The study of society


Социология, социальная работа и статистика

Socioligy is a fascinating and widely applicable field which teaches how to think about how people create, maintain and are effected by social forces. Critical thinking, problems solving, written communication, oral communication and interpersonal skills are all cultivated by studing sociology.



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Unit I

The study of society

Text 1

Welcome to sociology

Socioligy is a fascinating and widely applicable field which teaches how to think about how people create, maintain and are effected by social forces. Critical thinking, problems solving, written communication, oral communication and interpersonal skills are all cultivated by studing sociology. We are excited about the opportunities that sociology has for students and welcome you to explore the world through a sociological perspective.

Let’s figure out just what sociology is. Unlike many other subjects, sociology is a new subject for many students. Therefore, it may be helpful to give a quick introduction to what siciologists do. Sociologists are interested in all sorts of topics. For example, some sociologists focus on the family, adressing issues such as marriage, divorce, child rearing, and domestic abuse, the ways these things are defined in different cultures and times, and their effect on both individuals and institutions. Others examine larger social organizations such as business and governments, looking at their structure and hierarchies. Others focus on social movements and political protest. Finally, sociologists may look at divisions and inequality within society, examining phenomena such as race, gender, and class, and their effect on people’s choices and opportunities. As you can see, sociologists study just about everything.

At its most basic, sociology is an attempt to understand and explain the way that individuals and groups interact within a society. How exatly does one reach this goal? C. Wright Mills in his book “The Sociological Imagination” (1959) writes that “ neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Why? Well, as Karl Marx observes “humans make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please, they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encounted, given and transmitted from the past.” Thus, sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and larger social forces.

Three types of arguments are particularly common: the “individual argument,” the “human and nature argument,” and the “society argument.” The “individual argument” generally states that “individual is free to make choices, and any outcomes can be explained exclusively of his or her ideas and decisions.While it is true that we all make our own choices, we must also keep in mind that, to paraphrase Marx, we make these choices under circumstances given to us by the structure of society. Therefore, it is important to investigate what conditions made these choices possible in the first place, as well as, what allows some individuals to successfully act on their choices while others cannot. The “human nature argument” seeks to explain social behavior through a quass-biological argument about humans, and often states that: ”Humans are by nature X, therefore it is not surprising that Y.” While siciologists disagree over whether a universal human nature even exists, they all agree that it is not an acceptable basis of explanation. Instead, sociology asks why we call some behavior natural, and demands to look into the social factors which have constructed “natural” state. The “society argument” often arises in response to critiques of the above styles of argumentation, and tends to appear in a form such as: ”Society made me do it.” This sociological argument uses society as the basis for explanation. Society is really a process, made up of ongoing interactions at multiple levels of size and complexity. People make decisions and choices. Some groups and individuals benefit, while others do not. Identifying these intermediate levels is the basis of socioligical analysis.

Sociology is an empirical discipline. Empirism in sociology means basing your conclusions on evidence that is documented and collected with as much rigour as possible. This evidence usually draws upon observed patterns and information from collected cases and experiences, not just from isolated reports. Socioligical evidence falls into two main groups: quantitative and qualitative.Quantitative data are based on surveys, censuses, and statistics. These provide large numbers of data points, which is particularly usefull for studing large scale of social processes, such as income inequality, population changes, changes in social attitudes, etc. Quantitative data produces a measurement of subject’s characteristics and behavior, while qualitative research generates information on their meanings and practices. Unfortunately, much of sociology has split into two methods. Many tend to exclusively favor qualitative over quantitative data, or vice versa. However, since each method has its own strength and weakness, combining methods can be particularly effective.

So we reach the end of this brief glimpse into the world of sociology. These basic guidelines will help you get started.

I Vocabulary

  1.  fascinating – обворожительный, пленительный
  2.  applicable – применимый, пригодный, подходящий
  3.  issues – спорные вопросы
  4.  domestic abuse – домашнее насилие
  5.  circumstances – обстоятельства
  6.  argument – дискуссия, спор
  7.  interaction – взаимодействие
  8.  rigour – точность, тщательность
  9.  quantitative – количественные
  10.  qualitative – качественные
  11.  surveys – соц. опросы
  12.  censuses – результаты
  13.  datum (pl.-data) – данные, факты, сведения
  14.  glimpse – представление
  15.  to create – порождать, творить, создавать
  16.  to maintain – поддерживать
  17.  to focuse on – сосредоточивать внимание на
  18.  to reach one’s goal – добиваться цели
  19.  to observe – наблюдать
  20.  to encount – сталкиваться
  21.  to transmit – передавать
  22.  to seek (sought) – искать
  23.  to demand – требовать
  24.  to arise (arose, arisen) – возникать , появляться

II Comprehension check

  1.  What does sociology teach?
  2.  What topics are sociologists interested in?
  3.  What is sociology?
  4.  What three types of arguments are particularly common?
  5.  What does the “individual argument” state?
  6.  What does the “human nature argument” seek to explain?
  7.  What does the “society argument” use as the basis for explanation?
  8.  What does empirism in sociology mean?
  9.  What groups does sociological evidence fall into?
  10.  What are quantitative data based on?
  11.  What does qualitative research generate information on?

Text 2

The Birth and the rise of sociology

We cannot study society without considering the rise of sociology as an academic discipline. Sociology is one of the most recent social sciences. People have always attempted to comprehend or understand society. Several Greek philosophers, including Aristotle and Plato, pondered the nature of society and government, Confucius taught people how to behave in a well-regulated society. Iben Caldoun, an Arab scholar living in Morocco in the thirteenth century, pondered the nature of conflict in societies. However, the distinctive intellectual tradition we now call sociology began in Western Europe in the nineteenth century. Its rise was associated with several great changes that occurred in Europe, including the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, and the rapid urbanization that occurred in every European society. Most of the important founders of modern, Western sociology observed these changes and provided the beginnings of what became the empirical, scientific study of society – sociology.

Sociology’s early founders had at least two things in common: They were interested in 1) understanding society as a whole, and they were trying to comprehend; 2) the nature of social change and stability. Society is the general concept, which encompasses the permanent structures, or social arrangements, which impinge on the lives of ordinary people. Structures include institutions such as family, religion, and education, which often endure for generations and give stability and continuity to a society. Early founders of sociology were interested in the decay of an old society and the emergence of new social forms. They were interested in how changes affected individuals – how people respond when the old rules no longer govern.

Many academic disciplines developed to explain segments of the social world. Psychology studies the individual; political science studies systems of government; anthropology studies features of diverse cultures; economics studies micro and macro levels of economic exchange; sociology alone focuses on group behavior in society as a whole. However, no single academic discipline had sufficient scope to explain the complexities of societal transformation as Europe moved from a feudal to industrial economy.

For many reasons, including the popularity and importance of the physical sciences and ideas emerging from the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Romantic Movement, many people in eighteenth-century Europe rejected traditional theological explanations. To many people, the will of God was not an adequate explanation for the dramatic social changes many experienced in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution.

If traditional and theological explanations were inadequate, what might take their place? Some were attracted to philosophical explanations. However, others sought explanations rooted in the observation of human social arrangements. If the physical sciences could help us understand the world of nature, might we not create a social science? To be scientific, the new discipline would have to be based on the empirical observation of social life. Observations or facts do not speak for themselves. Not only do humans create them, but once we have gathered and organized our observations, we also have to create concepts and theories to provide general explanations for the facts and relationships we observe. The first sociologists created large-scale social theories to explain those aspects of society of greatest interest: how societies change and how they stay the same.

One way to view social theories is to examine their origins – what were the dominant social conditions that were influencing the awareness of the theorist? This is studied as the sociology of knowledge itself. An individual may extend ideas or improve available concepts, but such work is always done in the context of existing knowledge. You may develop a new theory, but your insights will almost certainly emerge from ideas you have previously learned. Karl Mannheim, a German sociologist who died in 1947, was one of the important contributors to the study of the social origin of knowledge.

The way I view the world, just as the way you do, is greatly influenced by my previous experiences and the way I understand these experiences. We will look at some of the early influences on sociology in terms of the broad social conditions that influence the development of different social theories.

I Vocabulary

  1.  society – общество
  2.  to comprehend – понимать
  3.  to ponder – обдумывать, взвешивать, размышлять (on, upon, over)
  4.  to occur – случаться, происходить
  5.  to encompass – окружать, заключать
  6.  to endure – длиться, продолжаться
  7.  decay – разложение, упадок
  8.  to respond – отвечать
  9.  sufficient – достаточный
  10.  to emerge – вставать, возникать (о вопросе)
  11.  to reject – отвергать
  12.  to emphasize – подчеркивать, акцентировать
  13.  intentionally – намеренно
  14.  observation – наблюдение; to observe – наблюдать
  15.  awareness – осознание; to be aware of – осознавать
  16.  to extend – расширять
  17.  insight – 1) интуиция; 2) понимание
  18.  to contribute – делать вклад (в науку и т.п. to); contributor – содействующий, помощник

II Comprehension check

  1.  What have people attempted to understand from early in recorded history?
  2.  What philosophers pondered the nature of society?
  3.  When and where did sociology begin?
  4.  What was its rise associated with?
  5.  What were Sociology’s early founders interested in?
  6.  What does sociology focus on?
  7.  Why did people in eighteenth-century Europe reject traditional theological explanations for the social changes in the society?
  8.  What did physical sciences help us to understand?
  9.  What did the first sociologists try to explain?
  10.  What is studied as the sociology of knowledge itself?
  11.  How can we view social theories?
  12.  What influences the way people view the world?

III Look through the texts again and find the words that mean:

  1.  Knowledge about the world especially based on physical examination and testing and on facts that can be proved.
  2.  People in general considered in relations to the structure of laws, organizations that makes it possible for them to live together
  3.  The situation, place or physical matter from which something begins.
  4.  Knowledge or understanding of a particular subject or situation.
  5.  Someone’s idea of how something is or should be done.
  6.  The ability to understand and realize what people or situation are really like.
  7.  Someone who gives ideas to something, that a lot of people are also involved in.

IV Translate from Russian into English:

  1.  Термин «социология» происходит от латинского «societas» – «общество» и греческого «logos» – «учение», обозначая «учение об обществе».
  2.  Объектом социологии является общество.
  3.  Предмет социологии – это социальная жизнь общества.
  4.  В сравнении с математикой, физикой и химией законы социологии носят вероятностный характер. Они могут произойти или не произойти, т.к. полностью зависят от воли и действий людей.
  5.  Ключевым понятием социологии является взаимоизменение.
  6.  Роль социологии возрастает в кризисных ситуациях, когда важно учесть общественное мнение.

V Communicative practice

  1.  Is sociology a science? If yes, why is it different from other sciences?
  2.  Why is it important to study sociology for any specialist?
  3.  Is sociology in great demand today? Why?
  4.  Would you like to work as a sociologist today? In what country? Why?

Unit II

The most prominent sociologists

France contributed many important figures in the development of early social thought. These include Saint-Simon (1760 – 1825) and Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857). Comte is often called the father of modern sociology – he coined the term Sociology. He insisted that the new science of society must be empirical and the new knowledge created should be used to improve society. One of the most important contributors to the development of modern sociology was also from France, Emile Durkheim.

Text 1

Emile Durkheim (1858 – 1917)

Emile Durkheim used ideas and metaphors taken from biology to frame his understanding of society. He was interested in the cohesion of society, how rules develop and how societies change as they grow in population density.

Durkheim contributed to the tradition now called functionalism. Functionalists analyze items in a society in terms of what they do to maintain to social order. Durkheim is important as a person who focused attention on methods of sociological research. He is remembered for his study of the historical evolution of law and how changes in the type of legal systems could be studied as indicators of society’s evolution.

Societal evolution occurs independently of any individual. Individuals interact in a society through the use of common language and by sharing common values. Laws persist over generations and their gradual change can become an indicator of social evolution.

In simple societies with low population density, there is little task specialization. Everyone is directly involved in the lives of others in the community. Such societies are characterized by what Durkheim called mechanical solidarity.

As populations grow in density and evolve over time they develop a division of labor that produces a new kind of solidarity – organic solidarity. Durkheim focused on  many occupations required to maintain the social order in a modern society. Each worker does only one specific task. By specializing, the worker becomes dependent on others who are doing different kinds of work. Due to occupational specialization, a society needs a predictable social order. In societies characterized by mechanical solidarity, disruptions of social order lead to repression – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

In more complex modern societies, when disruptions occur, the attention is on laws or procedures that will restore conditions back to “normal”. In modern society the rule of law becomes an underlying value. We are supposed to let the legal process provide justice.

For Durkheim, the division of labor provides more than economic advantages. It ties people to each other in what Durkheim called social solidarity. Societies have a “moral character”. There is a need for order, harmony, and social solidarity.

In summary, Durkheim stressed the moral consequences of the division of labor, which holds modern societies together. His stress was on the unifying factors in societies.

I Vocabulary

  1.  prominent – известный, выдающийся
  2.  to coin – создавать (новые слова, выражения)
  3.  to insist on – настаивать на
  4.  cohesion – сплоченность
  5.  density – плотность
  6.  to maintain – поддерживать
  7.  to persist – 1) упорствовать; 2) сохраняться, продолжать существовать
  8.  division – разделение;
  9.  to divide – разделять
  10.  disruption – 1) разрушение; 2) распад
  11.  to restore – 1) восстанавливать(ся)
  12.  value – ценность
  13.  to provide – обеспечивать
  14.  consequences – (по)следствия

II Comprehension check

  1.  What important figures in early social thought did France contribute?
  2.  Why is Comte called the father of modern sociology?
  3.  What did Comte insist on?
  4.  What was Durkheim interested in?
  5.  What tradition did Durkheim contribute to?
  6.  How do functionalists analyze society?
  7.  What methods of sociological research did Durkheim focus attention on? What is he remembered for?
  8.  What can be studied as indicator of society’s evolution?
  9.  Does societal evolution depend on individuals?
  10.  How do individuals interact in a society?
  11.  What societies are characterized by mechanical solidarity?
  12.  What societies produce organic solidarity?
  13.  What happens when the social order is disrupted

a) in societies with mechanical solidarity?

b) in societies with organic solidarity?

  1.  What does the division of labor provide?
  2.  What did Durkheim call social solidarity?
  3.  What was his stress on?

III Match the verb on the left with the correct definition on the right

  1.  to coin
  1.  to make smth exist that didn’t exist before
  1.  to insist
  1.  to make sure that someone gets what they need, esp. by giving it to them
  1.  to create
  1.  to invent a new word or expression, esp. one that many people start to use
  1.  to develop
  1.  to make smth continue in the same way or at the same high standards as before
  1.  to maintain
  1.  to include smth as a necessary part or result
  1.  to occur
  1.  to make smth return to its former level or condition
  1.  to involve
  1.  to say firmly that smth is true, esp. when other people think it may not be true
  1.  to require
  1.  to happen (formal)
  1.  to restore
  1.  to grow or change into amore advanced state
  1.  to provide

  1.  1) to need smth.;

2) to officially demand that people do smth, because of a law or rule

IV Translate from Russian into English

  1.  Рождение социологии связано с именем французского ученого Огюста Конта.
  2.  Огюст Конт первым поставил вопрос о создании науки об обществе.
  3.  Термин «социология» был введен Огюстом Контом в середине 19 века.
  4.  Конт считал основным фактором общественного развития духовное и умственное совершенствование человека.
  5.  Творчество Эмиля Дюркгейма утвердило социологию как научную дисциплину.
  6.  Дюркгейм формулирует собственный социологический метод в своей работе «Метод Социологии».
  7.  Дюркгейм называет две формы социальной солидарности: механическую и органическую.
  8.  По Дюркгейму уровень развития общества определяется характером разделения труда.
  9.  Разделение труда понимается не только как экономическое, но и как социальное явление.
  10.  В обществе с механической солидарностью индивид поглощается коллективом.
  11.  Человеческая индивидуальность возможна только в обществе с органической солидарностью.

Text 2

Herbert Spenser

Herbert Spenser (1820 – 1903) was the most prominent early sociologist writing in English to claim that there should be a science of society, just as there is a science of nature. Spenser’s social thought rejected arrangements that were incompatible with the unfolding Industrial Revolution. Industrial leaders viewed the first generation of factory workers in the same way (Spenser 1972). His ideas were compatible with the interest of industrial capitalists; Andrew Carnegie was one of his admirers. Unlike Marx he didn’t view society from the perspective of the exploited and disinherited.

In nature, progress moves from the simple to the complex; from homogeneity in structure to heterogeneity in structure. According to Spenser, the “more advanced” human races developed larger brains.

Spenser borrowed and modified ideas from biology and perhaps is best-known for applying survival of the fittest, a phrase he coined to human culture and society.

Throughout his life Spenser remained wedded to what came to be the discredited ideas of Lamarckian evolution. Chevalier Lamarck (1744 – 1829) was a French naturalist, who believed that acquired characteristics could be inherited. Spenser also thought that acquired characteristics such as changes, occurring in human culture, were biologically transmitted to the next generation. Spenser remains significant for important ideas he contributed in the early history of sociology, such as structure, function system and equilibrium.

I Vocabulary

  1.  to claim – 1) требовать; 2) заявлять
  2.  incompatible – несовместимый
  3.  to view – рассматривать
  4.  to borrow – заимствовать
  5.  to modify – модифицировать
  6.  to apply – (здесь) употреблять, применять
  7.  survival of the fittest – выживает сильнейший
  8.  to remain wedded to – остаться преданным
  9.  acquired characteristics – приобретенные характеристики
  10.  to inherit – унаследовать
  11.  equilibrium – равновесие

II Comprehension check

  1.  What did Herbert Spenser claim?
  2.  What did Spenser’s social thought reject?
  3.  What did Spenser borrow and modify ideas from?
  4.  What phrase is he best-known for?
  5.  What ideas did Spenser remain wedded to throughout his life?
  6.  What did Spenser think about acquired characteristics?
  7.  What important ideas did Spenser contribute in the early history of sociology?

III Give nouns and adjectives to the following verbs




to apply

to transmit

to remain

to acquire

to modify

to survive

to inherit

to contribute

IV Translate from Russian into English

  1.  Герберт Спенсер был автором теории, основанной на уподоблении общества биологическим организмом.
  2.  Он перенес природный принцип естественного отбора на общество.
  3.  По Спенсеру человеческих обществ является движения от простого к сложному.
  4.  Спенсер считал, что приобретенные характеристики наследуются и биологически передаются следующим поколениям.
  5.  Борьба за выживание среди людей, как и среди животных ведет общество к более высокому уровню развития.

Text 3

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Both Herbert Spenser and Emile Durkheim stressed the natural, evolutionary development of society. Both used imagery drawn from biology. Present social arrangements are the outcome of natural processes. More than any other social philosopher of his day, Karl Marx (1818-1883) analyzed society from the vantage point of the poor. He believed that social scientists should work for a better society, and his personal goal was to liberate workers from poverty. Both his writings and his political activity helped make the nineteenth century become the century of socialism in Europe. Labour unions and their struggles rose in prominence and many utopian communities formed to look for better ways to organize social relationships.

Marx rejected any ideas that saw urban poverty as natural. To Marx, workers were being exploited; the surplus value of their labor was used by capitalists to create more capital and to sustain the various social and cultural arrangements that supported the current economic system. In the new factory work system, the worker sold labor for money, which could be used to buy the commodities needed. The worker had no security, and frequently the entire family, including young children, worked to help the family survive. The work setting of early capitalism included no welfare benefits, no health insurance, no vacation, no safety regulations, no retirement, and no child labour laws. In order to compete, the owner of a factory could lower wages to, or even below, the subsistence level. Marx saw this situation as immoral. Many humans were being harmed and even killed to enrich the few who owned the means of production. To Marx, the ethical person could not ignore this human suffering when the means to change conditions might be at hand.

The poverty of workers was caused by something social – a new way of organizing labour. Marx thought that workers would come together and organize themselves to overthrow their capitalist exploiters. He thought capitalism contained contradictions. Competition between capitalists would lower wages to the point that workers would recognize the sources of their suffering, organize themselves, and overthrow their oppressors. Socialism would result; workers would own the means of production, and there would be a more fair distribution of wealth. Marx worked tirelessly throughout his life to bring into existence his vision of a more just society. He lived the latter decades of his life and died in the industrial slums of London. The USSR, the first socialist society built on ideas partially borrowed from Marx, did not emerge until thirty-four years after his death.

However, Marx introduced some major ideas into the history of social thought that are still important today. Unlike Spenser and Durkheim, Marx focused on conflict and saw the struggle over the means of production to be at the heart of social change. For Marx, reality did not exist in the ideals, but in the material struggle for existence. The most basic struggle is for food, clothing and shelter. At a society level, this struggle had different forms in previous eras. For example, feudalism was supplanted by capitalism, which produced new conditions under which people struggled for the material necessities of life – but people had the capacity to influence their situation. As class-consciousness developed, workers could create labor unions and work toward a new social order. Marx stressed the economic arena as the most basic influence in society. Religion, popular culture, political and military arrangements are all epiphenomenal; they exist within the overriding arrangement of economic domination.

Marx and his collaborator and friend, Friedrich Engels, were not economic determinists. They did not reduce everything to an economic explanation. Marx and Engles did not think that technical and economic factors determined everything. While stressing the importance of the struggle over the means of production, Engels and Marx were aware of the complexity of social life and the wide array of social and cultural events that could influence historical outcomes.

For Marx, conflict was natural and inevitable. Conflict is rooted in the struggle for existence as groups contend for control of the means of production. Like the two previous functionalist approaches, Marx viewed society as a whole. However, his view of the sources of social change was diametrically opposite to the functionalists’ approaches.

Marx’s ideas influenced modern societies and current sociology in several different ways. He focused our attention on the importance of the economic arena. Second, he made central the idea of human values; if you understand the source of human exploitation and care about its consequences, you have an obligation to try to change things. Third, later generations of Marxists incorporated modified versions of his ideas into political revolutions, the largest of these being the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution culminating in 1949 in the founding of the People’s Republic in China. He focused our attention on capitalism as the driving force of modern societies. Finally, the legacy of his thought evolved into a critical tradition within sociology that analyzes social class, gender, and ethnic relations in terms of economically based social domination.

I Vocabulary

  1.  to liberate – освобождать
  2.  poverty – нищета
  3.  struggle – борьба
  4.  to exploit – эксплуатировать
  5.  the surplus value of the labor – прибавочная стоимость
  6.  to sustain – поддерживать
  7.  commodities – предмет потребления
  8.  welfare benefits – пособия
  9.  health insurance – страхование здоровья
  10.  safety regulations – меры безопасности
  11.  to compete – 1) соревноваться, 2) конкурировать
  12.  substance level – уровень жизни
  13.  to harm – вредить
  14.  to enrich – обогатить
  15.  the means of production – средства производства
  16.  class-consciousness – классовое сознание
  17.  inevitable – неизбежный
  18.  to be rooted in – корениться
  19.  approach – подход

II Comprehension check

  1.  How did Karl Marx analyze society?
  2.  What was his personal goal?
  3.  How did his political activity influence the nineteenth century?
  4.  What ideas did Marx reject?
  5.  What was the poverty of workers caused by?
  6.  What was at the heart of social change to Marx?
  7.  What could workers do as class-consciousness developed?
  8.  What were Marx and Engels aware of?
  9.  What is conflict rooted in for Marx?
  10.  What was in common between Marx’s approach in viewing society and in Spenser’s and Durkheim’s approaches?
  11.  How did his ideas influence current sociology?
  12.  What idea did he make central?
  13.  How did later generations of Marxists modify his ideas?
  14.  What tradition within sociology did his thought evolve into?

III Translate from Russian into English

  1.  19 век является «золотым веком» классической социологии: формируются новые подходы к изучению общества – позитивизм (О.Конт, Г.Спенсер) и марксизм (К.Маркс, Ф.Энгельс).
  2.  К. Маркс является выдающимся теоретиком капитализма. Он считал общественное развитие результатом экономических и социально-политических факторов.
  3.  И сторонники, и противники считали Карла Маркса гениальным мыслителем, который оказал огромное влияние на человечество в 20 веке.
  4.  Двигателем истории по Марксу является классовая борьба.
  5.  К. Маркса не все признают социологом, в основном его считают экономистом. Тем не менее, мы вправе считать К.Маркса социологом, т.к. он анализирует социальные отношения в процессе производства, распределения и потребления материальных благ. Знаменитый «Капитал» является образцом такого анализа.

Text 4

Further Development in Sociological Theory

Occasionally, sociologists argue that Marx and Spenser were not sociologists. They worked in a century when the social sciences were, at least, in their infancy. For example, Spenser wrote about biology, philosophy, economics, and what we now call sociology. Likewise, Marx was a philosopher, an economist, a jurist, and a political scientist. In addition, neither Marx nor Spenser did their scholarly work from university departments. In the United States, sociology departments began to emerge at the beginning of the twentieth century. Cooley and Mead could just as well be described as social psychologists or social philosophers.

Most sociologists agree that the early founders of sociology dealt with important issues affecting social life. To many, the economy is still one of the most important things to examine when considering social change. Our society is changing, perhaps as rapidly as in the Industrial Revolution.

Many sociologists in the functionalist tradition of Durkheim or the economic conflict of Marx still find their intellectual issues to be important. There are other sociologists, however, who take for granted their own theoretical perspectives, often not realizing their indebtedness to either of these two great traditions of sociological thought.

Finally, we share the concern that the very existence of isolated academic disciplines detract from our understanding of society. Can a sociologist understand social change without considering its historical context? Can we understand much about individual psychological responses without considering the social and cultural setting in which people respond? Sociology itself has become divided into several subsections. These include sociology of religion, sociology of family, sociology of law, political sociology, medical sociology, sociology of education, etc.

Both Marx and Durkheim stimulated a long succession of scholarly debate about their ideas. One of the most important German social theorists was Max Weber, who developed many of his ideas in an ongoing dialogue with scholars in the tradition of Karl Marx.

Marx, Durkheim, and Weber were primarily interested in studying society at the macro or large-sclae level. By contrast, there are many sociologists who focus on social interaction at the level of individuals and small groups – the micro level of analysis. The micro level of sociological analysis became quite important in the development of American sociology, particularly with the intellectual tradition associated with John Dewey (1859-1952) and George Herbert Mead. This theoretical tradition, symbolic interactionism, will be discussed in great detail when we consider social interaction and when we analyze socialization.

I Comprehension check

  1.  Why do some sociologists argue that Marx and Spenser were not sociologists?
  2.  When and where did sociology departments begin to emerge?
  3.  What did the early founders of sociology deal with?
  4.  Why is economy so important when considering social change?
  5.  What else should we consider to understand individual psychological responses?
  6.  What subsections is sociology divided into?
  7.  What sociologists were interested in studying sociology at the macro level?
  8.  What social interaction does the micro level of sociology focus on?
  9.  What American sociologists contributed much in the micro level of sociological analysis?

II Render the following text into English

Социологии отведено особое место в системе научного знания. Эта наука позволяет человеку познать законы функционирования и развития общества. В настоящее время без знания закономерностей социальной жизни, без рекомендаций и прогнозов социологов не могут обойтись государственные и общественные деятели, политики и бизнесмены, экономисты и юристы, социальные работники и психологи, педагоги и работники культуры – все, кто по роду своей профессиональной деятельности имеет дело с людьми и соц. группами, кто тем или иным образом творит общественные отношения. Соц. творчество приносит позитивный результат только тогда, когда оно происходит на основе учета объективных тенденции общественной жизни, устанавливаемых и изучаемых социологией. Поэтому овладение основами социол. науки является обязательным для будущих специалистов всех направлений профессиональной деятельности и в целом для любого человека как субъекта и объекта соц. взаимодействий.

Соц.-политическое образование представляет один из способов современной социализации личности и формирования ее общей культуры, приобщения к человеческим ценностям. Главной его функцией выступает формирование соц. мышления, понимания соц. проблем, источников их возникновения и возможных путей разрешения. Курс социологии призван развернуть перед обучающимися целостную, многоуровневую картину соц. жизни, показать сложные взаимосвязи общества и личности, дать студентам необходимый любому образованному гражданину минимум знаний о соц.-политических реалиях, нормах соц. поведения, соц.-политических ценностях.

Будущим специалистам необходимо не только получить определенный объем информации и знаний, но и приобрести умения и навыки быстро ориентироваться в стремительно меняющемся соц. мире, оперативно адаптироваться к нему, самостоятельно развивать свои способности, активно и творчески решать возникающие жизненные проблемы.

III Communicative practice

  1.  There isn’t a single theory about society. There are many different schools and approaches. Do you think it’s a weak point of sociology?
  2.  Whose vision of society is closer to you? Why?
  3.  Comment on Comte’s idea that social science shouldn’t study the reasons of social events. Do you agree with him?
  4.  Nowadays there are 2 contradictive conclusions concerning Marx’s approach:
  5.  his study is positive, as it is based on the idea of justice;
  6.  his study is negative, as it led to unhuman totalitarian societies.

What is your opinion?

