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Common sense Views

explanations assume that "natural" and god given reasons for behaviour can be identified
-it is only natural that 2 people should fall in love, get married, live together and have children


Common sense Views

an explanation that tries to explain a situation solely in terms of the individual or persons involved in it
- no attempt to understand it in terms of wider social forces


Sociological explanations

explanations that attempt to explain social behaviour in terms of wider social forces, processes and structures
- uses evidence from objective research to support these explanations


CS vs S

CS= people may divorce because they don't love each other anymore
S= may look at divorce rates over time and consider laws that have made divorce either


Common sense Views:

-based on personal opinion
-may be individual or naturalistic
-is subjective and sees only from their own point of view
-does not acknowledge bias- carries notions of being factual and true


Sociological explanations

-based on particular theories which have been tested through research
-challenges taken for granted assumptions
-attempts to be objective and see the whole picture
-acknowledges bias and attempts to be value free when formulating theories


Structural Theories

-believe our behaviour is largely structured by the society that we live in and we have little free will

-examine how the structures of society( family, education, economy, government) influence individuals

Consensus theories= functionalism
Conflict theories= Marxism, feminism


Action Theories

-believe that people are "actors" and powerful in shaping their world
-social action is a result of individual or group action
-society is made up of the individuals that live in it
-analyses society in terms of the individuals and groups that live in it
-looks at meaning and interpretation


Consensus theories

-assumption there is a certain pattern to behaviour
-explanation of behaviour through the notion of social structure
-biological analogy to explain theories
-believe there is a value consensus in society

-claim that societies could not survive without a degree of generally held beliefs and values


Consensus theories:

-looks at society as a whole
-refers to social structure when analysing behaviour
-good at explaining persistence of social phenomena


Consensus theories:

-ignores individual or group interaction
-finds it difficult to explain conflict and change
-makes assumptions about value consensus ( not everyone agrees with values)


Conflict theories

- claim that such(value) consensus only exists on a surface level and that societies are in fact characterised by fundamental conflicts of power, interest and wealth

-conflict theorists tend to view society as having an infrastructure and aa superstructure
-do acknowledge the interdependence of social institutions but do not see relations between institutions as harmonious
-argue that values are imposed by powerful groups in society
interested in explaining society in terms of causes and development
-stresses conflict, struggle and change


Consensus theory

-view society as being made up of social institutions all dependent on each other and are important for maintaining order in society
-stress the necessity for co-operation and harmony between social institutions
-consider there to be a functional unity between the different social institutions
-argue that there is a value consensus that holds social institutions and society together
-explain everything in terms of the function it performs in society, especially the way it keeps the social system in good order


Conflict theory:

-looks at society as a whole
-recognises power interests of different groups
-good at explaining conflict and changes


Conflict theory:

-finds it difficult to explain persistence of certain phenomena
-individual and small group plays a little part in these type of explanations


Feminism Theories:

-concerned with dominance of men and patriarchal nature of capitalism
-believe that women are exploited by men and capitalism
- the disadvantages position of women is seen to be a result of the emergence of private property and their lack of ownership
Bourgeosie=rich proletariat = poor
- society uses capitalism to keep the rich rich and the poor poor
-false class consciousness = poor do not realise they're being exploited


Feminism Theories:

-clear evidence of inequality
-structuralist approach
-emphasises the importance of the economy unlike functionalism
-less extreme than other forms
-believe in equality


Feminism Theories:

-concerned with revolutionary overthrow of patriarchy
-says that inequalities exist because of biology/ patriarchy


Feminism Theories:

-clear evidence that there is inequalities


Feminism Theories:

-ignores the progress women have made in many areas e.g work, controlling fertility, divorce


Feminism Theories:

-concerned with equal rights for men and women
-less radical
-wider audience
-more diplomatic


Feminism Theories:

-played an important role in highlighting inequalities between men and women
-believes in equality unlike other groups
-considered more accessible than radical, so gained more support


Feminism Theories:

-overly optimistic and overly analytical
-ignores the fact that there may be a deep rooted reason for women oppression
-ethnocentric= it only really reflects the experiences of whit, middle class women


Feminism Theories:

