Tag Archives: sociology

bird s eye view of group of people

Crowds and Theories on Collective Behavior

This post will look at various types of crowds that we often find ourselves a part of at different times. In addition, we will look at two theories that attempt to explain the collective behavior that happens when crowds form.

Crowds

A crowd is a group of people who are close to each other. There are several types of crowds. A casual crowd is a group of people who are together but not really interacting with each such as what one would find in a shopping mall. In the shopping mall, there are lots of people, but the interaction among the people is often limited to small groups.

A conventional crowd is a group of people who come together for a scheduled event. A common example of a conventional crowd would be people coming together for a religious service. In such an environment, the people have a general-purpose. There is generally more interaction because of the unity that a religious experience can often bring people.

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An expressive crowd is a crowd that is together for an emotional purpose. Examples of expressive crowds can include such things as weddings and funerals. Lastly, an acting crowd is a crowd that comes together for a specific purpose or goal, such as a sporting event. Of course, these categories are artificial, and maybe an event may not fit neatly in anyone exclusively, but they do provide a way to organize large groups of people.

When people find themselves in crowds, they often exhibit the group’s norms, which is called collective behavior. For example, a perfectly rational individual will begin to act emotionally in a charismatic religious experience or will become violent within the context of a riot.

Emergent Theory

Several theories have attempted to explain how norms in crowds develop. Emergent norm theory states that people react to the crowd they are in with their own norms, which change as the crowd responds to different stimuli. For example, suppose people are angry and frustrated with the government. In that case, the group may believe that breaking and burning things is acceptable. Outsiders consider this lawbreaking, but for the people within the crowd, this is justifiable behavior in the face of injustice. In other words, the emergent theory attempts to explain that the behavior of a crowd is not irrational and unpredictable but rather a logical response to the current situation.

An example of such behavior can be found in the protesting in the US. People got together and began to break into buildings and steal and destroy property. Things individuals would have never done by themselves were brazenly done in a justified manner due to the perception of injustice.

Value-Added Theory

Value-added theory states that several conditions must be present for collective behavior as found in a crowd can take place.

  1. The first is structural conduciveness which means that people are aware of a problem and begin to gather together.
  2. The second is a structural strain which is people developing frustration over the unsolved problem.
  3. Third is growth and spread of disbelief which means the problem is clearly defined and blame is placed on an individual or group.
  4. The fourth condition is called precipitating factors, which is a trigger event that leads to collective behavior.
  5. The fifth condition is mobilization which involves the emergence of leaders to guide the crowd.
  6. The final condition is social control, and this involves the process of ending the collective behavior.

The protesting that has taken place in the US can also be explained from the perspective of value-added theory. A group of people gather together over a perceived injustice, they begin to get angry, they blame the people in positions of power, some starts to break, burn or steal something, more people follow this example and chaos breaks out, only after a time are the authorities able to end the carnage.

These conditions do not have to happen linearly, but most must be present for collective behavior to begin. For example, leaders can emerge at the beginning rather than the fifth condition.

Conclusion

The theories above try to explain from different viewpoints a phenomenon that most of us have experienced: the loss of self when moving in a crowd. The behavior of such crowds does not have to be negative, but it is negative behavior that is easier to notice compared to positive action. In whatever case, these theories do provide some insight into what can be a blessing or a curse.

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Demographic Theories

People have tried to explain population growth and decline for centuries. A major topic of controversy today is how to deal with an ever-increasing population. This post will look at several theories that try to address population growth.

Malthusian Theory

Thomas Malthus is famous for claiming that the Earth would lose its ability to sustain an ever-growing population. In his theory, Malthus claims three factors would limit the growth of humans on Earth. These three factors are war, famine, and disease. Malthus defined these three factors as “positive checks” because they increase mortality.

Malthus also defined “preventive checks” or factors that reduced fertility. These factors were birth control and celibacy. As resources were depleted, Malthus theorized that they would begin to fight wars, generally leading to famine and disease. As the fighting over resources continued, people would limit the children they have or even forgo marriage and having children together.

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Malthus’s predictions turned out to be incorrect. There have been technological improvements that he could never have foreseen. These improvements in technology have not only increased food production but have also included treatments for diseases that used to kill.

However, Malthus was correct about preventive checks. In the western world and some parts of Asia (Japan, China, Singapore, and Thailand). Fertility rates have plummeted as people focus on careers and other things rather than raising a family. The general trend of the world is an increase in people, but this may change with time.

Zero Population Growth

A variation on Malthus theory was developed by Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich states that the environment and not food supply is the factor that determines the planet’s population. As more and more people abuse the environment, it endangers the human population.

