Task: read the text, get ready to render its contents in Russian.
Briefly, a social status is a position within a social system, a social role is the pattern of behavior associated with that position. The role represents the dynamic aspect of status.
A major significance of status is that it can and does determine social identity. A status is salient and tends to fix the identity of the person who occupies it if a large part of the individual’s life is organized around it. Thus, for many people their profession is a salient status.
A transitory social position, for example a temporary job, has little impact upon social identity.
Traditional society depended for its stability on salient statuses. Today salient status is not a dominant principle of social organization. Life is fluid and people occupy may different statuses through the life cycle. But a status may still be relatively salient, at least for a certain period of life. Sometimes the salient status is voluntary or self-determined, but many salient statuses are not voluntary, or ascribed.
An ascribed status is one assigned to the individual by legal or other social criteria (age, sex, race, inheritance, etc.).
Text 4. Social role. The group structure of society
Task: read the text and say what elements does the sociological role include.
The sociological role includes the following elements:
1. the socially prescribed or ideal role.
The ideal role prescribes the rights and duties belonging to a social position.
2. the perceived role.
What the individual believes he should do in a particular position may not fully coincide with the conventional image or ideal.
3. the performed role.
Actual role behaviour is always subject to the pressures and opportunities of a special social setting at a specific time. It is also conditioned by the individual’s personality and past experience.
An adequate analysis of any social role must take account of all three elements: prescription, perception and performance.
A given social status generates more than one role. When someone enters a new status he/she usually acquires a role set because he/she must meet the expectations of a number of different people.
Text 5. Practical implications of sociology
Task: read and translate the text, answer to the questions given below in written form.
1. One thinks that sociology has to deal with practical life. And for sure sociology has practical implications for our lives. It is policy-making and social reform that sociology can contribute to. Sociologists say that this science can provide clearer and more adequate understanding of what is going on in the society. It can do it in two ways:
- on the level of factual knowledge (giving an answer to the question what in particular is happening), or
- by means of theoretical understanding (giving an answer to the question why it is happening).
2. We can see that a greater propotion of the population is living in poverty. Any attempt to change the situation will be successful only if it is based on accurate rather than false information. The more we understand why poverty remains widespread, the more likely we can change the situation.
3. One can see that sociology aids in practical policy-making. It does it through helping to see the existence of different cultural values in the structure of the society. To make the world better it is necessary to discard prejudices which groups hold towards one another.
4. Changing in our social world for the past two decades has become so rapid that most people are amazed by recent events. The energy crisis has transformed global economies; new technologies have changed the workplace; the communist world is becoming radically reorganized; and a complex interdependent world means that the changes in one country cause changes in other countries. The world turns to sociologists for interpretation, explanation, making prognosis for future.
a) In what ways can sociology contribute to practical policy-making?
b) How can sociology provide clearer and more adequate understanding of what is going on in the society?
c) What proportion of the population live in poverty nowadays?
d) Under what conditions can an attempt to change the economic situation be successful?
e) Do different cultural values exist in the structure of the society?
f) How can we make the world better?
g) What changes have taken place in our social world for the past two decades?
Text 6. Special sociological theories
Task: read the text, translate it into Russian in written form.
The role of theoretical background for a sociological research is of tremendous importance. In fact it predetermines what we select to examine in the first place and the range of possible explanations available for us.
If theory is understood not only as a system of law-like propositions, but as any set of ideas which can help make sense of a phenomenon, guide, action or predict a consequence, then one can distinguish, at least, four kinds of theory: social (scientific), normative, operational and everyday theory. Within the body of social (scientific) theory we can distinguish the whole range of special sociological theories.
Among special sociological theories there are such as: sociology of everyday life, sociology of education, sociology of religion, sociology of family, sociology of mass media, sociology of culture and so on. The one that has been developed quite recently is sociology of countries in transition.
The concept of transition (transformation) is extremely complex. In fact, it is as complex as the world it is applied to. Before 1989 people divided the whole Europe into simplistic East and West. Since 1989 we can not fully rely on this devision; the world has lost its bipolarity and the consequences are not yet fully understood.
Before perestroyka everything was quite simple. People from the East viewed the West as capitalistic, evil, but at the same time highly developed economically. People from the West, in their turn, viewed the East as dark, obscure and to some extent invisible behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. Invisibility left room for fantasies of all sorts.
Now we speak of Eastern, Central and Western Europe. But this new devision is as simplistic as it was before. The former Eastern European bloc is as culturally diversified as Central European regions. And like Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe is not culturally unified as it sometimes likes to suggest. There are very different countries also in Southern and Nothern Europe. Europe is not simply moving from bipolarity to tripolarity. Polypolarity determines the complexity of transformations.
Central Europe and Eastern Europe are very much in focus. It is inevitably and rightly so. However, we should not forget that Central and Eastern European transformations are not isolated phenomena. We should not neglect what is happening elsewhere in other parts of the globe as a consequence of the sweeping changes we are observing here today. We are experiencing changes of a worldwide scope.
Ex.2. Find and translate sentences in given text in which Passive Voice is used.
Ex.3. Correct the statements if they are not true.
1. The concept of transformation is not so complex as it may seem at first glance. 2. The world has always been split into two parts, and bipolarity is still its characteristic feature. 3. Eastern Europe is in the focus of sociologists’ attention nowadays.
Ex.4. Answer the questions.
1. What special sociological theories do you know?
2. What can you say about the concept of transformation?
3. How was the world we live in interpreted before 1989?
4. In what way did people of the West view people of the East before 1989?
5. Can we speak about Western Europe as culturally unified?
6. What changes are we experiencing nowadays?
Ex.5. Make a short summary of the text.
THE PUBLIC WELFARE SYSTEM IN AMERICA
Although people in countries around the world know about the aid provided by the government and people of the United States to other nations in times of need, many are unfamiliar with the public welfare system which exists within the United States itself. Because the economic system of the country is one of private, individual, free enterprise, even those who have studied about the United States believe, in many cases, that American citizens must always fend for themselves. While it is true that Americans are expected to provide for their own needs – and for most American citizens it is a point of honor to be able to do so without accepting help from other individuals or from the government – the United States has had , since the 1930s, an extensive system of social welfare to help those who cannot help themselves.