AQA GCSE Sociology - What is a social structure?


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Social Structures as part of AQA GCSE Sociology specification.

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AQA GCSE Sociology - What is a social structure?

  1. 1. What is a social structure? 1.1 Studying Society
  2. 2. • All societies are built up of different parts and all are organised in some way.• There are patterns of relationships and a set of organisations that act as the scaffolding that keeps society stable.• All of the essential parts of society have a job to perform and they all fit with each other to hold society together. – What theoretical perspective is this explanation from?
  3. 3. Social Stratification• Most societies have a system of social stratification as a basic element of their structure.• Having different layers in a society highlights the differences between the groups but it also means that those in the same group have a feeling of togetherness.
  4. 4. Social Class• Sociologists see social class as a powerful form of stratification but other layers can be drawn depending on such features as age, ethnicity, gender, etc.• Placing people within these layers or strata means that some will be in higher or lower positions and some will have power, whereas others will be relatively powerless. Theoretical perspective?
  5. 5. Social class in modern Britain • Social class can be measured in a number of ways but most social class scales use your occupation to decide where to place you. • The scale introduced in 2001, which is now used in all official reports, is shown in Table A on the next slide (follow on your Nelson Thornes handout).
  6. 6. National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC)
  7. 7. Data Analysis• What percentage of those employed occupy semi-routine and routine occupations?• 31.3%3. What types of employment occupy lower managerial and professional occupations?• Nurses, journalists, actors, musicians, police and armed forces
  8. 8. Past Classifications• The NS-SEC replaced a set of groupings known as the Registrar General’s Classification that had been used since 1911.• Some of the research you might come across could have used this classification and this can be seen in Table B on the next slide (again follow on your Nelson Thornes handout)
  9. 9. Registrar General’sClassification
  10. 10. Social Grades • Market researchers and advertisers use the social gradeshown in Table C. shown in Table C. classificationMarket researchers and advertisers use thesocial grade classification
  11. 11. Task1. Identify 1 difference and 1 similarity between the Registrar General’s and the NS-SEC scales.2. Can you identify any problems with the NS- SEC scale?
  12. 12. NS-SEC scale Vs Registrar• Registrar’s was based on occupation and does not accommodate those who do not work (students, retired, unemployed etc.)• Registrar’s was based upon head of household, whereas NC-SEC is based upon whole population.
  13. 13. Problems with all scales• Scales do not tell about an individual’s wealth and property.• It is not clear where the wealthy upper class or National Lottery winners should be placed
  14. 14. Task• Where do you place yourself on the scales in tables, A, B and C?• Why do you think there is no mention of ‘upper’ class in these scales?
  15. 15. Is social class important?
  16. 16. Task• Calculate roughly the difference between higher professionals and the routine occupations taking A Levels• It’s around 28% difference• Calculate roughly the difference between higher professionals and the routine occupations obtaining 8 or more A* to C grades in their GCSEs• It’s around 45% difference What does this tell us?
  17. 17. What does this tell us about class?• That we have different ‘life chances’: – Infant mortality – Life expectancy – Educational outcomes – Employment prospects etc etc... are a result or consequence of belonging to a particular class.
  18. 18. Other forms of socialdivision and stratification
  19. 19. Gender, Race and Age• Gender, race and age are other forms of stratification.• Feminists approaches would see gender as a more important cause of inequality than social class – why?
  20. 20. Families• Families structure our lives.• They mould and shape us into individuals who can take an active part in our society, and are responsible for teaching us the basic values and norms of our society.• The structure of the family involves a complicated set of roles and relationships that are affected by such things as social class, income, age and gender.
  21. 21. Education• Between one fifth and one quarter of your lives will be structured by the education process.• Many babies have their days structured by care assistants in nurseries and crèches and we are all affected by schools, from the age of 4 or 5 through to 16.• Most of you will choose to stay in full-time education until you are 18 and many will go on to higher education, leaving only when you reach 21 or 22 .
  22. 22. Work• Many of you will have part-time jobs and most of you will find full-time employment after you gain skills and qualifications.• Work is a really structured and important part of life as it provides income, status, rivals and friends.• It also organises most of our waking hours by, and full-time employment could be seen as working a 5:2 shift with weekends being their two days off.
  23. 23. Comparing Forms of Stratification Achieved and Ascribed Open and Closed
  24. 24. Different forms of stratification• Stratification systems differ according to whether status is ascribed or achieved• Ascribed – social positions are fixed at birth and unchanging over time• Achieved – social positions are earned on the basis of personal talents or merit.
  25. 25. Open or closed• Open society – individuals can move up or down between the strata• Closed society – movement between strata is much less likely to occur.• Social mobility – is where people can move between the strata• In which type of society is social mobility most likely to occur?
  26. 26. Ascribed Stratification• Caste system in traditional India linked to the Hindu religion – Brahmin Higher status – Kshatriyas – Vaishyas – Shudras – Dalits (untoucables) Lower status
  27. 27. Ascribed Stratification• Apartheid in South Africa (1948-1994) was based upon a government policy of racial segregation – ethnicity was used as the basis for stratification. – White Higher status – Coloured – Black Lower status• Black people denied citizenship rights and opportunities available to white people = life chances much lower / little scope for social mobility
  28. 28. Theoretical Perspectives
  29. 29. Marxist• Karl Marx identified 2 main classes: – Bourgeoisie (ruling class) – Proletariat (working class)• Membership of these classes is based upon economic factors: ownership and non- ownership.• The B owns the means of production and the P does not and has to sell their labour to the B in order to survive• System is viewed as being unfair = conflict
  30. 30. Marxist• Marx believed the rich would get richer and the poor poorer and this would lead to revolution.• The class system would disappear leading to an equal society.• This hasn’t happened yet so perhaps society needs a class system to function?
  31. 31. Functionalist• The functionalist approach argues that some positions are vital to society, but not everyone has the talent to fill these posts.• A system of inequality and unequal rewards is functional in all societies to attract the most talented people to the most important occupations.