Soc Questions

Week 1 – 01/10/11 to 01/14/11


1.      Sociology

2.      Anthropology

3.      Psychology

4.      Economics

5.      Political Science

6.      History

7.      Geography

8.      Social Work

9.      Social Engineering

10.  Culture 


1.      It was suggested that human behavior is, to a large extent, shaped by social and cultural contexts. Discuss ways in which social forces or circumstances modify behavior. More personally, to what extent are you alone responsible for your own condition or destiny?

2.      In regard to a particular social issue (e.g., abortion, conflict, parenting), what different questions might be raised at the macrosociological level? What different suggestions or solutions might each propose?

3.      Discuss what the social sciences have in common? How are they different?

4.      The education of children and youth is a topic of widespread concern within most countries of the world. How would each of the social sciences described in this lesson address this topic?

5.      Is it possible to investigate phenomena related to ideologies such as Nazism or Christianity without making value judgments – that is, without praise or condemnation?

6.      If it is possible to be objective, should sociologist refrain from making judgments on groups that they have found to be blatantly beneficial or destructive?

7.      Should sociology be a required course? Why or why not?

8.      Discuss the differences or similarities between a sociological problem and a social problem.

9.      What types of questions might be of interests to sociologist? Are all of these topics “social problems”?

10.  What is “functionalist perspective”?  

Week 2 - 01/18/11 to 01/21/11


1.      Karl Marx

2.      Emile Durkheim

3.      Max Weber

4.      George Herbet Mead

5.      W. E. B. Du Bois

6.      Bourgeoisie

7.      Proletariat

8.      Class consciousness

9.      Collective conscience

10.  Verstehen 


1.      Why did early sociologist use natural science terms and methods to describe society? Discuss some shortcomings of following this approach.

2.      Spencer’s idea of survival of the fittest led to his belief in noninterference in human affairs. Are such hands-off policies appropriate today, in terms of the poor and disadvantaged?

3.      What is your perception of societies “evolving”? Do they always become more complex? Do they always “improve”?

4.      Make a list of your ascribed and achieved statuses. Select two, and show how your behavior would differ if your status were different – such as a different sex, race, culture, belief system.

5.      Explore some manifest and latent functions of this sociology course. Do dysfunctional aspects exist as well?

6.      Many people get disturbed if someone burns a flag or a cross. Why? Consider the significance of symbols and their meanings in your response.

7.      Apply social exchange theory to the interaction between you and your parents or your best friend. What do you offer to them and receive from them? What happens when the social exchanges are not defined as equitable?

8.      What is power?

9.      Use Karl Marx’s idea of “economic determinism” to compare social life in the United States with social life in a communist country.

10.  Discuss aspects of American society that contribute to what Emile Durkheim called a “collective conscience.” To what extent does a collective conscience exist in the United States? Discuss how a collective conscience has come to exist in a community, organization, or group to which you belong.  

Week 3 – 01/24/11 to 01/28/11


1.       Scientific method

2.       Proposition

3.       Objectivity

4.       Theory

5.       Reliability

6.       Validity

7.       Independent variable

8.       Dependent variable

9.       Variance

10.   Control group



1.       Should the social sciences be held to the same standards of scientific inquiry as the biological and physical sciences? Why or why not?

2.       Select a topic for study, such as cohabitation, female employment, or busing. What types of questions could be answered with descriptive, explanatory, and evaluation research?

3.       The July issue of a popular magazine included a perforated page with questions about marital violence. The readers were invited to complete the questions and mail them in by September 1. The results were to be published in the November issue. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this type of research?

4.       Why must those who conduct research (e.g., sociologists) and those who read about it (e.g., consumers) be conscious of and cautious about the research results and statistics they use and see?

5.       Explain the difference between mean, median, and mode.

6.       Are music and art sciences? Are physics and biology sciences? Is any social science discipline (including sociology) a science? Why or why not?

7.       Why are reliability and validity important in social research? Give examples to illustrate each.

8.       Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research. Give examples of where each type could be used and where each type could be more appropriate than the other.

9.       After learning about the Hawthorne effect, illustrate how researchers themselves might influence or contaminate the results.

