Sociology Exam

1 January 2017

Cooley’s concept of the “looking-glass self” contains three elements. First, we imagine how we appear to those around us. Second, we interpret others’ reactions to us. Third, we develop a self-concept from those reactions. The self-concept development begins in childhood, but it is a lifelong, ongoing process. That means that a student in a new college setting will experience different things that affect one’s self-concept. For example, a student who constantly arrives late to class and is greeted with eye-rolls from other students might interpret this negative reaction from his or her peers and develop a negative self-image.

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On the opposite end, a student who receives praise for his or her work or participation in a lecture would improve their self-image. One huge change for many students entering college is their exposure to different cultures. Most college campuses are very diverse, with a number of international or exchange students. Bunker Hill Community College is a prime example of this type of setting. People can be prone to ethnocentrism, or a tendency to use our own group’s ways of doing things as a yardstick for judging others.

You could walk into a classroom and find ten different cultures being represented, each with a different way of dress, language, and behaviors. However, the academic classroom should be a place of equality. After all, everyone is in that room for a common purpose: to learn. So we all must practice cultural relativism, or try to understand the different cultures on their own terms, instead of comparing them to our own, and not judge the other people in the room by comparing their culture as better or worse than our own. This will help with treating all fellow classmates and faculty as equals. Option 3:

I visited a Brazilian community in Somerville for my participant observation project. This is a great example of a subculture, or a world with the larger world of the dominant culture. Culture, as defined by Henslin, is the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, ad even material objects that are passed from one generation to the next. In this case, the dominant culture is middle-class American. The subculture is the tight knit Brazilian community in Union Square. When doing research like this, it is important to keep an open mind, and not judge another culture by measuring against our own.

We need to view the culture being observed and try to understand it on its own terms, not by comparing it to ours. This is the concept behind using cultural relativism to combat ethnocentrism. The Sociological Research Model has eight steps. The third step is “Review the Literature”, to find out what has already been published on the topic you are researching. In the participant observation activity I conducted, I did not use this step. This was an activity for me to observe a neighborhood with a new, different perspective than I might have previously used.

If I had looked up what other people thought about the Brazilian subculture in Somerville, it would have taken away from me forming my own opinions and making my own observations on the community and culture I observed there. Option 5: Microsociology is the analysis of social life that focuses on social interaction, what people do when they are in one another’s presence. This method of analysis is used particularly by symbolic interactionists. According to Henslin, symbolic interactionists are especially interested in the symbols people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another.

Some of the concepts they study include stereotypes, personal space, touching, and eye contact. All of these areas are involved and can be analyzed in the scope of the dating process. A stereotype is an assumption of what someone is like, whether true or false. Stereotypes tend to go hand in hand with first impressions. When you meet someone, it is hard not to make assumptions about them based on appearance, ethnicity, etc. This can affect how you behave toward someone you are meeting on a first date (or whether you would go out on a first date with them to begin with! If your date shows up in sweatpants, you might assume they are sloppy or lazy. If they show up to a casual date in a bar wearing a suit and tie, you might think they are uptight or “stuffy”. In addition to stereotypes, personal space, eye contact, and touching are subjects that play a roll in the dating process. On a first date, these are probably on the minimal/conservative side. There is more formality, more distance between the two parties, less eye contact, and less touching. However, as the relationship progresses, they become less formal and more intimate, i. . more direct eye contact, standing closer together, holding hands, etc. For me, an example of deviant behavior when it comes to dating would be cheating, in any form. I would expect my partner to be 100% loyal and faithful to me. This view of deviance, however, is relative. As Henslin states, because different groups and societies have different norms, what is deviant to some is not deviant to others. Some cultures view multiple partners as a positive, normal way of life. A prime example of this type of culture is the polygamist sect of Mormons.

Positive and negative sanctions to consider before going on a date could be mild, like thinking about what facial expressions you are wearing, and considering the expressions being made at you. Smiles can be considered positive sanctions, while a disapproving frown would be negative. Option 6: Robert Merton developed the Strain Theory, which helps explain how mainstream value can generate crime. As a society, we have cultural goals that most people desire-being successful in some way, such as attaining wealth or prestige.

However, access to institutionalized means, or legitimate ways to reach those goals, are not always as easily accessible. Merton analyzed socialization into success and the blocked access to said success in developing his theory. “Strain” refers to the frustrations people feel when they want success but find their way to it is blocked. People react differently to this strain. Some people don’t even feel the strain. These people fall into the category of conformists, using socially acceptable means to reach cultural goals. Merton then identified four “deviant” reactions to the strain.

These paths include innovation (accepting cultural goals but rejecting institutionalized means), ritualism (rejecting cultural goals but accepting institutionalized means), retreatism (rejecting both cultural goals and institutionalized means), and rebellion (rejecting and replacing cultural goals and institutionalized means. I followed the typical route to achieve my desired cultural goals. After I graduated high school I went to a 4-year university and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, a respectable major. Upon graduation I got a job at a top Boston hospital conducting brain tumor research. Again, a very respectable and admired job.

So far, I was a conformist. After some time at this job, I began to feel financial pressure. My undergraduate student loans reached the end of their grace period and I had a mountain of bills to pay every month. On top of this, I had realized that while I respected and appreciated the research others were doing, I had no interest in conducting my own. I had reached a juncture in my life. I could stay in the field of research, even though I didn’t enjoy it and would probably never run my own lab. I have now learned that this would have been considered a “deviant” option, and I would have fallen under the “ritualist” category.

However, I opted for another path. I quit my job (with a 2 month notice to find and train a suitable replacement), turned my part time bartending job into a full time job, and began pursuing another degree. I chose the path of conformity. I did not really have any positive or negative sanctions influencing my decision to be deviant or not. I got many positive sanctions for my research position, and probably would have continued to do so even if I stayed with that job. It was entirely an inner struggle and I came to the decision on my own.

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