Monthly Archives: March 2013

SANDWICH GENERATION

Most people when they are young dream about getting a good job and having enough money for themselves. Not many people think about being in the sandwich generation, in fact most people don’t know what the sandwich generation is. The sandwich generation is when a parent has to take care of both their kids and their parents. The age group for people in the sandwich generation is mainly 40-60 years old. The term sandwich generation was put in the dictionary in 2006 due to Carol Abaya. The sandwich generation can definitely cause financial issues. It causes most people to become depressed physically and mentally. Trying to focus on your kids in school and your parents in and out of the hospital and still have your own problems is extremely stressful.   Mostly people that are considered being in the sandwich generation are women. My guess is because women are very emotional and tend to have sympathy and would quickly want to become a caregiver for their parents.

According to Babyboomersrwe.com, the number of parents living with their adult children increased from 2.2 million in the year 2000 to 3.6 million in 2007. The fact of the matter is that the more the number increases, the more people are going to struggle financially. The scary part is the number is projected to double in the years to come. The sandwich generation is definitely a huge issue and should be taken seriously by everyone

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TOTAL INSTITUTION

Placing an institution into the subcategory of a total institution is more a matter of degree than simply qualifying with an affirmative or negative.  The shades of gray are somewhat ironic considering the decisive imagery of the phrase itself.  Current thinking from sociologists places a degree of totality on any given institution, not only those that are traditionally viewed as totalitarian.  To give an example used often enough in the media to run the risk of becoming a cliché, shopping centers and casinos have perfected the art of isolating their clientele from the outside world.  With no easily accessible exits, no clocks, no view of the sun or sky, and dodgy cell phone reception, it can be easy to find oneself spending a great deal more time and money in these establishments then intended.  Although these places have intentionally adopted an aspect of totality to obtain profit, most people would be hesitant to actually label them as total institutions.  Rather, they utilize concepts of totality to control one aspect of their respective clients, rather than their every action.

The view that all social institutions have degrees of totality is reminiscent of Karl Marx’s conflict theories.  As in many of the theories of social conflict, the presence of a degree of totality in most or all social institutions lends weight to the argument that social institutions aim to exert control over their respective members.  That control does not have to be negative.  To give an example, family is considered a social institution, of which marriage is a part.  Marriage shows characteristics of totality.  In particular, it is widely accepted that a degree of isolation is expected in favor of social interaction with the nuclear family.  Assuming this hypothetical marriage is a happy one, the benefits of marriage outweigh the sacrifices, making the presence of totality benign.  However, from a purely analytical perspective, the institution of marriage preserves itself through control of its members’ outside interactions.  This is a key factor in a total institution.

The aforementioned idea that all institutions display totality in degrees means that institutions not generally considered totalitarian can still be analyzed with the totality concept in mind.  Marriage has already been given as an example.  The shopping centers and casinos mentioned earlier apply equally well.  Corporations make vast sums of money using sociological concepts to generate profit.

Institutions with a high degree of totality have been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny in recent decades.  Re-socialization is an important issue that strongly affects the way we handle dangerous members of our society.  Re-socialization is the process we use to purge a person of unwanted traits or behaviors that are the result of their initial socialization, or to instill positive traits and behaviors they may be missing.  The prison system and military organizations are perfect examples of re-socialization at work.  In theory, prison sentences are no longer meant to merely be punishment for crimes committed.  The process of re-socialization is applied in order to rehabilitate inmates and prepare them to rejoin society.  The level of success is arguable, if only due to a lack of budgeting and priority, but the ideal of rehabilitation exists at the very least.

Unlike the prison system, the large military budget and the higher priorities veterans receive over inmates have been the cause of a great deal of change in this example of a total institution.  The results of an ever increasing awareness of the effects of total institutions’ can be seen in the military’s handling of both recruits and veterans.  Military trainers have long expressed the idea that before you build a person up, you have to break them down.  This is the most fundamental part of the re-socialization process used by total institutions.  A recruit’s sense of identity is the largest barrier to responding to socialization, so it is the first thing to be attacked.  Hair and clothes are made generic, contact with the outside world is extremely limited, and personal choice is almost nonexistent.  Stress levels are kept as high as possible while recovery periods are made shorter.  During their initial training, army recruits are lucky to get five hours of sleep per day, and not always consecutively.  Activities are carefully controlled and monitored for several months.  Better standing of total institutions has led to changes in these practices in the past decade.  The military is adopting philosophies of strengthening without degradation.  Sleep schedules are longer and stress levels are generally kept at a lower state.  One of the reasons for this is that the process of institutionalization has been found to have harmful long term effects.  The obsolete nature of institutionalization can be seen when the extreme control exerted by prison systems succeeds only to create model prisoners, who re-offend when they are released back into the population.  The same can be said of soldiers.  A person may do very well in their assigned role as a soldier, but their new adjustment can cause trouble when they are exposed to the outside world once again.