-believes that feminism derives from white female perspective
-believes that black women are doubly disadvantages as they suffer from both racism and sexism


Feminism Theories:

-identifies issues in other forms of feminism
-reminds mainstream feminists of the importance of difference


Feminism Theories:

-can be accused of emphasising one race/ethnicity
-they fail to address the oppression faced by all races of women


Feminism Theories:

need to raise gender issues
- dominance of male stream society
-desire to balance the social issues to reflect the fact that half of the pop. is female


Feminism Theories:

-political movement and an academic theory=greatly raised awareness of gender issues
-given women a voice and achieved many legal changes (right to vote/divorce/abortion etc)


Feminism Theories:

-may be ignoring wider factors such as social class
-ignores social categories such as ethnicity
-overlooks the oppression and exploitation of some men= men are more likely to lose children in child custody battles


Action theories:

-takes account of the human agency
-good at explaining small scale interaction
-important in explaining the meaning and motives attached to social behaviour and the interpretation of social behaviour by others


Action theories:

-analysis tends to be of individuals or groups thereby overlooking wider social factors
-tends to lack historical perspective
-emphasises meaning without necessarily investigating the origins of meaning
-can be seen as subjective



-society is a social system based on a value consensus
society has basic needs that must be met to survive
-the need for social order and harmony is very important

Durkheim argued that modern societies are made up of different social institutions(economic system, political system,eductaion s, religious s and the family s) and that each of these relate to a body part. All of these parts must then work together to create a system that adds up to something greater than the sum of its individual parts.
ex- the political s is like the brain, guiding society while the family,eduaction and religious systems are like the heart pumping morals of right and wrong around the body

when all parts are operating in harmony, the result is social order
if one part breaks then the whole system will break



macro = looks at society as a whole
-refers ro social structure when analysing social behaviour



-ignores individual or group interaction
-finds it difficult to explain conflict and change
-makes assumptions about value consensus


Marxist theory:

-seen as economically deterministic= everything revolves around money
=ignores the role of women in society
=society doesn't always operate in the interests of the ruling class


Action Theories:
Symbolic Interactionism

-Symbolic interactionism is a school of thought in sociology that explains social behavior in terms of how people interact with each other via symbols.
-Mead believed that one's self develops through social interactions. Moreover, how people communicate and interact with each other depends on how they interpret factors such as language, actions, and statuses (potential symbols).


Action Theories:
Symbolic Interactionism

-gives an insight into small scale interaction
-Sees humans as active, creative participants who construct their social world, not as passive, conforming objects of socialisation
-Considers the social environment in which learning takes place.


Action Theories:
Symbolic Interactionism

-Symbols may be interpreted incorrectly or differently among different groups of people.
-It can be difficult to quantify things in Symbolic Interactionism
-Overestimates the power of individuals to create their own realities, ignoring the extent to which humans inhabit a world not of their own making


Action Theories:
Weberian theory

-individuals and their actions matter. the world is as it is because of social action
-wanted to achieve an understanding of subjectively meaningful human action
-society must recognise the part played by individuals who have the power to act freely


Action Theories:
Weberian theory

-provided a bridge between structural and action theories
-loks beyond the individual level of analysis when studying social action


Action Theories:
Weberian theory

-assumption that humans consciously interpret the meanings and interpret the meaning and intentions behind the action of themselves and others
-could be seen as subjective
information gained from individuals may be difficult to analyse and generalise to society as a whole


Quantitative Methods

Structured interviews
Official statistics


Qualitative Methods

Participant observation
unstructured interviews
case studies



-does it measure what its supposed to measure



-other researches should be able to carry out the exact same research and get the same results



list of questions the respondent should answer



-reliable and easy to quantify
-sent to large numbers of people cheaply, so the sample size can be increased without spending too much
-not time consuming/ easy to organise



-few people complete and return them
-respondent may not understand the questions and misinterpret it/ completely ignore it
-asking in person is better= but it is v time consuming
=census = compulsory return= may result in prosecution if not returned


Structured interview

face to face interview with set questions
primary source


Structured interview

-good response rate
-easy to quantify
-respondent can ask for clarification if they do not understand = more reliable


Structured interview

-can be expensive= face to face
-time consuming
-respondent cannot expand on answers
-people may not answer honestly


