Part A: Short Questions
Sociological imagination is a concept in sociology that was coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959. This concept denotes the ability to connect biography to history. Where biography presents the happenings in our daily lives and history presents social currents as they occur in the wide social milieu. This imagination allows us to connect our lived experience to the social institution in which the imagination occurs. Therefore, social imagination is influenced by the two components that constitute it; biography and history (Wright, 2002).
The lessons gained by a sociologist studying the experience of a student trying to earn a college degree can be described as terrible because the student has to work extra hard to ensure that he or she earns a good grade. The grading system of most colleges places pressure on the students forcing them to invest more time in their course work. Contrastingly, the lessons can also be described as magnificent because the young mind is being stretched and the student is getting equipped with employable skills.
Functionalism theorizes that the society comprises a system of interconnected units that cooperate to maintain a state of societal equilibrium. For instance, each social institution makes a vital deposit to the functioning of society: Family affords an environment where children can be birthed, nurtured, and socialized; education affords a means for the transmission of skills and culture to individuals; religion affords moral guidance and direction; and politics provides leadership and government to the members of the society. Contrastingly, Conflict theory views society as comprising of social units that are competing for power and scarce resources. This perspective looks at the groups that have power and the benefit that these groups reap from certain social arrangements.
The proponents of functionalism argue that social inequality is desirable and plays a crucial role in the functioning of society. This is based on a reward scheme where people must possess certain skills to get more reward. On the other hand, conflict theorists argue that social inequality arises when powerful groups dominate less powerful groups. These theorists assert that the powerful groups repress the powerless for maintaining status quo.
Institutional review boards play both supervisory and regulatory roles in human studies and research. The board is formally mandated with the roles of approving, monitoring, and reviewing of behavioural and biomedical researches that involve human subjects. The board uses risk-benefit analysis to decide whether research should be done or not. The board’s primary duty is to shield human subjects against psychological or physical harm that might arise from a proposed research. Sociologists must run their proposed research by the board to get a go ahead. The review board will only approve those projects that meet ethical standards and safeguard the protection of human subjects from all harm.
Sociologists planning to conduct research on human subjects must adhere to the three golden rules of sociological research. First, they must ensure that the human subjects are protected from all harm. Second, the sociologist must obtained written consent from the participants of the study. Third, a sociologist must inform the subject that he or she is a participant in the research project.
Children entering elementary school become socialized through two major social structures: the formal structure that comprises the school environment and the informal structure that comprises their peers. In other words, the schoolteacher and the peers are the two agents that drive a child’s socialization process in school. The elementary school helps the child to learn how to live with self, others, and his teachers. Additionally, the school offers the child an opportunity to deal with life’s challenges and adversaries.
The schools role as an agent of socialization is two-fold. It is a place for education and learning. Education is what a child picks from the classroom while learning is what the child picks from his peers and the environment around him. Children learn best via observation. They are able to ape the behaviours and conducts they have acquired from their surroundings. Gender identification is shaped by schools in the sense that both boys and girls are afforded an equal learning ground. Aside from gaining the basic education, children also get to learn on how to function within their gender identity.
Robert Merton’s strain theory explains how the certain individuals and cultures find themselves engaging in deviant or antisocial behaviours. These behaviours are classified as this because they go against the society’s code of acceptable behaviour. According to Merton, abnormal or deviant behaviour is neither psychologically expectable nor culturally approved. Most people do their best to abide by the society’s rules of appropriate behaviour. However, pressures associated with society’s expectations pushes individuals to engage in deviant conducts.
Merton’s strain theory can be used to explain the student’s decision to engage in a deviant and criminal behaviour by cheating in exams to make good grades. Cheating in examinations is a deviant behaviour. It is also considered criminal because it breaks the examination laws. The student engages in this form of criminality because of the pressures of society that he must make good grades.
Part 2: ESSAY QUESTION
Sociology entails three major theoretical perspective that includes functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interaction perspective. The functionalist perspective discusses how the various parts of the society are interconnected. This interconnection is responsible for harmonious co-existence that is witnessed in society. Social problems arise when the systems fail to function together. The family, politics, religion, education, and religion must cooperate to ensure that an individual’s life turns out well (Carl, 2011).
The second perspective is the conflict theory. According to this perspective, different individuals and groups compete against each other for power and resources. The group that has power is depicted as exerting their power on the powerless groups to maintain the status quo. This perspective divides people into two groups; “the Haves” and “the Have-nots” (Carl, 2011).
The third perspective is the symbolic interaction perspective. Unlike the functionalist and conflict perspectives that address issues on a broad scale, the symbolic interaction perspective looks at the issues on a micro level. It addresses the issues on an individual basis. This perspective asserts that humans are more influenced by their definition of situations rather than the aim of the situation itself. In this regard, any situation defined by an individual as real becomes real to that particular individual (Carl, 2011).
A social problem such as homelessness can be discussed by looking at the three perspectives. Functionalist perspective would argue that homelessness results because of the failure of social units to work together. The family unit is expected to take care of its own; the political class is expected to resettle all homeless people, the church is expected to offer food and shelter to the homeless. The failure by these social institutions to do their role leads to the worsening of the homeless situation (Carl, 2011).
The conflict theory would explain homeless as having arisen due to the selfishness and greed of the powerful people who misplaced the people and threw them out in the streets. The powerful group will continue asserting their power and authority and in so doing ensure that the homeless people continue to languish in their desperate conditions. Symbolic interaction perspective shows how the homeless define their temporal situation and make it permanent. Most of the people that turn homeless hardly come out of the condition because they have accepted the condition as their new reality (Carl, 2011).
Carl, J. D. (2011). Think social problems. Boston: Pearson.
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