Macro-sociology: Broad features of society: social class, gender

o Broad features of society: social class, gender, race.
o You examine the large-scale social forces that influence people.
o Conflict theory and functionalism.
o Social structure:
The framework of society that is already in place when you are born.
Structure refers to regular patterns of a group: it guides, gives direction to
and sets limits on people’s behavior. It sets up the parameters of your
social existence by demarcating the field of possibilities and
impossibilities, what you can and cannot do. It includes built-in norms:
expectations and guidelines for behavior.
E.g. think about how you express your pains and pleasures; movie
theaters in the States.
Major factors: social class, culture, social status, roles, groups,
Cf. facebook groups.
It accounts, in part, for the divergence between individuals’
intentions and the results of their actions.
o Tension between structure and agency.
o The patterning that the structure provides and the
constraints it imposes do not correspond to the intentions of
those who created them.
Social class: large number of people with similar income and
education and comparable social prestige.
Social status: the position that an individual occupies.
o individuals occupy more than one position at a time: a son,
worker, student, brother…: all these positions comprise the
status set of an individual.
Ascribed status: involuntary. (inherit at birth, like
race-ethnicity, sex, social class of your parents, or
ascribed later in life, like being a teenager, adult,
Achieved status: voluntary. (can be either positive
or negative.)
Status symbols identify statuses in order to achieve
recognition from others. May be positive as well as
Master status: cuts across others in an individual’s
status set and preponderates over them: sex, race,
Status inconsistency/discrepancy: mismatch, in
terms of standard expectations of behavior, between
two or more statuses of an individual.
Contrast with class (which is more specifically a
matter of market position) or party (which concerns
authority or command position in the
political/organizational order).
Occupation/class, education/skill, race/ethnicity,
gender, citizenship, cultural consumption
Conspicuous consumption
o Roles: behaviors, obligations, and privileges attached to a
status. You occupy a status and play a role. Roles help
individuals do what society expects them to do. E.g. you
are a student, and that’s your role; your expectation to be
graded fairly and obligation to attend class, etc. is your
Like other components of social class, roles
demarcate a field of freedom and constraint: built-in
norms determining what is appropriate.
Roles therefore lay out what is expected of you.
Particularly strong in pre-modern societies where
there is greater expectation to performs one’s social
role in accordance with the norms governing it:
master vs. slave, a knight’s courtly love vs. the
lady’s resistance.
o Groups: people who regularly and consciously interact with
one another.
shared interests, values, expectations.
To belong to a group implies yielding to others the
right to make certain decisions about our behavior.
Voluntary vs. involuntary associations.
Where do you place “family,” “nation,”