Official statistics

statistics collected by gov,police, NHS,
secondary data
used to analyse social behaviour


Official statistics

-good for quantitative studies
-saves the researcher time as they don't need to collect the data
- low cost


Official statistics

-may be biased beach of the way the info was collected= researcher has no control over this
-people may lie in official statistics- e.g it is estimated that 1 million people didn't complete the census in 1991
-may be difficult to compare statistics between 2 time periods


Non - participant observation

primary source
researcher observes the social behaviour of others
records what he/she sees at the time or immediately afterwards
researches has to interpret what they see


Non - participant observation

-good for describing natural behaviour= the person being observed is unaware of the researchers presence
-good for gaining an in depth picture of social behaviour


Non - participant observation

-needs a high input of time by the researcher
-costs are high = needs to be present
-difficult to qualify behaviour
-no way of checking details or exploring issues further
-may be a bait of researcher sees
-ethical considerations


Participant observations

primary source
researcher becomes a participant in the group they want to observe
researcher presence will be unknown


Participant observations

-gives an in-depth picture of social behaviour
-gives a realistic picture of social behaviour
-goof at exploring meaning,feelings interactions and processes


Participant observations

-high involvement of researchers time
-costs are high= always present
-can be bias
-hawthorne effect= presence of researcher may alter the way people act
-can be dangerous
-difficult to quantify results and generalise results


Unstructured interviews

primary source
open questions
researches has a lot of broad topics/general areas to cover


Unstructured interviews

-allows the researcher to explore issues in an in depth way
-researcher is not restricted to pre set questions
-respondent can elaborate answers


Unstructured interviews

-can lose track of purpose and gain irrelevant information
-can be difficult to quantify results
-time consuming+ high costs = involvement


Case studies

involves systematic and in depth examination of a single event or case over time
carried out to gain specific info and understanding rather than to test a hypothesis


Case studies

-allows in depth analysis and understanding of particular cases
-may generate ideas and hypotheses for future research
-my compliment the use of other methods such as interviews


Case studies

-very time consuming/ demanding
-info may only be applicable to case under investigation
-may be difficult to collate info
-may be difficult to quantify


Marxist theory

-society is in a state of conflict between the rich and poor
-society uses a system called capitalism to keep the rich rich and the poor poor
-capitalism is a economic system where a small minority of society own the forces of production( factories/ information)
-this minority is called the BOURGEOSIE(ruling class) - they employ people to work for them to produce the goods that they sell
-Marx called this the relations of production and argued that it exploited the PROLETARIAT(subject class)


Marxist theory

-marxism helps explain conflict and change
-this theory analyses power and conflict in society. It explains why there is such an uneven distribution of power and wealth between social classes.


Bourgeosie, petit bourgeoise, proletariat, lumpenproletariat

bougeosie= dominate and exploit then owners
petit bougeosie= small business owners
proletariat= those who need to sell their labour to survive
lumpenproletariat=the lowest of the low -beggars, prostitutes, gangsters, robbers


Infrastructure/ Superstructure

Economic base (bottom)
-relations of productions
-means of production

Superstructure (top)
-mass media


false class consciousness

the proletariat are brain washed so they don't fully realise that they are being exploited. The proletariat think they are aware of their own class interests butter not fully aware of how much they are being exploited due to rolling class ideology.


Primary data

-when new data is collected by the researcher


Secondary data

-when the researcher uses existing sources of information



-is a representation of the group you wish to study
it is important to remember that samples must be representative and adequate in size.


Research Process
1. Theory

-most sociologists begin by examining ideas and explanations(theories) which already exist.
e.g links between poverty and crime


Research Process
2. Hypothesis

-based on these ideas the researcher will form a hypothesis. A statement which can be proved or disproved
e.g poverty causes crime


Research Process
3. Operationalisation

-the researcher will choose their method, define the concepts used, decide of specific measurements will be used and decide how they will find a sample of subjects to use for their research.

there are 4 sub-stages for this
-choosing a suitable method
-define concepts e.g class defined by income/occupation
-decision on specific measurements and setting measurements are done before research
-choosing a sample to represent a larger population


Research Process
4. Fieldwork

-carrying out the research by implementing the chosen method
e.g interviewing the subject


