Social Institutions

Social Institutions

Sociology is a study of society. Topics in Sociology: Social Institutions Social institutions are established or standardized patterns of rule-governed behavior. They include the family, education, religion, and economic and political institutions. Major Perspectives Marx Social institutions are determined by their society mode of production. Social institutions serve to maintain the power of the dominant class. Weber Social institutions are interdependent but no single institution determines the rest.

The causes and consequences of social institutions cannot be assumed in advance. Druthers Set the Stage for later functionalist analyses Of institutions by concluding that religion promotes social solidarity and collective conscience. Functionalist theory The social institutions listed in this section (along with other social institutions) fulfill functional prerequisites and are essential. Conflict theory Social institutions tend to reinforce inequalities and uphold the power of dominant groups. Emphasizes divisions and conflicts within social institutions.

Symbolic interactions Focuses on interactions and other symbolic communications within social institutions. 1. The Family: A socially defined set of relationships between at least two people related by birth, marriage, adoption, or, in some definitions, long-standing ties of intimacy. Key Questions How do families vary across different societies, historical periods, classes, and ethnic groups? How are authority, resources, and work distributed within families? How do parents, particularly mothers, balance the demands of work and family?

What are the causes and effects of divorce, domestic violence, and single parenting? Notes Marx: The family upholds the capitalist economic order by ensuring the reproduction of the working class and by maintaining housewives as a reserve labor force. Functionalist theory: Functions of the family include socializing children, regulating sexual behavior and reproduction, distributing resources, providing social support. 2. Education: A formal process in which knowledge, skills, and values are systematically transmitted from one individual or group to another.

Key Questions How do educational practices vary across different societies and historical periods? How does education affect individuals’ subsequent activities and achievements? What are the effects of class, race, and gender on educational institutions and experiences? What are the causes and consequences of various trends in education, such as grade inflation, violence in schools, and increasing public funding of religious instruction? Notes Marx: Education serves the capitalist order by producing skilled workers with bits such as punctuality and respect for authority.

Functionalist theory: Functions of education include transmitting shared values and beliefs, transmitting specific knowledge and skills, sorting individuals based on skill, and establishing social control over youths. Conflict theory: Educational tracking systems and other differential treatment of students reinforce social inequalities. Symbolic interactions: Face-to-face interactions in the classroom can have long-range consequences for students’ educational achievements. (Not my own work)

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