Dr. Javid Abdelmonheim discusses his experiment on the influence of gender in the classroom. The full documentary that includes this experiment ("Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?") should be available on BBC iPlayer. In the interview below, try to ignore Jeremy Kyle's inane interruptions.
Source B: Oxana Malaya
Oxana Malaya was born in November 1983 in the Ukraine. At the age of three-years-old she was thrown out of the house by her alcoholic parents, forcing her to live among the dogs for warmth. Rejected by the human world, she quickly learned the animal habits necessary to survive. For six years Oxana lived with the dogs, eating raw meat, barking, walking on all fours and sleeping in a kennel. It was only when a neighbour noticed her dog-like behaviour and called the police that she was rescued from these conditions. When the police arrived Oxana charged at them and barked, while the dogs she had befriended yanked on their chains sensing danger from the strangers. The bond formed between Oxana and the dogs was so strong that to get her away the police had to distract the dogs with food. Despite all odds, Oxana has made an astonishing recovery. She is now 28 and living in a home for people with mental disabilities.
Explain, using examples, the concept of Subculture 
A subculture is a culture within a culture. A subculture will normally have its own norms and values that are distinct from wider society, though the majority of subcultures still ‘fit in’ to wider society. Subcultures can include smaller religious groups and any other group that looks, behaves or thinks differently to the mainstream. The vast majority of subcultures, however, have always been linked to young people and youth culture, from the ‘Teddy Boys’ in the 1950s to ‘Chavs’ and ‘Emos’ in the 21st Century. These groups are predominantly associated with young people, and all have been the subject of public concern about their apparently deviant behaviour.
Using Sources A and B and your wider sociological knowledge, explain how nurture helps sociologists to understand how we become human 
The concept of ‘nurture’ describes the role of external (e.g. social and environmental) factors in developing the identity, norms and values of an individual – as opposed to ‘nature’, which describes the role of genetic or biological factors in this. Nurture is linked in Sociology to the concept of ‘primary socialisation’, which is an individual’s first introduction into their culture is normally delivered by the family.
Source A highlights one of the key purposes of primary socialisation: Teaching language and basic communication to individuals which enable them to participate actively in their society. Language is clearly a social construct and is not a product of ‘nature’, therefore nurture/socialisation is clearly a critical part of equipping a person with basic skills such as this that are needed to function in a human society.
Source B demonstrates the consequences for an individual who is not appropriately nurtured and misses out on primary socialisation. Oxana Malaya, when found, did not behave like a human being. She evidently lacked even the most basic social skills, and being socialised by non-humans had enabled her to ‘survive’, but had not equipped her to function in human society. Oxana is an example of what Sociologists describe as a ‘feral child’ – a child who has not been nurtured and has missed out on appropriate primary socialisation. Clearly Oxana was a human being by ‘nature’ (genetically/biologically), but she did not behave like one. This demonstrates the crucial role that nurture and primary socialisation play in teaching appropriate human behaviour. Nature may make someone ‘human’, but nurture is what makes someone behave like a human being. If she had not been found by police, it is logical to assume that she would never have been able to be a part of human society – she needed nurturing by other humans for this. Thankfully, it seems she did eventually receive this, but the fact that the Source tells us she is now living with a home for people with mental difficulties suggests that missing out on early socialisation has still impacted on her life and future.
Outline and briefly evaluate the view that the mass media is a powerful agency in socialising individuals into traditional identities 
The mass media is an increasingly powerful agent of socialisation. Postmodernists describe society as ‘media-saturated’, referring to the way in which the mass media is now present in almost every area of our lives and our society and influences peoples’ perception of their world. The mass media was traditionally associated with secondary socialisation, but some Sociologists now argue that the mass media also now plays a part during primary socialisation (an individual’s earliest experiences of socialisation) because there is a wide range of media products targeted at younger children (for example CBeebies, which is aimed at pre-schoolers).
‘Traditional identities’ includes age, gender, ethnicity and social class and such identities are, many Sociologists argue, created and reinforced throughout the Socialisation process. It is therefore reasonable to assume that, in a media-saturated society, the media would be highly influential in socialising individuals into these identities.
