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Министерство образования Российской Федерации
Читинский государственный университет
Сборник тематических текстов для обучения навыкам устной речи
студентов 4 курса специальности «Регионоведение»
Чита 2003
УДК 42 англ (075)
ББК 81.2 англ
ББК Ш 13 (англ) я7
Г 657
ISBN xxxxxxxx
Макарова Т.Б., Соловьева И.Н. Сборник тематических текстов для обучения
навыкам устной речи студентов 4 курса специальности «Регионоведение»,
часть 2.
Чита: ЧитГУ, 2003. – ???? с.
Табл. 3 Ил. – Библ. 13 наим.
УДК 42 англ (075)
ББК 81.2 англ
ББК Ш 13 (англ) я7
Г 657
ISBN xxxxxxxx
Печатается по решению редакционно-издательского совета ЧитГУ
Ответственный за выпуск Т.Б. Макарова
Рецензенты: 1.
к.ф.н., доцент, зав. кафедрой иностранных языков
ЧИИГЭА Н.М. Легкобитова;
к.ф.н., доцент, зав. кафедрой англ. языка II-спец.
ЗабГПУ им. Н.Г. Чернышевского Н.А. Маркова
© Читинский государственный университет, 2003
© Т.Б. Макарова, И.Н. Соловьева, 2003
4 курс 8 семестр
Основные тексты
What is Sociology?
What we call sociology is one of several related fields known as the social
sciences. They share the same subject matter: human behavior. They are called
social sciences because the human is not a solitary beast. Our daily lives intertwine
with the lives of others – what we do, even much of what we hope, is influenced by
those around us. To study ourselves, we must study our social relations. In fact, as
we shall see in Chapter 6, the process by which newborn infants are transformed
into competent adults is called socialization. Learning to speak, learning to control
our impulses, or even learning to play games is learning how to be social.
Despite their common subject matter, there are a number of different social
sciences. Psychologists, economists, anthropologists, criminologists, political
scientists, and even many historians, as well as sociologists, are social scientists.
Divisions among these fields are often hazy. Indeed, sometimes it is impossible to
tell which field a social scientist’s work belongs in. The field may be determined
merely by the university department in which the person is trained or employed.
Nevertheless, the following rules of thumb may help you to distinguish
sociologists from other social scientists.
Sociologists differ from psychologists because we are not concerned so
exclusively with the individual, with what goes on inside people’s heads; we are
more interested in what goes on between people. Sociologists differ from
economists by being less exclusively interested in commercial exchanges; we are
equally interested in the exchange of intangibles such as love and affection. We
differ from anthropologists primarily because the latter specialize in the study of
preliterate or primitive human groups, while we are primarily interested in modern
industrial societies. And while most criminologists are trained in and employed in
sociology departments, they specialize in illegal behavior, while sociologists are
interested in the whole range of human behavior. Similarly, political scientists
focus on political organization and activity, while sociologists survey all social
organizations. Finally, sociologists share with historians an interest in the past but
are equally interested in the present and the future.
As these contrasts make evident, sociology is a broader discipline than the
other social sciences. In a sense, the specialty of sociologists is generalization: to
find the connections that unite the various social sciences into a comprehensive,
integrated science of society. When I had to decide which social science to pursue,
I chose sociology precisely because of its greater scope and grander aspirations.
Moreover, to be a sociologist is to be free to do psychology, economics,
anthropology, political science, criminology, or history as the need arises.
Comprehension check
1. What is the subject matter of social sciences?
2. How does the subject matter of sociology differ from that of other social
1. provide the families and meanings of the following words
2. Fill in the blanks with the vocabulary words or their derivatives
1) Man should continually widen her/his _.
2) Can anyone understand that? That’s beyond my _ either.
3) Symbolic capital consists of culturally approved _ such as honor, integrity,
esteem, trust, and goodwill _ that may be accumulated and used for _ economic
4) Economics is a subject beyond the _ of a small child’s mind.
5) Sociology is a science of wind_.
6) When a person has a _ mind, he is able to understand many different things.
7) When I give my fancy full _ , I can hardly tell what in my story is true and
what is make-believe.
8) Give my a _ account of what you did yesterday.
A Sociological Consciousness
More than 2,300 years ago Aristotle wrote: “The human is by nature a social animal.”
Put another way, you may be many things, but above all you are a social creature destined to
live your life with other people in society. Your relationships with others lie at the core of
your existence. You were conceived within a relationship, were born into relationships,
became genuinely human in relationships, and live your life within relationships. In brief, you
cannot be human all by yourself. What you think, how you feel, and what you say and do are
fashioned by your interaction with other people in group settings. It is web of meanings,
expectations, behavior, and institutional arrangements that result when people interact with
one another in society that is the stuff of sociology. Let us define sociology as the scientific
study of society, and more particularly, as the study of human organization.
Human beings have long had an interest in understanding themselves and
their social arrangements. Judging by ancient folklore, myths, and archeological
remains, they gave pondered why people of other societies order their lives
differently than themselves. They have wondered why some members of society
violate social rules. They have questioned why some people should be wealthy and
powerful and others poor and powerless. And they have been bewildered and
troubled by episodes of mass hysteria, revolution, and war. It seems that our
species wants to understand what life means, and how it has come about. At first
human beings developed and applied the scientific method for the study of
physical and biological phenomena. It has been only in the past 150 years or so
that they have turned to science for an explanation of their behavior. This science –
sociology – pursues the study of society through research governed by the rigorous
and disciplined collection and analysis of facts.
The Sociological Challenge
Sociology illuminates the human experience. It invites us to examine aspects
of the social environment that we often ignore, neglect, or take for granted. By
studying sociology, we can achieve a better grasp of how our society is organized,
where power lies, what beliefs channel our behavior, and how our society has
come to be what it is. Sociology provides a unique perspective that encourages us
to look behind the outer aspects of social life and discern its inner structure – to
suspend the belief that things are simply as they seem. In other words, sociology
equips us with a special form of consciousness. This consciousness helps us to
better understand the social forces we confront, especially those that constrain us
and free us. Thus sociology is a liberating science.
By looking at social arrangements in imaginative and fresh ways, we gain a
new vision of the social experience. The old, familiar, and even comfortable ways
we have for viewing life change. We find that the society into which we are born
shapes our identities, personalities, emotions, thought processes, and fortunes in
countless ways. Indeed, the structures of society become the structures of our own
consciousness: “Society does not stop at the surface of our skins. Society
penetrates us as much as it envelops us.” So the challenge of sociology is to go
beyond appearances and peer behind the masks people and organizations wear.
Comprehension check
Answer the questions:
1. Define sociology as a science.
2. Explain Aristotle’s words: “The human is by nature a social animal”.
3. why study sociology ?
4. In what aspects is sociology a liberating science?
5. How does the society, we are born into, influence us?
1. Find synonyms in the text
To channel, to fashion (behavior)
To come to understand better
2. Provide synonyms for:
To ponder
To violate (rules)
To take for granted
To discern
3. Give Russian equivalents for:
To interact; interaction; above all
4. Paraphrase using the vocabulary
a) We often fashion our behavior with regard to external social forces.
b) Those who break rules are subject to strict penalties.
c) Most important, sociology helps better understand in her social structure and
forces that direct our behavior.
d) Through a command of a second language, we come to understand other
peoples and their mentality, their customs and traditions.
5. Pay attention to the following nouns used in the text :
Analysis, phenomena, species,
Are they singular or plural? Give their respective singular or plural forms. Do the
same to the next nouns: stimulus, data, stratum, diagnosis, criteria, taboo, wife,
Social Structure
Bars serve as gathering places for large numbers of Americans. Brady’s, a college bar
located in a large midwestern city, is such a place. Many of the cocktail waitresses at Brady’s
are young women attending nearby colleges. One of them is Denise. It is her first night on the
job, and she admits that she is scared. When Denise introduces herself to the bartender, Mark
Brady, he quips: “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” Flustered, she shakes her head and
thinks, “He’s not going to be one of those, is he?”
After receiving some quick instructions she begins her evening’s work.
Denise asks two girls who are clearly underage for identification. They do not have
any. As she asks them to leave, Mark calls Denise over and tells her not to “card”
the two girls. Embarrassed, Denise returns to their table, explains they can stay,
and takes their order. A customer at the bar grabs at her each time she passes and
attempts to engage her in conversation. Not knowing how to handle the situation,
Denise smiles and tries to look occupied. An older man seated at the bar smiles and
says, “Hello, Denise,” as he places a dollar bill on her tray. Again she does not
know what to say or do. She smiles and walks away, wondering what she has done
or is supposed to do to make her worth the dollar.
As the weeks pass, Denise learns that the bartender’s initial question, albeit
a rather standard come-on had been a sincere and friendly inquiry. The two girls
were friends of the Brady family and were permitted to drink there despite their
age. The grabby and talkative customer was Jerry, a regular and a harmless
drinker. The dollar tip came from Mr. Brady, the patriarch of the bar. Denise soon
discovered that different kinds of people frequent Brady’s and all require different
services and responses from her.
Denise finds that most of the people fall into three major categories:
customers, employees, and managers (see Figure 4.1). When people enter the bar,
she quickly sizes them up and places them in one or another category. The
waitresses use these categories to identify people, anticipate their behavior, and
plan strategies for carrying out their role. Although Denise often learns people’s
names and what they do for a living, it is not essential to her job. She merely needs
to know the category to which each belongs. A critical distinction is that between a
real regular and a person off the street. If a person is a real regular, she should
know what he drinks and anticipate friendly bantering. A person off the street, in
contrast, should receive minimal attention. Denise is aware of these distinctions
and does not confuse the categories. In capsule form, Denise’s experiences at
Brady’s are the subject matter of this article, the interweaving of people’s
interactions and relationships in recurrent and stable patterns – what sociologists
call social structure.
The Nature of Social Structure
Denise initially felt somewhat confused and awkward at Brady’s because she
was not attuned to its distinctive social routine and relationships. Soon she found
much that was repetitious and predictable and acclimated herself to the bar’s
underlying order. In sociological terms, Denise had become incorporated into
Brady’s social structure. Social structure refers to the recurrent and patterned
relationships that exist among the components of a social system. Because of social
structure, human life gives the impression of organization and regularity. We find
the notion of structure throughout the sciences: molecular structure, atomic
structure, cellular structure, anatomical structure, and personality structure.
A good deal of what sociologists call social structure consists of subtle
understandings and agreements – networks of invisible rules and institutional
arrangements – that guide our behavior. Many issues are never raised and many
institutional arrangements are never challenged because we take them for granted.
Indeed, like Denise, we are rarely able to verbalize many of the rules that guide our
behavior. And in practice, it is not necessary that we do so. Nor is it even necessary
that we have a mental map of the entire social structure. Typically all we need to
do is manage a fairly limited routine in certain physical places – primarily the
home and workplace – and with the specific people we usually encounter there.
We remember past situations and follow routines that worked for us. Certainly this
approach is simpler than constantly devising new ones.
One way we structure our everyday lives is by linking certain experiences
together and labeling them “Brady’s,” “the family,” “the church,” “government,”
“the neighborhood,” and “the United States.” However, strictly speaking, there are
no such things: there are only collections of individual people acting in certain
ways that we perceive as patterned and that we label with this kind of shorthand. In
a somewhat similar manner, we perceive physical aspects of our experience as
structures – parts organized into wholes – and not as isolated elements. For
instance, when we look at a building, we do not simply see lumber, shingles,
bricks, and glass, but a house. In brief, we mentally relate an experience to other
experiences to make up a larger, more inclusive whole. Viewed in this fashion,
social structure finds expression in a grouping of social positions and the
distribution of people in them.
As we have said, social structure gives us the feeling that much of social life
is routine and repentive. Consider the social structure of your school. Each quarter
or semester you enter new classes, yet you have little difficulty attuning yourself to
new classmates and professors. Courses in sociology, philosophy, computer
science, English literature, business management, and physical education are
offered, year after year. A new class enters college each fall and another class
graduates each spring. Football games are scheduled for Saturday afternoons in the
autumn and basketball games for evenings and weekends during the winter
months. Deans prepare budgets, allocate funds, and manage their academic
domains. Students, professors, deans, secretaries, academic counselors, coaches,
and players pass through the system and in due course make their exits. Yet even
though the actual people that compose a college change over time, the college
endures. In the same way, a clique a family, a rock band, an army, a corporation, a
religious denomination, and a nation endure – they are social structures.
Many sociologists view social structure as a social fact of the sort described
by Emile Durkheim.
We experience a social fact as external to ourselves – as an independent
reality that forms a part of our objective environment. It is there, something that
we cannot deny and that we must constantly deal with. Consequently, social
structures constrain our behavior and channel our actions in certain directions: they
provide the framework within which we make our choices. Our social structures
even have consequences for our IQ, a matter discussed in the box. Beyond our
characteristics as individuals, then, are the characteristics of groups of which we
are a part.
Although we use “motionless” terms as a convenient way to describe and
analyze social life, we need to remember the dynamic and changing qualities of
social structure. A college is not a fixed entity that, once created, continues to
operate perpetually in the same manner. All social ordering must be continually
created and re-created through the interweaving and stabilizing of social
relationships. If social life seems to have a continuous reality to it, the reason lies
in people repeating their individual behaviors many times. And if the “structures”
change, it is because the people who create them change their behaviors. Structure,
then, is in a constant state of becoming something new; but the new can never be
divorced from what already is. In sum, organized social life is always undergoing
modification and change.
Comprehension check
Answer the questions
1. What is Denise?
2. What problems did she enchanter on her new job?
3. What caused them?
4. What knowledge did Denise get as week passed?
5. What did she learn is sociological sense ?
6. How is Denis’s behavior different when dealing with each group?
7. What is social structure?
8. What does a social structure consist of?
9. Are we often aware of existing social structure?
10.How does the structure approach make life of people easier?
What does social structure offer in addition to providing a map for our encounters
with others?
11.Is social structure stable? Why so?
1. Paraphrase the underlined parts of the sentences taken from the article
a) Denise finds that most of people fall into three major categories.
b) When people enter the bar, she quickly sizes them up and places in one or
another category.
c) The waitresses use these category to identify people, anticipate their behavior…
d) Denise initially felt somewhat confused and awkward because she was not
attuned to its distinctive social routine and relationships.
e) In sociological terms, Denise had become incorporated into Brady’s social
f) A good deal of social structure consists of subtle understandings and
agreements that guide our behavior.
2. Find in the text words synonymous for
a) to last, to continue in existence;
b) to classify;
c) to meet face to face;
d) in brief;
1. Explain why social structure is important for individuals and social.
Develop a class presentation in which analyze a particular group or social from the
standpoint of social structure and social interaction.
A status carries with it a set of culturally defined rights and duties, what
sociologists term a role. Expectations or norms specify what is appropriate and
inappropriate behavior for the occupant of a status. The difference between a status
and a role is that we occupy a status and play a role. One of the best ways to begin
the study of social life is to examine people’s roles. Few other concepts in the
social sciences have commanded greater interest, not only in sociological work, but
in psychology, social psychology, and anthropology as well.
The Nature of Roles
Sociologists took the notion of role from the theater. It is an analogy
suggested by William Shakespeare in As You Like It (Act II, Scene 7):
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances:
And one man in his time plays many parts.
Actors perform their roles according to a script (which is analogous to
culture), what the other actors say and do, and the reactions of the audience. But
the theater analogy also has its limitations. Whereas the theater is a world of makebelieve, in life our parts are real. And as we go about our daily activities, we are
seldom aware of following a script. Moreover, in life we do a good deal of
improvising; we continually test and revamp our action according to what other
people say and do.
Roles allow us to formulate our behavior mentally so that we can shape our
actions in appropriate ways. We collect the details of an unfolding situation and
identify who does what, when, and where. By means of roles, we order our social
world into types or categories of people. We assume that we can ignore personal
differences and for practical purposes treat the members of a given category as
interchangeable. For example, every American “knows” that a physician is “a
person who treats sick people” and a carpenter is “a person who uses lumber to
build houses.” Roles allow us to collapse or telescope a range of behaviors into
manageable bundles. They are the primary link between a society’s institutional
arrangements and the private experiences of its members – the link between
macrosociology and microsociology.
A role is the expected behavior we associate with a status. Role
performance is the actual behavior of the person who occupies a status. In real
life a gap often exists between what people should do and what they actually do.
And people vary in how they carry out the rights and duties associated with their
roles. We are not carbon copies of one another. You take such differences into
account when you select one professor over another for a course. One professor
may have the reputation for coming late to class, lecturing in an informal manner,
and assigning difficult term papers. Another professor may be a distinguished
authority in the field, monitor class attendance, and assign take-home
examinations. Regardless of which professor you select, you will still occupy the
status of student and play its associated role. However, you will have to modify
your behavior depending upon your selection. In sum, everyone’s role performance
is unique; it is not usually reproduced or re-created by another.
Role Set
A single status may have multiple roles attached to it, constituting a role set.
Consider the status of a patient in a hospital. The status involves the sick role;
another role as the peer of other patients; still another role as the “appreciative”
recipient of the gifts and attentions of friends and family members; one role as a
consumer of newspapers, magazines, and other small items purchased from a
hospital attendant; and a role as acquaintance of a number of friendly hospital
personnel. Or consider your status as a family member. Your status includes a
variety of roles, for example, parent and/or child, grandparent and/or grandchild,
sibling, nephew/niece, uncle/aunt, spouse, and cousin. Clearly, role does not exist
in a social vacuum; it is a bundle of activities that mesh with the activities of other
people. For this reason there can be no professors without students, no husbands
without wives, no whites without nonwhites, and no lawyers without clients.
Roles affect us as sets of norms that define our duties – the actions others
can legitimately insist that we perform, and our rights – the actions we can
legitimately insist that others perform. Every role has at least one reciprocal role
attached to it; the rights of one role are the duties of the other role. As we have
noted, we have a social niche for the sick. Sick people have rights – our society
says they do not have to function in usual ways until they get well. But sick people
also have the duty to get well and “not enjoy themselves too much.” Anything less
is frowned upon as “malingering”. The sick role also entails an appeal to another
party – the physician. The physician must perceive the patient as trying to get well
– this is the physician’s right and the patient’s duty. And the patient must see the
doctor as sincere and not as a quack or a money-gouger – the patient’s right and
the physician’s duty. It should come as no surprise that the quality of medical care
falters when patient and physician role expectations break down.
One way that people are linked in groups is through networks of reciprocal
roles. Role relationships tie us to one another because the rights of one end of the
relationship are the duties of the other. Groups consist of intricate complexes of
interlocking roles, which their members sustain in the course of interacting. People
experience these stable relationships as social structure – a hospital, a college, a
family, a gang, an army, and so on.
Role Strain
Role strain is the stress people experience when they encounter difficulties
in meeting the requirements of a role. Consider the relationship physicians have
with patients. Doctors are expected to be gentle healers – humanitarian, self
sacrificing saviors of the sick. Simultaneously, they are expected to be retailers of
knowledge they have secured at considerable cost and sacrifice. While prescribing
unnecessary services, tests, and X-rays and aggressive bill collecting are consistent
with the small-business/retailer aspects of the role, they are inconsistent with that
of the gentle healer. And there are few well-defined or accepted answers to the
dilemmas posed by these contradictory expectations.
Uncorrected role strain can lead to chronic frustration, a sense of failure,
feelings of insecurity, and even ulcers, heart disease, and early death. Yet whether
or not people will experience role strain depends in large measure on how they
perceive their roles. We put on and take off some roles like clothing – without
lasting personal effect. Other roles we have difficulty putting aside even when the
situation changes; these roles color the ways in which we think about ourselves and
act in many situations, there is “a merger of role with person”. Take the case of the
doctor, the judge, or the college professor who carries the bearing and air of
authority of the professional role into family and community dealings. Such
individuals are not merely incumbents of a status; they have fully embraced it.
Each is the role – the doctor, the judge, or the professor.
The stress we experience with role strain may result from role conflict – a
situation in which people are confronted with incompatible role requirements.
There are countless sources of role conflict. We have already identified one source
– namely, circumstances in which one expectation of a role clashes with another
expectation. The clashing expectations of the physician as a gentle healer and an
entrepreneur illustrate this type of difficulty. Some roles also conflict with other
roles. A football coach whose son is a member of the team may experience role
conflict when deciding whether to make his own son or another more talented
player the starting quarterback. Some college students report they experience role
conflict when their parents pay them a campus visit. They feel “on stage” before
two audiences holding somewhat contradictory expectations of them. One way to
handle role conflict is to subdivide or compartmentalize one’s life and to assume
only one of the incompatible roles at a time. For instance, college students may
attempt to segregate their school and home experiences so that do not have to stage
their behavior before their parents and peers simultaneously.
Role Taking and Role Making
Interaction usually has a tentative quality to it; we start or stop and
implement or transform what we are saying or doing on the basis of what other
people say and do. The activities of others influence how we shape our actions.
Consequently, we are involved in an ongoing process of role taking – we
continually change our performance based on the feedback other people provide.
In role taking we undertake to “get inside” another person and “observe” our own
conduct from this person’s point of view. As we will see, this process entails
“taking the role of the other toward ourselves.”
Sometimes we do not know what we are supposed to say or do. We must
innovate and improvise, create and modify our roles as we interact with other
people. For these reasons, role taking also involves role making – a culturecreating process. Consider the school superintendent. Some constituents may call
for new school programs and tax levies, while others insist that budgets and
salaries are already high enough. Many pro-life and conservative religious
organizations want teachers and books favorable to their views on abortion and
evolution. Professional organizations, PTA groups and teachers expect
superintendents to make decisions on the basis of professional criteria and merit
alone. In dealing with these conflicting pressures, superintendents must balance,
adjust, and juggle the contradictory requirements. Typically, they give in to this
interest group here and that interest group there, while maneuvering and
negotiating. In the process the contours of their role are hammered, and trimmed,
and shaped. The role is defined through day-to-day activity. In sum, social
structure is not a given – something fixed forever in human affairs.
Embracing the Role
Some roles we put on and take off like clothing; they have little impact upon
our attitudes and personalities. Other roles we fully embrace; the role becomes
deeply merged with our sense of who and what we are. We literally become the
person of the role.
Examine a recurrent source of friction in your relationship with a parent or
employer. Does role conflict underlie some of the difficulties?
 Are you confronted with contradictory expectations because you must play
two or more conflicting roles simultaneously?
 Do some of the expectations associated with one role in a role set conflict
with the expectations of another role in the same role set?
 Do you find that some of the demands of the role are incompatible with one
or more of your personality characteristics?
 Are some of the role expectations so ill defined that you do not know what is
expected of you?
 Do you disagree with the other person as to what the rights and duties of the
role or in what ways the rights and duties should be performed?
Having identified various sources of role conflict in your relationship, what
actions might you take to reduce each difficulty?
Why do the statuses we occupy and the roles we play have major
consequences for our personality? For one thing, we determine who and what we
are primarily in a social context. As we will see, we discover ourselves in our own
actions and in the actions of others toward us. So the statuses we occupy and the
roles we play tell us about ourselves. Moreover, as we discuss later in the chapter,
we embrace many of our roles. Identify a major role that you play that has
important consequences for your personality. What are some of these
Comprehension check
Define a role.
How are roles different from statuses?
How do roles, we and others play, help us find our way among people?
Define roles, performance and role expectation. Give examples.
Why does there exist a gap between role expectation and role performance?
What is role set? Explain the difference between role set and status set.
Clarify the nature of role as a set of duties and rights. What are your duties and
rights as an occupant of student status?
8. What is role strain? Role conflict? How are they interrelated?
9. How to handle role conflict?
10.Role taking and role making, tell then apart.
11.What do role allow us to do in our social life?
12.Give examples of embracing a role . View it in the fashion of the good and bad
in does to the person in his/her interactions.
