doled out to the masses by the ruling class in order to keep them in their place. The ruling class use region to manipulate the masses and keep them from attempting to overthrow the ruling class by creating a ?mystical fog? that obscures reality. Religion also legitimises the power and privilege of the dominant class by making their position appear to be divinely ordained, e.g.

    • Word count: 985
  6. Research Methods - the strengths and weaknesses of unstructured interviews.

    It is known to be very difficult to manage and organise the large amount of qualitative information gathered and also sociologists may disagree on what the important points in the participant?s interview are. Access to the group of people that the researcher wants to interview might be difficult so if there was a gatekeeper it would be much easier. Due to the difficulty of getting a large sample, a group of researchers may be trained but this will be both costly and time-consuming.

    • Word count: 581
  7. Outline and assess sociological explanations for differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups.

    However, Sewell also blames poverty, cultural deprivation and the influence of gangs for the underachievement of Afro-Caribbean boys in the education system. Nonetheless, the idea that poverty and deprivation would be primarily responsible for unachievement solely in Afro-Caribbean boys can be disputed. Indeed, Parsons (1893) argued that the education system helps create a value consensus - a shared set of norms and values - and teaches history as a way of creating ?social solidarity? or the idea of a shared heritage amongst students.

    • Word count: 903
  8. Assess the view that science, religion and ideology are different types of belief systems.

    Popper argues discarding falsified knowledge claims is what enables scientific understanding of the world to grow. Scientific knowledge is cumulative ? it builds on the achievements of previous scientists to build greater understanding of the world around us. However despite achievements of scientists no theory is taken as definitely true; there?s always the possibility of someone disproving it. For example it was previously believed the sun revolved around the earth till disproved by Copernicus who showed this knowledge claim to be false.

    • Word count: 974
  9. Assess the claim that ethnic differences in educational achievement are primarily the result of school factors.

    Teachers would then confront their behaviour which would cause problems. Therefore they were labelled by teachers as students who didn?t want to do well. This leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy and helps to explain why Afro-Caribbean?s are seen to underachieve. The idea of an ethnocentric curriculum within schools describes an attitude that gives priority to the culture and view point of one particular ethnic group while disregarding others. This is seen within schools in Britain as Miriam David(1993) see?s the National Curriculum as ?specifically british? that teaches the culture of the ?host community? whilst ignoring other ethnicities cultures and languages.

    • Word count: 847
  10. Assess the view that gender differences in achievement are largely the result of changes in the education system

    argue that interaction within the classroom between the teachers and boys was not that different to that of girls. However, it was seen that boys tend to get more attention from teachers in terms of punishments, and Spender (1983) found that teachers spend more time interacting with boys than with girls. Francis (2001) argues that while boys get more attention, they are disciplined more harshly by teachers and felt more picked on as teachers had lower expectations of them. Many such as Gorard (2005) believe that the way pupils are assessed in modern education has favoured girls and disadvantaged boys.

    • Word count: 855
  11. Assess the view that working class underachievement in education is down to home circumstances and family background.

    This can be a problem for those who speak in a restricted language code for numerous reasons. Firstly, a student who speaks in a restricted language code may not be able to understand what their teacher is saying, therefore they are unable to access the curriculum which eventually would lead to that student?s failure and Secondly teachers tend to talk in an elaborate speech code. Therefore they may favour students who also talk in an elaborate speech code as they believe their responses are more academic. Where the reality is their response just sound more academic through the use of longer and better structured words.

    • Word count: 984
  12. Explain and briefly evaluate the view that class identities are created during primary socialisation.

    An example of this is how upper classes are associated with high culture, whilst popular culture is considered more common. Additionally, high culture, including institutions such as opera, often consist of people with a familiar, acquired taste for such leisure. The family is arguably the most critical institution of primary socialisation, as functionalist Parsons argues that one of the main functions of the family is to provide warmth and security to provide the consensus values which society depends upon. If we apply Parson?s ideology that the family is independently the most vital provider of socialisation, we can evaluate the extent in which the family brings forth the qualities we deem applicable to each class.

    • Word count: 999
  13. The individual has little control over the social forces that shape his or her life. Explain and assess the view.

    Informal social control can take forms of appreciation, punishment, calling names and even exclusion from the group. In this regard, children have no option but to accept their model roles which are carried throughout their lives. From the point of functionalists, socialization is seen as a one way process in which individuals are thought to be passive responding unknowingly to rewards and punishments. In this context, socialization is no more than training where individuals are not free to negotiate their social roles.

    • Word count: 900
  14. The role of the education system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities. Discuss.

    Bowles and Gintis have identified that education has a close correspondence to work, in particular, the education system must produce a subservient workforce that will work long hours for little pay. Parental background is also a significant aspect in the reproduction and legitimation of inequality, as students from the less fortunate backgrounds face several barriers when trying to become successful. Bowles and Gintis also learnt that earnings and occupation was not shaped by IQ, in fact it was an individuals class background which had determined their position in the labour market.

    • Word count: 890
  15. In his article, "Mixed Blood", Jeffery M. Fish examines the cultural foundation of racial differentiation and claims race to be a myth.

    Since racial classification primarily focuses on skin color, people with "compact" or "lanky" body types are merely variants of white, black, or other "racial" groups. A different choice of characteristics would categorize people into different ?races? and the choice of which characteristics are significant is an arbitrary cultural construct.