One way in which the media does this is through the way it represents social groups. Many sociologists believe that media representations and stereotypes have an impact on the way in which individuals see themselves and the way that they are regarded by wider society. For example, much research has been done into media representations of Gender. It can be argued that, throughout recent history, traditional masculinities and femininities have dominated representations of gender. Easthope argued that Hollywood films, for example, present the view that it is natural for a man to be violent and competitive (e.g. 1980s action movies, in which the ‘hero’ was almost always a tough, uncompromising male). In advertising, females were traditionally represented as housewives or as sex objects (e.g. domestic and cosmetic products being marketed exclusively at women). Mulvey argued that, in cinema, film-makers employ the ‘Male Gaze’, meaning that the camera focuses on things that a male viewer would traditionally want to see (e.g. fixating on women’s bodies, even when irrelevant to the plot). Through repeatedly representing men and women in these traditional roles, the media ensures that these roles are viewed as the ‘norm’ in wider society.
Studies have given similar findings on other ‘traditional’ social groups – for example, Moore et al identifying that media relied on five recurring stereotypes of black people (as criminal, dependent, threat, unimportant or abnormal), Landis found that the media commonly stereotyped old people as being mentally deficient, busybodies and grumpy while Devereux identified that the British working classes were usually depicted as the “happy and deserving poor”. Again, if the media repeatedly represents a social group in these limited, traditional ways, then this informs social expectations of these groups.
However, there is evidence that the media no longer relies on such traditional representations/stereotypes. Gauntlett, for example, used content analysis to examine television and cinema and found that gender was now being represented in much more diverse ways. His study of the TV show ‘Friends’ found that male and female characters did not conform to traditional stereotypes and his study on Hollywood movies such as ‘Knocked Up’ found that traditional, hegemonic masculinity was increasingly depicted as flawed and a source of problems for male characters. In other areas, Malik found more diverse representations of ethnic minorities in British television, Carrigan & Szmigin found more positive (and less stereotypical) portrayals of old people in advertising and Price found that representations of poor people in the media were moving away from the ‘traditional’ working class, with more focus on the so-called ‘underclass’. This fits in with Postmodernist views that traditional identities are less important and less present in contemporary societies, as individuals ‘pick and mix’ their own identities from a wider range of influences, often creating ‘hybrid’ identities, which are much more difficult to stereotype.
On the other hand, it should be noted that all the studies mentioned above have also found problems with media representations. Gauntlett found that females were still underrepresented in the media – and were less likely to be in leading roles. Malik found that, despite more diverse representations of minorities, the media still did not accurately represent a true multicultural society. Price found that portrayals of the underclass were negative and exploitative (she referred to this as ‘poverty porn’).
In conclusion, the media may have moved away from an over-reliance on stereotyping groups based on ‘traditional identities’, but some stereotyping still persists and – even though representations have become more diverse – many representations remain negative or problematic, therefore still causing problems and restrictions on the identities and individuals and groups, and their perception by wider society.
Outline two ways in which the media amplifies deviance 
Deviancy amplification refers to a situation whereby the deviant behaviour of a group or individual is made worse by social reaction. One way in which the media amplifies deviance is through moral panics. A moral panic occurs when the mass media draws attention to a particular problem in society and then simplifies and exaggerates the problem through its reporting, with the aim of creating panic and anxiety in its audience. Usually, one particular cause or social group is singled out as the source of the problem – and the negative reaction caused by media reporting can make the problem worse. Stan Cohen studied this phenomenon using the ‘Mods & Rockers’ subcultures as a case study. Following a clash between these two subcultures one Bank Holiday weekend, Cohen observed how the media massively exaggerated the level of conflict. The result of this was that the public became worried about the behaviour of young people in society, those young people felt pressured to relate to one or other of the subcultures (causing the groups to grow in number) and there was an increase in troubles between the subcultures, which was further exacerbated by the public demanding the police and other authorities get tougher on the groups. Cohen believed that the media’s reaction directly resulted in an amplification of the original deviant behaviour and that the two groups were singled out as “folk devils”, meaning that they were perceived as threats to the social order.
Another way in which the media can be accused on amplifying deviance is through depictions of violence. There is a commonly-held believe that individuals who are exposed to violence in the mass media become violent themselves – therefore, the media contribute to an increase or amplification of violent behaviour. The idea that the media has a direct effect on behaviour in this way is linked to the ‘hypodermic syringe model’ – the view that messages from the media are ‘injected’ directly into the minds of the audience. Studies from Psychology – for example, the work of Bandura (who showed children video clips of adults being violent to a doll – and then recorded that children replicated the behaviour immediately afterwards) – have given some support to this model. However, the model is largely rejected in Sociology, as it fails to take into account other variables and the cultural differences of audience members.