Provide the families of the following words. Their Russian and English
meaning, word combination.
To modify
To mesh
a bundle
to entail
a sibling
To falter
To implement
To contradict
To hammer
To merge
2. a) Give equivalents from the vocabulary for;
an instrument, tool, utensil;
a moderate or small quantity;
to offer for sale at public auction;
to send a way hurriedly or unceremoniously;
a brother or sister;
to give, feel, etc. I return;
b) Explain the difference in meaning between the adjectives.
Incongruous, inconsistent, in compatible, similar, alike;
To fight or argue furiously;
To hesitate or waver in action or purpose;
To make partial changes;
Continuing, perpetual. Give examples.
3. Translate into Russian the following sentences taken from the article.
1) In life we do a great deal of improvising; we continually test and revamp our
action according to what other people say and do.
2) Roles allow us to collapse or telescope a range of behaviors into manageable
3) Role is a bundle of activities that mesh with the activities of other people.
4) Every role has at least one reciprocal role attached to it.
5) One way that people are linked in group is through networks of reciprocal roles.
6) Groups consist of intricate complexes of interlocking roles.
7) One way to handle role conflict is to compartmentalize one’s life and to assume
only one of the incompatible role at a time.
8) We are involved in an ongoing process of role taking, it entails stepping into
another person’s shoes and observing our own conduct from this person’s point
of view.
9) Some roles become deeply merged our sense of identity.
4. Paraphrase
1) Playing different roles we always extemporize and change our behavior as we
enter new settings and meet other people.
2) Each status involves a certain behavior.
3) His speech was atrocious. He stumbled over statistics and had difficulty with
selecting the proper words.
4) In the process of role making the boundaries of our roles are shaped.
5) Some norms of our culture to deeply amalgamate with our consciousness that
we do not notice how profoundly they guide our lives.
6) I assert that life is more interesting when you have a brother or a sister.
7) Shakespeare suggested that man’s life is similar to theater performance.
8) The many roles we play at a certain period of time make up our role set.
9) Continuing immigration brings many talented people to the USA.
10) Every role is linked with at least one another role.
11) We are all connected with a web of interlacing social roles.
12) Sometimes we face conflicting role expectations.
13) He hasn’t got a tiny little bit of respect to his parents.
14) Love has caught him in its net.
15) Success requires hard work.
16) Peter hurt his leg badly when he stumbled on the stairs.
17) Action is our motto; we have no time to hesitate.
18) The old lord’s estate was sold at the action.
19) Everyone on the board realized that amalgamation of the two companies was
20) I hope you understand my feelings when I was unceremoniously sent away.
5. fill the blanks.
1) _ and_ is a symbol of the USSR.
2) Often PACs collect contribution from many individuals and present them as a
3) Jack has skilful fingers; he can_ a bookshelf from scrap.
4) X can send anyone into know down with his _ _.
5) We went _ at spring clearing.
6) My fair lady, afford me the hope that one you will _ my feeling.
7) Whenever the supreme court finds law _ with the constitution the firmer is
declared unconstitutional.
8) We divorce because our characters are _.
9) Humor is often based on _ situation.
6. Translate into English.
1) шпиона выдали из страны в течении 24 часов.
2) вся его великолепная коллекция картин пошла с молотка.
3) Какую бы задачу не ставили правительство перед советским народом, все
с воодушевлением брались за ее воплощение в жизнь.
4) Боюсь, ты окончательно запутался в своих отношениях с женщинами.
5) Вы сами себе противоречите.
6) О нем ходят противоречивые слухи.
7) Я никак не могу втолковать ему, что достижение успеха требует больших
In conversations we use the word “status” to refer to a person's rank in
wealth, prestige, and power. However socialists employ the term somewhat
differently. They use status to mean a position – an “empty slot” – in a social
structure. It is by means of statuses that we locate one another in social life.
Student, professor, dean, secretary, academic counselor, coach, and football player
are statuses in the social structure of a college. Other everyday examples of
statuses include priest, friend, supervisor, male, child, customer, mother, and
The Nature of Statuses
Statuses are marvelous human inventions that enable us to get along with
one another and to determine where we “fit” the society. As we go about our
everyday lives, we mentally attempt to place people in terms of their statuses. For
example, we must judge whether the person in the library is a patron or a librarian,
whether the telephone caller is a friend or a salesperson, whether the gregarious
person at the party is a bartender or a guest, whether the intruder on our property is
a thief or a meter reader, and so on. Much of social interaction consist of
identifying and selecting among appropriate statuses and allowing other people to
assume their statuses in relation to us. This means that we fit our actions to those of
other people based on a constant moral process of appraisal and interpretation.
A status has been compared to ready-made clothes (Newcomb, 1950).
Within certain limits, the prospective buyer can choose style and fabric. But the
American is not free to choose the costume of a Chinese peasant or that of a Hindu
prince. We must choose from among the clothing presented in the society.
Furthermore, our choice is limited to a size that will fit, as well as by our
pocketbook. Having made the choice within these limits, we can have certain
alterations made, but apart from minor modifications, we tend to be limited to that
retailers have to their racks. Statuses too come ready made, and the range of choice
among them is limited. Societies commonly limit the competition for statuses by
sex, age, and social affiliations. For instance, realistically, not every American can
be elected president; women, blacks, and members of lower classes suffer severe
handicaps from the outset.
Ascribed and Achieved Statuses
All societies confront a constant stream of new babies who need to be placed
in statuses. These infants cannot be ignored or left to their own devices. Moreover,
society needs these new babies to fill statuses left vacant by death and other causes.
Only in this manner can the business of group living be accomplished. But every
society is caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, the formation of attitudes and
habits begins at birth. The earlier the training for a status can begin, the more
complete it is likely to be. On the other hand, people differ greatly in abilities and
talents. Yet short of actual experience over the years, there is no way of telling who
the gifted will be. By postponing the allocation of statuses, society could better
place each person in the status for which he or she is peculiarly fitted (Linton,
Every society must decide upon some sort of compromise between the two
approaches. It can do this by assigning some positions to people independent of
their unique qualities or abilities. Positions conferred on people arbitrarily by a
group or society are called ascribed statuses. Age and sex are common reference
for ascription; race, religion and family background are others. Society allocates
still other statuses to people on the basis of unique abilities and talents. The
positions they secure through choice and competition are called achieved statuses.
Church deacon, plumber, actor, college student, artist, county sheriff, pickpocket,
fullback, choir direction, president of IBM, coach, and race car driver are
illustrations of achieved statuses.
Even so, no society ignores individual differences. All societies recognize
individual accomplishment and failure and apportion some statuses on the basis of
individual achievement. In some cases, these statuses serve as bait for socially
acceptable behavior or as escape hatches for troublemakers. “Societies often
reserve certain achieved statuses as rewards for conformity. Simultaneously, they
find it possible to channel it otherwise might be deviant impulses into socially
acceptable channels: Individuals disposed to skeptical inquiry can become
philosophers, to innovative tinkering, engineers; to aesthetic creativity, artists; and
to religious inspiration, prophets.
Master Statuses
Some of our statuses overshadow others in our own minds and in those of
other people. A master status is a key or core status that carries primary weight in
our social interactions and relationships. Age and sex are master statuses in all
societies. Race and occupation are also of central importance in American life.
Master statuses lay the framework within which our goals are formulated and our
training carried out.
By virtue of a master status, people hold rather specific expectations for our
behavior, abilities, and traits. Consider age. It governs our entry to many other
statuses and makes its own distinct imprint on them. The notion that you ought to
“act your age” pervades many spheres. In the United States, for instance, a child of
6 is thought “too young” to babysit for over youngsters. A man of 80 is thought to
be “too old” to dance the latest steps in a discotheque. Age operates directly as a
criterion for driving a car (age 16, 17 in others), voting (age 18), becoming
president (age 35), and receiving social security retirement benefits (age 62). Age
also operates indirectly as a criterion for certain statuses through its links with
other factors. For instance, age linked with reproductive capacity limits entry into
the parental role; age linked with 12 years of elementary and secondary school
usually limits entry to the college. Consequently, age serves as a reference point
that allows us to orient ourselves in terms of what and where we are within various
social networks – school, family, church, and workplace. It is one ingredient that
provides us with the answers to the question “Who I am?”
Not surprisingly, the loss of a key master status can have devastating
consequences for us. To be displaced from such a status may set us socially adrift.
Our identities can become confused and imperiled.
Comprehension check
1. How do people use the word ‘status’ in everyday speech? How is the meaning
of the term different when used in sociological context?
2. How do we use the concept of statuses as we go alone in life?
3. Why status is compared to ready-made clothes? Does a specific person
determine his/her status?
4. What is ascribed status? Achieved one?
5. Do achieved and ascribed statuses influence each other ? City an example.
Determine your achieved and ascribed status.
6. What is master status? Historically, what have been the most common master
status of women? Of men?
7. provide a definition of status set. Identify your status set.
8. Sociologists use the notion of status symbol-material sings that inform others
of a person’s specific status, e.g. a wedding ring, owning a rolls-Royce. Find
your status symbols.
1. Think of synonyms of the word status.
2. Find in the text all verbs that take the noun ‘status’ as a grammatical object,
group them into two categories:
1. Meaning ‘to have get a status’.
2. Meaning ‘to give a status’.
Note the change in meaning when you change the form of a verb into active
or passive voice.
Make up your own sentences with the predicate-object phrases.
1. Find advertisements or pictures for status symbols and make an analysis of
what those symbols are supposed to convey about their owners. Look at status
symbols across social classes rather than looking only at symbols of wealth and
2. How may status symbols have different meaning?
Fill the missing words (mind their proper grammatical forms):
To analogize(passive)
To anticipate
To expect
To entail
To falter
To implement
To improvise
To perform
To play
To reciprocate
Role is the dynamic aspect of status. Every social status _ a certain behavior.
Thus, knowing the person’s status we can _ his/her conduct and vice versa
individual actions can tell us a lot about the person’s social _. The term ‘role’ in
sociology can _ to role played on the theater stage. But in contrast to the stage, in
life we _ a lot. Having different statuses we have to _ a bindle of roles. Viewed in
this fashion, our interactions suggest _ with a network where we are all linked with
_ roles. We can ‘act back’ or _ the treatment we receive from other people.
Occasionally we have to _ two or even more _ roles; the stress we
experience can lead to a nervous breakdown or ulcer. In the _ process of evolution
new positions come into being and we may _ what kind of behavior _ or if we are
_ of this role what kind of conduct _.
Groups: The Sociological Subject
Even when sociologists use individual humans as their units of analysis,
their focus is not really on the person. Even if sociologists ask why Mary Johnson
voted for a Pro-Life political candidate, they will not seek the answer within
Mary’s head, but within her social situation: What church does she attend? What is
her racial or ethnic group, her age group, her political affiliation? Where does she
live? To understand Mary, sociologists want to know about the groups that may
shape her opinions and encourage her behavior. In doing so, they reveal that the
fundamental subject matter of sociology is the group.
As defined previously, a group consists of two or more persons who
maintain a stable pattern of relations over a significant period of time. Some
groups, such as married couple, are tiny. Others groups may be quite large.
However, not just any gathering of people qualifies as a group in the sociological
In everyday speech we often refer to ten people waiting for the walk light as
a “group.” But sociologists would call them an aggregate of individuals: They have
come together only briefly and accidentally. They are not acquainted with and may
not even notice one another. For sociologists, people constitute a group only when
they are united by social relations. If the ten people waiting for the walk light were
all members of the same family or baseball team, then they would be a group in the
sociological sense of the term.
Primary and Secondary Groups
Not all groups are of equal significance to their members. For example, we
usually will be more willing to withdraw from a group of persons working in our
office than one made up of family or close friends. The concepts of primary and
secondary groups isolate this difference.
Primary groups are characterized by great intimacy among the members.
People in these groups do not merely know one another and interact frequently;
they also have strong emotional ties. As a result, people gain much of their selfesteem and sense of identity from primary groups.
Moreover, sociologists regard the relationships among primary group
members as the essential glue holding social life together. When Morselli and
Durkheim blamed high suicide rates on modernization, they were arguing that,
compared with traditional societies, modern societies made it difficult to maintain
primary groups. Hence, people were increasingly without the social support needed
to sustain them during times of trouble and despair. By now there is an immense
amount of evidence that people lacking primary group ties display many harmful
symptoms, including poorer physical health. However, Morselli and Durkheim and
other early sociologists greatly exaggerated the impact of modernization on
primary groups: Even in the midst of large, seemingly impersonal cities, primary
groups still thrive, as can be seen in Table 1-6. The data are from the 1994 General
Social Survey and are based on a national sample of Americans, 18 and older.
Respondents have been separated into three groups: those who live in cities, those
who live in suburbs, and those who live in small towns or on farms. If
modernization were as incompatible with primary groups as Morselli and
Durkheim feared, people in cities should spend far less time socializing with
relatives and neighbors. But reading across the table you can see that this is not a
case. There simply are no sizable or consistent differences.
The family is the most common primary group, but many other groups can
also gain this level of member commitment, sports teams and small work groups
often being examples. Charles H. Cooley, who coined the term primary group, said
a group is primary if its members routinely refer to themselves as “we.” Primary
groups involve “the sort of sympathy and mutual identification for which ‘we’ is
the natural expression.”
Secondary groups consist of less intimate groups within which people
pursue various collective goals but without the same consuming sense of
belonging. Business organizations, social clubs, political parties, even hobby clubs
typically are secondary groups. People find it relatively easy to switch from one
secondary group to another and refer to themselves and the group members as
“we” only casually. However, primary groups often form within secondary groups
– a fact that often accounts for considerable conflict within secondary groups when
primary group members treat other members as outsiders, or several primary
groups compete for control of the secondary group.
Dyads and Triads
The smallest sociological group is the dyad: two individuals who engage in
social relations. As we shall see in Chapter 3, an analysis of the basic properties of
two-person relationships gives sociology the tools for building a theory of human
interaction – for explaining how we influence one another and thereby construct
and enforce rules governing social life. Much of our behavior is governed by our
need to exchange with others, whether we exchange apples or affection. Such
exchanges are possible only if we can anticipate how the other person will respond
and vice versa.
However, if the dyad is the fundamental building block of sociology, it is
not its primary object of interest. Human social relations consist mainly not of
isolated pairs but of multiple relations involving every individual with a number of
others. And as soon as we shift our focus from dyads to social relations involving
three or more individuals, some very interesting and complex patterns emerge. As
a preview, let’s consider triads: social relations among three persons.
Let’s imagine a triad of three women: Ann, Betty, and Cindy. This triad, like
all others, includes not one but three relationships. In other words, relationships
exist between Ann and Betty, between Betty and Cindy, and between Ann and
Cindy. Sociologists have discovered many rules about the behavior of triads. Let’s
consider two of them.
TRANSITIVITY. Triads demonstrate the transitivity rule governing
human relations. The rule is simple: Relations among members of a group will tend
to be balanced or consistent. This idea is captured by everyday sayings such as
“Any friend of yours is a friend of mine,” “Your enemies are my enemies,” and “If
you like her, you’re no friend of mine.” Relationships in a triad are transitive when
there is no strain on relations between any pair caused by contrary relationships
with the third person. To illustrate this, let’s look at what happens to people in a
transitive triad when it becomes intransitive. Imagine three close friends: Andy,
Bubba, and Cal. One day Andy and Bubba get raging mad at each other and never
speak again, but both remain buddies of Cal. This is an intransitive triad. Now
whenever Andy goes bowling with Cal, Bubba is resentful. Or whenever Bubba
and Cal go fishing, Andy grumbles about friends who let him down.
Intransitive triads are unstable and usually break up. Sooner or later Cal is
going to have to stop seeing either Andy or Bubba, or both. Trying to be friends
with two people who hate each other causes too much tension.
COALITION FORMATION. Suppose Cal decide to go along with one of
his buddies and gang up on the other. Maybe he joins Andy as an enemy of Bubba.
Now we can say that Andy and Cal have formed a coalition: They have combined
to oppose someone else.
Now let’s introduce power into this intransitive triadic relationship.
Sociologists define power as the ability to get one’s way over the opposition of
others (see Chapter 9). Many things can cause some people to be more powerful
than others, but for now let’s limit our attention to physical strength. If all three
guys are of equal physical strength, we cannot predict whether Cal will choose to
line up with Andy or with Bubba if there is going to be a fight. Either choice is
equally likely, and sociological principles are no more informative than the flip of
a coin.
Suppose, however, that Bubba is huge and could easily beat up either Andy
or Cal, while Andy and Cal are equally matched. Suppose, too, that Bubba couldn’t
beat up both Andy and Cal at the same time. Now we can predict that Andy and
Cal will gang up on Bubba – that they will form a coalition. Why? Because if Cal
chose to join Bubba he would still be at Bubba’s mercy after Andy was beaten.
The same goes if Andy joins Bubba against Cal. But if Andy and Cal gang up on
Bubba they are safe – safe from Bubba and safe from one another, because they are
too evenly matched to want to risk a showdown.
Transitivity and coalition formation are but two of a multitude of principles
governing social relations in small groups. I have discussed them here to offer a
sample of what micro sociologists study. However, principles such as these are not
limited to the behavior of triads. The intimate connections between micro and
macro sociology can be seen if we realize that such rules apply equally well to
large groups. To illustrate, let’s see how intransitivity and coalition formation
shape the internal structure of larger groups.
All groups consist of social relations among members, whether the group
contains 3 or 3,000 members. The patterns of relations among members of a group
are often called social networks. Ideally, even a large group is transitive, with all
members liking one another. However, the ideal is rarely realized. Some members
do not like others, and thus relations inside a group can become intransitive. And
just as intransitivity can lead either to the breakup of a triad or to coalition
formation, so can it cause people in large groups to readjust their relations.
Intransitivity leads to the formation of internal clusters within the network of the
group – clusters composed of persons who like one another and have few friends
outside their own cluster. These clusters are often called internal factions or
cliques. When a pattern of cliques has developed, transitivity is restored: People no
longer attempt to remain friends with individuals who are also friendly with their
To study the structure of group networks, sociologists often use sociograms
to chart relationships within a group. For example, a sociologist may ask members
of a fourth-grade class, a sorority, or a business office to list the individuals whom
they like or admire most in the group (or whom they dislike most). The lines of
friendship can then be drawn on a chart. Usually, several individuals stand out as
“sociometric stars” because they are often chosen as the most liked. If these stars
also like one another, then an integrated network exists. People who admire one
star will also tend to like another star as well as group members who like other
For example, suppose Donna and Kaelin are the two most popular members
of a sorority and also like each other. Then those who like Donna will also tend to
like Kaelin and the other members who regard Kaelin as the star. Many bonds of
friendship exist between members, and no clear lines of separation exist within the
Intransitivity arises, however, when two stars become enemies – when, in
our example, Kaelin and Donna suddenly decide they can’t stand each other. For
then they impose strains between their respective followers just like the strains
created in the triad when Andy and Bubba got mad at each other. And just as the
intransitive triad led to a coalition, so does intransitivity in larger networks produce
a choosing up of sides. Such networks display clearly separated patterns of social
relations – distinct cliques or factions. When more than two such internal factions
exist, coalition formation is likely: Several factions will cooperate against other
factions. Here, too, the coalition rule outlined on pages 12-13 applies. But whether
or not coalitions form, internal factions always threaten to produce internal
conflict, and in some cases they can break up the group.
Comprehension check
1. What is the fundamental subject matter of sociology? Why?
2. What kind of gathering of people does not qualify as a group for a sociologist?
3. Isolate the difference between a primary and a secondary group.
4. What function does a primary group serve?
5. Who coined the term ‘ primary group’? What is the most common primary
6. Define a dyad, a triad. What rules of behavior do triads follow?
7. How do the transitivity and coalition formation rules apply to social networks?
1. Explain the meanings of the following phrases
To seek an answer;
Political affiliation;
Sense of identify;
To stick together;
To switch from one group to another;
To shift one’s focus from;
Sizable difference;
To isolate the difference;
To blame smth on smb;
To coin the term;
A cluster;
2. Paraphrase the sentences using your topical vocabulary(mind the previous ones
as well)
1) No one can tell what party he belongs to; he’s neither a Dem nor a Rap. I’d he
is a Demopublican.
2) After primary group we’ll talk about secondary group.
3) What is the difference between functionalist and conflict concepts?
4) Some people tend to blame others for their own mistakes.
5) It was Charles H. Cooley who introduce tern of primary group into sociology.
6) Many scholars are trying to answer this question.
7) Conflicts inside yourself are the most difficult to cope with.
8) Don’t separate; it may be dangerous in the unknown place.
9) Some kids say being an only child in the family is boring. But I don’t want any
sibling. I like it this way.
10) Inner conflict may cause a bunch of diseases or under permanent strain your
health my deteriorate considerable.
11) If you need somebody else’s help, call me.
Analyze a group in the light of pattern of relationship among its members. Draw its
sociogram. Are there ‘stars’ ‘outcasts’, cliques within the group?
Introduction. Social structure and social change are general concepts used
by social scientists, particularly in the fields of sociology and social and cultural
anthropology. They are often conceived of as polarized twin concepts, social
structure referring to permanence, social change to the opposite. The relationship
between the two concepts is, however, more complicated. “Structure,” for instance,
does not necessarily indicate lack of change. Those features of a society, or any
other social group, that are regarded as parts of its structure are always generated
by dynamic processes.
For example, the kinship structure of a given society (the typical
composition of household units and the rules governing marriage and line of
descent) is maintained by continuous changes in families, as marriages are
concluded; children are born, grow up, and become adults; and people die. Second,
although many social processes show a cyclical pattern – the formation,
dissolution, and reformation of families being one example – social life never
repeats itself completely. The kinship relations in one generation are never an exact
replica of those in the previous one. The same processes that serve to maintain the
social structure may also lead to social change and modification of the structure
over a long period.
The concepts of social structure and social change pertain not only to basic
characteristics of human social life but also to certain ideals and preferences. The
structure, or order, of the society, generally regarded as harmonious and conducive
to the general well-being, has also been seen as conflict-ridden and repressive.
Similarly, social change has been conceived of both as progress and as decay, as
emancipation on the one hand and as deviance from good tradition on the other.
Such widely varying evaluations have influenced different theories concerning the
nature of social structure and social change, and they continue to be reflected, to
some extent, in present-day social thought.
Some of the more prominent of these theories are examined here.
The functionalist orientation took shape in the nineteenth century, in the
writings of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) and the British
sociologist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Its leading contemporary spokesmen
have been the American sociologists Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton.
Spencer drew an analogy between societies and living organisms. An
organism is made up of many specialized parts (the brain, the heart, the lungs, and
so on). Each part has a particular function which contributes to maintaining the
whole. (The lungs, for example, extract oxygen from the air and deposit it in the
blood; the heart pumps the blood through the body.) These parts are
interdependent: each needs the others. For the organism to survive, they must work
in harmony with one another. So it is with societies. Each society is composed of
many specialized structures (the family, religion, politics, the education system,
and so on). Each of these structures has a function that contributes to maintaining
the whole. (The family, for example, bears and raises children.) These social
structures are interdependent. (The economy depends on the education system to
provide future workers with skills; the education system depends on the economy
for funds.) For a society to survive, its interdependent parts must function in
harmony. Functionalists hold that survival depends on cooperation, and that
cooperation depends on consensus (agreement) on basic values and rules for
behavior. Under normal conditions the various parts of society work together
toward shared goals, producing order and stability. Viewed from this perspective,
conflict is a symptom of “disease” in the social organism.
Contemporary functionalists have abandoned Spencer’s analogy between
societies and organisms as oversimplified.
Modern functionalists stress the delicate balance among different social
structures. Because these structures are interdependent, change in one area of
social life inevitably causes adjustments in other areas. For example, changes in
the economy (such as a rise in unemployment) bring about changes in the family.