Totality in our social institutions is not only an issue for those who enlist in the military, or send their children to a boarding school.  Because totality exists in degrees in every social institution, and because these institutions tend to attempt increased control over time in order to maintain their power over members through sanctions, it is important to understand how these total institutions’ methods apply in everyday society.

HAWTHORNE EFFECT

Everyone notices people around them watching.  When someone knows they are being watched they change the way they do things.  If a little girl sees a boy she likes looking at her, she will try to impress him in some way.  However she was doing the task will change by trying to be cute instead of getting what she needed to do done.

By definition, an experiment is an artificially created situation that allows a researcher to manipulate variables. Researchers carefully control the experimental context in order to measure the degree to which the independent variable causes the change in the dependent variable under study.  An experiment can be a survey or observational.  An observational experiment allows researchers to closely examine behaviors and communities.

The Hawthorne Effect is used by sociologists to describe the unintended influence that observers of experiments can have on their subjects.  When the group being watched notices this they will change the way they perform a certain duty or just change the way they live.

In my AP Statistics class we were given a task to think of an observational research project.  My partner and I picked to watch how many people ate pizza with their fingers and how many ate with a fork.  The results were amazing!  We picked this Cafeteriadiningroomsubject because I eat my pizza with a fork and my partner thought it was strange, so to see that so many other people ate with their fork was mind blowing.  But what was even more strange was the longer we watched the more people started to eat with their fork also.  I would have never guessed this would actually happen.

 

Works Cited

“Cafeteria.” Santa Barbra City College. Santa Barbra City College, 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

Rozzo, Edward. “Photography After Photography: Web Talent.” Visual experience. Visual Experience, 23 July 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

“Psychology Experiment: invisible Rope.” Youtube. Youtube, 22 May 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

ALIENATION

malaika tucker-working on a assembly line (1)Alienation is defined by Jon Witt as a “loss of control over our creative human capacity to produce separation from the products we make, and isolation from our fellow producers.”  Karl Marx’s theory of alienation consists of four parts. The first is alienation from the product. This means, what you produce does not belong to you. A good example of this is working on an assembly line at a car factory. You have no control over the design and production protocol. The second is alienation from other people. This can mean you don’t get to spend time with people you enjoy being with because of your job or you chose not to be around or associate with others for your own personal reasons. People that fit in this category could also have a situation or job where they feel like they’re part of a secondary group and/or out-group. For example, car salesmen have commission-based jobs.  The more cars they sell, the more money they make.  Competition can develop between coworkers who are trying to beat one another out of a sale, causing coworkers to be distant. The third is alienation from work. This means your job becomes monotonous or automatic. malaika tucker-working on a fast food lineYour mind doesn’t even have to be there. An example of this would be making food at a fast food restaurant; you’ve memorized what ingredients go in which food item so well that your hands are just moving without you actually thinking about it.  Social control could be a reason why people end up in this category.  After trying to be a perfect worker and show obedience to your boss and also not draw any attention to yourself, before you know it, everything’s habitual. The fourth is alienation of the worker from himself as a producer from his/her species essence. This means humans are naturally inclined to work as long as this job engages their human spirit. An example of this would be an actor and actress. They don’t get to add their own spin to their lines, they have to say what’s written in the script; therefore this job does not engage their human spirit.

 

WORKS CITED

Marx’s Theory Of Alienation. Wikipedia, 20 February. 2013. Web.

Witt, Jonathan. Soc. New York: McGraw, 2012. 115. Print.

