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Ethnicity and Crime: Short Answer Exam Questions and Answers

This post contains two examples of possible 4/6 mark ‘outline and explain’ questions which may come up on the AQA’s Crime and Deviance Paper 3.

Outline two structural factors which may explain differences in offending by ethnicity (4)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined

  • The higher rates of single parent families in African-Caribbean households (1 mark) this might explain the higher levels of crime because absent fathers mean lack of a disciplinary figure and the fact that children from Caribbean households are more likely to join gangs (+1 mark)
  • Blocked opportunities in the education system for African-Caribbean children (1 mark) which means lower educational achievement, and a higher chance of being unemployed, which is correlated with higher levels of economic crime (+1 mark)
  • Institutional racism in the police force (1 mark) higher rates of ethnic minority crime may be a frustrated response against police oppression, as with the London riots (+1 mark)

Outline three ways in which Racism may manifest itself in the criminal justice system (6)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined. The following would get 1 mark each, you need to add in the +1s

  • The police stop disproportionate amounts of black and Asian people (1 mark)
  • Black suspects are more likely to be sent to jail than white people (1 mark)
  • Ethnic minorities are more likely to have their cases thrown out of court than white people (1 mark)
  • Black and minority officers are under-represented (1 mark)
  • There is a ‘canteen culture’ of Racism in the UK police force (1 mark)
  • The police force fail to take race crimes against ethnic minorities seriously (1 mark)

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Analyse two ways in which patterns of crime may vary with social class (10)

Just a few thoughts on how you might answer the above 10 mark question – a possibility for the A Level Sociology Crime and Deviance/ Theory and Methods Paper 3

NB – There is every possibility that the actual 10 marker will be much more convoluted (complex) than this, but then again, there’s also the possibility of getting a simpler question – remember you could get either, and there’s no way of knowing which you’ll get – it all depends on how brightly the examiner’s hatred of teenagers is burning when he (it’s still probably a he!) writes the paper… 

FirstlyUnderclass – New Right – highest levels of crime – unemployment/ single parents = low attachment (Hirschi) also less opportunity to achieve legitimate goals (Merton’s strain theory), also more relative deprivation, marginalisation and subcultures (Young). Results in more property crime (theft) , possibly violent crime because of status frustration (Cohen). Backed up by prison stats – disproportionate number prisoners unemployed etc.

In contrast Middle classes supposedly have lower crime rates because they experience the opposite of all of the above.

However, Interactionists argue this difference is a social construction – Media over-reports underclass subcultures and deviance (Stan Cohen), Police interpret working class deviance as bad, middle class deviance as acceptable (Becker).

Secondly… Elite social classes – Because of greater access have the ability to commit different crimes – Corporate Crime – health and safety negligence (e.g. Bhopal) – Marxists = cost is greater than street crime – more people die annually than from street murders (Tombs and Whyte) – Also white collar financial crimes (e.g. Kweku Adeboli/ Madhoff/ Enron) – Total economic cost greater than street crime (Laureen Snider) – often go unpunished because of selective law enforcement (Gordon) – e.g. Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley paying below the minimum wage – but crimes = technically more difficult to prosecute and the public generally aren’t that worried about them.

In contrast ‘the rest of us’ don’t have the ability to commit high level Corporate Crimes, and so any one crime committed by an ordinary individual is relatively low-impact in comparison, although more likely to be picked up by the media and the authorities.

Finally (relevant to both of the above) – the government doesn’t collect any reliable stats on the relationship between social class and offending so we can’t actually be sure how the patterns vary any way!

And a few bonus thoughts on a related question… 

Outline and analyse two reasons why crime statistics may not provide us with a valid picture of the relationship between social class background and patterns of criminal behaviour (10)

First way into the question = pick two different sets of stats on crime and talk them out…

1. Prisoner statistics suggest that…..

2. The Crime Survey of England and Wales suggests that…

Second way into the question…. More general points (easier, but more danger of repeating yourself)

1. The types of crime committed by elite social class are different to those committed by those from lower social classes…..

