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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. Examine the ways in which practical, ethical and theoretical factors may influence a sociologists choice of research method

    This would mean that they wouldn't be able to use covert participant observation as a research method. In stead, they should use questionnaires for information if they need quantitative data (e.g. roughly how many hours they do homework for) or semi-structured interviews if they wanted qualitative data (e.g. to talk about if they were happy with their subject choice). Some researchers may have a lot of time and money to invest in a study; this is another practical factor which may lead them to choose qualitative methods such as unstructured interviews because they allow participants to talk at length about a certain subject e.g.

    • Word count: 998
  2. Possible reasons for boys underachievement at school.

    In addition boys tend to pursuit more time into sporting activities and computer activities, and these do little to help develop their language and communication skills. In contrast girls tend to have a 'bedroom culture' centred on staying in and talking with friends. Men tend to do better in manual labour work, since there has been a decline in traditional men's jobs in heavy industries such as iron and steel, shipbuilding, mining, engineering and other manufacturing.

    • Word count: 480
  3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of questionnaires, as a research method

    They prefer this type of questionnaire as it gives you quantitative data (data in statistical or numerical form). This type of data makes it quick and easy to analyse the responses. On the other hand, a semi-structured questionnaire also includes yes and no answers, however, it may also ask why. This will make the responses become qualitative data. This type of data is preferred by the feminists and interpretivists as they like data that reveals people's feelings and provides in-depth information about a social issue. Feminists may find this data more useful to use as they believe women are often confined to a privatised domestic sphere, so they are more likely to welcome the opportunity to talk to someone sympathetically, rather than just answer yes or no.

    • Word count: 1170
  4. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of interviews, as a research method

    Structured interviews are preferred by Positivists, such as Marxists and Functionalists. This is because the response is easy to categorise, as it gives you quantitative data. However, Feminists and Interpretivists may prefer to use unstructured interviews, as they would rather get a deeper meaning response and ask more questions relating to the interviewee's response. An ethical advantage of a structured interview is that it is reliable. For example, another sociologist could repeat the research and obtain the same results. This is because the interview is structured, with a set of questions the interviewer has to follow.

    • Word count: 1298
  5. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of participant observation, as a research method

    Participant observation allows the researcher to get a true picture of what they are studying. For example, comparing observations to questionnaires; what people say they do when filling in a questionnaire, may not always be the same to what they actually do in real life. This makes interpretivists prefer the use of participant observation, as they believe it produces valid data because it gives the researcher a firsthand insight into social actors meanings and behaviour. In addition, sociologists believe that the best way to truly understand what something is like is to experience it for ourselves.

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  6. How do the three factors of class, gender and ethnicity affect achievement in education?

    This changed when the 1944 Butler Education Act made secondary education available to all. As a result the tripartite system was introduced. The idea was to eliminate the divisions of social classes, which were based on meritocratic ideology. However, it just recreated social class inequalities. The negative stigma attached to secondary modern schools created a negative self-fulfilling prophecy for the working-class pupils. Teachers were paid less in secondary modern schools and therefore were arguably less qualified and less motivated in their teaching.

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  7. Assess sociological explanations of why girls achieve better results than boys.

    Francis and Skelton go further to argue that girls saw their careers as reflecting their identity and fulfilment. Along with growth in job opportunities for women and rise in their ambitions it have led to an overall increase in motivation to gain educational qualifications. Therefore it is easier for girls to do good at school as they have all the motivation and attitude needed to gain good grades. However this research might be out-dated and female expectations are constantly changing, they are also dependent on the characteristics and culture therefore white female expectations may differ from those of a Asian women.

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  8. Free schools are an interesting idea but the government needs to be very careful to make sure that educational standards improve for all children and that the whole community benefits.

    is no discrimination or segregation and they nurture a shared set of beliefs and values and goals, living together in harmony and mutual respect. An example of a community that lacks this is Oldham - in which the races, Asians and whites were segregated and this triggered violent race riots. This happened due to the immense divide between Asian and White communities and their inability to mix and appreciate one another. This event made me think that this was very bad for the community and did nothing but encourage racial segregation.