Ehrlich’s solution to this problem is zero population growth which, as its name implies, that the number of births equals the number of deaths. No practical way has been found to do this, but this demographic theory is often associated with conspiracy theories of how the elite wants to limit population growth.

Cornucopian Theory

The opposite of Malthus and Ehrlich’s position would be cornucopian theory. This theory posits that human ingenuity can resolve whatever problems humans face. It is possible to cite human ingenuity examples that develop after a crisis, such as vaccinations. However, often by the time the breakthrough is implemented, the catastrophe has already done significant damage has already been done.

Not even the Black Death of the medieval period completely wiped out humanity. The cornucopian theory is always correct until something happens on Earth that wipes out human existence.

Demographic Transition Theory

Demographic transition theory takes a modeling approach to demographic change. Population growth follows four predictable stages in this theory, as explained below.

Stage 1: Births, deaths, and infant mortality are high with low life expectancy.

Stage 2: Birth rates are high while infant mortality and death drops with an increase in life expectancy

Stage 3: Birthrates decline for the first time while death rates continue their decline, life expectancy continues to increase

Stage 4: Birth and death rates keep falling, life expectancy peaks, the population stabilizes, and may start to decline.

These stages are often associated with industrialization. Many countries enter stage 2 when they begin to industrialize. A fully developed country is often found in stage 3, while a post-industrial country could be found in stage 4.

Conclusion

The question that perhaps everyone is wondering is perhaps how much more can the population grow on this planet? It may be impossible to know for sure. Every time it appears the Earth has reached its limit, new resources are discovered, and there is a boost in technology that makes it easier to continue life with whatever resources are available. A question such as this is one that experts will wrestle with for a long time.

tax documents on the table

Types of Government

In this post, we will look at different types of government.

Anarchy

Anarchy is defined as an absence of government. In practice, anarchies are for the short-term because eventually, from the chaos of a lack of government comes some sort of structure, whether it’s a dictator or king or some other form of government. There is always some ambitious, strong man looking to fill a power vacuum in a place of chaos.

Often after revolutions, there is a state of anarchy. The French Revolution was one example of chaos being the order until Robespierre came to power. The Russian Revolution of the early 20th century is yet another example. In both examples, there was a short period of chaos followed by a strong totalitarian reaction.

Monarchy

Monarchy is a government in which one person is in charge until they die or give up power. Often, the role of a monarch is hereditary but necessarily always. There is also a common claim of divine or supernatural approval. This was often the case in Europe, where monarchs frequently courted papal approval of their rule.

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There are generally two types of monarchs. Absolute monarchs have complete power to do as they see fit. This still of government is rare because people generally do not appreciate being under the whim of anybody to such a degree. Many kings from medieval Europe were absolute monarchs.

The challenge of being an absolute monarch is not when things are going well. When there is peace and everybody is happy, the monarch gets all the credit because they are absolutely in charge. However, when things fall apart, the monarch also gets all the blame because they are absolutely in charge.

In addition, people, whether a monarch or not, can be capricious and unpredictable. If the monarch shows inconsistencies or weaknesses, people may try to remove them to protect themselves and their gains within the country. For example, Henry VI of England was removed several times because of the weakness of his character and mental instability. In other words, having this level of power is not as great as it seems.

Another form of monarchy is a constitutional monarchy. In this form of government, the monarch’s power is limited by the constitution. You would think that having a constitution limiting a monarch’s power would irritate them, and it has in some instances. However, the benefit of a constitution is that giving up some power can help a monarch stay in the position of privilege that they have because everything that goes wrong is not completely their fault. Many monarchies today are constitutional monarchies such as Great Britain, and often these monarchs are above politics, which makes it difficult to complain about them as they stay out of governmental decision-making for the most part.

However, even giving up power can lead to a monarchy being removed. Louis XVI of France and Czar Nicholas II of Russia both made reforms before being overthrown. On the other hand, the British monarchy has been stable for decades. therefore, there is no single strategy that can protect a government

Oligarchy

Oligarch is government by a small elite. OFten these elites are rather sneaky and work behind the scenes. One reason for this is they do not want to be held responsible if something goes wrong. AS such, it is hard to tell when a country’s government is an oligarchy.

Members of an oligarchy tend to excel at one aspect of society or another. For example, they may be wealthy businessmen, military strongmen, or clergy members. Due to its mysterious nature, it is difficult for others to rise to membership in this exclusive and secretive club.

Dictatorship

Dictatorship is power held by a single person. A dictator is different from a monarch because their power is not hereditary, and dictators often arise from a revolution to overthrow another government, so they avoid the word king even if they have the same powers. In other words, they are a king, but that word is not socially acceptable.

