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Social Theories on Social Change, Ethnic & Racial Assimilation SOC 3300 “Inequality” Dr. Mary Cay Sengstock, Ph.D., C.C.S.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Theories on Social Change, Ethnic & Racial Assimilation SOC 3300 “Inequality” Dr. Mary Cay Sengstock, Ph.D., C.C.S."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Theories on Social Change, Ethnic & Racial Assimilation SOC 3300 “Inequality” Dr. Mary Cay Sengstock, Ph.D., C.C.S.

2 Inevitability of Social/Cultural Change Cultural Diffusion: “100% American” (Ralph Linton) – Wakes on a Mid-Eastern Style Bed Modified in N. Europe – Puts On Clothes of Silk from China – Woven in Style Devised in Middle East – Looks Out a Window, Invented in Egypt – Eats an Egg from Bird Domesticated in Indo-China – & a Waffle, Cooked in a Scandinavian Iron … – Made From Wheat Domesticated in Asia Minor – Smokes (Amer. Indian Habit) Tobacco Invented in Brazil – In Form of a Cigarette Invented in Mexico – Thanks a Hebrew God, in Indo-European Language … – That He Is 100% American!

3 Theories of Cultural Change Some Basic Concepts & Theories: – Symbolic Interaction: All Human Interaction Is Mediated By Symbols: Language, Other Cultural Symbols (Gestures, Facial Expressions, etc.) – Cannot Communicate Without Understanding Others’ Words, Views, Perspectives EX: Different Racial & Ethnic Groups

4 Impact of Social/Cultural Expectations “W.I. Thomas Theorem”: If Things Are Believed to Be True, They Are True in Their Consequences.” We Accept the Assumptions of Our Society … Then Act As Though This Is Reality EX: If People Believe Blacks Inferior … Then Give Them Less Opportunity … The Expectation Will Come True.

5 Social Change – Its Rapidity Changes in Society Take Place Very Slowly Do NOT Expect Change to Occur Quickly Why? – There Are Many Aspects of Society Pressing for Continuation of the Status Quo: Parents, Other Family Schools, Religion, Government – EX: Attempt to Change Image of Girls, Women in Grade School Textbooks

6 Control Leaders 50+ Aspiring Leaders Maintain Control Children, Youth Most Likely Changers <25 Social Change Pyramid How Long Will It Take? Who Is Most Likely to Change? Who Is Likely to Resist Change? What Is the Chance Of Change Occurring? Why?

7 Cultural Contact & Culture Shock Cultural Contact – May Occur: – When One Goes to a Different Society (Immigrant) – Between Sub-groups in a Single Society What Happens When Inter-Cultural Contact Occurs? Cultural Shock As a Consequence of Cultural Contact

8 The “Stranger,” Social Change, & Social Distance “Strangers” – A Frequent Source of Change All Societies: A “Special Place” for Strangers – Tiwi – North Australia: Kill Them – Middle East: Strangers Owed Hospitality – Lowered Swords As Tribes Enter Foreign Territories Similarity Attracts – Difference Repels Social Distance: Distrust of Those Different Diverse Societies  Social Distance Problems

9 Impact of Cultural Contact & Culture Shock Who Wins? – Outside Group May Dominate (English Colonists) – Equal Contact  Assimilate (French in N. Amer.) – Receiving Group Dominates (Immigrants Today) Culture Shock – Not Easy to Adapt to a New Culture – Many Immigrants Are Always “Between Cultures”

10 Bogardus Social Distance Scale Higher Score = Less Acceptable (1926) Long Standing Measure of Perceived Distance – Accept Marriage into Family (1 pt) – Accept as Personal Friend (2 pts) – Accept as Neighbor (3 pts) – Accept Worker in Office (4 pts) – Only as Speaking Acquaintance (5 pts) – Accept Only As Visitor to Country (6 pts) – Bar from Entering Country (7 pts)

11 Scores Over Time Social Distance Spread Shrinks: – Negroes (1977) 2.03 vs. Africans: 1.43 – Mean (1997): 1.93 vs. Mean (2001): : Muslims (1.88), Arabs (1.94) Least Acceptable vs. “American” (1.25) Remarkably: Their Scores Are NOT as Negative As That of Previous “Unacceptables” (1977): – Russians: 2.57 – Koreans: 2.63

12 Georg Simmel: the Stranger An “Outsider”: Different; Unknown Represent Both Nearness & Remoteness Physically Close –Seen as Unknown/Different Strangers Are Both Inside & Outside: – Lack Knowledge of Social “Nuances” – More Likely to Be “Objective” Tendency to Use Stereotypes with Strangers – Need to Teach People to Get Along with Strangers – Parrillo: Train Germans to Interact with Americans

13 Alfred Schutz: “Intersubjective Understanding “Natives”: Shared Understanding of World: – Language, Slang, Customs, Beliefs, Symbols, Daily Behavior Patterns – “Social Context” – Deep Understanding of Hidden Meanings Strangers Lack “Historicity,” “Shared Memory” – Chinese Student: Wanted to Conduct a Subjective Study of American Students – Possible? – Dr. Arifa Javed: Cross-Cultural Training Program: Parents – Students – Teachers

14 Process of Acculturation Over Time, Strangers Come to Know “the Culture” – the Nuances of Social Interaction Deep Understanding/Speaking the Language They Now Understand How Others Feel, What They Say – Hidden Meanings Behind Words Natives Begin to Understand the Complexity of the “Strangers’ Culture” – Less Likely to Depend Upon Stereotypes

