Posted on Leave a comment

Applying material from the item, analyse two reasons why younger people are generally less religious than older people

This is one possible example of a 10 mark ‘with item’ question which could come up in the AQA’s A level sociology paper 2: topics in sociology (section B: beliefs in society option). 

Read the item, and then answer the question below.

Item

Older people are more likely to both attend church and express religious beliefs than younger people.

Some sociologists have suggested that this is due to changes which occur during the life-course. Other sociologists believe this trend is more about social changes resulting in generational differences.

Applying material from the item, analyse two reasons why younger people are generally less religious than older people

The first reason why older people are more religious is that as they come to the end of their ‘life course’, they are simply biologically closer to death which means they start to think more about what happens after death. This is something which all religions deal with, and so it could simply be that older people become more religious because they find a suitable explanation to their questions about the afterlife in religion.

This could be especially the case today, as modern society is obsessed with ‘youth and life’ and so religion is one of the few places people close to death might find solace.

A related life course related factor is social isolation. As people enter retirement, they lose their work place connections, and are more likely to see their friends die. Attending church could be a way of making up for these lost connections.

The second possible reason is social changes – meaning that each successive generation is less religious than the previous generation.

The church has gradually become disengaged from society and so has less influence over social life: thus children today are much less likely to see religious authority being exercised in politics, and religion has also lost its influence in education: RE is now somewhat watered down compared to what it used to be: presenting religion as a choice rather than a necessity.

Also, now that society has become more postmodern, it emphasizes, fun, diversity and choice, all of which traditional religion at least doesn’t offer as much of: people would rather spend Sunday relaxing rather than in church, and this is very much normal today.

As a result of all the above, parents are much less likely to socialize their children into religious beliefs and practices, which explains the decline in religion across the generations and between younger and older people today.

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

Applying material from the item, analyse two criticisms of the view that religion is merely a tool of oppression

This is one possible example of a 10 mark ‘with item’ question which could come up in the AQA’s A level sociology paper 2: topics in sociology (section B: beliefs in society option). 

Read the item, and then answer the question below.

Item

Karl Marx famously argued that religion was the ‘opium of the masses’ and Simone de Beauvoir argued that religion compensated women for their second class status. Both theorists believed that religion was an ideological tool which pacified the oppressed.

These views have, however, been criticized:

Applying material from the item, analyse two criticisms of the view that religion is merely a tool of oppression (10)

Firstly, Marxist and Feminist views tend to downplay the positive functions of religion.

As Functionalists have pointed out, it is quite likely that some form of religious belief and organisation is functional (i.e. beneficial for the individual and society) given that religion is practically universal (i.e found in nearly all societies).

Functionalists have pointed to many positive functions of religion – such as helping people deal with death and societies deal with transition and times of uncertainty. Rather than this being about simply keeping inequality in place, it could be that religion benefits everyone by keeping society stable.

Furthermore, people still practiced religion in secret in communist countries when religion was banned, suggesting that they actively wanted religion for their own comfort, rather than it simply being something forced on them by elites.

You could argue that a similar thing is found with religion today in the form of ‘civil religion’ – where people find comfort in quasi-religious ceremonies such as Football matches and Royal Weddings… again this seems to be a matter of choice, and because attendance is optional, it’s hard to argue that these ‘shallower’ forms of religion have a  sinister social control function like Marxists and Feminists suggest!

Secondly, The above theories assume that people simply passively accept an elitist interpretation of religious doctrines. There is plenty of evidence that this is not always the case.

Liberation theology is a good example of this: where Catholic Church leaders in Latin America took the side of the landless peasants, and argued against the elitist interpretation that inequality was God’s will: instead helping the poor fight back against inequality and elite institutions and attempting to bring about a more equal society.

This is supporting evidence for the Neo-Marxist view that religion is not simply controlled by elites, but is relatively autonomous, thus meaning it can be a tool for social change.

From an Islamic Feminist point of view, Nawal el Sadawi argued that Islam was not inherently patriarchal, but rather that it had been interpreted in a patriarchal way in patriarchal societies (patriarchy comes first, if you like!). She further argued that it was perfectly possible for women to challenge Patriarchal interpretations of Islam, as she herself did, thus meaning it doesn’t have to be a tool of social control and pacification.