Dictators are normally charismatic leaders who rise to power on the back of the people. Once in place, they are looking to find ways to stay in power and are often worst than the people they overthrew. Pol pot of Cambodia killed millions of his own people, Hitler of Germany killed millions of Jews, Idi Amin ran his country into the ground. Each of these totalitarian dictators sought to control as much of the lives of the people under them as they could.

Democracy

The most popular form of government is democracy. Democracy involves giving all citizens an equal voice in the government. These citizens then elect leaders to represent their interest in the government. In practice, this sounds great, but sometimes it can be frustrating.

People looking for a positi0n of power know that perception is more important than truth. As a result, it is common for politicians in democracies to try and find ways to manipulate their constituencies. Outlandish claims are made in the media; overt and covert lying occurs. All this is done in the name of democracy.

However, this only happens because the citizens often neglect to educate themselves about what is going on. Therefore, people cast votes for controversial topics they have not thoroughly investigated. The point here is not to criticize any position but to wonder if people have really thought about the position they support instead of the one they do not support.

Conclusion

Every form of government has its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, there is no real benefit in raising one form over another. This is because governments are built upon people. If the people or not good, it doesn’t matter how good the government is.

gray concrete building

Authority Types

Various countries and governments have developed different forms of authority to maintain power and stability. This post will look at three common forms of authority found throughout the world.

Traditional Authority

As its name implies, traditional authority relies on tradition to maintain its power. Examples of traditional authority usually include monarchies such as those found in Europe at one time. People support the leader because this support has been given for a long time.

The actual leader often does not have power beyond people’s respect for them. The leader can often have a figurehead-type status while others exercise overt power. For example, it is common in many countries with traditional authority to have the monarch avoid politics and serve a ceremonial role.

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A variation of traditional authority is called patrimonialism. Patrimonialism is a strong-man character who has a strong administration and military support. Some may see this as a form of military-backed dictatorship. The people under the supreme leader only have their privileges through their obedience and loyalty to the supreme leader.

Charismatic Authority

Charismatic authority generally involves an individual who gains power through the strength of their personality more than on any other single reason. Often this will happen during a time of crisis in which people are looking for help and or protection. One example of this would be Napolean Bonaparte, who rose to power in France after the French Revolution.

However, charismatic leaders often do not last long. There may be several reasons for this. The crisis may worsen, the leader’s shortcomings become more apparent over time, or someone even more popular arises to threaten the leader. These are not the only reasons, but they play a part in the demise of charismatic leaders. For example, Napolean’s shortcomings as a general were the primary reason for his downfall. Though one of the greatest generals ever, he was not perfect, and often leaders are expected to never fail.

Rational-Legal Authority

Rational-legal authority emphasizes laws, rules, regulations, and the office of authority rather than the individual person. Countries with constitutions are often inspired by rational-legal authority. For example, the United States is a strong example of rational-legal authority. They have a constitution and a new president every 4 to 8 years. The power lies within the office, and there is no idea of a single absolute authority but rather an emphasis on “we the people.”

With the focus on laws, all the lawmakers have to do is make illegal things legal and legal things illegal, and there will not be as much push-back from the people because they believe in the rule of law. Examples of this from the United States can include any controversial topic such as sexuality, taxes, reproductive rights, etc. Each of these examples involves actions that were legal, then illegal, or vice versa. In summary, whoever defines the laws appears to have the power in a rational-legal framework.

Conclusion

Countries require leadership, and leaders can have various forms of authority. The examples provided here are just some of the commonly seen options. Naturally, it would be an oversimplification to think that leaders and countries could not mix the examples above. For example, Cesar was charismatic and spent a lot of time passing various laws. The real point here is to be aware of these various styles.

family walking on path

Family Stages and School

Family is a term that is used but not necessarily agreed upon. In this post, we will look at views on family and the stages of family. Understanding the stages of family life will help teachers try to help parents.

Defining Marriage & Family

Family often begins with marriage, and defining marriage has been controversial for years now. Traditional marriage in the West generally involves people of the opposite sex who have some sort of a public ceremony. A family that is formed through marriage is called a family of procreation. Marriage can also be more complex. Some support having multiple partners, which is called polygamy or polyandry (multiple wives or husbands).

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Despite being around since the beginning of time, people do not agree on what family is. One definition sees family as the blood relations a person has. However, many people do not grow up with blood relatives and thus may see adoptive parents or friends as family. Sociologists try to deal with this by speaking about a family of orientation which is the family in which one is born or raised.

Stages of a Family

There are seven common stages that a family goes through. Stage 1 is the marriage family and is usually childless. The couple is essentially newlyweds and has not had any children yet. Stage 2 is the procreation stage and involves having newborns to toddlers. This stage is a huge transition as the responsibility of parenthood has descended on a young couple.

