SOC101 Assignment 1 solution Fall 2018

Part I
Family is the most fundamental social institution that affects each and every aspect of our social life. Extended family system and Nuclear family system are the two main family structures observed around the globe. Answer following questions logically in the context of Pakistan based on your personal experiences and observations.
1.1 Briefly describe any three social problems that you think are directly caused by one of the two main family structures (Nuclear/ Extended).
1.2 Briefly describe any three positive aspects (social factors) of anyone of the family structures, which you consider supportive for yourself.
Part II
“Typical gender roles as a result of socialization are the biggest hurdle in achieving equality for women with the men at workplace in Pakistan”. Explain and discuss this claim.


Women with the men at workplace in Pakistan:-
Gender is also a social construction:

Male and female is a biological distinction but there are different role expectations attached to these two categories of human beings in different societies.  Societies give them different work and different family responsibilities.  The advantages and opportunities available to us differ by gender. Not going into the rationale of such differences, for the present one could simply say that it is the society that determines the image of a gender.  Further to the societal variations in gender outlooks, one could see gender differences by social class in the same society.

Society affects what we do:

To see the power of society to shape individual choices, consider the number of children women have.  In the US the average woman has slightly fewer than two children during her lifetime.  In Pakistan it is four, in India about three, in South Africa about four, in Saudi Arabia about six, and in Niger about seven.  Why these striking differences?  Society has much to do with decisions women and men make about childbearing.

Another illustration of power of society to shape even our most private choices comes from the study of suicide.  What could be a more personal choice than taking one’s own life?   Emile Durkheim showed that social forces are at work even in the apparently isolated case of self-destruction.  One has to look into such individual decisions in social context.  You may look at the social forces that are at work for the suicide cases in Pakistan.

Applying the sociological perspective:

People should develop the ability to understand their own lives in terms of larger social forces. This is called sociological imagination, a concept given by C. Wright Mills.  Sociological imagination is the strategies that can help you sort out the multiple circumstances that could be responsible for your social experiences, your life choices, and your life chances. Therefore, think sociologically, which implies to cultivating the sociological imagination.

It is easy to apply sociological perspective when we encounter people who differ from us because they remind us that society shapes individual lives.  Also an introduction to sociology is an invitation to learn a new way of looking at familiar patterns of social life.

Benefits of Sociological Perspective:-

Applying the sociological perspectives to our daily lives benefits us in four ways:
1. The sociological perspective helps us to assess the truth of community held assumptions (call it “common sense”).
We all take many things for granted, but that does not make them true.  A sociological approach encourages us to ask whether commonly held beliefs are actually true and, to the extent they are not, why they are so widely held.  Consider for yourself: gender differences; ethnic differences; racial differences; and social class differences.  Where do these differences come from?

2. The sociological perspective prompts us to assess both the opportunities and the            constraints that characterize our lives.        
What we are likely and unlikely to accomplish for ourselves and how can we pursue our           our goals effectively?

3. The sociological perspective empowers us to participate actively in our society.
  If we do not know how the society operates, we are likely to accept the status quo.  But           the greater our understanding, the more we can take an active hand in shaping our social          life.  Evaluating any aspect of social life – whatever your goal – requires identifying             social forces at work and assessing their consequences.
4. The sociological perspective helps us recognize human variety and confront the challenges of living in a diverse world.
There is a diversity of people’s life styles, still we may consider our way of life as superior, right, and natural.  All others are no good.  The sociological perspective encourages us to think critically about the relative strengths and weaknesses of all ways of life, including our own.

Family structures:-
Structural-Functionalists suggest that family performs several vital functions. In fact in this perspective family has been considered as “The backbone of society”. At the same time the social conflict paradigm considers the family central to the operations of society, but rather than focusing on societal benefits, conflict theorists investigate how the family perpetuates social inequality. The important functions are: 

1. Regulation of sexual activity.
 Every culture regulates sexual activity in the interest of maintaining kinship organization and property rights. One universal regulation is the incest taboo, a cultural norm forbidding sexual relations or marriage between certain kin. Precisely which kin fall within the incest taboo varies from one culture to another. Mostly marriage with close relatives like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, is prohibited. 