  1.  Is Marxism old-fashioned?

IV Topics for reports

Choose the sociologist whose ideas are closer to you and tell us about him

  1.  Max Weber – one of the most important German social theorists.
  2.  John Dewey and George Herbert Mead in the development of American sociology.
  3.  W.I. Thomas (1863-1947) and Florian Zwaniecki
  4.  Structural Functionalism of Tlacott Parsons (1902-1979)
  5.  Sir Karl Popper and his “The open society and its enemies”
  6.  Sociology in Russia
  7.  M.M. Kovalevsky
  8.  P.A. Sorokin
  9.  Any other sociologists.

Unit III

Society and culture

Text 1

Society is a group of people occupying a particular territory where the inhabitants are subject to a common system. Culture is a set of socially learned knowledge and values, including the production of material objects and the creation of new ideas. This means culture exists both as ideas in people’s mind and as material artifacts.

Cultural knowledge includes the rules, ideas, concepts and values that people share. By values we mean preferences and standards of worth that the society considers good or bad, desirable or undesirable. Every culture has experiences and symbols that people try to sustain and keep alive, these are the things people worship. Communal societies place a strong value on responsibility and duty, especially within the family. More independent societies value individuals who “go against the grain”. You cannot live in a society without being aware of these values. You may react against them, rejecting some, but they are still a part of your life space. Values are preserved through patriotic and religious feelings, customs, legends, and even laws. Culture does not exist independently of a society. Every society has a culture. Societies and cultures are continually evolving.

Society and culture are independent concepts used to describe human events usually changing over time. It is not a simple theoretical task in sociology to conceptualize the several possible components of social and cultural change. In our modern era, attention is usually focused on technology in the economic arena of society as the major engine of change. Technology develops in different institutional spheres of a society and always involves relevant social behavior. The technological sphere is neither autonomous nor self-directed. Different institutional spheres may react to technological changes. In sum, humans create technology, work with it and modify it.

I Vocabulary

  1.  to occupy – занимать
  2.  inhabitant – житель, обитатель
  3.  culture – культура
  4.  to include – включать в себя, содержать
  5.  creation – создание, формирование
  6.  to exist – существовать
  7.  artifact – артефакт
  8.  to involve – привлекать, вовлекать
  9.  relevant – релевантный, значимый, существенный

II Comprehension check

  1.  What is society?
  2.  What is culture?
  3.  What does cultural knowledge include?
  4.  What do we mean by values?
  5.  What does every culture have?
  6.  What do communal societies value?
  7.  What do more independent societies value?
  8.  What are values preserved through?
  9.  How do societies and cultures interact?
  10.  What do such concepts as society and culture describe?
  11.  What is the major engine of change in modern era?
  12.  Who creates technology?

Text 2

Explaining culture: Nature or Nurture?

There has been a continual debate in the social sciences concerning the relative importance of biology in explaining human social and cultural changes. Biological reductionism refers to the tendency to explain social phenomena in terms of biological causes, such as physiology and genetics. Cultural determinism is the opposite, insisting that culture explains everything. Some scholars in the past have tried to explain various types of criminal behavior by differences in the structure of chromosomes or even the shape of the head or body type. There have been recent efforts to explain same-sex preference in terms of chromosome differences. Prominent psychologist Arthur Jensen of the University of California published the article “How far can we boost intelligence and IQ?” which occupied an entire issue of the Harvard Educational Review. He argued that genetic differences explained why blacks did more poorly than whites in urban education settings. According to Jensen, greater efforts at improving certain aspects of education cannot benefit people who are genetically programmed for the acquisition of a different, more practical type of knowledge. Stephen Gould, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and a long list of sociologists have demonstrated the flaws in Arthur Jensen’s arguments. Research that claims genetic explanations for certain behaviors attracts much media attention, while the rebuttals are frequently less publicized. If behavior can be explained biologically, present social arrangements are more difficult to challenge.

Social biology

Social biology is a term coined by Professor Edward O. Wilson at Harvard in 1975. Advocates of this approach think that genetic makeup transmitted through biology explains aspects of human society and culture. We can study the social behavior of bees, ants, or primates and learn important things about human culture.

There is no doubt that much about each of us is determined by the chromosomes we inherited at birth from each of our parents. From this union we became male or female and inherited a range of physical traits, including our mental aptitude. However, two major errors occur in ascribing primary importance to our biological inheritance.

First, our biological inheritance does not determine how a particular behavior is expressed and understood culturally. In different cultures, an individual with a high energy level might be considered a shaman, or a rambunctious person “too full of himself”, or a child requiring Ritalin to control hyperactivity (ADHD – Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder). Expressions of our biology always appear in a cultural context and this cultural context is continually evolving.

Second, individual biological differences do not explain group differences. Pure gene pools no longer exist as a possible way of explaining group differences. Group differences that we observe come from humans with genetically diverse backgrounds in distinct cultural situations. Cultures attach significance to phenotypes. A phenotype is an observable or detectable physical characteristic of a person. Cultures make distinctions between subtle gradations of skin pigment (e.g., between the extremely light skin pigment of Scandinavians and the more “olive” skin pigment of some Spanish, Italian, and Greek people). In the European community these differences may appear quite obvious and important, though a dark-skinned person of the Dravidian language group of Southern India might view them all as “white” people. No biological differences cause particular social or cultural arrangements or behaviors. As in the above example, some reactions are explainable only by the cultural differences between the two observers, not the underlying biological differences

I Vocabulary

  1.  to concern – касаться, описывать
  2.  phenomena – (мн.ч.) события, явления
  3.  rebuttals – опровержения
  4.  physical traits – физические черты
  5.  pure gene pool – чистый генофонд
  6.  to attach – придавать
  7.  significance – важность, значимость
  8.  nurture – воспитание, обучение
  9.  a flaw – слабое место в аргументации

II Comprehension check

  1.  How does biological reductionism explain social phenomena?
  2.  What does cultural determinism insist on?
  3.  How did some scholars in the past explain various type of criminal behaviour?
  4.  What did prominent psychologist Arthur Jenser argue?
  5.  Whom was the term “social biology” coined by?
  6.  What do advocates of this approach think?
  7.  What major errors occur in ascribing primary importance to our biological inheritance?
  8.  What do group differences come from?
  9.  What is a phenotype?
  10.  Can all reactions be explained by biological differences?

Text 3

Culture Lag

The many elements of any given culture are interrelated. However, some elements may change at a faster rate than others. Culture lag is the concept created by the American sociologist. William F. Ogburn, to explain what happens when new features of a culture appear and create new social conditions or contradictions with other values.

Technological and material culture frequently change much more rapidly than other features of a culture. Stress and cultural change may be the result.

Henry Tishler provides a more current example of culture lag. The Internet and the World Wide Web provide many educational opportunities for students, but the integration of the technology into the classroom has been a slow process. Traditional school values have left education virtually unchanged over the past century. These values support the role of a teacher as the main guide in the student’s path to learning. With the introduction of computer technology, the teacher’s role is being challenged. If the merging of the World Wide Web and the classroom is to be a success, the role of the teacher will have to evolve into a more collaborative one. Internet technology is currently producing many other changes. Buying books, CDs, or plane tickets is simple, efficient, and usually at lower cost over the Internet. Many Internet sales companies are growing rapidly. Their impact on other parts of the society is only partly understood. For example, traditional bookstores will find it hard to compete. Usually Internet purchases do not involve a local sales tax.

Are there cultural universals? Are there common features found in diverse cultures? When similar behaviour occurs in almost all societies, it is considered a cultural universal. For example, all human cultures have a language, property rights, religious rituals, marriage and a family system. Taboo against sexual relations with close relatives is another cultural universal. George Murdock, in “The Common Denominators of Cultures” (1945) included other universals: dancing, joking, gift giving, rules of hygiene, art and bodily adornment. In one sense the concept of cultural universals is useless. In spite of the fact that every culture has a marriage and human ritual we know nothing about the diversity of ways these are done in any particular culture.

I Vocabulary

  1.  to interrelate – находиться во взаимосвязи
  2.  culture lag – культурный лаг, разрыв между техническим развитием общества и его моральными и правовыми институтами
  3.  efficient – действенный, эффективный
  4.  rapidly – быстро, резко
  5.  purchase – покупка
  6.  feature – черта, характерная особенность
  7.  property – имущество, собственность
  8.  bodily adornment – украшение тела
  9.  burial ritual – обряд похорон
  10.  diversity – разнородность, многообразие

II Comprehension check

  1.  What does the concept “Culture lag” explain?
  2.  What features of a culture change more rapidly?
  3.  What may be the result?
  4.  What example of culture lag does Henry Jischler provide?
  5.  What is considered a cultural universal?
  6.  What do all human cultures have?
  7.  In what sense is the concept of cultural universals useless?

III Match the key terms on the left with the correct definition on the right

  1.  cultural universal
  1.  preferences and standards of world
  1.  culture
  1.  when similar behaviours occur in almost all societies
  1.  culture lag
  1.  an observable or detectable physical characteristic of a person
  1.  phenotype
  1.  phenomenon that occurs when new features of a culture appear and create new social conditions that contradict older values
  1.  social biology
  1.  the theory that genetic makeup transmitted through biology explains aspects of human society and culture
  1.  values
  1.  socially learned knowledge and values people use to interpret experience and generate behavior, including the production of material objects and the creation of new ideas

IV Translate from Russian into English

В современной социологии принято считать, что общество это люди, взаимодействующие на определенной территории и имеющие общую культуру.

  1.  Под культурой понимается комплекс символов, норм, ценностей, характерных определенной социальной группе и передаваемых из поколения в поколение.
  2.  Научный термин «культура» появился в Древнем Риме. Слово «культура» обозначало «восприятие», «образование».
  3.  Социологический словарь дает следующее определение понятию «культура»: «Культура – это способ организации и развития человеческой деятельности, представленный в продуктах материального и духовного труда, в системе социальных норм и учреждений, в духовных ценностях…»
  4.  Джордж Мердок выделил общие черты, свойственные всем культурам (культурные универсалии). К ним относят:
  5.  совместный труд,
  6.  спорт,
  7.  образование,
  8.  наличие ритуалов,
  9.  системы родства,
  10.  правила взаимодействия полов,
  11.  язык

Возникновение этих универсалий связано с потребностями человека и человеческих общностей. Культурные универсалии предстают в многообразии конкретных вариантов культуры.

V Communicative practice

  1.  What is the role of culture in modern society?
  2.  How do you understand the notion “elite” culture?
  3.  How do you understand the notion “folk” culture?
  4.  How does mass culture (internet, pop music, fashion, cinema) influence people?
  5.  How do you judge the influence of your generation upon modern culture?

Unit IV

Language and culture

Text 1

All societies have culture and all culture has, and can not exist without, language. This uniquely human capacity enables us to access our history through written documents and oral tradition and to create technology, worldviews, rituals, legal sistem, propoganda, lies, jokes, and gossip. Much of culture depends wholly upon language for its transmittion. People in a society are culturally united through their language. A person’s integration into a culture demands mastery of a language. Without complete mastery we can not experience the symbolic richness of human existence, awareness of our environment for survival. While language is indisputably used for the transmittion of information, often it conveys little of general importance, as in polite chatter and small talk. Language at its most simple and generalised level can be thought of as the universal primary vehicle for meaning and communication. Meaning refers to the experiance people have when they share a common usage for a cultural symbol. The meaning of a symbol refers to its usage in a culture. For example, if your instructor holds before you a piece of chalk and you have never observed its use, the word “chalk” would signify very little. If the instructor demonstrates its use and explains that this is “chalk”, the symbol “chalk” would now have some meaning. Both of you are now using the same symbol -“chalk”- in the same way.


The most tangible indication of our thinking power is language – our spoken, written, or gestured words and how we combine them as we think and communicate. Humans have long and proudly proclaimed that language sets us above all other animals. ”When we study human language ,” asserted linguist Noam Chomsky (1972),” we are approaching what some might call the ‘human essense,’the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique” to humans.To cognitive scientist Steven Pinker (1990), language is “the jewel in the crown of cognition.” Whether spoken, written, or signed, language enables us to communicate complex ideas from person to person and to transmit civilization’s accumulated knowledge from generation to generation. The origin of language is a heavily debated topic. Just when and how our ancestors first began to use language and how that early protolanguage evolved into a more complex system will probably never be understood. Additional insights come from the study of how children acquire language. Many have called the acquisition of a language by a child the most difficult intellectual achievement in life. In all parts of the world, children begin to learn language at about the same age and in the same general stages. During the years between 2 and 5, a child learns approximately ten thousands words a day.Children need only a comparatively small stimulus to grow linguisticaly.The universality of children’s remarkable acquisition of language despite the “poverty of stimulus” leads to one of the central theories in the field of linguistics: the argument for mental grammar, which states that the expressive variety of language use implies that a language user’s brain contains unconscious grammatical principles (Jackendoff 1994,). The next logical question then is how we acquire these mental grammer? The argument for innate knowledge implies that the human brain contains a genetically determined specialization for language. There are several clues that point to the fact that children have a genetic head start, so to speak, on language acquisition. One clue is the universal stages of language acquisition all children exposed to language go through. This also may explain how children learn at such a rapid rate despite the “poverty of stimulus.” Errows demonstrate that children use more than immitation to constract massages. Frequently a child comes up with a sentence that would not have been learnd from any teacher. They are creating their own sentences without ever having a parent explain the purpose of a noun or a verb or other rules. The famous examples of feral children, raised without socialisation and therefore having permanently stunted language skilles, suggest there is a “critical period,” or a window of time, in which the brain’s language system is activated and preprogrammed for the acquisition of a language.This is also the language paradox. Toddlers can learn a language with greater ease than a professional linguist! All of these reasons point to the possibility of a biologically innate universal grammar that allows to construct mental grammars of any language in all cultures (Jackendoff 1994).

I Vocabulary

  1.  language – язык
  2.  capacity – способность
  3.  to enable – 1) давать возможность, право, 2) облегчать
  4.  to access – иметь (получить) доступ
  5.  transmission – трансмиссия, переход, передача
  6.  mastery – мастерство
  7.  to convey – передавать, выражать (идею)
  8.  ancestor(s) – наследник(и)
  9.  to evolve into – эволюционировать, развиваться в…
  10.  to acquire –   усваивать
  11.  acquisition – освоение
  12.  to achieve – достигать
  13.  achievment – достижение
  14.  tangible –  заметный, реальный
  15.  to assert – 1) утверждать, заявлять, 2) доказывать, отстаивать, защищать
  16.  vehicle – транспортное средство
  17.  cognitive – когнитивный, пригодный для адекватного понимания
  18.  cognition – 1) познавательная способность, 2) знание, познания
  19.  to imply – применять
  20.  innate – врожденный, природный
  21.  feral – дикий, неприрученный
  22.  toddler – ребенок, начинающий ходить

II Comprehension check

  1.  What are people in a society culturally united through?
  2.  What does a person’s integration into a culture demand?
  3.  What is language used for?
  4.  What is language?
  5.  Why is the origin of language a heavily dedated topic?
  6.  Why is the acqusition of a language by a child called the most difficult intellectual achievment in life?
  7.  What does the argument for mental grammar state?
  8.  What clues point to the fact that children have a genetic head start on language acquisition?
  9.  What do the famous examples of feral children suggest?
  10.  What does the possibility of a biologically innate universal grammer allow?

III Translate the sentences from Russion into English

  1.  Язык рассматривается как построенная определенным образом знаковая система.
  2.  Знаки различают языковые и неязыковые.
  3.  В свою очередь языки бывают естественные и искусственные.
  4.  Для осуществления коммуникации человек вырабатывает различные языки.
  5.  Язык рассматривается как смыслы и значения, содержащиеся в языке, которые порождены социальным опытом и многообразными отношениями человека к миру.
  6.  Язык является ретранслятором культуры.
  7.  Очевидно, что культура распространяется и жестом, и мимикой, но язык является наиболее важным ретранслятором культуры.

Text 2

Cultural influences on language

All of this basic background on language should ultimately demonstrate its uniquiness to human existence, and the universality of language acquisition, development, and usage. It should also be evident that human’s use of language has countless implications. Let us turn our attention to the importance of the relationship between language and culture. If in fact, culture affects the structure and content of a language, linguistic diversity could be explained in terms of cultural diversity.We find many examples of this in various cultures. Eskimos have many different words describing snow and ice while cultures in arid regions have numerous words describing sand. The number of colour terms a culture has correlates with its degree of technological specialisation. The same can be said for general terms for plants and animals when comparing the vocabulary of simpler societies with more complex ones. The reason for the increase in vocabulary items with the increase in social complexity is because as a society increases in population density, so does the number of specialized work tasks. If we were to only consider the core or nonspecialist vocabulary, all languages would have a core vocabulary of about the same size. The idea that the vocabulary of a language reflects the everyday distinctions important in the society makes sense. Most urban dwellers in our society may only be able to name between 40 and 80 plant species whereas the typical members of hunting and gathering societies could name 400 to 800 species. Another example of how culture influences language is with usage of the verb “to have.” Societies lacking this verb also lack the concept of private property. The addition of this concept may also bring the addition of “have”to the society’s language. (Ember and Ember 1996,)

Linguistic influences on culture:The Sapir-Whorf hypotheses

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis proposes that the differences in language reflect differences in mental processes. Antropologists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf illustrated this with an example that compared the Hopi language with English. In English there are categories in word formation that convey discreteness in time: past, present, future, and things occurring at a specific time on a liner scale. The Hopis do not have the same concept of time, seeing it more as a cycling ongoing process that cannot be segmented. The Hopi language does not have the construction of tenses that the English language has (Ember 1996,). This view of language’s influence on a culture states that the way in which a language is constructed becomes a cultural straitjacket. Proponents of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis are linguistic determinists: Language determines the way you think. Most linguists prefer a less extreme version of the hypothesis and adhere to linguistic relativism, which argues that each language corresponds to a different worldview. Language does not necessarily coerce thought but may encourage patterns of thought or the habitual way we view the world. Language interects with culture in more obvious ways.The way a language reflects the structure of society is evident in verbal taboos that may prohibit saying certain words – as is the case with certain New World Native groups that have a taboo against saying the name of a deceased person. Profanity is not a taboo in English because there are appropriate contexts for its use. Sometimes we really do want to curse someone. Language also helps maintain social structure. The social rules behind politeness show deferences in status. Even if there were no other clues, however, most people in England could recognise major differences in social class by different dialects.

The ability we have to recognise voice with just a minimal input shows that each person possesses his or her own idiolect, charecteristics of language at the individual level. A specific number of people (a subcultural or ethnic group) share common language characteristics of a language and comprise a dialect. In each culture you use different styles of language, depending on to whom you are speaking. On a formal occasions you are using the language’s standard style. If your social network (all the people with whom you normally interact) use a restricted code of speech (a familiar and casual style) then it will be harder for you to switch to a more elaborated code. To sum up, idiolects and dialects comprise a language. While style varies at an individual and group level, the standard is representative of the entire language.

I Vocabulary

  1.  ultimately – в конечном счете, в конце концов
  2.  implication – смысл, подтекст
  3.  arid – засушливый, пустынный
  4.  to correlate –находиться в связи, устанавливать соотношения (to, with)
  5.  core – 1) сердцевина, ядро, 2) суть
  6.  distinction – различие
  7.  to lack – испытывать недостаток, нуждаться, не иметь
  8.  mental process – мыслительный (ментальный) процесс
  9.  discreteness – разрывность
  10.  to coerce – 1) принуждать, 2) сообщить движение
  11.  to prohibit – запрещать
  12.  New World Native groups – американские индейцы
  13.  deceased person – покойный, умерший человек
  14.  profanity – богохульство
  15.  acknowedgment – 1) признание, 2) подтверждени
  16.  to comprise – включать, заключать в себе
  17.  restricted code of speech – неофициальная речь
  18.  elaborated code –  официальная речь
  19.  idiolect – индивидуальный словарный запас
  20.  dialect – диалект
  21.  Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – гипотеза Сапира-Уорфа, лежащая в основе теории лингвистической относительности

II Comprehension check

  1.  What affects the structure and content of a languge?
  2.  How can liguistic diversity be explained?
  3.  What is the reason for the increase in vocabulary items?
  4.  What does the vocabulary of a language reflect?
  5.  What members of a society may be able to call much more species?
  6.  What does the SapirWhorf hypothesis propose?
  7.  What is the difference between the Hopi language and English?
  8.  What is the opinion of the linguistic determinists about it?
  9.  What version do most linguists prefer?
  10.  How can we prove that a language reflects the structure of a society?
  11.  How does language help maintain social structure?
  12.  What people comprise a dialect?
  13.  When do people use the language’s standard style?
  14.  In what situations do people use a familiar and casual style?
  15.  What is the difference between the standard and individual or group level of a language?

Text 3

Nonverbal communication

Languages are often preserved in their written forms, and in some cases the written form has contributed to the continuity of the culture. Due to geographic isolation, migration, conquests, and other factors, very different spoken dialects have developed all over China. People in different parts of China may be unable to understand the dialect of a person from a different province, but both can read the written language. This has united and provided continuity to a widespread and diverse population. People communicate in many different ways other than spoken language – for example, with the clothing they wear; the way they present or move their bodies; facial gestures, such as grimaces or smiles; and synthetic odors, such as aftershave, lotion, or perfume. Most societies develop distinct meaning or uses for various physical gestures. Giving someone “the finger” in one society may mean something quite the opposite in another. In some cultures, you may only shake hands or handle food with the right hand; in earlier generations, the left hand was regularly used in lieu of toilet paper. In some cultures, showing the soles of your feet or crossing your legs would be an insult. A loud belch, considered impolite in the presence of others in the United States, would be an appropriate expression of appreciation for a meal in other cultures. Many societies have informal, deeply rooted understanding of desirable ways to relate to other people. A high value is placed on group integration and conformity. A folkway is an approved form of behavior that is important but not usually accompanied by formal sanctions, for example, fines, if the practice is violated. If you use the wrong fork at a formal dinner, people will notice but there will be no overt punishment. If you drive too fast, this violation may lead to traffic fines – you have violated a more. Mores are norms that involve sanctions for violators. Public humiliation in a society where “saving face” is considered important can be devastating. In China, you should go out of your way to avoid embarrassing people – to help them save face. The loss of face is particularly devastating in front of large crowds of acquaintances. During the Chinise Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, singling out the individual for public humiliation sometimes led to the person committing suicide.

Creating culture

We have mentioned on several occasions the emergent qualities of human culture. We may speak in general terms about the features of a culture or we may compare cultural similarities in different societies. However, in living societies culture is a dynamic, evolving, feature of human life. The culture of a particular people may change because the invironment changes. Arid conditions may cause groups to migrate and adopt new agricultural practices.The many ice ages have almost certainly brought an end to some cultures and produced dramatic changes in others.

A particularly important source of cultural change is the ability humans have to react to the product of their own handiwork. We invent something, use it, think about it, and then create a new, more desired version. Consider how rapidly our culture has changed in the area of our travel: from folk table to the designs of Leonardo De Vinci. This escalation of technology occurs for many reasons including a strong societal emphasis on technical education and willingness to devote societal resourses. In sience and technology as in other areas, every goal attained becomes the stepping stone for the next possibility. Language is the crucial ingredient in this process of cultural development. Specialty languages are created by various academic disciplines to explain their latest insights in understanding the natural world. The various sciences also develop by creating new instruments to more precisely measure, and analyse some new facets of nature. We learn more by creating the space telescope or creating the technology for genetic surgery. In every instance the new techniques are accompanied by new concepts that link new developments in science. Karl Mannheim worked on the sociology of knowledge. Since then several social theorists have studied the social aspect of knowledge creation. Language exists in human social activity. Scientists are not “finding something that is out there.” They are creating a new way of understanding some particular aspect of existence. Whether in medicine or biology, well-organized groups create new knowledge. If you wish to become a socioligist, you will be systematically initiated into the language appropriate to the study of human society. Consider for a minute the unfolding of knowledge in sociology or any other discipline. For example, the textbook used in college classes in physics, biology, psychology, or sociology have dramatically changed since 1930 or 1970. Scientific research is only one example of organized interest groups that are rewarded for their new cultural creations. Other groups attempt new cultural creations, often for economic reasons. As the twenty-first century begins, many individuals are eagerly trying to locate new forms of business opportunity that can operate on the Internet. Others are involved in creating new fashions in art, clothing, music, or popular culture. Imagine how much money was made from their manufacture and sales. The latest new rock star is also culturally created. To ” break in” one needs some level of talent and perhaps a new sound or idea, but this alone is not enough. You also need economic backing to help you produce and market your new sound. Much money is invested before the new entertainer finds his or her work on the Top 20 charts.

Creating Objective Knowledge

One tradition in sociology argues that the rigorous application of scientific techniques will produce objective data, which the scientist then analyzes and generalizes about. We find the facts and the facts speak for themselves. Science makes progress by more precisely describing facts or finding new ways to create facts. We are being objective, in part, because the facts are thought to be “out there,” something we have discovered, and in doing “good science” we are being objective. This means that we are being value-free. Another tradition of sociology argues that all knowledge, including notion of objectivity is a product of human social activity. If you are interested in a thorough critique of the idea that science is value-free and that there is objective knowledge, you might consider Value-Free Science by Robert Proctor(1991). There is a lively debate in the area of philosophy or social theory called the philosophy of science. This includes subareas dealing with the nature of knowledge and how we know what we claim to know. Many traditional defenders of “good science ” ignore these larger debates. No knowledge is absolute. Some speak of “probability,” while others of emerging nature of the universe. Many in this tradition argue that sociology and science in general are not value-free. Every person makes value decisions as they consider topics for research. This approach argues that a scientist can approximate and come closer to the goal of objectivity when she reflects upon her own values and considers how they affect the research process. Some argue that if there is no objectivity, everything becomes hopelessly relative. The response might be that things are not hopelessly relative. The various scientific communities are orgarnized to promote the ongoing quest for more adequate ways of understanding the particular slice of the universe claimed by each discipline. This approach simply recognizes the human social aspects of research and the importance of hornesty and communication in the various scientific communities.

I Vocabulary

  1.  due to – из-за (= because of)
  2.  conquest – завоевание
  3.  diverse population – разное население
  4.  facial gestures – мимика
  5.  synthetic odors – ароматы
  6.  in lieu of – в качестве (чего-либо), вместо (чего-либо)
  7.  the soles of your feet – подошвы ваших ног
  8.  insult –  оскорбление
  9.  a loud belch – отрыжка
  10.  deeply rooted – имеющий глубокие корни
  11.  violated – нарушенное (напр., правило)
  12.  violation – нарушение (договора)
  13.  public humiliation – публичное унижение
  14.  to commite suicide – совершить самоубийство (суицид)
  15.  crucial – решающий, критический
  16.  precisely – точно
  17.  new facet of nature – новая грань  природы
  18.  initiated – инициированный, введенный в общество
  19.  eagerly – с нетерпением
  20.  value-free – не имеющий ценности
  21.  subareas – подчиненные, второстепенные территории
  22.  to deal with – иметь дело с…
  23.  to promote – продвигать (в общественном, коммерческом плане)

II Comprehension check

  1.  How can people communicate apart from spoken language?
  2.  What do most societies develop?
  3.  Give examples of some gestures’ meanings in different cultures.
  4.  What is a folkway?
  5.  What do mores involve?
  6.  In what societies can public humilation be devasting?
  7.  What similarities can we compare in different cultures?
  8.  Why may the culture of a particular people change?
  9.  What may arid conditions cause?
  10.  What did the many ice ages do?
  11.  How do humans react to the product of their own handiwork?
  12.  What is the crucial ingredient in the process of cultural development?
  13.  What are the new techniques accompanied by?
  14.  How is new knowledge created?
  15.  What does one tradition in sociology argue?
  16.  How does science make progress?
  17.  What does another tradition of sociology argue?
  18.  What does the philosophy of science include?
  19.  Why are the various scientific communities organized?

III Match the verb on the left with the correct definition on the right

  1.  to deal with
  1.  to be unlucky to have (someone or something)
  1.  to prohibit
  1.  to send or carry
  1.  to comprise of
  1.  to be concerned with; treat (a subject)
  1.  to convey to
  1.  to forbide
  1.  to correlate with
  1.  to force (someone) into something or doing something
  1.  to curse with
  1.  to raise to a higher rank or position
  1.  to promote
  1.  to compose of, to consist in, to consist of
  1.  to coerse into
  1.  to (cause to) be like or close to (something else)
  1.  to recognise
  1.  to show a true or exact copy of (something such as an idia)
  1.  to reflect
  1.  to accept; to admit

IV communicative practice

  1.  Make a quick guess. How many new words did you learn during the lesson?
    1.  The research says: ”Those who learned their second language early learned it best. “ (Jacqueline Johnson and Elissa Newport, 1989). Do you agree with it?
    2.  Do you agree with Chomsky that children are biologically prepared to learn language as they interact with their caregivers?
    3.  At what age do you think people should start learning foreign languages to be a success?
    4.  Language is considered to be the basic element of culture. In modern serials young people often use foul language. How does it influence culture?
    5.  What is the difference between a farmer’s and a politician’s speech?