Likewise, changes in the family (an increase in divorce and in the number of single
parents) bring about changes in the economy. According to this perspective,
sudden and rapid change can throw the entire system – the whole society – off
From the functionalist perspective the basic questions for sociological
research are: What functions do different parts of the system serve? (What do they
contribute to the whole?) and How are the parts connected to one another?
Merton pointed out the important distinction between manifest functions –
those that are intended and recognized – and latent functions – those that are
unintended and often unrecognized. For example, the manifest function of
education is to provide youngsters with information, skills, and values. The latent
functions of education include keeping young people out of an overcrowded job
market: providing a “baby-sitter” for working parents; and perpetuating class
differences by sorting students into academic and vocational tracks according to
their perceived potential.
The functionalist perspective is particularly useful in mapping the
connections between various elements of a social system.
But many sociologists are critical of the functionalist approach. According
to its critics, the main weaknesses of functionalism are: (1) its tendency to assume
that whatever social arrangements do exist should exist because they are
functional, thus ignoring other possibilities; (2) its neglect of the role power plays
in the creation and maintenance of social arrangements; and (3) its inability to
explain social change except as dysfunction or as the result of outside influences.
Conflict Theory
Where the functionalist orientation directs attention to the sources of
consensus and agreement in a society, conflict theory (as the name implies) focuses
on the sources of conflict and change. Conflict theorists might draw an analogy
between a society and a giant arena, where a large number of teams are locked in
competition for a small number of prizes. The score is never even: For one team to
win, others must lose. The team that is on top in any given period has the power to
decide on the rules of the game, and does everything in its power to preserve its
advantage. Although other teams may acknowledge this advantage, they never
wholly accept the position of “losers” and watch for ways to turn the tide. Hence
the game is never settled. By analogy, the things people want in life – wealth,
power, and prestige – are always in short supply. Competition for scarce resources
inevitably leads to conflict among groups. Social conflict develops not only over a
distribution of goods, but also over the question of what goods are to be produced
and how. Should investment be made in weapons, medicines, or food production?
The groups that control crucial sources of wealth (mines, factories, etc.), the
communication media, and other vital resources usually are in a position to
dominate political and other social activities as well. Sometimes a dominant group
relies on the threat or use of force to maintain its privileges. In other cases the
dominant group is able to use religious doctrines or the education and
communications systems to convince subordinated groups that existing social
arrangements are right or inevitable. But dominant-subordinate relationships are
always unstable. The threat that exploited groups will rebel is ever present. Thus
conflict theorists maintain that society is held together not by consensus, but by
constraint. Although they acknowledge that social change can be disruptive, they
argue that in many cases protest movements and revolutions lead to progress and
greater social justice.
Whereas functionalists view social arrangements in terms of their functions
for society as a whole, conflict theorists ask, Functional for whom? From this
perspective, the basic questions for sociological research are: Who benefits from a
given social arrangement? and How does the dominant group maintain its position?
The rise of conflict theory in sociology can be seen as an intellectual
revolution against the implied conservatism of functionalism (whatever exists must
be functional). It offered a more dynamic view of society, and has provided
numerous insights into such phenomena as “the war between the sexes” and family
politics, as well as large-scale economic and political upheavals. The major
weakness of conflict theory is that it does not explain the sources of harmony and
consensus in social life. Many societies are stable over long periods of time,
institutions do endure over many generations, and most marriages do not end in
Symbolic Interactionism
The third major theoretical orientation of sociology, symbolic
interactionism, was developed by the American sociologists George Herbert Mead
(1863-1931) and Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1924) in the early twentieth
century, and has been elaborated in recent years by Erving Goffman (1967),
Herbert Blumer (1969), and others. Symbolic interactionists emphasize the role of
individual action in creating and maintaining social structures. Its greatest
contributions are in the study of the direct interpersonal encounters that are the
basis of even the largest social institutions.
Symbolic interactionism is based on the assumption that the way individuals
understand or interpret themselves, other people, and situations influences their
Humans communicate with one another by means of symbols – not only
words and phrases, but also gestures and actions that have acquired social
meaning. And we learn what behavior and events mean through interaction with
other people. Our view of the world is shaped by our culture and by the different
roles we play in society. Even our identity or sense of self is shaped by social
interaction. Out image of ourselves is based in large part on the reflection we see in
other people’s eyes – a “looking-glass self,” in Cooley’s phrase. The “Peanuts”
cartoon character Charlie Brown, for example, knows he is a failure because in his
interactions with Lucy and other characters he learns that they view him as clumsy
and inept.
Although they have many different areas of interest, symbolic interactionists
share a common focus. For these sociologists the basic questions are: How do
people interpret their social scripts? How do they arrive at shared understandings
and unconscious knowledge? How does everyday interaction support or modify
social definitions of reality?
Symbolic interactionism links sociology to real people, everyday events, and
face-to-face encounters, verbal and nonverbal. But it has not shown how the sum
of ordinary (or extraordinary) social encounters produces a functioning society. It
has not translated special cases into explanations of such large-scale phenomena as
political traditions and economic trends.
Comprehension check
1. Why are the notions of social structure and social change often conceived as
polarized AND twin concepts simultaneously?
2. Can you prove or/and exemplify the idea that social structure and change can’t
be divorced?
3. What two broad fashions prevail in viewing social structure and change?
4. Whose works helped Functional Theory take shape?
5. What do the analogize society to? Explain the analogy.
6. What are the major characteristics of society in a functionalist’s mind?
7. Explain the concert of manifest and latent functions?
8. Which questions does functionalist theory answer and which doesn’t?
9. What analogy do conflict theorists use?
10.according to conflict theory spokesmen, who dominates and how is he able to
maintain his advantageous position?
11.What is the difference between conflict and functional approaches?
12.What is the conflict theory’s major shortcoming?
13.What is symbolic interactionism based on?
14. Give examples of our life in symbolic environments?
15.What is the domain of symbolic interactionism in contrast with functionalism
and conflict theory?
1. Provide the families Russian and English meaning of the following verbs:
To perpetuate;
To pertain.
2. Give synonyms for
To generate; to hold(contextual meaning)
A concept; a spokesman
3. Find the difference in usage of the words meaning ‘отклонятся ’
To deviate
To diverge
To digress
4. Change the underline words with synonymous ones (do not forget about the
previously studied vocabularies). Look out for alternatives.
1) Spencer drew an analogy between societies and living organisms.
2) Change in one area of social life inevitably causes adjustments in other areas.
3) How are the parts connected to one another?
4) Functionalists hold that survival depends on cooperation, and that cooperation
depends on consensus on basic values and rules of behavior.
5) The latent functions of education include .. perpetuating class difference.. .
6) The main weakness of functionalism are :.. (3) its inability to explain social
change except as dysfunction or as the result of outside influences.
7) Competition for scarce resources inevitably leads to conflict among groups.
8) By analogy, the things people want in life-wealth , power and prestige are
always in short supply.
9) The threat that exploited group will rebel is ever present.
10) Its greatest contributions are in the study of the direct interpersonal
11) How does everyday interaction support or modify social definitions of reality.
12) Our view of the world is shaped by our culture and by the different roles we
play in society.
13) It has provided numerous insights into such phenomena as ‘the war between
sexes’ and family politics.
14) Institutions do endure over many generations.
1. What manifest and latent functions pertain to the five basic social institutions:
Family, Economics, Religion, and Education?
View the three branches of power in US (the legislative, executive and judicial ) in
the light two macrosociological theories( functional and conflict) .
This chapter examines the way in which we become social beings. This is
the importance of socialization, defined as a lifelong process of social interaction
by which individuals develop their human potential and learn the patterns of their
culture. Socialization is a vital foundation of our humanity.
In the absence of socialization, a human being is little more than a living
organism. Unlike other species of life for which behavior is determined
biologically, human beings require social learning in order to gain the capacity to
survive. And beyond mere survival, social experience provides the foundation of
personality. Personality is a concept that embraces broad patterns of our social
humanity; in the simplest terms, it is defined as the organized system of personal
thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Personality includes how we think about the
world and about ourselves, how we respond emotionally to various situations and
to other people, and how we act within our daily lives. Only through the
development of personality do people become distinctive human beings, while at
the same time sharing culture as members of a society. The absence of social
experience eliminates the possibility for the development of personality.
Social experience is vital not only for the realization of personality, but also
for the continuation of society. A society has a life that extends both forward and
backward in time, far beyond the life span of any individual.
Every society must teach something of its past and present way of life to its
new members. The complex and lifelong process of socialization is the
fundamental way in which culture is transmitted from one generation to another.
Human Development: Nature and Nurture
Virtually helpless at birth, the human infant needs care and nourishment
from others to survive. A child also relies on others to learn patterns of culture.
Although a case like Anna's makes these facts very clear, for many years the
importance of social experience to individual development was obscured by an
unfounded belief that human behavior could be explained almost entirely in
biological terms.
“Naturalists” argued that human behavior is based in biology and explained
every pattern of human behavior as an instinct supposedly natural to the human
species. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, virtually all human behavior
was understood in this way – and such notions are still with us. It is sometimes
claimed, for example, that our economic system is a reflection of “instinctive
human competitiveness,” or that some people are “born criminals.” Similarly,
females are often alleged to be naturally more intuitive and emotional, and males
naturally more self-controlled and rational.
The naturalist argument has also been widely used to explain variations in
the characteristic behavior of different societies. After centuries of world
exploration and empire building, Western Europeans were well aware of how
different one society could be from another. Usually, they attributed these
differences to biological characteristics rather than viewing them as simply cultural
variations. In past centuries, it was even more common to interpret these
differences in terms of biological evolution. Thus Europeans and North Americans
viewed the members of technologically less advanced societies as human beings
who were biologically less evolved. This self-serving and ethnocentric view, of
course, provided an important justification for colonial practices. It is easy to enter
another society, exploit its resources, and perhaps enslave its people if you believe
that they are not truly human in the same sense that you are.
In the twentieth century, such naturalistic explanations of human behavior
were challenged. Psychologists such as John B. Watson (1878-1958) claimed that
patterns of human behavior are conditioned by the environment. Watson’s theory,
known as behaviorism, explains specific behavior patterns as the result of learning
within a social environment rather than as the result of biological instincts. Watson
(1930) differed radically from the naturalists, first of all, by asserting that human
beings of all cultures have the same biological foundation. Therefore, he rejected
the idea that variations in human behavior were based on differences in
evolutionary progress or biological instincts. Instead, he viewed human behavior
malleable, open to the influence of any imaginable environment
Watson’s assertions gradually received more and more support from other
researchers. By the first decades of this century, anthropologists had amassed
considerable information on patterns of behavior within societies the world over.
These patterns are highly variable, even among societies that have much the same
level of technological development. This variation is inconsistent with the belief
that human behavior is rooted in the biology of the species. An outspoken
proponent of the “nurture” view of human behavior, noted anthropologist Margaret
Mead argued, “The differences between individuals who are members of different
cultures, like the differences between individuals within a culture, are almost
entirely to be laid to differences in conditioning, especially during early childhood,
and this conditioning is culturally determined” (1963:280; orig. 1935).
Thus, over the course of this century, biological explanations of human
behavior have lost most of their former eminence. This does not mean that biology
has no part in human behavior. Obviously, all social life depends on the
functioning of the human body. We also know that children share some of the
biological baits of their parents. The clearest case of hereditary transmission
involves elements of physical appearance – such as height, weight, hair and eye
color, and facial features. Heredity probably also has some importance in the
transmission of intelligence and personality characteristics (such as how one reacts
to stimulation). The potential to excel in such activities as art and music may also
have a genetic component. Overall, however, there is little doubt that personality
development is influenced more by the environmental forces of nurture than by the
biological forces of nature. Furthermore, even if a dimension of human potential is
inherited, whether or not it is developed depends upon social experiences.
Comprehension check
1. Define the process of socialization. What are the function of this life-long
2. Why is socialization clamed essential to our humanness?
3. Explain how socialization on the one hand, makes a human unique and on the
other hand, a uniform social structure unit.
4. how do you understand the concept of culture in this context? How is the
concept different from our day-to-day perception of culture?
5. What are the two arguments to explain human behavior? What are the
hallmarks of human behavior?
6. Attempt to reveal the myths about human behavior that naturalist argument’s
fallacy had caused.
7. what does the behaviorist theory premise about homo sapiens behavior
8. What part does biology play in human behavior?
1. Provide definitions and/or synonyms for
to transmit
human being (s)
to allege
life span
to attribute
to evolve
to condition
2. Give families and their Russian equivalents for
Heredity, to evolve
3. Paraphrase
1) Heredity signifies the transference of genetic characters from parents to
2) The naturalist argument affords to claim the members of technologically less
advanced society as biologically less evolved.
3) People have a unique ability to develop and maintain culture.
4) We hammer our behavior patterns throughout our life.
5) The training if young artists is a long and difficult process.
6) We are involved in a continual process of role taking a constant change of our
performance conditioned by the feedback from other people.
7) The crucial function for every generation id that it hands down the accumulated
knowledge to their descendants.
8) The French sociologic Emile Durkheim and the British sociologist Herbert
Spencer are among the prominent representatives of functionalist concept.
4. Choose the most appropriate word
1) Man (involved, evolved, enveloped) from the ape.
2) Culture ( transmitted, transmition, is transmitted) from generation to
(generation, general, generosity).
3) Often (achieved, prescribed, ascribed) status ( attribute, condition, nurture)
what(achieved, prescribed, ascribed) status we’ll acquire in life.
4) The task of every teacher is ( to teach , to eliminate, to nurture) a productive
member of society.
5) Nurture (merges, analogizes, stumbles) up ringing and education.
6) If one (digresses, diverges, deviates) from the established social norm and (
persists, perpetuates, inherits) this kind of conduct the public will not ( entail,
attribute, falter) to stigmatize him/her.
1. Provide synonyms and make up sentences of your own
Modifiable behavior
General notion
Continual process
An individual
To claim
To act back
To meet
Famous outstanding
Spheres of Socialization
To say that socialization is a lifelong process means simply that we are
affected in at least some small way by every social experience we have. In modern
industrial societies, several distinct spheres of social life have special importance
for the ongoing socialization of individuals.
The Family
The family is the most important social setting in which socialization takes
place. During at least the first several years of life, for most individuals, the family
is the social world. Only when children start school do they typically spend a great
deal of time away from their families. As we have seen, infants are almost entirely
dependent on others to meet their various needs, and this responsibility almost
primary group for most people. The intensive social experiences that occur within
the family form the foundation of our personalities, however much we may change
in later life. The family is largely responsible for the process of cultural
transmission by which values and norms are taught to new members of the society
and incorporated into individuals’ sense of themselves. Although parents never
completely determine the development of their children, critical dimensions of
self-concept such as attitudes, interests, goals, beliefs, and prejudices are acquired
within the family.
What families teach to their children is not all intentional. Children learn
constantly from the kind of environment that is unconsciously created by the adults
in their family. Whether children believe themselves to be weak or strong, smart or
stupid, loved or simply tolerated- and whether they believe the world to be trustworthy or dangerous-is largely a consequence of this early environment.
The family is also the sphere of social life in which we first learn what our
culture considers to be appropriate attitudes and behavior for males and females.
From infancy, boys and girls receive both conscious and unconscious instruction
from their parents and other family members in how to be “masculine” and
“feminine”. (Tavris & Wade, 1984; Witkin-Lanoil, 1984).
Much of what we consider to be innate in ourselves is actually a product of
culture, incorporated into our personalities through socialization. Sex-role
socialization has always been one of the family’s most important functions.
Of course, ideas of “proper child rearing” vary greatly; generally, however,
research suggests that parental attention to children encourages their social
development. For example, the extent to which children receive physical contact,
verbal stimulation, and responsiveness from their parents is related to their rate of
intellectual growth (Belsky, Lerner, & Spanier, 1984).
The family is important to the socialization process not simply for shaping
the personality, but also for providing children with a social position. In other
words, parents not only bring children into the physical world, they also place them
within society. Many ascribed characteristics-such as social class, religion, race,
and ethnicity-are directly conferred on children by their families and become part
of their concept of self. Long before each one of us was old enough to know it, we
had taken a place within the structure of society that was determined by our family.
True, we can either accept or attempt to change this original social placement, but
we will certainly have to deal with it throughout our lives. The social position we
receive from our families can influence virtually every dimension of our existence.
In addition to affecting the amount of material resources that are available to
us, the social class of our families is related to many of the values and orientations
we have toward the world. Melvin Kohn (1977) conducted interviews with
working-class and middle-class parents in the United States to study how social
class affects what children learn as they grow. He found that working-class parents
tend to stress behavioral conformity in rearing their children. Middle-class parents,
on the other hand, are typically tolerant of a wider range of behavior and show
greater concern for the intentions and motivations that underlie their children’s
Such differences in patterns of socialization can have important long-term
effects on children’s ambition.
In such, parents tend to prepare their children to follow in their footsteps,
adapting to the constraints or freedoms of their inherited social positions.
When formal schooling begins, unfamiliar people and experiences introduce
several new elements into the socialization process. In school, children learn to
interact with other people who are not (at least initially) part of their primary
group, and who may have social backgrounds that differ from their own. As
children encounter greater social diversity, they are likely, to become more aware
of their own social categories. For example, one study of children in kindergarten
showed that white and black children tended to form play groups on race
(Finkelstein & Haskins, 1983). Similarly, boys and girls tend to form distinct play
groups, reinforcing the importance that our culture attaches to sex (Lever, 1978).
The most widely recognized contribution of schooling to the socialization
process is teaching children a wide range of knowledge and skills such as reading,
writing, and arithmetic. Later, secondary schools and colleges teach highly
specialized productive roles.
What children learn in school is not limited to the recognized curriculum,
however. What is often called the hidden curriculum teaches them important
cultural values. For example, school activities such as spelling bees and sports
teach children competitiveness and the value of success. Children are also taught in
countless subtle ways that their society’s way of life-including its political and
economic systems-is both practically and morally good. In addition, schools
further socialize children into their culturally approved sex roles. As Raphaela Best
(1983) points out, instructional activities for boys and girls often differ,
encouraging boys to engage in more physical activities and to spend more time
outdoors, and inducing girls to engage in more sedentary activities, including
helping the teacher with various housekeeping chores. Such differences related to
sex continue throughout the process of formal education. For example, college
women may be urged to select majors in the arts or humanities, while college men
may be encouraged to study the physical sciences.
Another important part of early schooling is the experience of being
evaluated in tasks such as reading and athletic performance on the basis of
universal standards rather than on the basis of particular personal relationships, as
is often the case in families. Such impersonal evaluation is a continual experience
within American schools and has a strong impact on how children come to view
themselves. At the same time, the confidence or anxiety that children develop at
home can have a significant effect on how well they perform in school (Belsky,
Lerner, & Spanier, 1984). Furthermore, the school is probably the first bureaucracy
that children encounter. The school day is based on a strict time schedule, so
children experience impersonal regimentation for the first time and learn what it is
like to be part of a large organization.
Peer Groups
By the time children start school, they have discovered another new setting
for social activity in the peer group, people with common interests and social
position who are usually of the same age. A young child’s per group is generally
drawn from neighborhood playmates; later, peer groups are composed of friends
from school and recreational activities.
The peer group differs from the family and the school in that it allows
children to engage in many activities without the direct supervision of adults. In
fact, young people often form peer groups because they afford an escape from
some of the obligations imposed on them by considerable independence, and this
gives them valuable experience in forging social relationships on their own and
developing a sense of themselves apart from their families. Peer groups also
provide the opportunity for members to discuss interests that may not be shared by
parents (such as styles of dress and popular music as well as topics young people
may wish to avoid in the presence of parents and teachers (such as drugs and sex).
The greater autonomy of the peer group makes possible activity and learning
that would not be condoned by adults. No doubt this is why parents have long
expressed concern about who their children associate only with others of the same
social background, in the hope that the peer group will reinforce, rather than
undermine, what children learn at home. In a society that is changing rapidly
however, peer groups often rival the influence of parents. This is simply because
when social patterns change quickly, the interests and attitudes of parents and
children may differ considerably-as suggested by the familiar phrase ‘the
generation gap’’. The importance of the peer group is typically greatest during
adolescence, when young people are beginning to break away from their families
and think of themselves as responsible adults. It is especially during this period of
life that peer groups exert strong pressure on members toward conformity.
Conforming to the peer group eases some of the anxiety provoked by breaking
away from the breaking away from the family.
The conflict between parents and peer in the socialization process may be
more apparent than real, however for even during adolescence children remain
strongly influenced by their parents. While peer-group influences may be strong
with regard to such short-term concerns as style of dress and musical taste, parents
continue to shape the long-term aspirations of their children. For example, one
study found that parents had more influence than even best friends on young
people’s educational aspirations. (Davies & Kandel, 1981).
Finally, a neighborhood or school typically contains numerous peer groups
that form a complex social mosaic. People often perceive their own peer group in
positive terms while viewing others negatively. Therefore, many peer groups may
have importance in the socialization process. Individuals may seek to conform to
their own groups while forming an identity in opposition to various other groups.
In some cases, too, people may be strongly influenced by peer groups that they
would like to join. For example, upon entering a new school, a young man with a
desire to excel at basketball may wish to become part of the basketball players’
social crowd. He may therefore attempt to conform to what he sees as social
patterns of this group in the hope of eventual acceptance. This represents what
sociologists call anticipatory socialization, the process of social learning directed
toward assuming a desired status and role in the future. Another example of
anticipatory socialization might involve a young lawyer who hopes to eventually
become a partner in her law firm. By adopting the attitudes and behavior of other
partners, she hopes to encourage her acceptance into this exclusive social group.
The Mass Media
The mass media are channels of communication directed to vast audiences
within a society. Common to industrial societies, the mass media include
television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. All of these constantly present us
with information of all kinds and, as a result, have an enormous effect on our
attitudes and behavior. The mass media often claim to present world events in a
factual manner. However, a number of sociologists have argued that they tend to
present the interests of established elites in a favorable light, while portraying those
who challenge the system in negative terms (Gans, 1980; Parenti, 1986).
Like he other mass media, television is not interactive, meaning that
although it has an effect on us, we are not able to immediately respond to those
who direct its content. Television is therefore far more than a source of
entertainment; it is also a means of programming our attitudes and beliefs. For
example, television has traditionally portrayed men and women according to
cultural stereotypes, showing, for example, males in positions of power and
women only as mothers or subordinates (Cantor & Pingree, 1983; Ang, 1985).
Advertising in the mass media has also traditionally presented males and
females in stereotypical ways (Courtney & Whipple, 1983). Similarly, television
shows have long portrayed relatively affluent families in favorable terms, while
suggesting that less affluent people (such as Archie Bunker in All in the Family)
are ignorant and wrongheaded (Gans, 1980).
There is a lively continuing debate among sociologists and psychologists
regarding the overall impact of television on human behavior. Of particular
concern is the steadily increasing level of television violence. There is now
considerable research evidence suggesting that violence in programming fosters
violent behavior among viewers (Goldsen, 1978; National Institute of Mental
Health, 1982).
Television has unquestionably enriched American culture in many respects,
bringing into our homes a wide range of entertainment and educational
programming. Furthermore, it is a “window on the world” that has increased our
awareness of diverse cultures and provided a means of addressing current public
issues. At the same time, television remains the subject of controversy insofar as it
distorts our social relations by supporting traditional stereotypes and promoting
Finally, the advertising on which the mass media depend for revenues
attempts to manipulate our attitudes and behavior.
Public Opinion
Public opinion is defined as the attitudes of people throughout a society
about one оr more controversial issues. Although, primary groups have the
greatest importance in the process of socialization, our attitudes and behavior are
also influenced by what we perceive to be the opinions of other members of our
society. As will be seen in the discussion of Solomon Asch's (1952) research in
Chapter 6, people often conform to the attitudes of others – even strangers – to
avoid being singled out as different.
