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Sociology Issues: Language, Culture and Gender Essay

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Updated: Apr 20th, 2021

State and discuss the three main theoretical perspectives

In sociology, three main theoretical perspectives include the Conflict Theory, the Theory of Symbolic Interactionism, and Functionalism. The three are related quite closely to each other. The Conflict Theory, which explores the class conflict, allows the understanding of how Interactionism, i.e., the principles of human interactions, is put into practice in society. Structural functionalism, which allows viewing the society as an organism, defines the laws of interactions between the members of society, thus, being linked directly to Interactionism (Lindsey and Beach 11).

What is a social institution, and why do they tend to exhibit stability?

A social institution is a social structure, i.e., an entity, whose members are bound by similar culture patterns and, therefore, specific behavior, with every member being assigned with a particular role, a specific status, and a set of responsibilities. Social institutions tend to exhibit stability since they can only exist following a certain set of principles; any deviation from the established rules is a legitimate threat to the social institution in question (Lindsey and Beach 103).

What is Sociology and what are the four key developments that ultimately led to the birth of sociology?

Sociology is, understandably enough, rendered as a study of society, i.e., the analysis of the links between the members of a society, the roles and functions of these members, and the relationships between them. Also, society is studied as a living organism, with a careful analysis of its evolution and the factors that affect the changes within a society. It should be noted that sociology emerged as a result of four key developments. At first, the fundamental problems related to sociology and the development of society were located.

Afterward, a dynamic system framework was designed to address these problems and work on the improvement of the structure of society. Then, the action theory was created to implement the interactive theories into practice; finally, the fourth stage of sociology development, which eventually led to the birth of the discipline, concerned the incorporation of structuralism into the existing framework (Lindsey and Beach 85).

Define subculture and counterculture

The notion of culture is very complex, and it is rather difficult to define; it includes a range of elements, from art to national identification, and constantly experiences influences of other cultures, thus, evolving and being enriched with new ideas. The phenomenon of the subculture, though, is relatively easier to nail down; it can be defined as an entity within a culture, which bears a certain resemblance to the latter and borrows its specific features, yet is related to a very specific concept.

For example, in the Christian culture, Protestant and Catholic cultures can be located. Similarly, in European culture, French, German, Italian, and many other cultures can be singled out. In some cases, a subculture only has one major distinction from its source; in other cases, a subculture barely resembles the culture that it spawned from. Counterculture, in its turn, is often mixed with anti-culture, yet cannot be defined as a complete denial of a specific culture. Instead, counterculture is a philosophy that was created as an opposition to a specific culture (Lindsey and Beach 93).

Name four language-gender differences

Though with the introduction of the concepts of equality in the society, as well as a shift in the social roles of men and women, the manifestation of gender differences seems to be gradually disappearing, the differences between the two genders still come into the open when considering the specifics of the 21st-century language. Even though Modern English no longer has inflections indicating the gender of the speaker, a simple process of communication and a bit of a linguistic analysis will reveal much more about the current gender issues than a social study can. For example, such a phenomenon as gossip should be brought up when talking about language-related gender differences.

Though one might consider the link between gossip and women a stereotype, researches have shown that women tend to gossip more than men do. The differentiation of gender in language does not stop there; men, in their turn, are less apt to encouraging the vis-à-vis for the conversation with non-verbal approval; in fact, men use less non-verbal language elements in their conversation than women do.

In some languages, the differentiation between the two genders is even more graphic than in the English language. In the latter, most nouns are not informed by a certain gender, except the ones that concern family relationships (e.g., “a mother,” and “a sister” are identified as female, while “a grandfather” is recognized as male, etc.). In other Roman or Germanic languages, most nouns are related to a specific gender (e.g., German “der Wagen” (“the car”) is identified as male, and in Italian, “la macchina” (“the car”) is recognized as female). Another example of gender issues in the language is that in a range of languages, the female gender is created by adding a suffix to a noun of the male gender, and not vice versa: “der Lehrer – die Lehrerin” (German “the teacher”) (Alexiadou, Haegeman and Stavrou 261).

Define status and role

The concepts of status and a role are crucial to the regular functioning of a society. The difference between the two concepts, however, is quite big. A status is a certain rank that a person achieves in a society; in other words, it is a position that defines the authority of the person in question, as well as the functions that this person will have to perform. A social status defines one’s social role to a considerable extent.

The latter, in its turn, can be considered a range of functions that a person performs in society and that may be assigned to them based on their status. The link between a social role and a social status is quite debatable, though. For example, it is common to think of a man, whose social status is being married, as a breadwinner. However, being married does not compel one to the given role; the roles can be distributed differently, with the woman earning the money and the man taking care of the household (Lindsey and Beach 22).

Define achieved status and ascribed status, and give an example of each

The difference between an achieved and an ascribed status is quite basic. An achieved status is the social status that can be earned after taking particular steps (e.g., getting married, excelling in sports, being politically active). An ascribed status is the one that cannot be changed for the time being. Since most of the social statuses are somehow related to the political, economic, or financial actions of a person, it is reasonable to assume that an adult person can only have achieved status, whereas a child can only have an ascribed one.

Indeed, until a person reaches a particular age, they are fully dependent on their parents or caregivers in their social, political, economic, or financial choices; therefore, an ascribed status is a prerogative of either a child or an incapable person. For instance, a mentally impaired person has an ascribed status, whereas a middle-aged businessman has an achieved one.

Define mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity

Defined by Emile Durkheim, the phenomenon of solidarity refers to the ties that the members of a particular society are linked to each other and can be split into mechanical and organic solidarity. It should be kept in mind that the mechanical and organic solidarity types are closely related to the stage of evolution of a [particular society. It is quite common that the societies that are on a lower development stage choose the type of connection that is based on kinship; such a type of solidarity is referred to as a mechanical one. More advanced societies, on the contrary, choose organic solidarity as the basis for the relationship between their members; as a result, these relationships are based on the division of labor and market economy (Lindsey and Beach 51).

Identify the five core social institutions

As a rule, five core social institutions are identified in a regular society; these are family, education, religion, government, and economics (Lindsey and Beach 13).

Name Lenski and Lenski’s five stages of sociocultural evolution

Claiming that the society evolves through developing both the quality of interactions between its members (the social aspect) and the integration of the specifics of other cultures into the one accepted among the people in question (the cultural aspect), Lenski specified five stages of sociocultural evolution. The first four of them are traditionally mentioned when it comes to discussing Lenski’s theory.

These stages identify the methods of information transfer and include genetic, individual, information transfer through signs, and information transfer through symbols. In the latter, information transfer through language is often identified, since no all sets of signs can be rendered as a language (Lindsey and Beach 61). It is quite remarkable that, as a rule, four stages of social evolution are mentioned when discussing Lenski’s theory, with little to no distinction made between signs and languages.

Works Cited

Alexiadou, Artemis, Liliane M. V. Haegeman and Melita Stavrou. Noun Phrase in the Generative Perspective. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter. 2007. Print.

Lindsey, Linda L. and Stephen Beach. Sociology. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. 2003. Print.

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