Unit V

Sociology and values

Text 1

Why SHOULD WE study values? What is meant by values?

Some sociologists have argued, at least as early as the work of Karl Marx, that not only is sociology not value-free, but it also has a normative or value dimension. This means that we cannot escape the moral implications of the social conditions we observe. This kind of regarding the moral nature of sociology has led some sociologists to clarify which values are basic or most important. It is essential for this analysis to difine what values are and how we may recognise and analyse their role in a system of motivated social action. A common notion is that value refers to any aspect of a situation, event, or object that is invested with a preferential interest as being “good,” “bad, ”desirable,”and the like. This conception is not enough for present purposes. Any formal definition of value is likely to be too general to be of great use to a sociological analysis. It is enough if we circumscribe the boundaries of value. What is experienced by individuals as values have these qualities:

(1) They have a conceptual element – they are more than pure sensations, emotions, reflexes, or needs. Values are abstractions drawn from flux of the individual’s immediate experience.

(2) They are affectively charged: they represent actual or potential emotional mobilisation.

(3) Values are not the goals of action, but rather the criteria by which goals are chosen.

(4) Values are important, not “trivial”or of slight concern.

In the consideration of values a useful point lies in the elementary facts of preference and selection. Men prefer some things to others; they select particular objects and courses of action out of a range of possibilities present in a situation. The world is not emotionally neutral for us, nor are all things equally desired or esteemed. Accepting this, we must still be careful to see the highly consequential distinction between “value” in the sense of an evaluation of an object of regard, on the one hand, and the standards by which such evaluations are made. As Kluckhohn has noted, there is a basic distinction between that “ which is desired” and that “ which is desirable”. Values in the sense of standards are “conseptions of the desirable”. They are criteria for deciding what we should want. Empirically considered, value is not an all-or-none matter, but a continuum. At one pole, we find those intense moral values that are true matters of conscience. Values of this order are present when the individual who violates them shows a reaction of strong guilt or overwhelming shame and the group imposes strong censure upon the offender, or when the person who acts in accord with an accepted standard of evaluation is rewarded and honord by his fellows. Such moral values are the core of the individual’s internalized conscience. They also define the central institutional structure of the society. Our basic questions are: (1) what, in fact, are the conseptions of the desirable to be found in this society; and (2) what does the presence of these values tell us about the actual functioning of the social system? It will be necessery to deal with some clusters of belief-and-value which are diffuse and vague, as well as with highly generalised and explicit value-orientations. In its most simple formulation, a belief is a conviction that something is real, whereas a value is a standard of presence. Thus, a man may believe that there is life after death, but this statement tells us nothing directly as to whether immortality is for him a positive or a negative value, or a matter of indifference.

The empirical study of values in society indicates so many “operational definitions” of value: value as an overt choice or preference, as attention or emphasis, as statement or assertion, as a referent of social sanctions to human beings. When used in combination, these several different approximations gain reliability in so far as they are mutually consistent.

I Vocabulary

  1.  dimension – 1) измерение, 2) размеры, величина
  2.  clarification – прояснение
  3.  to circumscribe – описывать
  4.  boundaries – границы
  5.  flux – течение, поток, постоянная смена
  6.  to desire – жаждать, сильно жела
  7.  to esteem – оценивать
  8.  consequantional distinction – важные отличия
  9.  conscience – сознательный
  10.  inhanced self-image – завышенная самооценка
  11.  cluster – группа
  12.  explicit – ясный, подробный
  13.  conviction – убеждение, уверенность
  14.  immortality – бессмертие, вечность
  15.  mutual(ly) – взаимный (взаимно – нареч.)
  16.  consistent – совместимый

II Comprehension check

  1.  What qualities do values have?
  2.  What are values criteria for?
  3.  How do people react when a person acts against or in accord with values of conscience?
  4.  What values define the central institutional structure of the society?
  5.  What is the difference between a belief and a value
  6.  Give a summary classification of dominant values.

Text 2

What are “dominant values”? What are value systems? Major value-orientations

What can we say about the hierarchy of values? Are there any “dominent” values? Which values are common (shared), which are intense or less intense, which are persistent or transitory, which take precedence over others? Some concrete tests of value dominance are obviously needed.

Dominant and subordinate values for a group or social system as a whole can be roughly ordered to these criteria:

  1.  Extensiveness of the value in the total activity of the system. What propotion of a population manifests the value?
  2.  Duration of the value. Has it been persistently important over a considerable period of time?
  3.  Intensity with which the value is sought or maintained, as shown by: efforts, crucial choices, reactions to threats etc.
  4.  Prestige of value carriers – that is, of persons, objects, or organizations considered to be bearers of the value. Culture heroes, for example, are significant indexes of high generality and esteem.

The application of these criteria may be illustrated by the complex we call democracy. Let us define democracy as a combination of (1) high evaluation of individual persons apart from their extrinsic characteristics or positions; (2) elective rather than appointive choice of leaders; (3) reliance upon discussion and group consensus in determination of collective policy; (4) reservation of certain minimal social rights on an equal basis to all group members. How would we, then, test the hypotheses (1) that democracy is or is not highly valued, and (2) that democracy does or does not occupy a dominant position in the value hierarchy?

The first step is to secure evidence of democracy in the various institutions and subcultures of the society. To what extent is there democracy in family, education, religious group, stratification system, government, economic system? At once we are aware of great variation among and within the several institutional sectors. The criteria of democracy are met in full in some sectors of our political system, but hardly at all in others. In the economic system, direction by authority is more usual. The generalized value-orientations which may lie behind specific institutional arrangements are not easily disentangled. Just what standards of value are used for evaluating “democracy” as good or bad? The answer is not obvious, and it is complicated by the fact that such relatively specific evaluations represent a mixture of values, as such, together with knowledge, cognitive beliefs, and a wide variety of other factors particular to the actual social situations in which we look for evidence of values. We cannot remind ourselves too often that values are not identical with institutions and with all behavior.

It is clear that in our society the range of interests, beliefs, values, knowledge, and so on is so great that precise and detailed characterizations can be done only for care segments of the society. Furthermore, values change through time. These considerations explain why we speak of value-systems, rather than of values.

In describing value systems in a society we are mainly concerned with the distinctive elements of these systems, and not with “universal” features shared by the human species as a whole. For example, we do not speak about the unlearned biogenic “drives” or “needs” such as hunger, thirst, sex, activity, rest, and the like. However important, this substratum of behavior is it does not specifically explain problems that are definitely sociogenic or cultural. We shall deal with certain universal social values that exist in cultures. Clashes of value become crucial for social organization when they emerge in those areas of person – to-person interaction that are essential to the maintenance of the system – for example, family life or in work relations. Persistent value-conflicts in these areas will lead, variously, to personality disorganization of the system of interaction. Similarly, in mass behavior, persistent and widespread value-tension leads to political struggle.

We can now outline certain major value-configurations in culture. For convenience, we will proceed by abstracting certain dominant themes from the many important regional, class, and other variations.The simplified picture will be innacurate in every concrete detail – it will be a series of ideal types, subject to numerous exceptions.

Nevertheless, these abstracted patterns will serve as working models and present tendences. As a first approximation, we can use these tentative formulations in each instance as test cases. For each value-pattern let us ask: Is it actually an important value? How do we know whether it is or not? Where does it stand in relation to other values? Within the total society, what groups or subcultures are the main bearers of the value, and what groups or subcultures are indifferent or opposed? How do the mutually supporting or antagonistic value-systems work toward or against the integration of the culture as a whole? We will list a value or theme frequently observed. Some authors list seven major patterns: monogamous marriage, freedom, accquisitiveness, democracy, education, monotheistic religion, freedom and science.

I Vocabulary

  1.  hierarchy – иерархия
  2.  focal values – основные ценности
  3.  extensiveness – экстенсивность
  4.  duration – продолжительность
  5.  intensity – интенсивность
  6.  verbal affirmation – вербальное подтверждение
  7.  esteem – оценка
  8.  evaluation – оценивание
  9.  to secure – гарантировать
  10.  prevalence – (здесь) господство, преобладание
  11.  cognitive believes – осознанные верования
  12.  reciprocal – взаимный, обоюдный
  13.  species – (биолог.) вид
  14.  sociogenic – (неологизм, социолог. термин) порожденный социоусловиями, социогенный
  15.  universal social values – универсальные общественные ценности
  16.  persistant – настойчивый
  17.  tentative formulations – пробные формулировки
  18.  value-pattern – (ожидаемая) модель поведения
  19.  acquisitiveness – страсть к наживе, приобретательности

II Comprehention check

  1.  How do you understand
  2.  extensiveness of the value?
  3.  duration of the value?
  4.  intensity of the value?
  5.  prestige of the value?
  6.  What is democracy?
  7.  In what system are the critiria of democracy met?
  8.  Why do we speak of value-systems, rather then of values?
  9.  What are we concerned with in describing value systems?
  10.  When do clashes of value become crucial?
  11.  What will persistent value-conflicts lead to?
  12.  What questions should we ask for each value-pattern?
  13.  What major patterns do some authors list?

III Mach the verb on the left with the correct definition on the right

  1.  to desire
  1.  to respect and admire
  1.  to impose
  1.  to want or hope for smth very much
  1.  to esteem
  1.  to obtain or achieve smth important or valuable
  1.  to predicate
  1.  to have a bad effect on someone by causing them problems
  1.  to gain
  1.  to get or achieve something that will be permanent, especially after a lot of effort
  1.  to secure
  1.  to be based on smth as the reason for doing smth else

IV Translate from RUSSIAN into English

Ценности – это предпочтительные для индивида или группы значения явлений. Это представления о значимом, важном, которые определяют жизнедеятельность человека. Ценности позволяют различать желательное и нежелательное, то к чему следует стремиться и чего следует избегать (оценка – отнесение к ценности).

Различают ценности:

  1.  терминальные (ценности цели);
  2.  инструментальные (ценности средства).

Таким образом, ценности выступают, во- первых, как желательное, предпочтительное для данного субъекта состояние социальных связей, содержания идей, художественной формы и т. д.; во-вторых, как критерий оценки реальных явлений; в третьих, они определяют смысл целенаправленной деятельности; в-четвертых, регулируют социальные взаимодействия; в-пятых, внутренне побуждают к деятельности. Иными словами, ценность и ориентирует человека в окружающем мире, и побуждает, мотивирует на конкретные действия.

Ученые определяют следующие ценностные системы:

1. смысложизненные ценности: представления о добре и зле, счастье, цели и смысле жизни;

2. универсальные ценности:

а) витальные (жизнь, здоровье, личная безопасность, благосостояние, образование, правопорядок и др.);

б) общественного признания (трудолюбие, социальное положение и др.);

в) межличностного общения (честность, бескорыстие, доброжелательность, сострадание и др.);

г) демократические (свобода слова, совести, национальный суверенитет и др.);

3. партикулярные (частные) ценности:

а) привязанность к малой родине, семье;

б) фетишизм (вера в Бога, стремление к абсолютизму).

В наши дни происходит изменение ценностей, как это наблюдалось и в другие исторические периоды.

V Comunicative practice

  1.  The freedom of speech is one of the universal values. It is garanteed by our constuitution. Do we really have this right?
  2.  Nowadays values are changing. Is our society becomming better if compared with socialism?
  3.  Most industrialized cultures nurture individualists. Individualists give priority to personal goals. Other countries – especially those of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America – nurture collectivism. Collectivists give priority to the goals of their groups – often their family, clan, or work group. What is your priority? Why?
  4.  What is the purpose of your life? What do you want to achieve?

Unit VI

Socializing new individuals into society

Text 1

Socialization is the process by which a society passes its norms, values, knowledge and technology to the next generation. Looking at this process from the perspective of each individual, socialization is the process by which we learn to become human. The process begins with the earliest interactions of a child with parents and continues lifelong.

Agents of socialization are those individuals or groups that provide you with information and by various means attempt to socialize you according to their interests. Agents of socialization include schools, teachers, church organizations, community groups, television programs, books, video games, friends, sports teams, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Each of us is unique, because our biographies are unique. No other person in the universe has had the exact socialization experiences that you have had. Even if you have an identical twin and both of you are raised in the same family, you and your twin will gradually develop different personalities as the years go by. This is because each of you in the early years encounters slightly different socialization experiences. Each of you also responds differently to these experiences.

If these twins had been separated at birth and one was socialized in the United States and the other in China, you might not even recognize them as identical twins. They would speak different languages and would be brought up in different cultures. Differences in diet alone could produce significantly different body shapes and weights. A casual observer might not even detect that this pair shared common biological origins: the same chromosomes and genes.

Clearly, the agents of socialization we have encounted have contributed a great deal to the way we are today. For most people the earliest socialization experiences come from the mother, next from the father and beginning around age two, from siblings. The argument is frequently made that these years are most important for influencing many of our later attitudes and predispositions.

The sociological view of socialization cannot be attributed to any single researcher but rather has been developed as a result of the work of many. Some of the most important researchers who have contributed to the field are E. Durkheim, Ch. Cooley, G. Mead, J. Piaget and many others.

Socialization is a lifelong process by which, through contact with others, one becomes a self-aware, knowledgeable human being, skilled in the ways of a given culture and environment. Socialization suggests interiorizing of social roles and cultural norms. The focus is on interiorizing, not learning because one can’t learn a social role after reading a book, although one can acquire knowledge how to do it. Each role includes various norms, rules and patterns of behaviour; it is locked with other roles by social contacts such as relations, rights, obligations. A human can’t simply learn all this. He should interiorize. So, interiorizing has a wider meaning than learning and includes learning as its part.

Socialization is a lifelong process because an individual, in his life, has to learn not one but a number of social roles while growing older, getting married or being promoted on the career ladder. People constantly change their habits, rules, behaviours up till the old age.

Socialization can be distinguished as deliberate and unconscious. Deliberate socialization refers to the socialization process when there is a deliberate and purposful intent to convey values, attitudes, knowledge, skills etc., for instance, when parents tell their child always to say “

Unconscious socialization occurs as a result of spontaneous interaction with no purposeful or deliberate attempt. An example of such socialization is learning to use foul language by children.

The aims of socialization are the following:

  •  to instill disciplines (for instance: “Don’t walk in front of a moving car.);
    •  to develop aspirations and ambitions (for instance: “I want to be a banker, rock star, great sociologist.);
    •  to develop skills (for instance, reading, driving etc.);
    •  to enable the acquisition of social roles, for instance,male, student, son, worker etc.).

Development of an individual should be considered in connection with the family, social group and culture he belongs to. His socialization begins from the very first hours of his life and traditionally includes five stages:

  •  childhood – in medieval European paintings children were portrayed as little adults. In modern societies the separate character of childhood is diminishing once more, for instance, some observers point out that even small children may watch the same TV programmes as adults;
    •  the teenager – the concept of a teenager did not exist until recently. In modern societies, teenagers live between childhood and adulthood, growing up and changing;
    •  young adulthood – young adulthood seems to be a specific stage in personal and sexual development in modern societies. Affluent youths take the time to travel and explore sexual, political and religious affiliations;
    •  mature adulthood – in modern societies, midlife crisis is very real for many middle-aged people;
    •  old age – in traditional societies, the elder people usually had a major say over matters of importance to the community. In industrial societies, they tend to lack authority within the family and the wider social community.

By character socialization can be primary and secondary. Primary socialization occurs in infancy and childhood and is the most intense period of cultural learning. Family is the main agent, or agency of socialization during this phase. Secondary socialization takes place later in childhood and into maturity. Main agents of socialization include schools, peer groups, organizations, the media and the workplace.

All agents involved in socialization of individuals are differentiated as informal and formal ones.The family and peers are typical informal agents of socialization and the school and mass media represent formal agencies. For instance, peers become especially influential in schools. They provide opportunities to practice social roles, they are an important source of information, and they greatly influence values and attitudes in mate selection, sex relations, and forms of expression in music, sports and the like. It should be noted that some entities can serve as the agents of both primary and secondary socialization, for instance, peers of childhood and teenager period (primary) and peers at work (secondary). Defference berween primary and secondary forms also lies in the character of relations that’s why most intensity it takes in the first half of human life, although fading and going out slowly, it remains in the second half as well. Secondary socialization is the area of social relations and it occurs in the second half of human life whereby a person is faced with secondary agencies which have a great impact on developing personality. A principle asserting that development of personality is a lifelong ascending process based on consolidating of the interiorized before, is indisputable. But personal qualities moulded before are’t stableor unshakeblefor ever. When a person learns new roles, values or habits instead of those badly learnt before or obsolete, re-socialization occurs. It embraces a lot of activities – from lessons arranged to change the child’s reading skills to vocational retraining of workers. Development of any person is determined by a number of factors:

  •  family – in any civilization, it is the main area of primary socialization of personality as it is characterized by a set of social norms, sanctions and patterns of behaviour which regulate interactions and relations among spouses, parents and children, other relatives. As a rule, a child learns those patterns of behaviour typical for its parents;
    •  relations of equality – including into “groups of equal” (friends, peers of same age) also has a great impact on the process of personal development. Interrelations among peers are more democratic than those among parents and children. Individuals often keep these relations all their life;
    •  education – its importance is determined by the fact that the society ensures development of education and upbringing of the growing generations in accordance with the values, ideals, standards of behaviour typical for a given society. Education is a process and result of learning systematic knowledge, skills, and at the same time a necessary condition of preparing a person for labour activities;
    •  mass media (radio, press, TV, movie) are the most powerful factor of influence on human consciousness and behaviour that means that they influence the socialization process;
    •  labour – the working process is an organizational framework within which an individual turns to a member of the labour collective. While turning to a worker, he learns not only professional roles but also gets to know what is to be an executive and subordinate, leader or outsider etc.;
    •  culture is a specific kind of activity aimed at creating spiritual and material wealth, so its result comes to be a system of ideals, values, norms and patterns of behaviour embodied in the social development of a person and his spiritual world;
    •  income plays an important symbolic role. High income means well-being, high professional qualification and good business aptitudes of personality;
    •  organizations such as youth associations, church, sport clubs also participate in the development of a person.

Thus, the development of a person is determined by a number of socio-economic factors. At the same time the development of a person can’t avoid crises. An American psychologist and psychiatrist Erik H. Erikson hwo is also known for coining the phrase “identity crisis”, developed his theory on the social development of human beings with respect to the psychological analysis of S. Freud. E. Erikson described eight developmental stages of the Ego through which a human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage a person confronts new challenges which are hopefully mastered. Each stage builds on a successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages which are not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future. It should be noted that E. Erikson was the first to identify eight stages of development, later his students added two moreto further refine adolescence and adulthood.

Thus, to E.Erikson, at each stage a human encounters the following crises:

  1.  infancy (birth – 18 months): trust versus mistrust;
    1.  younger years (18 months – 3 years): autonomy versus shame and doubt;
    2.  early childhood (3 – 6 years) initiative versus guilt;
    3.  middle childhood (6 – 12 years): industry versus inferiority;
    4.  early adolescence (12 – 18 years): group identity versus alienation;
    5.  later adolescence (18 – 22 years): Ego-identity versus identity confusion;
    6.  early adulthood (22 – 34 years): intimacy versus isolation;
    7.  middle adulthood (34 – 60 years): generativity versus stagnation;
    8.  later adulthood (60 – 75 years): Ego-integrity versus despare;
    9.  old age (75 years – death): immortality versus extinction.

According to E. Erikson, the Ego, around which the individual integrates a sense of identity, developes in the process of socialization. He thinks the society plays an important role in moulding personality. He emphasized that socialization is a lifelong process which goes through cycles from infancy to elderly adulthood.


  1.  to interact – взаимодействовать
  2.  sibling – брат или сестра
  3.  predisposition – предрасположение
  4.  to interiorize – усваивать ценности и нормы
  5.  deliberite – умышленый, намеренный
  6.  unconscious – бессознательный
  7.  foul language – нецензурная речь
  8.  to instill – внушать
  9.  to diminish – уменьшать (-ся), ослаблять, унижать
  10.  mature – зрелый, взрослый
  11.  peers – ровестники
  12.  entity – филос.бытие, сущность, полит.организация, legal entity – юр.лицо
  13.  to embody – воплощать, олицетворять
  14.  alienation – объединение
  15.  extinction – тушение, угасание, вымирание

II comprehention check

  1.  What is socialization?
    1.  When does the process begin? How long does it last?
    2.  What are agents of socialization? What do they do?
    3.  Why can’t people have the same socialization experience?
    4.  What notion has a wider meaning interiorizing or learning? Why?
    5.  What does deliberate socialization refer to?
    6.  When does unconscious socialization occur?
    7.  What are the aims of socialization?
    8.  What stages does socialization include?
    9.  What is primary socialization?
    10.  What is secondary socialization?
    11.  What factors is development of any person determined by?
  2.  What stages of the Ego did E. Erikson identify?

III Match the noun on the left with the correct definition on the right

  1.  value
  1.  the act of disagreeing or questioning something
  1.  knowledge
  1.  an account of a person’s life written by someone else
  1.  technology
  1.  the facts, skills and understanding one gained through learning or experience
  1.  generation
  1.  facts or details that tell you smth about a situation, person, event
  1.  individual
  1.  the opinions and feelings that you usually have about smth
  1.  information
  1.  the importance or usefulness of smth
  1.  siblings
  1.  all the people of about the same age
  1.  biography
  1.  a person with thought, feelings and ideas of their own
  1.  universe
  1.  one of two children born at the same time to the same mother
  1.  twin
  1.  knowledge about scientific or industrial methods or the use of these methods
  1.  experience
  1.  formal a brother or sister
  1.  argument
  1.  all space including all the stars and planets
  1.  attitude
  1.  knowledge or skill gained while doing a job
  1.  predisposition
  1.  a tendency to behave in a particular way or suffer from a particular illness

IV Translate from Russian into English

  1.  Этапы социализации совпадают с этапами возрастного развития индивида.
  2.  Ранняя социализация связана с освоением представлений о мире и характере взаимоотношений людей.
  3.  Социализация личности начинается с рождения и длится всю жизнь. Этот процесс на каждой стадии осуществляют особые институты.
  4.  К агентам социализации относятся: семья, детские сады, школы, вузы, группы сверстников, СМИ, литература и искусство и т.д.
  5.  Каждый этап социализации связан с действием определенных агентов.
  6.  Агенты социализации – это люди и учреждения, связанные с ней и ответственные за ее результаты.
  7.  Социологи используют термин социализация для описания процесса, с помощью которого люди обучаются приспосабливаться к социальным нормам.
  8.  Социализация это процесс усвоения личностью образцов поведения общества, его ценностей и норм.
  9.  Человек становится личностью, общаясь с другими людьми.
  10.  Личность занимает определенное положение в обществе, принадлежит к определенному классу, социальной группе.
  11.  В соответствии со своим социальным статусом личность играет определенные социальные роли.

Text 2


  •  Social origin of the self;
  •  Gestures and symbols;
  •  Role and role taking;
  •  The “I” and the “ME”.

Now we will discuss the dominant theoretical perspective used by sociologists to explain socialization. Our discussion draws heavily on the work of George Herbert Mead, who was a sociologist at the University of Chicago; his ideas are presented in his book “Mind, Self and Society” (1934).

The two words in the term symbolic interactionism summarize the concept: Symbols make social interaction possible. Communication is vital for social interaction. We will present his key concepts in considerable detail, because this approach is central to most microlevel analyses of social behavior.

Most of us do not spend much time analyzing concepts such as soul, self, or psyche. We take for granted that we have one. It is what we are and with it we continually confront the world around us. Frequently, religions provide theological explanations: you were uniquely created by a higher power. There are also Western philosophical traditions that explain “mind” as the built-in rational quality that makes us human and with which we can be part of the universe.

Mead, who rejected both religious and popular psychological explanations, sought a social explanation for the self. The central question that influenced his research was what is the social origin of the self? “Our contention is that mind can never find expression, and could never have come into existence at all, except in terms of a social environment; that an organized set or pattern of social relations and interactions (especially those of communication by means of gestures as significant symbols and thus creating a universe of discourse) is necessarily presupposed by it and involved in its nature” (Mead 1934)

Mead focused on gestures and speech as the major forms of symbolic communication. We communicate in additional ways such as the use of synthetic odors (aftershave and perfume), the cost, style, or amount of clothing we are wearing, and the way we present or pose our bodies (posture, body language, etc.) Most evolutionary biologists locate the beginning of speech with Cro-Magnon man, 40,000 B.C.E. Whenever and however it developed, our biological capability of producing speech was crucial.

Both Mead and his friend John Dewey focused upon another biological feature of our behavior. All living things are in some way biologically active. Mead observed that human cooperation begins with a gesture, the beginning part of the social act that leads to symbolic communication. If someone shakes a fist in your face, you probably grasp the significance or meaning of the gesture. For you, the fist shaking has become a significant gesture. A gesture becomes a significant symbol when it has a learned meaning. The meaning is the common social use of a symbol. You and someone else are understood when you are using symbols in the same way. Our brains give us the ability to remember the meaning or use of symbols we have previously encounted. We have the ability to learn the meaning of liberally thousands of symbols.

Mead observed that we could internalize the meaning of symbols. We consider the relationship of one symbol to another or one experience to another. When we weigh or consider the various alternatives to help us reach a desired goal, we are not only thinking, we are being what John Dewey called intelligent.

Mead created the concept of role or role taking to explain how we organize symbols in our memory to guide our behavior in the presence of others. We continually see ourselves as others see us or as we imagine others see us.

Another sociologist, George Horton Cooley, a contemporary of Mead, developed a similar notion to explain how we see ourselves in the responses of others. People act as mirrors for each other. In Cooley’s words, “Each to each a looking glass, reflects the other what [does] pass”. (1961) We have ideas about how others expect us to behave. A role is a set of symbols that we call upon to guide our behavior in the presence of others. You have learned how to behave in the presence of parents, and you behave quite differently in the presence of your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Most of the roles we play are so continual or frequent that we seldom think about them. “We are, especially through the use of the gestures, continually arousing in ourselves those responses which we call out in other persons, so that we are taking the attitudes of the other persons into conduct”. (Mead 1934) Our interaction with others continually informs our thinking. We modify our behavior as we move from role to role as we seek to clarify uncertainty in our relationships with another person. Sometimes we feel awkward or uncertain because we know very little about the person with whom we are interacting. We imagine what they are like – a sports fan or perhaps a serious student. We act on one of these assumptions and observe their reaction. Do they change the subject because they’re not interested in sports? If we observe their changing the subject and if we want to interact further, we modify our own behavior and look for something else to talk about that might have mutual interest. In this sense, social action with others continually informs our thinking. We are always thinking with the symbols that w already possess. People acquire new symbols to guide their relationships with and responses to new acquaintances.

Taking the role of others is only one part of self-development. Mead created the concept of the “generalized other” to analyze everything going on in a society that the individual considers while guiding his or her own conduct – the common social activity. We learn many general rules that guide our conduct in the presence of other people. This includes notions of good manners, etiquette, and behavior in the presence of strangers or in public places.

The “I” and “ME” are terms created by Mead to describe aspects of the self. Neither exists without the other. The “I” is the spontaneous part of the self which influences the world we live in. The ability (to objectify our part selves) to look at ourselves as a past object is the “ME”. You have certainly observed different types of personalities – most people respond in a consistent manner to the events of their lives. Some appear to be oversocialized, to be dominated by the “ME”, to be a slave to the expectations of others. Another person may appear to march to his or her own dream – they bring a critical perspective to the expectations of others. The symbolic interaction approach focused on the prior existence of the social world into which each new individual is socialized.

I Vocabulary

  1.  to summarize – суммировать, резюмировать, подводить итог
  2.  vital – (жизненно) важный, насущный
  3.  concept – понятие, идея
  4.  to take for granted – считать доказанным; принимать на веру
  5.  theological explanation – теологическое (богословское) объяснение
  6.  contention – спор; раздор, разногласие
  7.  existence – бытие, существование
  8.  to exist – существовать
  9.  discourse – речь, дискурс
  10.  to presuppose – предполагать
  11.  cooperation – сотрудничество, взаимодействие
  12.  meaning – значение; смысл
  13.  brain – мозг
  14.  ability – способность
  15.  internalize – перенимать, усваивать, впитывать
  16.  conduct – руководство, управление
  17.  to clarify – прояснить; пролить свет
  18.  awkward – неуклюжий, неловкий
  19.  assumption – предположение, допущение
  20.  to possess – владеть, располагать, обладать
  21.  generalized other – обобщенное другое
  22.  consistent manner – постоянная манера
  23.  oversocialized – чересчур социализирован
  24.  prior (existence) – прежнее, предшествующее (состояние)

II Comprehension check

  1.  What was George Herbert Mead? Why are his key concepts important?
  2.  What was the central question that influenced his research?
  3.  How can mind find expression in Mead’s opinion?
  4.  What are the major forms of symbolic communication in Mead’s opinion?
  5.  When does a gesture become a significant symbol?
  6.  What did Mead explain with the concept of role and role taking?
  7.  Why do people act as mirrors for each other?
  8.  What is a role?
  9.  Why do we seldom think about roles in play?
  10.  What does our interaction with others continually inform?
  11.  Why do we modify our behaviour as we move from role to role?
  12.  What general rules do we learn to guide our conduct in the presence of other people?
  13.  What is the “I”?
  14.  What is the “ME”
  15.  What people are dominated by the “I”?
  16.  What people are dominated by the “ME”?
  17.  What does symbolic interaction approach focus on?