Stage 3 is the preschooler family and goes from toddlers until 6 years of age. Generally, kids are not yet in school and spend most of their time at home or daycare. Stage 4 is the school-age family and goes from age 6-13. At this stage, children are in school, are more independent, and the parents can focus more on their jobs and career.

Stage 5 is the teenage family and goes from age 13-20. The children are adults who lack experience and need to be guided by their parents. As they push the limits, parents can begin to worry greatly about the young adults in their house. Stage 6 is the launching family and involves young adults leaving home. This can be extremely emotional as children leave home and parents have to deal with the separation from adult children. Lastly, stage 7 is the empty nest family, which is a family in which the children have grown up and moved away. Now that their children are adults, parents are left with a huge transition as they try to find other ways to invest their time.

Families and Education

The stages are useful but not always accurate. It is common to have children in various age categories simultaneously. For example, have a toddler and a teenager in the same house. Is such a family a preschooler or teenager family? It may not be clear, but perhaps the stage is tied to the individual child instead of the entire family.

For teachers, the stages of the family often involve them dealing with families from at least the stages 2-6. Parents will be in different stages with different children, which may impact whatever children the teacher is dealing with. For example, suppose a 10 year has an older sibling who is leaving for college. In that case, this could cause behavioral problems as the students struggle to accept this separation. In addition, if a 7-year-old now has a baby brother, this could also lead to problems as they adjust to less attention from their parents. These two examples don’t even consider the fracturing of a family through a divorce or the commonly found experience of single parents.

Conclusion

Teachers and families have to work together to help children. This is an idea that seems to have been forgotten over the years. With the challenges of moving through each stage of family life, teachers need to be aware and understand as they try to support the home.

crowd of people black and white photo

Terms Related to Social Stratification

Social stratification is the ranking of individuals using various factors such as wealth, income, education, etc. While I was preparing this post, I could not find any evidence of a classless society. In fact, some of the sources claimed that no such society as a classless one has existed. This implies that stratification is a natural part of human existence whether people like it or not.

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What causes this is not always apparent. For some reason, people often like to exalt themselves and be above others. There is a tendency in some people to desire control and dominance. Sometimes people are chosen to be the leader or in a higher social position by others in the society. Leaders often fall into this category and can include politicians, clergy, and kings. Others gain a higher status through hard work, and people admire and appreciate this. For example, Napolean was able to rise through the ranks of the military due to his brilliant leadership and eventually became emperor.

There are also examples in history of people gaining power not just for selfish reasons but for personal protection from one’s enemies. Ceaser was truly driven by a desire to rule, but he also had enemies who were waiting for him to lose power so they could attack him through various legal means. Therefore, Ceasar looked for ways to maintain the leadership of provinces and be consul of Rome to maintain his legal immunity. Even when taking power, he generally would grant amnesty to enemies to avoid stirring up more enmity. However, as he became more powerful, he just became even scarier to the other elites who simply murdered him one day.

The best it appears people can hope for without being cynical is a world in which the elite and upper class refrain from abusing and mistreating the people below. There is also little historical evidence of elite restraint as there is almost no evidence of a classless society. Different people put in different amounts of work, and some find different ways to cheat their way, and thus there will always be differences between the ranking of people.

Caste System

There are several terms related to social stratification. The caste system is one. With the caste system, people are born into a certain level of society, and they are stuck there forever. There is no social mobility. Examples of this can be found in India, Feudal Japan, and Medieval Europe.

Marriages between caste are frowned upon or even illegal. For example, a friend from India told me how they got married. She was from the warrior caste, while her future husband was from the priestly caste. Since they were Christian, they did not think they were bound by the tradition of the caste system and for married. Being it was a Christian community, everyone was okay with it; however, several people were still worried that something “bad” might happen to the newlywed couple because of the country’s cultural background. India abolished the caste system, but its roots are still strong in some situations.

Class System and Meritocracy

The class system is a more flexible style of social stratification in which people belong to one of many different classes based on their wealth, education, etc. Examples of classes can include upper, middle, and lower classes. Unlike the caste system, which discourages marriage, the class system does not generally condemn marriages of people from different classes.

Meritocracy is social stratification based on effort. At best, meritocracy has been partially implemented in many places. No matter how hard humans try, people are just good at findings ways of getting through the system without equal work. This leads to frustration by those who “play by the rules.” Another problem is that some people will achieve a great deal in one area, but this area is not valued as important by society.

Highly educated people often have amazing expertise in minute details of life that are not generally valued by the larger society in terms of prestige and financial remuneration. This can lead to frustration and desires to challenge the social stratification. At times, some of the strongest proponents of a classless society are people who do not have the status they believe they deserve.