10.   An instructor says that she is going to grade on a curve. He returns your exam results with a score of 50. What types of additional data do you need to know to assess whether 50 is a good or a poor grade?

Week 4 – 01/31/11 to 02/04/11


1.      Symbol

2.      Archetype

3.      Folkways

4.      Mores

5.      Norms

6.      Taboo

7.      Law

8.      Artifacts

9.      Ethnocentrism

10.  Xenocentrism 


1.       How many examples can you give of symbols using only your hand and fingers? Can you think of any that mean different things in different contexts or to people of different cultures? Have any of these changed over time?

2.       Discuss the significance or accuracy of the statement, “societies with different languages actually see or perceive the world differently.”

3.       How would an understanding of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis help politicians to evaluate whether the United States should promote bilingual educational programs?

4.       Describe what is meant by value conflict. Give examples. How are such conflicts resolved?

5.       Joe listens to his radio (quietly, with earphones, of course), and Mary reads her magazine in sociology class. Is this illegal, forbidden, or harmful behavior? Why is the instructor likely to disapprove of such behavior?

6.       Explain ethnocentrism. Give examples.

7.       Explain cultural relativism. Give examples.

8.       How might ethnocentrism, xenocentrism, and temporocentrism affect people’s attitudes toward bilingual education programs?

9.       Think about the subcultures, countercultures, or idiocultures of which you are a member. Differentiate these, and explain the differences.

10.   Differentiate between real and ideal cultures. Why are they seldom one and the same?

Week 5 – 02/07/11 to 02/11/11


1.       Deviance

2.       Addiction

3.       Terrorism

4.       Recidivism

5.       Anomie theory

6.       Blaming the victim

7.       Differential learning theory E

8.       Labeling theory

9.       Social learning theory

10.   Sociocultural learning theories



1.       How do you define deviance? Explain what it means to say that deviance is socially defined.

2.       Evaluate the debate about the legalization of drugs in terms of the traditional and relativist views of deviance.

3.       How would you explain the variation in types of deviant behavior between males and females? Can it be explained genetically or biologically? How do social responses differ?

4.       What are the similarities and differences among the anomie, conflict, sociocultural, and labeling theories of deviance?

5.       How can the definition of some types of behavior as deviant regardless of their sociocultural context result in misguided social policies? Give some examples.

6.       Imagine you are a teacher. What kinds of labels freely used in educational circles might be attached to your students?

7.       Do you know anyone who received a stiff sentence because he or she couldn’t afford a good lawyer? Conversely, do you know anyone who was able to avoid a sentence because of an expensive legal defense? What solutions do you see to these inequalities in the criminal justice system?

8.       Tell the difference between professional crime and organized crime?

9.       What is white collar crime?

10.   How do we victimize victims? Give examples.

Week 6 – 02/14/11 to 02/18/11


  1. Imprisonment
  2. Restitution
  3. Community service
  4. Rehabilitation
  5. Therapy
  6. Education
  7. Stigma
  8. Control
  9. Power
  10. Influence


1.       What are some types of behavior that are commonly explained in terms of biological and psychological theories of deviance? Is it possible to explain these in terms of sociological theories? If so, how?

2.       Compare the usefulness of the biological and psychological theories of deviance with the sociological theories of deviance.

3.       How does being labeled a “deviant” influence interaction patterns? Does “truth” (i.e., accuracy, correctness) matter?

4.       Discuss some ways in which deviance has positive functions for society? Give examples.

5.       Use the sociological theories of deviance to discuss the internal and external controls of deviance.

6.       How might a 15-year-old, a 45-year-old, and a 75-year-old view marriage, cohabitation, and living arraignments?

7.        Does the death penalty serve as a deterrent to crime? If so, why are crime rates in the United States comparatively high?

8.       What is your position on the death penalty – should it be legal, or should it be abolished? Why?

9.       Explain the anomie theory of deviance by Robert Merton.

10.   What mechanisms of formal and informal social control are evident in your classes and in your day-to-day life and social interactions at your school?

