Sociology summary

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Sociology summary




Sociology summary

Sociology refers to study of the human, social life. Sociology is important because it changes the perspective of people on the world. Sociology uses systematic methods of critical analysis, and empirical investigation to evaluate a body of knowledge on human, social activity with the goal of using the information to search for government guidelines planned to profit the general social welfare. The scope of sociology includes culture and deviance, social relations, social interaction and social stratification. The scope has also managed to reach into other distant subjects such as economics, health and scientific development.

A key factor in sociology is that society changes with time. Sociology is rooted in societal changes such as the industrial revolution and the scientific revolution that changes the attitudes, behavior and actions. Early sociologists such as Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx and Max Weber were concerned with the social processes that drove the change, for example, the attainment of social objectives, the creation of social classes and the pursuit for solidarity. Other founders such as C. Wright Mills proposed that individuals required a quality of mind that will assist them apply information to achieve logical presumptions of what is going on in the world. The social imagination enables its owner to appreciate the larger historical outlook in terms of its meaning for the inner life.

Sociology developed around the 19th century in an answer to the problems arising from modernity. Technological changes and increased mobility contributed to the increased exposure of people to societies and cultures, different from their own. The impact was varied, but for some people, the different cultures warranted an inner understanding of how the world works. Sociology was first introduced by Auguste Comte in 1978 and developed into quantitative and qualitative sociological approaches. Currently, sociology has evolved to investigate human, social life.

Introduction to Sociology/Society

            The basic definition of a society is a cluster of people sharing a definite area and a culture. Social structure refers to the patterns of relationships and behavior within a society. A society is therefore, not only a group of people and culture but also the institutions and relationships between all the entities. Sociology has a distinction between culture and society in that culture refers to the beliefs, values, norms, behaviors and meanings given to symbols in a society. All societies possess cultures and all cultures have societies. Social development is also discussed in the article. Social development is based on the works of Gerhard Lenski who outlined the organizational structures within societies.

Social development began with the hunter-gatherer way of life. This way of life was based on exploiting animals and plants. These societies are quite mobile and have flowing boundaries and structures. In these societies, the men hunt larger animals while the women and children collect nuts, roots and fruits. These societies are also nomadic in nature as they travel over vast distances. They also have smaller populations because of their subsistence nature. Prior to 13,000BCE, historical evidence points toward all human societies being hunter-gatherers. Currently, some societies are still embracing the same way of life.

Pastoralism is another way of life that is centralized on domesticated livestock. Pastoralists are similarly nomadic as they move seasonally in search of pastures and water for their livestock. Pastoralists often have a larger population than hunter-gatherers, and there is a development of both social divisions and hierarchies in labor due to a food surplus. Presently, some pastoralist societies still exist in parts of Australia where there are sheep stations, in Africa and parts of the Middle East. Horticulturalist societies depend on crop cultivation as the main form of activity.

Theories of culture and sociology

            The easiest way of understanding culture is through viewing the difference between nature and nurture. Culture refers to the abstract, social aspects of human life that are learnt by human beings. Cultures are more than objects or behaviors; they are values, expressive symbols, beliefs and norms. While norms are the way people conduct themselves within the society, values refer to what they hold most important in their lives. High culture refers to the understanding that some cultures are more civilized than others are. Theorists such as Matthew Arnold assumed that culture is created by the best that has been understood by the world. Other objects or aspects that do not fit this category were labeled chaotic.

Culture has a constantly changing face toward it. During the Romantic Era, most scholars developed a worldview perspective of culture. This approach distinguished between civilized and uncivilized cultures in the world. Later, the perspective evolved to include a wider variety of societies. This new perspective removed the discriminatory aspect of the worldview and proposed distinctions rather than ranking the cultures into superior and inferior cultures. The origins of culture could be explained using the argument that people living in different locations of the world develop different cultures.

Subcultures refer to cultures shared and embraced by a group of people within a larger culture. Subcultures often contain smaller parts of the same culture in which they exist although they may develop substantially to a point that they acquire their own names, for example, biking. Conversely, countercultures are subcultures that have the addition of values, norms or beliefs, for example, the hippie culture or the green movement.

The Misguided Advocates of Open Borders

            Australia has abandoned most of its traditional aspects located in its cultures mainly through immigration. The proposal of opening the borders and remove the restrictions on immigration was bound to have other problems, security excluded. There has been an argument that unrestricted immigration from poor to rich countries could serve as the best way to eradicate Third World poverty. Professor Bagaric from the Deakin University argued that national security, material prosperity and cultural traditions of Australians could be changed by opening up borders to immigrants.

Opening the border for immigration across Australia’s borders could have the effect of harming the national interests through a dysfunction of diversity. This includes the increasing imbalance in ethnic stratification that might result in one ethnic group dominating against another within Australia. Ethnic diversity is also closely related to slow economic growth, reduced democracy, increased corruption and organized crime and a higher risk of civil unrest. Unlimited immigration would therefore, be detrimental to first world countries specifically Australia.