2. According to Interactionists, the different labels agents of social control attach to people from different class backgrounds mean the crime stats may lack validity…..

3. There are so many different ways of measuring social class and the government doesn’t collect any systematic data on the relationship between social class and crime….

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Controlling and Reducing Crime – The Role of the Community

Most people manage to get through their whole lives without getting on the ‘wrong side’ of the formal agents of social control (the police, the courts and prison), so it should be no surprise hat many of the perspectives emphasize the role that the community plays in preventing crime and controlling crime.

Consensus Theory and Right Realism

Both Consensus Theory and Right Realism emphasise the importance of informal social control at the level of the community in keeping crime rates low. The following theories all emphasise the importance of the community in controlling crime:

  • Hirschi’s ‘Bonds of Attachment’ theory
  • Charles Murray’s Underclass Theory/ NEETS
  • Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Windows theory

Left Realism

According to left realism, crime is highest in those areas which suffer the highest levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation.

  • Relative deprivation refers to the discontent people feel when they compare their positions to those similarly situated and find that they have less than their peers.

  • Marginalisation is where one is ‘pushed to the edge’ of that society – on the outside of normal society looking in, lacking the resources to fully participate in that society.

According to Left Realists, the conditions of relative deprivation and social exclusion ‘breed crime’, most obviously because criminal means (rather than legitimate means) are often the only way people in such areas can ever hope to achieve material success, while you have relatively little to lose if you get caught.

Left Realists argue that the government should focus on tackling marginalisation and relative deprivation and marginalisation through Community Intervention Projects (aka Social outreach projects).

Community intervention projects involve such things as local councils working with members of local communities to provide improved opportunities for young people ‘at risk of offending’ through providing training opportunities or a more active and engaging education for certain children.

Marxism

According to Marxism, the fact that we have whole communities of the underclass is a structural feature of Late-Capitalism because with technological advances, Capitalism requires an ever smaller workforce. Thus we now have millions of permanently unemployed and underemployed people living in Britain.

Just for emphasis – this is the same as Underclass Theory, but from the Marxist Perspective, members of the underclass are victims of Capitalism creating unemployment through technological obsolescence.

Postmodernism/ Late Modernism

Postmodernists argue that the capacity of local communities to control crime informally, even with the help of state-intervention, is limited because communities today have a high turnover of population – communities tend to be unstable, short-lived and fleeting. Moreover, Postmodernists point out that the concept of ‘community’ is irrelevant to many people’s lives today because society is not made up of ‘communities’, it is made up of ‘networks’ Rather than being integrated into tight-knit communities restricted to one place, we have weaker connections to a higher number of people via virtual networks which spread over large distances.

These networks mean that we become susceptible to a whole range of ‘new crimes’ such as cyber-bullying, trolling, phishing, identity theft, which take place in ‘virtual space’ and there is thus nothing local communities can do to control such crimes. Moreover, members of these virtual networks are also relatively powerless to stop criminals operating through virtual networks. In short, in the postmodern, networked society, communities are powerless to control crime.

Related Posts 

Right Realist Criminology – Includes an introduction to Realism and detailed class notes on Right Realism covering rational choice theory, broken windows theory, Charles Murray’s views on the underclass, situational crime prevention and environmental crime prevention (mainly zero tolerance policing)

Left Realist Criminology – class notes covering relative deprivation, marginalisation, subcultures, early intervention, community based solutions to crime and community policing.

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Key Concepts for A Level Sociology – Crime and Deviance

A list of definitions of some of the key concepts relevant to the A level sociology crime and deviance module.

Anomie

Where modern social systems encourage excessive individualism – as a consequence there is a general lack of agreement around norms and values – some commentators describe anomie as a state of normlessness.

The context Dependency Deviance –

Whether or not an act is deviant depends on the society in which the act takes place, the historical period, and the actors present. The context dependency of deviance emphasises the fact that the same form of behaviour can be considered deviant in one society, but not deviant in another.

Corporate Crime

Crimes committed by or for corporations or businesses which act to further their interests and have a serious physical or economic impact on employees, consumers and the general public. The drive is usually the desire to increase profits.