A postmodern analysis of religion further supports the ‘active intepretation’ criticisms of Marxism and Feminism – today people are much more likely to pick and mix their religious beliefs, and reject anything they don’t like, and use religion at selected times when they find it useful. This is hardly religion controlling and pacifying the population!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Applying material from the item, analyse two reasons for gender differences in the membership of religious organisations.

This is one possible example of a 10 mark ‘with item’ question which could come up in the AQA’s A level sociology paper 2: topics in sociology (section B: beliefs in society option). 

Read the item, and then answer the question below.

Item

Feminists have criticized many traditional religions such as Christianity and Islam for being patriarchal: positions of power within the traditional institutions of both religions are largely controlled by men, an both tend to support traditional roles for men and women.

Feminists have also suggested that the New Age Movement appeals much more to women because it celebrates many aspects of femininity that traditional institutions seek to repress.

Applying material from the item, analyse two reasons for gender differences in the membership of religious organisations (10)

Suggested answer

Simone de Beauvoir suggested that Christianity offered women spiritual compensation for accepting their inferior roles in society  as housewives and mothers.

However, now that more women are in work, and they place less emphasis on the importance of such traditional gender roles, there is less need for such spiritual compensation, hence why the numbers of women attending church may be declining.

Middle class women especially may find the New Age Movement appealing because it allows them to ‘shop’ for their particular therapy, and demands very low levels of commitment.

the NAM is also less focused on social roles, and allows women (and men) a much greater degree of freedom to express their feminine sides – it celebrates nurturing and caring and emotion in a much more ‘fun’ way than traditional churches tend to, which again might appeal to postmodern women more.

It is also more accepting of diversity and thus much less likely to look down on women who are divorced.

Secondly, traditional religious organisations tend to encourage the repression of female sexuality: Catholicism for example is anti-abortion and anti-contraception.

This does not fit in age of female sexual liberation and greater sexual promiscuity. Since the  contraception and the pill (what Giddens calls ‘plastic sexuality’), which may explain why women are turning away from the church.

In contrast, the New Age Movement actually celebrates female sexuality. This may also explain why men don’t feel that attracted the the NAM, maybe they are threatened by empowered women, reflecting a crisis of masculinity.

Finally, the New Age Movement, in its pick and mix approach and celebration of diversity, is more likely to appeal to gender diverse individuals, as it is not against homosexuality like more traditional religions tend to be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Applying material from Item C and your knowledge, evaluate the view that conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches to our understanding of society (20)

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to the 20 mark theory essay which came up in the 2017 A-level sociology paper.

The specific question under investigation in this case is: ‘Applying material from Item C and your knowledge, evaluate the view that conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches to our understanding of society’ (20).

For general advice about how to answer the whole of paper three please see this post on ‘the 2017 crime and deviance with theory and methods’ paper.

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).

The Question with Item 

AQA Sociology 20 mark essay mark Scheme

The Mark Scheme (top band only)

AQA Sociology 20 mark essay mark Scheme 2

Student Response:

Sociology is divided between conflict and consensus approaches. The former believe there is harmony in society because of shared values (Functionalists), the later believe society is not harmonious but based on a division between a dominant and subordinate group (Marxists/ Feminists)

Some sociologists argue conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches for understanding society – Marxists view society as a conflict between the Bourgeosie (ruling class) and proletariat. They argue there is no harmony because the former exploit the later to create profit and keep their businesses running. The proletariat feel frustrated and alienated because they don’t control the means of production and technological advancement means many are losing their jobs and being made redundant. This all serves the interests of the ruling class who look for new, innovative ways to increase their profits. Marxists argue that certain aspects of society which appear functional are simply a false consciousness – making it appear the Bourgeoisie care about their workers but in reality they don’t for example health and safety laws exist so the proletariat are fit to keep working. However, Marxism only looks at the economic contribution of society and argues that all other institutions are influenced by the economy. Yet many would disagree, arguing that the purpose of the family or religion is to provide comfort, not profit for the Bourgeoisie.