There have been philosophical issues that have emerged because of the open immigration policy adopted by Australia. First, developed countries were not specifically keen at helping poor countries alleviate their problems by allowing them to mingle with develop cultures. Humanity also looses out by the overpopulation that would be created by the influx of immigrants into developed countries. Secondly, all societies prefer their own people as compared to people from other cultures. Historically, all human societies such as hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists have made certain areas their territories and severely defended them. This shows a reluctance to adopt mass immigration among early societies.


            There exists a distinction between gender and sex. Gender refers to the perceived component of human sexuality while sex refers to the biological aspect of a human being. Gender refers to a social construction that lacks in defining sex. In gaining a deeper understanding of sex, it can be dichotomized into two main areas: male and female. The female sex is defined by the one producing the reproductive cells that bear offspring. The male is responsible for producing the lesser gamete for fertilization to occur. In most mammals, sex is determined by the X and Y-chromosomes.

Gender is a more abstract feeling that an individual is either male or female. Social presentation best shows gender among people in a society. Gender roles are typically expressed through behavioral expectations and norms. People learn the expectations and norms that are required of them in the society and consequently adopt the behaviors that project the gender that they wish to portray. Gender roles are far more flexible than sexes in that they are easily malleable. However, gender involves parents, society, cultures and peers. An example of the difference between gender and sex is in the way a boy and a girl are physically having different features but may share similar gender roles such as dedication, humility or aggression.

Apart from the conventional gender roles, there are individuals experiencing gender discordance. These people do not conform to either male or female gender roles. These people may also have biological differences where males may possess female external genitals. The reverse is also true. The study of gender discordance is significant in understanding the emergence of gays and lesbians in the society. There are also differences in the biological and social behaviors among men and women who can be attributed to the roles played by the climatic conditions, as well as other factors.

Why Women Make Less than Men

            The discussion over why women were being paid less in salaries and other forms of reimbursements compared to their male counterparts, mentioned cultural and administrative factors as the reason behind the phenomenon. Women are increasingly viewing a highly paid career as beneficial to them to a point that most of them were ousting men from the positions. The gender hours has been cited as one of the measures that can be used to analyze the contribution by either gender in the workplace. It is common to hear that women earn $30 less than their male counterparts do for every hour that both genders work.

It was however, proven that women workers had a tendency of finishing their working hours earlier and logged out of the office leaving behind the male workers. Male workers were also the majority in the lists for extra hours worked. Children have been cited as the main reason as to why women left the workplace earlier than men did. To prove this, studies were done which revealed that childless female employees were more productive than their male counterparts were. The number of women who dropped out of their jobs and had wealthy husbands were also found to be on the increase over the last twenty years.

Gender activists provided two main solutions. One, that fathers should play an increased role in the lives of their children. This meant spending more time feeding, sharing and playing with them. This is because while men increase their hours at the workplace, women also contributed significantly to domestic activities. The next solution to closing the hour gap involves childcare policies and longer family leaves. Iceland and Sweden have been cited as the best models for these two programs that have ensured that families have ample time to spend with their members. Despite these measures, mother still tend to spend more time with their children, which reinforces the fact that they will usually produce less hours than men do.

Sex differences in humans

            Sex differences refer to the biological, psychological and mental differences that exist between men and women. Direct sex differences are mainly physical in nature. The differences in the X and Y-chromosomes determine whether an individual will end up a man or a woman. Indirect sex differences occur in the psychological distinctions that exist between men and women. The most glaring differences between the two include the reproductive roles, the internal and external genitals, difference in muscle, height and breasts.

Sex determination and differentiation consists of identifying the number of human chromosomes that are X or Y. A set of 23 chromosomes is contributed by the female while the other half originates from the male. The females contain two X chromosomes while the males carry one X and one Y-chromosome. Female eggs also contain one set of 23 chromosomes while the sperm has one set of 23 chromosomes, as well. When an egg fuses having a Y chromosome, the result is a male child while if the sperm contains an X chromosome, the result will be a female child. The whole process of gene selection in chromosomes is referred to as lyonisation.

Apart from these two expected results, a phenomenon called sexual dimorphism may occur. In such situations, the resulting child does not exhibit male or female features but may show a mixture of the two physically or psychologically. The subject of human sexual dimorphism has been very controversial in that, many doctors argue that such children cannot possess full function of the mental and physical abilities as either male or female. An example of dimorphism is in the human voice pitch where in the past, men had deep voices while women had high-pitched voices. Some males have been discovered to have high-pitched voices, as well. The physical differences are also significant, for example, the weight, size and shape of the body that differs according to the gender.

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