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Transcript of AS Sociology
1. What is culture?
Spec Link: Different conceptions of culture, including subculture, mass culture, high and low culture, popular culture, global culture
2. The Socialisation Process
Spec Link: The socialisation process and the role of the agencies of socialisation.
Unit 1: Culture and Identity SCLY 1
Culture and Identity
Different conceptions of culture, including subculture, mass culture, high and low culture, popular culture, global culture.
The socialisation process and the role of the agencies of socialisation.
Sources and different conceptions of the self, identity and difference.
The relationship of identity to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexuality and social class in contemporary society.
Leisure, consumption, and identity.
For more information visit: http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects/specifications/alevel/AQA-2190-W-SP-14.PDF
For Past exam papers visit;
The exam is one hour long.
You will answer five questions worth a total of 60 marks. The marks are broken down as follows:
• 2 marks
• 4 marks
• 6 marks
• 24 marks
• 24 marks
You will be awarded marks for achieving the “Assessment Objectives”:
AO1: demonstrating the knowledge and understanding of the theories, methods and concepts.
AO2: demonstrating the skills of application, analysis, interpretation and evaluation.
refers to the language, beliefs, values and norms, customs, dress, diet, roles, knowledge and skills that make up the "way of life" of any society.
What is your culture?
How do we learn our culture?
There are, however different types of culture.
The dominant culture.
This is the main culture of a society which is generally shared by the majority of people.
What is the dominant culture in the UK?
What would Sociologists say?
Is a smaller culture held by a group of people within the main culture of society. This normally occurs in a larger society with a diversity of people. The group have developed some distinct beliefs and way of life that are different from the mainstream.
Can you think of any examples?
How do their norms and
3. Folk Culture:
Folk culture is distinct to a particular community and is rooted in the experiences, customs and beliefs of the every day lives of that community. It is authentic rather than manufactured. It is passed on from generation to generation through socialisation and experience.
Can you think of any examples of folk culture?
High Culture, Pop Culture, Mass Culture, Low Culture.
: seen by some as superior, the culture of the elite.
: the common culture of the majority of people, enjoyed and accessible to all.
: the culture of the day, what is popular
seen as inferior, looked down on by most
How cultured are you???
4. High Culture
The tastes of the wealthy and educated.
Seen as superior and valued more.
Has lasting artistic or literary value
Aimed at small intellectual elites
Sponsored by government
In specialist places (galleries, music halls, museums)
Requires a particular kind of education.
Some Sociologists, particularly Marxists have argued that understanding of high culture provides some advantages.
sites this as a reason why middle class children achieve more in school, because they have "
5. Mass, Popular and Low Culture
These terms are often used interchangeably to describe "everyday culture". Culture that is undemanding, easy to understand, entertainment. They are seen as
to appeal to the masses.
However, there are some subtle differences:
- is the more
culture of the masses
- tends to be more transient, short lived, trivial- what is popular
- tends to be looked down on by the rest of society.
see this distinction between high culture and mass culture as a tool of control.
Mass culture allegedly focuses the mind on celebrities and materialism and stops the working class from thinking for themselves which could lead to rebellion against the inequality of society.
AO2: Is there still such a big distinction between high culture and mass culture?
6. Global Culture - are we all becoming the same?
Past Exam Questions:
Identify two characteristics of mass culture. (4 marks)
Explain what is meant by ‘global culture’ (2 marks)
Identify two characteristics of folk culture. (4 marks)
Explain what is meant by ‘subculture’. (2 marks)
What is Socialisation?
What are norms and values?
Who, what, where, how are we socialised?
- is the process of learning the norms and values of the culture that we live in.
-the expected behaviours of our culture. Particularly strong norms are called
are the beliefs we have about what is important in our culture e.g. financial success, marriage, education
where, when, how?
-Socialisation is taught through the
agencies of socialisation
, including: the family, school, work place, religion, the mass media, the legal system...etc.
“Becoming a human is not just about being born. Its all about becoming a social being, which happens through interactions between the child and those around it”
George Herbert MEAD 1863 - 1931
Who were the biggest influences on your life from the age of 0-10?
When did you learn the difference between right and wrong? How?
How did you learn that girls wear skirts and boys don't?
In the family home
Basic skills, language,
norms and values
Children learn through imitation
are used to reinforce
Through trial and error, infants learn what is appropriate behaviour.
During primary socialisation, infants begin to learn what it means to be a girl or boy.
How do they learn this?
What do the Sociologists have to say about Primary Socialisation?
What happens when a child is not socialised?
