Sociology in Our Times

Welcome to Sociology

The Study of Society.

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Sociology focuses on identifying, explaining, and interpreting patterns and processes of human social relations. This introductory course is designed not just to teach you some of the major findings of sociology, but to help you master fundamental sociological skills, including the ability to think with a "sociological imagination" as well as integrate "technological fluency" with "informational literacy" utilizing basic computer-based data analysis—skills which have broad applicability in a range of educational and work settings.

Our goal in this class is for you to gain a different perspective of a diverse world often taken
for granted and to gain new insight into the ways that society shapes people and the way people shape their society. Our objectives are directed at building competence as a critical thinker and change agent so that you will better able to raise relevant questions about the direction in which society is moving, interpret social trends, and examine significant social problems.

It is my hope that this hands-on experience of "doing" sociology will both enliven your interest in sociological analysis and help you develop practical skills that you can use in other contexts as well. We can best understand the process of social interaction when we understand the person in place and in time. Our syllabus sets the place, time and process of this course for you the person.

Welcome to my world, your world, our world.
Suzi Calliham
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Genie

By Quinnyln Woofter & Oriana Beltran

How Genie was Found
Dorothy, Genie’s mother, had eventually left Clark. When she left she ended up taking Genie with her and they moved in with Dorothy’s mother. Dorothy almost blind was looking for assistance. Dorothy, her mother, and Genie came to the Social Welfare office in Temple City, California. This is where she was found by a social worker. Genie’s story was starting to unravel.

After Genie was Found
Genie was moved to the Children’s Hospital, at first. Later, Genie was placed in the home of one of her rehabilitation therapists, Jeanne Butler. She had improved greatly. Genie had troubles though adjusting to new situations. She was not potty trained so would often pee on the floor. However, Bulter was denied of foster care rights because she was her therapist. She was then moved into the home of Dr. David Rigler and his family. They also worked as at the Children’s Hospital. Bulter believed they took Genie because she would not allow her to be used as a human guinea pig.

Living Conditions
Genie was in total confinement with her only contact being her abusive father. Genie was locked in a room from the time she was two till being found at age thirteen by a social worker. That is eleven years of no social interaction. Her room held a crib that was transformed into a cage with wire and a potty chair along with bare walls. She would be strapped to the potty chair all day and at night her arms were restrained while sleeping in the cage with a sleeping bag. Her diet consisted of soft foods like baby food and types of cereal. She had nothing to play with except plastic food tubs and raincoats, not typical types of toys for children. Genie’s living conditions were horrible and had a major impact on her life. Clark was locking her up to protect her from danger of the world, which actually made her world worse.

Problems of Genie
Genie had several problems due to her living conditions, along with neglect. When she was found she could not talk because of being in confinement, she could only whimper. She had physical features of a six year old, although, she was actually thirteen. She had the brain of a toddler. She was never potty trained and could not control her bowel movements. Genie had problems with walking; she could not stand straight up. She would hold her arms up bent at the elbow.
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Brain Development
Below is a picture; it is of a normal and extreme neglect of a child’s brain, because of Genie’s lifestyle her brain never received stimulation it needed in order to develop properly. When Genie was found she was given an IQ test; in 1971 she had an IQ of 38, in 1972 an IQ of 53, in 1974 it was a 65, in 1977 it was 77. However, when it came to tasks using the left hemisphere she never improved, at age 20 she was still performed at a three year-old level.

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Genie’s Family
Genie’s family consisted of her parents Dorothy and Clark along with her brother John. Clark and Dorothy actually had to more kids before that died. The first child died after being placed in a dresser drawer when she came down with a childhood illness. Their second child died after he “choked on his own mucus.” John was their third child and is still alive today. John was allowed to lead a somewhat normal life. He did attend school but kept his family secret out of fear from his father.

Genie’s Father
Genie’s father, Clark, is the cause of her neglect. He had total control over Genie, her mother, and older brother. It is hard to understand how this went on as long as it did, but when you look into it he used force and power over them to keep it a secret. Clark never liked children, although, he ended up having four, two of which died. Clark seemed to have had problems dealing with the death of his mother who got hit and killed by a car. After being caught Clark killed himself before he went to court. He left a note saying, “no one will ever understand.”

