Free «Sociology Final: Inequality and Discrimination» Essay Sample

Sociology Final: Inequality and Discrimination
  1. Explanations for the persistence of occupational sex segregation

According to Charles & Grusky, occupational sex segregation is a persistent feature of contemporary employment market, especially in highly developed countries that boast of eliminating gender discrimination and ensuring equal rights and freedoms to representatives of both genders. However, the above feature has not withered away, like the gender gap in other domains, including rights and education, which may be explained through the lack of a consistent and all-encompassing approach to solve the problem. Moreover, occupational sex segregation has become an integral part of the modern economic system, as the two are ideologically consistent. Occupational sex segregation is a long-standing systemic phenomenon that has its own deep structure and integration into modern economies and societies; it is the reason it cannot be merely expected to disappear one day under the pressure of general gender equality movement. Other reasons why this phenomenon persists today include slow pace of change, partial failure of egalitarianism, uneven nature of the occurring change, as well as gender essentialism and its internalization by society members. Furthermore, occupational sex segregation can also be explained by conscious and subconscious discrimination of employees of different genders by employers who hold peculiar gender stereotypes and employ people accordingly; such a state of events can as well be explained by employees’ preferences of gender-specified stereotypical occupations, expected sanctions in case of violating the accepted gender norms and stereotypes, and the accepted stereotype of male primacy, despite all claims for the otherwise. Together, these reasons contribute to further persistence of occupational sex segregation, especially in the West.

  1. The changing relation between racial and legal exclusion

According to Waters & Kasinitz, the USA today has different patterns of racial and legal exclusion than before with the latter becoming more prominent. Despite some claims that racial and legal exclusions overlap today, they stand for different processes and have different impacts. Hence, race gradually ceases to be the most important factor of discrimination, even though many racial minorities get trapped under the power of legal system. In turn, legal exclusion that concerns limited civil rights and freedoms, incarceration and its consequences, unauthorized status of immigrants, and felony disenfranchisement has become a new tool of control and domination. Even though Latin and African Americans are often the victims of legal exclusion, it does not happen primarily because of their race, but rather because of other causes, like socioeconomic status, illegality, etc. Hence, the relations between racial and legal exclusion have really changed in the USA with legal exclusion increasing in its prevalence and significance and racial discrimination gradually decreasing.

  1. Citizenship and global inequality

The contemporary world is characterized by a rapid pace of globalization, under which people should acquire global citizenship and freely move all around the world. However, the reality is different and globalization has had very little impact on labor mobility and immigration patters. The latter may be explained from the perspective of global inequality, as rich industrial countries of the West are those that oppose labor mobility, immigration, and granting of citizenship to migrants. According to Pritchett, only Canada is a migrant-friendly country, while all other countries have adopted a wide range of legal measures that restrict immigration and make it impossible for migrants to receive the citizenship. Hence, people from poor countries of the world cannot get an access to the international employment market, while people from rich countries can move virtually to any country they wish and receive a salary that would be higher than that of locals. Besides, the rising inequality between countries allows the rich West to dictate to poor developing countries the rules on immigration, citizenship, and labor mobility.

  1. Garfinkel’s “breaching experiments” and their relation to Goffman’s research

Harold Garfinkel’s “breaching experiments” are tightly related to Goffman’s research, since they are focused on the revealing reaction of individuals to the breach of social norms, i.e. avoidance and presentational rules and demeanor norms, described by Goffman. Garfinkel developed his breaching experiments; for instance, clarification experiments with a view to testing how the society reacted to the breach of accepted norms. In the process of clarification experiment, an experimenter responds to polite questions or statements of an interlocutor in an expected way, which the latter finds quite puzzling, disconcerting, and even irritating, since he/she does not have some accepted norm to govern the response. Breaching experiments can occur virtually in any social setting, but they have to be carefully planned, so that no one gets harmed. However, the norms to be broken are only to be ceremonial rules, rather than laws as the experiments are intended to be harmless. Nevertheless, reactions of those who are ignorant participants of experiments differ greatly, since they can be mere amusement or anger. These experiments prove Goffman’s idea that deference and demeanor are an integral part of all human beings and their conduct.