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  9. Discuss the view that there is inequality in educational attainment and opportunity in Britain

    Working class people are affected by material deprivation because they may not be able to afford materials or resources for school such as uniform, textbooks or even school trips and this can lead to the pupils getting bullied and therefore not do well in school. Also they may live in poor housing conditions such as poor heating due to the family's low income. Reay (2005) said many working class students plan to go university nearby because they could not afford the travel cost to go somewhere far, therefore they may not do as well because the university may not be as good as others.

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  10. Asses the Usefulness of Feminist Views of Education

    Marxists believe that it is through meritocracy that the lower classes are made to believe they are achieving/ able to achieve a "top" job if they put the work in but really it is pretty much impossible for someone from a working class background to make it to 'the ruling class'. In contrast to this functionalists believe that the education system is a 'level playing field' in which everyone is granted an equal chance in succeeding, all that is needed is for the pupil to put the effort in and they will then be rewarded.

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  11. Difference and similarities between 2 societies - China and the UK

    The culture of British has been influenced by many factors including: the nation's island status; its history as a western liberal democracy and a major power; Result of the British Empire, British affect can be seen in the languages, legal systems and culture of many of it's former colonies; such as United States, Australia. China also has a long history and used to be a one of the most powerful countries ruled the world. Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been greatly influenced by Confucianism and a kind of hidebound philosophies.

    • Word count: 1485
  12. Assess sociological explanations of the rise of new social movements in recent years

    Whereas the old social movements of the 19th century were concerned with issues such as labour conditions and tended to be class-based, new social movements are concerned with causes such as environmental and women's issues. Examples of new social movements include PETA, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and NOW. Item A, rather controversially, labels members of ALF as "animal rights terrorists" which is an idea that has divided new social movement theorists. Hallsworth argues that new social movements are mainly concerned with post-materialist values, in societies where most people have already attained a reasonable standard of living, which is why new social movements have risen.

    • Word count: 1021
  13. Assess the view that the modern education system is meritocratic.

    Parsons and Davis and Moore all saw education as meritocratic. They argue that individuals are not born intellectually equal. The role of the education system is to sift and sort people. This involves selecting the most able for the mot functionally important roles in society. Therefore, doctors and lawyers are naturally more intelligent than cleaners and porters. In Parson's view a meritocratic education system was essential in modern society. He saw the education system as a bridge between home and work. In the family individuals are judged on 'particularistic' values and have ascribed statuses.

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  14. Free essay

    Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose not to use experiments when conducting research

    The laboratory experiment has major advantages as the method can be used to establish cause and effect relationships. For this reasons positivist sociologists use laboratory experiments as they favour a more scientific method. Positivist sociologists however also acknowledge the short comings of laboratory experiments, such as, it is often impossible or unethical to control the variables. Also their small scale means that results may not be representative or generalisable to the wider population. On the other hand interpretivists reject the laboratory experiments because it fails to achieve their main goal of validity. It is an artificial environment producing unnatural behavior.

    • Word count: 630
  15. How to Do Qualitative Research. Do the Olympics cause their audience to act differently than when they are watching any other popular TV show? This question was chosen to clearly outline the process of ethnography, and how it is useful in f

    The other type is covert. This is where the researcher is unknown by the participants (Savage 10).The ethnography done about whether the Olympics change the way an audience acts is a covert ethnography. The subjects were unaware of the researcher and the fact that they were being studied and just watched TV as they normally would. Although this study was in a closed setting, there is always a chance of a risk when doing a covert study, because one of the participants may not want to be studied (Savage 9-10). Another important aspect of doing an ethnography is gaining access.

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  16. Examine Recent Trends in Gender Attainment

    This isn't because women are taking men's jobs, but because of the changes in the economy with a shift from manufacturing to service industries. Because of years of discrimination, manufacturing jobs have been the preserve of men. They have been the car workers, aerospace workers and engineers. Women on the other hand, have been and still are the secretaries, clerical workers, shop assistants, cleaners and cater. It is precisely in these areas of 'women's work' that a growth in jobs has been taking place.

