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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. Briefly explain some of the main features of any two sociological theories and evaluate some of the main differences between them. With reference to contemporary society.

    A central feature and premises of symbolic interactionism (a postmodernity perspective) is to put interactions, symbols, and meanings as its core subject matter when studying contemporary society; this methodological approach is the optimal way of collecting empirical data according to symbolic interactionalism (SI). (Bown, Pountney & MaricÌ, 2015) p21. Sociological theories fall onto three analytical levels; micro-level, the study of the individual interactions (SI); meso-level, the studying of organisations, towns and cities; and macro-level, the focus of broader social functions and systems.

    • Word count: 1697
  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. This essay will evaluate three groups within society; the Feminists, Postmodernists and the Marxists, providing information and supporting the theory that medicine is being used as an institution of social control.

    â It is the patient’s responsibility to make recovery a priority and they have a responsibility to seek appropriate treatment for their condition, by seeing a medical professional they are agreeing to becoming a ‘patient’. These rights and responsibilities are only in effect whilst the individual is ill and therefore may be temporary (Scarince, 2016).â Parsons work provided insight into an experience that affects society at some point in their lives however, would a person today find that their sickness/absence from work, matches Parsons description from 60 years ago?

    • Word count: 1968
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Examine some of the factors that influence a researchers choice of method (20 Marks)

    they could offer for example a entry into a £5,000 reward for people who complete their questionnaire. Another important practical factor is gaining the trust of the people. One example of this is Sudhir Venkatesh. He was able to infiltrate a gang called 'The Black Kings'. He was able to do so because he was of Asian descent meaning that the gang trusted him. Throughout the research, his ethnicity played an important part. At first however, he was held and questioned by them as they believed him to be a member of a rival gang.

    • Word count: 1263
  14. Evaluate Marxist and Neo-Marxist beliefs about society

    Marxism is a conflict, structuralist theory with the belief that capitalist society is divided between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, with the ruling class exploiting the working class, allowing them to control the super structure of society, (a super structure of society being the non-economic parts.) They believe religion is an ideology which the bourgeoisie endorse to oppress the poor. According to Marx religion is the ?opium of the masses?. This means religion is a tool to oppress society by acting like a drug that distorts reality and gives us ?false consciousness?, and also being a coping mechanism for the pain and stress the poor feel from the capitalist society.

    • Word count: 1116
  15. Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose not to use experiments when conducting their research

    On the other hand, Positivists may prefer to use experiments when conducting their research. Positivists like to think that sociology is like science. Experiments tend to be scientific as they are normally controlled and they are usually replicable, which makes them more reliable than other research methods such as interviews and observations, so positivists may choose to use them. Experiments are also objective and since positivists see society as a large-scale (macro-scale) structure that shapes our behaviour, they are more likely to use experiments when conducting their research.

    • Word count: 1020
  16. Assess the view that the working-class underachievement is the result of home circumstances and family background.

    a problem because they may struggle to learn new things, meaning that their knowledge would be limited, so when it comes to writing exams or essays, the working-pupils may struggle and this may then eventually lead them to underachieve in school. However, it could be argued that not all teachers use an elaborated language code at school and not all working-class children use a restricted language code, so generalisation to the rest of the population cannot be made. Some sociologists may even argue and say that the working-class underachievement is not due to the fact that they use restricted language

    • Word count: 1155
  17. 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
  18. Assess the view that science has replaced religion as the main ideological influence in society today. (33)

    Improved technology through science has led to weapons of mass destruction which historically have created thousands of deaths. As well as that disturbing factor, pollution is causing serious global warming increasing extreme weather patterns which is also causing thousands of deaths on a yearly basis. Yet whether they are ?good? or ?bad? effects of science the fact is that it enables us to explain the world in a way that religious belief systems cannot do, shows that science has a large influence on society today.

    • Word count: 1558
  19. Explain and evaluate how males are socialised into traditional masculinities.

    mothers tend to pay more attention to girl?s hair and clothes in contrast to male?s hair and clothes. Secondly canalization, involving the direction of boys and girls towards diverse objects. This is predominantly within the facility of toys which encourage boys to rehearse their adult roles mechanized as constructors of buildings and other infrastructure. Thirdly, parents use verbal appellations such as ? Mummy?s little soldier? and ?Daddy?s little princess? and leads children to distinguish their gender and immerse /imitate adults of the identical uniformed gender. Finally, where males and females are exposed to differentiated activities. For example boys are essentially encouraged to go out and play.

    • Word count: 1009
  20. 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
  21. In the piece of writing With No Boys To Ogle, We Had Time to Learn, by Christine Flowers she reveals her encounter of attending a singlesex school

    In class, the girls were ready to fight for better knowledge and express their own ideas without any pressure from any males. There was simply no pressure or need to impress. Flowers states that ?Bonding with the opposite sex, should be after school, at parties, sporting events, or at holy matrimony.? This portrays a sense of focus, and underlines that ?schools are designed for academics, and not as social clubs.? Throughout the education at single-sexed schools, all the focus should be on proper knowledge without any inappropriate distractions.

    • Word count: 1067
  22. Assess the view that religious beliefs and practices are changing to reflect a new era of diversity and choice (33 marks)

    Had it kept up with the growth population occurring at the same time there would be around 80,000 members of clergy. Davie also focuses on how this pattern is typical of Britain and Northern Europe even though there is a low level of attendance in attendance, people do still attend church for events such as funerals, weddings and baptisms. However there?s also been a decline in the number attending these, although the secularisation theory does focus on how church attendance for weddings and baptisms is higher in comparison to attending church regularly on Sundays. Bibby found results similar to Davie?s.

    • Word count: 2269
  23. 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
  24. Black Male perception, of Secondary School Attainment and Opportunities. "Explore reasons for the academic underachievement of black males. To what extent is this due to ethnic differences?"

    These efforts provide specific units, activities, or courses to help these students understand specialised workplace requirements. Thirdly, the specialist workplace introduction of vocational courses within secondary schools is an example of this second initiative. Work experience is still compulsory in the secondary school, not only preparing for the work place but ensuring every single student has enough experience to get at least a low skilled job. The presence of the work experience is the third initiative; it still remains in this secondary school whereas it has been abolished in most schools. LITERATURE REVIEW (SECONDARY RESEARCH) Social context race McGuire.

    • Word count: 4697
  25. Assess the view that the main function of education is to reproduce and legitimise social inequality.

    In Marxism, education only serves two purposes: to reproduce inequalities and social relations of productions and to justify these inequalities through meritocracy. The main function of education, according to Marxists, is using in the form of an ideological state apparatus. This passes on the common values in order to maintain and reproduce class discrimination in wealth and authority, generation after generation. This then continues to produce capitalism without the need to enforce it into the society, in the same way ideology is spread subconsciously, creating a false consciousness.

    • Word count: 1234

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