Week 7 – 02/21/11 to 02/25/11


  1. Self Concept
  2. Temperament
  3. Feral
  4. Ethnic
  5. Pluralism
  6. Segregation
  7. Sociobiology
  8. Self-fulfilling prophecy
  9. Drives
  10. Instinct


  1. Think of times you have done some inaccurate role-taking. What were the results of your interaction?
  2. Think of times you have seen your looking-glass self inaccurately. How has this shaped your actions?
  3. How could the ideas of Mead and Cooley be used to discuss your own gender-role socialization?
  4. Discuss ways you could become a better student if you changed your looking-glass self?
  5. Discuss things you do in school that you believe are important because your peers tell you they are important. Are these messages from your peers making you a better student?
  6. Discuss things you do in school that you believe are important because the mass media tell you they are important. Are these messages from the mass media making you a better student?
  7. Discuss the concept of “I,” “Me,” and “Ego.” Look at other cultures and works of literature.
  8. How does your backstage preparation for class differ from your performance onstage?
  9. Use Goffman’s ideas about social interaction to develop an explanation of socialization.
  10. List ten answers to the question, “What kind of person are you?” Explore how Cooley’s looking-glass self can be applied to explaining these aspects of yourself.

    Week 8 – 03/07/11 to  03/11/11  . . . . . . . . . there are only 6 vocabulary and 7 questions this week!!!

  1. Accommodation
  2. Acquisition
  3. Adaptation
  4. Assimilation
  5. Schema
  6. Psychosocial crisis
  1. What are some of the essential things we can learn from the study of developmental psychology-sociology?
  2. List Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and give a brief explanation of each.
  3. List the stages of Freud’s developmental stages and give a brief explanation of each.
  4. What are the four major stages of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development
  5. What are the major differences between Sigmund Freud’s theory of development and Jean Piaget’s theory?
  6. List the stages of Erik Erikson’s developmental stages and give a brief explanation of each.
  7. According to Erik Erikson, what major conflict do adolescents face?







Week 9 – 03/07/11 to

  1. Personality
  2. Rites of passage
  3. Self actualization
  4. Physiological
  5. Psychological
  6. Cognitive
  7. Aesthetic
  8. Autonomy
  9. Morality
  10. Authoritarianism
  1. List and discuss the steps of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.
  2. What is the difference between ethical, moral, spiritual, and religious? Explain the differences. Don’t merely provide a denotative definition… but rather really explain the differences.
  3. Why do you think that we progress through Kohlberg’s stages of moral development as we do?
  4. What stage of Kohlberg’s moral development are you at … honestly …? Why do you think this? How do you plan to continue growing?
  5. Why do you think that we tend to lie to get out of trouble? Think about the theories of Kohlberg, Maslow, Freud, Piaget, and Erikson before you write your answer. Give some details based on these theories as possible.
  6. As a whole, are we as a society kind (loving, thoughtful)? Are we mean (cruel, vindictive, evil)? Be honest and open-minded in your evaluation and think about the theories of Kohlberg, Maslow, Freud, Piaget, and Erikson before you write your answer. Give some details based on these theories as possible.
  7. Is obedience more desired than sacrifice? Do we demand obedience if we are the ones in control? Basically, do we always want things “done our way?” Think about the theories of Kohlberg, Maslow, Freud, Piaget, and Erikson before you write your answer. Give some details based on these theories as possible.
  8. In general and broadly speaking, why do you think that education is not valued in our American society? Or is it? Give some examples. Think about the theories of Kohlberg, Maslow, Freud, Piaget, and Erikson before you write your answer. Give some details based on these theories as possible.
  9. Are there universal moral principles that we all live by? Or should live by? Think about the theorist of this week and last, but also look back to taboos, mores, social norms from several weeks ago before you write your answer.
  10. In 1517 Sir Thomas Moore published “Utopia,” a perfect world in which everyone lived together peacefully. For those of you who watch Star Trek… society of the 23rd century is perfect and all the laws are not needed in the future either. These societies really do not need laws because people just do the “right thing.” Do you think that we could ever have a society in which all of our laws were not needed anymore? Do you think that we could have a society in the United States in which people simple do the right thing because it is the right thing to do? Really think through your answer and look what sociology you know to this point.

