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Flashcards in Society, Agency, Structure Deck (28)
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human goal

survival and procreation



getting resources (ie. Food, clothing, shelter)



anything that allows you to live better and live longer


how do humans accomplish survival and procreation?

- Human groups work with what nature (ecology) provided as well as the characteristics of its own group (demography)
- Places with more resources and good ecology are more desirable and attract bigger, more diverse populations
- Humans develop tools (technology) and method (culture) to acquire and distribute resources (economy) for survival



anything that makes work better



- a way to solve problems
- Ex. In nomadic villages, the culture of sharing food helps solve the problem of food scarcity


society can be described by

- Nature/environment (ecological factors)
- Population characteristics (demographic factors) -> Ex. Male-dominated society
- Material available (technological factors)
- Problem-solving (cultural factors) -> Ex. religion
- Acquire and distribute resources (economic factors) -> Ex. wages


societies differ by...

their mode of production



- Society is only possible through social interaction that is regulated and stabilized
- Such social patterns can include routine, common expectations, predictable behaviours, ways of thinking, etc.
- These patterns are important because ongoing cooperation is needed for society to survival


social structure (and an analogy)

- Enduring an regular social arrangements that stabilize social patterns over time
- Looking at a society's social structure allows to see how society is arranges
- Exists at different levels/scale
- Analogy: if society is an egg, culture is the inside and structure is the shell -> Structure holds society together, culture is fluid


levels of social structure

- Macrostructure (ie. State, economy)
- Mesostructure (ie. Social networks, organizations)
- Microstructure (ie. Social interactions)



free will


agency-structure model -> structure is composed of...

- Social institutions
- Organizations
- Groups
- Social networks
- Roles
- Status
- Agency (you)



a series of social relationships that link a person directly to others



two or more people who identify with and interact with one another (same status)



collectives purposely constructed to achieve a particular end/goal


influence of networks, groups, and organizations on agency

- Networks, groups, and organizations can affect your free will (if you don't follow the expectations of each social network, you'll no longer be a part of the social network -> lose resources, gain time)
- Ex. Going to your boyfriend's friend's birthday party even though you'd rather watch Netflix (network)
- Ex. Talking to your uncle on his birthday even though you'd rather watch Netflix (group)
- Ex. Working an important shift at work even though you'd rather watch Netflix (organization)


social role

- set of expectations for people who occupy a given status
- Ex. Parent (or older sibling) -> set a good example for kid (or younger sibling)


what happens when social role expectations aren't met?

- role conflict
- role strain**
- social behaviours


role conflict

- when incompatible expectations arise from 2 or more social positions held by the person
- Ex. When a police officer is scheduled to work on his son's birthday -> will he honour his father role or his policeman role?


role strain

- difficulties that arise when the same social position imposes opposing demands and expectations
- Ex. When a police officer sees a sketchy-looking dude -> does he treat the citizen with respect or be authoritative?
- Ex. Kids Camp Leader -> I have to be fun, but also authoritative


social behaviours

- Social behaviour is largely guided by the social position (status) one occupies as well as the expectations (roles) that are attached to the position
- Our decisions are based on minimizing the balance of role conflict and strain and the evaluation of cost and benefit of meeting expectations



- Refers to any of the socially defined positions within a large group or society; social characteristics
- 3 types: ascribed, achieved, master status


ascribed status

- assigned at birth, involuntary
- Ex. Sex, birth order, skin colour


achieved status

- assigned after birth, voluntary
- Ex. Legal, occupation, marital status


master status

- dominates others and determines person's general position in society
- Ex. White, Christian, etc. -> can be self-defined or given to you by society


social institutions

- Established patterns of beliefs and behaviours centered on basic social needs -> NOT places!
- "Super-customs" that deal with major interests or ongoing situations
- Labelled as "institution" because the way things are done is honoured, regulated, and directed
- Ie. Bachelor's Degrees – employers honour them, UBC regulates them, profs and departments supervise them


society's needs and how institutions fulfill them

- Replacing personnel/reproduction (ie. Families -> the institution that does this)
- Teaching new recruits (ie. Education -> the institution that does this)
- Producing and distributing goods (ie. Economy -> the institution that does this)
- Preserving social order (ie. State; criminal justice system -> the institutions that do this)
- Providing and maintaining a sense of purpose (ie. Organized religion; mass media -> the institutions that does this)