15 Major Sociological Perspectives: Functionalism (Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton) Stable, Cooperating System; Everyone Agrees Everything Has an Accepted Function System Is Ordered, Stable, in Equilibrium Temporary Maladjustments  “Dysfunctions” Gradual Adjustments  New Equilibrium

16 Major Sociological Perspectives: Conflict Theory Disagreements, Tensions Inherent In Society Conflict Is Inevitable As New Elites Arise Inequalities Are Inevitable  Disequilibrium, Change Are the Norm Exploitation  Discrimination Power Structure Has False Consciousness Only Group Cohesiveness & Struggle Produces Social Change

17 Major Sociological Perspectives: Interactionist Theory Focus: Microsocial World Interaction Patterns Shared Symbols, Definitions, Interpretations Social Construction of Reality Internalized Meanings Are Presumed Intergroup Relations Perceived in that Context Improved Communication Needed to Improve Relations Between Majority & Minority

18 Minority Groups Does Not Designate Numerical Representation Relates to Relative Power & Status in Society Louis Wirth – Noted 2 Dimensions: 1.Not Solely Physical; Many Physical, Cultural Traits, Disabilities, Aging, etc. 2.Social Consciousness; Focus on Prejudice, Discrimination Richard Schermerhorn Does Not Agree: Not All Minority Groups Involve Victimization Leads to Studies of Social Power Relationships

19 Minority Group Definition Group Receives Unequal Treatment Easily Identifiable (Physical &/or Cultural) Held in Low Esteem Group Feels Sense of Sharing, Peoplehood Membership Is ASCRIBED Status; Born Into It Endogamy Is Practiced

20 Theories of Minority Integration: Assimilation Assumes That Outside Groups Become Integral Part of Dominant Society – 3 Ways: Anglo-Conformity Melting Pot Pluralism

21 Assimilation: Definition (Milton Gordon) Process In Which 2 Groups Become One Group EX: 2 Immigrant Groups Which Live Near Each Other … Interact With Each Other … Eventually They Become 1 Group Ethnic EX: Development of “WASP” (Anderson) How the Jews Became “White” (Brodkin #4)

22 Assimilation: Stages (Milton Gordon) 7 Stages: 1.Cultural Assimilation (Acculturation) 2.Marital Assimilation (Amalgamation) 3.Structural Assimilation (Primary & Secondary) 4.Identificational Assimilation (One Identity) 5.Attitude-Receptional (Absence of Prejudice) 6.Behavioral-Receptional (Absence of Discrimination) 7.Civic Assimilation (Absence of Political Conflicts)

23 Gordon’s Hypotheses Cultural Assimilation is Necessary for the Rest Structural Assimilation Will Lead to the Rest Marital Assimilation  Process Complete None Proven – Questioned By Many Theorists Shows the Complexity of Assimilation Question Re Who Assimilates to Whom Question Re Degree to Which It Really Occurs

24 Anglo-Conformity Based on Assimilation Assumes That All Incoming Groups Become Like the Original Group (i.e, “Anglos) Advocated By Anglos Question If It Ever Really Occurs Reality: Newcomers Really Change Most Newcomers Do Introduce Some New Ideas – Some Ideas (EX: Civil Rights Movement) – Even If It’s Just Their Foods; Some Words (Yiddish)

25 “Melting Pot” Assumes ALL Groups Meld Into A New Group Different from ALL of the Individual Groups – “New Breed” ( J. Hector St. John de Creveceour, 1782) – “The Melting Pot” (Israel Zangwill, Play, 1908)

26 Q: Did We Melt? Gordon: Only In Religion “Triple Melting Pot” – Protestant – Catholic – Jewish – (Ruby Jo Reeves Kennedy, New Haven, CN) Did This Even Occur There? – Andrew Greeley

27 Melting Pot Today Who Would We Have to Include Today? Muslims? Hindus? Sikhs? Others? The Dominant Society Does NOT – Has NO INTENTION OF Accommodating/Assimilating! Most “Melting” Was Anglo-Conformist – Will Herberg; Henry Pratt Fairchild; Andrew Greeley; others

28 Accommodation Theory: Pluralism “Democracy vs. Melting Pot” Horace Kallen (1915) Rejects Assimilation & Amalgamation Groups Retain Language, Customs, Institutions Learn English, Participate in Institutions – Occupations, Education, Politics U.S: “Cooperation of Cultural Diversities”

29 Pluralism a Cultural Reality Cultural Pluralism: – Some Culturally Distinct Groups Exist (Amish) Structural Pluralism – Many Groups Form Separate Social Groups Dual Realities: Both Types Always Existed – Groups Maintain Social/(Cultural) Separateness – Assimilation Required By Whites Reality: “Whites” Are Not “Just American”! – Strata; Self Control; Suppress Attitudes (Parrillo)

30 Reactions to Pluralism Comparison to Other Societies – Canada: State Sponsored Multi-Culturalism – Australia: “White Australia”  2-Way Acculturation  U.S. Style Diversity – Trinidad & Tobago: “Tossed Salad” East Indians Always “Outsiders” to Africans – France: Mono-Cultural – Everyone Is Native-Born! – U.S.: Mixture of Above Generally Non-Interference Unless Problems – Bothers Many White Anglo-Saxon Protestants! Richard Thompson: Unity, Not Diversity! (Hate Speech)


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