  Week 10 – 03/21/11 to


  1. Social class
  2. Inequality
  3. Social differentiation
  4. Social stratification
  5. Caste system
  6. Social status
  7. Socioeconomic status
  8. Ideology
  9. Poverty
  10. Glass ceiling
  1. Evaluate and discuss the arguments for and against strict progressive taxation.
  2. Explore your general living area (all the way into Birmingham) to see whether you can determine where different income groups reside, work, play, attend school, attend church, receive medical care, and so on. Use specific examples to illustrate the inequality and life chances of different classes.
  3. Do you think that the important determinant of class position in this country is family background? Why? Why not?
  4. Do you think that we have a dysfunction system in America? Why? Why not? What would you do to make it better?
  5. Do you think people – in general - are very aware of class differences? Of social differences?
  6. Why do you dress the way you do? Do you worry about having to either be the same as… or different than… other people? Is it because of social class and the expectations that go with it? Explain your answer.
  7. What people have the most power in your community? Do they have power because of their wealth, their status, or their position in an organization? Explain.
  8. Has the quality of your education been influenced by the amount of money your family has? How? Why?
  9. How do you think that your family’s position in the stratification system (social class) has affected your attitudes, norms, roles, ambitions, and identity?
  10. Why do you act the way you do? Why do you do what you do? Why do you think the way you do? Is it because of social class? Family income? Where you live? Family status in the community? Because of expectations that were put in place for you? Be honest and evaluate yourself.

 Week 11 – 03/28/11 to


  1. Conjugal family
  2. Nuclear family
  3. Blended family
  4. Extended family
  5. Principle of legitimacy
  6. Bilateral lineage
  7. Monogamy
  8. Patriarchal
  9. Matriarchal
  10. Family life cycle
  1. Examine both traditional and nontraditional definitions of the family. How might family policies differ, depending on the definition used?
  2. In terms of patterns of helping and assistance, visiting, or texting, to what extent do families in the United States (or your own family) resemble a modified-extended family?
  3. The United States is a serial polygamous (or sequential polygamous) society? What does this mean?
  4. Polygyny is known to exist as a legitimate form of marriage in many societies around the world. Why does (or should) the United States not legally permit either polygyny or polyandry?
  5. What is the difference between a patrilineal, matrilineal, or bilateral family system? Explain the differences and give examples.
  6. Suppose that you are a sociologist who is called upon to testify as an expert witness in a child custody case. This is a case in which the father wants a joint custody arrangement, but the mother objects and wants sole custody of the child. Assume that there is no violence or any other urgent reason to keep the child away from the father. Develop an argument for or against joint custody, using any and all of the theories, ideas, and perspectives you have learned in this class so far.
  7. Research suggests many advantages of small families over large ones. Can you think of ways that large families may be advantageous over small ones? Explain.
  8. How would you explain the tremendous variation in divorce rates (a) from one country or society to another, (b) between religious and ethnic groups in a given country such as the United States or Canada, and (c) over time?
  9. Does an increase in nontraditional marital and family life-styles signify a breakdown of the family? Why? Why not? Explain in detail.
  10. Should divorce be made more difficult to obtain? Why or why not? Discuss the consequences of divorce for men. For women. For children. For society at large.



Week 12 – 04/11/11 to


1.      Religion

2.      Profane

3.      Sacred

4.      Shamanism

5.      Totemism

6.      Polytheism

7.      Monotheism

8.      Pantheism

9.      Sect

10.  Cult


11.  Evaluate the major social functions of religion. Give examples to illustrate each function? How does each of these functions exist for all religions?

12.  From the conflict perspective, how does religion serve the elite?

13.  Either accept or refute the following statement: religious truth is only found in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Explain in depth.

14.  Either accept or refute the following statement: religion is a social creation. Explain in depth.

15.  Either accept or refute the following statement: whether there is no god, one god, or many gods is only relevant in terms of what people believe. Explain in depth.

16.  Is religion a key factor in maintaining the status quo, a key factor in stimulating social change, both, or neither? Explain in depth.