Because public opinion tends to reflect the dominant values and norms of a
society, those who do differ in some way from the majority may be defined in
negative terms. Widespread American opinion suggests that if we are homosexual,
we are “sick,” that males who are noncompetitive “lack character,” and that
females who are assertive are “pushy.” Thus people who fail to conform to cultural
patterns may develop a sense of being social outsiders. As we shall explain in
Chapter 8, public opinion may judge nonconformity such a serious matter that
nonconforming individuals may be viewed by society, and by themselves, as
deviants. No one, of course, ever conforms completely to the dominant values and
norms. Ironically, many people who publicly display conformity to cultural
patterns experience private anxiety about their failure to live up to ideal cultural
Within complex, industrial societies, socialization takes place in a wide
range of settings. In addition to those we have described, there are religious
organizations, the workplace, and social clubs. More generally, since socialization
is based on all social experience, this process actually occurs everywhere. For this
reason, socialization inevitably involves inconsistencies; even within the family,
we may learn different information from various family members. Thus
socialization is not a simple process of learning, but a complex balancing act in
which individuals encounter a wide range of ideas in the process of forming their
own distinctive personality.
Comprehension Check
1. What are the major spheres of socialization?
2. How does the family influence a human being socialization process?
3. What part does schooling play in the ongoing socialization of individuals?
4. How do keep groups contribute to socialization?
5. What is termed ‘anticipatory’? Give your own examples .
6. How do mass media shape our behavior?
7. Public opinion?
1. Find in the text all synonymous words and phrases for
a sphere of socialization
to teach
to influence
to hammer social relation ships
2. What is the opposite of ‘to deviate from ’(see the text).
3. Find equivalents for
Следовать по стопам, правильное (соответствующее) поведение, окно в мир,
провоцировать (побуждать), обязаться, длительные (долгосрочные) цели
(задачи), юность, юноша, девушка, юношеский (подростковый ), перепевать
чье-либо мнение и поведение, Нееловы, едва различимый, врожденный.
4. Paraphrases the sentences taken from the article
1) In modern industrial societies several distinct spheres of social life have special
for the ongoing socialization of individuals.
2) The family is the most important social setting in which socialization takes
3) Much of what we consider to be innate in ourselves is actually a product of
culture, incorporated into our personalities through socialization.
4) Many ascribed characteristics are directly conferred on children by their families
and become part of their concept of self.
5) The social position we receive from our families can influence virtually every
dimension of our existence.
6) In sum, parents tend to prepare their children to follow in their footsteps,
adapting to the constraints or freedoms of their inherited social positions.
7) Such impersonal evaluation… has a strong impact on how children come to
view themselves.
8) Conforming to the peer group eases some of the anxiety provoked by breaking
away from the family.
9)…Even during adolescence children remain strongly influenced by their parents.
10) Although primary groups have the greatest importance in the process of
socialization, our attitudes and behavior are also influenced by what we perceive
to be the opinions of other members of our society.
11) Socialization inevitably involves inconsistencies.
Develop a class presentation on one of the topics:
1. Sex-role socialization in the family, mass media, and school.
2. How family socialization differs with class, race/ethnicity the family belongs to.
3. The hidden curriculum and cultural values it teaches.
4. Violence on screen and in life.
5. Generation gap: should parents influence their children’s choice of friends?
Stratification – the organization of society resulting in some members having
more and others having less – has been a constant theme in moral, political, and
philosophical writing through the ages. Millions of words have been written to
denounce inequalities in wealth and power, as well as to justify these inequalities.
From the point of view of modern sociology, this is an irresolvable conflict based
on two inescapable facts. First, stratification has many undesirable consequences:
People at the bottom of stratification systems often suffer greatly, both physically
and emotionally. Second, some degree of stratification seems to be an unavoidable
feature of social structure.
Chapter Preview
This chapter examines the basic concepts and theories sociologists use to
describe and explain stratification. It begins by examining various concepts of
social class. In Chapter 2 social classes were defined as groups of people who
share a similar position, or level, within a stratification system. Now we shall
pursue this definition in greater depth and explore differences in how leading
sociologists have conceived of classes. We will also analyze the phenomenon of
social mobility: upward or downward movement by individuals or groups within a
stratification system. Armed with these conceptual tools, we shall then explore
theories of stratification. Why are societies? To what extent can stratification be
minimized? In Chapter 10 we shall apply these principles by examining
stratification and mobility in different kinds of societies.
Conceptions of Social Class
People have used many different schemes to identify social classes, or
divisions of rank and wealth, within societies. Some schemes have used broad
distinctions while others have used narrow ones in deciding which people occupy
similar positions in a stratification system. Are classes large and few in number, or
are they small and numerous?
Plato saw only two classes in ancient Greek society, the rich and the poor,
and he believed them to be locked in eternal conflict. Aristotle divided Greek society into three broad classes: a rapacious upper class, a servile lower class, and a
worthy middle class that, having all virtues and all failings in moderation, could be
trusted to see after the common good of all. The word class comes to us from the
Romans, who used the term classis to divide the population into a number of
groups for the purpose of taxation. At the top were the assidui (from which the
word assiduous comes), who were the richest Romans. On the bottom were the
proletarii, who possessed nothing but children.
However, not until the mid-nineteenth century was the concept of class
given significant meaning for modern social theorists. The person who first did this
was Karl Marx (1818-1883).
Marx's Concept of Class
Marx aimed to explain social change and produce a theory of history: Why
and how do societies change, and what will they be like in the future? He believed
that the answer lay in conflicts among social classes. The whole of human history,
Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto in 1848, has been
"the history of class struggles." These struggles are the engines chat pull societies
into new forms; the history of human societies is a history of one ruling class being
overthrown by a new one.
Marx saw that there is no single answer to the question of how many classes
to identify in societies. Instead, the answer depends on which society and when.
Thus, he identified four classes in ancient Rome-patricians, knights, plebeians, and
slaves – and a large number in Europe during the Middle Ages. But Marx expected
modern capitalist societies to consist only two classes.
The Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat
A capitalist society, according to Marx, is one having a free-market
economy based on private ownership of property Chapter 17 develops a fuller
definition of capitalism. In this chapter Marx's definition suffices. By the middle of
the nineteenth century when Marx wrote his major works, all of the nations of
Western Europe, as well as the United States ant) Canada fit his definition of
capitalism. Therefore, he predicted that each of them soon would undergo q great
simplification of their stratification systems into two fundamental classes. As he
wrote in The Communist Manifesto, "Society as a whole is more and more splitting
up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other:
Bourgeois and Proletariat." Marx defined these two classes in terms of their
different relationship to the means of production: everything besides human labor
that goes into producing wealth. Chief among these are land (on which crops grow,
cattle feed, and buildings stand), machines and cools, and investment capital. One
class, the bourgeoisie, owns these means of production. The other class, according
to Marx, contains everyone who does not own such means and therefore must sell
his or her labor to the bourgeoisie. Marx called this class-the proletariat,
employing the name the Romans used to identify the poor. These terms essentially
refer to owners (or employers) and workers (or employees).
Marx realized that all capitalist societies in his time had many people who
did not fit into his two-class scheme, but he believed that these groups would not
significantly affect history. One such group was the middle class, which included
small merchants and self-employed professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
Marx believed that as the capitalist system evolved, the middle class would be
crushed and forced into the proletariat.
Marx also dismissed many people who were marginal to the economy –
vagrants, migrant workers, beggars, criminals, gypsies, and the like. He classified
such persons as lumpenproletariat (literally, the "ragamuffin proletariat"). Such
people had so little social purpose and self-respect, Marx believed that they would
have no effect on the impending revolutionary, struggle.
Finally, Marx excluded farmers and peasants from his conception of class
because he believed that the drama of historical change would occur in the urban
industrial sector of capitalist societies; rural people would play little or no part in
shaping social change. He wrote that the "peasants form a vast mass, the members
of which live in similar conditions, but without entering into manifold relations
with one another. Their mode of production isolates them from one another...and
the identity of their interests begets no unity, no national union, and no political
organization; [therefore,] they do not form a class."
Ironically, the great communist revolutions Marx predicted never did occur
in the urban, industrialized, capitalist nations. However, revolutions claiming to be
Marxist have occurred in a number of less developed nations have found their
primary support among peasants. This suggests that, were he alive today, Marx
would rethink his concepts to include rural populations.
Class Consciousness and Conflict
In addition to material position in society, Marx also included an important
psychological component in his notion of class. To be considered a real class, people must be similarly placed in society and share comparable prospects, but they
must also be aware of their circumstances, their mutual interests, and their common class enemy. Marx called this awareness class consciousness. Much of his
theory about the coming of the communist revolution concerns how the proletariat
will achieve class consciousness, at which point their superior numbers will ensure
their success. Marx also worried about the tendency for workers to believe they
had common interests with die ruling class and called this false consciousness.
By incorporating assumptions about class consciousness into his definition
of social class, Marx inserted portions of his theory of revolution into his concept
of class. This made key portions of his theory true by definition and thus
By Marx's definition, if people with a common economic position in society do
not recognize their common interests and organize to pursue them, they are not a
class. Indeed, Marx asserted that classes could not exist without class struggle. He
wrote, "Individuals form a class only in so far as they are engaged in a common
struggle with another class," Hence, when Marx' said class struggle is inevitable,
he had already made that statement necessarily true by his definition of the word
class. To say that classes will be self-conscious and organized, then, is to predict
nothing about the course of history; it simply states a definition.
The Economic Dimension of Class
The most important feature of Marx's definition of class is that it is
determined only by the economic dimension. Property ownership is the sole factor
for ranking people, and then they are divided into only two groups: those who own
the means of production and those who do not.
When he distinguished between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat based
entirely on this single criterion, Marx necessarily implied that all other differences
in position among people in society are wholly the result of property ownership.
Thus, if some people are more powerful than others, or if some people are more
admired or respected than others, it is due solely to the underlying economic
differences between them. For, Marx claimed, the relationship to the means of
production is "the final secret, the hidden basis for the whole construction of
society." The rest of a society's culture results from the underlying economic
arrangements. Indeed, for Marx culture was a ' "superstructure of various and
peculiarly formed sentiments illusions, modes of drought and conceptions of life
that arises from economic relations.
Marx nowhere gave empirical evidence that economic differences were the
sole basis of other social differences such as power and respect (Dahrendorf,
1959)- His claim, however, was an empirical one that' other social scientists could
test. If power or prestige: can be shown to vary independently of property, then
Marx's statement is ac least excessive and at worst false. Indeed, the likelihood that
the economic dimension of property does not govern all aspects of stratification
made many sociologists who came after Marx very uneasy with his single-factor
conception of class. Among them was Max Weber.
Weber's Three Dimensions of Stratification
Max Weber (1864-1920) is one of the great names in the history of
sociology. We shall assess his work on religion and social change in Chapter 17
and his work on bureaucracy in Chapter 20. In Weber's lifetime, as in ours, the
influence of Marx on social theory was immense. And some of Weber's major
works were attempts to modify Marxist positions.
Weber believed that Marx's wholly economic view of stratification could not
capture primary features of modern industrial stratification systems. Looking
around in Germany. Weber noticed that social position did not always seem to be
simply a matter of property ownership. Many Germans who belonged to the
nobility lacked wealth yet possessed immense political power; for example, only
they could be officers in the army. On the other hand, Weber noted that some
wealthy German families, despite owning factories or large companies, lacked
political power of social standing because they were Jewish.
In a strictly Marxist conception of class, these Jewish families would belong
to the bourgeoisie, while "any powerful Junkers (aristocrats) would belong to the
proletariat. Thus, Weber came to view Marx's scheme as too simple. He proposed
that stratification is also based on other, independent factors. He suggested three
factors: class, status, and party.
Modern social scientists have found several of Weber s terms somewhat
confusing; therefore, they have renamed them to constitute "three P's" of stratification: property (what Weber called "class"), prestige (what Weber called "status"),
and power (what Weber sometimes called "party").
By class Weber meant groups of people with similar "life chances" as
determined by their economic position in society—their material possessions and
their opportunities for income. This is what modern social scientists refer to as
property. Weber stressed class membership based on objective economic position.
Unlike Marx, he did not reserve the word class only for groups that had developed
class consciousness and had organized for class conflict. Instead, Weber regarded
the banding together by persons with the same economic position as merely one
possibility. Thus, a key question for Weber was when and why class conflicts
occur. Making class conflict part of the definition of class would not answer the
Furthermore, Weber did not stress ownership of property, but realized that in
some circumstances control of property might be independent of ownership. If a
person can control property to his or her personal benefit, then it matters little
whether the person legally owns the property. Thus, Weber was able to recognize
the high-class positions of managers whether capitalist corporations or socialized
industries) who control firms they do not own. Marx had placed such persons in
the proletariat.
Weber recognized that economic position could rest on control without
ownership because he saw that prestige (or "status," in his terms) and power were
not wholly the consequence of property relations. Instead, they could be the source
of property relations. To use a trivial example, when famous athletes or military)
heroes endorse a commercial product, they are exchanging their prestige, or social
honor, for economic advantage. Indeed, people often enjoy high prestige society
while having little or no property. For example, poets and saints may have
immense influence 'no-society while remaining virtually penniless.
The case for power as being independent of wealth is even more obvious.
Weber defined power as the ability to get one's way despite the resistance of
others. People may be very powerful without acquiring much property. For
example, a corporation president may wield great power within the corporation and
even in the political process of a society without personally owning any substantial
part of the corporation. The same is often true of senior civil servants, who run
such powerful agencies as the CIA, the FBI the RCMP, or the Federal Reserve
while receiving relatively modest salaries. Additionally, power is often trudet for
economic advancement. Many politicians manage to retire rich even though they
received only modest s salaries while in office. The whole notion of power while
Marx seemed to believe that power could only be bought.
Comprehension check
1. What is stratification?
2. Why is stratification a point of great interest and heated discussion? What’s
your opinion?
3. How can knowledge of stratification in American society be of help for you as a
specialist on the US?
4. What’s Marx’s concept of class?
5. How many classes are there in capitalist societies according to Marx? How did
he label them?
6. What does Marx’s definition of class rest on?
7. How did he classify the people who didn’t fit his scheme?
8. Why did Marx exclude farmers and peasants from his conception of class?
9. Tell about the psychological component of Marx’s notion of class.
10.How many and what dimensions did Marx apply to social class?
11.What dimensions did Max Weber use?
12.Why doesn’t Marx’s the only dimension suffice?
1. Define the following:
stratification; class; social mobility;
2. Find the article equivalents for
классовая структура общества; высший; средний; низший класс; свергать;
классовая борьба; правящий класс; классовое сознание; буржуазия;
буржуазный; пролетариат; обладать властью; средства производства;
городской; сельский.
3. Provide meanings and\or synonyms for
to denounce
to conceive of
to suffice
to rest on
to evolve
people at the bottom of stratification system
4. Recall the previously studied vocabularies and substitute the underlined parts
1. This is an irresolvable conflict based on two inescapable facts.
2. Some degree of stratification seems to be an unavoidable feature of social
3. This chapter examines the basic concepts and theories sociologists use to
describe and explain stratification.
4. Now we shall explore differences in how leading sociologists have conceived
of classes.
5. Aristotle divided Greek society into three broad classes.
6. But Marx expected modern capitalist societies to consist of only two
fundamental classes.
7. Therefore, he predicted that each of them soon would undergo a great
simplification of their stratification systems into two fundamental classes.
8. These terms essentially refer to owners and workers.
9. Marx believed that they would have no effect on the impending revolutionary
10.Rural people would play little or no part in shaping social change.
11. The identity of their interests begets no unity…
12.However, revolutions claiming to be Marxist have occurred in a large number
of less developed nations.
13.Were he alive today, Marx would probably rethink his concepts to include rural
14.Marx asserted that classes could not exist without class struggle.
15.The influence of Marx on social theory was immense.
16.And some of Weber’s major works were attempts to modify Marxist position.
17.Thus, Weber came to view Marx’s scheme as too simple.
5. Make up word combinations where the word “social” is to be used as an
attribute. Use the word combinations in sentences related to the topic of social
6. Fill in the blanks
(noun, pl) of works have been written about stratification (noun) which can be
defined as ____. Some of the authors (verb) and many more are adept (prep)
justifying this feature of social structure. Different sociologists (verb) classes
differently and divided societies (prep) a variety of (noun). (not classes!). For
example Karl Marx predicted that in all capitalist societies (noun) system would
(non-prepositional verb) only two classes: _____ and ______.
The two hostile camps would be locked in (adj) (noun). Marx’s theory (verb) on
his definition of these two classes in terms of their relationship to ________; chief
among these are ________. In addition (prep) material position in society, Marx
also included (adj) component in his (noun) of class. To be real class, people must
______ of their circumstances, interests and _______ . Moreover, he (verb) that
classes couldn’t exist without ______.
It was _______ attempted (verb) Marxist theory. He (verb) that the sole factor
of _______ didn’t (verb) for ranking people, he proposed other stratification (noun,
pl) the so-called “three _____”: ______, _______ and _______.
Marx predicted a (adj) society but he didn’t say a word about an ______
society. Anyhow, this or that degree of stratification is (adj) for human community.
The Functionalist Theory of Stratification
The modern functionalist view of stratification is most closely identified
with the work of Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E Moore (1945, 1953). The key to
their functionalist theory of stratification is in seeing society as a system of roles
or positions. Inequality or stratification exists in societies because it is built into
these roles and into the problem of filling them adequately.
Davis and Moore began by arguing that positions in society differ in the
degree to which they are functionally important. That is, poor performance in some
roles is more damaging co the society than is poor performance in some other
positions. For example, while it is true that a society engaged in a war requires
both soldiers and generals, a general is in a position to make more devastating
errors than is any given soldier. Remember that for every famous general who won
a battle that he should have lost there was a general on the other side who lost a
battle he should have won.
Some positions are inherently more important to the system, and Davis and
Moore argued that some are also inherently more difficult to fill adequately. These
positions require qualities that are naturally rare or that require a considerable
preliminary investment in time, training, and effort. For example, some positions in
a society require occupants with very high intelligence or great tact or other
characteristics that are always in short supply in any population. Others—surgeons,
for example—also require many years of training. Extensive [raining is always
potentially in short supply, for new people constantly must begin training to fill future needs.
Thus, all societies face a general problem of motivation—"to instill in the
proper individual the desire to fill certain positions, and, once in these positions,
the desire to perform the roles attached to them" (Davis and Moore, 1945). How
can this be accomplished? Davis and Moore argued that the only way to produce
this kind of motivation is to adjust the reward system. Theirs is a supply-anddemand argument. T5' ensure an adequate supply of the right people, it is
necessary to attach higher rewards to the positions that are most important and
hardest to fill. Why would anyone want to become a general if the rewards were
the same as those of a private?
Furthermore, it isn't enough to find some people who want to be generals: it
is also important to attract the right kind of people to the position of general.
Stratification therefore, exists because the positions in society differ in their
importance to the system and because it is necessary co ensure that competent
people fill the most important positions. Indeed, people also vary in their ability to
perform important roles. Hence, as Davis and Moore (1945) put it, stratification or
social inequality is an unconsciously evolved device by which societies insure that
the most important positions are conscientiously tilled by the most qualified
persons. Those positions convey the best reward, and hence have the highest rank
which a) have the greatest importance for the society and b) require the greatest
training or talent. Differential rewards, according to Davis and Moore, prevent less
essential or less important positions in society from competing with the more
important for scarce talents.
Davis and Moore based their analysis on the proposition that positions or
roles in society differ in functional importance, that is, in their consequences for
the continued operation of society'. This is vital to their argument that stratification
results from the need to motivate the most qualified people to take these positions.
Unfortunately, they found it difficult to establish that one position is more
important than another except on the basis of how hard it is to fill that position.
That is an inadequate standard. Today, for example, it is very hard to fill the
position of housekeeper: to ensure an ample supply would require wages to be set
at a level most potential employers are unwilling to pay. Clearly, it does not follow
that this position is extremely important. But should we then count it as of low
functional importance because we are not willing to pay much to fill the position?
To rate the importance of a position on the basis of how much people are paid for
filling it leads into a trap. Then, one must argue that rewards differ because of
functional importance, but that is to say that rewards differ because rewards differ,
since functional importance has been defined as a difference in rewards. This is a
tautology, or circular argument.
Fortunately, positions can be ranked according to functional importance
without leading to contradiction or tautology. A position is of high functional
importance to a society depending on its replaceability that is, to the degree that
either the position itself or its occupants are hard to replace. Let us return to the
example of housekeepers. The salary people are paid to clean other people's houses
is low, even when those willing to take such jobs are in short supply, because the
position of housekeeper is very replaceable. That is, their employers are fully able
to take over the functions of the housekeeper, and when they are sufficiently
motivated to do so (by the financial savings involved), they will tend to do so.
A position is highly replaceable when its functions can be performed by
people in many other positions. Thus, hospital janitors are highly replaceable
because all other hospital workers could perform their job. Orderlies are next most
replaceable because doctors and nurses could perform their functions. Doctors are
least replaceable because, presumably, not even nurses could fully take on their
hospital duties.
People are highly replaceable when little skill is needed to perform their
particular roles. Little training or skill is required to mop floors, for example, and
thus people who hold such positions are always potentially in competition with all
other workers for their own positions. On the other hand, very few people have the
talent and the training needed to be surgeons, and so few people can compete for
these positions. Thus, positional replaceability is the dominant basis of functional
importance. People in highly replaceable positions also tend to be individually
highly replaceable. Given the replaceability notion, the functionalist theory can
easily be viewed as a supply-and-demand argument about the existence of
Comprehension check
1. What does functionalist theory of stratification rest on?
2. Who is considered its fathers?
3. Explain their premise “positions in society differ in the degree to which they are
functionally important”.
4. What general problem do all societies face in the functionalist perspective?
Why can their argument be dubbed a supply-and-demand one?
5. What inadequacy does Davis and Moore’s reasoning contain?
1. Give English variants of the following Russian words an word combinations
аристократия; знать; буржуазия; элита; сливки общества; правящие круги;
сильные мира сего; избранные; богачи и неимущие; люди всех слоев
Now use them in a dialogue.