Moreover, labelling theory also argue that conflict approaches act as a better understanding to society than consensus approaches. As an action theory, it argues that if we believe that an event is real, then it will have real consequences. Therefor they look at labelling in society and how there is link between conflict and power (item C) – an individual is given a label in society which influences their behaviour. Becker found that if a student is labelled as deviant then they are more likely to underachieve in school because they accepted that label as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When labels are given from those in higher authority, then they become a master status and become a dominant feature of the individual, which can lead to a deviant career. This also happens with certain crimes – e.g. those with the drug label are more likely to have the crime and the label enforced. However, LT is criticized for not taking into account wider structural features of society such as how capitalism influences people’s behaviour.

However consensus theories are critical (repeats question)… they argue societies are based on shared values and value consensus which allows institutions to harmoniously work together (item C). Parsons argues that this is because of functional prerequisites. Firstly there is economic adaptation to society to meet the economic needs of members, there is goal attainment where society create goals and allocates resources to these goals – the role of government. Then there is integration so the different institutions can meet share goals – the media, education, religion. Finally there is latency where the family socialises individuals into shared norms that society needs: instrumental and expressive role. Thus society hasn’t collapsed because it has a shared value system.

However, functionalism is criticised by postmodernists because it has an absolutist view of society as being functional for all. It neglects the fact that society is fragmented and diverse and the rise of different social movements like black lives matter or Feminism contradict the view that individuals form cohesive communities.

In conclusion it seems Functionalism as a consensus theory has relatively good ideas… for example that social change in society is a result of increasing complexity of society and to ensure that society doesn’t move into a state of anomie so equilibrium occur, different bits of society adapting to compensate.

However conflict theory seems more useful in understanding our society where there is complexity and no longer individuals who follow the same norms and values but rather join different groups which enhance their individual personal beliefs.

Examiner Commentary:

Well, at least one student’s been paying attention for the last couple of years!

Mark: 20/20

Source:

A-level
SOCIOLOGY
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Posted on Leave a comment

Analyse two ways in which deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals (10)

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’ which achieved a top band-mark, 10/10 in fact!

For general hints and tips on how to answer all questions across paper three please click here.

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).

The Question with Item 

crime deviance 10 mark question.png

The Mark Scheme (top band only)

sociology-crime-deviance-10-mark-question-mark-scheme.png

Student Response:

One way deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals is by offering alternative ways of attaining success. Cohen found that working class boys often felt a strain to achieve in the middle class education system. This is because the education system did not offer them equal chance of attaining mainstream goals (item A) because it not have the same norms as them and the boys experienced a culture clash. As a result the boys responded by creating a subculture which revolved around an alternative status hierarchy, valuing hostility and spite, rewarding behavior mainstream society condemned. They wanted the same goals as the middle class: status and success but their inability to attain so led them to achieving status from their peers through truanting and vandalism. This means that deviant subcultures look for different ways to attain mainstream goals when the opportunities to do so are taken from them. However, Cohen is criticized for assuming that the working class boys all had the same shared goals: not all of them considered themselves a failure.

Cloward and Ohlin argue that not all deviant subcultures respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals in the same way. They argue that the neighbourhood a person lives in creates different types of subculture in response to attaining goals. Unstable neighebourhoods (item A) can reproduce criminal subcultures, creating an apprenticeship for crime and allowing people to socialise with adult criminals, meaning that children turn to utilitarian crime such as theft to achieve consumerist goals. On the other hand, deprived neighborhoods create conflict subcultures where high rates of unemployment and social disintigration mean people turn towards non utilitarian crime due to frustration. This means people turn to crime out of frustration, not to gain status. However, this is deterministic, as not all people from deprived neighourhoods turn to crime.

 

Examiner Commentary:

Mark: 10/10

crime deviance 10 mark question comments

 

KT’s commentary:

  • This looks like overkill to me, I would have thought this is easily 10/10!
  • Note that you can still achieve full marks while referring to dated sociology!

 

Source:

A-level
SOCIOLOGY
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

 

Posted on 2 Comments

Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education.

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’ which achieved a top band-mark, or 9/10.

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website) and the specific question is as follows:

The Question with Item 

A-level-sociology-10-mark-question-parental-choice

The Mark Scheme (top band only)

A-level-sociology-10-mark-scheme-top-band

Student Response:

Item A states that ‘there is now a wider range of school factors’ which leads to the introduction of academies and free schools. This increases parental choice as parents can choose to send their children to this wider range of schools. This wider range schools has improved pupils’ experience of education because it means that pupils have a more personalised learning experience – e.g. personalised timetables that can include extra revision for example. The New Right argues that academies have  improved education because they have raised standards through competition, but Marxists argue this has mainly benefited the middle classes because they have the cultural capital to take advantage of the education system.