  1. Relation between two main forms of deference

According to Goffman, there are two main forms of deference, including presentational and avoidance rituals. The avoidance rituals are the forms of deference that make an actor avoid certain behaviors and maintain the distance, so that a person to whom deference is shown does not feel crowded and violated. They apply both to verbal and non-verbal conduct and may include taboos, interdictions, and proscriptions. In turn, presentational rules stand for those acts of deference when individuals show their affection and appreciation of others. Common types of presentational rituals include salutations, compliments, invitations, and minor services. These two forms of deference are in a constant opposition and even conflict. One form prescribes the avoidance to act, while the other one encourages acting. However, these forms of deference almost always come together and any social intercourse is a dialectic whole that consists of these two forms. Although, these forms are opposing, they have to be realized together in the process of interaction, while individuals have to be careful to maintain a delicate balance between the two.

  1. The role of deference and demeanor in sustaining the self

According to Goffman, deference and demeanor are the two complementary phenomena, required for sustaining the self. In fact, they are inseparable, as they always come together and an act of deference may also be regarded as an act of demeanor. Moreover, once an individual displays deference to another person, he/she maintains his/her own personal demeanor in such a way, yet the latter should not be intrusive and overly explicit, but rather implicit and well received by others. The way the person intends others to perceive his/her self does not always coincide with their actual perception, yet demeanor and deference play a crucial role in the process of creating an image of oneself that the person would believe in and project it onto others. Even though deference and demeanor are in complementary relations, they are different, as to the agent and object of action. Moreover, a failure to show deference is not automatically translated into permission for others to get rid of their demeanor and fail to show deference in return. Withal, social relations are built upon deference and demeanor and individuals have to be conscious about their conduct and conduct of others, in order to navigate social relations without breaching the essential social norms and rules.

  1. Critical mass processes and significance of different thresholds or crossover points

Schelling provides an elaborate and easily comprehensible definition of the concept of critical mass, as well as dwells upon the issue of crossover points and the way they differ for different individuals and in different situations. Hence, the critical mass is a term that could be easily interchangeable with critical number, intensity, density, etc. and stands for a point when some activity that has been occurring for some time passes a peculiar minimum level when it becomes self-sustaining. For instance, some individuals decide to participate in a march, but they wait until the march is joined by the certain number of people when they feel comfortable enough to join or are not afraid of humiliation, persecution, or other factors that have stopped them before the gathering of critical mass. The point when these individuals decide to join is called a crossover point and it differs for all people. Thus, some may decide to join the march, regardless of the amount of participants and be there even if they are the only persons who are doing that. Some will join when five people participate, while others will join only when the march gathers five hundred participants. These differing points of joining a certain activity are called threshold or crossover points. Comprehension of critical mass processes and related notions is essential for understanding behavior of the society and its separate groups, as well as individuals.

  1. The “tipping” model

The “tipping” model, as explained by Schelling, is one of the models of critical mass processes that can be a tipping-in or tipping-out model, depending on the occurring processes. Hence, the above mentioned term was borrowed from the study of neighborhood migration to explain what happens when some population leaves the place due to peculiar circumstances, which prompts the other population, causing these circumstances to move in and increase in number. Initially, the tipping model is concerned with the study of relationships of African Americans and Whites in neighborhoods and schools when the former tried, for instance, to move in and the latter started leaving due to discomfort, which made other representatives of their group feel even more uncomfortable.

  1. Divergence of individual and collective interests

Schelling claims that individual and collective interests rarely coincide and diverge more often than they are similar. Hence, when an individual seeks a way to benefit oneself and one’s interests, it would, most certainly, not be beneficial for the collective interests. However, for all people in the community to prosper, they have to reach some compromise between individual and collective interests and not let their members satisfy the former at the cost of the latter. In order to do that, people have to realize that there exists a divergence between what they want to do for themselves and what they would like to achieve as a group and then reach a balance between these individuals and collective interests for the benefit of all the involved stakeholders.

  1. Bridges

According to Granovette, the concept of bridges is a concept relating to community ties in a social network. It stands for a path between connecting two contacts along which information and influence flow from any of their other contacts to any of the other person’s contacts and vice versa. The indirect connections are being created within a social network, whereby more and more contacts get connected indirectly by bridges and share information and influence. This way, a network grows, which makes bridges the essential components of the social network. However, it should be noted that only weak ties can be bridges and a strong tie can never be a bridge, in line with the premises of diffusion and social networking, yet not all weak ties are bridges.