Crime

The breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a punishment – depending on the society this might ultimately mean imprisonment or the death penalty.

Crimogenic Capitalism

The Marxist idea that the exploitative capitalist system generates crime. According to Marxists, the self-interested pursuit of profit lies at the heart of the Capitalist system. The means whereby the Capitalist class get rich is by exploiting workers through paying them as little as possible to increase their profits, and they also encourage materialism, to increase demand for the goods they produce. A final way capitalism generates crime is by creating inequality – resulting in a significant number of people at the bottom of society (the underclass) who are effectively unable to consume at a reasonable level.

Dark figure of crime

The amount of unreported, or undiscovered crime. These are the crimes which do not appear in Official Police Statistics.

Deviance

Behaviour that varies from the accepted standard of normal behaviour in society. It implies that an individual is breaking social norms in a negative way.

Dog Eat Dog Society

A phrase associated with Marxist Sociologist David Gordon who said that capitalist societies are ‘dog eat dog societies’ in which each individual company and each individual is encouraged to look out for their own self-interest before the interests of others, before the interests of the community, and before the protection of the environment.

Ideology

A set of cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie and justify either the status quo or movements to change it. The culture of every social system has an ideology that serves to explain and justify its own existence as a way of life. In Sociology, Marxists use the term the ‘dominant ideology’ to refer to the world-view of the ruling class, which they present to everyone else as normal – their world view passes of inequality and exploitation as normal and natural, thus justifying their existence.

Ideological Functions

The idea that institutions such as schools and the media teach a set of norms and values which work in the interests of the powerful and prevent social change. For example, Marxists say the education system performs ‘ideological functions’ for the Capitalist system and the Bourgeois: they believe that the norms of punctuality and acceptance of authority and hierarchy prepares us for our future exploitation at work, which benefits future employers more than workers.

Labelling (detailed notes)

Labelling is the process of pre-judging/ categorising an individual based on superficial characteristics or stereotypical assumptions. For example when a teacher decides a scruffy looking student is not intelligent.

Moral Entrepreneurs

A moral entrepreneur is an individual, group or formal organization that seeks to influence a group to adopt or maintain a norm. Moral entrepreneurs are those who take the lead in labelling a particular behaviour and spreading or popularizing this label throughout society.

Neutralisation of Opposition

In Marxist theory resistance to capitalism and eventual revolution should come from the working classes once they realise the injustice of the high level of exploitation they face. However, according to Marxist criminologists, the criminal justice system works to get rid of opposition by selectively locking up working class (Rather than middle class) criminals which prevents resistance and revolution. Selective law enforcement does this in three main ways:

  1. By literally incarcerating (‘incapacitating) thousands of people who could potentially be part of a revolutionary movement.
  2. By punishing individuals and making them responsible for their actions, defining these individuals as ‘social failures’ we ignore the failings of the system that lead to the conditions of inequality and poverty that create the conditions which lead to crime.
  3. The imprisonment of many members of the underclass also sweeps out of sight the ‘worst jetsam of Capitalist society’ such that we cannot see it, thus we are less aware of the injustice of inequality in society.

Official Crime Statistics

Official Statistics are numerical information collected by the government and its agencies – the two main types of crime statistics collected by government agencies are Police Recorded Crime, and the Crime Survey of England and Wales. Crime statistics also encompass Prison Statistics, which include information about the numbers and characteristics of prisoners.

Police recorded Crime

All crimes reported to and recorded by the police. Police forces around the country record crime in categories that are outlined in the Home Office counting rules. These include: violence against the person, sexual offences, robber, burglary, theft, handling stolen goods, fraud and forgery, criminal damage, drug offences and ‘other offences’.

Rational Choice Theory 

Believes individuals make rational (logical) decisions about whether or not to commit a crime  the crime rate is affected mainly by three factors –  the available opportunities to commit crime,  the perceived risk of getting caught,  and severity of the punishment the offender believes they will receive if they are caught. According to Rational Choice Theory, the more opportunities to commit crime, the lower the risk of getting caught and the lower the likelihood of punishment, then the higher the crime rate will be.

