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Sociological Application

Updated on December 12, 2015

1. What is meant by the statement, "society is socially constructed?"

By saying "society is socially constructed" sociologists mean to say that each person within a society is responsible for building society. In other words, we make it happen. We develop values, definitions, and meanings for society, all of which shape our individual and shared realities.

2. How might someone support the claim that bureaucracies are dehumanizing and impersonal? How might someone support the claim t

Bureacracies are dehumanizing and impersonal in that they keep officials and clients from responding to each other's unique personal needs. They are driven by rules and regulations that prohibit interaction on a personal level. A good example of the impersonality of bureacracies is an insurance company: they treat each client as a standard "case" rather than a person, evaluating claims based on guidelines and documentation. Although these traits may seem unsavoury, they serve to promote equal treatment of both clients and employees by putting rules ahead of personal whim. Without the elements of impersonality, an organization could sacrifice its focus on production and company goals for the personal interests of others.

3. How could the ideas of Mead and Cooley be used to discuss your own gender-role socialization?

When I was a child, I did not meet society's expectations for a normal little girl-- I was not very feminine. I believe that, as the subjective side of self (the I), I was more interested in activities that were part of stronger agents in my socialization (sports, video games, science), rather than activities that served my gender appropriately (dolls, fashion, etc). As I grew into adolescence, the subjective side of self (the me) grew stronger, and I became aware of the fact that many people (including and especially my peers) disapproved of both my behaviour and appearance. About the age of 12 I decided to modify (or at least, hide) portions of my personality and appearance that others found contemptible, using both my I and me in developing a self that served my gender appropriately and eliminated the abusive judgements of others.

4. Pick ONE of these two concepts and explain fully: a.) deviance as a social function in society b.) the labeling theory of dev

According to Becker's Labeling Theory, deviance is relative, meaning that the same behaviour can be defined in a number of ways. The social construction of reality is determined by a process of defining norms, detecting violations, and reacting to those violations as deviance; it is based upon how other people define that behaviour, rather than the quality of the act itself. Becker believed that deviant behaviour was behaviour that people so labeled-- the only difference between a deviant and a non-deviant is "the deviant is one to whom the label has successfully been applied." (Becker 1963)

5. Using the concepts of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism, discuss the impact that a bilingual education might have on unde

A bilingual education enables us to have a deeper understanding of the importance of definitions in other cultures. Because of our inabilities to grasp meanings within other cultures, bilingual education may serve to eliminate some practices in ethnocentrism, by removing words and offensive terms rooted in misunderstanding. Bilingual education would also serve to promote cultural relativism, emphasizing that the language and standards for communication in other cultures is the most efficient for those within that culture, and should be respected as such.

6. Do you think that anyone has ever held a prejudice or discriminated against you? Why do you think so? What was the basis of t

Others have held prejudice against me for a variety of different reasons, but I believe that the largest and most damaging prejudice I faced was a based on my sex and gender. In elementary school, my PE teacher disapproved of my participation in sports like hockey and basketball because I was female, and "could not perform at the same level as a male." If it were simply that, perhaps I could understanding his position as a matter of safety, and unwillingness to "unnecessarily harm" a child he viewed as biologically weaker-- but this stance was directly influenced by his belief that it was inappropriate for girls to engage in those kinds of physical activities, regardless of their strengths. His prejudice was inaccurate: I performed at an equal (and sometimes greater) level of proficiency to those of my male companions.

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