  1. The strength of weak ties; the weakness of strong ties

According to Granovette, in a social network, weak ties are strong, while strong ties can be weak from the perspective of building and enlarging the ego’s network through bridging with new contacts through the already existing ones. Hence, weak ties serve as bridges along which information, influence, ideas, and anything else passes between unrelated and distant contacts who share at least one common contact. Several experiments have proved that diffusion of information, along with social ties occurs much quicker and more effectively if it is shared via weak ties, while strong ties produce low results in this respect. Strong ties are perfect for maintaining close social connection, such as friendship or family bonds, yet they fail to be efficient for spreading or learning new information. An ego with only strong ties is encapsulated within a tight circle and learns nothing beyond this circle. In turn, an ego with many weak ties is in the center of all the information and actively participates in the social network. Besides, the argument about the strength of weak and strong ties relates to their capacity to serve as bridges among contacts and social networks with only the former having this capacity. Therefore, it is possible to talk about the strength of weak ties and the weakness of strong ties in social networking.

  1. Institutions and the difference between institutions and organizations

According to Jenkins, institutions are habitualized and common patterns of individuals’ behavior form the collective unity in a particular context, which have been present for some period of time and are recognized as the way things are done within this community. Hence, institutions represent an essential part of social construction of the reality under which representatives of that community model their behavior and actions. They differ from organizations in terms of their nature and origin. They originate from habits, emerging in the process of the institutionalization of the collective, while organizations represent the collection of individuals who assemble for some purpose. Institutions are sort of ideal patterns of behavior, while organizations recreate the real-life order and procedure of doing things.

  1. Cultural models and American patterns of forming and dissolving intimate relationships

Cherlin claims that American cultural models, relating to family, marriage, and intimate relationships significantly differ from those accepted in Europe and other English-speaking countries of the world. Hence, Americans tend to marry and enter cohabitating intimate relationships earlier than other nations and dissolve them quicker with about half of them ending within five years. Moreover, Americans reenter intimate relationships and marriages quicker, i.e. within three years as a rule. Hence, the number of partners Americans have throughout life is higher than in other nations. For instance, about 10% of American women have three or more live-in partners by the age of thirty-five, which is virtually absent in other nations. American women enter the intimate relationships much earlier than their European counterparts, but they also end them faster and reenter the relationships sooner after their dissolution. Such cultural patterns in the USA mean that the rate of divorces is extremely high, while the commitment in couples is very low. Thus, American people experience a great deal of transitions in their intimate lives at the level that is unheard of anywhere else in the world.

  1. Explanations for organizational isomorphism

Powell & DiMaggio suppose that causes of organizational isomorphism have changed in the recent past and are now related not to market processes per se, but rather to structuration of organizational fields within which these organizations operate. This structuration occurs when organizations increase the extent of their interaction within their respective organizational field, there emerge clearly defined interorganizational structures of domination and coalition patterns, the information load increases, and organizations become mutually aware of the fact that they are interconnected and even interdependent. Subsequently, organizations become homogenous and even when they try to innovate, all the organizations within the same organizational field do that in similar ways, hence failing to break away from isomorphism. Of course, the exact causes of organizational isomorphism depend on the type of the mechanism through which such processes occur. Thus, coercive isomorphism occurs primarily in relation with the issue of legitimacy and under the pressure of political influence, while normative isomorphism stems from professionalization. Finally, mimetic isomorphism is associated with standard responses of all organizations within the field to some uncertainty or change. However, all the processes, resulting in organizational isomorphism, originate from the structure of the organizational field.

  1. The routinization of service and manufacturing work

Routinization stands for breaking some complicated work into smaller simpler parts that can be performed by virtually anyone as a routine, hence calling for standardization of all work processes and workers performing the tasks. The concept has initially appeared in manufacturing when skilled workers’ work was broken down into simpler routine tasks that could be performed by unskilled workers, which increased efficiency and speed, while decreasing the costs. However, the contemporary world has a high demand for services that also now strive for routinization, according to Leidner. Routinization of service work is more complicated, as employees work with people whose responses have to be predicted, in order to make routinization of service rendition possible. Therefore, this kind of routinization envisions work on the people who constitute raw materials and work on employees by organizations. McDonald’s is one of the most vivid examples of routinization of work service.