Relative Deprivation

Lacking sufficient resources to maintain a standard of living or lifestyle which is regarded as normal or average in a given society; or lacking sufficient resources to maintain a living standard which is approved of by society. While it is possible to measure relative deprivation objectively, there is a subjective element to this concept which can make it difficult to measure – an individual can feel relatively deprived even when they are relatively well-off compared to the average, if they have an unrealistic idea about what ‘the average is’. This concept is associated with Left Realism and Jock Young’s Vertigo of Late Modernity especially.

Self-Report Studies

Surveys in which a selected cross section of the population is asked what offences they have committed. A good example of a self-report study is the ‘Youth Lifestyles Survey’ – although the last one was done over a decade ago.

Selective Law Enforcement

Where the police mainly focus on policing working class (and underclass) areas and the justice system mainly focuses on prosecuting working and underclass criminals, while ignoring the crimes of the elite and the middle classes, although both of these classes are just as likely to commit crime as the working classes. A concept associated with Marxist criminologist David Gordon.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Where an individual accepts their label and the the label becomes true in practice.

Social integration

Where people are connected to society through social institutions. The more connections an individual has to social institutions, the more integrated an individual is to society. For example, someone with a job, with a family, and who spends time with others in the community is more integrated than an unemployed single loner.

Social Regulation

reaffirming the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. High levels of social regulation basically mean explicit and clear rules and norms which set out clear social expectations. In Functionalist theory an appropriate amount of social regulation is essential for preventing anomie which leads to high levels of suicide and other forms of deviant and criminal behaviour.

Socially Constructed 

Where something is the product of social processes rather than just being natural. For example, most sociologists agree that crime is socially constructed because people in society decide what crime is law breaking behaviour, and laws are made-up by people and change over time, thus crime varies from society to society. Similarly, we can say that crime statistics are socially constructed because they are the result of a series of social interactions – of people witnessing and reporting crimes and then the police recording them, rather than the stats reflecting the actual real number of crimes in any society.

Society of Saints

A phrase associated with Emile Durkheim which emphasises the inevitability and social necessity of crime. Durkheim argued that even in a ‘society of saints’ populated by perfect individuals deviance would still exist. In such a society there might be no murder or robbery, but there would still be deviance. The general standards of behaviour would be so high that the slightest slip would be regarded as a serious offence. Thus the individual who simply showed bad taste, or was merely impolite, would attract strong disapproval.

Victim Surveys

Ask people whether they have been a victim of crime, typically in the previous 12 months. The most comprehensive victim survey in England and Wales is the ‘Crime Survey of England and Wales’.

Status frustration

A concept developed by Albert Cohen in Delinquent Boys (1956) – he used it to explain working-class male delinquency as being a collective reaction against middle class success – working class boys tried hard in school and failed to gain status, got frustrated, found each other and formed a deviant subculture – status was gained within the subculture by being deviant and going against the rules of the school.

Subculture 

A group which has at least some norms and values which are different to those held in mainstream society, and can thus be regarded as deviant.

The Underclass

A term first coined by American Sociologist Charles Murray (1989) – The underclass’ refers to the long term unemployed who are effectively welfare dependent. They have higher rates of teen pregnancies and single parent households and much higher crime rates. Some statistical analysis suggests that the underclass (approximately 1% of the population) might commit as much as 50% recorded crime in the UK.

White Collar Crime

White-collar crime refers to financially motivated nonviolent crime committed by business and government professionals. Within criminology, it was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”.

Zero Tolerance Policing 

Involves the police strictly enforcing every facet of law, including paying particular attention to minor activities such as littering, begging, graffiti and other forms of antisocial behaviour. It actually involves giving the police less freedom to use discretion –the police are obliged to hand out strict penalties for criminal activity.

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Analyse two ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

Outline and analyse some of the ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

An example of how you might go about answering such a question (not an exhaustive answer)

(Before reading this through, you might like to recap the difference between modernity and postmodernity.)