Research Process
5. Processing the results

-analysis of data and presentation of findings
e.g as a graph or table


Choosing a research method

time= some methods need much more time than others, the researcher may also have a deadline which will make some methods not possible

money= researchers may be on a low budget meaning it affect the length and method of research

gender= it may be difficult for a male researcher to interview girls on a sensitive subject such as sexual health as they may not feel comfortable disclosing information to him

age=it may be difficult to have a 50 year old be involved with participant observation of hostile, disruptive youths
-the age difference between the 2 can sometimes negatively impact on the results

ethnicity= it would be pointless to put a middle class white researcher in with a group of black youths as trust would be harder to build


Hawthorne effect

people changing their behaviour in a positive manner when they are aware they are being observed


Sex vs Gender

sex= referred to as the "external genitalia, internal genitalia gonads, hormonal states and secondary sex characteristics"

gender= refers to cultural conceptions of masculine or feminine behaviour which are passed on to children by the society in which they live


Gender roles

baby girls are expected to be delicate, quite and caring while boys are expected to be strong, boisterous and active.
girls are given dolls and boys are given trains to play with



-how society is organised in layers(some people in higher layers than others)
social groups are organised in a hierarchy where one groups lies onto of another
-those in the top group of society are seen to be better than those in lower classes
-individuals and groups have unequal access to advantages and disadvantages in society based on their position within the stratification system

higher layer= very good education, better healthcare and tend to live longer
lower layer= live in closely packed housing estates, poor health and children tend to achieve less at school


Life chances

the higher a person or group is within the category of stratification, the better their life chances
- life chances= the opportunities we have in life and how we access them
factors include;
-income and wealth
-life expectancy
-infant mortality


Life chances

-gender= females wages are only 75-85% of those of men who are doing the same job and men still dominate in terms of management and government jobs

location= incomes in south east england are higher than those in the regions
-it is also more expensive to travel to europe from the regions than from london

Immigrants= immigrants to the uk tend to have to take low paid work even if they have high levels of skill. BLACK ad ASIAN people are also under represented in positions of power.

private school= pupils from fee paying schools tend to do better in terms of exam results, thereby affecting their opportunities to go uni, study a career of their choice an thus have better life chances through a higher and sustained income

-home ownership= may enable a person to get extended and usually cheaper credit. It also gives people some choice as to where they live and the conditions under which they live. also indicates that these people have a greater security of income and lifestyle


Social class

- these social groups or classes usually share common interests and a common identity that separates them from other social groups in society.Most sociologists agree that social class is a significant feature of UK society and is one of the main bases for stratification and inequality

indicators for class may include:


Open mobility system

- it is claimed that we have an open mobility system in the UK, this is because it is possible for individuals to move between class groups, a concept called social mobility

e.x if social class is based on income and during a individuals lifetime they increase their income, then they would be moving from a low income group to a high income group


Closed system

-where it is impossible to move from one group to another

e.x in the hindu caste system the individual is born into a particular caste and remains in that caste for the rest of their life regardless of changes in circumstances, such as increases/decreases in wealth or marrying into a higher/lower caste.


Hidden barriers

these are things that make movement between classes difficult
-these could include things such as accent, education, cultural differences in terms official mannerisms and customs.


Objective measure of class

-definitions of class focus on things that can be measured about a persons life, such as their occupation


Subjective measure of class

-definitions of class focus on things that cannot be measured, such as the social class that a person thinks they are in

e.x a person with lots of money may still consider themselves working class. they may live in a working class area and have working class friends. the class a person thinks they belong to is likely to affect the way they act


Registrar General's scale

-this scale groups occupations into 5 different categories

-doesnt take into account the class a person thinks they belong to
-doesnt take into uccountthe fact that some people who are in the lowest class due to their job may actually have a lot of money (lottery)


Changes in the industrial environment

employment changes have occurred over the last generation which have led to changes in the way social class is measured and studied.
-over the last generation or so, a process of DE-INDUSTRIALISATION has occurred, with more people working in service industries and less people working in heavy industries
-changing technologies and the process of globalisation have had an effect on the economy in the UK
-changing role of women= many women are now in paid employment, which has had a major impact on how class is studied