2. Choose the most appropriate completion of sentences
1. Plato divided ancient Greek society into
a) 2 classes b) 3 classes c) 4 classes d) no classes whatsoever
2. Aristotle distinguished in ancient Greece
a) 2 classes b) 3 classes c) 4 classes d) no class differences
3. The functionalist view on stratification is closely identified with the work of
a) Davis and Moon b) Davis and Moore c) Marx and Weber d) Marx and Engels
4. Weber suggested 3 stratification factors the so called 3 P’s
a) power, poverty, prestige b) prestige, power, possession c) prestige, power,
property d) prestige, peddling, productivity
5. People that fall within the same class can be said to belong to the same
a) strata b) stratas c) stratum d) stratums
6. Marx’s major written work on social classes is titled
a) Social Manifesto b) Revolutionary Manifesto c) Proletarian Manifesto d)
Communist Manifesto
7. According to Marx lumpenproletariat does not include
a) peasants b) vagrants c) criminals d) gypsies
8. Marx expected modern capitalist societies to consist of only 2 classes, they are
a) communist and comsomol classes b) workers and peasants c) bourgeoisie and
proletariat classes d) bourgeois and proletarian classes
9. Marx defined classes in terms of their relationship to
a) means of communication b) means of production c) means and ends d) golden
10. Marx believed that the pivotal struggle between classes will take place in
a) the rural sector b) the urban sector c) outer space d) never land
11. In addition to material position in society, Marx also included an important
component in his concept of class. In character this component is
a) psychological b) physiological c) psychic d) psychopathic
12. If workers believed they had common interests with the ruling class Marx
called it
a) consciousness b) subconsciousness c) class consciousness d) false consciousness
13. Marxist class theory was modified by
a) Marx Weber b) Max Weber c) Max Werbler d) Frederic Engels
14. Weber shifted the focus from property ownership to its
a) production b) consumption c) control d) peddling
15. According to Marx prestige and power were wholly
a) source of property relations b) consequence of property c) relations d) means of
property relations
16. Weber defined power as the ability to get one’s way
a) in spite of b) by virtue of c) thanks to d) relying on the resistance of others
17. In functionalists’ view positions vary in importance depending on how hard it
a) to fill that person b) to replace that position c) to replace the person who fills
that position d) to eliminate the person who fills that position
18. The functionalist theory of stratification can be viewed as an argument of
a) supply and demand b) demand and consumption c) food and drink d) life and
Generally, the American class system lacks clear boundaries; therefore, we
face a problem in deciding how to cut it up. Following Karl Marx, we might
identify only two major social classes; yet other sociologists have suggested that
there are as many as six (Warner & Lunt, 1941 or seven Coleman & Rainwater,
1978). Another alternative, derived from Max Weber’s theory of several different
dimensions of social inequality, is to conclude that there are no classes at all in the
United States and that the existing social inequality is actually a complex status
Part of the difficulty of identifying social classes reflects the relatively low
level of status consistency characteristic of class systems. Especially toward the
middle of the class system, a person’s social position on many dimensions of social
inequality may not be consistent (Gilbert & Kahl, 1987). As explained in Chapter
9, someone may have more power (as a government official, perhaps) than income
and wealth. Similarly, someone who has a great deal of social prestige (for
instance, as a member of the clergy) may have only moderate power and little
wealth. Another factor making social classes difficult to precisely define is the
considerable social mobility of a class system-which is pronounced near the
middle-so that social position may change within any person’s lifetime.
Nonetheless, patterns of social inequality in the United States are clear enough to
permit a description of four general social classes: the upper class, the middle
class, the working class, and the lower class.
The Upper Class
Perhaps 3 or 4 percent of all Americans fall within the upper class. First,
upper-class families have a yearly income that is, at the very least, $100,000. The
“super-rich” members of the upper class may earn several million dollars or more
annually. Such high income over a period of time, commonly coupled to
significant inheritance of property, means that upper-class people control a vastly
disproportionate share of wealth in terms of stocks and bonds, real estate, and other
investments. The 1987 Forbes magazine profile of the richest four hundred people
in America estimated their total wealth at $220 billion: the personal worth of this
economic elite (including forty-nine billionaires) was a minimum of $225 million.
There is little doubt that, in Marxist terms, the upper class represents capitalists
who own most of the nation’s productive property. Second, beyond the power
inherent in their wealth, many members of the upper class have occupational
positions-as top executives in large corporations and as high government officialsthat give them the power to shape events in the nation and, increasingly, the entire
world. Third, the upper class is highly educated, typically in the most expensive
and highly regarded schools and colleges. Historically, the upper class was
composed almost exclusively of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs),
although this is somewhat less true today (Baltzell, 1964, 1976).
Upper-class people, then, enjoy the highest level of social prestige in
American society. But there are social differences among even the most privileged
Americans, so an important distinction is often made between the upper-class and
the lower-upper class.
The upper-upper class.
This most elite segment of the American population-often described simply as
“society”-contains only about 1 percent of the population (Warner & Lunt, 1941;
Coleman & Neugarten, 1971; Rossides, 1976). There is an old saying that the
easiest way to get into the upper-upper class is to be born there- a fact reflected in
the description of such people as “blue-bloods.” Ascription is evident in the fact
that the great wealth of upper-upper class families is usually inherited rather than
earned. For this reason, such people are often called the old rich –their wealth has
grown old over many generations.
Life in the upper-upper class is built around highly selective social ties and
memberships. These include exclusive neighborhoods, such as Beacon Hill in
Boston, the Rittenhouse Square area or the Main Line in Philadelphia, the Gold
Coast of Chicago, and Nob Hill in San Francisco. Schools and colleges extend this
socially exclusive environment. Children are typically educated in private
secondary schools with others of similar background, and continue their education
at high-prestige colleges and universities. In the pattern of the European feudal
aristocracy, such children study liberal arts rather than vocationally directed
subjects. Social clubs and organizations further exclusivity. The women of this
class, who usually have no income-producing occupations, often engage in
volunteer work for charitable organizations. While helping the community, these
activities also serve to maintain upper-class solidarity from generation to
generation (Ostander 1980, 1984).
The lower-upper class.
The remaining 2 or 3 percent of the upper class is more precisely termed the lower-
upper class. From the point of view of most Americans, such people are every bit
as privileged as the upper-upper class just described. But there are several
significant differences between these categories.
First, the primary source of wealth for those in the lower-upper class is earning
rather than inheritance. Probably most people in this category did not inherit a vast
fortune from their parents, but the majority certainly inherited considerable wealth,
or at least social advantages that helped them to become extremely successful in
business or the professions. About half of the “super-rich” represent “new money”
of the lower-upper class.
Second, even for the richest of Americans, having earned much of one’s wealth
may be grounds for being accorded less social prestige-especially by members of
“society.” Therefore, while “new rich” Americans are likely to live in very
expensive houses or apartments in the most exclusive neighborhoods, they may
nonetheless be excluded from the highest-prestige clubs and associations of oldmonied “society.”
Since membership in the lower-upper class is at least possible on the basis of
achievement, upward social mobility to this point is widely considered to represent
the American dream of success. The young actress who left a small town and
achieved Hollywood stardom, the athlete whose years of workouts finally paid off
with a million-dollar big-league contract, the clever engineer who built a computer
in a garage and ten years later is managing a billion-dollar corporation-these are
the sorts of achievers who become part of the lower-upper class. For this reason,
Americans tend to have little interesting the upper-upper class, while paying
greater attention to the “lifestyles of the rich and famous,” as well as television
shows such as Dallas and Dynasty. These shows portray people who are more or
less like the rest of us-except that they have made a lot of money.
The distinction between the upper-class is well illustrated by comparing two
listings of wealthy Americans-the Social Register and Who’s Who in America.
The Middle Class
The middle class includes 40 to 45 percent of all Americans. Because it is so
large and represents the aspirations of many more people, the middle class has
tremendous influence on the patterns of American culture. Television shows most
often present middle-class Americans, and most commercial advertising is directed
at them. Being so large, the middle class contains far more ethnic and racial
diversity than does the upper class. In addition, while upper-class people (at least
those within a limited geographical area) are likely to know one another, such
familiarity is obviously not possible in the much larger middle class.
Roughly the top one-third of this category of Americans can be distinguished as
the upper-middle class on the basis of an income that is well above averagegenerally in the range of $40,000 to $100,000 a year. Family income is often
greater still if both husband and wife work. This allows upper-middle-class
families to gradually accumulate considerable property-an elegant house in a fairly
expensive area, automobiles, and some investments. Virtually all upper-middle-
class people have educations, and many have postgraduate degrees as well. Most
work in white-collar occupations such as medicine, engineering, and law, or in
business at the executive level. Having less wealth than members of the upper
class, this category of Americans lacks the power to influence national or
international events, but they often play an important part in civic and political
organizations in the local community. The rest of the middle class typically works
in less prestigious white-collar occupations (such as bank teller, lower-level
manager, and sales clerk or in highly skilled blue-collar jobs. Such people
sometimes have incomes as high or even higher than upper-middle-class
Americans, especially if more than one family member works. However, middleclass American families usually earn between $15,000 and $40,000 a year. This
roughly equals the national average (1986 median family income: $29,460) and
provides a secure, if modest, standard of living. People in the middle class are
generally able to accumulate only a small amount of wealth over their working
lives. The goal of owning a house is achieved by most of them, however, though
the house is unlikely to be in an expensive neighborhood. Most middle-class
people have a high-school education, but a college degree is far from common.
Reflecting their limited incomes, middle-class people who complete college
generally have degrees from state-supported colleges and universities.
The Working Class
The working class contains about one-third of all Americans. Working-class
people have lower incomes than those in the middle class and virtually no
accumulated wealth. In Marxist terms, the working class is the core of the
industrial proletariat. In general, the blue-collar occupations of the working class
provide a family income between $12,000 and $25,000 a year, which is somewhat
below the national average. Working-class Americans are thus quite vulnerable to
financial problems caused by unemployment or illness.
Occupations of the working class include blue-collar jobs and lower-level sales
and clerical positions. These jobs are typically far less personally satisfying than
those held by middle-class people; the work is less interesting and challenging and
usually subject to continual supervision by superiors (Edwards, 1979). In addition,
working class jobs often provide few of the benefits, such as, hospital insurance
and pension programs that give greater financial security to middle-class
Americans. With little opportunity to accumulate savings, these people must plan
carefully in order to afford a house. Still about half of working-class families own
their homes (typically with substantial mortgages), although their housing is
usually less substantial than that of middle-class families and likely to be in lowercost neighborhoods. Similarly, most working-class people have only a high-school
education. Whereas middle-class people are able to achieve significant long-term
security, working-class people get along month to month.
Another major characteristic of working-class life is the lack of power to shape
events. Families typically live in modest neighborhoods because they cannot afford
better housing; their children may want to attend college, but lack the money to do
so. They may find little satisfaction in their jobs, but have few alternatives. Still,
working-class families often express a great deal of pride in what they do have,
especially in relation to those who are not working at all.
The Lower Class
Lower-class Americans-about 20 percent of the population-have unstable and
insecure lives because of their low income. For this reason, they can also be
described as the American poor. According to government figures, about35 million
Americans (roughly 15 percent of the population) are officially classified as poormeaning, for an urban family of four in 1987, an annual income of $10,989 or less.
Another 10 million earn only slightly more than this, and therefore live at the
margins of property. Although most lower-class people in the United States are
white, blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities are disproportionately represented.
The American poor typically work in low-prestige occupations that provide low
income and little intrinsic satisfaction. Their education is very limited; only some
manage to complete high school, and a college degree is virtually out of reach.
Many lower-class Americans have so little education that they are functionally
In a culture that emphasizes the values of individual success and achievement,
lower-class people are often seen as personally inadequate. Tragically, some of the
poor come to hold such a view of themselves. But poverty is more correctly
understood as a consequence of America’s system of social satisfaction than as a
reflection of personal deficiencies on the part of tens of millions of people. The
lower class is also characterized by considerable social segregation, especially of
the poor members of racial and ethnic minorities. This is most visible in urban
areas in which large numbers of poor people live in deteriorating neighborhoods
avoided by those of other social classes. Very few lower-class families ever gain
the resources to purchase even the cheapest house; consequently, they typically
live in undesirable low-cost rental housing.
As suggested in Chapter 9, upper-class children are socialized in an
environment that attempts to develop their talents, abilities, and confidence to the
fullest. In contrast, lower-class children are socialized to the hard reality of being
devalued and marginal members of their own society. Observing their parents and
other lower-class adults, they see little reason to be hopeful about their own future.
Rather, life in the lower class demands resignation to being cut off from the
resources of a rich society (Jacob, 1986).
Although some simply give up, many other poor people work desperately to
make ends meet. In a participant-observation study carried out in a northern city,
Carol Stack (1975) found that many of the poor did not conform to the stereotype
of people lacking in initiative and responsibility. On the contrary, they devised
ingenious means to survive based on mutual support. In the box, one woman in
Stack’s study explains low people in a poor community join together-almost like
one large family-to help one another make ends meet.
Comprehension check
1. Why do they generally say the American class system lacks clear boundaries?
2. What is another factor that still complicates the issue of identifying American
3. What are the key dimensions applied to American social class system?
4. What classes are generally identified in American society?
5. Described each class sticking to the following guidelines
a) how large a percentage of American population falls within the class
b) annual income, wealth
c) occupational position
d) education
e) social prestige\power
f) house possession
6. What kind of relationships is there between the new and the old rich?
7. How do two listings of wealthy Americans illustrate the distinction between the
upper and lower upper class?
1. Paraphrase the expressions and words from the article
to be coupled to
to fall within a class
to be every bit as privileged as
to accord social prestige
to accumulate wealth
out of reach
to resign to
to make a distinction between
2. Find words and\or phrases used in the article close in meaning, think of more
ways to render the same idea
a member of the upper-upper class
a member of the lower-upper class
to enjoy the highest level of social prestige
to live at the margins of poverty
3. Study the following and use in a dialogue
1) man of substance\means\wealth\fortune
fat cat
butter-and-egg man
to have money to burn
to roll\wallow in wealth\riches\money
to worship Mammon
to worship the golden calf
to live in style
to live like a king\prince
to live in a great way
2) to fill one’s pocket
to feather one’s nest
to make money
to coin money
to make a fortune
to make one’s pile
to strike it rich
to come into money
to have golden touch
3) wealthy; moneyed; affluent; opulent; well-to do; well off; prosperous; in clover;
on velvet; on Easy street; set up in funds; made of money; rich as Croesus; flush
with\of money; in the money; born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth.
4) have-nots
poor as Job’s turkey
not to have a shot in the locker
poor as a church mouse
5) slender\narrow means
hand-to-mouth existence
light\lean\slender purse
empty purse\pocket
flat broke
6) to keep body and soul together
to make buckle and tongue meet
to live in a small way
to live on air
to live by one’s wits
to go down in the world
to go to the dogs
to go rack and ruin
on the rocks
poverty stricken
in want
at the end of one’s rope
unable to keep the wolf from the door
in reduced circumstances
out of pocket
wiped out
impecunious; impoverished; penniless
4. Paraphrase using your topical vocabulary
1. Now with more and more increasing rates of paid education together with
modest incomes of Russian families, for many college and University education is
2. Some people render little attention to politics.
3. You have to be ingenious in a country like ours to make ends meet.
Living in poverty doesn’t entail submitting to it.
Social Mobility: Myth and Reality
In few other societies do people think about social mobility as much as
Americans do; in fact, moving ahead has historically been central to the American
Dream. Furthermore, the assumption that society offers plenty of opportunity to
improve one's social position is an important ideological support of social
stratification in the United States (Kleugel & Smith, 1986).
But is social mobility as commonplace as many Americans imagine it is?
Sociological research suggests that, in fact, social mobility is fairly common.
Studies of intergenerational mobility using the broad categories of blue-collar and
white-collar jobs (which, unfortunately, have focused almost exclusively on men)
show that almost 40 percent of the sons of blue-collar workers have white-collar
jobs and almost 30 percent of sons born into white-collar families have a bluecollar occupation. When more narrowly defined occupational categories are used,
about 80 percent of sons show at least some social mobility in relation to their
fathers (Blau & Duncan, 1967; Featherman & Hauser, 1978).
These facts support three general conclusions. First, social mobility is
relatively high for American males, as we would expect in a class system. Second,
at least during most of this century, social mobility has more commonly been
upward than downward. This is largely a case of structural social mobility, a whitecollar revolution by which white-collar jobs have steadily replaced the blue-collar
and farming occupations more common several generations ago. Third, although
sweeping changes are evident over many decades, social mobility within a single
generation has usually been incremental rather than dramatic.
Finally, how does the United States compare to other industrial societies in
social mobility? Because of the emphasis American culture places on individual
achievement, one might expect social mobility to be more common in the United
States, but comparative studies do not bear this out. Table 10-3 provides a comparative look at intergenerational social mobility in six industrial societies (Lipset
& Bendix, 1967).
United States
West Germany
Upward Social Mobility
Downward Social Mobility
SOURCE: Seymour Martin Lipset and Reinhard Bendix, Social Mobility in Industrial Society
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 25.
In this table, intergenerational social mobility is based on the occupation of fathers and their
sons. Upward social mobility indicates a father with a blue-collar occupation and a son with a
white-collar occupation. Downward social mobility indicates a father with a white-collar
occupation and a son with a blue-collar occupation.
Stratification and Mobility in Recent Decades
The American tendency to exaggerate the extent of upward social mobility
(and also to minimize social movement downward) probably has its roots in
historical experience. Through most of its history, the United States has been a
society of expansion: westward migration lasting more than two centuries,
followed by an industrial revolution during the last century. The resulting economic growth created a widespread view of American society as a land in which
opportunity is bounded only by one's imagination and willingness to work. The
Great Depression of the 1930s wounded but did not destroy American optimism,
and prosperity returned in the 1940s, continuing through the 1960s. During this
period, most Americans experienced a steadily rising standard of living.
The "middle-class slide." For generations, the American class system was
supported by the belief that the middle class was steadily growing. Indeed, this was
the case through most of this century. In addition, the rapid growth of white-collar
occupations after World War II – which drew millions of Americans out of bluecollar jobs and farming – strengthened the perception that the United States was
becoming more and more a middle-class society (Kerckhoff, Campbell, &
Winfield-Laird, 1985).
But this upward structural social mobility began to subside during the 1970s
(Pampel, Land, & Kelson, 1977). In fact, the process began to reverse as a growing
percentage of new jobs provided lower incomes. Figure 10-4 shows this
turnaround. Between 1963 and 1973, almost half of new jobs were in the highincome range (more than $29,600 annually in constant 1986 dollars). Through the
middle 1970s, more than 60 percent of new jobs were in the middle-income range
(between $7,400 and $29,600). From 1979 to 1985, new high-income jobs fell to
their lowest level, and the proportion of middle-income jobs also dropped
considerably. Simultaneously, the proportion of low-income jobs more than
doubled to over 40 percent. In simple terms, this means that many people –
especially "average" Americans in the middle class and working class – have
suffered an economic decline. This is the economic change responsible for what is
described as the "middle-class slide."
Many Americans are only too aware that this change has affected their lives.
Far fewer people today than a generation ago expect to improve their social
position. Indeed, a common fear is not being able to maintain the standard of living
that people knew as children living with their parents. This problem is even more
significant in light of the fact that families a generation ago were far less likely
than families today to have two spouses in the labor force. Consider, as an illustration, that housing is a basic need that is becoming harder to meet. Housing prices
and property taxes have risen rapidly since 1970. With little or no increase in
buying power, the average American is coming to see home ownership – basic part
of the American Dream – as less likely. This is not surprising, since family income
has stayed about constant while a 20 percent down payment on a typical new house
has increased from roughly $5,000 in 1970 to about $20,000 in 1985 (cited in
Brophy, 1986).
Of course, not all Americans have endured economic decline during the
1970s and 1980s. Indeed, the number of rich in America rose during that period,
and may continue to rise even after the stock market crash of 1987. But the picture
is no longer as positive for the average American. And for some who never had a
grasp on middle-class standing, the situation is desperate. Black Americans, for
example, have strongly depended upon traditional industries such as steel for jobs.
For such workers, the loss of some 3 million factory jobs since 1980 has been
devastating (Jacob, 1986). As a consequence, the problem of poverty has received
growing attention during the 1980s.
When sociologist Mark Robert Hank asked Denise Turner, an African
American mother of four living in poverty, to describe her daily life, Denise
... it can be summarized in one word, and that's survival. That's what we're
tryin' to do. We're tryin' to survive. And… I talk to a lot of people, and they
say, "Well, hey, if you went to Ethiopia, you know, survival would be one
thing. And that's… eating." But, damn it, I'm not in Ethiopia! You know. So
I want a little bit more than just… having some food. Having a coupla meals.
So, if I can just summarize it, in one word, it would be we're tryin' to
survive. We’re tryin’ to stay together. That’s my major concern, keepin’ all
my family together, my children together. And to survive. (quoted in Rank,
Sociologists refer to the distinction that Denise makes between poverty in
Ethiopia and poverty in the United States as the difference between absolute
poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty exists when people do not have the
means to secure the most basic necessities of life. Relative poverty exists when
people may be able to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter
but cannot maintain an average standard of living in comparison to that of other
members of their society or group (Ropers, 1991). Denise does not suffer from
absolute poverty, but she does experience relative poverty on the basis of what is
available to other people in the United Stares.
The United States has the highest poverty rate of any advanced industrial
nation (Rothchild, 1995). The poverty rate is the proportion of the population
whose income falls below the government’s official poverty line – the level of
income below which a family of a given size is considered to be poor. As is shown
in Figure 2.4, the US poverty rate has remained relatively constant over the past
two decades, although the total number of people living in poverty has increased
because of growth in the total population. The official poverty rate is based on
money income and cash government assistance programs such as Social Security
payments; however, it does not reflect the value of in-kind benefits such as public
housing subsidies, food stamps, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Comprehension check
1. Reveal the essence of American Dream
2. How common are intergenerational and intragenerational upward mobilities in
3. What conclusions can be made about social mobility in the USA?
4. What kind of social mobility prevailed from the 1940s into 1960? What does it
5. What trend took over during the 1970?
6. How did the economic change affect the lives of American citizens?
Provide synonyms for (also see the text)
to be upwardly mobile
an increment
to subside
Provide Russian equivalents for
a land in which opportunity is bounded by one’s imagination and willingness to
standard of living is rising steadily;
to maintain an average standard of living;
buying power
in light of the fact
to have a grasp on middle-class standing
Find in the English-English dictionary the difference in meaning between the
to identify, to define, to determine
Fill in the blanks with to identify, or define, or to determine in appropriate form
sometimes is more than one correct answer
1). Could you ______ your umbrella among a hundred others?
2). He ______ to master English.
3). How is the speed of light ______?
4). The power of a judge ______ by law.
5). The number of mistakes you make ______ the grade you receive for a test?
6). He refused ______ himself with such an unjust policy.
7). The dictionary ______ words.
8). Often you can ______ the meaning of the word from the context.
9). Please listen attentively while I ______ your new duties.
10). Family and family upbringing ______ your whole background and what
kind of personality you will make.
11). A policeman, “Miss, could you ______ yourself?”
12). When the boundary between two countries is not clearly ______, there is
often trouble.
13). Demand ______ supply.
5. Translate the following sentences into English
1). Ты уже определился с новым местом жительства?
2). Следствию так и не удалось определить убийцу.
3). Как вы для себя определяете понятие дружбы?
4). Как определить любит он меня или не любит?
5). Даже не глядя на часы, он может определить время с точностью до
6). Меня всегда удивляло то, каким образом искусствоведы определяют,
кто написал ту или иную картину.
7). Образование человека зачастую определяет его будущую карьеру.
8). Определите круг моих обязанностей, чтобы я в дальнейшем мог
самостоятельно определить, что является моей работой, а что нет.
9). Не могу определить, чей это почерк.
Family Structure and Characteristics
During our life-time, many of us will be members of two different types of
families – a family of orientation and family of procreation. The family of
orientation is the family into which a person is born and in which early
socialization usually takes place. While most people are related to members of
their family of orientation by blood ties, those who are adopted have a legal tie that
is patterned after a blood relationship (Aulette, 1994). The family of procreation is
the family a person forms by having or adopting children (Benokraitis, 1993).
Both legal and blood ties are found in most families of procreation. The
relationship between a husband and wife is based on legal ties; however, the
relationship between a parent and child may be based on either blood ties or legal
ties, depending on whether the child has been adopted.
Sociologists distinguish between extended and nuclear families based on the
number of generations that live within a household. An extended family is a
family unit composed of relatives in addition to parents and children who live
in the same household. These families often include grandparents, uncles, aunts,
or other relatives who live in close proximity to the parents and children, making it
possible for family members to share resources. In horticultural and agricultural
societies, extended families are extremely important; having a large number of
family members participate in food production may be essential for survival.
Today, extended family patterns are found in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and
some parts of Eastern and Southern Europe (Busch, 1990).
A nuclear family is a family composed of one or two parents and their
dependent children, all of whom live apart from other relatives. A traditional
definition specifies that a nuclear family is made up of a “couple” and their
dependent children; however, this definition became outdated as a significant shift
occurred in the family structure. In the US, for example, about 26 percent of all
households in 1993 were composed of a married couple with children under age
18, compared with 40 percent in 1970. This 14 percent decline in two-parent
households has been attributed to an increase in births among unmarried women,
decisions to postpone of forgo childbearing, and separation and divorce (US
Bureau of the Census, 1994). However, nuclear family patterns still are prevalent
in the US, the countries of Northern Europe, and other industrialized nation where
people are more likely to move from one city or region to another in pursuit of
educational or occupational opportunities (Busch, 1990).