III Translate the sentences from Russian into English

  1.  Социологические теории личности изучают взаимодействие личности и общества, личности и группы.
  2.  Теория зеркального «Я» (Г. Кули, Дж. Мид). Сторонники этой теории понимают личность как совокупность отражений реакций других людей.
  3.  Самосознание развивается в результате социального взаимодействия, т.к. индивид обучается смотреть на себя глазами других людей.

Text 3


Many symbolic interactionists argue that the separation of mind and body is false. When we are thinking, when we are conscious, when we are self-conscious, this activity of the self occurs in the brain. However complex our brain, it is still an organ of our bodies and is influenced by the way we treat our bodies. Not enough food or sleep, too much alcohol or food, and too much stress influence how we feel and think. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate and be rational. Frequently when we feel bad, we don’t care how we look – we don’t care how others see us. These examples illustrate the influence of the body on mental activity.

Sometimes we judge a task so important that we work late into the night even though we’d rather go to sleep – differed gratification. We will use ideas from symbolic interactionism to explain how our conscious self can influence our body responses. To do this, we will sociologically analyze the experience of embarrassment.

What happens to your body when you are embarrassed? You blush. What is it about embarrassing situations that cause the psychological response of blushing? Embarrassment is a social experience. It only occurs when others are present or when you think they might be present. Things you do in the privacy of you room might suddenly be very embarrassing if you became aware that you were being secretly observed. Thus the first consideration in our analysis is that embarrassment is a social event.

The second element is that something unexpected suddenly happens. Embarrassment results when our public self suddenly realizes that we are being seen in an unexpected and uncomplimentary way. Embarrassment may be socially defined as being caught out of role. When this happens we blush. In such situations we sometimes smile, laugh, or in some other way make light of the embarrassing thing that just happened. It is a way of establishing role distance between the self and the stupid, uncomplimentary, embarrassing event.

When we laugh at ourselves we are saying to others that this was funny or unimportant. It is not what I normally do. We are trying to restore ourselves to a normal situation of self-control. This analysis illustrates how the concept of role can be used to explain even a momentary experience. However, role has become one of the most important concepts in sociology for explaining many aspects of our relationships with others.

I Vocabulary

  1.  embarrassment – смущение, замешательство
  2.  conscious – сознательный
  3.  to treat – относиться
  4.  to influence – влиять
  5.  to blush – краснеть
  6.  to establish – установить

II Comprehension check

  1.  In what situations don’t we care how others see us? How does the body influence mental activity?
  2.  How can our conscious self influence our body responses?
  3.  How can embarrassment be socially defined?
  4.  What do people often do if they are caught out of role?
  5.  What do people try to restore when they laugh at themselves?

Text 4

The concept OF role

Remember that our roles include sets of symbols to guide our behaviour in the presence of others. We know how to behave. We can instantly imagine appropriate behaviour for us in the presence of parents, brother, sister or employer. In presenting ourselves we also consider the suitability of clothing that we might use in the presence of others. These are role relationships.

The concept of role is used in many additional ways. One important feature of the concept of role can be used to explain socialization throughout the life course or life span. We are socialized to our gender, to becoming a student, to becoming a member of a college social club, to becoming a student athlete, to becoming engaged to a person for future marriage, to becoming a graduate student, to learning a new corporate job or learning to be a lawyer, to learning a new religious life, to becoming a father or mother of your own children, to becoming a grandparent, to learning how to experience retirement and even learning how to die. In all of these instances, we are being socialized to new roles which guide our relationships to new people and new situations.

From the viewpoint of each individual, only a limited number of roles are lived during any period of one’s life. However, we can imagine innumerable roles in a society where each person interact with others, continually learning new rules, and relationships. Innumerable social networks link people together. With so many uses some sociologists have referred to the concept of role as one of the basic building blocks of society. Societies are made up of individuals and the concept of role explains the linkage between them.

Frequently the concept of role has been used to diagnose problems, for individuals or for groups. Your status refers to any role you occupy in your group or society. Your master status is the role that is dominant over any other statuses you occupy. Role strain is experienced when you’re trying to occupy two or more roles that are incompatible. One of your statuses might be as father or mother of a family, and you may also occupy another status as a corporate executive. As a mother you may want to spend more time with your infant child, but if you do, your corporate career may suffer. Your employer may want to move you to a different city? While your family wants you to stay where you are so your children can finish high school with their friends.

Things can become even more involved. Two people, simultaneously, may have complimentary and contradictory relationships with each other.

I vocabulary

  1.  appropriate behavior – соответствующее поведение
  2.  life span – период, срок жизни
  3.  view point – точка зрения
  4.  linkage – связь
  5.  master status – главный статус
  6.  role strain – ролевое напряжение
  7.  contradictory – внутренне противоречивый
  8.  to behave – вести себя, поступать
  9.  to guide – руководить, направлять
  10.  to diagnose – ставить диагноз
  11.  to refer to... – относиться к...

II Comprehension check

  1.  How do we behave in the presence of others?
  2.  What are we socialized to?
  3.  How many roles can a person have?
  4.  What links people together?
  5.  What do some sociologists think of the concept of role?
  6.  What does a person’s status refer to?
  7.  What is his master status?
  8.  When is role strain experienced?
  9.  When do people have incompatible roles?

Iii Match the following key terms with their definitions

  1.  Agencies (agents) of socialization
  1.  a lifelong process by which, through contact with others, one becomes a self-aware, knowlegeble human being, skilled in the ways of a given culture and environment.
  1.  Bases type (of personality)
  1.  a theory that human behavior is guided by expectations held by other people. The expectations correspond to different roles individuals perform in their daily life.
  1.  Individual
  1.  structured groups or context within which significant processes of socialization occur
  1.  Individuality
  1.  a particular representative of mankind
  1.  Primary socialization
  1.  a socialization process which occures in infancy and childhood and is the most intense period of cultural learning
  1.  Socialization
  1.  a set of qualities or characteristics distinguishing one person from another at the biological, psychological, social and other levels
  1.  Re-socialization
  1.  a set of typical personality’s qualities which are dominant in the society and most fully meets the demands of a given society
  1.  Role theory
  1.  a socialization process which occurs when a person learns new roles, values or habits instead of those badly learnt before
  1.  Secondary socialization
  1.  a socialization process which takes place later in childhood and into maturity
  1.  Psychological analysis
  1.  a psycological perspective of Sigmund Freud who considered a person striving for getting satisfaction, with the society as a system of constrains and taboos

Iv Translate from Russian into English

  1.  Ролевая теория личности занимает значительное место в социологии.
  2.  В этой теории социальное поведение личности определяется двумя основными понятиями: «социальный статус» и «социальная роль».
  3.  Статус – это положение человека в обществе, его права и обязанности.
  4.  Роль – это поведенческая сторона статуса.
  5.  Каждый человек выполняет множество ролей.
  6.  Поведение человека может быть различным в зависимости от его социальной роли в данный момент (роль отца, мужа, руководителя, изобретателя, члена политической партии и т.д.)
  7.  Человек может иметь несколько статусов, но чаще всего только один определяет его положение в обществе.
  8.  Главный статус часто обусловлен должностью человека.
  9.  Концепция социальной роли проста, люди занимают различные положения, с которыми связаны поведения.
  10.  Роль уже статуса. Каждый статус имеет множество ролей.
  11.  Многообразие ролей ведет к внутреннему конфликту личности.
  12.  Противоречащие друг другу социальные роли являются причиной внутренней борьбы личности.

V Communicative practice

  1.  What influences a personality most of all? (family, school, peers, mass media, etc.)
  2.  Why is the role of parents so important?
  3.  What organizations can influence a person if he/she was badly brought up?
  4.  Do you agree that the main status of a person is determined by his/her profession?
  5.  Is your behaviour the same or different in the presence of other people (your parents, friends, teachers, etc.)
  6.  Are you often imbarassed?

Unit VII

Understanding of social stratification and social inequality (part I)


The grouping of people together is as old as the society itself. Racial grouping is one way that societies have done this, the example is the American South before the US civil war. Religion is another way if parts of Northern Ireland until the 1960s are meant. One common way is through the caste system to be found in India. Here, social differentiation is stressed by the caste that each individual is born into, for instance, the Brahmin caste is the top caste and the untouchables are the bottom caste. Caste membership in this life is the result of good or bad conduct in the previous life. In any medieval country, the feudal system of land ownership meant that the nobility of land owners, with its sense of family tradition, privilege and knightly conduct became the dominant ruling group.

Social stratification is the dividing of a society into levels or strata based on wealth or power. It is regarded quite differently by the principal perspectives of sociology. Proponents of structural functionalism suggest that since social stratification exists in all societies, a hierarchy must be beneficial in helping to stabilize their existence. Conflict theorists emphasize the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility in many stratified societies. Anyway, all theorists share the opinion that social stratification has to do with inequality.

Social inequality refers to the distribution of material wealth in a society. For instance, the current level of inequality is as follows: the richest 1% of people (with an average income of US $24,000) earns more than the poorest 60% of households in the world combined. Another illustration of this difference is the fact that the world’s three richest people alone possess more assets than 600 million least wealthy people combined.

Although there appears to be a consensus of what constitutes social inequality, there is far less agreement over the causes of it. Many theorists accept inequality as a given, but some of them see inequality as the natural consequence of Social Darwinism, proved by gender, age, IQ or the wealth of nations. Others argue that inequality is in large part the negative consequence of destructive state policies (such as capitalism) and wars.

Some modern economic theories, such as the neoclassical school, have suggested that functioning of economy requires a certain level of unemployment; other theories, such as Keynesianism and socialism, dispute this alleged positive role of unemployment.

However, sociologists share the opinion that as soon as the society was reaching a higher economic and cultural level, social inequality between people was getting more and more obvious. Historically, inequality in a group might have been caused by division of labour: the more skilled the person was, the more and better products he could produce and exchange for more wealth. If the person was wealthy, he could impose his will on others and acquire more wealth that entailed professional, territorial, religious and other differentiations.

More important is the fact that wealth always entails power in the political sphere. In his famous work, On the Origins of Inequality among Men, R. Dahrendorf asserts that “the system of inequality which we call social stratification is only a secondary consequence of the social structure of power” and modern Russia is a good example of it.

A person is viewed to show that he belongs to a certain stratum by using both objective and subjective criteria. The objective criteria are those to describe the level of education, income, property, power or occupation, the subjective ones are those to describe the level of somebody’s honour, reputation or prestige in the eyes of other people. Theories differ in numbers of criteria but they agree in understanding that each stratum includes only those people who have approximately equal income, power, education, prestige etc. seeing them as the basic criteria of social stratification.

In other words, social stratification has to do with ranking of people as individuals or groups in the society. All societies everywhere show some degree of stratification. Some societies are egalitarian, some are highly stratified. For instance, in the primitive communal society inequality was insignificant, and social stratification did not exist, so the society was egalitarian. All complex societies are stratified societies with a high level of inequality.

Inequality gave birth to castes, then to classes. But the principal sociological perspectives interpret this concept differently. M. Weber spoke of a class as an entity comprising people who are cohered by economic interests in acquiring goods or getting income and who interact in the labour or goods market. In the society, classes as well as strata have a certain social status which is determined by a corresponding way of life. That’s why some theorists define social stratification as the hierarchical arrangement of social classes, castes, and strata within a society.

The idea of stratification had primarily a distinct ideological shade because it appeared as a counterbalance to the idea of a class society suggested by K. Marx. Social strata showing objective distinctions of various groups of the population within a certain class were differentiated with regards to social mobility that lead to the erosion of class boundaries. For instance, a worker after he has got a higher education can work as a manager, a citizen can move to the countryside to start up agro-business etc. In other words, the previous, clear-cut boundaries existing, for instance, between peasants and landlords to differentiate their class distinctions for many generations ahead, do not exist in a modern society. It means that class boundaries have lost their sense keeping only their theoretical character while the concept of a social stratum has a definite meaning. It shows that social strata or layers do fix various groups of people differentiating from each other by their income, role, status and other social qualities.

Social strata can be as large as to be close in meaning to social classes, for example, the bourgeoisie in its division to very wealthy and petty ones, or the working class including the working aristocracy and the proletariat, or the peasantry etc. Other strata may represent intra-class or inter-class layers, for example, representatives of intelligensia, service workers etc. At the same time within a certain stratum some substrata can exist, so the intelligentsia can be differentiated according to the area of activities as industrial, managerial, scientific etc. Some castes, marginal layers such as the homeless, criminals or lumpens can also be viewed as social strata.

I Vocabulary

  1.  ratial grouping – объединение, группирование по расовому признаку
    1.  assets – активы, имущество
    2.  alleged positive role – признанная позитивная роль
    3.  to impose one’s will on others – налагать свою власть (волю) на других
    4.  egalitarian society – общество равноправия
    5.  to be cohered – быть объединенным, связанным
    6.  bourgeoisier – буржуазия
    7.  aristocracy – аристократия
    8.  proletariat – пролетариат
    9.  peasantry – крестьянство
    10.  intelligensia – интеллигенция
    11.  marginal layer – маргинальная прослойка


  1.  What is social stratification?
    1.  What does social inequality refer to?
    2.  What do different theorists think of the causes of social inequality?
    3.  What are the objective criteria according to which a person belongs to a certain stratum?
    4.  What are the subjective ones?
    5.  In what societies is social inequality more obvious?
    6.  How did Weber discribe a class?
    7.  Give examples of social strata.


Scientific conceptions of stratification of the society

One of the known conceptions of the division of the society is the conception of classes of K. Marx who emphasized the leading role of economy in development of social phenomena. The Marxist idea of a class society is centered on relations of individuals or social groups to the means of production while other class characteristics are considered secondary. K. Marx marked that in any economic system there is a dominant class which owns the means of production, and a suppressed class which works for the owners; a part of the society is lumpens or people who are completely discarded by the society. It gave K. Marx and F. Engels the right to consider inequality as a consequence of unfair socio-economic relations between those who exploit and those who are exploited.

Works by K. Marx and his supporters were put into the grounds of the conflict approach to the society. Conflict theorists consider the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility in many stratified societies. They conclude that stratification means that working class people are not likely to advance socio-economically, while the wealthy can continue to exploit the proletariat generation after generation.

M. Weber formulated a three-component theory of stratification, with social class, status class and party class (or politics) as conceptually distinct elements.

  •  social class is based on economically determined relationship to the market (owner, renter, employee etc.);
  •  status class is based on non-economic qualities like honour, prestige and religion;
  •  party class refers to the factors having to do with affiliations in the political domain.

Other views to emerging inequality are expressed in the conception of Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore who defined stratification as the unequal rights and perquisites of different positions in a society. They are interested in the system of positions in the society and not in the individuals occupying those positions. In their Some Principles of Stratification, K. Davis and W. Moore consider stratification as the consequence of normal development of the society. Their approach is strictly functionalist as they argue that a society is to survive; then a functionally efficient means of fitting talented individuals to the occupations must develop. Stratification supplies this mechanism. Thus, social prestige is considered not as a quality derived from the individual’s economic position in the society but as a quality which has its own status. Their ideas seriously shook Marxist ideas that linked stratification with social inequality.

In the study of social stratification and social mobility P.A. Sorokin holds a unique place. We owe to him the creation or definition of many of the terms that have become standard in this field. His work Social stratification and Social Mobility, published in 1927 and stimulated further elaborations in the given area, still remains a veritable storehouse of ideas on stratification.

P.A. Sorokin defined social stratification as differentiation of the population into hierarchically overlapped classes. To him, stratification may be based on economic criterion, for instance, when the focus is on the wealthy and the poor. But societies or groups are also politically stratified when their social ranks are hierarchically structured with respect to authority and power. If, however, members of the society are differentiated into various occupational groups and some of these occupations are deemed more honourable than others, or if occupations are internally divided between those who give orders and those who receive orders, then occupational stratification is dealt with. Although there may be other forms of stratification, economic, political, and occupational stratification is the most important.

P.A. Sorokin held that people move in the social space. Methods appropriate to find their position in the social space are somewhat reminiscent of the system of coordinates used for locating an object in the geometrical space. So, to find one’s position in the social space means to define his relations to other individuals and to other groups, the relation of these groups to each other within the population, and the relation of this population to other populations constituting the mankind. That’s why the social space is defined as the population of the globe, and a social position – as the integrity of its relations with the other groups of the population. These relations – between groups and within a specific group – make up the system of coordinates enabling to locate a social position of any person in the social space. This approach helps to consider people holding different social positions.

People moving from one social position to another in the social space, P.A. Sorokin defines as social mobility. There are two types of social mobility, horizontal and vertical. The first concerns movements from one social position to another situated on the same level, as in a movement from work as a foreman with Volvo to similar work with Ford. The second refers to transitions of people from one social stratum to one higher or lower in the social scale, as in ascendant movements from the rags to the riches.

Both ascending and descending movements occur in two principal forms. The first form deals with individuals and includes the penetration of individuals of a lower stratum into a higher one, called the ascent, and the descent of individuals from a higher social position to one lower on the scale. The second form deals with groups and includes the collective ascent or descent of whole groups relative to other groups in the social pyramid. But P.A. Sorokin considered that individual ascent and descent needs no explanation. What must be considered more carefully was the second form of social ascending and descending, or the rise and fall of groups. This main focus upon collective, not on individual phenomena distinguished P.A. Sorokin’s approach from others on stratification and mobility.

The theory of social stratification developed by R. Dahrendorf takes into account the concept of political authority which most exactly characterizes the relations of power and struggle for power between social groups. He believes that distribution of property in production determines distribution of political power in the society. As classes are political groups cohered by common interests, the struggle between two classes is a political struggle. Within this approach, the society’s structure is represented by those who manage and those who are managed. The first ones are further divided into owners and non-owners or bureaucrats-managers; the second ones – into a higher group of working aristocrats and a lower group of low qualified workers. Between them there is a new middle class.

Another example of a stratum class model was developed by the American sociologist William Lloyd Warner in his book, Social Class in America (1949). In the 1930-40s he studied the stratification structure of American cities. Based on social anthropology, W. Warner divided Americans into three classes (upper, middle, and lower), then further subdivided each of these into an upper and lower segment, with the following postulates:

  •  upper-upper class called “old money” is represented by people who have been born into and raised with wealth, for instance, Rockerfeller;
  •  lower-upper class or “new money” is represented by individuals who have become rich within their own lifetimes; known examples are Bill Gates in the USA, Richard Branson in the United Kingdom;
  •  upper-middle class comprises high-salaried professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, corporate executives;
  •  lower-middle class comprises lower-paid professionals, but not manual labourers, for instance, police officers, non-management office workers, small business owners;
  •  upper-lower class, also known as the “working class” comprises blue-collar workers and manual labourers;
  •  lower-lower class is represented by the homeless and permanently unemployed, as well as the “working poor.”

To W. Warner, American social class was based more on shared attitudes than on the actual amount of money an individual has made. Such attitudes are income, prestige of job, education and ethnicity. For example, the richest people in the United States belong to the lower-upper class like Bill Gates, but members of the upper-upper class tend to be more respected, as a simple survey of US presidents may demonstrate (for instance, the Roosevelts; John Kennedy; the Bushes).

Another observation concerns members of the upper-lower class who might make more than members of the lower-middle class, for instance, a well-salaried mechanic versus a secretarial worker, but the class difference is based on the type of work they perform.

There are also stratification theories developed by modern Russian sociologists. For instance, G.V. Osipov, V.V. Radaev, O.I. Shkaratan distinguished between essential and additional criteria of a social stratum. The essential criteria are people’s economic position (private property, size of income, level of material wealth), division of labour (area of activities, character of labour, level of education and qualification), size of authority (types and forms of governance) and social prestige (impact, roles); the additional criteria are gender, age, ethnic qualities, religion, character of family relations, kinship relations and place of living.

At the same time a modern French theorist A. Touraine considers those criteria out-dated. His stratum model is based on the access to information: those who have an access to more information occupy dominant positions in the society.

Thus, elaborators of stratification conceptions do not postulate social equality. Moreover, they consider social inequality as a natural state of the society. Despite people’s everlasting strive for equality that lead to revolutions and wars (for example, the October revolution and Civil war in Russia), a desired equality is impossible to achieve. Inequality did, does and will exist. The point is how to make inequality less painful to the members of the society. Here various social programmes aimed at supporting the population with low income are important. Such programmes are gaining more significance in a transitive society because stabilizing the standards of living and struggle against poverty are indispensable factors of success of political and socio-economic reforms in the society.

I Vocabulary

  1.  discarded – отверженный
  2.  affiliation – сотрудничество
  3.  political domain – политическая сфера
  4.  perquisite – привилегия
  5.  elaboration – разработка
  6.  storehouse of ideas – кладезь идей
  7.  to deem – полагать,считать
  8.  reminiscent – напоминающий
  9.  penetration of individuals – перемещение людей
  10.  the ascent – подъем
  11.  the descent – снижение
  12.  bureaucrats – бюрократы
  13.  essential criteria – основной критерий
  14.  additional creteria – дополнительны критерий
  15.  access to information – доступ к информации
  16.  strive for equality – стремление к равенству
  17.  to gain – приобретать
  18.  indispensable – необходимый, обязательный


  1.  What did Marx emphasize in his conception of classes?
  2.  What do conflict theorists consider?
  3.  What did M. Weber formulate?
  4.  How did Kingsley Davis and Wilber Moore define stratification?
  5.  Why is their approach functionalist?
  6.  Why does P.A. Sorokin hold a unique place in the study of social stratification and social mobility?
  7.  How did P.A. Sorokin define social stratification?
  8.  What forms of stratification are of central sociological importance?
  9.  What is the social space?
  10.  What is a social position?
  11.  What is social mobility?
  12.  What is the difference between horizontal and vertical mobility?
  13.  In what forms do ascending and descending movements occur?
  14.  What form was considered more important by P.A. Sorokin?
  15.  What theory of social stratification did R. Dahrendorf develop?
  16.  Discribe the stratum class model developed by the American sociologist William Lloyd Warner in his book “Social Class in America” (1949).
  17.  What criteria of a social stratum did modern Russian sociologists G.V. Osipov, V.V. Radaev, O.I. Shkaratan distinguish?
  18.  Why does a modern French theorist A. Touraine consider those criteria outdated?
  19.  What do elaborators of stratification conception think about social inequality?

Text 3

An aggregated socio-economic status

As various stratification models show, numbers of criteria to grouping people may vary. But their authors share the opinion that such parameters as income, power, education and prestige must be considered as the basic ones.

Income as an economic status is an amount of money a person or family makes for a definite period of time (month or year). Income is spent to satisfy needs but if it is high, it is accumulated and turns to wealth.

Wealth is accumulated income in the form of cash or materialized money. The later can be movable property (car, yacht, securities) and real estate (house, masterpieces of art). Wealth can be inherited. It differs from income in the way that wealth can be inherited by those who work and who don’t, and income is earned only by those who work. Pensioners and unemployed have income but rags – don’t. The rich either can or cannot work as they are owners of wealth. Accumulated property is the parameter used to differentiate the high class from middle and low classes who live on income.

Wealth and income are distributed unequally and means economic inequality. Sociologists interpret economic inequality to show unequal chances of different groups of the population. Those who have more money have better food, live in more comfortable houses, prefer going by private car to public transport, can afford an expensive holiday etc. Besides having economic advantages, the rich possess a number of hidden privileges: they live longer than the poor even if the latter use the same medical achievements, children from poor families are less educated even if they go to the same public schools as children from wealthy families etc.

Power is a possibility to impose one’s will or decision on others regardless of their desire. It is measured by a number of people who have to follow one’s will or decision. Decisions made by the President or Prime-Minister of the country should be accepted by the whole population of the given country, and decisions by a sole proprietor – by his employees only.

In a highly stratified society power is guarded by law and tradition, it means privileges, a wider access to social wealth, and possibility to make decisions which are most essential to the society, laws for the benefit of the higher class being among them. People possessing power (political, economic or religious) constitute the elite of the society.

Education is measured by a number of years studied in state or private school, university etc. For instance, a professor has studied for more than 20 years (11 years at school, 5 – university, 3 – post-graduate courses, 3 – doctorate courses), a low qualified worker – not more than 11. A weak point of the criterion is that quality of education is not taken into account. Establishments of learning located in the capital of the country are likely to provide better quality than those located on the periphery. Another distinction is character of knowledge a person can get – theoretic, fundamental or branch.

Income, power and education are objective parameters, and they have units of measure, correspondingly local currency, people, years; unlike them prestige is of subjective character.

Prestige is respect that public opinion gives to a certain job, profession or occupation. No doubt, the profession of a banker is more prestigious than that of a cleaner or plumber. All professions, occupations and jobs existing in the society can be ranked from top to bottom according to their prestige. Although professional prestige is very often defined by intuition, approximately, in some countries, for instance in the USA sociologists measure it with special methods.

Income, power, education and prestige combined together define an aggregated socio-economic status, or position and place of a person in the society. In its sense the status is a generalized parameter of stratification. An ascribed status characterizes a strictly fixed system of stratification or closed society where transition from one stratum to another is practically forbidden. Examples of a closed society are caste and slave-owning systems. An achieved status characterizes a mobile system of stratification, or open society with people’s free ascending and descending on the social ladder. An example is a capitalist society with its class differentiation. A feudal society is an intermediate type as it belongs to a relatively closed system: transitions are formally forbidden but in practice they are not excluded. Such are the historic types of stratification.

I Vocabulary

  1.  income – доход
    1.  power – власть
    2.  to accumulate – аккумулировать, копить
    3.  to turn to – превращаться
    4.  property – собственность
    5.  estate – недвижимость
    6.  rags – нищие
    7.  to measure – мерить, измерять
    8.  to take into account – принимать во внимание
    9.  intuition – интуиция
    10.  aggregated socio-economic status – сводный показатель социально-экономического статуса


  1.  What parameters of grouping people are the basic ones?
  2.  What is income?
  3.  How does wealth differ from income?
  4.  What is power?
  5.  What people constitute the elite of the of the society?
  6.  How can education be measured?
  7.  What is prestige?
  8.  What defines an aggregated socio-economic status?
  9.  What is the difference between a fixed and a mobile system of stratification?

Text 4

Stratification profile

Four parameters of stratification are made use of to create analytical models and instruments which can be applied to define not only the status of separate individuals but groups as well, i.e. dynamics and structure of the society in general.

Sociologists distinguish the stratification profile which enables to apply a deeper consideration of the problem of status incompatibility. Status incompatibility is a contradiction between statuses in the person’s set or between status characteristics in his status set. If some parameters of a definite status set go beyond the boundaries of a class, status incompatibility turns to stratification incompatibility.

Here is an example. As practice shows, in transitive societies like those on the post-soviet area a professor belongs to the lower class according to his income, and to the upper one – according to his prestige. It means a large dispersion of parameters extending the boundaries of the middle class to which a professor belongs in developed societies and testifies about stratification incompatibility. There are two ways to liquidate it and make status characteristics more or less equal: either to raise a professor’s salary to the level of the middle class or to decrease the level of education. Both things can hardly be done in a transitive society: the first one – due to economic reasons, the second one – due professional reasons.

Stratification incompatibility may entail a feeling of social discomfort which may turn to frustration, the latter – to dissatisfaction with one’s place in the society. That’s why the fewer are the cases of status and stratification incompatibility in the society the more stable and sustainable is the society. Russia of 1995-2000 is a typical example of a transitive society characterized by both status and stratification incompatibility.

As far as the society is concerned, its stratification profile, or a profile of social inequality, should be distinguished. A stratification profile is defined as structural distribution of wealth and income. As a rule, it shows a ratio of the upper, middle and lower classes in the country’s population, or the level of social inequality in the given society. If the ratio is in interest, the table is made up.

The stratification profile is also easily viewed graphically. It can have three forms – that of a rhombus or diamond, and a pyramid with either broad or narrow footing. For instance, in modern highly developed countries the profile is a rhombus.

Types of stratification profile

Upper class

Middle class

Lower class




Picture 1. a) rhombus; b) pyramid with broad footing; c) pyramid with narrow footing.

The stratification profile may speak a lot of stability in the society. Its extreme stretching or increase of social distance between the poles of differentiation of the society (as in case c) leads to strengthening social tension in the society. On the other hand, extreme compression (as in case b) can also have negative consequences as egalitarian principles in income, property, power, status positions deprive people of both important stimuli to activities and source of social development, which is social inequality. In other words, it leads to stagnation of the society.