Postmodern society is a society based around consumption and consumerism rather than work – people primarily identify themselves through the goods and services they buy rather than the jobs they do. As a result there is simply more stuff being bought, which means here is more opportunity to commit crime – Robert Reiner has identified a straightforward link between the increasing amount of stuff and the increase of property crime, as witnessed with the crime explosion since the 1950s. The increase in property crime has been further fuelled by an increase in the type of ‘strain’ identified in the 1940s by Robert Merton- The mass media today is rife with programmes promoting high consumption, celebrity lifestyles as both normal and desirable, thus increasing demand for stuff, which combined with insufficient legitimate opportunities to earn enough money to buy such a lifestyle, creates what Jock Young calls a ‘Vertigo of Late Modernity’, fuelling a historically high level of property crime.

Baudrillard calls postmodern society a hyperreal society – mediated reality (basically life as experienced through the media) is more common and more ‘real’ than face to face reality – it is thus no surprise that the fastest growing type of crime is cyber-crime of many different varieties – where criminals do not come face to face with their victims – this at least partially explains one growth area of cyber crime – which is sexual and racist abuse and ‘trolling’ more generally via social-media – many such criminals would not dare say the things they do face to face. Another example of cyber crime is the online-dating romance scam, which illustrates all sorts of aspects of ‘postmodern’ crime – it is hyperreal, in that the criminals make up fake IDs to put on dating sites to lure victims into giving them money, and many of these scams are done by people in West Africa, illustrating the global nature of much postmodern crime, this particular example being at least partially fuelled by the wealth gap between the developing and the developing world. In short, the fact that we are connected via the internet globally, the relative ease of access to the internet, and the relatively low risk of getting caught, all help to explain the increase of cyber crime in the age of postmodernity.

Related Posts

Post and Late Modern Criminologysummary sheet

Assess the Contribution of Post and Late Modern Perspectives to Our Understanding of Crime and Devianceessay plan

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Crime and Deviance Exam Practice Questions (10 markers)

The ten mark question on crime and deviance in the A Level Sociology Crime and Deviance/ Theory and Methods paper will ask you to analyse two reasons/ ways/. Below are a few exemplars (well, one for now, more to follow!) I knocked up, which should get you 10 marks in the exam… 

My suggested strategy for answering these 10 mark questions is to make two points which are as different from each other as possible and then try to develop each point two to three times. You don’t have to evaluate each point, but it’s good practice to put a brief evaluation at the end, but don’t spend too long on this, focus more on the development (which is basically analysis).

NB – Usually there is an item attached to these questions, but more of those later!

Question: analyse two reasons for the formation of subcultures (10)

Point 1 – Consensus theorist Albert Cohen suggested status frustration was the root cause of subculture formation.

According to Cohen deviant subcultures are a working class problem – working class boys try hard in school, and fail, meaning they fail to gain status (recognition/ respect) – these boys find each other and form a deviant group, whereby they gain status within the group by being deviant – by doing things which are against the rules – for example bunking lessons – and the further you go, the more status you get. 

Another Consensus theory which we could apply here is underclass theory – Charles Murray would argue that lower class boys fail at school because their parents don’t work and fail to socialise them into a good work-ethic, hence offering a deeper ‘structural cause’ of why subcultures are more likely to form among the lower social classes.

Hence applying these two consensus theories together, the process goes something like this – and individual is born into the underclass – they are not socialised into a work ethic – they fail at school – they get frustrated – they find similar working/ underclass boys – they gain status by being deviant.

A Problem with this theory is that it blames the working class for their own failure, Marxism criticises consensus theory because the ‘root cause’ of subcultures is the marginalisation of working class youth due to Capitalism.

Point 2 – Interactionists would point to negative labelling as the root cause of subculture formation

According to Howard Becker, teachers have an image of an ‘ideal pupil’ who is middle class – working class pupils don’t fit this image – they dress differently and have different accents, and so teachers have lower expectations of them – they thus don’t push them as hard as middle class students – over the years this results in a self fulfilling prophecy where working class students are more likely to decide they are failures and thus think that school is not for them – It is this disaffection which results in subculture formation.