ANOMIE

“Anomie is a state of normlessness that typically occurs during a period of profound social change and disorder, such as a time of economic collapse, political or social revolution, or even sudden prosperity.” – Jon Witt

According Dr. Cecil Greek at FloridaStateUniversity, “Emile Durkheim used anomie to describe a condition of deregulation that was occurring in society. Anomie, simply defined, is a state where norms (expectations on behaviors) are confused or not present” (http://criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/week8.htm). Some people might say life is hard, some might say that life is only as hard as you make it. I say that it is a little bit of both. There are certain guidelines or behaviors to life that if followed can make things a little more pleasant. My parents always said to me, “treat people the way you want to be treated.”  This should not be a hard concept to follow. We as people like it when someone treats us with respect. It makes us feel good as a person, whether we know this person personally or not.  It seems as time goes on, people treat one another with complete disrespect. Some people seem to be confused on what good behavior is when dealing with one another. Norms help control behavior in society, a loss of norms can result in normlessness. When communities break down eventually norms within the community breakdown. This can lead to many things.

I was once friends with a girl who had parents that had money. Not too much money, just enough to give her anything she wanted. She had a new car at sixteen and always had nice clothes and shoes.  She had it all.   She may have been a little over spoiled but this was her reward for worked hard in school. She was one of the sweetest people I have ever met; everyone loved her. It seemed like she never had a bad day and always pleasant, smiling, joking, and helping others. Both of her parents had good jobs and made good money until one not so good day. Her father was in a bad car accident, lost his job and would be unable to work for the next couple of years due to multiple surgeries.  When the accident happened my friend was in her first year of college. Her mother tried to hide their financial problems as long as possible.  As time went on, finances got worse. Finally her mother sat her down and explained the whole thing. Their finances were lower than ever before. Their social status had dramatic change. The ways of life that were once normal to her had now become a state of normlessness.  Her mother now worked all the time, and took care of her husband. Her parents no longer had time for her or money. Working and going to school full time was a challenge for her. It seemed her whole life had been turned upside down, she was different now. As time passed her behavior changed, she became mean and very unpleasant. I remember when she started to pull away, and keep to herself more. She no longer wanted to hang out or talk. She would sometimes say that she did not know what to do, or which way to go. In a short time her grades dropped and she began doing things some might call deviant. It seemed is if she did not care anymore. I believe that my friend may have slipped into a state of Anomie after her father’s accident.

According to Jon Witt, “deviance is behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society.” Behavior is only deviant if society responds to it that way — a state of mind if you will.  What is deviant to one person may not be to another. I believe the scope of deviance varies from one group to another.  Negative sanctions can discourage public deviance with public punishment.  For example, a drunk drivers face, name and possible punishment may be put in the newspaper. This public punishment could increase conformity by discouraging similar violation by other people. Every society has their own deviant individuals just as everyone is deviant from time to time. Sounds funny but I think deviant behavior can be a shared behavior that could bring people together.

In society there are times when the existentence of external forces seem to out weight the individuals own will. This external force can have a massive influence on an individual’s behavior.  The influence that society can have on one’s behavior can be a good thing or a bad one. This influence from society can help keep us socially integrated. Social integration makes people feel like they fit in or belong to something.

When social integration is weak, it is easier to be deviant. When people feel like they belong to a group they may be less likely to commit deviant acts and more likely to conform in order to fit in. Once conformed, the individual may feel more connected, less lonely and isolated. This would decrease the feeling of Anomie. When people within a society have more shared experiences in common this increases social integration.

SOCIALIZATION

Every day we live in a world ticking on its own rhythm taking account of things that we consider normal functions of life in performing daily tasks. We are expected to behave in a certain way according to the perspectives of ourselves and others. From childhood through adulthood, we pass stages of life expecting that significant transitions are yet to come to be experienced in the course of our lives. The language we speak, the values we believe in, and the rules we follow shape us to become a unique individual within the society.

 

Such uniqueness of individual is defined as self. The self is the distinct sense of who we are that is developed from social interactions with other individuals which can be changed depending on our life experiences. According to American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley’s Looking-Glass Self theory, a person’s self is shaped by the interaction with the important people around him/her. For example, I believe in Buddhism because my parents have been influential regarding religious aspects and beliefs from the earliest years of my childhood. Going to the temple, chanting Dhamma, listening to Dhamma talk from the Buddhist monks were our family’s outing on the weekends or occasionally other social meetings with people from the mutual society. Now, I think myself as an adult with my own perspective and beliefs, but I still believe in Buddhism and still perform those rituals. I follow Buddhism, not because I did not have an option to choose which religion to believe in, but because those experiences I had in the early years of my life shaped me and planted my belief in Buddhism first, prior to that of other religions. Also, it is because of the powerful influence of my parents, the schools I have gone to where there were occasional religious events held within the school facility and because the majority of friends and relatives have the same religious beliefs. Thus, my parents were significant in developing my beliefs.  School, friends and relatives were the agents of socialization that played an important role in shaping the self that I am today. Other common agents of socialization that exist within the society are family, cross-culture variation, the influence of race and gender, peer groups, mass media and technology, religion and the state, the work place and school.  This demonstrates the socialization process.