    • Word count: 1323
  17. Outline and evaluate the interactionist view of education (40 marks)

    According to Hargreaves Teachers tend to label according to 7 criteria, these being appearance, conforming to discipline, likeability, their relationship with other children, enthusiasm and their individual personality. Teachers who do label can also change them which can also have a good or bad effect on the child depending on the label. Also they do not identify where the label has come from because it would show as unprofessional behaviour, therefore making that teacher less favourable. Marxists argue that labelling is all based around class, therefore upper and middle class students will be seen as better or more intelligent than most working class children.

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  18. Feminism focuses on the oppression of women by men. The structure of families is a good example of patriarchy -

    Firestone (1972), a radical feminist, also provides a convincing analysis which helps in our understanding of the position of women in society today. She argues that women's biology is the basis for their inequality and domination by men in all societies. Because women menstruate, give birth and breastfeed, they are sometimes physically dependent on others. This dependency allows men to develop both physical and psychological power and control, and thus men dominate the social world. When giving birth, wives are often accompanied by their husbands who provide support for their wives through the emotional time of child birth.

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  19. Examine the ways in which state policy may affect families and households.

    Many of their tax and welfare policies were favourable to heterosexual couples. Graham Allan (1985) went as far to suggest that the policies actually went out of their way to work against single parent families. Item B describes how state policy can be there to keep traditional values alive within the family, this policy of the then conservative government is evident of that. As we can see form item C Dr Adrian Rogers from the pressure group family focus is very much in favour of the traditional heterosexual family and against homosexual partners being called a family.

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  20. Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that working-class underachievement in education is the result of home circumstances and family background

    Through their study of child-rearing practices, they found that parental skills found within working-class families were poor in comparison with those that were evident within middle-class families were child-centeredness is apparent. They found that middle-class parents got more involved in learning through play, monitoring educational progress and encouragement through visits to the library, museums and galleries etc. They believe that this places middle-class kids at an advantage when it comes around the time for them to start school. Again it is possible to say that it may well perhaps be down to the fact that money may be restricting them

    • Word count: 1467
  21. Assess the view that religious beliefs and practices are changing to reflect a new era of diversity and choice

    Despite this fall in institutional religion, religion is self has not declined. Instead the concept of individual consumerism has replaced collective tradition. People today now feel that they have a choice as consumers of religion, they have become according to Hervieu-Leger "spiritual shoppers". Religion is now individualized, we have now developed our own "do it yourself" beliefs that give meaning to our lives and correspond to our own interests and aspirations. Religion has become more of a personal journey, in which we choose or own personal elements that we want to explore.

    • Word count: 1407
  22. Assess sociological explanations for the increasing number of religious and spiritual organizations and movements in society today.

    Although it can be difficult to classify these movements, there have been numerous attempts to classify them. With the number of new religious movements present in the 1970s, Wallis classified these movements into three types according to their relationships to the outside world. The first type which is world-rejecting new religious movements is similar to sects as described by Troeltsch. Most movements of this type are not traditional and want a change in the world which seems to be evil or corrupt. The members have to obey strict rules and have to leave their social life behind them.

    • Word count: 1460
  23. Assess the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society

    He believed that for society to operate effectively they have to develop a sense of belonging to something, becoming 'social beings' with a loyalty and commitment to society as a whole. The education system creates this effectively by teaching subjects such as history, which enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society. He argues that one of the two main functions of education is creating social solidarity. Social solidarity means individual members feel themselves to be a part of a single community or group.

    • Word count: 1112
  24. Demography topic revision notes. The study of populations and their characteristics is called demography.

    The total fertility rate The factors determining the birth rate are, firstly, the proportion of women who are of childbearing age (usually taken to be 15-44) and, secondly, how fertile they are - that is, how many children they have. The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children women will have during their fertile years. The UK's TFR has risen since 2001, but it is still much lower than in the past. From an all-time low of 1.63 children per woman in 2001 it rose to 1.84 by 2006.

    • Word count: 4925
  25. Similarities and Difference between American and Asian Culture

    "Catholicism is the religious preference in twenty one percent of Asian households" (Para 1). Though I never knew exactly what religious believes were practiced by Asian's, I was very shocked to see that twenty one percent practices Catholicism. The similarity comes from the role that faith plays in our lives gives the American and Asian community a solid family core. Both the American and Asian culture had similarities and differences when it comes to family life. When it comes down to family life, both cultures have strong family believes. Also both cultures view education as important.

    • Word count: 555

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