    • Word count: 346
  16. How is Webers view of the class structure different to Marxist theory?

    The owners of production (bourgeoisie) use the workers (proletariat) as manual labour and excessively use them. Sequentially, they wage their workers the smallest sum possible (Contemporary Example: Minimum Wage Act) in order to make the highest potential sum in return for themselves, hence are manipulating the working class. An evaluation upon Bilton?s concept (1996) would be that the Haralambos and Holborn (2002) approve of his conception however they introduce the contradictory concept called ?Mutual dependence and conflicts?. The Marxist theory also suggested that within a society administrated by capitalists, bourgeoisie and the proletariat, they are both dependent upon on one another.

    • Word count: 757
  17. Assess the view that the education system exists mainly to select and prepare young people for their future roles?

    Functionalists argue this has led to a more meritocratic society where role allocation is based on merit however this has come under attack in the 21st century where social class has been identified as perhaps the most influential factor in educational achievement of young people and contributing massively to constitutional racism. All the criticisms highlighted the educational system as a filter sieve where talent is selected and sorted out leading to roles been given according as part of the division of labour allowing society to function efficiently.

    • Word count: 901
  18. Assess the relation between sociology and social policy

    However, there is no guarantee that policy makers will study their findings ? or that even any solution will find its way into social policies. Factors such as electrical (electoral) popularity ? policies unpopular with voters) and globalisation (international organisations such as the EU and IMF which may influence the social policies of individual governments) may affect whether or not sociological research succeeds in influencing policy. Functionalist Durkheim, highlights sociology is a science which will discover the cause of social problems and scientific solution for them.

    • Word count: 953
  19. Feminism: A Sociological Overview

    Three main understandings of gender have emerged from the engagement of feminism and sociology: gender as a role performance across institutions (and as an institution in its own right, as a product of on-going individual activities in which social actors hold each other accountable for ??doing gender?? (West and Zimmerman 1987), and as a stratificational category or an arrangement of gender classes. Central to all three approaches is the study of gender socialization, of how a person learns to conduct themselves and to configure their identities around the socially constructed categories of masculine and feminine.

    • Word count: 812
  20. Gender and Stratification

    It is now agreed that women?s position in society, and in the labor force, should be studied separately from class analysis. Empirical research has shown that the sex segregation of occupations, and the pay gap between men and women, cut across social classes in ways that vary from one society to another, and vary across time. Occupational segregation and the pay gap develop and change independently within labor markets due to variations in female employment, anti-discrimination policies and other social policies ? including family-friendly policies that have been counter-productive in their effects.

    • Word count: 628
  21. Sociological Theories and Educational Achievement

    The founder of functionalism, Durkheim, argues that the function of school is to 'sift and sort' people into allocated roles based on their ability. It is also said that education plays a part in socialising children, teaching them core values which they may either resist or embrace (Parsons, 2004, p.54). However, the functionalist theory can be critised by looking at different ideas, such as those of the Marxist theory. Bowles and Gintis (1976) say that meritocracy is in fact a myth, as some people start education with benefits such being born into a middle-class family with educated parents, private schooling and material advantages.

    • Word count: 725
  22. Analyse the effect of two socio-economic factors on educational achievement

    The teachers are also thought to spend more quality time with the girls in the classroom, using this time to help with work progression whereas any time spent with boys may be focused more on behaviour management (Swann & Graddol 1993). Some argue that in cases such as GCSE coursework, it may be that females are at an advantage thanks to their superior organization skills and levels of concentration, allowing them to complete the work to a higher standard. Jackson (1998), says that boys may be automatically given a negative label at school through the belief that boys are associated with bad behaviour.

    • Word count: 904
  23. In the article Madonna I: Animality and Artifice, Camille Paglia argues that Madonna is the true epitome of feminism.

    This is really interesting because she does acknowledge the points of the opposition; however, she is the opposition in that paragraph. Moreover, she describes the video as ?pornographic, decadent, and fabulous? (par.4). Her description of Madonna?s video seems to be inconsistent as she points out the corruption present and still considers the music video to be remarkable without any given reason. Right there, she commits the fallacy of non sequitur. It does not follow to describe the video ?fabulous? (par.4)

    • Word count: 981
  24. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist approach to society

    One of the main objectives of functionalism is to find out, how social order is possible. Parsons identifies that social order is possible only if its members adhere to society?s norms and values. He argues that for this to happen, individuals have to be integrated into the social system. Primarily, the social system has its needs and to ensure that they are met, it requires the different agencies of socialisation i.e. media and family, to teach its individuals the systems norms and values so that it becomes part of their personality structure. Another is the idea of social control; he argues that those who conform to the value system are rewarded.

    • Word count: 799
  25. Examine Sociological Views of the Ways Educational Policies May Affect the Achievement of Pupils

    Even though they were getting some kind of education it was only an informal kind, not the formal kind that was being taught in the Public and Grammar Schools. In the 1870 there was an act enforced called ?The Forster Act?, this gave everybody a basic, free educational provision. Many believe that the reason for this is that Britain was becoming industrialised and we needed better skilled workforce to operate and manage machinery, otherwise we?d fall behind our main rivals USA.

    • Word count: 847

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