During Secondary Socialisation, we learn the norms and values of society.
However each society has a complex system of norms, values, mores, rules, laws, folkways......how many of those terms do we know?
- written codes of conduct ( can include laws)
- Are taken for granted, not written down and provide the expectations for how we will behave in a certain social situation.
a system of rules and guidelines, formally enforced by formal agencies of social control.
Parents encourage behaviour that is normal for a child’s sex. (Praise)
Parents discourage different behaviour. (disapproval/punishment)
Which of these typically belongs to which gender?
Wanting to look like a prince/princess
Playing with bugs
Playing with make up
Children are ‘channelled’ to certain toys and activities by their parents.
Which of these are boy’s toys? Which are girl’s toys? Why?
The way we talk to children can show how important gender is.
We use gender in our praise
Children are encouraged to do different things.
Girls are expected to help their mother.
Boys are given more freedom outdoors.
Can you think of any more examples?
Globalisation-growing interconnectedness and interdependence of societies across the world.
Post Modernists are another type of Sociologist. They believe that in a post-modern world, there is increasing individualism. They believe the social institutions no longer exist as communitarianism has diminished.
They focus on the rise of the media, materialism and consumerism.
They believe we no longer learn our culture and identity but buy it.
• Adorno criticised popular music for offering the working class easy pleasure by producing a simplified type of music in order to make a profit. He argued that all popular music is simple in structure and just variations on the same theme. Over time this ‘debased’ culture stops them being able to appreciate more complex musical forms. The cultural commodities circulated by the mass media, made the working class docile and content and willing to accept life in an unfair social system.
Some Sociologists have used the phrase, "Glocal" to describe the global culture.
This combines the words global and local.
What do you think it means?
Topic 3 – Different Concepts of Identity
Specification Link- Sources and different conceptions of the self, identity and difference.
AO1: be able to define and explain the different concepts of Identity
AO2: to be able to assess the different sociological approaches to explaining Identity.
Definitions you need to know:
Stigmatised or spoiled identities
Use the card sort to find the right definition for each.
How do other Sociologists view culture?
See culture as a way of enabling social order and cohesion. Culture disseminates collective beliefs. If we share common beliefs, norms and values with those in our society, we are able to work together and keep society stable. Therefore culture has a positive function and is a necessity in society.
Are also structuralists so they also see culture as a way of sharing norms values and beliefs. However, as they are conflict theorists, they see these norms and values as an ideological tool of the bourgeoisie to maintain the status quo
For example- mass culture focuses the mind on celebrities and gossip and distracts the working class from the inequality they are suffering.
Bordieu suggests that the cultural capital gained by understanding high culture enables middle and upper class students to perform better in school.
Feminists see culture as maintaining the status quo of patriarchal society. Through our cultural practices and beliefs, women are taught to fulfil specified roles in society.
Mass culture often represents women in these limited roles.
Socialisation and Identity.
Is identity something we are born with?
Identity is Socially constructed.
Even characteristics we are born with like our gender or skin colour, only have meaning because society has attached a meaning to them.
Jenkins- identities are formed in the socialisation process. Through learning their culture, and through their involvement with other individuals, social groups and subcultures, people come to develop ideas of what makes them similar to, or different from others and identities are formed.
The role of Socialisation in the formation of identity.
Strinati (1995) now argues that elements of high culture have now become part of popular culture and elements of polar culture are incorporated into high culture. E.g.: Andy Warhol’s work of the Mona Lisa in different colours has been marketed to millions and at the same time is widely admired by supporters of high culture.
Identity is created by wider social forces.
The agencies of socialisation manipulate people into identities.
By teaching collective, cultural norms and values, our identity is restricted. Identity is handed down to us, based on sources like social class, ethnicity, gender and age. We must conform or face a negative sanction.
How can we criticise this?
Structural approaches ignore free will.
They ignore the fact we can make choices and challenge and disobey social rules.
Social Action Approaches
Take a micro approach and focus on the individual, their interpretation and interaction with the world around them. Identity is something we create rather than having forced on us.
Norms values and roles are guidelines that the individual can interpret individually.
The "looking glass self"
As we grow we develop a self concept- what makes us different from other people.
As we interact with other people, we develop a sense of what others think of us.
Cooley- we see an impression of our self reflected from other peoples opinions of us. We then adapt out identity accordingly
We try and manage the impression
we give to other people.
All the world is a stage - we use props and costumes to manage the impression we give to other people.
We change the impression we give between the "front region" and "back region". The front region is where we perform our expected role, the person we want to present publicly. The back region is where we present a more personal, realistic version of our self.
