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Chapter 11 The Macro-Micro Link in Social Institutions: Politics, Education, and Religion What is Politics?

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chapter 11

Chapter 11

The Macro-Micro Link in Social Institutions: Politics, Education, and Religion

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics
What is Politics?
  • According to sociologists, politics refers to the methods and tactics of managing a political entity such as a nation or state, as well as to the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Government is the formal, organized agency that exercises power and control in modern society, especially through the creation and enforcement of laws. Power is the ability to impose one’s will on others. According to sociologists, authority is the legitimate, non-coercive exercise of power.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d4
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Authoritarianism is a system of government by and for a small number of elites that does not include representation of ordinary citizens. A dictatorship is one form of an authoritarianism system; usually a dictator does not gain power by being elected or through succession but seizes power and becomes an absolutist ruler.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d5
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Totalitarianism is the most extreme and modern form of authoritarianism in which the government seeks to control every aspect of citizens’ lives.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d6
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • A monarchy is government by a king or queen, with succession of rulers kept within the family. Absolute monarchies typically have complete authority over their subjects, while constitutional monarchs are royal figures whose powers are defined by a political charter and limited by a parliament or other governing body.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d7
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • A democracy is a political system in which all citizens have the right to participate.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d8
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • The American political system prides itself on being a democracy, a government that confers power to the people. Despite controversy about how to count voter turnout, many worry that fewer eligible voters actually vote in the United States than in some comparable democracies.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d9
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Sociologists have two answers to the question of who rules America—the pluralist theory of power and the idea of a power elite. Pluralism is a system of political power in which a wide variety of individuals and groups have equal access to resources and the mechanisms of power.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d10
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • The power elite is a term coined by C. Wright Mills for a relatively small number of people who control the economic, political, and military institutions of a society.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d11
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Many people worry about the influence of money in politics. Special interest groups are organizations that raise and spend money to influence elected officials and/or public opinion.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d12
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • Political action committees (PAC’s) are organizations that raise money to support the interests of a select group or organization. 527 committees are organizations that have no official connection to a candidate, but that raise and spend funds like a campaign does.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is politics cont d14
What is Politics? (Cont’d)
  • The free press was very important to the drafters of the Constitution, and was originally intended to inform and educate the populace and to serve as a watchdog on government. The media continue to play a key role in the political process, but too often they focus on surface perceptions to the detriment of substantive debate.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education
What is Education?
  • Education is the process by which a society transmits knowledge, values, and expectations to its members so they can function in society.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Schooling serves a number of important functions for society. These include the transmission of knowledge, learning to follow society’s rules and to respect authority, and being socialized to develop other qualities that will eventually make us efficient and obedient workers.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d17
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Educational institutions also help to reproduce the inequality seen in society. It is clear that while education does benefit everyone, it unfortunately does not benefit everyone equally. Sociologists have long been interested in the hidden curriculum (the values and behaviors that students learn indirectly over the course of their schooling because of the educational system’s structure and teaching methods).

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d18
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • This includes things such as obedience to authority and strict adherence to norms. Many argue that the hidden curriculum reinforces and reproduces conditions of social inequality in society.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d19
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Rosenthal and Jacobson’s symbolic interactionist study of education suggested that teachers’ attitudes about their students unintentionally influenced their academic performance. When teachers expected students to succeed, the students indeed intended to improve.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d20
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Kozol’s ethnography, Savage Inequalities, contends that because schools are funded by local property taxes, children in poor neighborhoods are trapped in poor schools, which reinforces inequality. In The Credential Society, Collins argues that reproducing society’s existing class structure is the true function of education.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d21
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Many believe that America’s educational system is in crisis, though there is little agreement on how to fix the problem.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d22
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Charter schools are public schools run by private entities to give parents greater control over their children’s education. Early college high schools are institutions that blend high school and college into a coherent educational program in which students earn both a high school diploma and two years of college credit toward a bachelor’s degree.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is education cont d23
What is Education? (cont’d)
  • Homeschooling involves the education of children by their parents, at home. School vouchers are payments from the government to parents whose children attend failing public schools to help parents pay for private school tuition. Finally, distance learning includes any educational course or program in which the teacher and students do not meet together in the classroom, a situation increasingly available over the Internet.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion
What is Religion?
  • Religion includes any institutionalized system of shared beliefs (propositions and ideas held on the basis of faith) and rituals (practices based on those beliefs) that identify a relationship between the sacred (holy, divine, or supernatural) and the profane (ordinary, mundane, or everyday).

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion cont d
What is Religion? (cont’d)
  • Sociologists do not evaluate the truth of any religion, but study the ways that religions shape and are shaped by cultural institutions and the ways that religions influence and are influenced by the behaviors of individuals.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion cont d26
What is Religion? (cont’d)
  • Religion shapes everyday behavior by providing morals, values, rules, and norms for its participants. Religion also helps give meaning to our lives and provides the opportunity to come together with others to share in group activities and identity.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion cont d27
What is Religion? (cont’d)
  • Finally, religious organizations have also been agents of social justice and political change. On the other hand, religion can also be dysfunctional by promoting inequality with sexist, racist, and homophobic doctrines.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion cont d29
What is Religion? (cont’d)
  • When religiosity (the regular practice of religious beliefs) is measured by church attendance, 38 percent of Americans report attending services weekly. Extrinsic religiosity refers to a person’s public display of commitment to a religious faith, while intrinsic religiosity refers to a person’s inner religious life or personal relationship to the divine.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

what is religion cont d31
What is Religion? (cont’d)
  • In recent decades the number of Americans who identify themselves as fundamentalist (the practice of emphasizing literal interpretation of texts and a “return” to a time of greater religious purity) and unchurched (a term describing those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious and who often adopt aspects of various religious traditions) has dramatically increased.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz
Concept Quiz

1. The ability to impose one’s will on others is called:

a. the government.

b. politics.

c. power.

d. authoritarianism.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz33
Concept Quiz

2. The placement of students into different educational programs of study such as remedial classes or college-prep classes is called:

a. tracking.

b. intrinsic education.

c. the hidden curriculum.

d. simulacrum.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz34
Concept Quiz

3. The values or behaviors that students learn indirectly over the course of their schooling because of the educational system’s structure and teaching methods is called:

a. tracking.

b. intrinsic education.

c. the hidden curriculum.

d. simulacrum.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz35
Concept Quiz

4. Public schools run by private entities to give parents greater control over their children’s education are called:

a. charter schools.

b. early college high schools.

c. home schools.

d. tracking schools.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz36
Concept Quiz

5. Attendance at a religious service is an example of _______ religiosity.

a. intrinsic

b. secular

c. liberation

d. extrinsic

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

concept quiz37
Concept Quiz

6. The practice of emphasizing literal interpretation of religious texts and a “return” to a time of greater religious purity is called:

a. fundamentalism.

b. liberation theology.

c. secularization.

d. intrinsic religiosity.

The Real World

Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.