Additionally, the item states that ‘league tables on school performance are also publicly available’. This has increased parental choice because parents can use them and OFSTED to help make a decision about where to send their child. The New Right argue this changes pupils’ experience of education because schools have to raise standards to attract consumer parents. However, Marxists say this only benefits the middle classes as they have the economic capital which leads to cultural capital, they make a choice effectively. In contrast Gerwertz found that working class parents were disconnected choosers – they sent their child to local school, which means working class children have a negative experience of education because they end up going to the failing schools at the bottom of the league tables.

Examiner Commentary:

Mark: 9/10

Both paragraphs are conceptually detailed with analysis, evaluation and located in a theoretical context.

Thorough knowledge and understanding, evaluation and analysis, application needs to be more developed in paragraph one for maximum marks.

KT’s commentary:

Personally I thought the two paragraphs were a bit repetitive, but there you go.

If you like this sort of thing, you might also like to check out this 5/10 mark response to the same question.

Source:

A-level
SOCIOLOGY
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/1 Education with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Posted on Leave a comment

AQA A-Level Sociology: Guidance on 10 Mark with Item Questions – Education with Theory and Methods

Below is an example of an actual marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’.

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website) and the specific question is as follows:

Read Item A below and answer the question that follows.

Item A

Since the 1980s, a major aim of government policy has been to increase parental choice in education. There is now a wider range of school types, and league tables on school performance are also publicly available.

Increased parental choice has had many effects on pupils’ experience of education.

Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education (10)

While this example is taken from a 10 mark ‘applying material from the item’ question taken from the education paper, the general advice below on how to answer such questions applies equally to the same format of 10 mark questions that you will get in both sections A and B of paper 2, and on paper 3.

For general advice on how to answer 10 mark questions (covering both the two types of question) please see this post here.

Marked exemplar of a 10 mark ‘applying from the item’ question

NB the second picture is a continuation of the first, same response on both pictures!

10 mark question sociology AQA

aqa sociology 10 mark question marked exemplar

KT’s commentary

A great example in the first paragraph of ‘how not to do it’….

Despite the rather scathing final commentary from the examiners, the second paragraph still gest five marks, and it does make three development points – so it’s got breadth rather than depth.

Hint: go deeper, develop further!

If you can’t be bothered to think of how you might improve it for yourself, click here for an example of a 9/10 answer, but if the first bit of this sentence applies to you, I don’t rate yer chances of ever getting more than middle mark band!

Question: What would you do to get another 5 marks….Comments below please!

Essay Plans/ Revision Resources

Education Revision Bundle CoverIf you like this sort of thing, then you might like my sociology of education revision notes bundle – which contains the following:

  1. 34 pages of revision notes
  2. mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering various topics within the sociology of education
  3. short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
  4. how to write sociology essays, including 7 specific templates and model answers on the sociology of education

 

Source:

A-level
SOCIOLOGY
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/1 Education with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

NB – this document is NOT available on the AQA website, but any teacher should have access to it via eaqa. I’m sharing it here in order to make the exam standards more accessible, and to support the AQA in their equality and meritocratic agendas, because there will be some poor students somewhere whose teachers aren’t organised enough to access this material for them. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Outline and explain two criticisms other theories of development might make of dependency theory (10)

World Systems Theory (WST) criticises dependency theory (DT) because there is evidence that poorer, ex-colonies can develop within the modern world capitalist system.

Dependency theory tended to see the ‘root cause’ of underdevelopment as rich world governments (or nation states) – they believed poor countries remained poor following a history of colonialism where powerful countries such as Britain colonised other areas of the globe, for example India and many African countries and took control of these regions politically and economically, running them for their own benefit.

Dependency theory believed the unequal relationship between the coloniser and colonised (or core and satellite) disadvantaged poor countries to such an extent that they were still in a state of dependency when the colonial powers left in the 1950s and 1960s. The ex colonies were effectively turned into the exporters of low value primary products such as Tea, which kept them poor.