Across cultures, families are characterized by different forms of marriage.
Marriage is a legally recognized and/or socially approved arrangement
between two or more individuals that carries certain rights and obligations
and usually involves sexual activity. In most societies, marriage involves a
mutual commitment by each partner, and linkages between two individuals and
families are publicly demonstrated.
In the US, the only legally sanctioned form of marriage is monogamy – a
marriage between two partners, usually a woman and a man. Through a
pattern of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, some people practice serial
monogamy – a succession of marriages in which a person has several spouses over
a lifetime but is legally married to only one person at a time.
Polygamy is the concurrent marriage of a person of one sex with two or
more members of the opposite sex (G. Marshall, 1994). The most prevalent from
of polygamy is polygyny – the concurrent marriage of one man with two or
more women. Polygyny has been practiced in a number of societies, including
parts of Europe until the Middle Age. More recently, some marriages in Islamic
societies in Africa and Asia have been polygynous; however, the cost of providing
for multiple wives and numerous children makes the practice impossible for all but
the wealthiest men. In addition, because roughly equal numbers of women and
men live in these areas, this nearly balanced sex ratio tends to limit polygyny.
The second type of polygyny is polyandry – the concurrent marriage of
one woman with two or more men. Polyandry is very rare; when it does occur, it
usually takes place in societies in which men greatly outnumber women because of
high rates of female infanticide. Polyandry often involves the marriage of a woman
to two or more brothers.
Descent and inheritance rights are intricately linked with patterns of power
and authority in families. The most prevalent forms of familial power and authority
are patriarchy, matriarchy, and egalitarianism. A patriarchal family is a family
structure in which authority is held by the eldest male (usually the father).
The male authority figure acts as head of the household and holds power and
authority over the women and children, as well as over other males. A matriarchal
family is a family structure in which authority is held by the eldest female
(usually the mother). In this case, the female authority figure acts as head of the
household. Although there has been a great deal of discussion about matriarchal
families, scholars have found no historical evidence to indicate that true
matriarchies ever existed.
An egalitarian family is a family structure in which both partners share
power and authority equally. Recently, a trend toward more egalitarian
relationships has been evident in a number of countries as women have sought
changes in their legal status and increased educational and employment
opportunities. Some degree of economic independence makes it possible for
women to delay marriage or to terminate a problematic marriage.
To this point, we have examined s variety of marriage and family patterns
found around the world. Even with the diversity, most people’s behavior is shaped
by cultural rules pertaining to endogamy and exogamy. Endogamy refers to
cultural norms prescribing that people marry within their own social group
or category. In the US, for example, most people practice endogamy: They marry
people who come from the same social class, racial-ethnic group, religious
affiliation, and other categories considered important within their own social
group. Exogamy refers to cultural norms prescribing that people marry
outside their own social group or category. However, certain types of exogamy
may result in social ridicule or ostracism from group, such as marriage outside
one’s own racial-ethnic group or religion. For example, although the number of
interracial marriages in the US has more than doubled since 1970, they are viewed
negatively by members of some groups.
The sociology of family is the subdiscipline of sociology that attempts to
describe and explain patterns of family life and variations in family structure.
Functionalist perspectives emphasize the functions that families perform at the
macrolevel of society while conflict and feminist perspectives focus on families as
a primary source of social inequality. By contrast, interactionists examine
microlevel interactions that are integral to the roles of different family members.
Functionalists emphasize the importance of the family in maintaining the
stability of society and well-being of individuals. According to Contemporary
functionalist perspectives in advanced industrial societies, families serve four key
1. Sexual regulation. Families are expected to regulate the sexual activity of their
members and thus control reproduction so that it occurs within specific
boundaries. At the macrolevel, incest taboos prohibit sexual contact or marriage
between certain relatives. For example, virtually all societies prohibit sexual
relations between parents and their children and between brothers and sisters.
2. Socialization. Parents and other relatives are responsible for teaching children
the necessary knowledge and skills to survive. Their smallness and intimacy
makes families best suited for providing children with the initial learning
experiences they need.
3. Economic and physical support. Families are responsible for providing
economic and psychological support for members. In preindustrial societies,
families are economic production units; in industrial societies, the economic
security of families is tied to the workplace and to macrolevel economic
systems. In recent years, psychological support and emotional security have
been increasingly important functions of the family (Chafetz, 1989).
4. Provision of social status. Families confer social status and reputation on their
members. These statuses include the ascribed statuses with which individuals
are born, such as race/ethnicity, nationality, social class, and sometimes
religious affiliation. One of the most significant and compelling forms of social
placement is the family’s class position and the opportunities (or lack thereof)
resulting from that position. Examples of class-related opportunities include
access to quality health care, higher education, and a safe place to live.
Functionalist explanations of family problems examine the relationship
between family problems examine the relationship between family troubles and
decline in other social institutions. Changes in the economy, in religion, in the
educational system, and in the law or government programs all can contribute to
family problems.
Comprehension check
1. Define family of orientation and procreation. Which type do you live in?
2. How is extended family distinct from nuclear one? What caused a decline in
two-parent households?
3. What marriage patterns are there?
4. What is serial monogamy?
5. What form of familial authority prevails in our country? Explain your answer.
6. Why exogamous marriages may be viewed negatively by some people?
7. What functions does family serve, according to functionalist perspective?
8. How do interractionists view family relations?
1. Provide English equivalents for
быть связанным кровными узами; отказываться от деторождения; положить
конец неудачному браку; изгнать из общества; кормилец (семьи); иметь
отношение, быть свойственным
2. Paraphrase, using the vocabulary
1). With increased economic independence, women feel more free to put an end to
unsuccessful marriage.
2). Women may postpone or give up bearing children for economic or career
3). Historically, man’s work has been the source of financial support in family.
4). Occasionally “the new rich” are denied association by both the group they used
to belong and the one “they made it”.
5). Family can be found in all societies.
1. Why might some men resist losing the breadwinner status in families? Do
women gain power by acquiring the breadwinner status? Why or why not?
2. What important functions do families of orientation and procreation serve?
3. Why do some conflict theorists suggest that families in capitalist economies are
similar to workers in a factory? Do you agree with the assessment? Why or why
4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of feminist approach?
5. Can other social institutions fulfill the key functions of the family effectively?
Now many men and women cohabit. Cohabitation is “a marriage without papers”
and couples who live together without being legally married. What is your attitude
about cohabitation? Is it likely to contribute to marital success?
New Patterns and Pressure Points
American family life has undergone a good many changes in recent decades.
For this reason, the family-life-cycle approach is unrepresentative of more and
more American families. The traditional concept of the family – in which the
husband is the only breadwinner, the wife is a homemaker who is not part of the
paid labor force, and there are minor children – may be useful for some purposes,
but it does not represent the typical American family today. In fact, less than 7 out
of 100 American families currently fit this description. The family-life-cycle
approach barely touches on the father’s family contribution, and then only at the
time of retirement. It makes no reference at all to the mother’s work. Indeed, it
fosters the notion that there are two categories of women: those who are married
and those with careers. Yet increasing numbers of women are spending a larger
amount of time in roles that lie outside the traditional family. So the career woman
and the mother may be one and the same person. A good place to begin our
consideration of changing family patterns and pressure points, then, is with
employed mothers.
Employed Mothers
Perhaps the most dramatic change in the family in this century has been the
entry of women into the world of paid work. As we pointed out in Chapter 12,
sexual inequality has been sustained historically by assigning the economicprovider role to men and the childrearing role to women. However, over the past
several decades increasing numbers of mothers with children have found
employment outside the home. Sixty percent of American children had working
mothers in 1987, up from 48 percent in 1977. Twenty-five million of these children
were aged 6 to 17, while 11 million were younger than age 6. As the age of their
youngest child increases, so does the likelihood that a mother will find
employment outside the home. Fifty-two percent of mothers with children aged 1
or younger were working or looking for work in 1987. The figure rose to 59
percent for mothers whose youngest child was 2 years old and to 63 percent for
those whose youngest was 4 or 5 years old (Joe Schwartz, 1988d).
Serious concern is frequently voiced about the future of the nation’s children
as more and more mothers enter the workforce (Ricks, 1987; Zinsmeister, 1988). A
good many working mothers also experience guilt for not slaying home with their
children (B. Berg, 1986). Many people fear that the working mother represents a
loss to children in terms of supervision, love, and cognitive enrichment (Belsky
and Rovine, 1988). Yet overall, an accumulating body of research suggests that
there is little difference in the development of children whose mothers work and
children whose mothers remain at home (Cochran and Gunnarsson, 1985;
Meredith, 1986; Mac-Kinnon and King, I988). In fact, many psychologists and
sociologists are no longer asking whether it is good or bad that mothers work.
Instead, they are finding that a more important issue is whether the mother,
regardless of employment, is satisfied with her situation (Stuckey, McGhee, and
Bell, 1982; Ainslie, 1984; Ross and Mirowsky, 1988). The working mother who
obtains personal satisfaction from employment, and does not feel excessive guilt,
and who has adequate household arrangements is likely to perform as well as or
better than the nonworking mother. Women who are not working and would like
to, and working mothers whose lives are beset by harassment and strain, are the
ones whose children are mostly likely to display maladjustment and behavior
With the entry of women into the labor force, arrangements for child care are
shifting from care in the home to care outside the home. Not only are more
mothers working, but so are neighbors, aunts, and grandmothers who once were
available for child care. Yet even with these changes, most children under 5 years
of age are still taken care of in their own home or in another home (see Figure
13.3). Estimates on the number of latchkey children – defined as youngsters
between 5 and 13 years of age who are unsupervised before or after school – range
from 2.4 to 7 million. Contrary to popular stereotypes that depict latchkey children
as primarily from minority group and low-income single-parent homes, most are
white and middle class and live in suburban or rural communities (Chollar, 1987).
An additional 500,000 preschoolers were in the same predicament. For significant
portions of the day or night, many working parents are unable to care personally
for their children, and they lack relatives or friends to whom they can turn for
reliable babysitting. One answer to this problem is day care. But the quality of the
day care currently available and affordable leaves many people dissatisfied. Ralph
Nader, the consumer activist, describes some centers as “children’s warehouses.”
And sex-abuse scandals at centers from California to New York have terrified a
good many parents. Additionally, low-quality facilities function as networks for
spreading a variety of diseases, especially colds, diarrhea, and dysentery (Rick,
1984; Brock, 1986).
The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not have
a comprehensive day-care program. European nations – particularly Sweden –
have established nationally subsidized support systems. In contrast, a 1985 study
by the Conference Board, a business research group, found that American parents
pay about $3,000 per child a year for out-of-home child care services (Noble,
1986b). Only 2 percent of the nation’s business and government employers
sponsor day-care centers for their workers’ children, and only 3 percent provide
financial assistance designated specifically for child care (New York Times,
January 17, 1988:14). Schools are also under pressure to offer services to 3- and 4year-olds and to provide a safe haven beyond the normal school day for older
children. Child-care advocates warn that the failure to develop a national policy
will result in “a generation of neglected children” (Palmer, 1984; Hewlett, 1988).
There is, however, one encouraging note. Most child psychologists agree
that high-quality day care and nursery schools afford acceptable child-care
arrangements (Clarke-Stewart and Gruber, 1984; Meredith, 1986; MacKinnon and
King, 1988). Such programs are characterized by small group size, high staff-child
ratios, well-trained staffs, good equipment, and attractive and nurturing
environments. Most children show remarkable resilience. Throughout the world,
children are raised under a great variety of conditions, and the day-care
arrangement is just one of them. What is crucial is that children have consistent
and warm relationships with their care-givers. Moreover, working mothers provide
a somewhat different role model for their children.
Comprehension check
1. What has the traditional concept of American family been recently? How was it
2. The entry of women into the paid labor force has been an incremental change,
hasn’t it? What do statistical data suggest?
3. Why is serious concern frequently voiced as mothers enter the work force? Is it
well grounded in your opinion?
4. What question, pertaining to employed mothers, do psychologists and
sociologists ask now? Why?
5. What are the eminent problems that working mothers encounter?
6. Explain the notion “latchkey children”?
7. What is reason for Ralph Nadir, the consumer activist, to describe some centers
as “children’s warehouses”? What is crucial problem with the child-care facilities
in US?
8. Comment upon the last sentence in the article.
1. Provide synonyms for the verbs in the next word combinations
to undergo changes; to foster a notion; to be beset by harassment and strain; to
voice concern about.
2. Learn the following
to enter paid labor force (the world of paid work)
to fit the description
aged 6 to 17
cognitive enrichment
to display maladjustment and behavior problems
to take care of; to care for
unsupervised children
single-parent home (family)
leaves much to be desired
3. Provide the families of the following words, give their meanings and word
cognitive; facilities; resilience
4. Match the words and make up sentences with the resulting word combinations
to undergo
5. Supply prepositions, if necessary
1). The entry of women ______ paid labor force has its advocates and opponents.
Some encourage mothers enter ______ the workforce as soon as possible, some
disapprove ______ the mothers who leave their kids unsupervised.
2). Latchkey children are youngsters aged ______ 5______ 13 who are
unsupervised before or after school, their number ranges ______ 2,4 ______ 7 mil.
3). Many women, while ______ work, can’t take care ______ their children, they
have to hire babysitters to care ______ the kids.
4). Less than half of American families fit ______ the description of ones where
the husband is a breadwinner and the wife is a homemaker.
5). Women refuse to resign ______ only a homemaker role.
6). Financial problems coupled ______ willingness to work outside home motivate
mothers to enter ______ the labor force.
7). Overall US population falls ______ four bread classes and only 4% fall the
upper class.
6. Paraphrase
1). Family has changed greatly in recent decades.
2). My aspiration is to promote friendly relationships between our states.
3). Youngsters between 5 and 13 years of age who are not overseen by adults
before or after school are defined as latchkey children.
4). Families with only one parent present are growing segment of households.
5). He never says die. (?)
6). The US don’t have nationally subsidized childcare institutions.
7). The quality of daycare leaves many people dissatisfied.
8). Many people reveal concern about children of working mothers.
7. If you were given a choice between a day-care center and a babysitter for your
own kid, which you would prefer? Or you’d stay with the child yourself. Why?
Most divorced people remarry. Because 60 percent of remarried persons are
parents, their new partners become stepparents. One in six American families is a
stepfamily; 35 million Americans live in one. Some 35 percent of children born
today will live in a stepfamily before they are 18 (Johnson, 1986). Clearly,
biological and sociological parenthood are not necessarily one and the same. Nor is
being a sibling. Almost one in five children share the home with half-siblings, and
many more have stepsiblings (Bumpass, 1984).
Most stepparents attempt to re-create a traditional family because it is the
only model they have. But a stepfamily functions differently from a traditional
nuclear family (Mills, 1984; Beer, 1988a). For one thing, the stepparent role is not
equivalent in authority, legitimacy, and respect to that of a biological parent. For
another, stepparents and stepchildren lack a mutual history and a previous
opportunity to bond; adjustment of family members must come after the family is
formed, rather than gradually as it is being formed. Further complicating matters,
society lacks a clear picture of how members should relate to one another. For
instance, how should a son relate to his stepparent and vice versa, and how should
the custodial stepparent relate to the former spouse? Overall, the family tree of a
stepfamily can be complex and convoluted, populated not only by children of both
spouses, but by six sets of grandparents, relatives of former spouses, relatives of
new spouses, and the people former spouses marry. The more complex the social
system of the remarriage, the greater the ambiguity about roles within the family
and the greater the likelihood of difficulties (Clingempeel, 1981). Because
stepfamilies lack a clear definition of the expectations and roles for each family
member, sociologist Andrew Cherlin (1978) terms them “an incomplete
Stepfamilies often start on an idealistic note. Each spouse typically expects
the other to be a new and improved version of the old one. As the months go by,
family members gain a more realistic view. Misunderstandings in stepfamilies take
many forms. Often, they are caused by conflicting family traditions, unfulfilled
expectations, financial pressures, loyalty conflicts, unresolved power struggles, and
ill-defined behavior standards for the children. Discipline is a frequent problem,
because children often see the stepparent as an intruder. Accordingly, it is hardly
surprising that stepparents report significantly less satisfaction with their family
life than do married couples with biological children. Recent research shows that
17 percent of remarriages that involve stepchildren on both sides wind up in
divorce within three years, compared with 6 percent of first-time marriages and 10
percent of remarriages without stepchildren (White and Booth, 1985).
Most stepparents are stepfathers. Although growing numbers of fathers are
winning child custody cases, the vast majority of children still live primarily with
their mothers. Stepfathers usually underrate their parenting skills and their
contributions to the lives of their stepchildren. Indeed, their stepchildren and
spouses give them higher marks than they give themselves (Bohannan and
Erickson, 1978). Children living with stepfathers apparently do just as well, or just
as poorly, in school and in their social life as children living with natural fathers.
And children with stepfathers on the whole do better than children from fatherabsent homes (Robinson, 1984; Ganong and Coleman, 1984). Overall, the good
news for stepfamily members is that the emotional, social, and family adjustment
of American stepfamilies is not drastically different from that of people from intact
nuclear families. However, children from stepfamilies fare somewhat better if the
natural parent is of the same sex as the child (Beer, 1988a). Much also depends on
the age of the children; adolescents seem to induce more stress and complications
than do younger children (Hobart, 1988).
The stepfamily must adjust to many types of challenges not encountered by
most natural families. In order to succeed, the stepfamily must loosen the
boundaries that encapsulated the two previous biological families and structure a
new social unit (Paernow, 1984; Hobart, 1988; Peek et al., 1988). As old
arrangements “unfreeze,” members must create enough mutual empathy to support
a shared awareness so that the family can mobilize and act to meet its members’
needs. Most workable solutions leave some of the “old” ways of doing things
intact while fashioning new rituals, expectations, and rules that define differences
between the stepfamily and the previous family. When the restructuring is
successful, the members need no longer give constant attention to relationships and
can interact spontaneously and comfortably. Although certain strains are associated
with stepfamilies, so is a good deal of positive adaptation.
Comprehension check
1. What kind of family is a stepfamily? Formulate a definition.
2. Does a stepfamily function in the same way as the traditional nuclear family?
3. What often causes misunderstandings in stepfamilies?
4. How does the complicated family tree contribute to the problem?
Explain: “The more complex the social system of the remarriage, the greater the
ambiguity about roles within the family and the greater the likelihood of
5. How large a percentage of stepparent marriages winds up in a divorce?
6. Do children with biological fathers fare better than those with stepfathers?
7. What do stepfamilies have to do in order to succeed?
1. Learn the following words and word combinations:
to remarry;
stepfamily; stepparent; stepchild; stepsibling;
half sibling;
for one thing… for another;
further complicating matters;
to relate to one another;
ambiguity; ambiguous;
to coin the term;
to wind up in divorce;
child custody; custodian;
vast majority;
intact nuclear family;
to induce stress and complications;
to adjust; adjustment;
2. Provide synonyms for
to remarry; ambiguous; to wind up in; to induce; to adjust
3. Discuss the problems pertaining to the topic in a dialogue. Or, perhaps, you’ve
got first-hand experience? Don’t forget about the vocabulary!
4. Fill in the gaps with the following words in their appropriate forms.
to induce
to lack
to remarry
to adjust
to encounter
to involve
to relate
to wind up
to display
Most divorced people ______. Many bring their children into the new
family. For the children such family becomes ______. It is a well-known fact
that ______ ______ ______ problems. For one thing, the stepparent role is not
______ in authority, ______, and respect to that of a ______ parent. For
another, society ______ a clear picture of how members should ______ to one
another, i.e. there is too much ______ about roles within a stepfamily. Due to
that, Andrew Cherlin ______ ______ “an incomplete institution”, referring
______ in stepfamilies take many forms. For instance, discipline is a
problem in the ______ majority of stepfamilies because children often see the
stepparent as ______. According to surveys ______ seem to ______ more
behavior problems and ______ more stress and complications than do younger
Since the stepfamily must ______ to many types of challenges, that
most ______ nuclear families do not ______, 17% of remarriages that
stepchildren on both sides, in divorce within three years.
Is the Family Endangered or Merely Changing?
Some 90 percent of American men and women still think that marriage is the
best way to live (Walsh, 1986). Given this sentiment, it is hardly surprising that a
good many Americans have been concerned about the directions in which family
life has been moving in recent decades. But they tend to be of two minds. There
are those who say that the family is timeless, rooted in our social and animal
nature. But since the institutional structure of society is always changing, the
family must change to reflect this fact. Accordingly, although a durable feature of
the human experience, the family is said to be a resilient institution (Bane, 1976;
Waldrop, 1988). The other view holds that the family is in crisis, with decay and
disintegration stalking it at every turn. This latter view is currently the most
fashionable. The evidence in support of it seems dramatic and, on the surface,
incontrovertible (see Table A). Divorce rates have soared; birth rates have fallen;
the proportion of unwed mothers has increased; single-parent households have
proliferated; mothers of young children have entered the labor force in large
numbers; and the elderly are placing growing reliance on the government rather
than the family for financial support (Fuchs, 1983; Davis, 1985; Gilder, 1987).
Laments about the current decline of the family imply that at an earlier time
in history the family was more stable and harmonious than it currently is. Yet,
despite massive research, historians have not located a golden age of the family
(Flandrin, 1979; Degler, 1980; Cherlin, 1983). For instance, the marriages of
seventeenth-century England and New England were based on family and property
needs, not on affection. Loveless marriages, the tyranny of husbands, and the
heating and abuse of children give us a grim picture (Shorter, 1975). And families
were riddled by desertion and death. Indeed, because of fewer deaths, disruptions
of marriage up through the completion of childrearing have been declining in the
United States since 1900 (Uhlenberg, 1980).
The notion that the family should consist of a breadwinner husband, a
homemaker wife, and their dependent children is of recent origin. The rural,
preindustrial family was a relatively self-sufficient unit that produced most of what
it consumed. Husbands, wives, children, and lodgers were all engaged in gainful
work. With the onset of industrialization, more and more family members sought
work for wages in factories and workshops. This trend led Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels to deplore the capitalists’ use of cheap female and child labor to run factory
machines. They termed it “shameless” and “unconscionable” that able-bodied men,
their strength and skills no longer needed, should find themselves dismissed or
compelled to accept “children’s work at children’s wages.” Throughout the
Western world, the nascent labor movement pressed for the establishment of a
“living wage,” an income sufficient for a male breadwinner to support a wife and
children in modest comfort.
It was during the nineteenth century that Americans culturally sorted jobs
into male and female categories. Women’s jobs were deemed to be either of short
duration until they married or a lifetime commitment of secular celibacy as nurses
and schoolteachers. Women’s special place became defined as the “domestic
sphere.” The restriction of large numbers of married women to domestic activities
took place only after industrialization was well established (Cherlin, 1983;
Carlson, 1986).
Prior to the 1950s, family life tended to be relatively disorderly. Young
adults were expected to postpone leaving home or put off marriage to help the
family face an unexpected economic crisis or a death in the family. At the turn of
the century, young adults married relatively lute because they were often obligated
to help support parents and siblings. Hut with the economic prosperity that
followed World War II, the average age at marriage dropped sharply. Today's
young adults seem to have reversed the trend and are marrying at later ages
(Cherlin, 1983). The emphasis on emotional satisfactions and the associated
transformation of the family into a private institution did not become widespread
beyond the middle class until this century. In the early 1900s, such trends as the
decline in the boarding and lodging of nonfamily members, the growing tendency
for unmarried adults to leave home, and the fall in fertility created the conditions
for increasingly private and affectionate bonds within the small nuclear family
(Laslett, 1973).