Genie's Life Now
Genie now lives in Southwestern California in a sheltered home. It is her sixth adult foster home. Genie’s mother died in 2003. There is also a movie based on Genie’s life, Mockingbird Don’t Cry.

Works Cited
http://highschoolbioethics.georgetown.edu/units/unit3_4.html
http://kccesl.tripod.com/genie.html
http://www.mymultiplesclerosis.co.uk/misc/wild-child.html
http://www.countyhistorian.com/cecilweb/index.php/Genie_Wiley
Sociology in Our Times


Families
by Emily Harre and Steph Mehlus

Traditional Nuclear Families in America

When someone mentions the word family, people automatically think of a close nit group consisting of a Mother, Father and their biological children. It is what we perceive as being right or the norm. But is it a necessity? Pioneer anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1913) stated that the nuclear family had to be universal because it filled a basic biological need—caring for and protecting infants and young children. No culture could survive, he asserted, unless the birth of children was linked to both mother and father in legally based parenthood. But that was before the industrial revolution. Then, families were very agriculturally based. They raised large amounts of children to help with the many challenges that come with owning a family farm. Their social networks consisted of just them and their large extended family. After the revolution, many families moved into town and downsized because of the small living spaces. They began to spend less time with their extended family, and more time socializing with neighbors’ and friends.
Today, this is the most modern type of family in almost all societies. Evidence suggests that since the 1960s family structure is becoming ever more diverse. However, as Robert Chester points out, although there might be more diversity, most of us will still be brought up, at the end of the day, in a typical nuclear family with both our biological parents who are married and living under the same roof. Families have children based on their economic stability and children tend to stay with their parents longer. Still, families today are generally more compassionate and caring than in earlier years. The nuclear family is normally a nurturing environment where children can be raised as long as there is love, devotion to spending time with them, emotional and educational support, and a stable economic environment throughout the years. Parents also pass on their values of religion, work ethic, and responsibility. They teach their children what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Also, they provide a stable emotional environment for their children. Still, each parent has their own rolls as well as working together. The father is usually responsible for providing some sort of income, along with protecting the family. And the mother, in most traditional families, is responsible for housework and motherhood. But today, most mothers raise their children until they go to school, then get full or part time job as well.
And still, the definition of a nuclear family is still changing. Some sociologists’ today sate that a nuclear family does not have to consist of their biological children, or contain both a mother and a father. What is clear is that, with rising divorce-rates and the ageing of the population, the nuclear family is no longer the norm in either Britain or America. Many parents have become more career oriented, and children are involved in more school and community activities. Children turn to close friends for comfort and support as well as their family, and they have more freedom when it comes to making their own decisions. They usually have a choice of where they want to continue their future education, and whether or not they want to start a family of their own. It’s obvious that times are changing and families are becoming more diverse everywhere. But, they are still a family. They will always have a mother and a father to turn to, and still hold most of the same core values they were taught as a child. They’re all working to achieve the American dream in the fast paced society we live in today.
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Untraditional Families in America

In days gone by when the word family was mentioned the picture of a husband, wife, and children would pop into ones mind. In today’s world however, the lines distinguishing what a family is have been blurred or broken in many occasions. It seems that yesterday’s “Traditional Family” has become today’s “Untraditional Family.”
Most people, during their lifetime, will be a part of two different family groups. A family of orientation that they are born into and are socialized in as young children, and a family of procreation that a person creates when they decided to have or adopt children. In both family groups it is assumed that the “family” is made up of a husband and wife unit and their biological or adopted children. But what happens when the family isn’t traditional? When it isn’t a man and woman and their children?
The increasing number of contemporary families do not fit the two traditional categories listed above has prompted some sociologists to create a new family unit, families we choose, to encompass contemporary families consisting of gay men and lesbians as well as other non traditional social arrangements. As well as including blood and legal ties families we choose also includes fictive kin, or people who are accepted as family, or kin, even though they are not related by blood.
Still there are Untraditional Families that do not fit into any of the categories listed above. There are some families that choose to remain childless and are made up of only a husband and wife, other families consist of only a single parent and their children, while other families have multiple husbands and wives and their children.