Socialization is a lifelong process that enables us to learn the attitudes, values, and behaviors appropriate for our culture. Noticing the word “lifelong” from the definition, we learn significant amounts from human interaction with others even before we can speak a word. American sociologist George Herbert Mead described the early childhood self-development in three stages:

Preparatory stage (birth – 3 years old)

In this stage, the children are engaged in social interaction with others by imitation. When I was working as a community interpreter for the InghamIntermediateSchool District for Early Childhood Development Program, I had to go for home visits with a parent educator for non-English speaking families from Myanmar. The parent educator would analyze and determine the level of development according to the behavior of children. The use of gestures, objects and eventually words to communicate or the use of symbols to interact with other is the goal of a three year old development. It was amazing to have seen that many children achieved this stage tremendously well even though they were raised in a different culture.

Play stage ( 3 years old – 5 years old)

Children are believed to learn self-development and interaction through pretend play in this stage. It is critical because the children learn to behave in a certain way only when they have experienced the similar experiences such as going to school, going to the doctor for medical checkup or to the dentist or to learn more about how the world works. These types of internalized role taking activities help the children to understand why we do things and how we do things and to have an expectancy of what kind of perspective they should have.

Game stage (6 years old – 9 years old)

This is the final stage where children begin to consider their role and their own position to represent their ‘self’. This is the stage where the child realizes how his/her attitudes and viewpoints are taken into account by the expectations of society as a whole.

As we grow older, constructing and maintaining our self has been far more influenced by others. A Canadian sociologist, Erving Goffman explained a viewpoint called dramaturgical approach where people are seen as theatrical performers. Each individual plays their own role in encountering social interactions. For example, a mom is expected to be responsible of taking care of her children and household, a teacher is expected to teach the students and also to use appropriate manner and behavior to strictly stick to the rules, a student is expected to put learning as his/her priority to have a good career. Mr. Goffman also referred to the methods called impression management and face-work. An example of impression management would be choosing or altering the right kind of clothing to wear to different places such as a dress for party, casual clothes for hanging out with friends. Face-work is initiating behavior that would maintain the image of self to avoid public embarrassment. For example, a college math teacher would not want his/her colleagues to know that he is practicing Hip hop dancing because he thinks this would put an inappropriate sense for his job being a college faculty.

LOOKING-GLASS SELF

“One imagines how he appears to others. One imagines the judgments that others may be making regarding that appearance. One develops a self- image via their reflection; that is, the judgments or critique of others.  There are not many among a general population who do not imagine how they must look to others, how their actions must look to those observing, and finally-changing themselves or perhaps rebelling against change due to the judgments of others they interact with. A large portion of personalities are determined by their reactions to appearance, speech, belief, actions, and so on.” (http://suite101.com/article/sociology-cooleys-the-looking-glass-self) The above quote explains one of Charles Horton Cooley’s many theories that were written. The Looking Glass Self is a concept where we become what or who we think others think we should be. This theory argues that we develop a sense of self based upon how we think others perceive us.

teenagers

Now imagine being a teenager, who is at a vulnerable stage in their lives. Teens are trying to figure out who they are, and where they will fit in our society. They may never admit to it, but teenagers do care about what others think of them. Most teens feel adults think all kids are juvenile delinquents, skip school, do drugs and all are disrespectful. Teens tend to conform to the image they think adults expect of them. I have witnessed teenagers who were good kids, but felt they have to down play who they were to fit in an image they feel others would expect. In truth not every teenager is a menace to society. Perceptions should start with how you feel about yourself, and not with what you think someone else is thinking about you.