Functionalist theory of class stratification

Talcott parsons states that society has certain FUNCTIONAL PREREQUISITES(basic needs that ensures society can survive)
-functionalists suggests that a certain degree of order and stability is essential for the operation of society and they therefore consider how class stratification helps to maintain this
-Parsons suggests that order, stability and cooperation in society were based on a value consensus (general agreement by members of society concerning what is good and worthwhile), so says that those who perform successfully in terms of a societys values will be ranked highly and they will be likely to receive a variety of rewards
-therefore, successful business people who have achieved their position through their own initiative, ability and ambition will receive high rewards
they say that inequality is created by the differing rewards that people receive for the different tasks that they carry out, therefore those who carry out the most important tasks should be rewarded better than those who carry out unskilled or less important tasks or jobs, HOWEVER many of the vital occupations have low rewards(nurses/ bin men)
-also says that it gives those in lower classes something to aim for. Therefore, if you want people to study hard and better themselves, there must be some kind of economic reward for doing so.
KINGSLY DAVIS and WILBERT MOORE= functional prerequisite was effective role allocation and performance, which meant that all occupations must be filled by those who were best trained/ able to perform them(the necessary training for these roles must be undertakes) stratification therefore ensured that the most qualified person filled the most important positions and society would be a meritocracy

strength= emphasises the importance of hard work as there is evidence that individuals can climb up the hierarchy


Marxist theory of class stratification

according to marx there are 3 main classes, B,PB and the P. these sae described as being mutually antagonistic and marx states that there are major divisions in a capitalist society in terms of production.
Those who own the means of production and demonstrate power in society are on one side (bourgeosie) and those who are non owners and have to survive by selling their labour are on the other( proletariat)
-marx has the idea that individuals of similar class will develop class consciousness as they will realise that their interests are alike and how exploitative the capitalist system is. they will then move from a state of fCC to CC.

-draws attention to the exploitative power the B have over the P
-to economically deterministic
-dont look at other factors of inequality such as gender and ethnicity


Case study
"Up and down the income ladder in britain"

this case study looks at "integration mobility" from people born after 1970 and looked at weather they earned more or less than their parents
-it found that there was a decline in mobility for those born between 1958 and 1970, and this low level of mobility has stayed the same for those born after 1970(supports MARXISM as it shows evidence of social closure- young people are not becoming upwardly mobile as they are staying at the same level as their parents)
- it also found that there are clear groups at the top(distinctive elite) and bottom of society

-it is reliable as it was national sample conducted over a number of years
-findings are also still relevant today(slowing mobility rates and the widening divide between rich and poor)

-the study used people who who did not yet have jobs which leads to potentially unreliable statistics


Vertical mobility

describes the movement between strata both up and down the stratification system
-example of long range mobility, display a change in class and status
won the lottery= upwardly mobile


Horizontal mobility

geographical term used to describe movement around the country to new forms of employment
can be seen as short range mobility because there is little change in the individuals class and status
teacher moving from one school to another


Inter-generational mobility

refers to movement between generations
-people who grew up with working class parents may become middle class through hard work, such or education


Intra-generational mobility

describes movement of an individual over their lifetime
as a result of changing career or promotion



societies are held together by people sharing core beliefs(values) and behaviour patterns (norms)
-socialisation is the passing of culture. it is a process that turns individuals into members of social culture by learning things like language, customs,knowlwdge,skills,roles,values and norms


Ascribed status

achieved at birth


Achieved status

acquired through education and work which has different arguments according to gender, class and ethnic identities


Agents of socialisation

family=children internalise norms and values by imitating their parents/guardians. they are rewarded for socially acceptable behaviour and punished for socially deviant behaviour.