Conclusion

Stratification is always going to be a problem. This is because people will always find ways to move up the social hierarchy through honest hard work and abuse the system for personal gain. Unfortunately, people may lose status due to mistakes or injustice, and those who are higher up may mistreat those who are lower, which is not fair or right again.

Views on Societies

This post will look at society and terms related to it as defined from two schools of thought in society. This viewpoints are functionalism and conflict theory.

Functionalist

There are several terms used in the functionalist school for describing societies. For example, collective conscience is the beliefs that constitute a society. An example from the United States would be an emphasis on individualism and capitalism. These beliefs are a part of most Americans’ lives and serve as a common worldview for people from this country.

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Social integration is the strength of the ties within a society or a social group. Some societies have stronger ties than others. Many factors can affect social integration, such as the size, similarities of the members, etc. For example, social integration is generally a problem in the US as there is a lot of infighting and discord that is not found in other societies.

There is also a concept called solidarity. Solidarity is a continuum with mechanical solidarity on one side and organic solidarity on the other. Mechanical solidarity has such characteristics as a strong collective conscience, high social integration, and a dedication to doing things the way they are for traditional reasons. This form of solidarity is common in pre-industrial societies where there is a low division of labor.

Organic solidarity is the opposite of mechanical. This means there is a low collective conscience and low social integration. This form of solidarity is common in industrial societies with a high degree of specialized labor. At extreme levels, organic solidarity can be a place for anomie or lawlessness. Anomie involves the rejection of societal norms, which leads to a loss of identity for members of that society.

Norms are often developed and encouraged through habitulization and institutionalization. Habitulization is learning norms through habit development through friends and family. Instititunilization is learning norms through the workplace or school. These norm-forming places are often attacked in societies that have organic solidarity.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory views society as a place of alienation. Different people define Marx’s alineation in different ways. Some have called it a separation from what one does. Others have said that alineation is a lack of individual development. Karl Marx’s in his Communist Manifesto indicates that alienation can happen in several different ways.

One way alienation happens is through alienation from the product of one’s labor. A second is through the process of one’s labor. THird is from others, and the fourth is from self. All of these various forms of alienation happen in a factory setting for the most part and are found in an industrial society. In other words, alienation is similar to the traits found in an organic solidarity context.

To stop alienation, Marx essentially encourages revolution to overturn the bourgeoisie and their money so that the means of production belong to the people. People who did not agree with this position were accused of having a false consciousness or beliefs, not in their best interest. IN other words, proponents of Conflict theory imply that they know what is best for people.

Conclusion

Different experts choose to look at society using different viewpoints. Functionalist and conflict theorists have different opinions over the structure of societies. Agreeing is not the point but rather understanding how there is more than one way to see anything.

Socialization Agents

Socialization is the process in which people learn how to be members of a specific society. Several institutions play a critical role in the socialization of people, and these are the family, religion, schools, peers, job, and government. We will look at each below.

Family

The family is perhaps the strongest socializing agent in a person’s life. The earliest knowledge about the world and how a child sees the world is shaped by the family initially. The family continues to influence the child throughout their lives by accepting or rejecting the child’s actions.

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Different families also socialize their children in different ways. For example, worker-class families often emphasize obedience while middle and upper-class families focus on creativity and critical thinking. As such, these children from these different families are taught that different things are important.

Religion

Religion plays a critical role in socializing people. Even in families that do not encourage religion, they send a message that religion is not important. Often religion provides various ceremonies that are connected with the family. Examples can include weddings, funerals, and rites of passages ceremonies like Bar mitzvahs among Jews.

Religion also often provides a moral framework for a person. People learn right from wrong by going to church or reading the religious text of their religion. REligions also define roles for people in society, such as the role of the man and woman in marriage and the local leadership.

School/Peers/Government

Outside the home, the place that may have the most influence on individuals and socialization may be the schools. Teachers serve as role models and surrogate parents through spending entire days with children. Students learn about the values of their society at school as well. Schools do not only teach subjects but also help to shape a student’s worldview.

One of the reasons for the huge debate over education in the US is what values should be taught in school. Many parents are pushing back against what schools want to do in the classroom because, fundamentally, the parents do not support the current form of socialization in schools today.

Peers are often met at school and also influence the socialization process. Peers teach people how to interact with members of their age group. Peers can be a positive or negative influence on socialization. However, at least among young people, friends are generally a negative influence. This leads to the point that the different agencies spoken of here often compete in terms of their influence over a person.

The government is also mentioned here because the government is often heavily influencing the school. Through policies government influences almost all aspects of a person’s life. Such things that are influenced by the government are schools, salaries, health, retirement, marriage, among other things.

Governments are also often involved in shaping the values of their citizens. This is done by encouraging patriotism and nativism. America is famous for supporting the American way and the American Dream among its people. In addition, democratic values are highly encouraged and even exported to other countries.