According to Cooley, the development of a sense of self is always ongoing and happens with interaction. As stated by Cooley, “we become who we are based not on how others actually see us, and not on how they judge us, but on how we think they will judge us based on what we think they perceive”(Cooley 1902). It’s that feeling you get when you’re in a large crowd, and all eyes are on you, and you’re thinking people think that you look a little weird.  According to Suite101.com, “the concept is somewhat related to the psychological concept of projection; human beings interpret the reactions of others that they socialize within regards to appearance, speech mannerism (all symbols) and projects these interpretation unto themselves”  (http://suite101.com/article/sociology-cooleys-tht-looking-glass-self).  Unfortunately, they fail to look inside themselves and portray who they are and not who they think others think they should be.

Although teenagers are considered some of our dare devil impressionable people, they are also looking for acceptance. It is important to know that there are teens who want to and have deviated from behavior that is thought of as the norm for their age group. There are teenagers that have lived with family members that have abused alcohol and have seen first- hand the impact it can have on people and have chose to not drink it.   Maybe as a society we should embrace our younger generation in accepting their way of expressing themselves as long as no laws are broken and no one gets hurt. Overall, having confidence and realizing “our concept of who we are, our self, emerges as we interact with others. The self is our sense of who we are, distinct from others and shaped by the unique combination of our social interactions” (Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929). Dare to be different, how else will we all be unique individuals.  People will always have their own opinions and are entitled to it.  No one has to conform to someone else’s image of them. Look inside yourself and be the person you think you should be and not what you imagine someone else to think of you.

SOCIOBIOLOGY

Sociobiology aims to explain how biology affects human social behavior. The concept of sociobiology was first introduced in E.O Wilson’s book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975). E.O Wilson’s book defined sociobiology as an evolutionary theory of social behavior. Many sociobiologists believe that natural selection for reproductive success and reconstruction of evolutionary histories of behavior and behavioral strategies shape human social behaviors.

Evolutionary socialization begins to introduce the Darwinian evolutionary theory and natural selection. Darwin’s theory of evolution by the process of natural selection explains adaption by linking differential adaption to differential reproductive success. Organisms living in particular conditions of life with weaker traits will not last long in a population due to low rates of survival and reproductive success. Sociobiologists use the same method when modeling the evolution of human behaviors by using various ‘behavioral strategies’ as relevant traits. Sociobiologists believe that humans and other organisms have behavioral control systems that serve particular functions and whose evolutionary history is traceable.

Gene-culture coevolution shapes genes and cultures through human development. An example of this is the sweetness case, which touches on the fact that there is a strong disposition among people whose preference are sweet foods. Humans taste receptors for sweetness tell them that sugar is sweet. Since humans seek foods that trigger their taste receptors (due to human ancestors eating sweet fruits to give them energy for daily functions) they are gravitated towards fast food chains, which offer foods with large amounts of fat, salt and sugar. Human ancestors had a short supply of foods that contained sugar and salt in their environment, which resulted in humans to inherit their ancestor’s predispositions to eat sugary foods when they had the opportunity. Another example of gene-culture coevolution is sex-role stereotypes. Sociobiologists asked the question, why do humans have the sex-role stereotypes they do? Social science claims that humans are not born with mental contents. However, sex differences in children’s behavior can be explained by the differential treatment of parents who possessed sex-role stereotypes.

   Social behavior is closely related to gene-culture coevolution and natural selection. Richard Dawkins used his infamous metaphor ‘the selfish gene’ (1976) to introduce sociobiology. Critics took Dawkins metaphor and argued that, if human behavior were to be related to natural selection, we would all be selfish. Mary Midgley (1978) also believed Dawkins ‘the selfish gene’ metaphor to involve vicious circular reasoning. On the other hand, Darwin’s arguments for natural selection did not characterize the evolution process itself as being selfish or altruistic. Instead, Darwin postulated traits that serve a function to an individual, such as adaptive traits that help organisms solve problems from limited resources in their environment. The adaptive traits that give organisms advantages in competition can occur through altruistic or selfish traits. Altruistic traits help others but can cause self-destruction; selfish traits help ones self while hindering others from performing tasks. Sociopaths are defined as being selfish people; Linda Mealey identified two explanations for sociopathic behavior (1995), the ultimate and proximate explanation. Hypothetical ancestral conditions that may have rendered sociopathy adaptive, particularly the conditions in which social reciprocity evolved in human populations describes the ultimate explanation of sociopathic behavior. While, mechanisms that have a possibility to produce sociopathic behaviors in current environments, especially the mechanisms that involve life-history strategies that span biological, psychological and sociocultural variables describes the proximate explanation of sociopathic behavior.