The incest taboo may have medical explanations as reproduction between close relatives of any species can mentally and physically impair off springs. Yet it has social reasons. First the incest taboo minimizes sexual competition within families by restricting legitimate sexuality to spouses. Second incest taboo forces people to marry themselves outside their immediate families, which serve the purpose of integrating the larger society. Third, since kinship defines people’s rights and obligations towards each other, reproduction among close relatives would hopelessly confuse kinship ties and threaten social order. 

2. Reproduction.
 Perhaps the only function that seems to have been left to a great extent untouched is reproduction. Without reproduction the continuation of society is at stake and the legitimate births take place only within the wedlock. Yet even this vital and inviolable function has not gone unchallenged. A prime example is the number of single women in the Western society who have children (about one third of all births in US).

3. Socialization of children.
The family is the first and most influential setting for socialization. Ideally the parents teach children to be well-integrated and participating members of society. In fact, family socialization continues throughout life cycle. Adults change within marriage, and, as any parent knows, mothers and fathers learn as much from raising their children as their children learn from them. 

The conflict sociologists try to find fault with the outcome of this socialization through which there is likely to be the transmission of cultural values. There is the continuity of patriarchy, which subordinates women to men. Families therefore transform women into the sexual and economic property of men. Most wives’ earnings belong to their husbands. 

4. Social placement.
Parents confer their own social identity – in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, and social class – on children at birth. This fact explains the long-standing preference for birth to married parents. This is more like ascription of social status to the children,

Nevertheless, racial and ethnic categories shall persist over generations only to the degree that people marry others like themselves. Thus endogamous marriage shores up the racial and ethnic hierarchy of a society. Conflict sociologists traced the origin of the family to the need to identify heirs so that men (especially in the higher classes) could transmit property to their sons. Families thus support the concentration of wealth and reproduce the class structure in each succeeding generation. Therefore family plays an important function in maintaining social inequality; hence it is a part and parcel of capitalism. 

5. Care of the sick and elderly.
Family has been a big insurance against the old age as well as during sickness. As the society moves towards the industrialization this function is likely to be taken over by institutionalized medicine and medical specialists. Care of the aged is likely to change from a family concern to a government obligation. In Pakistani society, by and large, it remains to be an important function of the family.

6. Protective function.
Family provides some degree of physical, economic, and psychological security to its members. Attack on a person is considered to be an attack on the family. Similarly guilt and shame are equally shared by the family. People view the family as a “haven in the heartless world”, looking to kin for physical protection, emotional support, and financial assistance. People living in families tend to be healthier than living alone. 

7. Economic production.
Prior to industrialization, the family constituted an economic team. Family members cooperated in producing what they needed to survive. When industrialization moved production from home to factory, it disrupted this family team and weakened the bonds that tied family members together. In Pakistan family still performs an important function at least in helping its members in establishing their careers and obtaining jobs.

Positive aspects (social factors):-

Traditional societies are governed by homogeneity in the cultural values.  There is similarity in the cultural values which are considered as sacred and people would like to preserve them. There is low tolerance of differences in values.  Compared with traditional societies, the modern societies demonstrate heterogeneity.  In the modern society there is a variety of cultures.  Modern society is an urban society which consists of people belonging to different religions, variety of occupations, variety of ethnicity, and hence different cultural patterns.  Within the broad cultures one comes across variety of subcultures and sometimes countercultures as well.

The social norms are of high moral significance and the traditional society does not tolerate the divergence in social norms.  In the modern society there is variation in the norms and the people in the urban/modern society are highly tolerant of the diversity in social norms.  

In the traditional societies the present is linked with past.  For the present problems people try to look for solutions in the past i.e. how did the forefathers solve similar problem in the past?  For modern societies, the present is linked to the future i.e. present problems are to be solved with what is going to happen in the future.