Job

When people grow up, the workplace can also serve a role in socialization. Most workplaces and companies have a set of values that they want their employees to accept and model. There are also unwritten rules of interaction, such as dealing with superiors and how to deal with peers.

People also frequently change jobs, which means they accept and reject various values they have throughout their lives. For example, something that is acceptable in one company may be unacceptable in another. Sometimes the only way to learn this is to gain the approval or disapproval of others in the company.

Media

Another powerful influence on socializing is media. People often decide what is right or wrong based on the media. Media has such influence on people’s lives now that there are accusations of “fake news” when views are shared that are not appreciated by one side or the other.

There is also the idea of “cancel culture,” which involves punishing someone by making them disappear from the internet for saying something that offends somebody. This is yet another example of socialization as it provides examples of things that should be said in the online context. This is even more amazing because people can be canceled for things they said before “cancel culture” even existed. In other words, a person needs to be perfect even before the standards change; otherwise, they will be held responsible for something they said even before saying such a thing was so offensive.

Conclusion

As long as people live among each other, socialization will be important. The examples provide here share a glimpse of the major agents in the socialization of people.

green trees between white concrete buildings

Organization, Bureaucracies, & Schools

A school is a type of formal organization. An organization is a group of people who are working together as a body to do something. A formal organization is an organization that has rules and regulations. Another trait of many organizations is that they often have traits of bureaucracies. This post will explore different types of organizations and also explain the characteristics of bureaucracies.

Organization Types

There are several types of organizations. A voluntary organization is an organization that is based on a common interest. Many of the clubs that one would find in a school would qualify as a voluntary organization. Examples would include student council, art club, photo club, or drama club. These are generally voluntary in that students can choose or not choose to participate, and they often involve hobbies students enjoy. For teachers, voluntary organizations might include associations such as the National Education Association (NEA) or Kappa Delta Pi. Teachers are often the leaders of various after-school clubs and thus members of these organizations at the local school level.

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Coercive organizations, as the name implies, are organizations people are compelled to join. School is a coercive organization for many students as many young people do not want to be there. Another example is a prison, as most inmates do not want to be inmates. This leads to the point that different people have different views of organizations. A teacher will probably not think of their school as a coercive organization, but a student might.

Total institutions are organizations that have sweeping powers over the lifestyles and choices of the members. Prison is one such example. In addition, many cults can have a large influence over the lives of their members in a way that is totalitarian. With time, schools have been given more and more responsibility for students’ lives to appear as total institutions. Schools’ responsibilities now include transportation, breakfast, after-school programs, sports, sex education, supporting students with disabilities, second language instruction, etc. Some of these examples are so old that they seem comical. However, there was a time when schools did not do these things.

Lastly, a utilitarian organization is an organization people join for a reward such as a salary or prestige. For example, teachers may see the school at which they work as a utilitarian organization because of the money. A student who goes to college may see the college as a utilitarian organization because of the reward of a degree at the end of their studies. Again, how a person views an organization can vary as one voluntary organization is another person’s utilitarian organization

Bureaucracies

Organizations often become bureaucracies which are simple, highly formal organizations. It is difficult to tell when an organization is a bureaucracy. However, organizations exhibit several traits of bureaucracies when they reach this stage of development, and they are…

  • Strong hierarchy
  • clear division of labor
  • explicit rules
  • impersonal
  • meritocracies

Burecraies have a strong hiearchy. At schools, it is clear who is in charge. Often, you will see a picture of the principal somewhere and the rest of the administrative team. At the university level, you will have a president, VPs, Deans, Chairs, etc., clearly mapped out for everyone. There are also clear lines of labor. Teachers teach while administrators deal with administration only at smaller organizations do these lines blend. When an organization is larger enough, clearly delineating these things is critical to order.

Bureaucracies also have clear, explicit rules. Again, we all know how obsessed schools are with rules. There are rules for the cafeteria, the library, the classroom, the playground; there are general school rules. Then there are policies for teachers, parents, administrators, and the list goes on and on. The large number of policies and rules are overwhelming, especially if one moves to the district or state level.

Bureaucracies are also highly impersonal. For schools, this applies if the school is really big, perhaps several thousand students. Universities are often viewed as impersonal monsters where nobody cares, and they are often personified when people or students want to complain about them. A common name is “the system,” as in “the the system fail such and such.” Another term common today is “systemic racism”; however, systems are not alive and thus cannot actually be racists. People can be racist through the rules they implement and enforce within the system, but the system has no life or conscience of its own.

Lastly, bureaucracies are based on merit. Within the government, promotion is generally based on years of service and some sort of assessment. To become a teacher, a person has to receive a certain amount of training. To become an administrator, the same idea applies. Honor students earned good grades, which is the way they are being honored. The point is that in bureaucracies, merit is a common trait.