In the three family units listed above monogamy, or the marriage of usually one man and one woman, is practiced. There are however relationships and marriages when one person of the same sex is married to more than one person of the opposite sex at the same time. Polygyny, for example, is the marriage of one man to two or more women at the same time. Polyandry on the other hand is the marriage of one woman to two or men at the same time. However instances of polyandry are much more rare and typically occur in societies where women greatly outnumber men. The practices of having multiple spouses is less prevalent in America however because of the high cost associated with having multiple children with multiple women.
According to psychologist Bernice Lott (1994: 155), people’s perceptions about what constitutes a family will continue to change in the future:
Persons on whom one can depend for emotional support, who are available in crisis and emergencies, or who provide continuing affections, concern, and companionship can be said to make up a family. Members of such a group may live together in the same household or in separate households, alone or with other. They may be related by birth, marriage, or a chosen commitment to one another that has not been legally formalized.
In many families these changes are already becoming clear. The Traditional families of yesterday are fast becoming the Untraditional families of today as more and more people take the concept of a family and make it their own.
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C, Jay. The Nuclear Family. 6/23/2004.
http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/6-23-2004-55793.asp.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times: 7th Edition.
Belmont CA, Wadsworth, Cenegage Learning 2010, 2007


Gangs
By:Kyle Cox

Much has been said and written during the past several years about the gang influence in major cities in the U.S. Some has been factual in nature while much has been fictional. Criminal gangs and their associates have the potential to be very dangerous, however, most are not. While many local gang members exist for the social status of membership, others are involved in petty crimes (theft, vandalism, burglary) that are property related, and very few are involved in crimes of violence, such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, and murder.

Some people may say that we need to put them all in prison but, "Incarceration does little to disrupt the violent activities of gang-affiliated inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons report, The Influence of Prison Gang Affiliation on Violence and Other Prison Misconduct, 2001, indicates that gang affiliation increases the likelihood of prison violence and other forms of misconduct. The trouble does not end when gang members are released from prison. According to the Highlights of the 2000 National Youth Gang Survey, "seventy-two percent of respondents reported that gang members who returned to the community from prison had a negative impact on youth gang problems, whereas 7 percent reported no impact and 21 percent reported that they could not make a determination. Among agencies that reported an impact, 30 percent reported that returning gang members greatly contributed to the growth of drug trafficking, 19 percent reported that they greatly contributed to an increase in violence among local gangs, and 12 percent reported that they greatly increased local gang access to weapons."

FACTS
Many of these groups:

  • Act in ways that harm public health and public morals, and drive out businesses.
  • Reach into nearly every city and town, and into every high school in the country today.
  • Make people in their city, town, or neighborhood feel fearful and endangered.
  • Are recruiting children at record rates.
  • Have drug trafficking as their main occupation.
  • Come from many ethnic groups and in many cases are networking across the country.
  • Are composed primarily of boys, but 10% of gang members are girls and the number is growing.

At least 400,000 youths are currently in gangs nationwide." FBI statistic cited in 1996 report to Senate Judiciary Committee by Senator Dianne Feinstein.

"Unless we act now to stop young people from choosing a life of violence and crime, the beginning of the 21st century could bring levels of violent crime to our community that far exceed what we have experienced." Attorney General Janet Reno.

"Gangs have been a major cause of the growth in violent crime in the past decade." Vice President Albert Gore, 1994.

What Are The Key Dangers of Gangs?

