Sociology Exam

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What is culture?

Provide an example of Australian norms that illustrates your answer. Culture is the social heritage of an organized group or community, the shared behavior patterns, subjective constructs and productive relationships that are learned through the course of socialization. These shared norms recognize members of a particular cultural group as unique setting it apart from other teams. The intangible aspect of societies such as values and interpretation of symbols form the primary elements that define culture. People from the same culture will interpret symbols in similar ways.

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The Australian people, for example, are informal. Greetings including the initial greetings among the Australians are casual and laid back. Australians are open, direct and are it’s their norm to mind their own business. Moreover, they are more outgoing than other cultures with three-quarters of them living in cities and mainly along the coast. The local dress style differs from the Australia’s fashions. Australian style is influenced by the experience of living in a rough country as well as recreation exercises such as surfing and swimming.

Describe the structure/agency debate and provide an example that illustrates either an agency focused solution or a structure concentrated solution to a social problem.

In the social science field, there has been an argument over the dominance of structure or agency in shaping human behavior. Structure refers to the many patterned arrangements that impact or deters the available of choices and opportunities. Agency, on the other hand, is the ability of people to act individually to make their own free decisions. The structure/agency debate is as a result of issues in socialization against autonomy in establishing whether people’s actions are as a result of free will or social structures. An example of a structural approach to a social problem would include how man solves social issues such as unemployment and health. The effects of these issues force people to look for solutions which may consist of political avenues or through education. Structuralists suggest that such specific social conditions produce human actions (Vivien).By seeking the means to solve unemployment, people do not act as a result of free will but as a product of this structural factor.

What is multiculturalism? Explain how it is a response to both personal troubles and public issues.

Multiculturalism describes the co-existence of diverse cultures within one society. Multiculturalism is the acceptance of a particular community to co-exist with immigrants, accepting their norms, thinking patterns and communicative styles. Immigrants should also be willing to accommodate the behavior patterns of the host. Multiculturalism is actively encouraged by governments with claims that different cultures enrich the community. Governments realize that accepting several cultures in their countries builds trust with other nations. This faith forms the willingness to cooperate with each other hence deterring wars and nation considers arbitration as a remedy to tension.

In response to personal problems, multiculturalism equips an individual with diverse approaches to life. Learning about other cultures helps one to learn about different ways to do something. One may also find out that his/her way might not be the best way to approach a problem but other peoples cultural way is the best dimension. New cultures stimulate the mind and expand the way people process information. Multiculturalism, therefore, helps grow an individual’s mental capabilities.

What does it mean to say that gender is socially constructed?

Gender is as a result of socio-cultural influences throughout a person’s growth and development process. Society’s definition of female and male roles, which also differ from one community to another, affects gender identity. Individuals’ gender identity is influenced by family values, religion group ethnicity, cultural and historical background. We learn our gender from the social structures present through childhood to adulthood.

Also, the sociological significance of sexuality is that it is an avenue in which the community uses to control its members. Gender is always confused with sex. Sex is the biological nature of being male or female while gender is learned from culture. Just like race, gender is a structural feature that is commonly used to categorize people and may lead to discrimination. Gender has been used to define sexism and is mainly associated with discrimination against women, the female gender. The family is the first agent where individuals learn gender. Starting from childbirth, parents behave differently towards their children depending on the sex of the child and also expect different behaviors between girls and boys. For instance, we expect girls to be sweet and emotional while boys should be taught to be aggressive and rational. Therefore, societies construct gender through their diverse behavior patterns.

How are social inequalities reflected in health inequalities? Provide an example of a health inequality in your answer health and wealth are closely related.

Economically disadvantaged ethnic minorities have worse health status. Health is related to the aspect of material and social change. Research has shown that social hierarchies defined by household incomes, level of education and occupational prestige affect the overall health of the population (Barr). Individuals of the high social-economic class in the society live longer than the lower social-economic class. A high degree of social inequality is a health hazard. Research proves that countries with the smallest proportion of the population in relative poverty have long life expectancies. An example of health inequality is derived from Scotland wherein its more affluent areas men have 23.8 more years of healthy living and 22.6 more years for women compared to the most deprived areas. The general life expectancy of people with learning disabilities is also shorter than the average number of years in Scotland. These inequalities are attributed to the unequal wealth and income distribution in Scotland.

What is the gender pay gap and is it closing?

