Although population growth has slowed in the United States, the world’s population of 6.5 billion in 2006 is increasing by more than 76 million people per year as a result of the larger number of births than deaths worldwide. What causes the population to grow rapidly in some nations? This question is of interest to scholars who specialize in the study of demography which is a subfield of sociology that examines population size, composition, and distribution. Many sociological studies use demographic analysis as a component of the research design because all aspects of social life are affected by demography. For example, an important relationship exists between population size and the availability of food, water, energy, and housing. Population size, composition, and distribution are also connected to issues such as poverty, racial and ethnic diversity, shifts in the age structure of society, and concerns about environmental degradation. Increases or decreases in population can have a powerful impact on the social, economic, and political structures of societies. As used by demographers, a population is a group of people who live in a specified geographic area. Changes in populations occur as a result of three processes: fertility, mortality, and migration.
Fertility is the actual lever of childbearing for an individual or a population. The level of fertility in a society is based on biological and social factors, the primary biological factor being the number of women of childbearing age. Fecundity is the potential number of children who could be born if every woman reproduced at her maximum biological capacity. Fertility rates are not as high as fecundity rates because people’s biological capabilities are limited by social factors such as practicing voluntary abstinence and refraining from sexual intercourse until an older age, as well as by contraception, voluntary sterilization, abortion, and infanticide. Additional social factors affecting fertility include significant changes in the number of available partners for sex and/or marriage, increases in the number of women of childbearing age in the work force, and high rates of unemployment. The most basic measure of fertility is the crude birth rate, the number of live births per 1,000 people in a population in a given year.
The primary cause of world population growth in recent years had been a decline in mortality, the incidence of death in a population. The simplest measure of mortality is the crude death rate, the number of deaths per 1,000 people in a population in a given year.
Migration is the movement of people from one geographic area to another for the purpose of changing residency. Migration affects the size and distribution of the population in a given area. Distribution refers to the physical location of people throughout a geographic area. In the united states, people are not evenly distributed throughout the country; many of us live in densely populated areas. Density is the number of people living in a specific geographic area. Migration may be either international or internal. Immigration is the movement of people into a geographic area to take up residency. Emigration is the movement of people out of a geographic are to take up residency elsewhere. Pull factors at the international level, such as a democratic government, religious freedoms, employment opportunities, or a more temperate climate, may draw voluntary immigrants into a nation. Push factors at the international level, such as political unrest, violence, war, famine, plagues, and natural disasters, any encourage people to leave one area and relocate elsewhere.
Changes in fertility, mortality, and migration affect the population composition, the biological and social characteristics of a population, including age, sex, race, marital status, education, occupation, income, and size of household. One measure of population composition is the sex ratio, the number of males for every hundred of females in a given population. The current distribution of a population can be depicted in a population pyramid, a graphic representation of the distribution of a population by sex and age.
Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.
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Crowds and Masses
By: Autumn Preston and Samantha Wheelbarger
Crowds and Masses are basically just groups but they do have a bit of a difference and very different categories in them.
Crowds, as stated in the Sociology book, are defined as a relatively large number of people who are in one another’s immediate vicinity. Crowds do not necessarily have to have the same interest in something but are just a number of people in the same area. Most of the people in groups seem to be more aggressive with all the other people than they would if they were alone. According to Sociologist Herbert Blumer there are four different categories of crowds: casual, conventional, expressive and acting. Some may add another category to this group and that would be protest crowds. An example of a crowd would be sitting at a football game in a huge stadium and everyone joins in with “the wave”. If you were to go to a hockey game and there is a few people in front of you getting into a fight then normally the whole crowd has to join in. Basically a crowd is just people in a large group with nothing actually in common.
A mass is a number of people who share on interest in a specific idea or issue but who are not in on another’s immediate vicinity. Mass behavior is a collective behavior that takes place when people respond to the same event. Most common mass behavior is rumors, gossip, mass hysteria, public opinion, fashions, and fads. If your favorite concert was playing in town then there will probably be from a different state or town but they like the same thing you are. If you were to go to a new school in completely different town and state, would you try to look and act like them. Would you try to fit in and not try to get stereotyped out? Everyone wants to try to be in the masses, the groups, the clicks; everyone wants to be the same. The masses of people who want to be the same are ridiculous.
Crowds never need any reason to be the same of try to fit in. They are just a bunch of people that happen to be in the same area. Masses on the other hand want to basically be clones of each other. They what to be the same but they do not necessarily be in the same area place at one time. Masses of people just share interest.
Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (478-503)
Kendall, Diana. Sociology In Our Times. 6th edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. (348-376)
Collective Behavior, Social Movements, and Social Change
By Shelly Aufrecht
On September 11, 2001 the people of New York City were going about their normal routines of going to work or getting their children to school. It was just another day in the lives of ordinary New York citizens. Then the unthinkable happened. Four jet liners were hijacked and two of them crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. An estimated 17,200 civilians were in the World Trade center complex at the time of the attacks. What happened after the first tower was hit would be considered mass hysteria. Mass hysteria is a form of dispersed collective behavior that occurs when a large number of people react with strong emotions and self-destructive behavior to a real or perceived threat. We all remember watching on television the reports of people jumping to their deaths from the burning buildings of the World Trade Center, as well as the people at ground level running for their lives as they fled the death and destruction of the collapsing buildings.
The men who hijacked the airliners and then pulling off this mission of destruction would come from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Terrorism is the calculated unlawful use of physical force or threats of violence against persons or property in order to intimidate or coerce a government, organization, or individual for the purpose of gaining some political, religious, economic or social objective. It took only a few hours and the FBI was able to determine the names, aliases, and possible nationalities of many of the 19 hijackers. Being that these 19 men were from other countries they can also be said to be part of a revolutionary movement. A revolutionary movement seeks to bring about a total change in society. The Al Qaeda members who used the terrorist tactics of kidnapping and hijacking do fall into this category.
In the days following the September 11 attacks Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden made several videos claiming responsibility for the attacks. These videos can be considered messages of propaganda. Propaganda is information provided by individuals or groups that have a vested interest in the furthering their own cause by damaging an opposing one. Also President George W. Bush’s approval rating soared to ninety percent. Public opinion is the attitudes and beliefs communicated by ordinary citizens to decisions makers. It is measured through polls and surveys.
Social Change is the alteration, modification, or transformation of public policy, culture, or social institutions over time. The September 11 attacks caused many changes in the United States. The country was brought together that day and a sense of patriotism swept across the nation. Volunteer fireman and police offices came to help with the search and recovery procedure. Blood donations saw a surge in the weeks following September 11. Many new policies also were put into effect because of the attack. The Department of Homeland Security was created at that time as well as the Patriot Act, as well as the invasion of Afghanistan, then later Iraq. Security at America’s airport tightened dramatically.
September 11, 2001 was a very sad day in American history. Along with the World Trade Center collapsing, the terrorists hijacked two more planes that were sub sequentially flown into the Pentagon and the other crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. A total of 2,977 people died that day excluding the hijackers. All the deaths were civilians except for 55 military personnel that were killed at the Pentagon. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the World Trade Center. It is just very sad that so many people had to lose their lives over someone’s radical beliefs.
Sociology in our Times, 7th Edition, Diana Kendall