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Understanding Social Structure Part One: Intro to Sociology and Development of the Sociological Imagination Agenda Objective: 1. To understand structure and its effects on individual and social behavior. Schedule: 1. What is Structure? 2. Understanding Structure through an examination of the American public school system. Homework None Thinking Like a Sociologist • Think about what we said last class, what does it mean to say that sociology is about “making the familiar strange?” Thinking Like a Sociologist • “Making the familiar strange”requires you to reconsider your assumptions about society and question what you have assumed to be “normal” and “the way things are.” • The ability is called “The Sociological Imagination” – Term coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959. Our Task As Sociologists Truth/Objectivity/Reality American Society • • • • Recognize that we live in a box (society) Recognize that there are other boxes (societies) that other people live in and they don’t always look like our box Recognize that the box has walls (social forces, social scripts, structures, cultures) Recognize that the box does not always align with what is true/real/objective… Two Perspectives in Sociology on what Drives Human Behavior • In studying sociology, sociologists tend to be divided over what they see as the primary “shaper” of human behavior: – Culture – Structure – (The interaction between the two)? • Within each of the subfields we study we will see different sociologists adopting either a cultural or structural perspective to study issues like race, class, gender, etc. Structure • Some sociologists argue that social structure is the primary determinant of human behavior • Social Structure – Social institutions, groups, and statuses that through their construction and design act to facilitate and/or constrain our behavior and interactions. The Components of Social Structure Social Institutions Complex social forms that reproduce themselves. Family, government, legal systems, the economy Social Groups Networks of individuals bounded by a particular relationship Fraternal associations, corporations, classmates Social Status The position one holds in a society Race, Class, Gender Social Structure (The Whole Triangle) Structure • This image exemplifies the notion of social structure. • The structure of the ladder and people’s placement on that ladder facilitate or constrain what they can or can not do and how they can or can not interact with others on the ladder. Social Structure Activity • What are the social structures operating in your life? – What are some examples of social institutions, social groups, and social statuses that you are a part of/occupy? Understanding Social Structure Through an Evaluation of the American Public Education System Consider the Following Statistics About High School Graduation Rates… • These statistic show the averaged freshman graduation rate (the percentage of students who graduated within four years of being a freshman) by race. • Consider just the White and Black students, what are some factors that might account for the difference in graduation rates between these two groups. The Structure of Public Education and the Achievement Gap • To illustrate the effects of social structure on individual’s lives, we are going to take a look at how the structure of the American public education systems facilitates white school achievement, while constraining black student achievement. The American Public School System • What is the structure of the public school system in the United States? – How are schools distributed? – How are they funded? $19,000 $11,000 $22,000 The Structure of Public Education and the Achievement Gap • How does this structure that we have just described lead to real differences in the educational experiences of white and black students? The Structure of Public Education and the New School Segregation • The effect of the educational structure in the United States is to produce two distinct public school experiences: One for Blacks One for Whites “[We] face hypersegregation of a sort that we haven't seen since the 1960s. Because it has come back with a vengeance in the past ten years, but you also see inequality so gross and obvious that it would shame the heart of any decent person in America.” Jonathan Kozol Feb, 2007 Video • “Trading Schools” Oprah Winfrey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXBUd wKk4Fw&feature=related Using Education to Understand Structure • How did the structure of the educational system produce these two outcomes? • What is the effect of the structure of the public school systems on the students attending these schools? Agency vs. Structure • But this is not to say that individuals are powerless to structure. • Social structures (institutions, groups, status) are designed by people and thus people can change them. • What are some ways the structure of the educational system in the United States can be changed to correct inequality?