According to Hillary, a gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s earnings, expressed as a ratio of men’s monetary salaries? (Hillary, 171). Many suggest that the difference is a product of the work choices made by women. For instance, women choose to work fewer hours or take less paying jobs. However, research shows that the gender gap is more than women personal choices. The gap is a real and persistent problem. The problem is as a result of factors such as job experience, union status, and selection of occupation. The work experience among women depends on whether she needs to take a maternity leave or take on vacation to take care of her children. Another cause for the gap is the unwillingness of industries to have women paid more or equivalent to men. Moreover, most companies prefer employing men and pay women less. To mitigate or try to close the gap, more education opportunities have been granted to women. Education helps women gain qualifications needed to access jobs and earn more. However, the efforts show a small effect of the gap. The gender gap is not about to close unless different approaches are adopted considering that earnings are affected by race-ethnicity and gender.

How can education be a source of social mobility while also reinforcing social inequalities?

Education is often viewed as a means to improve individual’s social status. Training enables children from low-income families to move the social ladder upwards. The link between education and social mobility is more evident in developing and mid countries where the demand for skilled labor surpasses the supply. In these countries, individuals with higher education are highly sought to translate to higher wages which in turn improves their social status. As long as the demand for an educated workforce is not met by the supply, education remains among the surest means out of the low class. However, school is expensive, and children from already established individuals have a higher chance to receive and complete education compared to those from low-income families. Moreover, children of highly paid people are more likely to be paid more while those from low earners tend to be little earners too. As such, although social mobility cannot be ruled out, education d still fosters social inequality regarding who earns more in the social structure.Question 12Explain the labeling theory of deviance.

In 1963, Howard Becker came up with the labeling theory of deviance where he suggested that individuals commit a crime when labeled as criminals and they accept this labeling as a personal identity (Taylor, Paul, & Jock). Deviance is a process of interaction between criminals and non-criminals and the context in which deviance is being defined. The theory suggests that no behavior is inherently criminal. People do not become criminals because of the act itself but as a result of how other people react to the action. The primary approach in this theory consists of primary and secondary criminality, the retroactive and prospective labeling and the value of stigmatization. Primary deviance describes the events of criminal behavior that most individuals are involved themselves. Secondary deviance defines what people make out of the criminal conduct, which forms a negative social label that alters an individual’s self-perception and social identity. Becker called the negative label a stigma.

What are the four interconnected dimensions of McDonaldization?

According to George Ritzer, McDonaldization is a term that defines or outlines a sociological phenomenon that is happening in our current community (Ritzer). Ritzer offers the four main dimensions of McDonaldization as efficiency and control. Efficiency is one of the greatest method of completing any given job. Efficiency provides the rational determination of the best mode of production.

This dimension advices against individuality as efficiency is only achieved through teamwork. Calculability is the assessment of the results based on quantifiable rather than subjective criteria. This criterion involves prioritizing quantity over quality. For instance, the company will consider selling the “Big Mac” and no the “Good Mac.” Predictability consists in organizing the production process in a way that guarantees the uniformity of product and standardization of the outcome. All shopping malls have a similar look, and all exits also have similar combination of businesses. Lastly, control refers to the replacement of more predictable machine labor for human labor through automation or deskilling the workforce.

What is the sociological imagination? Illustrate your answer with a discussion of a contemporary social problem.

Sociological imagination is the ability to think broadly and perceive situations in a broad social context and realize how interactions and behavior influence individuals and their behavior. Gane and Nicholas state that, men have 23.8 more years of healthy living and 22.6 more years for women compared to the most deprived areas. The general life expectancy of people with learning disabilities is also shorter than the average number of years in Scotland. These inequalities are attributed to the unequal wealth and income distribution in Scotland.

Works Cited

Barr, Donald A. Health disparities in the United States: Social class, race, ethnicity, and health. JHU Press, 2014.

Burr, Vivien. Social constructionism. Routledge, 2015.Gane, Nicholas, and Les Back. “C. Wright Mills 50 years on: The promise and craft of sociology revisited.” Theory, Culture & Society? 29.7-8 (2012): 399-421.

Lips, Hilary M. “The gender pay gap: Challenging the rationalizations. Perceived equity, discrimination, and the limits of human capital models.”Sex Roles 68.3-4 (2013): 169-185.

Ritzer, George. “The technological society: social theory, McDonaldization and the prosumer.”? Jacques Ellul and the technological society in the 21st century. Springer Netherlands, 2013. 35-47.

Taylor, Ian, Paul Walton, and Jock Young. The new criminology: For a social theory of deviance. Routledge, 2013.

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Sociology Exam. (2020, Jan 17). Retrieved from