Conclusion

Organizations are a necessary part of the human experience. Everyone belongs to one organization or another for whatever reason. With time, organizations can grow and become bureaucracies that have their own pros and cons.

Society Types

Throughout human history, there have been various types of societies that people have been found to inhabit. Although it might not be totally fair or accurate to state that these societies have appeared in chronological order since most of these societies are still present today, the types that are considered “older” are not as frequently found as later forms of societies.

This post will cover several commonly found societies in the world. These types of societies are…

  • Hunter gather
  • Pastoral
  • Horticultural
  • Agricultural
  • Feudal
  • Industrial
  • Informational

Preindustrial Societies

The first four societies (Hunter-Gatherer, Pastoral, Horticultural, and Agricultural) are considered preindustrial societies.

Hunter-Gatherer

A Hunter-gather society focuses on hunting and foraging or gathering plants for food that are uncultivated. Family and tribe and generally important in these types of societies. Often, this society is migratory follow the resources they hunt or leaving an area once the resources are depleted.

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Hunter-gatherers are considered the oldest type of society. However, today they are rare to find, except for indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. As the world becomes more urbanized and centralized, many governments prefer to keep a closer eye on people who wander from place to place and thus often discourage this lifestyle. As such, hunter-gathers are continuing to decline in terms of their numbers.

Pastoral

A pastoral society is a society in which the people have chosen to domesticate animals and plants. Despite this development, pastoral societies still had a nomadic lifestyle because they had to follow the food source of their animals. With the domestication of animals also came the use of the animals not just for food but also for clothing, transportation, and a general surplus of food. With this surplus, people began to specialize in various occupations needed by their society.

Horticultural and Agricultural

Horticultural societies developed in places with enough rain to allow people to stay in one place and grow feed in permanent settlements. Unlike the other two societies mentioned, horticulturalists did not live a nomadic lifestyle. What horticultural societies were missing was strong, reliable tools, which came with the development of agricultural societies.

Agricultural societies involved the use of tools that took farming from subsistence to a commercial level. People could not farm not just for survival but for profit. Various techniques for farming also developed, such as the use of fertilizers, crop rotation, and tools were use to boost yields. Specialization was also stronger, and many people would work in various occupations that had nothing to do with farming. Examples include the scholar, blacksmith, merchant, and more. With these various classes came division as one class or the other was viewed as superior to another.

Federal

Feudal societies are commonly found in the Middle Ages in Europe and in places such as Russia, Japan, and Thailand, among other places. This society did not involve a major technological change in how food production took place but was rather a time of power consolidation.

In any society, people begin to figure out how to exploit the rules to their advantage or to simply break the rules. Feudalism was essentially a rich gentry at the top exploiting the poor under them. All the poor seemed to get was protection from other rich people who wanted to conquer their village and become their slaves. There was no social mobility, and it was no way to break away and become independent.

Industrial Societies

The birth of industrial societies involves developing many forms of machinery that automate or speed up tasks. For example, steam-powered helped with transportation (trains and boats) and farm production (cotton). The improvements in technology led to increased factory production and allowed average people to own what used to be considered luxury items. Items such as paper and glass were quickly being made available for everybody.

It was during this time that people took their focuses away from the family to economic activity. A new generation of capitalists was able to unseat the feudalists from their seats of power. Essentially, capitalists were people who knew how to exploit and break the new rules for wealth and power.

Post-Industrial Societies

Perhaps the latest form of society is the post-industrial society, also known as the information age. Now, instead of making food (preindustrial focus) or making things (industrial focus), the information society uses various technical skills related to dealing with data. Today, there are jobs such as data scientists, analysis, computer science, etc., that focus on dealing with information in one way or another.

Work and career are also becoming much more important. A feudal farmer was not worried about a career, only surviving the day and relaxing in the even. The farmer’s life was focused on his family and not climbing the corporate ladder. Now, people are often socialized to put job and career before most other matters, which has weakened family relations.

Conclusion

Today people live in all of the societies mentioned here. It’s up to the person to decide which one of these societies works best for them. The primary goal was to share the various types of society found in the world today.

Basic Sociological Theories

In this post, we will look at several significant theories of sociology. These are basic ideas that anyone familiar with the field would know.

Functionalism

The functional perspective in sociology sees society as structured in a way that the parts of society are interrelated and connected. Each part or piece of society’s primary purpose is to meet people’s social and biological needs. The ideas behind this thought were developed by Herbert Spencer, who compared society to the human body. As the various body parts work together, so do the various social institutions of society.