All in all, reports of the death of the American family are greatly
exaggerated. Public opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans – 97
percent – believe that when families are happy and healthy, the world is a better
place. And nearly nine out often Americans regard their family as one of the most
important facets of their lives. However, Americans now want a different kind of
marriage. In 1974, half of women and 48 percent of men said that the most
satisfying lifestyle was one where the husband worked and the wife stayed home
and took care of the home and children. By 1985, only 37 percent of women and
43 percent of men thought this arrangement the best. Fifty-seven percent of women
and 50 percent of men picked a marriage where the husband and wife share work,
housekeeping, and child care. Seven in ten Americans also agree “strongly” that it
is important for fathers to spend as much time with their children as mothers do,
and an additional 20 percent agree “to some extent” (Public Opinion, 1986; Joe
Schwartz, 1987). Concerns about the family have a long history (Greer, 1979;
Demos, 1986). Educators of the European medieval and Enlightenment periods
worried about the strength and character of the family. In the American colonies
the hand-wringing began scarcely two decades after the Puritans landed in
Massachusetts, when community elders deplored the decline of the family (Mintz
and Kellogg, 1988). And in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries worry
about the family was cloaked in recurrent public hysteria regarding the “peril”
posed to the nation’s Anglo-American institutions by the arrival of immigrant
groups with “alien cultures.” So the “family question” is not new. Although we
may think that the grindstones of social change are pulverizing family
organization, the family remains a vital, adaptive, resilient human institution.
Given the lessons of history, families will continue to adapt and change in
unforeseen ways. Doubtless those seized by nostalgia will continue to bemoan the
family’s decline and perhaps even wistfully recall the “good old days” of the
Working women (percentage of all women 36.7
16 and over)
Fertility rate (number of children the
average woman will have at the end of her
childbearing years)*
Marriage rate (number of marriages per
1,000 population)**
Median age at first marriage
Women 20.6
Divorce rate (number of couples divorcing
per 1,000 population)
Single-parent families (percentage of all 10.1
families with children under 18)
Premarital births (percentage of all births)
Living alone (percentage of all households 15.0
occupied by single person)
* A 2.1 rate is needed for the natural replacement of the population.
** Remarriages account for about one-third of the recent totals.
Sources: US Census Bureau; National Center for Health Statistics; US Department
of Labor.
Comprehension Check
1. View and present the information of the article in the light of
a). sentiments of those who allege that the family is about to collapse as a social
b). opinions of those who deem that the family will endure
c). in what ways did American family modified throughout its history?
d). with all those changes within the family structure does it [the family] still
serve its key functions? How successfully?
1. Translate into Russian the next two excerpts
“Accordingly, although a durable feature…rather than the family for financial
“Concerns about the family have a long history… even wistfully recall the ‘good
old days’ of the 1990s.”
2. Give the families of the following verbs
to proliferate
to obligate
to exaggerate
to deplore
3. Provide synonyms for the following words and phrases
to reflect
to lament
to rise (from the text)
to be of two minds
4. Which ONE verb from the text corresponds to all these phrases and words?
to go from bad to worse
to jump out of the frying pan into the fire
to avoid Scylla and fall into Charybdis
to have seen better days
to fall to pieces
to be undermined
to be rusty\to be rust-eaten
to be moss-grown
to be moth-eater
to be worm-bitten
to collapse
to perish, to die
5. Provide English equivalents for
уровень рождаемости; неопровержимые доказательства; брак без любви;
рисовать мрачную картину; порицать, оплакивать; средний возраст
вступления в брак; наилучшим укладом жизни является такой, когда муж
работает, а жена сидит дома, ухаживает за домом и детьми; изменяться
самым непредсказуемым образом; ностальгировать по «старым добрым
временам»; чуждая культура; количество браков, заканчивающихся
разводом, взлетело вверх.
6. Match the words from the two columns and make up your own sentences with
using the resulting word combinations
to place
to deplore
to reverse
to pose
to postpone
to fall to
use of child labor
to wring
7. Paraphrase
For about 90% of Americans their family is one of the most important parts of their
lives. And public laments about the current decay of the family provoke people’s
worry. But still people are of two minds: on the one hand, divorce rates have risen,
birth rates have diminished, the proportion of single-parent households has
increased; on the other hand, people realize these reports are overstatements.
Family as a social institution is far from being in decay, it is only resilient enough
to reflect the changes in the institutional structure of society. The family does
change but not to collapse but to better meet the current challenges of recent
8. Supply the correct prepositions where necessary
1). Dangers and adventures will stalk ______ you ______ every turn.
2). The traditional American family lifestyle was one where the husband was a
breadwinner and the wife stayed ______ home and took care ______ the home and
3). People still tend to sort household duties ______ male and female categories.
4). Our family is the prime source ______ support and appreciation.
5). When we face ______ a crisis at work, we often place ______ major reliance
______ support and appreciation ______ our families.
6). ______ the 19th century and early 20th centuries worry ______ the family was
cloaked recurrent public hysteria ______ the “peril” posed ______ the nation’s
Anglo-American institutions ______ the immigrant groups ______ “alien
7). No doubt, those seized ______ nostalgia will deplore ______ the family’s
decay and perhaps even bemoan ______ “good old days” ______ the 1990s.
8). Women’s place is frequently restricted ______ domestic activities only.
9). Family is a resilient institution. Sure, it may change ______ unforeseen ways
but it will endure.
10). Mothers ______ young children enter ______ the labor force ______ large
9. Fill in the gaps with suitable words.
The gaps underlines with a wave (~)
should be filled with prepositions.
simultaneously assert
complicate(participle) overwhelming
wind up (participle)
Although family ______ to human community since the outset, a serious
concern ______ about the contemporary family. However, people seen to be ~ two
minds ~ one thing, scores ~ Americans ______ the family’s decay. They ______
that family as a social institution ______.
~ another, there are those who ______ that family is only changing and whatever
the modifications are, it will ______.
The former view ______ many minds. The evidence in support of it seems
______. The rate of marriages ______ in divorce ______. Single-parent
households ______. The proportion of adults who ______ marriage and
childbearing ______. Further ______ matters, this disintegration ______ to the
increase of ______ mothers. The advocates of this concept ______ ~ nostalgia and
wistfully recall the “good old days of the family’s golden age” when father was a
______ and mother stayed ~ home and took care ~ children and the elderly relied ~
their ______ ~ financial and emotional support. They claim that single parent and
blended families ______ much to be desired and can’t compare ~ intact nuclear
families neither ______ affection and loyalty nor ~ internal peace.
______, others ______ the notion that ______ the American family is
premature. They don’t ______ any “peril” ______ ~ the family. Their conviction
______on the assumption that family, just like all other social institutions, ______
in the ______ process of modification and adjustment. For the ______ majority ~
Americans family is a significant ______ of their life. The adherents of such an
approach ______ the difference in the fact tat Americans now want a different kind
of marriage. A wife’s role doesn’t ______ now restriction ~ the meshes of
domestic sphere and care ~ children. A growing number of mothers ______ the
labor force as well as fathers now take parent roles that extend ~ ______ the baby.
With growing financial independence spouses more freely ______ unsuccessful
marriages. So changes in the family life are an ______ feature of our society.
But let’s ______ the focus ~ effects ~ causes. Why do so many marriages fail?
Is there any ______ reason? Where should we ______ an answer? And will our
descendants ______ our attitudes and behavior and ______ ~ our steps? Our they
will ______ the trend?
Our aim here is to explain the persistence of religion as A Social institute.
This point is an important one. As individuals, sociologists may or may not be
committed to a particular religious faith. As scientists, however, they are not
qualified to comment on such things as the validity of different religions or
whether or not God exists. Rather they study how religion is organized, how it
affects members of a society, the relations/up between systems of belief and social
structure, and how that relationship changes over time.
Religion is extremely difficult to define. A broad definition is, any set of
institutionalized beliefs and practices that deal with the ultimate meaning of life.
Religions provide blueprints for social behavior based on a divine, supernatural or
transcendental order.
The earliest evidence of religious behavior dates back over 50,000 years. We
cannot know exactly what Neanderthal groups believed or how they enacted their
beliefs in ritual. But we do know from historical records and ethnographic studies
that all societies have some form of religion, Specific beliefs and practices very
Elements of religion
Beliefs. Religious beliefs affirm the existence of a divine order, define its
character and purposes, and explain the role humans play in that order.
e.g. The Christian belief in original sin, Christ and his miracles, eternal
Rituals. Religious rituals are formal, stylized enactments of religious beliefs
– procession, chants, prayers, sacraments, and the like.
Subjective experience. The subjective experiences of religion grow out of
beliefs and rituals. Beliefs direct people to interpret certain inner states and group
experiences as "religious". Rituals may be used to invoke or recall communion
with the supernatural. Religious experiences range from the quiet sense of peace
that comes from the belief that one's life is in the hands of a divine power, to
intense mystical experiences that inspire terror and awe.
Community. Belonging to a community of beliefs is a central part of
religious experience. Shared beliefs, rituals and subjective experiences heighten
group identification. Religious institutions may help knit together specific
communities of believers, both aslocal parishes within a national or international
church and as followers of one religion rather than another.
Types of religious organization
A Church, or Denomination, is one of a very few large, established religious
organizations in a society, drawing members from society's mainstream. A church
employs full-time and specialized ministry and works within, and in support of, the
existing of social order. The Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches are two
examples of denominations.
A Sect is a religious organization less formally developed than the church,
from which it has usually broken away. Most sects are small and evangelical and
don't employ professional ministry. The sect operates on the fringes of the society,
drawing members largely from the lower social classes, and emphasizes a personal
and emotional worship. Sects usually interpret the Scriptures narrowly and
literally. The Pentecoastalists and Seventh Day Adventists are two of the largest
sects in the US.
A Cult, in contrast to sects, is a more loosely organized and short-lived
religious group. Members are secretive т their practices, which center on individual
experience and enrichment rather than doctrine worship.
Like other collective movements, religious movements often begin as small
groups led by a charismatic figure and pass through various stages of development,
eventually they become bureaucratized. Thus the formal organization of religion
develops in an evolutionary fashion; through process, the sect becomes a church.
The Functions of Religion
Modern sociologists have pursued Durkheim’s line of inquiry and
distinguished six functions that religion serves for society. As we shall see later,
sociologists have held differing opinions about whether these functions actually
serve society’s best interests.
In its priestly function religion supports a society’s prevailing culture by
making its norms sacred. Thus religious doctrine tends to reinforce the social
order, increasing social stability, tightening group rather than individual goals, and
curbing social deviance. A somewhat less positive description of this function is
that it reinforces the status quo and prevents change.
History reaffirms the close connection between religion and social forces. As
we noted in Chapter 11, the early agricultural societies in which women occupied a
high status worshipped largely female gods; with industrialization and the
beginning of patriarchal society, the gods became male, and women’s status
diminished accordingly. US history also shows evidence of this connection. To aid
their adaptation to a new culture, immigrant groups often tightly embrace both
their ethnic heritage and their religion (as religion strengthens group bonds);
immigrant groups whose religious doctrines coincided most closely with the
American values of independence and equality have adapted most quickly and
have tended to gain the moat power.
Religion can be the inspiration for efforts to achieve social change, leading
individuals to transcend the roles prescribed for them by the social order. In its
prophetic function, religion has guided certain leaders in their efforts to achieve
ethical or moral reform. Such individuals have faulted human society as having
departed from God's law. The prophetic function of religion finds a modern
example in Martin Luther King, Jr., who during the 1950s and 1960s used his
religious ideals to attack racist oppression. His followers used nonviolent protest to
oppose what they felt to be unjust laws in the United States. Many have paid a high
price for their religious purity; Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Thomas More,
and Jesus of Nazareth are among those who died because their spiritual beliefs
were seen as threats to their societies.
The power of the prophet lies in the belief that divine law is superior to
human law – a belief stronger than reason and unshakable by the intimidation of
civil authority. When a person's beliefs are so firm that death holds no threat, the
person's power and independence often become extraordinary – and may be
perceived as springing from a supernatural source. For example, Nat Turner, leader
of the famous slave revolt in the early nineteenth century, felt himself chosen by
God to go forth and destroy the oppressors of his people:
And on the 12th of May, 1828, I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the
spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and
Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I
should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast
approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first.
(TURNER, 1970:821-823)
The prophetic function of religion, then, is just the opposite of the priestly
function: it provides individuals with an impenetrable armor against social
criticism and sanction.
Religion can provide individuals with a sense of identity and self-esteem,
giving meaning to lives that might otherwise be seen as worthless or to actions and
occurrences that could be seen as almost arbitrary. The faithful thus view
themselves not as creatures existing in a random universe but rather as divinely
inspired and capable of achieving the highest good. By providing this sense of selfworth, religion enables individuals to cope with the doubts and indignities of
everyday life.
Many self-help groups have urged individual members to embrace religious
beliefs so as to foster greater self-esteem and thus overcome personal obstacles.
Alcoholics Anonymous has used its "spiritual program" successfully in helping
seemingly hopeless alcoholics to achieve permanent sobriety. The essence of AA's
program, which involves "twelve steps of recovery," is "spiritual growth" and
acceptance of "God as we understand Him." Alcoholics Anonymous strives to get
members to relabel themselves in positive ways, with a spiritual identity replacing
their feelings of drunkenness and guilt (Preston and Smith, 1985).
Liston Pope, in his classic analysis of religious life, Millhands and
Preachers (1942), cites an example of religion bolstering low self-esteem. In great
detail, Pope describes how the poor compensate for their lack of social status by
emphasizing their religious doctrine. Not only did the millworkers' religion
strengthen their individual relationships, give them a sense of community, and help
ease their hardships, it also convinced them of their superiority. In the eyes of God
they, not the wealthy millowners, were the favored, more highly valued people.
In its buttress function, religion provides strength, support, and consolation
during periods of personal and social crisis. Coretta Scott King, the widow of
Martin Luther King, Jr., attributed the great strength she displayed after her
husband's assassination in April 1968 to her belief in God; her religion gave her
much "support, consolation and reconciliation."
Some sociologists believe that society sorely needs to make use of the
buttress function of religion. According to Thomas O'Dea, "Men need emotional
aid in the face of these elements of the human condition" (O'Dea, 1966:14). Other
sociologists, such as Kingsley Davis, disagree, arguing that religion should not
become a crutch that keeps people from facing their problems squarely (Davis,
In its age-grading function, religion formalizes and sanctifies the maturation
process by providing sacred rites and ceremonies that mark the passage from one
level of responsibility to another. One such ceremony is the bar mitzvah at which a
13-year-old boy is formally admitted into the adult Jewish community (Jewish
girls may elect to hold a bat mitzvah at the age of 12). Another is the confirmation
of Roman Catholic or Anglican adolescents as adult members of their churches.
These ceremonies serve to mark new levels of status and responsibility and prepare
the youthful members for their adult roles; the cloak of divinity surrounding
adulthood encourages the initiates to develop reverence and a sense of obligation
to society.
Religion provides individuals with an explanation for things beyond human
understanding and thus offers a sense of security. Some sociologists take the view
of religion expressed by Hans Reichenbach in The Rise of Scientific Philosophy
(1951). Reichenbach finds that the function of religion is not unlike that of
superstition, which throughout history has attempted to explain what could not be
explained by science, or "natural" law. Before our understanding of lightning as an
electrical phenomenon, for example, superstition attributed it to supernatural forces
– the display of anger by the gods.
It is often difficult to distinguish between science and religion, for the boundary
between the two realms is always shifting, subject to the flux of social forces and
belief systems as well as new empirical knowledge. In US history, the "science of
religion" dispute has involved intense emotions and has had serious consequences.
In 1925 John T. Scopes faced criminal charges for teaching the theory of evolution
in the public schools of Tennessee. In the following passage, Irving Stone shows
the drama of the famous courtroom exchange between Clarence Darrow and
William Jennings Bryan:
"You have given considerable study to the Bible, haven't you, Mr. Bryan?
[Darrow] asked quietly.
"Yes, I have," replied Bryan. "I have studied the Bible for about fifty years.". . .
"Do you believe Joshua made the sun stand still?" he asked Bryan.
"I believe what the Bible says," answered Bryan doggedly.
"I suppose you mean that the earth stood still?"
"I don't know. I am talking about the Bible now. I accept the Bible absolutely."
"Do you believe at that time the entire sun went around the earth?"
"No, I believe the earth goes around the sun."
"Do you believe that the men who wrote it thought that the day could be
lengthened or that the sun could be stopped1?"
"I believe what they wrote was inspired by the Almighty, and He may have used a
language that could be understood at that time—instead of language that could not
be understood until Darrow was born."
There was laughter and applause in the courtyard. Bryan beamed. Darrow stood
quietly by, expressionless.
"Now, Mr. Bryan, have you ever pondered what would have happened to the earth
if it stood still suddenly?"
"Don't you know it would have been converted into a molten mass of matter?". . .
When Attorney General Stewart objected to Darrow's cross-examination, his own
witness Bryan replied, "These gentlemen did not come here to try this case. They
came here to try revealed religion. I am here to defend it, and they can ask me any
questions they please."
This answer drew sharp applause. Darrow commented acidly, "Great applause
from the bleachers."
"From those you call yokels," declared Bryan.
"I never called them yokels."
"That is the ignorance of Tennessee, the bigotry," mocked Bryan.
"You mean who are applauding you?" grinned Darrow.
"Those are the people whom you insult."
"You insult every man of science and learning in the world because he does not
believe in your fool religion!" retorted Darrow. (STONE,
Such arguments can become disagreements over which side holds the
absolute answer. But even many of the most knowledgeable persons today are not
so willing to dismiss religion as foolishness. It is possible, as many theologians
suggest that the origins of life may resemble biblical accounts more closely than
some more scientific explanations. Others see the biblical account as a poetic
allegorical explanation. It is clear, however, that religious beliefs change as
knowledge of natural phenomena grows.
The six major functions of religion go a long way toward explaining why
religion has been able to survive and flourish throughout history, even in such a
highly scientific society as ours. Indeed, these functions meet basic human needs
for us as both individuals and members of social groups.
Despite the fact that the United States is an advanced technological nation, it
is a religious society. In fact, in 1984, 94 percent of Americans claimed they
believed in a god or a universal spirit (Gallup poll). An overwhelming percentage
of Americans profess belief in a traditional religion (90 percent) and frequently
participate in the activities of formal religious organizations (Tables 14.1 and
14.2). In a 1985 Gallup poll, Americans reported their religious affiliations as
follows: Protestant, 51 percent or 90 million adults; Roman Catholics, 28 percent
or 42 million adults; and Jews, 2 percent or 5 million adults. The remaining 10
percent identified with other religions or had no religious preference. The Gallup
poll also showed that more than 40 percent of American adults attend church or
synagogue frequently and that almost all teenagers, though not attracted to formal
religious organizations, consider religion highly important and pray regularly.
During the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the presentation of religious programming in the media. Technological developments
such as satellites have enabled the electronic church to become a major force in
broadcasting. By the mid-1980s there were over 1,000 radio stations, nearly 100
television stations, and 4 broadcast networks that identified themselves as
"religious." Almost 14 million Americans report that they regularly watch religious
programming. Some critics suggest that the rise in the electronic church is better
understood as business fund raising than as a new form of worship, yet whatever
the motivation, the electronic church has become a powerful force (Gerbner et al.,
1984; Hoover, 1983; Doan, 1984).
Religious Affiliation
National surveys reveal that about 90% of Americans identify with a
particular religion. Formal affiliation with a religious organization, however,
characterizes only about 60% of the population – a proportion that has remained
relatively over the last fifty years (Gallup, 1984; U. S. Bureau of the Census,
1985). One notable pattern is a somewhat lower rate of religious affiliation in
western states, where higher geographical mobility seems to discourage
membership in religious organizations (Welch, 1983; Gallup, 1984).
The United States has no official religion; the separation of church and state
mandated by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But the Christian-Judaic
tradition certainly dominates American culture, so that members of other religions
(and those with no religion) may often feel like “outsiders”. As Table 16-2
indicates, about 65 percent of Americans claim to be Protestants, Catholics account
for about 25 percent, and less than 2 percent identify themselves as Jews.
This variation – as well as denominational variation among Protestants –
makes American society appear to be religiously pluralistic. As Figure 16-1
suggests, however, a single religious affiliation predominates within most
geographic regions of the United States. New England, urban areas of the Midwest,
and the Southwest are largely Catholic. The southern states are overwhelmingly
Baptist, while Lutherans predominate in the northern plains states. Members of the
Church of the Latter – Day Saints (Mormons) are heavily concentrated in and
around Utah. In only a few areas (shown in the figure with no color) does no one
religion represent at least one – fourth of the population. Therefore, although
American society as a whole is, indeed, pluralistic, from the point of view of an
individual anywhere in America one religious affiliation is likely to stand out.
Proportion Indicating Preference
Protestant denominations
All others, or no denomination
64, 8%
21, 8%
9, 9%
5, 7%
5, 3%
2, 1%
20, 0%
24, 2%
1, 4%
Other or no answer
1, 4%
No religious preference
7, 1%
In general terms, religiosity is the importance of religion in a person’s life.
The fact that many more Americans identify with a religion than are actually
affiliated with one points to a problem that has long concerned researchers:
religiosity varies according to how it measured. Many years ago, Charles Glock
(1959, 1962) suggested that religiosity involves many distinct dimensions.
Experiential religiosity refers to a person’s inward emotional tie to a religion.
Ritualistic religiosity refers to ritual activity such as prayer and church attendance.
Ideological religiosity concerns belief in religious doctrine. Consequential
religiosity has to do with how evident religious beliefs are in a person’s overall
daily behavior. Intellectual religiosity refers to the extent of a person’s knowledge
of the history and beliefs of a particular religion. Clearly, any one person is
probably more religious in some ways than in others, underlining the difficulty of
measuring a complex concept such as religiosity.
How religious, then, are Americans? Almost everyone in the United States
(95 percent) claims to believe in a divine power of some kind and, as we have
seen, 90 percent of Americans identify with specific religion. Moreover, 84 percent
claim to feel “closeness” to God (N. O. R. C., 1987:132). In terms of experiential
religiosity, Americans do seem to be a religious people.
Americans appear to be less religious, however, in ideological terms: only
about 70 percent, for instance, claim to believe in a life after death. Americans
score even lower on dimensions of ritualistic religiosity. For example, only about
half of American adults claim to pray at least once a day, and only about 35
percent attend religious services on a weekly or almost – weekly basis.
American religiosity is, therefore, an ambiguous matter. Because belief in
God is normative within American culture, for many people such a claim may be
simply a matter of conformity. Similarly, people can have various motives for
attending religious services, not all of which are, strictly speaking, religious. For
some, religious organizations provide a sense of identity and belonging, a means of
serving the community, or a source of social prestige. We may safely conclude,
then, that most Americans are only marginally religious, although a large minority
is deeply religious.
Тексты для самостоятельного изучения
It is 5:15 in the morning. Unable to sleep, you take a quiet walk in a local park. As
you pass some trees, you are surprised to see someone else. A young woman is
sitting by herself, burning a red, white, and blue piece of cloth with a familiar
pattern of stars and stripes. What would you do in this situation?
Assuming that you are an American, many reactions are possible. You are
likely to recognize that the cloth is an American flag. You might feel anxiety,
confusion, curiosity, or even anger. You might turn away abruptly and walk on as
if you had noticed nothing. You might cast a disapproving look as you walk by, or
you might stop and ask the person what she is doing. Your conversation might lead
to a thoughtful political discussion, an angry confrontation, or even violence. You
might feel sympathy with her action and offer verbal or actual support. Or you
might decide to report the incident to law enforcement authorities.