  • Gang activity is dangerous to gang members and to their families. It is dangerous to neighborhoods, towns,
  • and cities. It affects society as a whole.
  • In order to join, new members go through an initiation, which can range from fighting other gang members to participating in thefts, gang rapes, drive-by shootings, or even murders.
  • Gang members use alcohol and drugs.
  • Gangs deal drugs and try to sell them on the street, even to young children. Worse yet, they trick children into trying drugs to get them "hooked."
  • Gang members get badly hurt or killed during gang fights and criminal acts.
  • Families of gang members often become targets of violence when gangs are feuding.
  • Gangs rely on weapons, especially guns. Anyone, not only gang members can be injured in a gang related crime or a fight between rival gangs.
  • Gangs gain control over an area by using force and making people afraid. The area becomes their turf, where they sell drugs and commit other crimes.
  • Where there are gangs, the crime rate rises. Crimes range from damaging public property and selling and using drugs, to committing murder.
  • Gangs look down on the school system. Youths in gangs do poorly in school or drop out entirely.
  • A large number of persistent and dangerous juvenile gang offenders become even more serious adult offenders.

About 20,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs with approximately 1 million members are criminally active in the U.S. today. Many are sophisticated and well organized; all use violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal money-making activities, which include drug trafficking, robbery, theft, fraud, extortion, prostitution rings, and gun trafficking.

http://www.policyalmanac.org/crime/archive/gangs.shtml
www.greensboro-nc.gov/departments/police/citizens/gangs
www.ci.redwood-city.ca.us/police/gang-info.html


Prejudice

By: Peggy Nichols and Nick Winters
There are many different ideas of what the meaning of prejudice is, but the correct sociological definition is “A negative attitude based on faulty generalizations about members of specific racial, ethnic or other groups.”

Stereotypes:
Stereotyping is over generalizations about the appearance of the behavior or other characteristics of members of particular categories. Some examples of negative stereotyping take place in the sport world. A lot of teams have mascots such as the Atlanta braves, Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins, which some Native Americans claim it trivialize and exploit native American culture. In conflicts, people tend to develop overly-negative images of the other side. The opponent is expected to be aggressive, self-serving, and deceitful, for example, while people view themselves in completely positive ways. These stereotypes tend to be self-perpetuating. If one side assumes the other side is deceitful and aggressive, they will tend to respond in a similar way. The opponent will then develop a similar image of the first party, and the negative stereotypes will be confirmed. They may be growing worse, as communication is shut down and escalation heightens emotions and tension. there are more subtle forms of bias, such as those based on people's gender, national origin or occupation. For instance, Asians are expected to be shrewd and reserved, Americans arrogant and materialistic, Central Americans disorganized and impractical. Such biases are more difficult to recognize, yet are a fact of life. These biases can affect how negotiators see others. They can also affect how negotiators see themselves, and so lead to self-defeating expectations. Negotiators may expect to be the object of others' prejudices, and so may expect to be ignored or dismissed. several ways of combating these subtle biases. The basic tactic is to focus on the particular individual, rather than on their ethnic or national background. Remember that there are often greater differ differences within a group than between groups. Productive interactions between different groups can also counteract stereotypes. Recognizing that you yourself might hold or be the victim of biases is the first and most crucial step in combating prejudice.

Racism:
Racism is a set of attitudes beliefs and practices that is used to justify superior treatment of one racial or ethnic group and the inferior treatment of another racial or ethnic group. Racism has existed throughout human history. It may be defined as the hatred of one person by another or the belief that another person is less than human, because of skin color, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person. It has influenced wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes. During the past 500-1000 years, racism on the part of Western powers toward non-Westerners has had a far more significant impact on history than any other form of racism, such as racism among Western groups or among Easterners, such as Asians, Africans, and others. The most notorious example of racism by the West has been slavery; particularly the enslavement of Africans in the New World, slavery itself dates back thousands of years. This enslavement was accomplished because of the racist belief that Black Africans were less fully human than white Europeans and their descendants.

