Sociology and Social Structure

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Social structure is the way society is organized into predictable relationships. There are five elements when you break down social structure. The first being status. We usually associate having a status to the amount of influence, wealth and fame. But sociologists use the term status to refer to any of the full range of socially defined positions within a large group or society, from the lowest to the highest. Examples of this are being a son or daughter, dental technician or the president of the United States. Sociologists also see some status to be achieved or ascribed and an ascribed status is when a person is assigned to it by society without regard for the person's unique talents or characteristics. But the achieved status comes to us largely through our own efforts. A person must do something to acquire an achieved status. There is also another type of status called a master status and its a status that dominates others and thereby determines a person's general position in society. Our textbook gives an example of Arthur Ashe, because he was a great tennis player but was known for AIDS.

The next element in social structure is social roles. They are a set of expectations for people who occupy a given social position or status. An example of this is a taxi cab driver. We expect him to know his way around a city. Although there could be some complications or role conflict when incompatible expectations arise from two or more social positions are held by the same person. Another type of role conflict occurs when individuals move into occupations that are not common among people with their ascribed status. Role conflict describes the situation of a person dealing with the challenge of occupying two social positions but sometimes just having one position could cause problems too. Role strain is when there is difficulty that arises when the same social position imposes conflicting demands and expectations. In 1988, Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh developed an new term...
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