Explain and briefly evaluate the view that the media affects its audience in an indirect way 
The hypodermic syringe model (described above) believes the media has a direct effect on its audience. As previously mentioned, this view has little support in Sociology. Sociologists are more likely to support indirect models of media influence. These models agree that the media has the power to influence the behaviour and views of the audience, but believe that this is not an instant or direct effect.
There are a number of different models of indirect media influence. One is the Cultural Effects model. This model suggests that the influence of the media will depend on the cultural backgrounds of audience members. For example, a violent movie may affect females in a different way to males or a news report may be interpreted differently by an individual from one ethnic or religious background compared to an individual from a completely different ethnic/religious background. A study by Stack et al supports this model: Stack et al studied suicide rates among fans of heavy metal music and found that these rates were significantly higher among fans of lower social class backgrounds. Therefore, the alleged influence of the music differed depending on the class backgrounds of individual audience members.
Another indirect model is the ‘Drip Drip’ model, which suggests that the influence of the media on its audience is gradual and that audiences need to be repeatedly exposed to the same kind of media over a long period of time to be influenced. For example, watching a violent horror movie does not make an individual violent, but if that individual repeatedly watches violent horror movies every day over a period of years, their outlook and behaviour may start to change. Gauntlett applied this model to magazines aimed at teenage girls, finding that repeatedly reading these magazines over a long period shaped the identities of readers and created pattern behaviour (regularly buying these magazines became a lifelong habit).
Direct and indirect models both agree that the media has the power to influence audience members, although they differ in their view on how this works. Direct models do not take into account the differences in audience members and assume everyone is affected in the same way and at the same time. A third kind of model – Active Audience – disagrees with both, suggesting that the media does not influence audience and rather it is the audiences themselves that have power over the media. Active audience models focus on the way in which audience members make conscious decisions over what media products to watch/read/listen to, that individuals use the media for their own purposes and that audiences are not therefore passively influenced by the media in the ways that direct and indirect models suggest.
Assess the view that there has been a shift away from more traditional gender roles across a range of media 
Liberal feminists believe that there has been a shift away from traditional/stereotypical representations of gender in the media. They point to the fact that there are more females working as media professionals today, therefore it being in their interests to work towards more diverse representations. Liberal feminists also point to more diverse representations of women in cinema, taking on roles that would traditionally have been reserved for males e.g. action heroes (Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft movies), sci-fi leads (e.g. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games) and comedy leads (Amy Schumer in Trainwreck).
Gauntlett’s media content analyses support this view, identifying a shift away from traditional gender roles – both male and female - in the media from the 1990s onwards. Gauntlett argued that media representations of gender in Hollywood movies and in mainstream television shows such as Friends showed men and women having similar skills to each other and adopting more diverse and modern characteristics. He claimed that gender representations had ‘turned a corner’, and – in terms of traditional masculinities – he gave examples of contemporary films (e.g. Knocked Up) which challenged traditional, hegemonic masculinity and showed this type of masculinity to be flawed. Gauntlett said that these films also showed female characters as being more assertive.
However, Radical feminists are less positive about this shift, believing that traditional gender stereotypes continue to be present – particularly in advertising, where they argue women are routinely presented as sex objects and that there is a narrow range of roles available for women in many areas of popular culture. Tuchman describes this lack of diverse representations as the “symbolic annihilation” of women. Marxist feminists also believe that traditional representations continue to be present, arguing that this is because it is in the interests of the capitalist system to reinforce traditional roles. Wolfe linked this to the concept of the “Beauty Myth”, whereby the media presents an unachievable “ideal woman” which encourages women to spend lots of money on cosmetic and dietary products. A study by Whelehan found that men’s magazines continued to portray women as sex objects and dismissed anything that challenged conventional gender roles as a joke.
In terms of traditional masculine roles, Gauntlett (as described above) believed that there was more diversity in these representations, while Rutherford argued that the ‘New Man’ (an emerging, less traditional form of masculinity) was becoming increasingly common in cinema. However, Rutherford also identified that, at the same time, the ‘Retributive Man’ (a more traditional, aggressive version of masculinity) was also on the rise, through an increase in action movies in which the hero is a violent, vengeful character. Easthope also argued that Hollywood movies often present being competitive and violent as an innate part of masculinity.
Overall, there is clear evidence to support the view that there has been a shift away from traditional gender roles in the media, though there is clear debate as to how successful this shift has been – and traditional representations are clearly still present. It should also be noted that, however diverse and non-traditional representations become, the rise of cable, satellite, online and on-demand television viewing has meant that television programmes, films etc. from the past are increasingly available to audiences, so however much the media changes, traditional representations are likely to continue to have a presence in the media.