Sociologists are unanimous in their opinion that middle class plays an important role in ensuring stability in the society. Sociological surveys prove that in modern Western countries middle class accounts for about 60% of the population. Occupying an intermediate position in a social hierarchy it serves as a kind of shock-absorber that partially puts out contradictions arising between the poles of social differentiation of the society and reduces the poles’ opposition. The larger is the share of the middle class in the population the larger is the impact it has on the socio-economic policy of the state, on formation of the public opinion etc.

I Vocabulary

  1.  stratification profile – графическое изображение стратификации
  2.  status incompatibility – несовместимость статусов
  3.  to go beyond – превышать
  4.  dispersion of parameters – разброс параметров
  5.  to testify – свидетельствовать
  6.  to liquidate – ликвидировать
  7.  to entail – вызывать
  8.  frustration – разочарование
  9.  ratio – пропорция
  10.  stretching – напряжение
  11.  social tension – социальное напряжение
  12.  compression – сжатие, сдавливание
  13.  stagnation of the society – стагнация общества, общественный застой
  14.  unanimous – единодушный, единогласный
  15.  transitive society – транзитивное общество


  1.  What is status incompatibility?
  2.  When does status incompatibility turn to stratification incompatibility?
  3.  How can stratification incompatibility be liquidated?
  4.  Why can’t it be done in a transitive society?
  5.  What does a stratification profile show?
  6.  What graphical forms can the stratification profile have?
  7.  What leads to strengthening social tension in the society?
  8.  What leads to stagnation of the society?
  9.  What class plays an important role in ensuring stability in the society? Why?


Understanding of social stratification and social inequality (part Ii)

In concrete social life there is no sharp line separating one institution from others and actual social situations represent the most complex crisscrossing of numerous normative systems. The consideration of systems leads us into analyses of social stratification. As a matter of fact, some of the crucial questions we have to ask in diagnosis any society concern the extent to which, and the specific ways in which, kinship plays a part in the systems of stratification of that society. Is the family or kinship the main criterion of “ranking’? Is the unit of ranking an individual person, or a kinship-group, or something else? To what extent is family membership an advantage in maintaining or attaining a given position in the stratification order? To move toward answers to questions of this character we have first to consider what we mean by words such as ”social stratification”, “class”, “caste”, “rank”, “prestige”, and the like.

Text 1

Major Concepts and Problems

“Stratification“ of society, whatever else it may mean, certainly denotes some way whereby some kinds of units are arranged in some kinds of strata. Conceivably the units might be nations, religious organizations, castes, military groups, races, or any other socially real categories into which human individuals are placed. We are interested here in two kinds of units: (1) the individual person, and (2) the kinship-group.

What is “stratification”? Every classification of human beings is also a potential ranking, and the number of possible classifications is large. Nevertheless, all known societies have a system of ranking their constituent members or groups along some kind of superiority-inferiority scale.The differential valuation of men as individuals and as members of social categories is a universal, formal property of all social systems. For present purposes we shall consider social stratification to mean the ranking of individuals on a scale of superiority- inferiority-equality, according to some commonly accepted basis of valuation. We are interested, not in any and all varieties of stratification, that is, a system of ranking that is generally accepted as right and proper, as morally justified, but the groups within which it operates. By no means all superiority-inferiority relations are of this nature. Many of them are based very largely on power alone. Furthermore, in a large and complex social system there are wide variations in the degree to which the legitimacy of a given system of stratification (or of the positions occupied by various individuals within it) is accepted by various groups or subsystems of the collectivity. The term “ranking” seems at first glance to carry a fairly clear meaning, perhaps because of our common-sense knowledge of military hierarchies. Actually, several specifications are necessary to make the term analytically useful. In the first place, the accurate ranking of individuals is possible only within a given scale of valuation. The accepted scales of valuation of different societies, or even of subgroups in the same society, often have little in common. How, for instance, does one judge accurately the relative standing of a Spanish bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, a French general, an American millionaire, a Swedish scientists, a member of the English nobility? Individuals occupying these positions have “high” rank in their respective social systems, but what common denominator would permit precise ranking of each position relative to the others? Furthermore, the stratification that prevails within specific social organizations such as churches, armies, factories, governments, families, criminal gangs, schools, and so on (segmental stratification), must be distinguished from caste and class arrangements, which crosscut communities and the more inclusive society. Segmental stratification is most conveniently studied as a part of actual social organization, class or caste stratification as a part of the broader institutional systems of a society. Our present interest is thus in the second type, by which persons are summarily given a station in a scale of objective privilege and responsibility and in a correlative scale of individual prestige and deference. An individual’s position in this scale is in part, however, a weighted sum of his positions in the various segmental orders to which he belongs.

Ranking in a hierarchy of prestige carries with it many diverse kinds of permitted, forbidden, and enjoined behaviors, various degrees of privilege and power. Thus, the “elite”, groups are in part defined as elite by the difference that they receive from others. Difference may take an almost indefinite number of forms: acquiescence in material advantages or other objective privileges, tones of voice, ritualized salutations and leave takings, use of honorific titles, and so on. The elite groups may be defined by their share of various kinds of tangible privileges and immunities – for example, high income, possession of valued material goods, exemption from burdensome tasks, special immunities (from jury service, military service, prosecution for various misdemeanors, crimes), access to the person and goods of others, specific power and authority. Thus, prestige is the “subjective” aspect, and wealth (command over purchasable goods and services) and power (ability to control the acts of others) important “objective” aspects of stratification.

Much confusion in the consideration of stratification can be avoided by holding fast to the following elementary distinctions.

  1.  Stratification refers to the existence of a rank order. Such an order can have a specific meaning only within a given social system.
  2.  Any given ranking system can be analyzed in terms of:
  3.  the distribution of objective privileges, e.g., income, wealth, safety (health, crime rates), authority, etc.;
  4.  ranking by members of the society (prestige and esteem);
  5.  the criteria of rank, whether personal qualities or achievements, family membership, possessions, authority, or power;
  6.  the symbols of rank, e.g., style of life, clothing, housing, organizational membership, etc.;
  7.  the ease or difficulty and the frequency of changes in rank-position;
  8.  the solidarity among individuals or groups sharing a similar position in the system:
  9.  interaction patterns (clique structures, common organizational membership, intermarriage, etc.);
  10.  similarity or dissimilarity of beliefs, attitudes, values;
  11.  consciousness of stratification position shared with others;
  12.  concerted action as a collectivity – for instance, “class warfare.”

The nature of many controversies current in the literature on social stratification can be clarified by reference to these basic elements of the problem. For instance, the Marx-Engels distinguish these classes according to relations of individuals to the means of economic production. The possession of rights over the means of production is regarded as carrying with it intrinsic social power, including that of legalized coercion. Eventually class solidarity develops out of similar objective position (f-2), leading to class consciousness (f-3) , and finally to concerted action (f-4). These different aspects of Marxian theory are often commented upon as if they constituted a single, unitary conception. In part because of the availability of the data, a great many investigations have utilized a person’s occupation as one of the most important determinants of his whole way of living. Occupation alone, however, will not identify social class position. The ranking of individuals according to occupational activity is affected by two main considerations: the prestige of the occupation and the rank of the individual within it. There is a relatively high degree of consensus concerning the prestige of various occupations in many industrial societies. Much the same hierarchy of prestige is found in The United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, and Germany. Popular evaluations of occupations, at least at the level of abstract stereotypes, seem to be highly crystallized and have remained stable over a considerable period of time.

Individuals are also judged according to their prominence, ability, or “reputation” within a specific occupation. The individual’s rank is dependent not only upon his occupation but upon his success in it; he is “the best doctor in town”, “a leading lawyer,” and so on. These evaluations play a complex role in establishing an individual’s class position.

What are the criteria by which individuals or groups are placed in any given position in a stratification system?

To begin with, we know that different cultures emphasize different criteria. In some societies at some periods we find a rigid system in which an individual’s position is determined for life by birth into a family of a particular category or grade. The theoretical ideal type of such a caste society would exclude every consideration for placement save birth alone. Other cultures emphasize possession: not birth, but the fact of wealth becomes primary in social evaluation. Still other cultures may attribute high position to individuals on the basis of certain personal qualities: beauty, wit, physical strength, religious piety, possession of spirits, or whatnot.

Six classes of criteria of evaluation are given by Parsons (“An Analytical Approach to the theory of Social Stratification,” pp.848-849):

  1.  birth (or more broadly, membership in kinship unit);
    1.  possessions (wealth and income);
    2.  personal qualities;
    3.  personal achievements;
    4.  authority;
    5.  power.

The nature of the differential valuation of individuals is clarified by the distinction drawn by Hiller between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” valuations. (E.T. Hiller, “Social Relations and Structures,” New York, 1947, pp.191-215). The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic valuations is closely related to the distinction between esteem and prestige. A good servant may be held in high esteem but be invested with very little prestige. The first is valuation of his personal qualities or his performance of an accepted role; the second is a valuation of his functional position in the social system.

Intrinsic valuations tend to be equalitarian. For instance, the religious concept of the person as having inviolable soul accountable only to God, a concept current in our culture, gives everyone some positive value. In contrast, by the criteria of extrinsic valuation there are persons and groups that are valueless, or of negative value.

In principle, we can show the distribution of values, the allocation of privileges, among the individuals or other social units within any given social system. It can be expressed in objective, statistical terms once we know what the relevant privileges are. Groupings or strata derived from such measurements are not necessarily real social groups, however, but may represent simply the more or less arbitrary classification of the investigator. The distribution of privileges (the criterion of extrinsic evaluation) begins to take on full sociological meaning only when it is related to prestige ranking, social-interaction groupings, and beliefs and values held in common. We shall use the term “social class” to refer to an aggregate of individuals who occupy a broadly similar position in the scale of prestige. These ranking can then be analyzed according to their sources and supports in economic position and political power, and in terms of their relations to attitudes and social organization. There is no doubt that the several major bases for stratification tend to go along together. Power or authority can bring wealth; wealth is often associated with power; high income frequently means also high prestige. But we must not make the elementary mistake of confusing correlation with identity. Many prestigious occupations are not paid well. In approaching any society, we will have to locate its particular system of social classes with reference to three ideal types of stratification structures. The first, that of caste, is a system in which an individual’s rank and its accompanying rights and obligations is ascribed on the basis of birth into a particular group. In the theoretical, fully developed system, birth alone determines the person’s class; no change is possible because of personal qualities or achievements. In the second type, that of estates – a form approximated in some parts of Europe during feudal times – classes (nobles, clergy, and commoners, for instance) are rigid and transmission of position is largely hereditary. However, some limited upward mobility is permitted: the exceptionally gifted and energetic peasant lad can on occasion enter the priesthood or the military services and advance to high rank. There is likewise some restricted opportunity for interstate marriage, the prototype being the marriage of the commoner girl to a man of a higher estate. Finally, the third ideal type of stratification is the open-class system. Here the various strata are highly permeable; there is a great deal of rising and falling in the scale. At the theoretically conceivable extreme, “classes“ would be merely those temporary and nominal aggregates of individuals who happened at any particular time to receive about the same evaluation. Birth into a particular family of a particular group would be formally irrelevant to the later class position of the individual. Obviously such a society is highly competitive. Individuals must compete for status on the basis of personal qualities and achievements.

I Vocabulary

  1.  crisscrossing – пересечение
  2.  crucial – решающий
  3.  kinship – родство
  4.  conceivably – понятно, постижимо
  5.  rank – ранг, статус
  6.  criterion – критерий
  7.  superiority-inferiority scale – деление по принципу “более высокое и более низкое” положение
  8.  crosscut – разделять
  9.  acquiescence – покорность, молчаливое согласие
  10.  tangible privileges – реальные привилегии
  11.  exemption – освобождение
  12.  burdensome tasks – обременительные задания
  13.  prosecution – судебное наказание
  14.  misdemeanour – (судебно наказуемый) поступок
  15.  access – доступ
  16.  clique – клика, социально-культурная группа
  17.  intrinsic valuation – внутренняя оценка (самооценка)
  18.  extrinsic valuation – внешняя оценка
  19.  legalized coercion – официальное принуждение
  20.  concerted action – действия по договоренности
  21.  rigid – строгий
  22.  hereditary – наследственный
  23.  permeable – проницаемый

II Comprehension check

  1.  What does “stratification” denote?
  2.  What do all known societies have?
  3.  What specifications are necessary to make the term “ranking” usefull?
  4.  How is segmental stratification studied?
  5.  What is our present interest in?
  6.  What does ranking in a hierarchy of prestige carry with it?
  7.  What difference do “elite” groups receive from others?
  8.  What is the “subjective” aspect of stratification?
  9.  What are the “objective” aspects of stratification?
  10.  What terms can any given ranking system be analyzed in?
  11.  In what countries is much the same hierarchy of prestige found?
  12.  How are individuals judged?
  13.  What classes of criteria of evaluation are given by Parsons?
  14.  What is the difference between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” valuations?
  15.  Call three ideal types of stratification structure.
  16.  In what type is there a great deal of rising and falling in the scale?

Text 2

Objective Stratification

In a caste or castelike society, the “upper” groups control the criteria for ranking and successfully impose their standards upon the whole society. In an open class-society, on the other hand, there is no single accepted standard; each group or stratum tends to have its own perspective. Presumably those who in their own eyes are “upper class” will always attempt to set the scale for the entire population, but in a highly mobile, competitive system there may be considerable and effective disagreement. Differently located strata will emphasize different criteria of ranking. Thus, in our own society the upwardly mobile middle classes tend to stress competitive occupational achievement and “respectability,” whereas the newly arrived members of the upper strata emphasize wealth, and the established upper-upper groups give disproportionate weight to lineage (“purity”) and to certain symbols of secure status. If a society is to function, of course, there must be some minimal consensus as to the criteria for the social distribution of rewards and for the assignation of prestige rankings. However, as the United States demonstrates, there is room for much variability and inconsistency in the criteria for determining class membership in a complex open-class society. By “American” ideals, position should be based upon personal qualities and achievements. With one important exception to be discussed later – that of discrimination against minority groups – it is held that such society is and should be one in which the individual is free to move into those positions in the society that he has earned by ability, skill, effort, and moral worth. He is supposed to rise or fall according to his own merits; his position is determined by what he is and does or can do as individual. In its logically developed form, this conception of the stratification process becomes an internally consistent scheme that satisfactorily explains and justifies the entire system. It runs as follows:

  1.  This is a society of equality of opportunity and free, competitive placement. (“Anyone who has it in him can get ahead.”)
  2.  Hence, success is solely a matter of individual merit.
  3.  Hence, those who are at the top deserve to be there, and those at the bottom are there because of lack of talent or effort: it is “their own fault.”
  4.  Thus, the placement of individuals could not be otherwise without violating the value of individual achievement.

It takes no great acumen to see that actual equality of opportunity does not exist for a very great many individuals; nor is it difficult to show that inherited position, social “connections,” and a variety of circumstances essentially irrelevant to strictly personal qualities and achievements help place individuals in the stratification order. The more difficult and significant task is to go behind these rather obvious “discrepancies” and analyze the specific interplay of different institutional principles that operate in the stratification system.

We know that there are marked differentials in the distribution of scarce values. Few people live on an “average” income: most incomes are above or below average. Between this top level and the bottom strata there are great differences in total life-situation in terms of medical care and health, food, clothing, shelter, education, recreation, and general access to the comforts of life in our culture.

At the same time, we have a highly differentiated occupational structure. The proportion of occupations that are poorly paid, heavy, hot, dirty, and of low prestige has decreased; the expanding occupations are those which ordinarily have been thought to be more desirable and of higher rank. The role of differentials in wealth and income in our stratification system is complex and varies greatly in different occupations and communities. Wealth serves as the base for supporting a style of life considered to symbolize class position, and people with money attempt to buy the symbols thought to index high status. The proverbial conspicuous consumption of the newly rich is merely a salient instance of the purchased badges of rank. Wealth, furthermore, gives its possessor greater educational, occupational, and general cultural opportunity. In the race for achievement, those who start without wealth have difficult hurdles to clear before they can reach competitive equality with their more favored rivals. In addition, wealth is very frequently interpreted in our society as an index of achievement: he has money, therefore he must be successful, and to be successful he must have achieved something. Wealth, as the most universal and easily recognized mark of occupational success, has thus been a convenient symbol of achievement.

However, attempts to use wealth as the sole criterion of stratification set up powerful counterstrains. Much wealth is known to have been acquired by morally disapproved means; much wealth is inherited or acquired in other ways that can hardly be regarded as “achievement. ”In a dynamic and violently oscillating economy, there are such rapid changes in the income and wealth of large number of individuals that widespread doubt is created as to the correlation of wealth with achievement or personal qualities. Finally, the occupational structure is so complex that income or wealth clearly does not form a single scale for evaluation of movie stars, business executives, ministers, athletes, university scientists, and so on indefinitely. In some occupations, especially the salaried professions, it is not even supposed that income is a measure of the “worth” of a man’s contributions; salary is supposed to be only token recognition and of a magnitude adequate to the style of life expected of a certain occupational status. Nevertheless, both income or wealth and occupation are important criteria of status.

There are other social effects of economic stratification in our society. Economically “upper-class” persons can most easily secure an education. Persons in the lower income and occupational strata read less, travel less, are less active in political affairs. Their social horizons are constricted. So far as the evidence goes, furthermore, it consistently shows that mortality and morbidity rates vary inversely with income. Sickness and health, death and life, are thus to an appreciable degree functions of economic position.

Objective evidence of stratification is to be found not only in the differences in occupation and income but also in the great differentials of authority and power. The growth of large, centralized economic and political associations has meant the emergence of hierarchical organizations of sweeping power; in these structures it is possible for a few individuals to exercise quite comprehensive authority over large numbers of employees, union members, or citizens of the state. The military services, of course, provide the outstanding examples.

Finally, although the data are scanty and unsystematic, there are many converging indications that immunities and disabilities in the face of the law and penal system are correlated with caste and class position. The system of discipline is often adjusted to favor the upper-class.

In short, detailed study of stratification considered as a distribution of objective privileges clearly demonstrates the presence in a society of marked differentials in wealth and income and in social participation, authority and power, education, health, safety, and legal protection. This kind of stratification, then is a reality.

I Vocabulary

  1.  lineage – происхождение, родословная
  2.  assignation – назначение, передача
  3.  inconsistency – несовместимость, несообразность
  4.  merits – качества, достоинства
  5.  hence – следовательно
  6.  solely – единственно
  7.  acumen – проницательность, острота ума
  8.  discrepancies – противоречия, расхождения
  9.  scarce values – редкие ценности
  10.  recreation – восстановление
  11.  amenities – культура поведения, комфорт
  12.  proverbial – общеизвестный
  13.  conspicuous – заметный
  14.  consumption – сфера потребления
  15.  hurdles – препятствие, затруднение
  16.  oscillating – колеблющийся
  17.  magnitude – величина, важность
  18.  mortality rates – уровень смертности
  19.  morbidity rates – уровень заболеваемости
  20.  inversely – обратно пропорционально
  21.  scanty – скудный, недостаточный, ограниченный
  22.  converging indications – сходные показания
  23.  immunities – освобождение от ч.-л.
  24.  penal system – система наказания

II Comprehension check

  1.  What is the difference between a castlike society and an open-class-society?
  2.  What will differently located strata emphasize?
  3.  What do “American ideals” claim?
  4.  Does actual equality of opportunity exist?
  5.  What differences can we see berween top level and the bottom strata?
  6.  What does wealth give its possessor?
  7.  Why can’t we use wealth as the sole criterion of stratification?
  8.  Call three important criteria of status.
  9.  How does mortality and morbility vary?
  10.  What is the system of law adjusted to?
  11.  What does the study of stratification demonstrate?

Text 3

Interstrata Differences in attitudes

Our next question is: to what extent do persons sharing similar objective positions have common attitudes and ideas and to what extent do those in dissimilar positions differ in their interests, beliefs, and values? The broad answer to this question is that on a wide variety of political and economic issues and topics the culture-orientations of individuals are definitely associated with their occupational position and/or their income level, although the latter are not adequate to predict an exact pattern of ideology. Whether or not one wishes to consider objectively defined income and occupational strata as “classes,” it remains true that different aggregates of persons classified in these terms do show large differences in beliefs or attitudes. The findings of one of the most comprehensive studies of opinion data, analyzed by Centers, may be summarized in support of this contention. The main conclusions of this study included the following:

  1.  Characteristics of various strata: persons who identify themselves as “upper class” make up 3 to 4 per cent of the population; they think of the “upper stratum as being composed largely of big business owners and executives and certain “higher professional groups”. Those persons who claim to be middle class (some 40 per cent of the population) think of the middle class as made up principally of business and managerial occupations. The occupational groups most frequently identifying themselves as middle class were business owners and managers, professional persons, white-collar workers, and farm owners and managers; however, substantial numbers of urban manual workers and farm tenants and laborers also claim to be middle class (rather than “working class’).Persons identifying with the middle class tended to say that the most important criterion of class membership, after occupation, is a person’s attitudes – how he “believes and feels about certain things.” Individuals who said that they themselves belonged to the working class defined the stratum mainly in terms of factory workers, laborers; farmers, service workers, and servants. Somewhat less than one half of those claiming working-class affiliation were office workers. The most important criterion for the working class designation was the fact of “working for a living” – either at manual work or as an employee rather than a proprietor or free professional. Finally, the small proportion of the population identifying itself as lower class did so largely by the criterion of poverty.
  2.  Sociopolitical attitudes: In general, the more “conservative” opinions were held by persons from occupations popularly judged to be in the upper levels of an occupational hierarchy. The “higher” occupational groups were less likely than working-class people to approve strong labour unions and an extension of the role of government in economic affairs. Both “objective” occupational position and expressed class-affiliation worked in the same direction. The general findings in this study have been supported and qualified by several other important investigations.

Kornhauser’s summary of data from occupational groupings and income strata are evident on questions dealing with the distribution of wealth, the role of government in economic affairs, the place of labour unions, and with political views. At the same time, persons in the lower income levels “cling devotedly to the American belief in individual opportunity. They expect either themselves or their children to ‘get ahead.’ Thus important contrasts in class attitudes on deep-cutting questions of public policy exist side by side with rather general rejection by individuals of any feeling that they are permanent members of a ‘class.’” On questions presumed to index personal feelings of satisfaction or adjustment (“opportunity,” “fairness,” “liking your work,” and the like), the proportion of “well-satisfied” responses is rather closely correlated with occupation and income. Expressions of discontent and frustration are increasingly frequent at the lower income and occupational status; and persons at the higher – income levels who express personal dissatisfaction are far more likely than others of the same income to express political and economic views of a “liberal” or “radical” nature.

The data assembled in Kornhauser’s work indicate that between the ideological extremes represented by the small group of wealthy and powerful individuals on the one hand and the disaffected among manual workers on the other, there is a large number of divers grouping characterized by “moderate” attitudes. The entire range of “classes” (that is, income and occupational levels) represents a continuous gradation of attitudes, with no sharply defined cleavages at any one point, and with great overlapping of opinions as between any two adjacent income levels. Middle-income groupings are heterogeneous in occupational composition and in attitudes; ideologically they constitute no definite class, but stand rather a diffuse “cushion” between the wealthy top strata and the more militant sections of the wage-earning worker populations. The closest approach to a definable gap in political and economic attitudes occurs between the small segment of high-income people (roughly, the top 10 per cent) and the remainder of the population. At every income level, however, the connection between attitudes and objective economic position is attenuated and complicated by the influence of ethnic background, “racial” category, regional culture, religion, education, and a variety of other cultural and “personal” factors.

We may infer from the information reviewed thus far that:

  1.  There are large and consistent differences in “attitudes” or “ideology” between persons different in income and occupation.
  2.  The attitudes of these various groupings nevertheless overlap, and a common value-system seems to extend quite widely through disparate economic levels.

I Vocabulary

  1.  contention – спор
  2.  designation – указание
  3.  manual work – ручная работа
  4.  discontent – недовольный
  5.  frustration – расстройство
  6.  cleavage – расщепление, разделение
  7.  adjacent – соседний, близкий, смежный
  8.  to extend – расширять(ся)
  9.  to assemble – собирать
  10.  to infer – делать заключение
  11.  to presume – предполагать
  12.  overlap – совпадать

II Comprehension check

  1.  Do people of the same “strata” have similar ideas? What about people of different “strata”?
  2.  What professions compose the “upper class”?
  3.  What professions compose the middle class”?
  4.  What professions compose the “working class”?
  5.  By what criterion did people identify themselves as lower class?
  6.  What groups tend to have the more “conservative” opinions?
  7.  What groups tend to be frustrated?
  8.  What groups have “moderate” attitudes?
  9.  Are there any differences in “attitudes” or “ideology” between persons different in income and occupation?

IIi Match the following key terms with their definitions

  1.  Aggregated socio-economic status
  1.  a form of stratification when social ranks in a society are hierarchically structured with respect to authority and power
  1.  Economic stratification
  1.  people’s moving or transmition from one social position to another in the social space
  1.  Horizontal social mobility
  1.  a person’s position and place in the society, a generalized parameter of stratification
  1.  Income
  1.  amount of money a person or family makes for a definite period of time (month or year)
  1.  Lumpens
  1.  differentiation of the population into hierarchically overlapped classes or strata (by P.A.Sorikin.)
  1.  Occupational stratification
  1.  accumulated income in the form of cash or materialized money, it can be movable property and real estate
  1.  Political stratification
  1.  transmitions of people from one social stratum to one higher or lower in the social scale
  1.  Prestige
  1.  movements from one social position to another situated on the same level
  1.  Social inequality
  1.  a form of stratification when the focus is on the wealthy and the poor
  1.  Social mobility
  1.  people who are completely discarded by the society
  1.  Social stratification
  1.  respect that public opinion gives to a certain job, profession, or occupation
  1.  Status incompatibility
  1.  a contradiction between statuses or between status characteristics in the person’s status set
  1.  Stratification profile
  1.  a form of stratification if members of the society are differentiated into various occupational groups and some of these occupations are deemed more honorable than others, or if occupations are internally divided between those who give orders and those who receive orders
  1.  Vertical social mobility
  1.  structural distribution of wealth and income that shows a ratio of the upper, middle and lower classes in the country’s population, or the level of social inequality in the given society
  1.  Wealth
  1.  unequal distribution of material wealth in a society

Text 4

global stratification

By Larry M. Lounsbury

Is global stratification nothing more than an international class system? If so what is its cause?

"Historically, wealth flowed from poor societies to rich nations through colonialism,...during the twentieth century, exploitation continues through neocolonialism...economic exploitation by multinational corporations..." (Macionis,.231).India was invaded numerous times along with Africa; by people such as the Ancient Aryans, Muslims; and then the British. Each Colonial Power took natural resources to their own country, leaving part of their own culture behind. In cases such as India, the strength of the caste system and its acceptance; was shaped by dharma; giving local social fabrics the ability to retain their strength regardless of who tried to conquer them (Marcionis, 232).

Tradition and strong families often enabled families in poorer countries to survive on the edge of survival in a happy state. Although the absolute poverty of India would cause violence in western countries, India accepts it without violence. Strong families are one trait that has never left the poorer countries. Technology may change, but there remains a certain acceptance of duty and destiny that does not change in poorer countries. This causes a strong opposition to new technology, even if it can mean a better standard of living for all. The Amish in America, Islamic people of Iran are examples of these types of cultures. India's culture was able to evolve with the help of Global stratification. They still have cows for the poor farmers in India. These cows are allowed to wander freely in the modern cities, remaining part of the Indian farmers means of survival in times of drought (Marcionis, 233).

Global stratification appears to be a type of international class system. In most cases the class system remains stable for many centuries due to tradition, religion or economic structure. The new cultural patterns of the Colonial Industrial revolution were able to control poorer countries by working with the strict religious allegiance of the local societies. The British learned to manipulate the Indian Culture through their Muslim and Hindu beliefs. The local Muslim and Hindu followed the orders of the Nawab in the Nabob game. This blending was through the use of a class global stratification system. Those that followed the colonial system in local cultures were rewarded in the new system with a new system of wealth, virtue, and prestige that normally was not been available to that class or ethnic society at the time. Eventually the Colonial system and older traditional system of local class did explode into violence and revolution. In India the introduction of Education and capitalism caused the system of landowners to shift power from Mughal Zamindars to the new Hindu moneylenders of Calcutta (Wolpert, 49).

A cause of an International class system is based on social, economic and religious conditions of the global community. This class system can be very changeable as it is in the United States, or fixed as it is in the poorer countries such as Iran. Lack of education can be the cause of a very low upward mobility in certain countries such as Africa, or Latin America. During the Industrial revolution, along with the importance of individualism; Calvinism caused wealth to become a sign of personal virtue. Kinship and community still remain as a primary element of class in the poorer countries of the world. Even historical changes can affect the international class system. The Japanese saw an increase in class and wealth as their knowledge and productivity increased. Japan's buildup by the U.S. after WWII brought about Western changes in their class system. It appears to be a middle road between modernization and dependency for the Global community to improve. Oil has to have certain dependency of monopoly that controls the rate of Modernization in many countries. Food also can be placed higher in value than oil in countries such as Iraq (Marcionis, 233). Yet oil is needed for our country to run its transportation. As long as there is those who wish to have absolute power over their fellow man, then a unbalanced class system will remain.