Sociobiologists look at cultural universals as a product of human biological evolution. They argue that explanations of human thoughts and actions as a species ultimately takes into account human genetic makeup. On the other hand, while most sociologists agree that biology influences human social behavior. Degree’s of variation within and between societies suggests that sociobiological theories are limited to explain complex human behavior. An example of this is that one society may not allow marriage between close relatives while another society encourages it. The expression of cultural universals varies from one society to another and can dramatically change over time. It was once thought that women’s brains were too small, making them incapable of success in college. Women now make up about sixty percent of college graduates. Claims similar to that example have been used in the past to justify inequality, which had many sociologists questioning biological explanations for human behavior. Sociobiology’s main problem is that sociobiological theories are limited in explaining complex human behavior. It is difficult to find a possible solution to this problem because complex human behaviors are brought on by many factors and are ever changing within societies.

 

Citation:

Holcomb, H., & Byron, J. (2005, November 21). Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sociobiology/

Witt, J. (2012). Soc 2012. New York: McGraw-Hill

SOCIAL NORMS

Without the social norms that we abide by each and every day, there would be absolutely no expectations of how anyone is supposed to “normally” behave. From the moment we wake up on our mattress, usually atop a box spring and frame (the standard sleeping structure in western culture); we follow the norms that have been taught to us since the moment we entered onto this earth.

I think that maintaining these norms, and being seen as normal for abiding by them, are of extreme importance to nearly everyone in every society. To fit in is everyone’s ultimate goal. In order to retain the importance of the norms we’ve constructed, we have created different levels of negative sanctions to deal with the disobedient social deviants. Whether it be conscious or subconscious, every time we view someone falling outside of norms we think negatively of them and react in various ways, from simply rolling our eyes to picking up a phone and dialing the police (depending on the severity of the norm breaking).

who_thisweek_26092011_17731gr-17731h2Norms in society can range from things that are seemingly insignificant as the kind of clothes we wear to things that are considered law. We consider these small norms to be folkways, and little concern is raised when someone decides to deviate from them. Although it is a folkway to wear casual clothing, such as jeans in what is considered a casual setting, no one is too bothered by someone deciding to “dress up” in something more along the lines of a suit jacket or a nice dress.  Norms that are deemed more necessary and absolute, such as driving on a specific side of the road, or refraining from murder, are referred to as mores. These mores are often written down formally whether in formats such as a school handbook, driving manual, or in laws defended by the government. Once written down, these norms are considered to be formal norms, as opposed to informal norms, which are generally grasped by the population, but not necessarily written down. Example of informal norms are the common etiquettes we’ve been raised with, such as not being “too loud” in a public environment or grocery shopping from the store aisles as opposed to someone else’s cart.

japanese_card_exchange

Negative sanctions are not the only sanctions to exist in our world of norms. Positive sanctions are seen just as often as negative sanctions. We’re given positive sanctions for obeying our norms through our good grades in schools, promotions and pats on the back at work, and general statuses in life. Because the average person obeys the norms laid out for them, they will have many more opportunities than someone who has deviated from these norms, such as a convicted felon.  Other than the obvious jail time and/or fines, felons are negatively sanctioned beyond that to continuously remind them of their wrongdoings. These sanctions can include: refusal to enter other countries, not being allowed a job in childcare or public office, etc., whereas these travel and job opportunities are seemingly very basic and attainable to the Average Joe.

tumblr_l8vf4zt3wb1qdpi3fo1_500My personal view of norms is exceptionally mixed. On one hand, I feel that norms suffocate any real sense of self and individualism. However, on the other hand, I recognize the importance of providing someone with violent tendencies a standard at which to abide by so that they don’t act on possible homicidal urges. Unfortunately because norms are so heavily relied upon, they are the major players in creating the petty insecurities we feel on a daily basis. I think that if the norms laying in the more aesthetic/subjective spectrum (such as clothing and beauty standards of the gender binary, grooming habits, interest in pop culture, etc) were to be given less focus and attention, the world would be a much happier place. If everyone could mind their own business and pay no mind as to what someone chooses to wear or who they feel like having a relationship with, it’s my belief that suicide would not be nearly as prevalent; especially in those who strain the importance of such things- teenagers. Instead of constantly having to conform and act off of what we think is “normal” our Me and I could just be one, and there wouldn’t have to be so much stress put on our looking glass self. Bullying wouldn’t exist and Ugg boots would’ve not been so vital to every fourteen-year-old girls existence. But in order to do this, one of the important factors would be to significantly cut the amount of corporate advertising shown in all forms of media. Given that in 2010 advertisers spent fifty billion dollars on television advertising alone (Ad Age), one could say cutting such a thing would be detrimental to the United States economy. Although it’s obvious that petty folkway norms can be seemingly of so much more importance in our daily lives, and cause a myriad of self detriment- I don’t think there’s any realistic way in the foreseeable future to be rid of them.

