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Transcript
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?