Immanuel Wallersteins views Dependency in Global Stratification three ways. The poor countries produce relatively few crops that are exported to rich countries. Raw materials from these poor countries are purchased cheaply by rich nations, and then shipped to countries where their raw material are used in other products. The rubber of the African Congo is a prime example of this. Today the average years wage of those in the Congo equals just several days worth of work in the U.S. These poorer countries lack an industrial base. India often is mentioned as a country of the past that had its cotton shipped out of the country to Britain, only to be resold at an expensive profit back into India. Many local weavers lost their jobs because of this. Foreign debt often restricts the profits of poorer countries. This in turn causes poor countries to have unemployment and high inflation (Marcionis, 236).High unemployment means fewer local schools and universities. Class systems that do not offer upward mobility through education often lead to less freedoms. Dictatorships are only able to control the hearts and minds of the ignorant.

In the global class system, the function of shared values of certain class groups of society help knit communities together. Some societies do not want modernization. This can be a benefit to some in these poorer cultures, while a great challenge to their survival. In the present war in Iraq, fears of religious persecution from the traditional sects of Islam, because of accepting some Western Ideas can be frightening. The loss of power that Saddams henchmen felt resulted in them blowing up some of their own countrymen. Persecuted people yearn to have better jobs, and no matter if the source of education came education offered through western eyes. Often corrupt men could only retain power by keeping their fellow man impoverished (Macionis & Benokraitis ,200).

I Vocabulary

  1.  trait – характерная черта
  2.  in the times of drought – во времена засухи
  3.  blending – смешение
  4.  virtue – достоинство, преимущество
  5.  to yearn – сильно хотеть, жаждать
  6.  to retain – поддерживать, сохранять
  7.  impoverished – доведенный до бедности, обнищавший

II Comprehension check

  1.  How does exploitation continue?
  2.  What do each colonial Power do?
  3.  What causes a strong opposition to new technology?
  4.  What is global stratification?
  5.  Why does the class system remain stable?
  6.  Why did Colonial Industrial revolution need religion?
  7.  What is the cause of an International class system?
  8.  What is the cause of a very low upward mobility in some countries?
  9.  Why may unbalanced class system remain?
  10.  What does class system lead to?

III Render the following text into English

1. Основания стратификации

Социальная стратификация – центральная тема социологии, т.к. она объясняет расслоение на богатых и бедных. Четыре главных измерения стратификации:

  1.  доход;
    1.  власть;
    2.  образование;
    3.  престиж.

Неравенство между статусами – основное свойство стратификации.

Т.Парсонс выделил три группы дифференцирующих признаков. К ним относятся:

  1.  характеристики, которыми люди обладают от рождения, – пол, возраст, этническая принадлежность, физические и интеллектуальные особенности, родственные связи семьи и пр.;
  2.  признаки, связанные с исполнением роли, т.е. с различными видами профессионально-трудовой деятельности;
  3.  элементы «обладания», куда включаются собственность, привилегии, материальные и духовные ценности и т.д.

Эти признаки являются исходной теоретической основой многомерного подхода к изучению социальной стратификации. Социологи выделяют разнообразные срезы (измерения), при определении количества и распределении социальных страт. Это разнообразие не исключает сущностных признаков стратификации. Во-первых, она связана с распределением населения в иерархически оформленные группы, т.е. высшие и низшие слои; во-вторых, стратификация заключается в неравном распределении социокультурных благ и ценностей. По мнению П.Сорокина, объектом социального неравенства выступают четыре группы факторов:

  1.  права и привилегии;
  2.  обязанности и ответственность;
  3.  социальное богатство и нужда;
  4.  власть и влияние.

Стратификация тесно связана с господствующей в обществе системой ценностей. Она формирует нормативную шкалу оценивания различных видов человеческой деятельности, на основе которой происходит ранжирование людей по степени социального престижа.

В эмпирических исследованиях в современной западной социологии престиж часто обобщенно определяется при помощи трех измеряемых признаков: 1) престижа профессии; 2) уровня дохода; 3) уровня образования. Этот показатель называют индексом социально-экономической позиции.

2. Сущность и причины социального неравенства

Неравенство – это проживание людей в условиях, при которых они имеют неравный доступ к ресурсам. Для описания системы неравенства применяется понятие социальной стратификации. На основе неравенства создается иерархия сословий и классов. Признаки социальной дифференциации:

  1.  половозрастные характеристики;
  2.  этнонациональные характеристики;
  3.  вероисповедание;
  4.  уровень доходов и др.

Причиной неравенства является неоднородность труда, в результате которого происходит присвоение одними людьми власти и собственности, неравномерного распределения наград и поощрений. Концентрация власти, собственности и других ресурсов у элиты способствует образованию социальных конфликтов.

В западных обществах сокращение социальной дистанции происходит благодаря наличию «среднего класса» (мелких и средних предпринимателей, преуспевающей части интеллигенции, рабочих предприятий, мелких собственников), который является гарантом стабильности.

3. Понятие, содержание, основания социальной стратификации

Люди различаются между собой по множеству признаков: полу, возрасту, цвету кожи, вероисповеданию, этнической принадлежности и пр. Но социальными эти различия становятся лишь тогда, когда они влияют на положение человека, социальной группы на лестнице социальной иерархии. Социальные различия определяют социальное неравенство, подразумевающее наличие дискриминации по разным признакам:

  1.  по цвету кожи – расизм;
  2.  по полу – сексизм;
  3.  по этнической принадлежности – этнонационализм;
  4.  по возрасту – эйджеизм.

Социальное неравенство в социологии, как правило, понимается как неравенство социальных слоев общества. Оно и является основой социальной стратификации. В буквальном переводе стратификация означает «делать слои», т.е. делить общество на слои (от stratum – «слой»; facere – «делать»). Выделяются следующие критерии стратификации:

  1.  доход;
  2.  власть;
  3.  образование;
  4.  престиж.

Страта, таким образом, социальный слой людей, имеющих сходные объективные показатели по четырем шкалам стратификации. Страта включает одинаковый слой людей, имеющих одинаковые доходы, образование, власть и престиж.

В 20-х гг. XX в. П.Сорокин ввел понятие «стратификация» для описания системы неравенства в обществе. Стратификация может быть определена как структурированные неравенства между различными группами людей. Общества могут рассматриваться как состоящие из страт, расположенных иерархично – с наиболее привилегированными слоями на вершине, и наименее – у основания. Основы теории стратификации были заложены М.Вебером, Т.Парсонсом, П.Сорокиным и др.

Социальная стратификация выполняет двойную функцию: выступает как метод выявления слоев данного общества и в то же время представляет его социальный портрет. Социальная стратификация отличается определенной стабильностью в рамках конкретного исторического этапа.

В социологии существует несколько подходов к изучению социальной стратификации:

  1.  самооценочный, когда социолог предоставляет право респонденту отнести самого себя к группе населения;
  2.  метод оценки, или репутационный метод при котором опрашиваемым предлагают оценить социальное положение друг друга;
  3.  метод объективных критериев, здесь социолог оперирует определенным критерием социальной дифференциации.

4. Социальная стратификация современных обществ

Сталинско-брежневская модель стратификации сводилась лишь к формам собственности. И на этом основании – к двум классам (рабочим и колхозному крестьянству) и прослойки (интеллигенции). Имевшие место социальные неравенства, отчуждение классов от собственности и от власти в советской науке не подвергались открытому структурированию до середины 1980-х гг. Однако, стратификация социального неравенства советского общества занимались зарубежные исследователи. Один из них, А.Инкельс, подверг анализу 1940-1950 гг. И дал модель иерархического деления общества в СССР. Используя в качестве оснований материальный уровень, привилегии, власть, он обозначил девять социальных слоев:

  1.  правящую элиту;
    1.  высшую интеллигенцию;
    2.  рабочую аристократию;
    3.  основную интеллигенцию;
    4.  средних рабочих;
    5.  зажиточных крестьян;
    6.  «белых воротничков»;
    7.  средних крестьян;
    8.  непривилегированных рабочих и
    9.  группу принудительного труда (заключенных).

В связи с тем, что наше общество было закрытым для изучения, отечественный стратификационный анализ только начинается в наше время. Исследователи обращаются и к советскому прошлому, и к нынешнему российскому обществу. Наиболее разработанная модель принадлежит академику Т.Заславской, выявившей 78 социальных слоев в современной России.

Западные социологи в XX веке используют разные подходы к социальной стратификации. Большинство из них выделяют высший, средний и рабочий классы, а в некоторых странах еще и крестьянство (например, во Франции, Японии, странах «третьего мира»).

Высший класс выделяется по своему богатству, корпоративности и власти. Он составляет примерно 2% современных обществ, но контролирует до 85-90% капитала. Его составляют банкиры, собственники, президенты, руководители партий, кинозвезды, выдающиеся спортсмены.

Средний класс включает в себя лиц неручного труда и делится на три группы:

  1.  высший средний класс (профессионалы – врачи, ученые, юристы, инженеры и пр.);
  2.  промежуточный средний класс (учителя, медсестры, актеры, журналисты, техники);
  3.  низший средний класс (кассиры, продавцы, фотографы, полицейские и пр.). Средний класс составляет 30-35% в структуре западных обществ.

Рабочий класс – класс работников физического труда, составляющий около 50-65% в разных странах, тоже делится на три слоя:

  1.  рабочие квалифицированного ручного труда (слесари, токари, повара, парикмахеры и др.);
  2.  рабочие ручного полуквалифицированного труда (швеи, сельхозрабочие, телефонисты, бармены, санитары др.);
  3.  рабочие неквалифированного труда (грузчики, уборщики, кухонные работники, прислуга и пр.).

Важной особенностью современного общества является то, что оно, поддерживая в массовом сознании представления о необходимости социальной иерархии, дает шансы каждому испытать свои силы в труднейшем подъеме по ступеням стратификационной лестницы.

Тем самым создаются условия для направления энергии, генерируемой недовольством своим положением в иерархической структуре, не на разрушение самой структуры и охраняющих ее институтов, а на достижение личного успеха. В массовом сознании создается устойчивое представление о персональной ответственности за свою судьбу, свое место в пирамиде власти, престиж и привилегии.

5. Социальная мобильность и ее типы

Понятие социальной мобильности было введено П.А. Сорокиным. Человек не остается в одном уровне статуса в течение всей своей жизни; рано или поздно ему предстоит его изменить, перейдя на новую статусную позицию. Такие процессы описываются в социологии понятием социальной мобильности. Социальная мобильность означает перемещение индивидов и групп из одних социальных слоев в другие, что связано с изменением положения индивида или группы в системе социальной стратификации.

Для большинства людей продвинуться вверх по стратификационной лестнице очень трудно. Причина, позволяющая достичь успеха в продвижении вверх по стратификационной лестнице, – социальный статус семьи, уровень образования, национальность, выгодный брак, способности, воспитание, место жительства.

IV Communicative practice

  1.  Is Russia an open-class society nowadays?
  2.  Do all people in our country have equall opportunities to get education, to find a well-paid profession?
  3.  What should a person do to get a higher status? What can help (money, acquaintances, good luck, something else)?
  4.  Give examples of people who rose or fell in their social status. How and why did they do it?
  5.  Choosing your spouse, will you take into account the social position of his/her parents?
  6.  Till recently the word “careerist” has had the negative meaning. But rising in status means making career. What is your opinion about this word?

TestS Units 1, 2

Choose the correct answer

  1.  The object of sociology:
    1.  society
    2.  people
    3.  social life of society

  1.  The subject of sociology:
    1.  society as a whole
    2.  social life of society
    3.  people’s world outlook

  1.  The distinctive intellectual tradition we now call sociology began:
    1.  in the 20th century
    2.  in the 17th century
    3.  in the 19th century

  1.  The key term of sociology is
    1.  mutual changing
    2.  society
    3.  people

  1.  The laws of sociology have
    1.  permanent
    2.  probable
    3.  constant


  1.  What academic discipline focuses on the individual?
    1.  psychology
    2.  anthropology
    3.  sociology

  1.  To be scientific, the new discipline would have to be based on:
    1.  traditional theological explanations
    2.  philosophical explanations
    3.  the empirical observation of social life

  1.  The first sociologists tried to explain
    1.  how societies appear
    2.  how societies change
    3.  how societies change and how they stay the same

  1.  What sociologist was one of the most important contributors to the study of the social origin of knowledge?
    1.  Karl Marnheim
    2.  Emile Durkheim
    3.  Herbert Spencer
  2.  He is often called the father of modern sociology
    1.  Karl Marx
    2.  Auguste Comte
    3.  Max Weber
  3.  Emile Durkheim used ideas and metaphors taken from:
    1.  psychology studies
    2.  biology
    3.  economics studies

  1.  What is studied as indicator of society’s evolution for Durkheim?
    1.  changes in the type of legal systems
    2.  methods of governing
    3.  population density

  1.  For Durkheim the division of labor his people to each other in what Durkheim called
    1.  mechanical solidarity
    2.  organic solidarity
    3.  social solidarity

  1.  Herbert Spencer was the most prominent early sociologist writing
    1.  in English
    2.  in French
    3.  in German

  1.  Herbert Spencer is best known for
    1.  analyzing “the more advanced human races”
    2.  applying “survival of the fittest”
    3.  viewing society from the perspective of the exploited

  1.  For Spencer acquired characteristics could be
    1.  inherited
    2.  changed
    3.  biologically transmitted to the next generation

  1.  Karl Marx analyzed society from the vantage point of
    1.  the poor
    2.  the rich
    3.  the workers

  1.  To Marx the surplus value of workers’ labor was used by
    1.  their families
    2.  society
    3.  capitalists

  1.  Marx thought that workers could
    1.  change nothing
    2.  overthrow their exploiters
    3.  ask for fair distribution of wealth

  1.  Marx stressed
    1.  the economic arena
    2.  religion
    3.  politics

  1.  Weber was interested in studying society at
    1.  the macro level
    2.  the micro level
    3.  at both levels

  1.  The micro level of sociological analysis is associated with
    1.  Karl Marx
    2.  George Herbert Mead
    3.  Max Weber

Units 3 – 5

Choose the correct answer

  1.  Culture exists
    1.  as ideas in people’s mind
    2.  as material artifacts
    3.  both as ideas in people’s mind and as material artifacts

  1.  The major engine of change in modern era is
    1.  technology
    2.  culture
    3.  politics

  1.  a) Cultural determinism

b) Biological reductionism

c) Phylosophy

insists that culture explains everything.

  1.  The term “social biology” was coined by
    1.  William F.Ogburn
    2.  Professor Edward O.Wilson
    3.  George Murdock

  1.  Biological differences
    1.  explain conflicts between groups
    2.  explain group differences
    3.  do not explain group differences

  1.  A phenotype is
    1.  a person’s nationality
    2.  an observable or detectable physical characteristics of a person
    3.  a person’s behavior

  1.  What changes more rapidly?
    1.  technological culture
    2.  material culture
    3.  technological and material culture

  1.  It is considered a cultural universal when
    1.  similar rules occur in almost all societies
    2.  similar behavior occurs in almost all societies
    3.  similar laws occur in almost all societies

  1.  Language is used for
    1.  the transmission of informatiom
    2.  keeping the information
    3.  storing the information

  1.  During the years between 2 and 5, a child learns approximately
    1.  1000 words a day
    2.  3000 words a day
    3.  10000 words a day

  1.  A foreign language is learned easier by
    1.  toddlers
    2.  students
    3.  professional linguists

  1.  The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis proposes that
    1.  differences in mental processes reflect differences in language
    2.  differences in language reflect differences in mental processes
    3.  differences in language don’t reflect anything

  1.  On formal occasions people use
    1.  the language’s standard style
    2.  a familiar style
    3.  a casual style

  1.  a) Herbert Spenser

b) Karl Marnheim

c) Emile Durkheim

worked on the sociology of knowledge.

  1.  Values are
    1.  the concreate goals of actions
    2.  the criteria by which goals are chosen
    3.  desirable actions

  1.  The most useful way to detect the normative structure of a society is
    1.  the observation of rewards
    2.  the observation of its laws
    3.  the observation of sanctions

  1.  Value-tension leads to
    1.  progress
    2.  political struggle
    3.  cultural change

units 6 – 8

Choose the correct answer

  1.  Socialization is the process by which a society passes its norms, values, knowledge and technology to
    1.  the next generations
    2.  other societies
    3.  children

  1.  Can people have the exact socialization experiences?
    1.  Yes, if they are twins.
      1.  Yes, if they were brought up by the same parents.
      2.  No.

  1.  The most important years for influencing many of our attitudes are
  2.  at age 2
  3.  at age 6
  4.  at age 17

  1.  The process of socialization lasts
  2.  till 17
  3.  lifelong
  4.  till 20

  1.  The central question that influenced Mead’s research was
  2.  What is the religious origin of the self?
  3.  What is the psycological origin of the self?
  4.  What is the social origin of the self?

  1.  Mead thought that the major forms of symbolic communication were
  2.  gestures and speech
  3.  gestures
  4.  speech

  1.  The concept of role explaines
  2.  how people guide their behavior when they are alone
  3.  how people guide their behaviour in the presence of others
  4.  how people behave

  1.  The spontaneous part of the self which influences the world is
  2.  The I
  3.  The Me
  4.  your mind

  1.  The ability to look at ourselves as a past object is
  2.  our opinion
  3.  The Me
  4.  The I

  1.  10.The separation of mind and body is
  2.  false
  3.  true
  4.  not discussed

  1.  Embarrassment is
  2.  a private event
  3.  a social event
  4.  not important

  1.  Your master status is
  2.  your profession
  3.  your role as a spouse
  4.  your role as a friend

  1.  a) Industrial societies

b) All known societies

c) Poor societies

have a system of ranking.

  1.  Stratification means the ranking of individuals on a scale of
  2.  superiority-inferiority-equality
  3.  superiority
  4.  inferiority

  1.  There are persons and groups that are valueless
  2.  by the criteria of “extrinsic” valuation
  3.  by the criteria of “ intrinsic” valuation
  4.  according to the religious consept

  1.  The term “social class” refers to an aggregate of individuals who
  2.  occupy a different position on the scale of prestige
  3.  occupy a similar position on the scale of income
  4.  occupy a similar position on the scale of prestige

  1.  Birth alone determines the person’s class in
  2.  a caste society
  3.  an open-class system
  4.  a feudal system

  1.  There is a great deal of rising and falling in the scale
  2.  in a caste society
  3.  in an open-class system
  4.  in a feudal system

  1.  By “American” ideals position should be based upon
  2.  wealth
  3.  prestige
  4.  personal qualities and achievements

  1.  The propotion of occupations that are poorly paid and heavy
  2.  has increased
  3.  has decreased
  4.  has not changed

  1.  Wealth can be used as
  2.  the symbol of class position
  3.  the sole criterion of stratification
  4.  the symbol of personal qualities

  1.  The important criteria of status are
  2.  birth and education
  3.  wealth and occupation
  4.  education and occupation

  1.  Law is often adjusted to favour
  2.  the lower -class
  3.  The middle-class
  4.  the upper-class

  1.  People of different “strata” have
  2.  differences in beliefs or attitudes
  3.  the same beliefs or attitudes
  4.  similar beliefs or attitudes

  1.  The more “conservative” opinions are held by
  2.  the lower-class people
  3.  the upper-class people
  4.  the middle-class people

  1.  Class systems that do not offer upward mobility through education often lead to
  2.  high inflation
  3.  stability
  4.  less freedoms



1. The concept of social reality and social fact

Very often we come across the concept of social reality and believe that social reality is something that can be understood and learnt. But yet the given concept hasn’t been defined precisely in sociology and it is often used as a synonym of such concepts as “social life”, “society”, “social world”, “social and historic existence” etc. Moreover, the problem is made more complicated due to the fact that judgments “social reality” and “social world” belong to different theoretic paradigms. Theorists are united only by the circumstance that human social world can be learnt.

In sociology there are two dominating theoretic approaches – individualistic and positivistic ones that specifically explain the nature of social reality. The individualistic position views social reality as a result of purposeful or sensible human behaviour. An Austrian sociologist Alfred Schutz, founder of phenomenology, defines social reality as “a total sum of objects and phenomena of social world” in the way how social world is shaped in everyday consciousness of people living among other people and connected with them by various interactions. Thus, social reality is an everyday world, experienced and interpreted by people living in it; it is a world of meanings which are typical notions about the objects of this world.

In contrast to an individualistic approach, a positivistic approach suggests a viewpoint according to which social reality is something with its own life having an external and compulsory character to a person (i.e. that his behaviour is determined by reality) and materializing human consciousness.

The ideas of the positivistic position were shaped under the influence of a French sociologist Emile Durkheim who is considered its smartest representative. This approach suggests interpreting the concept of social reality through the prism of a social fact. According to the paradigm of a social fact, social reality is represented by two groups of social facts – social structures and social institutions, and emphasis is made on the nature of their interaction. E. Durkheim believed that social facts are characterized by specific properties; they are samples of thoughts, actions and feelings which are capable to exist outside man and have a compulsory influence which makes man acquire and interiorize them.

The concept of a social fact was criticized by Sigmund Freud and his followers, supporters of the paradigm of social behaviour. They consider the concept metaphysical as it ignores human behaviour which is rhe single social reality.

Many theorists agree that social reality is formed in the process of people’s social interactions; it is a result of their consciousness and activities in a definite limited territorial and temporal (historic) area. Social reality may be fixed in people’s behaviours, in the character of their value orientations, in forms of life organizion and in role behaviour. A summarized index of social reality is culture considered as a system of values, social norms of life, patterns of behavior, language, character of communications, customs and traditions, material culture etc.

As levels of interactions may differ, levels of social reality or social life may also differ. A social world of man, group, society or world community can be spoken about. Very often differences between these social worlds may be polar. A proof is a layer of beggars existing in an economically prosperous society like in the USA, France or Great Britain, or people with a very low cultural level in a highly cultural society.

What is a social fact? Traditionally, world is divided into three groups of facts. The first group includes biological facts such as breathing, nutrition, sleeping, human recreation etc. The second group includes psychological ones such as emotions of love, hatred or perception, emotions giving satisfaction, for instance while admiring works of art. The third group includes social facts connected with social relationships and society. The term “social fact” was coined by E. Durkheim to describe human behaviour that is not attributed to the human’s characteristic but to social facts. He considered social facts as things that force people to do certain behaviours.

A social fact is a socially meaningful event or a totality of homogeneous events typical for a definite sphere of the society or definite social processes.

In the ontological meaning, a social fact is any event or any totality of events which took place at a definite time at definite circumstances, no matter whether or not they were watched by researchers or other subjects who were not participants of the given events. As social facts become known only by registration, they are considered true or reliable in case they are given a grounded description taking into consideration their whole integrity and their connections with essential characteristics of a social situation.

The following fragments of social reality can be fixed as social facts:

  •  behavioural socially meaningful people’s acts, i.e. what they do;
  •  results or products of people’s activities acquiring social significance, i.e. material and cultural artifacts;
  •  people’s verbal acts, i.e. socially significant expressed views, judgments, opinions;
  •  different interactions.

But the point is how to see if a social fact is reliable. As a rule, scientific grounds of social facts depend on the researcher’s world outlook, the objective character of the sociological theory, in the concepts of which social facts are measured or described, and reliability of the method and technique of registration of sociological data characterizing the manifestation of this or that social fact.

Let’s consider the following example. A man is buying a packed trip to Thailand for a family of four. In Thailand they’ll spend a fortnight. A psychologist would like to know why the man decided on Thailand. An economist would like to see if there could be another way to spend money. A sociologist would see that it is a family of four and would like to find out how the wife and children could influence on the head of the family’s decision. Thus, one and the same fact is explained in a different way by different sciences.

2. Laws and categories of sociology

As sociology is a relatively young science, its system of laws and categories is still being actively formed. For any science, having such a system is a basic question of its status as it is categories and laws where the obtained knowledge is concentrated in.

A direct object of research of sociology is the social in the process of its development, transformation, usage, management at different levels of a social system. So the first mostly wide category is the concept of “the social”. Other important concepts include “social interactions”, “social institutions”, “social groups” etc. In sociology there are a lot of categories that reflect qualitative state of social processes such as collectivism, groupism, social homogeneity, social differences and interests etc. But the kernel of any science is its laws. A law is known to be reflection of significant, stable and necessary ties taking place both inside of a process, system or phenomenon and between them. As a rule, laws are expressed in categories. So each branch of science has its language. When specialists speak their professional language, other people can hardly understand them. A famous joke explains that science happens when known things or phenomena are spoken about in the language impossible to understand.

A famous Russian sociologist G.V. Osipov defines a social law as relatively stable and systematically reproduced relationships between peoples, nations, classes, socio-demographic and professional groups, between the society and social organization, society and labour collective, society and family, society and personality etc.

Sociology should be noted to deal with social laws that take place in all spheres of human activities and differ from each other by the form of their influence, the area of extending etc. For instance, some laws embrace only small groups or classes, others – the society as a whole.

Like all scientific laws, social laws possess the following characteristics:

  •  a law acts only under certain conditions;
  •  under certain conditions a law is displayed without any exceptions;
  •  conditions, under which a social law acts, are realized not in full measure but partially and approximately.

For instance, a statement like “A constructive social conflict in the organization is always solved after getting rid of the causes of its emergence unless external factors influence or/and redistribution of recourses within the organization take place” describes the action of a social law because its conditions are clearly defined. It means that in the organization it’s impossible to completely avoid influence of external factors or hinder material resources and information from redistributing within the organization. On the other hand, it may happen that external factors don’t influence so the law is realized partially.

Social laws can be divided into two main groups: those of functioning, or organizing, and those of development. Of primary importance are laws describing integrity of the organization and development of the whole society and civilization. They are called all-sociological or grand laws. For instance, dependence of any social phenomenon on correlation of the basis and superstructure, law of time economy etc.

A specific character of a grand law’s functioning is determined by a definite social and economic structure (formation) because any social phenomenon depends on the level of the society’s development, way of production of material and spiritual wealth. Different formations with common grand laws differ from each other by the specificity of these laws’ functioning. For instance, an economic or political crisis in the society may develop against positions of political leaders, parties and sometimes against the will of the majority of the population. A typical example is the destruction of the USSR against a position occupied by the majority of the country’s population.

Besides there are some laws typical for the family, labour organization, personality in a social group etc. It is them that form the carcass of specialized theories.

3. Structure of sociological knowledge

Modern sociological knowledge is of a complex inner structure. As any other sciences, historically sociology developed in two basic directions – fundamental and applied. But sociologists, representatives of different paradigms, used different criteria and concepts for defining one and the same event and phenomenon that resulted in confusing. So nowadays, sociological knowledge is structured as follows.

The first structure is macro- and micro-sociology. The point is that for the first decades of its existence sociology developed in Europe as macro-sociology pretending to reveal global laws of the society, and this aim is reflected in its name. But soon micro-sociology appeared to stop philosophizing about the society in general and get down to learning human behaviour in different social conditions, motivations of human deeds, mechanisms of interpersonal interactions etc.

Since then the development of sociology has gone along two parallel directions that were of little correlation with each other. Macro-sociologists operated with the concepts “society”, “social system”, “social institution”, “civilization”, “culture” etc. It means they used abstract categories. Micro-sociologists preferred discussing stimuli of human behaviour and people’s reactions, factors determining their certain deeds, deviant behaviour etc.

Macro-sociology is sociology investigating large-scale social systems and historically long processes taking place in the society. Another area of its interest is tendencies of the society’s development in general. As macro-sociology is often referred to as a fundamental science, most of its attention is paid to social institutions such as the family, religion, education etc. and to political and economic systems of social order It also studies interrelations between different parts of the society and dynamics of their changing.

Micro-sociology is sociology studying small-scale social structures, groups and direct interpersonal relationships. The object of micro-sociological research is a human as a member of the group, association or community.

So a criterion for differentiation between macro- and micro-sociology is basically their contents: macro-sociology is destined to study laws, factors and perspectives of development of the society and its largest parts (civilizations) while micro-sociology studies relationships between groups and individuals.

The second structure is fundamental theoretic and applied empirical sociologies. Fundamental theoretic sociology gives answers to questions what is investigated (i.e. it defines the object and subject of research) and how to investigate (i.e. main methods of sociology are meant). Fundamental sociology is to get new knowledge on social development. That’s why it concerns with social and philosophic comprehension of most general problems of the society’s development and functioning and a personality’s place in it. That’s why its concepts are characterized by a high level of abstraction. Fundamental sociology does not investigate such definite units as a social group or social process, and this point presents its most distinctive feature. It is the fundamental level where sociology realizes its interrelations with other sciences such as philosophy, history, psychology etc.

Applied empiric sociology studies and suggests ways of influence on social reality and social communities. It is to give conception about real processes of social development, being engaged in forecasting, projecting and forming a social policy, working out recommendations for social governance. It is also to find out means to achieve socially important goals, implement propositions of fundamental sociology and methods of social planning and forecasting. So the criterion for differentiating between fundamental and applied sociology is the character of sociological knowledge: abstract and practical.