Define the concept of values 
A 4 mark question should include a definition of the concept, some extended explanation of the concept and some examples to support the definition/explanation. It should be a short paragraph; around 5 mins of writing.
A value is a principle or belief that determine how a person leads their life. Examples of values could be respect for elderly people, belief in the sanctity of human life or belief in equality for all people. Values can be held by individual people or shared by all people in a society. When everyone in society agrees on the same key values, Functionalists call this a value consensus. Values can change and develop over time, though most are solid and stable.
With reference to the Source, identify and briefly explain two examples of values 
A 6 mark question should consist of two short paragraphs (5-10 mins writing) and must make some reference to the source within it.
One example of a value mentioned in the Source is equal opportunities for both men and women. The Source demonstrates how society’s values in this area have changed over time, leading to women having more choices and no longer being restricted by traditional gender roles.
Another example of a value is the importance of education. The Source mentions how, in the 1950s, few women went to university or had a career. Individuals who value education will work hard in school in order to gain professional careers, like the woman in the second picture in the Source.
Using the source and your wider sociological knowledge, explain how Norms are relative 
An 8 mark question should also make use of the source, but must not rely only on the source. It should be one larger paragraph (or two shorter ones – about 10 mins writing). The example below picks out some of the themes of the source (gender roles), but adds in a wider range of concepts (femininity, the concept of cultural relativity) and an example from outwith the source.
The idea that norms are relative means that they value according to time and place. No two societies have exactly the same views on what behaviour is considered ‘normal’ and these views also change over time. For example, the Source demonstrates how the norms of femininity have changed. Historically in Western societies, it was the norm that women would fulfil traditional gender roles such as housewife, mother and home worker. Today however, it is the norm that women receive the same education and opportunities as men and can therefore make their own choices about their future roles. This shows that Norms are relative over time.
Some societies, however, still retain more traditional gender roles that restrict women. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive cars. This shows that Norms are also relative to place. Norms come from values, so as the values of a society change over time, so does what is considered ‘normal’.
Outline and briefly evaluate the view that individuals learn society’s norms through the process of primary socialisation 
A 12 mark question is an extended piece of writing, like a mini essay. Around 4-5 paragraphs should suffice (15-20 mins writing). An introduction is not essential, but can be useful in showing understanding of the concepts used in the question. Studies and concepts need to be referred to and explained as appropriate. Where a 12 mark question requests evaluation, these studies/concepts can be evaluated and/or alternative viewpoints demonstrated.
For example, below, the introduction defines/explains socialisation and primary socialisation. The second paragraph describes (with some use of concepts) how primary socialisation works and why it is important. The third and fourth paragraphs offer two slightly opposing views (biological determinism and the value of secondary socialisation) and a quick conclusion tries to tie things together.
Socialisation is the process by which individuals learn the norms and values of their culture and society in order that they can function within it. Primary socialisation is an individual’s first experience of socialisation and mainly happens within the family. Some sociologists have argued that in Western societies today, the mass media is also an agent of primary socialisation (for example, TV channels like CBeebies that are aimed at pre-schoolers).
Primary socialisation is crucial in teaching basic social norms. For example, it is through primary socialisation that an individual learns to speak the language of their society, learns table manners and toilet habits and learns the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour. This is usually done by imitation of family members, by the use of positive and negative sanctions from parents/guardians and by identifying adult ‘role-models’. An individual who is not taught these basic behaviours would be considered ‘deviant’ and would struggle to function in society. The importance of this can be demonstrated by looking at individuals who have missed out on primary socialisation – for example, “feral children”. Feral children have usually not had appropriate interaction with adult humans and therefore lack understanding of basic human social behaviour.
Socialisation is a form of ‘nurture’. Some argue that ‘nature’ is just as important for individuals learning basic norms; for example, Wilson argued that ‘normal’ gender roles are innate (he said that men are ‘naturally’ promiscuous and women ‘naturally’ caring) while Lombroso argued that criminal behaviour is innate – some people are just ‘born bad’. This view is largely rejected in Sociology, although some Sociologists argue that nature and nurture need to work together – for example, Parsons agreed that gender roles are innate, but believed that primary socialisation was necessary to reinforce these.
Some Sociologists might argue that secondary socialisation is just as important in helping individuals learn society’s norms. For example, in Education, the ‘Hidden Curriculum’ teaches individuals key norms such as punctuality, meeting deadlines, socialising with peers and respecting authority which are vital for that individual’s success later on in life. The Mass Media and Peer Groups can also provide role models later in life that replace those originally offered through primary socialisation.