Labelling Theory - Becker
When someone goes against the expected norms and values, they are labelled as "deviant".
Being labelled as a deviant overrides all the individuals other self concepts and identities. The individual is no longer a father, or manager or football player but only seen as and sees self as deviant. This becomes the "Master Status".
As a result, this person becomes isolated and discriminated against and may turn to others with a deviant identity and form a subculture.
Labelling can also lead to "self fulfilling prophecy".
Because the deviant is edged out of society, they have less opportunities. They may also associate with other deviants.
This can lead to MORE deviant activity.
Individuals are seen as having too much control. The threat of negative sanctions in society does control our behaviour. Not enough attention has been given to power inequalities in society and the way the agencies of social control can manipulate us. Factors such as class, gender and ethnicity have been ignored.
1. True or False?
A stigmatised identity is one that is seen as demeaning. (1 mark)
2. Explain what is meant by social identity. (4 marks)
3. Give three examples of collective identities. (3 marks)
4. Explain the difference between the structural approach and the social action approach to explaining identity formation. (2 marks)
5. What is the master status? (2 marks)
6. What did Goffman mean by impression management?
7. Give one criticism of structural approaches.
8. Give one criticism of social action approaches.
Specification link: The relationship of identity to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexuality and social class in contemporary society.
The identities that people adopt are formed within the cultures and subcultures to which they belong. One of the most traditional factors that have had a major effect on people’s identity is their social class.
What is Social Class?
It is a form of stratification (dividing society into layers) used in Britain, based on an individuals economic situation. It takes into account a persons income, wealth and occupation.
How do we measure it?
In the past many sociologists used the Registrar General’s Scale to measure class. There is also a more contemporary scale known as the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification.
Homework task :
Find out how these scales measure social class
Identify two possible disadvantages and advantages of using these scales to allocate a person to a particular class.
Definition- an individuals chances of obtaining those things defined as desirable and avoiding those things defined as undesirable in any society.
obtaining good health
avoiding ill health
There are wide and measurable differences in life chances between social classes. Can you think what they might be?
Higher social classes have better housing, cars, food, holidays, income and job security.
Wealth- in 2004, 10% of the population owned over 53% of the weath
Around 1/5 of the population of Britain lives in relative poverty
Life expectancy - a man from the top social class on average lives 7 years longer than a man from the lowest social class
In the bottom social class, twice as many babies die at birth or within the first year.
Sickness increases as you move down the class hierarchy
Smoking, drug and alcohol abuse and obesity are more common in lower social classes.
Objective and subjective dimensions of class.
Objective - material differences in people's life chances. For example, working class have less wealth and poorer health.
Subjective - someone's class identity, the tastes and attitudes they associate with being a member of their class. For example, what they like to eat and drink, the TV programmes they watch, the books, magazines and newspapers they read.
Which class do you associate the following activities with?
Listening to opera
Eating scampi and chips
Reading the Guardian newspaper
Reading the Sun newspaper
watching the last night of the proms
Bordieu called this subjective formation of social class "habitus".
This means the cultural framework and set of ideas possessed by a social class into which people are socialised , initially by their family which influences their cultural tastes and choices.
The dominant class has the power to impose its own views on what counts as "good taste" on the rest of society.
High culture reflects the habitus of the upper class, whereas popular culture and mass culture reflect the habitus of the working class.
If you can access the dominant class' habitus then you gain cultural capital.
Social Class cultures
Who are the upper class?
the traditional upper class
. This consists of Royalty and the "old rich" traditional landowning aristocracy, as well as the titled ranks of dukes, duchesses, earls etc.
the owners of industry and commerce
- the corporate rich of the business world e.g. Bill Gates.
Stars of entertainment, media and sport
e.g. the Beckhams, J.K Rowling and Elton John.
The "old rich" who inherited their wealth have a strong sense of class identity through intermarriage, shared educational experience and shared culture.
nouveau riche - have made their wealth in their own lifetime and come from humble origins.
often looked down on by the old rich for trying too hard and being too flashy.
Who are the middle class?
A large section of society in non-manual work, usually performed in offices and involve paperwork or ICT.
Key features of middle class includes:
Commitment to education
Recognition of the importance of individual effort and personal ambition and self help.
Sense of individual and family self-interest
a concern with future orientation and deferred gratification.
Greater respect for high culture.
Concern with fitness, health and well being.
Increasing wealth, income, power and status.
The Registrar General's Scale
Measures class based on occupation in 6 groups:
Advantage: it provides an objective measurable way of defining class, it is easy to use and allows us to measure change over time.