David Gilborn further applied this idea to the formation of subcultures among African-Caribbean students – according to Gilborn teachers believed black students to be more disruptive and thus were more likely to pick them up for deviant behaviour in class, while White and Asian students were ignored – this marginalised black students who when on to develop anti-school subcultures as a form of resistance against perceived racism.

In contrast to subcultural theory, in labelling theory it is the authorities who are to blame for the emergence of subcultures, rather than the deviant youths themselves.

A criticism of labelling theory is that it is deterministic – not everyone accepts their labels, so not every negative label leads to a subculture.

This should be sufficient to get you 10/ 10. 

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AS and First Year A Level Sociology – Whole Course Overview

An overview of the entire course for AS and first year A level sociology covering the following ‘modules’:

The overview below is taken directly from the AQA’s scheme of work and broken down further into more sub-topics to make it more teachable/ learnable. Within each ‘module’ there are about 7 sub-topics, and any of which could (although not necessarily) form the basis of one essay question, so you need to be able to write on each sub-topic for a solid 30 minutes.

This will relevant to most teachers and students teaching the AQA syllabus, unless you do an alternative option to families and households (which I don’t cover!)

My advice is that students generally need at least one side of revision notes for each of the subtopics below, with three-five points/ explanations/ examples and with evaluations (e.g. one side for Functionalism, another for Marxism etc…)

Education

Education brief

  1. Perspectives on Education

    1. Functionalism

    2. Marxism

    3. Neoliberalism and The New Right

    4. New Labour (a response to the New Right)

    5. Postmodernism

  1. In school process and education

    1. Teacher Labelling and the Self Fulfilling Prophecy

    2. School organisation (banding and streaming)

    3. School Type, School Ethos and the Hidden Curriculum

    4. School Subcultures

    1. Pupil Identities and the Education System

  1. Education Policies

    1. The strengths and limitations of successive government education polices:

      1. 1944 – The Tripartite System – brief

      2. 1965 – Comprehensivisation – brief

      3. 1988 – The 1988 Education Reform Act

      4. 1997 – New Labour’s Education Policies

      5. 2010 – The Coalition and the New New Right’s Education Policies

    1. Evaluating Education Policies

      1. To what extent have policies raised standards in education?

      2. To what extent have policies improved equality of opportunity?

      3. Perspectives on selection as an educational policy

      4. Perspectives on the increased privatisation of education

      5. How is globalisation affecting educational and educational policy?

  1. Social Class and Education

    1. Material Deprivation

    2. Cultural Deprivation

    3. Cultural Capital Theory

    4. In-School Factors

    5. The strengths and limitations of policies designed to tackle working class underachievement

  2. Gender and Education

    1. Out of school factors which explain why girls do better than boys in education

    2. In-School factors which explain why girls do better than boys in education

    3. Explanations for gender and subject choice

    4. Feminist Perspectives on the role of education in society

    5. The strengths and limitations of policies designed to tackle gender differences in educational achievement

  3. Ethnicity and Education

    1. Cultural factors which might explain ethnic differences in educational achievement

    2. In-School Factors which might explain ethnic differences in educational achievement

    3. The strengths and limitations of policies designed to tackle ethnic differences in educational achievement

Methods in Context

Here you need to be able to assess the strengths and limitations of using any method to research any aspect of education.

The different methods you need to be able to consider include –

1. Secondary Documents

2. Official statistics

3. Field Experiments

4. Lab experiments

5. Questionnaires

6. Unstructured Interviews

7. Overt Participant Observation

8. Covert Participant Observation

9. Non Participant Observation

The different aspects of education you might consider are

Researching how the values, attitudes, and aspirations of parents contribute to the achievement of certain groups of children

• Why boys are more likely to be excluded than girls

• Why white working class boys underachieve

• Exploring whether teachers have ‘ideal pupils’ – whether they label certain groups of pupils favourably!