In conclusion, Primary Socialisation is clearly vital in teaching basic social norms to individuals, but socialisation is a lifelong process and so individuals continue to learn – and develop their understanding of - social norms throughout their lifetime and via a range of agents of socialisation.
Define and briefly explain the hypodermic syringe model 
Same format as a 4 mark question, really - requires a little more explanation.
The hypodermic syringe model was developed by Packard to describe the way that the mass media has a direct influence on its audience. It suggests that ‘messages’ from the media are ‘injected’ direct into the minds of the audience, leading to an immediate change in behaviour. Packard developed the concept with advertising in mind e.g. showing consumer products in the media creates an immediate desire in the audience to own them. Today, it is used more broadly – for example, some studies suggest that being exposed to violence in the media leads individuals to become violent themselves. This model is largely rejected in Sociology, as it doesn’t account for the individual and cultural differences of audience members.
Identify and briefly explain two ways in which ethnic groups are represented in the media 
Two paragraphs – a slightly extended version of the 6 mark question in part one, but with no need to refer to any sources.
Moore et al identified that ethnic minorities tend to be represented negatively in the media, as one of five stereotypes: Criminal, Threat, Dependent, Abnormal or Unimportant. Van Dijk elaborated on the ‘Criminal’ stereotype – he identified that ‘black’ is often used as a prefix for criminal; when a black person commits a crime, their ethnicity is always pointed out, whereas when a white person commits a crime it is not mentioned. Black ‘gangstas’, Latino gang-members and Middle-Eastern terrorists are all examples of common ethnic minority criminal stereotypes.
‘Unimportant’ describes the way that ethnic minorities can be under-represented in the media; for example, news reports about disasters in non-white societies rarely receive the same coverage as disasters in white Western societies. A terrorist attack in Baghdad receives very little press coverage whereas an attack in Paris dominates news headlines for weeks. Van Dijk further described how when British newspaper report on ethnic minority issues, the ‘experts’ they consult tend to be white people.
Explain how the media creates moral panics 
The same format as the previous 12 mark question – though note that 12 mark Media questions don’t usually request any evaluation.
‘Moral Panic’ describes a form a deviancy amplification, whereby the Media single out a supposed ‘threat’ to society, simplify the causes of the threat – usually by blaming a particular social group – and then exaggerate it through over-reporting on the issue. This creates panic and outrage among the public, which eventually causes the police or government to respond. Moral Panics can arise from all range of issues (e.g. public health scares, immigration) though are often centred around crime and deviance.
The most famous study on Moral Panics was by Cohen, who explored media coverage of the Mods and Rockers subcultures in the 1960s. Cohen described how tabloid newspapers singled out the behaviour of these two groups as being a threat to the social order. The exaggerated reporting of the behaviour of these groups made the problem worse, as young people were made to feel they had to side with one or the other and the public became increasingly panicked about them. Eventually, the police responded with heavy-handed tactics, leading to mods and rockers being handed out heavy sentences for relatively minor crimes. Cohen described the Mods & Rockers as ‘folk devils’ – groups who get (unfairly) blamed for the problems in their societies.
Since the 1960s, there have been numerous other situations that have followed a similar pattern. For example, Fawbert studied newspaper coverage of ‘hoodies’ and the way that the media created the impression that groups of young people were dangerous and threatening, leading to all young people being treated with suspicion and some institutions banning hooded tops. Another study by Jewkes looked at media coverage of prisoners, identifying that the media focused on stories that depicted prisoners as ‘pampered’ in order to feed existing public concerns.
Some sociologists have pointed out that the groups targeted by Moral Panics are often young, powerless people who lack the power to do anything about this form of labelling. Other Sociologists – such as McRobbie – have suggested that the concept of Moral Panics has become outdated, as society has become so diverse that it is difficult to unite the public against any single group, while the concept of Moral Panic has become so well known that Moral Panics get started intentionally by groups looking for attention (for example, Rockstar Games intentionally leaked a ‘panic’ to the tabloid newspapers about their forthcoming ‘Grand Theft Auto’ game in order to generate free publicity which would in turn lead to better sales of the game).
Evaluate the view that representations of age are no longer stereotypical 
This is a mini-essay – a slightly extended version of a 12 mark question, but for 20 marks, evaluation and a critical conclusion are essential.