Oscar Grant
Young Oscar Grant was shot and killed in full view of the public and multiple videocameras shown for the world to see by former Bart county cop Johannes Mehserle in collaboration with a gang of other Bart county police officers. As the Mehserle defense attempts to make their case to win a change of venue, citing "racial polarization," threats of violence and other arguments to win a change of venue, we must remember that African people and victims of police violence in this country have historically not been given a fair trial. In fact, the state apparatus protects itself. It is a rare occurrence to even have a police officer stand trial for the "use of deadly force." History shows that police are systematically acquitted of murder. Oscar Grant and his friends were in the Bart train station, following police orders according to Oscars friends and eye witnesses, when all of the sudden an officer placed his knees into Grant’s neck, stepped back and shot his weapon without any hesitation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmJukcFzEX4

Racism is everywhere and everyone has some sort of connection to either someone who is racist or who is on the lower side of racism (being discriminated against). You cannot see racism from the outer shell, often times you will find people you never thought would be racist are. Even the people we have been told we can trust and look up to can be racist. Racism also is not just in the United States it is all over the entire world. From the institutionalized racism, especially in colonial times, when racial beliefs, even eugenics were not considered something wrong, to recent times where the effects of neo-Nazism is still felt. Europe is a complex area with many cultures in a relatively small area of land that has seen many conflicts throughout history. A very well known event that shows both racism and stereotyping is the Holocaust. The Holocaust is the term generally used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, its allies, and collaborators. This is probably one of the biggest historical events that has impacted our world today.

An Example of a widely known racist group is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The first branch of the Ku Klux Klan was established in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May, 1866. A year later a general organization of local Klans was established in Nashville in April, 1867. Most of the leaders were former members of the Confederate Army. During the next two years Klansmen wearing masks, white cardboard hats and draped in white sheets, tortured and killed black Americans and sympathetic whites. The present-day Ku Klux Klan is not one organization. Rather it is made up of small independent chapters across the United States. The formation of independent chapters has made the KKK groups more difficult to infiltrate and researchers find it hard to estimate its numbers. KKK members have stepped up recruitment in recent years but the organization continues to grow slowly, with membership estimated at 5,000–8,000 members.

Theories of prejudice:
Some theories of prejudice focus on how individuals may transfer their psychological problem onto an external object or person (family, friends ect.). Others look at factors such as social learning and personality types. The frustration- aggression hypothesis states that people who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve highly desired goal will respond with a pattern of aggression with others. The object of their aggression becomes the scapegoat (A person or group that is incapable of offering resistance to the hostility or aggression of others). Scapegoats are often used as substitutes for the actual source of the frustration. For example, members of subordinate racial and ethnic groups are often blamed for societal problems over which they have no control. Symbolic interactionists believe prejudice is learned from learning and imitating significant others such as parents and peers. Psychologist Theodor W. Adorno concluded that highly prejudice individuals tend to have an authoritarian personality which Is characterized by excessive conformity, submissiveness to authority and tolerance insecurity a high level of superstition and ridged stereotypic thinking. This type of personality is most likely to develop in a family environment in which dominating parents who are anxious about status and physical discipline but show little love in raising their children.

Education and religion
By Tatiana Bartruff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRhwsPbvrgY

What is education? According to the text book, education is a social systemiac transmission of knowledge, skills, and cultural values. Religion on the other hand is a system of beliefs, symbols, and rituals, gives meaning to life and unites communites. Many conflicts in school are because of what the students believe in, as in religion.
In 1800's when education was first introduced, teachers mostly taught religion. As years go by, schools gradually took religion out of schools and focused on the basic subjects like: math, reading, writing, science, ect.
Now schools have many conflicts and debates on religion in schools. It's forbidden to even say the Pledge of Alligence because it says "under God". Many people also hate how teachers teach Darwin's theory of evolution. It's prohibited to preach about a religion but can we talk about other religions and their culturals? In private or christian schools, yes it's fine but public schools? No not so much. In Illinios, the school wanted to have just a moment of silence every morning in school. But an athiest daughter and father took it to court saying any kind of religion needs to be separate from education.
Another conflict is having bible studies in school after school is in session. Is that ok? As for now their are no problems.
I believe this conflict of religion in schools will always occur.

Works Cited:
Sociology in our times. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Diana Kendall, 2007. Print.
Youtube. 5 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmJukcFzEX4>.
Wikipedia. William Simmons. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan>.

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