Social institutions are the organizations in a society that meet the social needs of people. Examples of social institutions include schools, government agencies, churches, families, hospitals, etc. When these various institutions work together to benefit individuals, a state called dynamic equilibrium is met, and society is generally stable.

With the development of any society, specific laws, morals, values, etc., govern individual people’s behavior. These rules are called social facts. These rules protect society from social unrest and insecurity. For example, perhaps all countries have rules against theft and murder as allowing such behavior to go unpunished would unleash chaos.

There are times when society tries to improve the general condition of members, and these are called manifest functions. An example would be encouraging people to buy a home and providing ways to do this. Latent functions are unsolicited outcomes of manifest functions. An example would be an increase in do-it-yourself repairs as more and more people buy homes. When a social process has a negative outcome, it is called a dysfunction. One example of this would be bankruptcy, as people cannot pay for the homes they purchased.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory is a theory proposed by Karl Marx, one of the leading proponents of Communism. Marx saw the world as a battle between social classes. This battle can be seen in the inequality in which people have access to the various social institutions of society such as schools, homes, money, jobs, etc. The people who have the most access also work nefariously to ensure others never obtain the same amount or maybe none of these resources.

Out of Marx’s ideas of conflict theory came the contribution of the Frankfurt school and their work with critical theory. Critical theory expands conflict theory to include race, religion, sexuality, gender, and essentially anything that is not a part of the majority’s values. The majority oppresses all minority positions in one way or another. This further expands into ideas developed in intersectionality and critical race theory, queer studies, and more.

The idea of conflict has had a significant impact on the average person. Few people are familiar with functionalism, but almost everyone in the West has heard of inequality and how some have more than others. In addition, Conflict Theory is not content to be a theory but encourages rectifying the inequality in society. Communism, critical theory, critical race theory, Queer Studies, Feminism, and more do not just describe society but want to change it actively.

Symbolic Interactionist Theory

Symbolic interactionist theory is focused on relationships between individuals rather than the broader society. Proponents of this perspective look for patterns in the relationships among people. Instead of looking at inequality and oppression as a conflict theorist, a symbolic interactionist looks at the relationships between activists as they challenge the system. There is an emphasis on symbols and the meaning behind them.

Constructivism is the belief that we construct reality. A term commonly associated with this is social constructs. For example, people have proposed that race, sexuality, and gender are social constructs. In other words, these ideas only exist because people say they do. Naturally, this is highly controversial, but specific ideas that used to be considered fixed are now considered fluid as people challenge existing norms.

Conclusion

These major sociological theories are used as a lens through which many experts see the world. Most of these theories do not have a direct impact on the average person. However, these views influence educators and leaders who either train the next generation or are leading the current one.

Terms in Sociology

This post will begin the exploration of sociology. Whenever possible, connections will be made to education and teaching. For now, we will look at some fundamental terms of sociology and a brief look at the history of this field.

Terms

Sociology is the study of the interaction of groups and societies with each other. This study can take place at a macro or micro-level, depending on the interests of the researcher. A micro-level analysis would examine small group and even individual interactions, while a macro-level analysis looks at the interaction between societies.

One aspect of society that sociologists study is culture. Culture is the beliefs and practices of a group. Culture is often studied using sociological imagination, which is an awareness of a person’s behavior and experience as it contributes to shaping the choices and perceptions of a person.

A concept closely related to culture that is also studied in sociology is called social facts. Social facts are the cultural rules that govern life. For example, a sociologist might look at how communication norms have changed since the arrival of social media.

History of Sociology

Sociology appears to have been around much longer than when it was first considered its own independent discipline. Greek philosophers study subjects and concepts associated with sociology, such as social cohesion, conflict, and power. Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant, Voltaire, and Hobbs also developed principles, such as calling for social reform, considered a part of sociology.

Auguste Comte is credited with reinventing the term sociology and popularizing it. Comte proposed that scientists could study society the same way that it was done in the natural sciences. When this happens, the world’s social problems, such as poverty and education, can be solved. The term for scientifically studying society is called positivism. This optimism that science can improve society may be what inspires the push for so much social reform today.

The ideas of Comte were translated from French to English by Martineau, which helped Comte’s ideas to spread. Other early pioneers of sociology include Karl Marx and his Conflict Theory. George Mead is the person who created the term “significant other,” which was initially not limited to a person someone was married to but rather to any important person in someone’s life.

Max Weber may have been one of the most influential of the early sociologist. He challenged Comte’s views on positivism with antipositivism. Antipositivism is simply rejecting the traditional scientific notion of objectivity for being subjective in one’s research. Weber also contributed quantitative and qualitative sociology as distinct research methods.

Conclusion

There is more to the background of sociology than what is provided here. One clear thing is that perhaps the pioneers of this field did not know the impact this discipline would have on the world in the near future