Agents of socialisation

these are formal institutions who have systems in place to reward and discourage certain behaviours


Agents of socialisation

skills such as numeracy and literacy. functionalists argue that school promotes consensus, children learn to belong to a larger group through things like school uniform and marxists argue that children are encouraged to accept exploitation (do as your told and don't ask questions)


Agents of socialisation
Peer groups

are of similar social status and socialise individuals towards conformity or deviance. youth subcultures sometimes encourage deviant behaviour


Agents of socialisation

most religions oppose theft and murder and teach respect for elders


Agents of socialisation
Mass Media

powerful in shaping norma and values in the audience. some sociologists argue that the media have now replaced religion in secondary socialisation


Agents of socialisation

enables people to join the world of work such as being on time and obeying the boss


Gender socialisation

one of the most important roles we learn to play in our life
-involves learning to act in an appropriate way for our gender
parents and the media reinforce stereotypes about normal male and female behaviour. this can begin with pink or blue wallpaper in a baby room and influence the way we interact with children



refers to a shared way of life of a group of people of society whose customs and norms of behaviour are passed on from one generation to another


Personal identity

marks someone out as an individual
-name=sets us apart
-birth certificate


Social identity

when a person is defined as a type of person or label
they are clusters of personality characteristics related to social roles such as man, woman, child
-social identities are shared with others so that large numbers of people would identify with these labels


High culture

culture that is seen or have an artistic and/or intellectual merit which is highly valued in society
-classical music

-associated with the elites of society(wealthy and educated people)
-sperate/set apart


Popular culture

is commercially produced and includes objects, images, artefacts and music of ordinary people e.g films, TV, magazines
-sometimes pop. culture borrows an idea from high culture from high culture, popularises it and makes it available to the masses
- burberry print

-reflects that norms values, institutions and activities of the majority
-culture of the working class
-it assumes consumers are active not passive


Mass culture

-inferior quality culture
associated with those from a lower socio economic group

-created by commercial organisations
-passive- consumers lack critical judgement of the society in which they live- often dumbed down with goodies/baddies
-produced for profit-false needs are created through advertising


Folk culture

-the habits/customs of traditional rural communities emerging directly from their lived experience

-authentic and actively created
-created by local communities
-rooted in experience,customs and believes of everyday people



a subculture is a group where people who make up a minority within a wider mainstream culture.
they have distinct norms and values
members of subcultures have something in common with each other (shared interests ) which distinguishes them from the wider, mainstream culture


how does the media influence culture and identity

-has an immediate /dramatic effect on behaviour
- the medium (tv/radio) is the syringe and th content is whats injected

-people may be more media literate
-it only concentrates on short term effects

-ideas flow from the media to opinion leaders(teachers/family)
-then to less active sections of the population in drips

-if ideas, images and interpretations are broadcaster long periods of time, there is a cumulative impact on the culture. there is a slow drip effect where people unconsciously come to terms with ideas over time.



valued freedom, uninhibited behaviour and individualism
rejects uniformity, militarism money
-looks= long hair, flowy bright clothes


Hip hop

late 1990s
saggy bagg7 gangsta jeans
moved away from this in early 2000s to designer clothes
distinctive music



valued individualism and living in their own imagined world
-looks= white face, dark hair, black makeup/clothes


Robert Merton's theory on deviant subcultures

the american dream= encouraged people to seek money success but the structure did not provide unlimited opportunities so only a few can ever achieve that wealth

Most people use LEGIT ways of reaching money success, such as hard work but others INNOVATE,adopting illegitimate means of reaching goals through crime
RITUALISTS abandon the cultural goal but obsessively stick to the rules whereas RETREATISTS reject both the culturally prescribed roles and drop out of the race completely
REBELS seem to replace existing goals and the means of getting here with an alternative society


Albert Cohen’s subcultural theory

Argues that much of the delinquency in inner cities was due to immediate gratification rather than money success.
Those who experience failure at school find it hard to adhere to dominant values
Therefore Gangs develop to get back at the system that has banded them failures
Turns the norms upside down= stealing, aggression and vandalism


Clowned and Ohlin

- tend to emerge in areas where there is an established pattern of adult crime and a learning environment for the young
Financial rewards

-tend to develop in areas where there is little opportunity to achieve in education or hard work
Often engage in gang violence to release anger
These offer status if they show loyalty

-formed around drug use
Have failed in both ways of achieving wealth so retreat from the goals of society


Moral panic

The process of arousing social concerns over an issue


Moral entrepreneur

A person group or individual with the power to create or enforce rules and impose Their morals


Folk devil

This is an over simplified I’ll informed generalisation of particular people who moral entrepreneurs wish to demonise