It only looks at occupation, not wealth, income, status or power.
It is a subjective decision, which jobs are higher up the scale- is there a consensus over the status of jobs?
Categories are too broad and dont take into account position within a category, e.g. teacher-headteacher.
It is based on the "head of the household" - usually men
It doesn't take into account Dual vs single income families.
National Statistics Socio-economic Classifcation :
First used in 2001, also based on occupation:
Higher managerial and professional
lower managerial and professional
intermediate (clerical, sales and service)
lower supervisory and technical
never worked and long term unemployed.
Considers both the market situation and the workplace situation of the individual.
confusing terminology and not as easy to use.
excludes volunteers and rich unemployed.
Assumes that non-manual labour is superior
Roberts and Savage have noted that it is difficult to generalise about the middle class as they have expanded rapidly with a wide range of groups with different occupations and educational qualifications.
There are many variations of lifestyle, sometimes related to age, gender, ethnicity and occupation.
However, the main values of the middle class are still:
Use pages 55-56 to describe the different middle class groups.
the types of jobs
how they adopt their identities
The Working Class
The largest social class, refers to people working in manual jobs which involves physical effort. There are two broad groups:
Traditional Working Class
Close knit community (all in the same boat)
Men are the main breadwinners
hard manual work (central to man's masculinity)
Skills for job are more important than education
Strong sense of working class identity and loyalty, expressed through joining trade unions
commitment to the Labour party
View of society based on struggle Us vs Them
Enjoyment of popular and folk culture
Language involved a lot of swearing.
Young and Wilmott (1957)
Used a series of interviews and observations of the working class and characterised them as:
Having male breadwinners
Home centred - spent a lot of time in the home
Family oriented - took care of their family and wider family.
Community driven - had a strong sense of looking out for each other in the community.
Class Conscious - were very aware of their class position and the struggle associated with it.
"Learning to Labour" - why do working class kids get working class jobs? A study of 12 working class boys.
Had anti-authority attitude (reflected in industrial jobs)
Didn't think they had equal opportunities in life
academic achievement seen as unimportant
Better to have a laugh to deal with boredom.
Interviewed working class people in Rotherham and found that the working class felt:
Ignored - their voice wasnt heard
Stigmatised - looked down on and seen as a problem.
Dispossessed- all the wealth and power was concentrated in a small number of people.
Traditional working class have insecurity of life - there a few chances of promotion, risk of unemployment, risk of industrial injury, ill-health, premature death and poverty. This results in 3 attitudes:
The New Working Class:
now the largest section of the working class, emerged in 1960s:
Privatised, home centred lifestyle with little involvement with neighbours or community
Work as a means of making money, not a source of ID
Little sense of loyalty to others in their class
Women more likely to be in paid employment although still take main responsibility for home.
High levels of home-ownership, home centred lifestyles, consumption and popular culture.
More emphasis on consumer goods, leisure activities and lifestyle in forming ID.
Is Social Class in decline?
Sociologists have argued that class is no longer such a big part of people's identities.:
Clarke and Saunders:
class is becoming fragmented into a range of groups
there are other sources of ID like gender, religion, ethnicity and consumer lifestyles
Pakulski and Walters:
Class is dead and has been replaced with lifestyle and consumption patterns of different groups
Lash and Urry
People's cultural tastes and lifestyles have become more individual.
Postmodernist Sociologists: Our identities are fluid and changeable. We can now "pick and mix" our identities based on the choices presented to us by the media. We have a choice in leisure, lifestyle and spending. Consumer culture has replaced class culture.
People do still relate themselves to a social class for e.g. in the British Social Attitudes Survey 2007: 94% of people identified themselves with a social class.
Leisure, lifestyle, consumption are all influenced by class, your income influences which class you can "choose".
Life chances are still heavily influenced by class
health and life expectancy
risk of unemployment and poverty.
Examine sociological explanations of the ways in which social class may shape social identity. (24 marks)
What is Social Identity?
Defines individuals in relation to the
with which they are identified and to which they belong and
how they differ from other social groups
and individuals. The formation of social identities may also arise from
the characteristics associated with the social roles that people play
- that is the behaviour expected of them as part of that group.
Social class may shape social identity objectively. Differences in income and wealth mean their are real and measurable material differences between the classes.
Social class may also shape identity subjectively, with each social group having a distinct habitus.
Whilst working through the middle and working class sections of the booklet, bear in mind two questions:
does social class shape social identity?
Does social class
shape social identity?