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“Sociology. Fourteenth Edition” by John J. Macionis Essay


Explain the difference between an ascribed status and an achieved status. Give examples of statuses that are mostly ascribed and those that are mostly achieved.

The term status refers to an individual’s standing within a social system and includes positions such as child, parent, pupil, or tutor. An achieved status is attained on the basis of merit and is often a manifestation of an individual’s aptitude, strength, and personal talent. Examples of achieved statuses include being a medical doctor, a musician, a professional footballer, among many others. An ascribed status, conversely, is a position gained at birth that one has no control over. Being an orphan, for instance, is an ascribed status as one cannot control the death of his or her parents. The socioeconomic status of a child is also an ascribed status of the child.

Identify several ways gender affects personal performances.

The gender stereotypes created by society influence the performance of individuals in all spheres of life. For example, the notion that boys perform better in mathematics and sciences is likely to pull down the academic performance of an otherwise bright girl in these subjects. Conversely, the idea that females are better at languages is likely to discourage a bright boy from performing his best in languages. Gender stereotypes also affect the performance of women in leadership positions due to pressure to perform like their male counterparts.

What are the differences between categories and social groups?

A social group is regarded as a social organization typified by the apparent feeling of interdependence amongst its members. Members of a social group are unified and share interactions. On the other hand, a social category is an assembly of people who have a common characteristic that unites them, for example, a profession, gender, or status.

What are the important differences between primary and secondary groups?

Primary groups are small assemblies of individuals who share intimate long-term relationships, while secondary groups are large assemblies of people that do not partake in intimate associations with one another. Primary groups serve a crucial role in the advancement of an individual’s identity, while secondary groups only perpetuate the interests of the group. There is physical closeness within members of a primary group, while secondary groups are characterized by physical distance. Primary groups regulate the conduct of their members through informal means, whereas secondary groups employ formal methods such as the law to guide the conduct of their members.

State several ways in which caste and class systems differ.

The key difference between a class system and the caste system is that a class system is open and flexible while the caste system is closed and rigid. An individual can belong to a given class either by birth or merit (choice), and it is possible for one to move from one class to another. There is the freedom to interact with members of other classes. In addition, people can choose their occupations, and the law considers them equal. In the caste system, conversely, there is no provision for movement from one caste to another. An individual is born within a given caste, and he or she must remain within the caste by interacting with and marrying people within the same caste. Certain occupations are meant for people belonging to given castes. Additionally, the caste system is based on religious doctrines.

Explain how social stratification shapes patterns of social interaction.

Social stratification is the categorization of people on the basis of their socioeconomic standing. People of a given social class tend to feel comfortable interacting with members of similar status. As a result, they minimize their interaction with people of different classes bringing about seclusion and categorization of social amenities such as restaurants, schools, sports clubs as well as hospitals. Consequently, facilities frequented by the upper class are deemed prestigious, and their services tend to be more costly than in similar amenities frequented by the lower class.

Define race and ethnicity. How do they differ?

Race refers to the physical appearance (particularly the color of the skin) of a person in relation to the geographical location of the person’s ancestors, for example, African, Asian and American are terms used to describe the race of individuals from Africa, Asia, and America. In contrast, ethnicity denotes the common traditions, language, or religion of a given group of people regardless of their race. For example, the term Hispanic is ethnic because it encompasses all people whose native language is Spanish. These people may be Black, White, or Mulatto. The key difference between race and ethnicity is that ethnicity is learned while the race is an inborn trait.

According to the text, what factors define a minority? Based on these factors, explain why we should consider African Americans to be a minority. What about Asian Americans?

The main factors that define a minority group are race, gender, religious conviction, ethnicity, sexuality, and age. According to these factors, African Americans are considered a minority because they hold fewer positions of power compared to the social majority in America who are Americans (Whites). Similarly, Asian Americans can be considered a minority because they do not also hold many positions of power, just like African Americans.

What is a social institution? What is the economy?

A social institution is any machinery that handles administration, religious conviction, edification, money matters, and family in the society, thereby bringing about social order. A social institution possesses the capacity to employ legal authority and form an affiliation. The economy, on the other hand, is the material goods and resources of a state or a locality. It includes the whole system of manufacturers, distributors, and users of commodities and services within a community.

Name three technological revolutions that reorganized societal production and resulted in broad changes to many other dimensions of social life. What factors caused these revolutions? What changed as a result?

The three technological revolutions that reorganized societal production are the agricultural (agrarian) revolution, the industrial revolution, and the information revolution. The need to continually produce and consume goods and services led to these revolutions, which brought about economic and social consequences. The agrarian revolution increased the amount of food, causing other people to specialize in other occupations such as tool making, trade, and building. Specialized settlements developed, and people entered wage labor to work for earnings. With time, disparities in earnings ensued, leading to the development of socio-economic categories of the wealthy, middle-income earners and the poor.

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