DEVIANCE

We have all seen them, “gangsters” walking around with saggy pants and baggy sweatshirts known for causing trouble and committing crime, or Goth’s with gaged ears and all black attire, known for being emotionally unstable and violent. These people are said to be deviant, with norms and values that differ from those of the greater society. These subcultures create their own norms and values that others see to be different, or deviant.

Norms are an established standard of behavior maintained by a society.  Norms can be formal, informal, folkways or mores. Formal norms are those that generally have been written down and specify strict punishment if violated. Laws are an example of formal norms. Informal norms are those that are understood but not necessarily recorded. Examples of informal norms include how one behaves in a college level classroom. Folkways are norms that govern everyday behavior but do not result in much concern if violated. Wearing acceptable clothing is an example of a folkway. Lastly, mores are norms that are seen as necessary to the welfare of society, and are based on what is right and wrong. Religious doctrines are an example of mores. Defying any of these norms can result in an individual being perceived as deviant. For an individual to conform is for him or her to go along with peers, acting in a similar manner. Just as one can conform to society, that is following social norms, one can also conform to a deviant group, acting in a way that is different from the rest of society.

Perhaps the most recognized deviant groups in society are criminals. Criminals can be individuals who commit crimes such as murder or assault, or small crimes such as income tax evasion or misinterpretation of advertisement. Whether the crime was a violent crime resulting in extreme punishment, or a small senseless one with little recognition, every move we make as humans has a sanction. Sanctions are tactics used by society to penalize or reward individuals for their behavior. Negative sanctions used for criminal activity, for example, include jail or prison sentencing, fines and community service. These sanctions are largely responsible for the “good behavior” of society, as individuals stray from behavior that could result in these negative sanctions. Positive sanctions are also part of keeping society under control, so to speak. These sanctions include praise or rewards for good behavior, such as a student being on the honor roll, or getting certificates for perfect attendance. Sanctions are a means of encouraging conformity to the standards of society, while also preventing individuals from becoming deviant.

All types of sanctions are a part of social control.  “We create norms to provide social order . . . we enforce them through social control – the techniques and strategies for preventing deviant human behavior in any society” (Witt 130). Social control can be exercised in families, by parents, in colleges, by teachers, or in government by the police or legislature. One example of social control in schools is the hidden curriculum. Just as sanctions teach individuals what is socially acceptable throughout life, the hidden curriculum is used in schools to teach children what behaviors are acceptable. For example, students learn to speak only when they are called on, and are taught how to socialize with authority figures in an acceptable way. These lessons are ones that will be critical throughout life, to conform to society.

Teachers are likely to have a life-long effect on their students. Not only do teachers demonstrate socially acceptable behavior to students, but they often label students as well. Labeling can both help and hurt a child while growing up. For example, if the teacher labels a student as dishonest at a young age, that child is likely to keep that label throughout his or her education. Labeling can also be seen as a sort of stereotyping. African Americans have been labeled as delinquents, bad kids or criminals for years. Labeling a group of people as bad, in this case, puts them at a disadvantage because they are more likely to accept that label.

Norms are more important in everyday life than most people know. Without norms, we would not know how to work together, how to work individually, or how to function as an entire community. Although there are disadvantages of having norms, such as having deviant individuals, norms are an absolute necessity of society.

 

Works Cited

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Maricopa CountyJail. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://maricopacountyjail.net/&gt;.

Sackermann, Joern. Germany, Gothic People. Lightstalkers, Cologne. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Stylephotographs, . African Student Raising her Hand in University Class. 123RF. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Witt, Jon. SOC. 2012th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.