INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
Social Structure Is an Important Social Pattern in All Social Organization
It positions each actor, tells each actor what is expected (role), gives the actor an identity and perspective, distributes power, privilege, and prestige. What we do, what we are, and what we believe are linked to our positions in many social structures.
Society Is a System of Inequality
This system of inequality includes class, gender, and racial/ethnic group positions. These social structures are far-reaching, are very hard to change, and place us in positions that are very important for our entire lives.
All Social Organization Has Culture
Culture, too, is a social pattern. It is what people share as they interact: their ideas, values, goals, and norms. Our actions are influenced by what our social organizations teach us. What may seem to us like free choice often proves to be products of the culture we have learned.
Institutions Are Social Patterns That Exist in Society
We are all born into a society that has developed certain ways of doing things. Although these ways appear to be natural or right, they are always alternatives. Institutions are what we inherit from our ancestors. Societies generally have political, economic, military, kinship, educational, health care, and recreational institutions. Institutions are necessary for the continuation of society; institutions control individual choice.
Traditionally, sociologists consider politics, education, religion, family, and economics as the primary institutions of society (Bolender).
Social Order Is Necessary for All Social Organizations
Order is achieved through controlling the human being. Control is achieved through social structure, culture, institutions, socialization, feelings of loyalty, and social controls. Social controls include the designation of certain people to be outside the acceptable: the condemnation of some as deviant. The human being is part of a world that demands a certain degree of order and control. Although we all do not conform, and although no one conforms completely, society has many ways to encourage conformity. Without order and control, organization would be impossible and the human being would also be impossible.
Social Power Is Part of All Human Relationships
As people act in relation to one another, they exert resources in order to achieve their will. Some win; some lose. Some influence; some are influenced. In general, sociologists see society as a system of unequal power, usually with an elite in control.
Human Beings Develop Symbols, Self, and Mind in Interactions with Others
Symbols, self, and mind are qualities that change our relationship with our environment, including other people. Instead of simply responding to stimuli, instead of simply being conditioned by others, we become active, thinking, self-directing, problem-solving, free beings. These qualities are central to what we are; they are also qualities we develop
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