Some researchers thought that development of macro-sociology lead to formation of modern fundamental sociology, so as development of micro-sociology – to applied sociology. The idea has a ration to exist but it can’t be accepted true in full measure. Macro- and micro-sociology have two levels, both fundamental and empiric ones. Macro-sociologists (E. Durkheim, M. Weber, F. Toennis, P.A. Sorokin) were very active in carrying out empiric sociological researches, and micro-sociologists (representatives of the American sociological school G. Mead, G. Homans, P. Blau) became founders of most significant sociological theories. It only means that macro- and micro-sociology developed both as fundamental and applied.

The third structure came to existence not long ago. Sociology is a relatively young science that historically emerged from social philosophy and psychology. First sociological theories were fundamental, being based on observations, conclusions and generalizations of different sides of social life. To work out such a theory a researcher needs exact data of certain social facts which constitute the society’s structure and the process of changing. These data are obtained with methods of empiric research (interviews, observations, experiments etc.). Gathered empiric facts are processed and generalized; after doing it, a researcher can make primary theoretic conclusions about definite phenomena of social life. Fundamental theories and empiric researches should be closely connected as pure theorizing without knowing definite facts of social realm becomes impracticable. At the same time empiric researches which are not supported with fundamental theoretic conclusions cannot explain the nature of most social phenomena.

In the first third of the XX century a sharply increased level of empiric researches demanded a universal theoretic apparatus to explain the results of research. But the apparatus of fundamental sociology couldn’t be applied to studying such various social phenomena as the family, deviant behaviour, social governance etc. In its turn, fundamental sociology was in great need of empiric information as empiric researches were carried out, as a rule, to meet narrow-practical, utilitarian needs and it was hard to make up an entity of them. It resulted in creating a breakout between fundamental sociology and empiric researches that became an obstacle in the way of developing sociology and prevented researchers from uniting their efforts.

However, the way out was found in formation of one more level of sociological knowledge under the name of middle range theories. The term was introduced by an American sociologist Robert Merton who, in his work “Social theory and social structure” published in 1949, stated a number of propositions of middle range theories – concepts of manifest and latent function, social dysfunction, referent group etc. Middle range theories, to R. Merton’s mind, had to unite empiric generalizations and theoretic conceptions to counterbalance T. Parsons’s universal theory.

Levels of sociological knowledge

Grand/ all- sociological theories

Learning social structures

Learning social development, integration and disintegration processes


a personality’s development

Learning models, methods and techniques of sociological reseach

Social institutions

Social communities

Social processes

Middle range theories

Sociology of family

Sociology of science

Sociology of education

Sociology of religion

Sociology of labour

Sociology of arts etc.

Sociology of small groups

Sociology of organization

Sociology of crowd

Sociology of strata, classes


Feminist sociology etc.

Sociology of conflicts

Sociology of town

Sociology of social movements

Sociology of deviant behaviour

Sociology of mobility and migration etc.

Primary generalization of empiric data

Carrying out empiric sociological researches in social groups and institutions

At present there exist a number of middle range theories that occupy an intermediate place between theories of the grand or all-sociological level and empiric generalization of primary sociological information. They are aimed at generalizing and structuring empiric data within definite areas of sociological knowledge (the family, organization, deviant behaviour, conflict etc.) applying both the ideas and terminology borrowed from fundamental sociological theories and specific concepts, definitions formed only for the given branch of sociological research.

When emerged, middle range theories created a number of indisputable advantages. First, researchers were given a possibility to make up solid theoretic grounds for investigating definite areas of human activities, not applying to the conceptual apparatus of fundamental theories; second, middle range theories allow to exercise close interaction with people’s real life as the subject of their research.

Middle range theories gave birth to rather a narrow specialization of sociologists who work, for instance, only in the area of the family or management, gather empiric data, generalize them and make theoretic conclusions within the given area of applied sociological knowledge. That’s why these theories bear an applied, or branch character. At the same time, applied theories enabled to increase effectiveness of fundamental researches because sociologists were given an opportunity to generalize theoretic outcomes in separate sociological branches without constant applying to first-hand empiric data.

All middle range theories can be conditionally divided into three groups: those of social institutions, social communities and specialized social processes. Theories of the first group investigate complex social dependences and relationships; those of the second one consider structural units of the society (social groups, classes, communities etc.); those of the third one study social processes and changes.

In each group the number of middle range theories is constantly increasing as far as learning the society is deepening, and sociology as a science is developing. Sociologists, who study applied social problems, work out a specific conceptual apparatus, carry out empiric researches of their issues, generalize the given data, make theoretic generalizations and combine them into a theory within their own branch.

Thus, sociology is not some monosemantic or homogeneous formation because it includes different levels of sociological knowledge. Although at each of the given levels the notion of the subject of research, goals and objectives are given a definite expression to, in all cases sociology is represented as a scientific system. It means that its main goal is to get scientific knowledge about the society on the whole or about its parts and subsystems.

II  The Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition. Classical tradition in sociology of the XIX century.

1. The Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition

Since ancient times man has been interested in issues of his own living among other people. Why do people try to join living with other people, not without? What makes them fix borders, form separate states and struggle with each other? Why do some people possess all benefits, others are deprived of them?

Searching for answers to these questions forced ancient thinkers to focus their attention on man and the society where he lives in. Emergence of sociology is obliged to the concept “society”, its theoretical development and use in practice. Attempts to comprehend optimal ways of governing, social order, people’s effective activities were first made by ancient Chinese and Indian philosophers.

Antique philosophers made their contribution by suggesting new ideas which are now considered fundamentals of sociology. For instance, Plato and Aristotle developed a doctrine of human and the society; their works initiated studies of certain social institutions such as the state, family and law.

Following the principle of social division of labour, Plato (427-347 BC) created a first in the world theory of stratification according to which the society is divided into three classes: higher class consisting of wise men who govern the state; middle class or warriors who defend the society from disorder, and lower class consisting of craftsmen and peasants. Anyway, in his theory there was no place for slaves whose destiny was hard work considered as unworthy by free citizens.

Aristotle considered middle class a foot-hold of order. To his mind, the state is better governed if egoistic interests of the rich are limited, the poor are not excluded from government, and middle class is greater and stronger than the rich and the poor.

Traditionally the origins of sociology are seen in European philosophy of the XVIII century, a period that is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. This movement advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as courageous and elite, and saw their purpose as leading the world toward progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition and tyranny. The Enlightenment also provided a framework for the American and French Revolutions, as well as leading to the rise of capitalism and birth of socialism. The XVIII century also saw a continued rise of empirical philosophical ideas, and their application to political economy, government and sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology. However, investigations of this age were far from being systemic and integral. Lots of important issues were not paid attention to, that’s why achievements in learning social phenomena were less considerable as compared to other sciences.

Of utmost interest of the period became study of social communities and processes of their development and functioning. The study was caused by two factors. The first factor was industrial development of European countries; the second one was that all spheres of human activities became more complicated that raised problems of people’s interactions and their government, creation of social order in the society etc. When problems were realized and sounded, prerequisites for developing a new science appeared, science which could study groups of people and their behaviour in groups, human interactions and their results.

As origins of sociology are seen in spiritual and political ideas of the Enlightenment and reaction to the French Revolution, French thinkers, English and German philosophers who worked and created in that period are considered direct predecessors of sociological knowledge.

Of German philosophers Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is more often recollected due to his contribution to development of social problems, in particular problems of personality. Kant believed that man is an ambivalent being by his nature: he is both good and bad, honest and dishonest, fair and unfair, free and dependent. To his mind, man’s natural negative character is hidden and displayed in those living conditions which make man reveal his vices. But man is striving for self-perfection and his ally is reason that helps man to overcome his negative qualities. Kant considered that harmony between human and the society is achieved if man overcomes his vices by obeying laws and moral norms.

Georg Hegel (1770-1831) made this dialectics more generalized. His aim was to define basic determinants of historic development so that he could examine peculiarities of its realization in different historic periods and show correlation of historic necessity and people’s conscious activities. He drew a picture of social reality all parts of which (objective and subjective, dynamic and static, material and ideal) are interrelated by a dialectic method.

Of French philosophers one can mention Charles Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Saint-Simon and others. Ch. Montesquieu (1689-1755) underlined importance of comparative research of social phenomena. J.-J. Rousseau (1712-1778) distinguished classes in the society and believed that man’s nature is good but man is “spoilt” by the society. Into the basis of harmonic arrangement of the society he put social agreement, i.e. consensus of people as reflection of their common will which is expressed in laws.

Saint-Simon (1760-1825) was possibly the first to suggest planning as a way to run economy. To his mind, social problems could be solved by moral and religious reforming, based on employers’ good will to better the working conditions. In 1822 he published his work, Plan de traveaux scientifiques nйcessaires pour rйorganiser la sociйtй (План научных работ, необходимых для реорганизации общества), written with Auguste Comte. In the book the thinkers suggested an idea of developing a new science of the society which, by analogy with physics, should be based on observation, experiment and other methods of natural sciences. Initially, the science was given the name of social physics.

By that time a social theory presented a mixed spectrum of various views in which both basic and additional motives were combined; basic motives bore rational and irrational character while economic, political, legal and moral interests constituted the entity of additional ones. Those views reflected thinkers and researchers’ outlook, their ideological positions and ways of studying social problems.

In this context legacy by A. Comte (1798-1857), the initiator of sociology, was not an exception. There are two reasons why A. Comte is acknowledged as the founding father of sociology. First, he developed a systematic and hierarchical classification of all sciences and by including sociology into them, he gave grounds for establishing its autonomy as a discipline; second, in 1839 he changed the name of social physics into sociology. His fundamental works are Cours de philosophie positive in 6 volumes (1830-1842), Systиme de politique positive (1850-1854).

A. Comte’s legacy includes the law of three phases, his contribution to further development of the theory of an industrial society started by Saint-Simon. It is by his statement of this law that he is best known in the English-speaking world. The law says that the society has gone through three phases:

  1.  theological, or military authority;
  2.  metaphysical, or feudal authority;
  3.  scientific, or positive phase seen as an industrial civilization.

In the theological phase man’s place in the society and the society’s restrictions upon man were referred to God. The metaphysic phase involved justification of universal rights as something on a higher plane than the authority of any human ruler could countermand. The scientific phase is that one in which people could find solutions to social problems and bring them into force despite of the proclamations of human rights or prophecy of the will of God. For its time, the idea of a scientific phase was considered up-to-date.

A. Comte also formulated the law of three phases: human development (social progress) progresses from a theological stage, in which nature was mythically conceived and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena from supernatural beings, through a metaphysical stage in which nature was conceived of as a result of obscure forces and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena from them to the final positive stage in which all abstract and obscure forces are discarded, and natural phenomena are explained by their constant relationship. This progress is forced through the development of human mind and increasing application of thought, reasoning and logic to the understanding of world. Due to it, A. Comte thought that industrialization is the result of a scientific way of thinking spread out in all spheres of human life but not of technical and economic progress.

However, he rejected the role of general theory in sociology: instead of theoretic generalization of empiric data to make up a whole of them, he presented the society as a simple entity of interconnected facts. He didn’t clearly determine the subject of a new science; either he didn’t find its scientific method to learn laws of social development.

A great contribution to establishing the methodological basis of sociology, mostly its empiric basis, was made by Lambert Ketle (1796-1874), a French and Belgian mathematician and statistician. He brought in new theoretic and methodological ideas and a new sample of research aimed at solving certain applied problems. His achievements in sociology are as follows:

  •  discovery of statistical laws;
  •  understanding a social law as a stable tendency of changing means;
  •  methodical recommendations how to formulate questions in forms and questionnaires.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), a British philosopher, is also acknowledged as one of the founders of sociology as he published a number of works devoted to different domains, such as Principles of Sociology and Principles of Ethics. They included his ideas on evolution, that’s why H. Spencer is seen as the originator of the scientific perspective called Social Darwinism. Furthermore, his major works predated those of Charles Darwin. H. Spencer’s book, First Principles, is an exposition of the evolutionary principles underlying all domains of reality. It was H. Spencer, not Ch. Darwin who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”, as well as popularizing of the term “evolution”.

H. Spencer considered the society as an organism made up of systems subdivided into smaller ones. The inner system performs the function of preserving the organism by adaptation to the conditions of “subsistence”; the external system performs the function of regulation and control between the subsystems; the intermediate system is in charge of distribution, transit and communication. By this approach to the study of the society H. Spencer marked the basic elements of functionalism, later developed by other researchers: a systemic character of the society as a totality of actions which are not reduced to the actions of individuals; the conception of the system’s structure that is built due to differentiation and stabilized through integration.

H. Spencer used the criterion of comparative meaning to classify societies as military and industrial ones. Military societies have common systems of belief, people interact due to violence and compulsion, in other words, people exist for the state. Industrial societies, in which the economic system dominates, are characterized by democratic principles, diversity of belief systems, people’s interactions are voluntary: the state is for people. Human development progresses from military societies to industrial ones, although a return to military forms can’t be excluded. Besides, H. Spencer believed that social order in industrial societies could not be adequately explained as an outcome of contractual agreements between people motivated by self-interests.

Criticizing H. Spencer’s conceptions, modern sociologists agree that alongside with Marxism it was the first experience of combining a historical-evolutionary approach to analyze social phenomena with a structural-functional one.

2. Classical tradition in sociology of the XIX century

A classical tradition in any science is often connected with institutionalization of its knowledge. And sociology was not an exception. Its classical tradition started with the theories worked out by E. Durkheim, K. Marx, M. Weber, G. Simmel and other celebrities.

A French thinker Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) is widely acknowledged as a founding father of modern sociology, who helped to define the subject-matter of sociology and establish its autonomy as a discipline.

In his doctrine of social realism E. Durkheim saw the domain of sociology as the study of social facts, not individuals. He believed that societies had their own realities which could not simply be reduced to the actions and motives of people, and peopele were molded and constrained by their social settings. In his work, The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), he demonstrated that law was a social fact, embodied in formal, codified rules and not dependent on humans or on any particular act of law enforcement for its existence. He came to see social norms as regulating people’s behaviour by means of institutionalized values which the human internalized, rather than the society simply acting as an external constraint.

In another work, The Division of Labour in Society (1893), E. Durkheim argued against H. Spencer’s understanding of social order in industrial societies. To his mind, a pursuit of self-interest would lead to social instability, as manifest in various forms of social deviance such as suicide. He distinguished two forms of social order found in primitive and modern societies. In primitive societies he identified mechanical solidarity which was based on common beliefs and consensus found in collective consciousness. As societies become industrialized and more complex, the increasing division of labour destroys mechanical solidarity and moral integration, thus rendering social order problematic. E. Durkheim was well aware that industrial societies exhibited many conflicts and that force was an important factor in preventing social disruption. He believed, however, that in advanced societies a new form of order would arise on the basis of organic solidarity. It would comprise the interdependence of economic ties arising out of differentiation and specialization within modern economy, a new network of occupational associations such as guilds that would link people to the state, and the emergence of collectively created moral restraints on egoism within these associations.

Anyway, the main idea of his work may be expressed in the following statements:

  •  division of labour leads to cohesion;
  •  division of labour gradually replaces religion as the basis of social cohesion. This process of change gives rise to social difficulties that result in anomie, or feeling of aimlessness or despair.

In Suicide (1897), which represents the most influential sociological contribution to this issue, E. Durkheim explained how even apparently individual decisions to commit a suicide could be understood as being affected by different forms of social solidarity in different social settings. In identifying types of suicide he used the suicide statistics of different societies and different groups within them.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) is generally viewed as political scientist, economist and sociologist although he was not of high opinion about the sociology of A. Comte that expressed interests and consciousness of the bourgeoisie. Marxist sociology is materialistic interpretation of history (which F. Engels adapted as dialectical materialism) which was certainly influenced by G. Hegel’s claim that reality (and history) should be viewed dialectically, through a clash of opposing forces. K. Marx asserted that “philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it”, and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to change the world. The researcher believed that he could study history and the society scientifically and discern tendencies of history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts.

Marxist analysis of history is based on a distinction between means of production, or land, natural resources, and technology that are necessary for the production of material goods, and social relations of production, i.e. social relationships people enter into as they acquire and use means of production. Together these comprise the mode of production. For K. Marx, the society is a system of social relations (economic, political, legal etc.) where the subjects of social relations are groups of people, or classes and individuals. He asserted that the economy determines the social structure in the statement about the economic basis and superstructure, i.e. social, cultural and political phenomena are determined by the mode of production. To his mind, economic, cultural, and political changes go together in coherent patterns, and they are linked because economic and technological changes determine political and cultural changes.

K. Marx observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and European societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist one. In general, he believed that the means of production change more rapidly than the relations of production. A proof is that we develop a new technology, such as the Internet, and only later laws to regulate that technology are developed. For K. Marx, the mismatch between the basis and superstructure, or between economic and social, is a major source of social disruption and conflict. As for social conflict, it was Karl Marx who provided extensive work on conflict theory relating to the economic basis of the society in relation to social classes. He basically highlighted class struggle and supported the working class for a healthy society.

However, K. Marx was rather pessimistic about capitalism because he witnessed ruin of peasantry and rapid enrichment of the bourgeoisie, growth of poverty and crime in towns etc. That’s why he put forward a new approach to social development, that of destroying the old society and substituting it with a new one, more fair. In other words, advocating revolutionary change of the society K. Marx used the conflict perspective, that’s why he is regarded an initiator of the theory of social conflict.

An Italian scientist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) made several important contributions to economics, sociology and moral philosophy, especially in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals’ choices. He introduced the concept of Pareto efficiency and helped to develop the field of microeconomics with ideas such as indifference curves. He is well known for the observation that 20% of the population owned 80% of the property in Italy, later generalized (by Joseph Juran and others) into the Pareto principle, and generalized further to the concept of a Pareto distribution. The Pareto index is a measure of inequality of income distribution.

V. Pareto’s social policies were put on paper in his work, Mind and Society, in which he discussed questions of elites and elitism. Elite is a selected group of people whose personal abilities, specialized training or other attributes place them at the top of any field. Elitism is a belief or attitude that elite are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken most seriously, or who are alone fit to govern. Thus, elite is seen as occupying a special position of authority or privilege in a group, set apart from the majority of people who do not match up with their abilities or attributes. Members of inherited elite are called aristocrats.

Abilities or attributes that identify elite vary. They include:

  •  high level of academic qualifications,
  •  high level of experience in a given field,
  •  high intelligence,
  •  high natural abilities such as athletic abilities,
  •  high creativity,
  •  good taste,
  •  claimed God-given qualities, abilities, or status.

Commonly, large amount of personal wealth, often assessed as a reward of elite qualities by those who are impressed by it, are insufficient on their own, as every nouveau riche can attest.

Elitism takes many forms, some of which are positive and some negative. Positive forms of elitism are formed in situations in which members of a community with special abilities or special qualifications are afforded greater respect in honour of their abilities or qualifications. Their position in the top of their field is used in order to benefit everybody.

Negative forms of elitism are formed when a group of people with high abilities or attributes conspire to give themselves extra privileges at the expense of all other people. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.

At times elitism is closely related to social class and stratification. V. Pareto thought that a social system is in constant circulation as the elites are transformed – the old ones decline, the new ones emerge, so the elite circulation takes place. Thus, the society should be considered “the cemetery of elites”. V. Pareto asserted that the bourgeoisie which emerged as new aristocracy, or elite as a result of the French revolution, threatens to collapse. For him, revolutions were also circulation of elites as a dominant social class is opposed not by the population but by a new elite which is supported by the population and which comes further and further from it as far as it gets more access to power. The question sounded in E. Durkheim’s theory “How is order possible?” in V. Pareto’s theory would sound as “How is the society governed?”

It was inevitable in the circumstances that to certain theorists the society should present a picture not of harmony and unity, but of conflict and struggle. Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838-1909), a Polish-Austrian sociologist, was among them. He is well-known for his theory presented in his work, Race conflict (1883). In the history of mankind L. Gumplowicz sees a never-ending conflict of hordes, tribes, races, classes and other groups. These struggles may change their forms, but they never change their essential character – the exploitation of the weak by the strong. In other words, a conflict between groups results in subordination of one group by another of which supremacy relations arise, and it serves as the basis for establishing the state. The scientist held that social development rose out of conflict, first among races, then among states, then among other social groups. This is the essence of the sociological theory of the state by L. Gumplowicz which asserts that the state is based on power, and this contradicts the theory of contractual agreements.

In the long run, his views were oriented to give proofs to the theses on inevitability of a social conflict determined by social and biological inequality of races. However, a proposition stating that social groups are basic factors of social life makes sociology of L. Gumplowicz tied up with the present. If to differentiate two theoretic aspects in sociology – the theory of integration and the theory of conflict, the Polish-Austrian researcher can be considered the founding father of the latter.

Maximilian Weber (1864-1920), an outstanding classic of German sociology, is acknowledged as one of the founders of a modern study of sociology and public administration. His three main themes were the effect of religious ideas on economic activities, the relation between social stratification and religious ideas, and the distinguished characteristics of Western civilization.

Weberian sociology is based on the concept of social action understood as behaviour to which human beings attach a specific meaning or set of meanings. It is also behaviour that is guided by or takes account of behaviour of other people (either as individuals or as a group). Meaningful social behaviour, or social action thus contrasts with nonsocial or reactive behaviour, undertaken automatically in response to some stimulus.

Just as people act on the basis of meaning, it’s important to understand the source of these meanings and thus motivation behind human social behaviour. To reveal the basis of social action M. Weber used a method of analysis called Verstehen (to understand), whereby the motivations of human social behaviour may be fruitfully revealed to the observer. That’s why his sociology is often called Understanding or Interpretative Sociology. It states that any research can never be fully inductive or descriptive without a conceptual apparatus. This apparatus was identified by the sociologist as the ideal type. The idea can be summarized as follows: an ideal type is formed of characteristics and elements of the given phenomena but it is not meant to correspond to all of the characteristics of a particular case. For instance, a choleric is a hot, fussy, easy-going person, but a particular individual, John by name, may be a difficult man to get on with. Although being an abstraction, it is essential to understand any particular social phenomena because, unlike physical phenomena, they involve human behaviour which must be interpreted by ideal types.

To M. Weber, social actions fall into four basic types:

  1.  action oriented by expectations of behaviour of other people in the surrounding milieu (in Russian terminology: целерациональное действие). It means that an individual is rational as he clearly sees the aim, means for its achievement and foresees other people’s reaction to it; the criterion of rationality is success;
    1.  action oriented to some absolute value as embodied in some ethical, aesthetic, or religious code (ценностно-рациональное действие). In other words, action which is morally guided, and not undertaken simply for one’s own gain;
      1.  action guided by emotive response to or feelings about the surrounding milieu (аффективное действие);
      2.  action performed as part of long-standing societal tradition (традиционное действие).

Of these four types, the last two are non-social behaviour whereas the first two types are inherently more social forms of human action, because they involve subjective assessment and result from the process of rationalization. Anyway, M. Weber never asserted that any of these types could operate independently of one another in the human individual. Typically, social action is guided by some combination of motivations, including both rational (the first and second types) and non-rational elements (the third and fourth types).

M. Weber examined the concept of social action within a number of sociological fields, from class behaviour to politics and religion. Its best-known example is contained in his famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904), in which the sociologist examines the motivation behind social action in the economic sphere. Specifically, he suggests that the spirit that drives modern capitalistic enterprise is motivated by the ethical doctrine of Protestantism.

M. Weber notes a relationship between the zeal for business profit and membership in specific Protestant denominations in Europe in the XVII century. This attitude toward moneymaking is embraced not only by the so-called captains of industry but by ordinary workers and peasants. For M. Weber, this suggests the existence of a new attitude toward work, the one in which the pursuit of gain (living to labour) has gained supremacy over the more traditional view that sees work simply as necessary for survival (labouring to live).

This new way of thinking which M. Weber dubs the “spirit of capitalism” appears concurrently with basic changes in religious thinking brought about by the Reformation. Such changes are connected with two prominent developments introduced by Martin Luther and John Calvin. What both M. Luther’s and J. Calvin’s teachings contributed was the emergence of a new type of Christian – Protestant who valued work as a moral duty, lived an ascetic lifestyle, and as a result achieved considerable success in material terms. This in turn came to be viewed as a sign of God’s favour – if one works hard, he will be saved. The notion of predestination became generally accepted that salvation was attainable, but only through a life of “good work”.

Ultimately the legacy of early Protestantism, in terms how it motivated capitalistic economic behaviour, became widespread in the Western world. At the same time, individuals largely came to reject the religious roots of the spirit of capitalism and instead became increasingly consumed by the secular passion for profit and acquisition of material goods. That’s why M. Weber defines “the spirit of capitalism” as the ideas and habits that favour the rational pursuit of economic gain. And among the tendencies identified by the researcher is a greed for profit with minimum effort, an idea that work is a burden to be avoided, especially when it exceeds what is enough for modest life.

In the studies of politics and government, M. Weber unveils the definition of the state that has become so pivotal to Western social thought – the state is that entity which possesses a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. Politics is understood as any activity in which the state might engage itself in order to influence the relative distribution of force. Politics thus comes to be understood as deriving from power.

M. Weber is also well-known for his study of bureaucratization of the society so many aspects of modern public administration go back to him. In his work, Economy and Society (1922), he outlines a description of rationalization (of which bureaucratization is a part) as a shift from a value-oriented organization and action (traditional authority and charismatic authority) to a goal-oriented organization and action (legal-rational authority). The result is that increasing rationalization of human life traps individuals in an “iron cage” of rule-based, rational control.

Georg Simmel (1858-1918) is a German-Jewish sociologist and economist, who analyzed the impact of money relations and division of labour on human culture and alienation of labour in his main work, The Philosophy of Money (1890). Through the prism of money G. Simmel considered hidden mechanisms of social life and manifestation of various forms of labour. For him, money is both a pure form of economic relations and economic value. According to G. Simmel, values are fundamental, underlying relations in the society.

Another German sociologist Ferdinand Toennies (1855-1936) is best known for his distinction between two types of social groups – Gemeinschaft or community and Gesellschaft or society. This distinction is based on the assumption that there are only two basic forms of an actor’s will. Following his essential will, an actor sees himself as a means to serve the goals of the social group; very often it is an underlying, subconscious force. A group formed around an essential will is called Gemeinschaft. Of another type is an arbitrary will: an actor sees a social group as a means to further his individual goals; so it is purposive and future-oriented. A group formed around the arbitrary will is called Gesellschaft. Whereas the membership in Gemeinschaft is self-fulfilling, Gesellschaft is instrumental for its members. In pure sociology (theoretically) these two normal types of will are to be strictly separated; in applied sociology (empirically) they are always mixed.

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929), an American sociologist, is considered the founding father of the institutional approach due to his study of social institutions. In his central work, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), he defined a social institution as social patterns of human behaviour and habits of thinking. According to him, mankind and human civilization develop as far as social institutions (those of private property, money competition, demonstrative consumption etc.) change. The engine of the society’s development is economy, in particular the development of production that results in change of social institutions and norms of social life; managers and technical intelligentsia play the major role in this development.

He also described capitalism as class struggle but not as happening between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (according to K. Marx and F. Engels), but between businessmen (bankers, lawyers, brokers, managers) and industry (engineers, designers, technicians, and labour); in short, between those who make money and those who produce goods. His Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) further widened his renown.

Sociological knowledge grew not only in Western Europe and the USA. On the threshold of the XIX-XX centuries Russian sociological thought was gaining the world level, developing from social philosophy through social theory to sociological theory. In this period fame came to such thinkers as N.K. Michailovski, E.V. de Roberti, M.A. Bakunin, P.A. Sorokin etc.

One of the most influential movements in Russia was anarchism. Its founding fathers were M.A. Bakunin (1814-1876) and P.A. Kropotkin (1842-1921). Anarchism is the political belief that the society should have no government, laws, police, or other authority, but should be a free association of all its members.

M.A. Bakunin’s ideas are as follows:

  •  Liberty is the only medium in which intelligence, dignity, and the happiness of man can develop; not official “liberty”, licensed, measured and regulated by the state; not individual liberty, selfish, mean and fictitious, which considers the rights of the individual as limited by the rights of the state, and therefore necessarily results in the reduction of the rights of the individual to zero;
  •  Liberty has a social character as it recognizes no other restrictions than those which are traced for us by the laws of our own nature; such laws are immanent in us, inherent, constituting the very basis of our being, material as well as intellectual and moral; instead, finding them a limit, we must consider them as the real conditions and effective reason for our liberty.

P.A. Kropotkin went further. He borrowed socialist ideas and developed them in the theory of socialism and federalism. Its major postulates are as follows:

  •  Socialism as the social system must be based on individual and collective liberty and activities of free associations;
  •  The state must be abolished;
  •  The relationships between the subjects of society are built on the principles of federalism, i.e. a free union where the subjects have equal rights.