Your responses to this incident offer interesting evidence about your
reactions to the political world. Some of your responses might involve beliefs and
others might involve actions. This combination of your political beliefs and actions
is the essence of the domain of political science called political behavior or
micropolitics. It is called micropolitics because the key object of study is the
smallest political unit – the individual as a thinker and actor in the political world.
Micropolitics can also include study of the political beliefs and actions of small
groups, such as families, committees, and juries.
Political Beliefs
Some of your reactions to the incident described above might involve your
knowledge about the political world: for example, what the piece of colored cloth
is and the legality of burning it. Other reactions might involve your feelings: for
example, embarrassment or indifference. And some reactions might engage your
powers of assessment: for example, an attempt to determine the reasons for the
action you have observed. These different reactions typify the three types of
orientation that constitute our political beliefs. The following paragraphs describe
these cognitive, affective, and evaluative orientations.
A person’s cognitive orientations include what he believes are political
“facts.” Such facts might be correct and accurate or they might be totally wrong.
(Recall our discussion of “truth scores” in Chapter 1.) A person might know many
things about the politics of his own locality, region, and nation as well as some
things about the broader political world. This knowledge might include such facts
as the names of political leaders; the policies supported by particular politicians,
political groups, or nations; events in political history; the features of constitutions;
or the procedures and actions of a governmental agency.
Affective orientations include any feelings or emotions evoked in a person
by political phenomena. For example, what (if any) feelings are stimulated in you
You see your national flag?
You hear statements critical of your country’s political system?
You learn of “aggressive” actions by your country’s political opponents?
You are faced with the option of voting in an election and you don’t like the
You are present at a political demonstration supporting a policy of which you
The nature and intensity of your feelings in these kinds of situations are instances
of your affective orientations.
Finally, an evaluative orientation involves your synthesis of facts and
feelings into a judgment about some political phenomenon. If you become aware
that your government has proposed a policy that restricts the right of a woman to
have an abortion, many different thoughts might be stimulated – your knowledge
about the constitutional rights of an individual to freedom of action and of the state
to limit those rights; your religious, moral, or scientific beliefs about the status of a
fetus; your personal knowledge of the experiences of people who have been
involved in decisions about abortions; your gut-level responses to spokespersons
for and against the proposed policy. In short, your judgment about a political issue,
such as the state’s policy on abortion, can be grounded in many different kinds of
cognitive and affective orientations that are combined into an evaluation.
Ultimately, many of the political attitudes that you would identify as your
“fundamental beliefs” are likely to be evaluative orientations.
Belief Systems
Beyond the identification of specific beliefs of individuals, other interesting
analyses can focus on the array of political beliefs held by an individual. The
concept of belief system is often used to refer to the configuration of an
individual’s political orientations across political issues. A related concept used by
political psychologists is an individual’s opinion schema. This is a network of
cognitive, affective, and evaluative orientations that serves as a basic framework
guiding a person as he processes political information in order to establish an
opinion on a particular subject (Hastie 1986).
Political Culture
Some analysts attempt to identify broadly shared patterns of political
orientations that characterize a large group of individuals. The objective is to
develop generalizations about the political culture of the group. Political culture is
normally defined as the configuration of a particular people’s political orientations
– that is, as the belief system of many individuals. For this reason, political culture
is not precisely a topic in micropolitics, but it is examined here because it is
embedded in individual-level analyses. (Although some research on political
culture includes not only beliefs but also patterns of political action, this discussion
will emphasize political beliefs.)
Most commonly, it is the political culture of a country or of a major (ethnic
or religious) community within a country that has been studied. The composition
of the group that is studied depends on the interests of the researcher. It might be
the people of a geographic community (e.g., Londoners, English, British,
Europeans) or of a community of shared identity (e.g., Sikhs in the Indian state of
Punjab, Sikhs in the Indian subcontinent, all Sikhs in the world) or of a community
of shared meaning (e.g., French Canadians, all French-speaking peoples).
Political Actions
Ultimately, the more important issues regarding the individual in politics
might be questions about what people do politically, not merely what they think. In
the flag-burning incident at the beginning of Chapter 2, for example, the most
relevant question from the perspective of the political world is, What did you do
when you saw the woman?
Broadly, political participation is the term that can be applied to all of the
political actions by individuals and groups. The explicit objective of most political
participation is to influence the actions or selection of political rulers (Nelson
1987:104). What is the range of behaviors that a person might undertake in the
political world? At one extreme are people who are obsessed with politics, see
polit ical implications in most of life's actions, are constantly involved in political
discussion and action, and want to make political decisions for others. At the other
extreme are people who have absolutely no interest in politics, pay no attention to
political phenomena, and engage in no politically relevant actions. (In some
instances, such as not voting in an election, not doing something can also be a type
of political participation.)
Individual Political Actions
Modes of Political Activity
Table 3-1 provides a listing of some modes of individual political action,
with specific examples of action in each mode. Some of the most extensive
empirical and cross-national analyses of political participation, by Sidney Verba
and his colleagues (Verba and Nie 1972, 1975; Verba, Kie, and Kim 1978) have
emphasized four broad categories of political participation: (1) voting (see Table
3.2, p. 53), (2) campaign activities, (3) personalized contacts, and (4) communal
activities (see Table 3.3, p. 54).
TABLE 3.1 Modes of political action
Characteristic Actions
Undertake political violence against the political order
Engage in civil disobedience
Join in public protest demonstrations
Attend protest meetings
Refuse to obey unjust laws
Protest verbally if government does something morally
Government activists
Candidate for/hold public office
Partisan activists
Contribute money to party, candidate, issue
Attend meetings, rallies
Actively work for party, candidate, issue
Persuade others how to vote
Join and support party
Community activists
Active in community organization
Form group to work on local problems
Contact officials on social issues
Work with others on local problems
Write letters to media
Send support or protest messages to political leaders
Engage in political discussions
Keep informed about politics
Contact specialists
Contact local, state, or national officials on particular
Vote regularly in elections
Supporters and patriots Show patriotism by flying flag, attending public
parades, etc.
Express love of country
Pay all taxes
No voting, no other political activity
No patriotic inputs
Group Political Actions
Why do people join political groups? A person might want to influence the
actions of her government but might believe that her individual actions will not
make any difference. People tend to feel that they are relatively powerless in
politics when acting alone – but there might be strength in numbers. If a person
joins with many others in a political group, it is possible that the group can
exercise influence in the political world, because of the group’s numbers,
organization, and capabilities.
Groups are extremely important in politics, because they are often the major
mechanism through which individuals are linked to the political system; hence
their label as linkage institutions. Although there a few political gladiators who can
have a major impact on politics, most individuals, most of the time, have a minimal
effect on political decisions and actions.
As an analytic concept, a group can be defined as an aggregation of
individuals who interact in order to pursue a common interest. It is the pursuit of a
common interest that is most crucial to this definition, since the individuals do not
necessarily interact directly with one another. The factor that distinguishes a
political group from other groups is that the common interest is a political
objective – an interest in a particular allocation of public values.
A distinction is usually made between political interest groups and political
Comprehension check
1. What is the object of study of micro polities?
2. What are the two sides of political behavior?
3. What tree types of orientation constitute our political beliefs?
4. What constitutes political belief system?
5. Define political culture?
6. What forms can political action take?
1. Paraphrase
1) This combination of your political beliefs and action is the essence of the
domain of micro politics.
2) Affective orientations include any feelings or emotions evoked in a person by
political phenomena.
3) In shot, your judgment about a political issue can be grounded in many
different kinds of cognitive and affective orientation that are combined into an
4) Groups are extremely impotent in politics, because they are often the major
mechanism through which individuals are linked to the political system.
5) As an analytic concept, a group can be defined as an aggregation of individuals
who interact in order to pursue a common interest. It is the pursuit of a common
interest that is most crucial to this definition.. … .
View the spheres of political socialization: family, school, pear group, media,
events. What part does each of them play in shaping political belief systems?
1. What is included into school curriculum from the perspective of political
education? Recall the sentence from the article ‘Spheres of socialization’:
‘Children are also taught in countless subtle ways that their society life-including
its political and economic systems- is both practically and normally good ’.
2. Do the media offer biased interpretation and evaluations of political
Modern democracies are founded on the belief that those elected to represent
the people will actually do so. This does not mean that they ought to be rubber
stamps for public opinion. In fact, political leaders often earn great respect when
they risk popularity to abide by their principles.
Nevertheless, in a representative government, elected officials should at least
know the people's feelings on various issues. Obtaining this knowledge does not
seem difficult today—it is virtually impossible to open a newspaper or watch the
nightly news on TV without learning the results of the latest opinion poll.
Chapter 4 mentioned that the most famous "SLOPS" study was a "poll"
conducted by the Literary Digest before the 1936 presidential election. Although it
was based on millions of postcards returned by persons selected from various
commercial mailing lists, it predicted a landslide victory for Alf Landon. Instead,
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected by a landslide. Meanwhile, in 1936
another poll on the election appeared in a number of newspapers. Unlike the
Literary Digest's poll, it was based not on millions of respondents but on fewer
than 2,000; yet, it correctly predicted an easy Roosevelt victory. This poll was
conducted by the American Institute of Public Opinion (AIPO). AIPO had been
founded in 1935, and on October 20 of that year its first weekly report on public
opinion about current issues appeared in several newspapers. This proved to be a
very popular feature, and soon it was carried by scores of leading papers across the
country. A year later, AIPO's correct prediction of the election made it an authoritative source of information on public opinion. The name of the president and
founder of the American Institute of Public Opinion soon became well known:
George Gallup.
Gallup's aim was to provide frequent reports of public opinion on major
political, social, and moral issues. As he put it in his first newspaper report in 1935,
his was a “nonpartisan fact-finding organization which will report the trend of
public opinion on one major issue each week… The results of these polls are being
published for the first time today in leading newspapers – representing every shade
of political preference.”
Gallup's first report demonstrated the difficulties of gauging public opinion
without conducting a poll. In 1935 most of the world was in the midst of the Great
Depression. Millions were out of work, many banks had failed, factories were
closed or running at very reduced levels, and thousands of homeless people had
taken to the highways in search of a livelihood. In the United States, after three
years in office, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" had contributed little
toward economic recovery. As a result, a widespread campaign was begun to
greatly increase government spending to feed and clothe the needy and to stimulate
the economy. Countless public speakers claiming to represent the public demanded
that Roosevelt increase federal spending. Many members of Congress joined in
these demands, and press accounts frequently echoed the cry that "the people
demand action now."
Along came the Gallup Poll. The first Gallup Poll ever published reported
national responses to the question "Do you think the expenditures by the
Government for relief and recovery are too little, too great, or just about right?"
Only 9 percent of Americans thought the government was spending too little. Sixty
percent thought it was spending too much. Thirty-one percent thought the current
level of spending was about right. Whether or not increased public spending would
have helped recovery, clearly those who supported it as representing the will of the
people were incorrect.
This was only the first of many instances in which Gallup findings revealed
widespread misperception and misrepresentation of public opinion.
In time, political leaders and the mass media earned how hard it was to judge
public opinion without taking a poll, and polling became a major industry. But the
Gallup Poll, which now has affiliates in more than fifty nations, remains the most
influential source of information on political and social issues.
The American “Voter”
As a result of more than sixty years of election surveys, we now know a
great deal about the American voter. For example, the wealthier and more educated
they are, the more likely people are to support Republican candidates. Men are a
bit more likely to vote for Republicans, while women slightly favor Democrats.
African Americans vote for Democrats by a margin of more than four to one. For
generations, Catholics voted for Democrats and Protestants (outside the South)
favored Republicans, but today Catholics and Protestants have similar party
preferences and Southern voters have swung from the Democrats to the
Republicans. But perhaps the most significant facts have to do with the general
lack of interest in politics. Recall from Table 15-4 that most Americans said
politics wasn't an important part of their lives. In Table 15-6 we see that they were
telling the truth.
Table 15-6 The American “Voter”
Voted in 1996 presidential election
Displayed a campaign button or bumper sticker
Made a campaign contribution
Could name her or his member of Congress
Recognized name of the chief justice of the
Supreme Court
Recognized name of the Speaker of the House
Read a newspaper daily
Watch TV news daily:
Comprehension check
1. What function do public opinion polls serve?
2. Tell about AIPO and work in gauging public opinion.
3. What do polls have revealed about American voters?
1. Provide equivalents from the text
Твердо придерживаться, следовать; поводить опрос общественного
мнения(2); общественное мнение по вопросу; авторитетный источник
информации; влиятельный источник информации; провести оценку общего
мнения(2); множество.
2. Paraphrase using your vocabulary
1) Americans are known to adhere to rules.
2) A multitude of public opinion polls is taken every month .
3) However, politicians shouldn’t approve the public automatically without
4) Gallop poll has become a reliable source of information about people feeling
on a variety of impotent topics.
3. Translate the phrases into English and use them is sentences of your own
Как сообщает достоверный источник; согласно последним опросам
общественного мнения; старого придерживаться правил; множество
1. From the point of political behavior, American can be divided into three
1) ‘gladiators’ (career politicians )
2) concerned and involved (those who care)
3) apathetic non-voters
What patterns of behavior do the people belonging to each group display?
2. What care political values do the us and Russian citizens hold?
How is the US poverty line determined? The official poverty line is based on
a minimum family market basket – a low-cost food budget that contains а
minimum level of nutrition for a family – multiplied by 3 to allow for nonfood
costs. Established in 1965 by the Social Security Administration, the poverty line
is based on an assumption that the average family must spend about one-third of its
total income on food. By multiplying this amount by 3, nonfood costs such as rent
and utilities are factored in. Although the poverty line is adjusted for the number of
people in the household and is corrected at least annually for changes in the cost of
living, essentially the same poverty test has been used since the 1960s.
Today, many social analysts argue that the official poverty line is too low.
According to economist Patricia Ruggles (1990, 1992), the poverty line is based on
outdated (pre-1960) standards, and poverty thresholds should be increased by at
least 50 percent. When the poverty formula was originally developed, fewer
households were composed of two working parents or of single parents who faced
employment-related expenses such as work clothes, transportation, child care, and
quick and convenient foods.
Who are the Poor?
If poverty were equally distributed among all social groups in the United
States, all people regardless of their age, race or ethnicity, sex, household
composition or other attributes statistically would have an equal chance of being
among poor in any given year. However, poverty is not distributed equally: People
in some categories are at greater risk for poverty than are people in other
Age, Gender, Household Composition, and Poverty
The vast majority of poor people in the United States are women and
children. Children under age eighteen, who make up 25 percent of the US
population, account for over 40 percent of the poor. About one in five children age
eighteen and under lives in poverty (see Table 2.1). The percentage of children
under six years of age who live in poverty-level households is even higher: In
1994, about one in four was considered poor. When children under age six live in
households headed by women with no adult male present, almost two-thirds are
poor. Children of working-poor parents are the fastest growing segment of children
living in poverty (Holmes, 1996b). More than half of all poor children live in
families in which one or both parents work outside the home (US Bureau of
Census, 1996a).
About two-thirds of all adults living in poverty are women: households
headed by women are the fastest-growing segment of the overall poverty
population. Researchers have discovered a number of reasons why single-parent
families headed by women are at such a great risk of poverty. Single-parent
families typically have fewer employed adults in them and therefore a lower
annual income than most two-parent households, and women generally earn less
money than men, even for comparable work. Women bear the major economic
burden for their children, and contributions from absent fathers in the form of child
support and alimony payments account for less than 10 percent of family income.
About 43 percent of unmarried mothers with incomes above poverty level receive
child support from the fathers; however, only 25 percent of unmarried mothers at
or below the poverty line receive such support (US House of Representatives,
1994). Sociologist Diana Pearce (1978) refers to the association between gender
and poverty as the feminization of poverty – the trend whereby women are
disproportionately represented among individuals living in poverty. On the basis of
research on the feminization of poverty, some sociologists suggest that high rates
of female poverty are related to women’s unique vulnerability to event-driven
poverty – poverty resulting from the loss of a job, disability, desertion by a spouse,
separation, divorce, or widowhood (Weitzman. 1985; Bane, 1986; Kurz, 1995).
Race, Ethnicity, and Poverty
African Americans, Latinos/as, and Native Americans are overrepresented
among people living in poverty (see Figure 2.5). Across racial-ethnic categories,
about three times as many African American families and Latina/o families lived
in poverty in 1994 as non-Latina/o white families (US Bureau of the Census,
1995a). Within racial-ethnic categories, fewer than one in ten (non-Latino/a)
whites fell below the official poverty level in 1994, in contrast to 14.6 percent of
all Asian and Pacific Islanders, 30.6 percent of all African Americans, and 30.7
percent of all Latinos/as.
Differences in household composition show a stark contrast in poverty rates.
In households headed by women with no husband present, about half of all
Latina/o families (52.1 percent) and African American families (46.2 percent) had
incomes below the official poverty level in 1994, in contrast to 29 percent of white
(non-Latino/a) families. Recent research suggests that two out of three African
American families headed by women were poor before the family event that made
the woman a single mother (Bane and Ellwood, 1994). According tо sociologist
Demie Kurz (1995), the feminization of poverty is intensified by the racialization
of poverty – the process by which the effects of low income are made even worse
by racial discrimination, which is experienced by all people of color but
particularly by women who are single heads of household.
Comprehension check
Determine the distinction between absolute and relative poverty.
Define poverty rate. How high is it in US?
What is poverty line based on?
Who are the America’s poor in terms of age, gender, race\ethnicity, and
household composition?
5. Why are single-parent families headed by women at greater risk for poverty?
6. What goes under the terms of feminization of poverty and racialization of
7. What is event-driven poverty?
1. Give Russian equivalents for
poverty rate; poverty line; poverty threshold; market basket; to be vulnerable to;
stark contrast
2. Note the prepositions in the following phrases
to be at greater risk for poverty
to make a distinction between
to have a grasp on middle-class standing
to compare to smb\smth in smth
3. Make two listings of proverbs and sayings one about poverty and the other
about wealth. Do the listings contain proverbs that contradict one another?
For example
A light purse is a heavy curse. Poverty is no sin.
4. Fill in the prepositions, if necessary
1). Unwed and divorced women with dependent children are often subject
______ poverty.
2). Working-class Americans are quite vulnerable ______ financial problems. It
is not rare among them to get ______ ______ month ______ month, trying to
make ends ______ meet.
3). You’ll never accomplish ______ anything if you resign ______ your
4). Marx dismissed people who were marginal ______ the economy.
5). Weber’s works rest ______ the assumption that relation ______ the means
______ production isn’t the sale ______ factor ______ ranking people.
6). Weber’s major works were attempts to modify ______ Marxist positions
______ class.
7). It’s interesting what writers living a century ago conceived ______ the life
in the 21st century.
8). Overall US population falls ______ 4 broad classes and only 4% falls
______ the upper class.
9). High income coupled ______ significant inheritance enables the upper class
to control ______ vast share of wealth ______ terms ______ stocks and real
10). 20% of Americans live ______ the margins of poverty; to own a house for
them is ______ of reach.
11). Women are at greater risk ______ poverty; few of them are lucky to have a
firm grasp middle-class standing.
12). Upper-class people wield ______ the power to shape ______ events in the
nation and even worldwide.
13). They are always quarrelling; it seems they are locked ______ eternal
14). Nobody compares ______ you ______ beauty.
15). It’s generally quite problematic to make a distinction ______ working and
middle classes.
5. Choose the correct variant
1). The official poverty line is based on a minimum family
a) market bowl b) shopping bag c) food basket d) market basket
2). The number of social classes traditionally distinguished in the US is
a) 3 b) 4 c) 5 d) 6
3). Only the old rich Americans are included into
a) the Social Register b) Who’s Who in America c) the Upper class d) the
Morning Star
4). Of the overall US population, lower class Americans constitute about
a) 5% b) 10 % c) 15% d) 20%
5). Annual US family income averages
a) $20000 b) $25000 c) $30000 d) $40000
6). There don’t exist jobs classified as
a) blue-collar b) white-collar c) black-collar d) pink-collar
7). Which class is not within the stratification system of US?
a) the upper class b) the middle c) the working d) the low
8). People who fall within the upper-class are not referred to as
a) blue bone b) blueblood c) the old rich d) society
9). People who fall within one class can be said to belong to the same
a) strata b) stratum c) stratification d) stratas
10). If you are a manager and your son becomes a plumber, it is an example of
a) upward mobility b) downward mobility c) horizontal mobility d) no
social mobility
11). WASP stands for
White African-Saxon Politician b) White Australian Strange
Policeman c) White Anglo-Saxon Protestant d) White Anglo-Saxon Prayer
12). Most working-class people have only
a) a junior-school education b) a high-school education c) state-college
education d) private-college education
13). Marx’s major written work on social classes is titled
a) ‘Social Manifesto” b) “Communist Manifesto” c) “Revolutionary Manifesto”
d) “Proletarian Manifesto”
Religious affiliation is related to many familiar social patterns.
Social Class
Although there are differences in social class within every religious
category, religious affiliation is generally linked to social class. Table 16-4
presents the relative standing of the members of major religious groups in the
United States during the mid-1970s.
Dimension of Social Stratification
Income ($) Occupational
Of all the categories included in the table, Jews have the highest overall
social standing in terms of income, occupational prestige, and educational
attainment. Among Protestant denominations, Episcopalians and Presbyterians
have higher social position than Methodists, Lutherans, and Baptists. In general,
Catholics occupy a middle position in the class structure of America. In the lowest
position are members of various Christian sects.
Political Attitudes
Two decades ago, Charles Clock and Rodney Stark (1965) examined links
between religiosity and political attitudes in Great Britain and France. Politically
speaking, British society can be divided into supporters of the Tory Party (who are
politically conservative and generally of higher social class) and supporters of the
Labour Party (who are politically liberal and generally of lower social standing).
Clock and Stark found that Tories were more religious than Labourites: they were
almost twice as likely to attend church, and were also more likely to believe in life
after death. The same pattern was found in France: more politically conservative
people were much more likely to engage in religious activity than more liberal
Looking at the United States, Protestants tend to be more conservative than
Catholics. Consequently, Protestants are more likely to support the Republican
Party, while Catholics have historically been Democrats. Jews, too, have
traditionally supported the Democratic party (J. Wilson, 1978; Gallup, 1982).
Consistent with their European research, Clock and Stark (1965) found that, among
Protestants, the more conservative Republicans attended church more frequently
than did the more liberal Democrats.
I. Основные тексты
What is Sociology?
A Sociological Consciousness
The Sociological Challenge
Social Structure
The Nature of Social Structure
The Nature of Roles
Role Set
Role Strain
Role taking and Role Making
Embracing the Role
The Nature of Statuses
Groups: The Sociological Subject
Primary and Secondary Groups
Dyads and Triads
Conflict Theory
Symbolic Interactionism
Human Development: Nature and Nurture
Spheres of Socialization
The Family
Peer Groups
The Mass Media
Public Opinion
Chapter Preview
Conceptions of Social Class
Marx’s Concept of Class
The Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat
Class Consciousness and Conflict
The Economic Dimension of Class
Weber’s Three Dimensions of Stratification
The Functionalist Theory of Stratification
The Upper Class
The Upper-upper Class
The Lower-upper Class
The Middle Class
The Working Class
The Lower Class
Social Mobility: Myth and Reality
Stratification and Mobility in Recent Decades
Family Structure and Characteristics
Functionalist Perspectives
New Patterns and Pressure Points
Employed Mothers
Is the Family Endangered or Merely Changing?
Elements of Religion
Types of Religious Organization
The Functions of Religion
Religious Affiliation
II. Дополнительные тексты
Political Beliefs
Belief Systems
Political Culture
Political Actions
Who Are the Poor?
Age, Gender, Household Composition, and Poverty
Race, Ethnicity, and Poverty
Political Attitudes
Татьяна Борисовна Макарова
Ирина Николаевна Соловьева
Сборник тематических текстов для обучения навыкам устной речи студентов
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