17.  What types of variables influence the involvement of religious groups in politics? Do the variables change depending on the sociological theory you are using? Describe and explain in detail.

18.  How is secularization related to or caused by changes such as industrialization, urbanization, an increasingly educated population, political conservatism or liberalism, changing roles of women, and so forth?

19.  How might you define “being religious”? Can you be religious without attending some church or synagogue or participating in some social group of like-minded persons?

20.  Using theories and facts about religious groups and systems, discuss how and why religious groups become involved in political activities, both domestically and internationally. Provide specific examples of the types of policies with which religious groups would be concerned. 



Week 13 – 04/18/11 to


1.      Mysticism

2.      Priest

3.      Prophet

4.      Church

5.      Secularization

6.      Religiosity

7.      Animism

8.      Mysticism

9.      Millennialism

10.  Ecclesia


11.  Discuss some ways in which religion affects our identity and our behavior.

12.  How do you think life in America would be different if our culture was based on polytheism rather than monotheism?

13.  How would you explain why some people are attracted to churches, others to sects, some to cults, and still others to no religious groups at all?

14.  Regardless of American’s specific religious beliefs, we are all affected by the Protestant ethic. Explain how Protestantism has helped to shape our cultural beliefs and values, and how it may have affected you.

15.  Discuss some ways in which religion effects the outcomes of peace, gender roles, politics, and so forth in the Middle East, Ireland, or southern U.S states, for example.

16.  Make a list of what you see to be trends in religion. How would you explain them? How can they be changed?

17.  Explain the appeal of TV preachers or evangelists. What accounts for their appeal, popularity, fund-raising success, and longevity?

18.  Discuss the linkage between religion and life in other institutions, such as the family or school.

19.  Discuss the concept of ahimsa.

20.  Discuss the concept of maya (Hinduism… not South American Indians). 



Week 14

Collective Behavior

25Apr11 – 29Apr11


Define the following:

  1. crowd
  2. fad
  3. fashion
  4. mass
  5. mass hysteria
  6. milling
  7. panic
  8. propaganda
  9. public
  10. riot
 Explain each of the following in complete sentences:
  1. Explain the concept of social contagion
  2. How does collective behavior differ from institutionalized behavior? Give examples of each type of behavior.
  3. Select an incident of collective behavior that has occurred recently, and discuss the preconditions that might have led to it.
  4. Explore the different types of crowds and crowd behavior that tend to exist or have existed in your school, community, or town where you live.
  5. How do mobs and riots differ? Are either or both less likely when and where people know one another? Explain.
  6. Mass behaviors include fads. Identify any fads that exist at present? List them and describe.
  7. Mass behaviors include fashion. Identify any fashions that exist at present? List them and describe.
  8. How does propaganda differ from censorship? Provide examples of each.?
  9. Should materials be censored in public schools? What materials? Why?
  10. List 3 examples of propaganda in our modern world. Explain why each is considered propaganda.




Week 16 – 05/09/11 to 05/17/11

Population and Ecology

1.      Census

2.      Demography

3.      Ecology

4.      Fecundity

5.      Immigration

6.      Emigration

7.      Fertility

8.      Mortality

9.      Migration

10.  Marriage squeeze

1.      Explain the Malthusian theory.

2.      Discuss how the age and sex of a population can affect its fertility and mortality rates.

3.      What are some factors that could lead to rapid changes in the rate of population change? Using this information, what kinds of changes do you predict in the rate of population change in your lifetime?

4.      Assume that because of increasing rates of cancer and AIDS, the life expectancy of the United States declines drastically. How would that change society when you reach 60?

5.      If the world were purely capitalist, what would happen to the rates of starvation in the world? Why? What is it were purely socialist?

6.      Discuss all of the ways in which your life has been shaped by the year of your birth and the number of people your age.

7.      Discuss how the relationship between population and ecology is evident today.

8.      What is the difference between the Push and Pull Factor?

9.      Is If the United States were a very young population, such as Mexico, what social problems would probably be more prevalent than they are today? What social problems would be less prevalent?

10.  If the United States were an older population, such as Sweden, what social problems would probably be more prevalent than they are today? What social problems would be less prevalent?