Although the ideas of anarchism (complete individual liberty, rejection of regulation by the state etc.) were naпve, the ideas of equality, justice, individual liberty, federalism in social life are still followed by.

Another famous movement in Russia was narodnik movement, or populism. Its ideologists were P.L. Lavrov (1823-1900) and N.K. Michailovski (1842-1904). Still of importance are thoughts about power and dictatorship expressed by P.L. Lavrov:

  •  The possession of great power corrupts the best people, and even the ablest leaders, who meant to benefit the people by decree, failed;
  •  Every dictatorship must surround itself by compulsory means of defense which must serve as obedient tools in its hands. Every dictatorship is called upon to suppress not only its reactionary opponents but also those who disagree with its methods and actions. Whenever a dictatorship succeeded in establishing itself, it had to spend more time and effort in retaining its power and defending it against its rivals than upon realization of its programme, with the aid of that power;
  •  A dictatorship can be wrested from the dictators only by a new revolution.

While solving the problem of interaction between the individual and the society, they asserted that the major engine of historic development were actions undertaken by critically thinking personalities (as a rule, the vanguard of the intelligentsia).

N.K. Michailovski as a founder of the theory of social progress formulated the law of antagonism between the state and personality. Antagonism is given birth because the society develops fast and makes more complex, and man, as a result of social division of labour, turns to the bearer of a particular function of the society. The antagonism could be overcome if a personality were given more liberty with regards to the society (the principle of the personality’s supremacy over the society). He asserted that the crowd obeying the impact of leaders loses the ability to critically assess their words and actions.

The psychological movement in Russia of the 1890s is presented by E.V. de Roberti, N.I. Kareev etc. They analyzed such fundamental issues of social development as its primary reasons and motive powers, progress and regress, the role of the mass and personality in history etc. Their analysis proceeded from the assumption that individual and collective psychology is dominant at determining human behaviour. It means that all social phenomena are of psychological character so the society is a system of psychical and practical interactions of people.

Of other Russian researchers who worked in empiric sociology in the first decade after the October revolution of 1917 one can mention P.A. Sorokin who had to flee away abroad, A.V. Chayanov, S.G. Strumilin, A.K. Gastev etc. For instance, an agrarian economist A.V. Chayanov (1888-1938) developed a theory of the family labour household in the countryside. He managed to create an integral conception of the organization of peasantry household and make a conclusion about lack of the category of wages in a non-capitalistic peasantry household and its turning to the pure profit of the family members.

Thus, late XIX – early XX centuries were signified by formation of anti-naturalistic doctrines of theoretic sociology with its own perspective of the subject and specificity of sociological knowledge. The classical stage in sociology was finished in the 1920-1940s with active introducing of empiric and applied sociological researches which marked the beginning of the third, contemporary stage.


The idea of "Natural Equality" is one of the most pernicious delusions that has ever afflicted mankind. It is a figment of the human imagination. Nature knows no equality. The most cursory examination of natural phenomena reveals the presence of a Law of Inequality as universal and inflexible as the Law of Gravitation. The evolution of life is the most striking instance of this fundamental truth. Not only are the various life types profoundly unequal in qualities and capacities; the individual members of each type are similarly differentiated among themselves. No two individuals are ever precisely alike.

Evolution means a process of ever growing inequality. There is, in fact, no such word as "equality" in nature's lexicon. With an increasingly uneven hand she distributes health, beauty, vigor, intelligence, genius – all the qualities which confer on their possessors superiority over their fellows.

Now, in the face of all this, how has the delusion of "natural equality" obtained – and retained – so stubborn a hold on mankind? The slogan of "equality" was raised far back in the remote past, and, instead of lessening, was never more loudly trumpeted than today.

Here is obviously something requiring careful analysis. As a matter of fact, the passion for "natural" equality seems to spring primarily from certain impulses of the ego. Every individual is inevitably the centre of his world, and instinctively tends to regard his own existence and well-being as matters of supreme importance. No matter how low may be his capacities, no matter how egregious his failures, no matter how unfavorable the judgement of his fellows; still his instincts whisper that he should survive and prosper, that "things are not right," and that if the world were properly ordered he would be much better placed.

It inspires the individual to resent his unfavorable status, and this resentment tends to take the form of protest against "injustice." Injustice of what? Of "fate," "nature," "circumstances," perhaps; yet, more often, injustice of persons – individually or collectively (i.e., "society"). "We are all men. We are all equal!" Such is the underlying idea of "natural equality." It is, of course, evident that the idea is emotional, and when confronted by hard facts it takes refuge in mystic faith. All levelling doctrines (including, of course, the various brands of modern Socialism) are, in the last analysis, not intellectual concepts, but religious cults. This is strikingly shown by recent events. During the past ten years biology and other sciences have refuted practically all the intellectual arguments on which the doctrine of "natural equality" relies.

The new biological revelation has taught us the supreme importance of heredity. Mankind tended to believe that enviornment rather than heredity was the main factor in human existance. Let us glance at the state of human knowledge a few short decades ago.

Down to that time the exact nature of the life process remained a mystery. This mystery has now been cleared up. The researches of Weismann and other modern biologists have revealed the fact that all living beings are due to a continuous stream of germ-plasm which has existed ever since life first appeared on earth, and which will continue to exist as long as any life remains. All human beings spring from the union of a male sperm-cell and a female egg-cell. Right here, however, occurs the basic feature of the life process. The new individual consists, from the start, of two sorts of plasm. Almost the whole of him is body-plasm. But he also contains germ-plasm. In fact, the germ-plasm is not really part of the individual; he is merely its bearer, destined to pass it on to other bearers of the life chain.

Now all this was not only unknown but even unsuspected down to a very short time ago. Thus, down to about a generation ago, the life stuff was supposed to be a product of the body, not differing essentially in character from other body products. This assumption had two important consequences. In the first place, it tended to obscure the very concept of heredity, and led men to think of environment as the most important; in the second place, the role of the individual was misunderstood, and he was conceived as a creator rather than a mere transmitter. This was the reason for the false theory of the "inheritance of acquired characteristics," formulated by Lamark and upheld by most scientists until almost the end of the nineteenth century. Of course, Lamarkism was merely a modification of the traditional "environmentalist" attitude: it admitted that heredity possessed some importance, but it maintained environment as the basic factor.

Now a moment's reflection must suggest the tremendous practical differences between the theories of environment and heredity. It involves a radically different outlook on every phase of life, from religion and government to personal conduct. Let us examine the facts of the case. Down to our own days mankind had generally believed that environment was the chief factor in existence. To the pressing problems of environment, therefore, man devoted himself, seeking in the control of his surroundings both the betterment of the race and the curing of its ills. Only occasionally did a few reflective minds catch a glimpse of the heredity factor in the problem of life. They were the ancient Greeks who discerned clearly the principle of heredity, gave considerable thought to it, and actually evolved a theory of race-betterment by the weeding out of inferior strains and the multiplication of superiors – in other words, the "Eugenics" theory of today.

For example, as early as the sixth century B.C. the Greek poet Theognis of Megara wrote: "We look for rams and asses and stallions of good stock, and one believes that good will come from good; yet a good man minds not to wed the evil daughter of an evil sire... Marvel not that the stock of our folk is tarnished, for the good is mingling with the base." A century later Plato was as much interested in biological selection as the best method for race improvement. He suggested that the state should mate the best with the best and the worst with the worst; the former should be encouraged to breed freely, while the offspring of the unfit should be destroyed. Aristotle likewise held that the state should strongly encourage the increase of superior types.

The same is true of those other rare thinkers who, like Shakespear with his famous lines about "nature" and "nuture," evidently grasped the hereditarian idea. Still the mass of mankind continued to hold that enviornment was the great matter for consideration. Therefore, according to the environmentalist, progress depends, not on human nature, but on conditions and institutions. Again, if man is the product of his environment, human differences are merely effects of environmental differences, and can be rapidly modified by environmental changes. Lastly, before the supreme importance of environment, all human differences whether individual or racial sink into insignificance, and all men are potentially "equal."

Such are the logical deductions from the environmentalist theory. And this theory was certainly attractive. It not only appealed to those wounded feelings of self the unfortunate but it appealed also to many of the most superior minds of the race. What could be more attractive than the thought that humanity's ills were due to faulty surroundings, and that the most backward and degraded human beings might possibly be raised to the highest levels if only the environment was sufficiently improved? This appeal to altruism was powerfully strengthened by the Christian doctrine of the equality of all souls before God. What wonder, then, that philosophers and scientists combined to elaborate theories about mankind of a wholly environmentalist character?

All the greatest thinkers of the eighteenth century were convinced believers in "natural equality." Locke and Hume, for example, taught that at birth "the human mind is a blank sheet, and the brain a structureless mass, lacking inherent organization or tendencies to develop in this way or that; a mere mass of undefined potentialities which, through experience, association, and habit, through education, in short, could be molded and developed to an unlimited extent and in any manner or direction."The doctrine of natural equality was brilliantly formulated by Rousseau, and was explicitly stated both in the American Declaration of Independence and in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the progress of science had begun to lift the veil which obscured the mystery of heredity.. At first the phenomena of inheritance were not believed to effect the basic importance of environment. This idea was clearly stated early in the nineteenth century by the French naturalist Lamarck. Lamarck asserted that the forms and functions of living beings arose and developed through use, and that such changes were directly transmitted from generation to generation. In other words, Lamarck formulated the theory of the "inheritance of acquired characteristics" which was destined to dominate biological thinking down to a generation ago. This theory, which is usually termed "Lamarckism," was merely a modification of the old environmentalist philosophy. It admitted the factor of heredity, but it considered heredity dependent upon environmental influences.

It is difficult to overestimate the tremendous practical consequences of Lamarkism, not merely upon the nineteenth century but also upon our times. The importance of heredity may today be accepted by most scientists, but it has neither deeply penetrated the popular consciousness nor sensibly modified our institutions. We are still living and acting under the environmentalist theories of the past. Our political, educational, and social systems remain alike rooted in Lamarckism and state that environment rather than heredity is the chief factor in human existence. Accordingly, "the comfortable and optimistic doctrine was preached that we had only to improve one generation by more healthy surroundings, or by better education, and, by the mere action of heredity, the next generation would begin on a higher level than its predecessor. And so, from generation to generation, on this theory, we could hope continually to raise the inborn character of a race in an unlimited progress of cumulative improvement." On this common environmentalist basis all the political and social philosophies of the nineteenth century arose. They might differ widely over which environmental factor was of prime importance. Political thinkers asserted that progress depended on constitutions; "naturalists" like Buckle claimed that peoples were moulded by their physical environments like so much soft clay; while Socialists proclaimed that man's regeneration lay in a new system of economics. Nevertheless, they were all united by a common belief in the supreme importance of environment, and they all either ignored heredity or deemed it a minor factor.

Let us now consider the rise of the new biology. Modern biology dates from the publication of Darwin's work “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” in the year 1859. This book was fiercely challenged and was not generally accepted even by the scientific world until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Its acceptance, however, marked a revolution of ideas. Darwin established the principle of evolution and showed that evolution preceeded by heredity. The second great step was soon taken by Francis Galton, the founder of the science of "Eugenics" or "Race Betterment." Darwin had centred his attention on animals. Galton applied Darwin's teaching to man, and went on to break new ground by pointing out not merely the inborn differences between men, but the fact that these differences could be controlled; that the human stock could be surely and lastingly improved by increasing the number of individuals endowed with superior qualities and decreasing the number of inferiors. In other words, Galton grapsed fully the momentous implications of heredity (which Darwin had not done), and announced clearly that heredity rather than environment was the basic factor of human progress.

Like most intellectual pioneers, Galton had to wait long for adequate recognition. Although his first writings appeared in 1865, they did not attract the attention excited by Darwin's work, and it was not until the nineteenth century that his theory gained wide acceptance even in scientific circles, while the educated public did not become really aware of it until the opening years of the present century. Once fairly started, however, the idea made rapid progress. So part of the civilized world scientists took up the work, and soon a series of remarkable discoveries by biologists like Weismann, DeVries, and others put the new science on an authoritative foundation.

The discovery of the true nature of the life process, the certainty that the vast inequalities among men are due primarily to heredity rather than environment, and the discovery of a scientific method of race improvement, are matters of transcendant importance. Let us examine some of their practical aspects.

One of the most striking features of the life process is the tremendous power of heredity. The marvellous potency of the germ-plasm is increasingly revealed by each freash biological discovery. Carefully isolated and protected against external influences, the germ-plasm persistently follows its predetermined course, and even when actually interfered with it tends to overcome the difficulty and resume its normal evolution.

This persistency of the germ-plasm is seen at every stage of its development, from the isolated germ-cell to the mature individual. Consider it first at its earliest stage. Ten years ago biologists generally believed that the germ-plasm was permanently injured – and permanently modified – by certain chemical substances and disease toxins like lead, alcohol, syphilis, etc. These noxious influences were termed "racial poisons," and were believed to be prime causes of racial degeneracy. In other words, here was a field where biologists used to claim that environment directly modified heredity in profound and lasting fashion. Today the weight of evidence is clearly the other way. While it is still generally admitted that injury to the germ-plasm does occur, most biologists now think that such injury is a temporary "induction," that is, a change in the germ-cells which does not permanently alter the nature of the inherited traits and which will disappear in a few generations if the injury is not repeated. The germ-plasm is so carefully isolated and guarded that it is almost impossible to injure it.

Consider now the life process at its next stage – the stage between conception and birth. It used to be thought that the germ-plasm of the growing embryo could be injured and permanently altered by "prenatal" influences, such as the mother's undernourishment, chronic exhaustion, fright, worry, or shock. Today such ideas are utterly discredited. There is not a shred of evidence that the mother's circumstances or feelings can affect in any way the germ-plasm of her unborn child. Of course, the mother's condition may profoundly affect the embryo's body-plasm, so that the child may be born stunted or diseased. But the child will not pass on those handicaps by heredity to its offspring. Conversely, it is equally certain that nothing the mother can do to improve her unborn child will better its germ-plasm. Let us pass to the next stage. Birth has taken place. The individual is out in the world and is exposed to environmental influences vastly greater than those which acted upon him during his embryonic stage. But these environmental influences fall upon his body-plasm; his germ-plasm is as carefully isolated and protected as was his parents.

The American biologist Woods, who formulated "The Law of Diminshing Environmental Influences." showed that environmental influence diminishes according to the individual's rank in the biological scale. Woods says : "It must be remembered that the brain-cells, even of a child, are, of all tissues, farthest removed from any of these primordial states. The cells of the brain ceased subdivision long before birth. Woods concludes: "Experimentally and statistically, there is not a grain of proof that ordinary environment can alter the salient mental and moral traits in any measurable degree from what they were predetermined to be through innate influences."

We thus see that man is moulded more by heredity and less by environment than any other living creature, and that the vast differences observable between human beings are mainly predetermined at the instant of conception, with relatively little regard to what happens afterward.

Let us now observe some of the actual workings of heredity in man, both in the good and bad sense. Now what do we know about superior individuals? We know that they exist and that they are due to heredity. We also know that superiors tend to produce superior offspring, but that they produce such offspring according to natural laws which can be determined statistically with a high degree of accuracy. (And, of course, the same is true of the production of inferiors.)

The production of superior persons has been studied by modern biologists, and a mass of authoritative data has been accumulated. Let us examine a few of these instructive investigations.The earliest of them is Galton's study on "Hereditary Genius" (1869). Galton discovered that in English history success in life was a strikingly "family affair." From careful statistical investigation of a great number of notable Englishmen Galton found that a distinguished father was infinitely more likely to have a distinguished son than was an undistinguished father. To cite one case out of many, Galton found that the son of a distinguished judge had about one chance in four of becoming himself distinguished, while the son of a man picked out at random from the general population had only about one chance in 4,000 of becoming similarly distinguished.

Of course, the objection at once suggested itself that environmental influences like social opportunity might be predominant; that the son of a distinguished man is pushed forward regardless of his innate abilities, while the son of an obscure man never gets a chance. To test this, Galton turned to the history of the Papacy. For centuries it was the custom for a Pope to adopt one of his nephews as a son, and advance him in every way. Now if opportunity is all that is necessary to advance a man, these adopted sons ought to have reached eminence in the same proportion as the real sons of eminent men. As a matter of fact, however, they reached eminence only as often as the statistical expectation for nephews of great men – whose chance of eminence has been discovered to be much less than that of the sons of great men. Nevertheless, despite different ratios of heritability, superiority still remains a family affair; Galton found that nearly half of the great men of England had distinguished close relatives.

But how about superior individuals who rise from apparently mediocre stocks? Environmentalist writers are forever compiling lists of great men who "came from nothing." These cases have, however, been carefully investigated, and the more they are studied the more convincing grows the evidence that greatness never arises out of "nothing." Take Abraham Lincoln. He was long a bright example of the environmentalist thesis. Lincoln is popularly supposed to have come from "poor white trash" of a very inferior order. But careful in- vestigation proves that this is emphatically not true. As one of the investigators remarks: "So far from his later career being unaccounted for in his origin and early history, it is as fully accounted for as is the case of any man." And a recent authority goes on to state: "The Lincoln family was one of the best in America, and while Abraham's own father was an eccentric person, he was yet a man of considerable force of character. The Hanks family, to which the Emancipator's mother belonged, had also maintained a high level of ability in every generation. Furthermore, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, the parents of Abraham Lincoln, were first cousins."

Of course, there is a considerable number of distingushed individuals whose greatness cannot be explained. But in most cases this is because very little is known about their ancestors. Even if we admit that great men may occasionally arise from stocks which had never shown any signs of superiority, this ought to strengthen rather than weaken our belief in the force of heredity. As Woods well says, when it is considered how rarely such an ancestry produces a great man, it must be evident that his greatness is due to an accidental conjunction of favorable traits converging through his parents and meeting in himself.

Finally, how except by heredity can we explain the enormous differences in achievement between great numbers of persons exposed to the same environment and enjoying similar opportunities? "In terms of environment, the opportunity to become a great physicist was open to everyone of the thousands of university students who were the contemporaries of Lord Kelvin; the opportunity to become a great musician has been open to all the pupils in all the conservatories of music which have flourished since Johann Sebastian Bach was a choirboy at Luneburg; the opportunity to become a multimillionaire has been open to every clerk who has wielded a pen since John D. Rockefeller was a bookkeeper in a Cleveland store; the opportunity to become a great merchant has been open to every boy who has attended an American public school since the time when John Wanamaker, at fourteen years worked in a Philadelphia book store."

Such are the investigations of biology concerning human inequalities. They are certainly striking, and they all point to the same conclusions: that such inequalities are inborn; that they are predetermined by heredity; and that they are not inherently modified by either environment or opportunity.

But this is only half of the story. Within the past twenty years the problem of human inequality has been approached by a different branch of science – psychology. And the findings of these psychological investigations have not only tallied with those of biology in further revealing the inherited nature of human capacities, but have also proved it in even more striking fashion and with far greater possibilities of practical application. The novelty of the psychological approach to the problem is evident when we realize that, whereas biology has been investigating mainly the individual's ancestry or actions, psychology examines the mind itself. The best-known instruments of psychological investigation are the so-called "Intelligence Tests," first invented by the French psychologist Binet in the year 1905. From Binet's relatively modest beginning the mental tests have increased enormously in both complexity and scope, culminating in three gigantic investigations conducted by the American army authorities during the late war, when more than 1,700,000 men were mentally tested in a variety of ways. The results already attained are of profound significance. It has been conclusively proved that intelligence is predetermined by heredity; that individuals come into the world differing vastly in mental capacities; that such differences remain virtually constant throughout life and cannot be lessened by environment or education. These are surely discoveries whose practical importance can hardly be overestimated. They enable us to grade not merely individuals but whole nations and races according to their inborn capacities, to take stock of our mental assets and liabilities, and to get a definite idea as to whether humanity is headed toward greater achievement or toward decline.

Let us now see precisely what the intelligence tests have revealed. In the first place, we must remember the true meaning of the word "intelligence." "Intelligence" must not be confused with "knowledge." Knowledge is the result of intelligence, to which it stands in the relation of effect to cause. Intelligence is the capacity of the mind; knowledge is the raw material which is put into the mind. Whether the knowledge is assimilated or lost, or just what use is made of it, depends primarily upon the degree of intelligence. This intellectual capacity as revealed by mental testing is termed by psychologists the "I. Q." or "intelligence quotient."

Psychology has invented a series of mental yardsticks for the measurement of human intelligence, beginning with the mind of the child. For example, the mental capacity of a child at a certain age can be ascertained by comparing it (as revealed by mental tests) with the inteligence. This is possible because it has been found that mental capacity increases regularly as a child grows older. This increase is rapid during the first years of life, then slows down until, about the age of sixteen. There is usually no further growth of mental capacity excep superior intellects that continue to grow in capacity for several years thereafter.

A large number of careful investigations made among school children have revealed literally amazing discrepancies between their chronological and their mental ages. In classes of first grade grammar-school children, where the chronological age is about six years, some pupils are found with mental ages as low as three while other pupils are found with mental ages as high as nine or ten. Similarly, in first year high-school classes, where the chronological age is about fourteen years, the mental age of some pupils may rank as low as ten or eleven, while the mental age of others may rise as high as nineteen or twenty.

It should be rememberd that the "I. Q." of any individual is a constant factor, which does not change with the lapse of time. All mental tests yield the same general results. "No matter what trait of the individual is chosen, the results are analogous. Whether it is speed in marking off all the A's in a printed sheet of capitals, or in putting together the pieces of a puzzle, or in giving a reaction to some certain stimulus or in making associations between ideas, or drawing fig ures, or memory for various things, or giving the opposites of words, or discrimination of lifted weights, or success in any one of hundreds of other mental tests, the conclusion is the same. There are wide differences in the abilities of individuals, no two beings alike, either mentally or physically, at birth or any time thereafter."

We thus see that human beings are spaced on widely different mental levels; that they have a variety of talents and physical statures, and that both are basically due to inheritance. Furthermore, it is extremely significant to observe how closely intelligence is correlated with industrial or professional occupation, social and economic status, and racial origin. Nowhere the power of heredity is shown more clearly than in the way innate superiority tends to be related to actual achievement. Despite the fact that our social system contains many defects which handicap superior individuals and foster inferiors; despite the fact that our ideas, laws, and institutions are largely based on the fallacies of environmentalism and "natural equality"; nevertheless, the imperious urge of superior germ-plasm beats against these man-made barriers and tends to raise the superior individuals who bear it – too often at the cost of their racial sterility through their failure to leave children.

Let us now pass to America. The United States offers a more instructive field, because, with its more fluid social structure and its heterogeneous racial makeup, the correlations between intelligence, social or economic status, and racial origin can be studied simultaneously.

Let us consider psychological investigations of the intelligence of adults. Fortunately, we possess a great mass of data from the investigations conducted by the United States army authorities upon more than 1,700,000 officers and men during the late war. These investigations were planned and directed by a board of eminent psychologists. The purposes of these psychological tests were, as stated in the army orders; "(a) to aid in segregating the mentally incompetent, (b) to classify men according to their mental capacity, (c) to assist in selecting competent men for responsible positions."

The tests were administrated to more than 1,700,000 officers and men. Separate tests were devised, and the close correlations obtained showed that inborn intelligence had been successfully segregated. Besides general intelligence gradings, special studies according to army rank, civilian occupation, racial origin, etc., were made on large groups consisting of "samples" taken at many points from the general mass.

The following is the system of general grading employed to indicate the degree of individual intelligence:



very superior intelligence



superior intelligence

C +


high average intelligence



average intelligence

C –


low average intelligence



inferior intelligence

D –


very inferior intelligence



"unteachable men", rejected at once or after a short time

Let us now see how the 1,700,000 men examined graded according to intelligence, and what mental age these classifications implied:



Mental Age


4 ½

18 – 19 (+)



16 – 17


16 ½




13 – 14










This table is assuredly depressing. Probably never before has the relative scarcity of high intelligence been so vividly demonstrated. It strikingly reinforces that the number of really superior persons is small, and that the great majority of even the most civilized populations are of mediocre or low intelligence – which neither education nor any other environ mental agency can ever raise. Think of this table's social significance! Assuming that these 1,700,000 men are a fair sample of the entire population of approximately 100,000,000 (and there is every reason to believe that it is a fair sample), this means that the average mental age of Americans is only about fourteen; that forty-five millions, or nearly one-half of the whole population, will never develop mental capacity beyond the stage repre sented by a normal twelve year old child; that only thirteen and one-half millions will ever show superior intelligence, and that only four and one-half millions can be considered "talented."

We have thus far considered the nature of intelligence, and we have found it to be an inborn quality whose capacity is predetermined by heredity. Biologically, this is important, because a man may not make much actual use of his talents and yet pass them on to children who will make use of them. In everyday life, however, capacity is important chiefly as it expresses itself in practical performance as evidenced by knowledge and action. We here enter a field where environment plays an important part, since what a man actually learns or does depends obviously upon environmental factors like education, training, and opportunity. Now precisely how does environment affect performance? In extreme cases environment may be of major importance. A genius, condemned for life to the fate of Robinson Crusoe, would obviously accomplish very little; while, on the other hand, a man of mediocre capacity, if given every possible advantage, might make the utmost of his slender talents. But how is it under equal circumstances? Let us now see how environment affects performance with individuals under conditions of equal opportunity. How, for example, does equality of training or education affect individual achievement? The answer is another striking proof of the power of heredity. Not only is such equality of conditions unable to level the inborn differences between individuals; on the contrary, it increases the differences in results achieved. "Equalizing practice seems to increase differences. As McDougall justly remarks: "The higher the level of innate capacity, the more it is improved by education."

We thus see that even where superior individuals have no better opportunities than inferiors, environment tends to accentuate rather than equalize the differences between men, and that the only way to prevent increasing in equality is by deliberately holding the superiors down. Certainly, the whole trend of civilization is toward increasing inequality. In the first place, the demands made upon the individual are more and more complex and differentiated. The differences in training and edu cation between savages are relatively insignificant; the differences between the feudal baron and his serf were comparatively slight; the differences today between casual laborers and captains of industry are enormous.

The truth is that, as civilization progresses, social status tends to coincide more and more closely with racial value; in other words, a given population tends to become more and more differentiated biologically, the upper social classes containing an ever larger proportion of persons of superior natural endowments while the lower social classes contain a growing proportion of inferior. The intelligence tests show that unless the civilizing process is interrupted this stratification will become even sharper in the future.

Let us now look at the matter more closely. This process, by which individuals migrate socially upward or downward from class to class, is termed "The Social Ladder." The ease with which people can go up or down this ladder depends on the flexibility of the social order, and social flexibility in turn characterizes progressive civilizations. In the less advanced types of civilization, social flexibility is rare. However, as civilization progresses society becomes more flexible; and the "social ladder" works better and better. The segregation of populations according to racial value is produced, not merely by the social ladder, but by another process known as "assortative mating.” Scientific investigation has proved that "like tends to mate with like." It concerns both physical and mental characteristics. People tend to attract those who are usually of their own clan, with common standards, similar tastes, and educational attainments. The sustained intermarriage of a well-selected upper class raises society's apex into a sharply defined peak or core. Woods has termed this process "Social Conification." The members of such "conified" groups display clearly marked traits and possess high average racial value. On the other hand, the lowest social classes, segregated and drained of their best elements, similarly "conify" into well-marked racial inferiority. The effect in heredity of intelligence mating with intelligence, of stupidity with stupidity, of success with success – to put the matter roughly – has been to perpetuate and to increase these traits in the respective groups. On the other hand, under conditions of a broadening democratization of social life the more intelligent and successful elements in the 'lower' classes have been constantly rising out of their class into one socially above it. This movement must have the consequence of draining the `lower' classes of talent and genius, and, through a process of social migration, of increasing the genius and talent of each succeeding upper layer in the social series. We thus see that, as civilization progresses, inborn superiority tends to drain out of the lower social levels up into the higher social classes. And probably never before in human history has this selective process gone on so rapidly and so thoroughly as today. But it may be asked: Does this not imply the eventual formation of an aristocracy of "supermen," blessing all classes with the flowerings of its creative genius?

Unfortunately, no; not as society is now constituted. On the contrary, if these tendencies continue under present social conditions, the concentration of superiority in the upper social levels will spell general racial impoverishment and hence a general decline of civilization. Happily our civilization possesses a great advantage over past times: scientific knowledge. Our very minds and souls are imbued with delusions like environmentalism and "natural equality".


Test I (Units 1, 2)













































Test II (Units 3 – 5)



































Test III (Units 6 - 8)























































The Study Of Society


The Most Prominent Sociologists


Society And Culture


Language And Culture


Sociology And Values


Socializing New Individuals Into Society


Understanding Of Social Stratification And Social Inequality (Part I)


Understanding Of Social Stratification And Social Inequality (Part II)




Specifity Of Sociology And Sociological Knowledge


The Rise Of Sociology As An Intellectual Tradition. Classical Tradition In Sociology Of The XIX Century


The Iron Law Of Inquality


PAGE  51


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