• Assessing the relative importance of cultural deprivation versus material deprivation in explaining underachievement

• Assessing the success of policies aimed to improve achievement such as ‘employing more black teachers’

Families and Households

AS Sociology Families and Households

  1. Perspectives on Families

1.1 Functionalism

1.2 Marxism

1.3 Feminisms

1.4 The New Right

1.5 Postmodernism and Late Modernism

1.6 The Personal Life Perspective

  1. Marriage and Divorce

2.1: Explaining the trends in marriage

2.2: Explaining the trends in divorce

2.3: Perspectives on the consequences of declining marriage and increasing divorce

2.4: Examining how marriage, divorce and cohabitation vary by social class, ethnicity, sexuality and across generations.

3. Family Diversity

3.1 – The underlying causes of the long term increase In Reconstituted families, Single parent families, Multi-generational households, Single person households and ‘Kidult’ households.

3.2 Perspectives on the social significance of the increase of all of the above (covered in 3.1).

3.3 – The extent to which family life varies by ethnicity, social class and sexuality.

4. Gender Roles, Domestic Labour and Power Relationships

4.1. To what extent are gender roles characterised by equality?

4.2. To what extent is the Domestic Division of Labour characterised by equality?

4.3. Issues of Power and Control in Relationships

4.4. To what extent has women going into paid work resulted in greater equality within relationships?

5. Childhood

5.1 – To what extent is ‘childhood socially constructed’

5.2 – The March of Progress view of childhood (and parenting) – The Child Centred Family and Society?

5.3 – Toxic Childhood and Paranoid Parenting – Criticisms of ‘The March of Progress View’

5.4 – Is Childhood Disappearing?

5.5 – Reasons for changes to childhood and parenting practices

Topic 6 – Social Policy

6.1 You need to be able to assess the effects of a range of policies using at least three key perspectives

• The New Right

• New Labour

• Feminism (Liberal and Radical)

6.2 You need notes on how the following policies affect men and women and children within the family

• Changes to the Divorce law

• Tax breaks for married couples

• Maternity and paternity pay

• Civil Partnerships

• Sure Start – early years child care

Topic 7: Demography

7.1: Reasons for changes to the Birth Rate

7.2: Reasons for changes to the Death Rate

7.3: The consequences of an Ageing Population

7.4: The reasons for and consequences of changes to patterns of Migration

Research Methods

Factors effecting choice of research method copy

  1. The Factors Affecting Choice of Research Method – Theoretical, Ethical and Practical Factors.Introduction to Research Methods – Basic types of method and key terms

  1. Secondary Quantitative Data – Official Statistics

  1. Secondary Qualitative Data – Public and Private Documents

  1. Experiments – Field and Laboratory

  1. Interviews – Structured, Unstructured and Semi-Structured

  1. Observational Methods – Cover and Overt Participant and Non-Participant Observation

  1. Other methods – e.g. Longitudinal Studies

  1. Stages of the Research Process

Crucial to the above is your mastery of the TPEN structure

  1. Theoretical factors – Positivism, Interpretivism, Validity, Reliability, Representativeness

  1. Practical factors –Time, Money, funding, opportunities for research including ease of access to respondents, and the personal skills and characteristics of the researcher.

  1. Ethical factors – Thinking about how the research impacts on those involved with the research process: Informed consent, ensure confidentiality, be legal and ensure that respondents and those related to them are not subjected to harm. All this needs to be weighed up with the benefits of the research.

  1. The Nature of the Topic studied. Some topics lend themselves to certain methods and preclude others!

 

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Research Methods Essays – How to Write Them

Essay planning and writing for the AS and A Level sociology exams – hints and tips

The research methods section of the AS sociology 7191 (2) exam (research methods and topics in sociology) consists of one short answer question (out of 4 marks) and one essay question (out of 16 marks).

You should aim to spend approximately 20-25 minutes answering this essay question

This longer methods question will nearly always ask you to evaluate either the strengths or limitations of a particular method, for example ‘Evaluate the strengths of using social surveys in Social Research’.

This means that you will need to evaluate either the strengths or the limitations of the particular method as directed in the question.