HOWEVER, WST points out that today nation states have lost their power to control poor countries, and that there are ex colonies which have developed by becoming semi-periphery countries, or manufacturing – India and Mexico are good examples.

Another criticism WST makes of DT is that rich ex coloniser countries can go down the development hierarchy because Nation States are no longer the most powerful actors in the modern global system controlled more by TNCs and the WTO.

A second criticism of Dependency Theory comes from People Centred Development.

DT still saw industrialisation as the root to development for poor countries, except that it should be controlled by nation states (socialism).

PCD criticises this as horrific things still happened through socialist development – as in Russia and China, and also point out that the nation state may be too large to take into account the diverse wishes of many local communities.

PCD would rather see much more diverse, localised forms of development, decided on by the people, rather than development imposed by nation states.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

A Level Sociology: 10 mark questions

There are two types of 10 mark question across the 3 A-level sociology exam papers: ‘outline and explain questions’ (no item) and ‘applying material from the item’ questions.

Below is a nice wall-chart explaining the difference between them, adapted from the AQA’s ‘notes and guidance document. (source)

Sociology A-level 10 mark questions.png

*the action word here might be different. Instead of ‘reasons’ it may be ‘criticisms’, ‘consequences’, ‘ways’ or something else!

**Obviously there will be an item! Not included here because it wouldn’t fit. YOU MUST REFER TO THE ITEM!

For specific examples of the two different types of 10 mark question, please click here: A-level sociology: exams and revision advice. For even more practice questions, see below!

Revision Resources for Sale…. 

Education Revision Bundle CoverIf you like this sort of thing, then you might like my A-level sociology revision bundles  – each of which contains the following:

  1. Revision notes
  2. mind maps in pdf and png format
  3. short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
  4. model essay questions.

NB – it’s only the bundles which contain all four of the above resources, some of the resources available are sold separately.

I’ve taught sociology for nearly 20 years, and been an AQA examiner for 10 of those, so I know what I’m talking about. If you purchase, you’d also be helping me escape the man and regain my humanity.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Applying material from item C analyse two ways in which the nuclear family might perform ideological functions (10)

Applying material from item C analyse two ways in which the nuclear family might perform ideological functions (10)

  • Hooks

Item C

Marxist sociologists have long argued that the traditional nuclear family performs ideological functions for capitalism, through for example, socializing children into thinking that hierarchy normal and inevitable.  

However, radical Feminist sociologists argue that the main function of the nuclear family lies in maintaining inequalities between men and women through promoting patriarchal ideology.

 A brief model plan…

Point 1: One ideological function = socialising children into thinking inequality is normal, this is done through ‘age patriarchy’ – children are expected to be obedient to parents.

Development – much like the correspondence principle in education this gets children ready to be obedient to their bosses in work and also to accept inequalities in broader society, class inequalities which exist between bourgeois and proletariat for example.

Further development – According to Marxist Feminists, traditional gender roles further encourage obedience to the rules at work – if man thinks he is ‘the provider’ and women are dependent at home, the male worker is less likely to go on strike because it undermines his provider role.

Further development – According to Marxists the family might also passify children by acting as a unit of consumption – they are taught to ‘find their identity’ in the products they consume, not in thinking and questioning, thus this might contribute to ideological control.

Evaluation – a problem with this specifically performing functions for capitalism is that ‘age patriarchy’ within families typically occurs in pre-capitalist societies.

Point 2: Radical Feminists argue the traditional nuclear family normalises gender inequality

Development – women stay at home look after the kids, men go to work, women are thus financially dependent on men in this situation

Further Development – This can also be reinforced by the way dads tend to police daughters more than sons (differential gender socialisation)

Further development – the privatised nuclear family also allows male violence against women to go unnoticed

Evaluation – HOWEVER, liberal fems and postmodernists would point out that gender norms are changing and the above is all much more likely in the age of the negotiated family and the pure relationship.

A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle

Families Revision Bundle CoverIf you like this sort of thing, then you might like my A Level  Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle which contains the following:

  1. 50 pages of revision notes covering all of the sub-topics within families and households
  2. mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering perspectives on the family
  3. short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers – 3 examples of the 10 mark, ‘outline and explain’ question.
  4.  9 essays/ essay plans spanning all the topics within the families and households topic.