Traditional societies use pre-industrial technology and mostly people depend upon human and animal energy.  Compared with that the industrial societies use advanced sources of energy.

Social Structure:

In the traditional societies people have few statuses and most of these statuses are ascribed.  Everybody performs multiple roles; in fact there is little specialization of roles.

In the modern society there is a variety of occupations as well as variety of statuses and the corresponding roles to be performed.  Most of the statuses as well as roles are achieved ones.  There is variety of specialized roles and people perform such roles. Most of the relationships in the traditional society are of “primary” type.  There is little anonymity and privacy of the families from each other.  In the modern societies, people are more concerned about their own affairs. They have secondary relations and don’t know much about what is happening in the neighborhood
Most of the communication in the traditional societies is face to face but in the modern societies it is supplemented by mass media.  We use telephone, internet, radio, television, and print media for communication with others.  People have little time to visit somebody and talk personally.

Social control through gossip or social pressure has been replaced by formal agencies like police and legal system in the modern societies.  Due to the diversities of culture in the modern society, the cultural norms may conflict with each other. Therefore, the whole system gets formalized and enforced by agencies authorized by the law of the country.
Traditional societies experience rigid patterns of inequality and there is limited social mobility. Modern societies exhibit fluid patterns of social inequality.  Status of a person is an achieved one and there are plenty of opportunities to move from one occupation to another.  In modern industrial societies there is lot of social mobility.
In the traditional societies patriarchy is highly pronounced.  Women are subordinate to men and most of their lives are centered in the home.  As we move toward modern societies, patriarchy starts declining.  Societies move toward universal education and women start participating in the labor force.  As a result they become financially independent and fight for their rights. Hence the decision making becomes fluid, moving away from authoritarian pattern to egalitarian pattern. All this change, amounts to women empowerment.

In the small scale, pre-industrial societies, governments amounted to little more than a local noble.  A royal family formally reigned over an entire nation, but without efficient transportation or communication, the power of even absolute monarchs fell far short of the power wielded by today’s political leaders.  As technological innovation allowed government to expand, the centralized state grew in size and importance.  Governments have entered more and more areas of social life: schooling the population, regulating wages and working conditions, establishing standards for products of all sorts, and offering financial assistance to ill and the unemployed.  To pay such expenses, taxes have soared.  In modern society, power resides in large bureaucracies’ leaving people in local communities little control over their lives.

In the traditional societies extended family is the important institution for the socialization of children.  Also family is the primary unit of economic production.  In modern societies extended families are replaced by nuclear families.  It does retain some socialization function but by and large becomes a consumption unit rather than a production unit.  
Religion permeates the lives of people in the traditional societies.  Pluralism is little tolerated.  But in the modern societies, religion weakens with the rise of science.  People look for the solution of their problems in science rather than in religion.  Even in the society the plurality of religions is tolerated   Formal schooling in the traditional societies is limited to the elites.  In the modern society basic schooling becomes universal, with growing proportion of population receiving advanced education
In the traditional society there is high birth rate and high death rate.  Because of low standard of living and simple medical technology, generally there is low life expectancy. Comparatively in the modern societies there is low birth rate and low death rate.  Due to high standard of living and sophisticated technology people usually enjoy longer life expectancy.

Settlement patterns in the modern societies are large.  Population is typically concentrated in large cities.

Social change in the traditional societies is slow and it takes many generations to visibly notice the actual change that has taken place.  In the modern societies change is very rapid and it is evident within a single generation.


If modernity was the product of the Industrial Revolution, is the Information Revolution creating a postmodern era?  A number of scholars think so and use the term post-modernity to refer to social patterns characteristic of postindustrial societies.  Postindustrial society is based on information, services, and high technology, rather than on raw materials and manufacturing.  Post-modern society is another term for postindustrial society; its chief characteristic is the use of tools that extend the human abilities to gather and analyze information, to communicate, and to travel.

Post a Comment

Don't Forget To Join My FB Group VU Vicky

Previous Post Next Post