You should always use the following structure whether talking about strengths or limitations of the method. Remember that you will need to emphasis the relevant sections depending on whether you are asked to evaluate strengths or limitations.

  1. Define the method

  2. Explain why Positivists like or dislike the method

  3. Explain why Interpretivists like or dislike the method

  4. Validity – explain why the method has good or bad validity

  5. Reliability – explain why the method has good or bad reliability

  6. Representativeness – explain how easy it is to get a large, representative sample

  7. Practical factors – explain what practical strengths or limitations the method has

  8. Ethical issues – explain any ethical problems associated with the method, or talk about the ethical strengths as appropriate

  9. Say what kind of topics this method is useful for researching and why

  10. Say when you wouldn’t use this method and why

  11. Compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of the method.

  • It is good practice to use examples of actual examples of research studies that have used the method under examination, preferably woven into the body of the essay.

  • It is also good practice to distinguish between different ways of doing the method throughout, as you are asked to do in number 11.

  • You can remember the above 11 point plan by memorizing the handy acronym DPIVRRPETTC

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like to purchase more of the same…

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Assessment Objectives and Key Skills in A Level Sociologyfor an explanation of what ‘evaluation’ means

AQA Assessment ResourcesAS paper 2 has an example of a pure research methods question.  

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Assessment Objectives and Key Skills in A Level Sociology

There are three key skills you need to demonstrate in A level Sociology (see the Sociology Student Handbook for how they are weighted in the exam)

  • AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of sociological theories, concepts and evidence
  • AO2 Apply sociological theories, concepts, evidence and research methods to a range of issues
  • AO3 Analyse and evaluate sociological theories, concepts, evidence and research methods in order to:
    o present arguments
    o make judgements
    o draw conclusions.

Below are eight specific ways you can demonstrate these skills in relation to sociological concepts, theories and evidence. They get progressively harder, sort of.

AO1 – Define/ explain the theory or Concept
AO1 – Give examples to illustrate this theory or concept

AO2 – Apply the theory or concept – How far does the theory/ concept help you understand different aspects of social life?
AO2 – Analyse – What are the key foundational ideas of the theory or the concept?
AO2 – Analyse – How does the theory/ concept relate to other theories/ concepts – which are the most closely related, which the opposite?

AO3 – Evaluate from other PERSPECTIVES – What would other perspectives say about the theory/ concept? (obviously this overlaps with no/.5 above
AO3 – Evaluate – HISTORICAL CRITICISM – Is the theory/ concept dated? When was the concept developed? Is it still relevant today, or has society changed so much that it is no longer relevant? Has society changed in such a way that some aspects of the theory are now more relevant?
AO3 – Evalaute – POWER/ BIAS/ VALUE FREEDOM? Who developed the concept/ theory – whose interests does it serve?

You also need to be able to evaluate research methods – but more of that later!

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Core Themes in AS and A Level Sociology

According to the AQA, the following are the most important aspects of studying Sociology. What’s below is taken straight from the AQA web site

Integral elements

All the following must be an integral part of the study of each topic area:

  • Sociological theories, perspectives and methods
  • The design of the research used to obtain the data under consideration, including its strengths and limitations.

Attention must be given to drawing out the links between topic areas studied.

Core themes

Students must study the following two core themes:

  • Socialisation, culture and identity (Functionalism emphasises the importance of socialisation, postmodernism culture and action theory identity
  • Social differentiation, power and stratification (Marxism and Feminism emphasise the importance of these)

The themes should be understood and applied to particular substantive areas of Sociology. These themes are to be interpreted broadly as threads running through many areas of social life and should not therefore be regarded as discrete topics.

Contemporary UK society

The central focus of study in this specification should be on UK society today, with consideration given to comparative dimensions where relevant, including the siting of UK society within its globalised context.

Using the ‘Core Themes’ in A-level sociology

The most obvious exam-application is to use these as a basis for answering any 10 mark question – try to make sure one point is developed along the lines of socialisation, culture and identity, and another developed along the lines of differentiation, stratification and power. This way, you make sure you have two very different points!