A stereotype is a generalised representation of a particular group, usually based on the assumed characteristics of that group. Many sociologists argue that stereotyping can give distorted ideas about particular groups that can be damaging. Others – such as Pluralists - believe that stereotypes simply reflect views about groups that are commonly held by wider society.
Age groups have often been subjected to negative media stereotyping. For example, young people are represented as naïve, helpless or innocent children – or as rebellious, violent youths. Old people on the other hand have been represented as grumpy, sickly, dependent or mentally deficient. Such negative stereotyping can impact the way in which individuals or groups are regarded in wider society. Some sociologists believe that stereotyping is ideological; in other words, it is used by powerful groups to justify ill-treatment of less powerful groups. Negative stereotyping of young and old people may therefore be used as justification for marginalising them, as they are the groups least likely to be active in the labour market.
Some Sociologists believe however that representations of age are no longer stereotypical. For example, Postmodernists have argued that age is no longer an important feature of identity, that society is much more diverse and that the boundaries between social groups are blurring – for example, many old people now act and behave like young people and vice versa – which makes it difficult for the media to stereotype. This is supported by a study by Biggs, who found that representations of old people were much more varied; some negative stereotypes still existed, but there was also an increasing portrayal of old people as being active and taking more of a part in society. Carrigan & Szmigen linked increasingly positive and varied representations of old people to the concept of the ‘Grey Pound’, which describes the spending power of old people, meaning that advertisers are more likely to use positive representations and not rely on stereotypes in order to sell more products and services to old people.
Portrayals of younger people may also be changing. Young people are much more likely to use and engage with the mass media than older people and this is reflected in portrayals of children being skilled users of the media, rather than being helpless and innocent (although this in turn has resulted in moral panics around the influence of the media on children). However, it could be argued that the portrayal of youths has become more negative and stereotypical. Osgerby linked media representations of youth to wider cultural issues. He identified that in the 1950s, youth culture was represented positively, reflecting the post-war mood of hope in the UK. However, as concerns in UK society developed around the loss of traditional values and rapid social change from the 1970s onwards, depictions of youths became increasingly dark, violent and negative. Hebdige referred to this portrayal as ‘youth-as-trouble’ and this was reflected in the ‘Hoodies or Altar Boys’ study which found that there were more news stories linking teenagers to crime than all the other stories about teenagers put together. The study found that teenage boys felt that adults were more wary of them as a result of this negative coverage.
In conclusion, there is some evidence to support the view that stereotyping has become less stereotypical, particularly in relation to old people. However, this does not mean that media stereotyping of age groups has disappeared or is no longer an issue and stereotyping of youths in particular continues to be negative and to have a real impact on attitudes towards this age group in wider society.
A sample response to the 20 mark question from this month's progress test...a similar question (with slightly reduced requirements) could feature in the AS exam as a 6, 8 or 12-marker.
Using the sources and your wider sociological knowledge explain how national identities have changed 
A national identity is both the identity of an entire nation and the related identities shared by individuals within than nation. Anderson described a ‘nation’ as an ‘imagined community’. This means that, because the members of any one nation will never meet most of the other members, a national identity is socially constructed to bond those members to one another in a single community. For example, it is unlikely that any one English person will ever meet every other English person, so a shared identity is created – consisting of things like a national anthem, the flag, the love of cups of tea and fish n’ chips, a penchant for forming orderly queues – to enable English people to relate to and feel close to one another. This identity is then promoted and reinforced through the mass media – for example, in the coverage of international sporting events where the English are encouraged to ‘get behind’ their countrymen (and women) against the ‘foreign’ sides.
In recent years, it could be argued that many national identities have dramatically changed. It can be argued that this is a result of globalisation: As things like international travel and social media make the world a smaller place, some of the clearer divides between nations have become blurred. Stuart Hall suggested that there are three possible reactions from nations in the face of this.
The first is cultural homogenisation, whereby a global culture replaces national cultures and countries become more similar. This can be evidenced in the way that many young people consider themselves ‘citizens of the world’ rather than belonging to a particular nation. Source B could be argued to demonstrate this, after all, almost every city in the world now has very similar shops and businesses present in it (e.g. McDonalds, as shown in the picture). Some sociologists think this is a negative thing; Halsey argued that Britain has lost its distinctiveness due to the ‘Americanisation’ of British culture (Halsey presumably misses the Wimpey burger chain). Others might argue that making nations culturally closer reduces the differences that divide us, making us closer and safer.
The second way according to Hall is cultural hybridity, whereby some parts of global culture are accepted, but are blended with aspects of traditional culture. This could be seen in national cuisines – for example, in the UK, Chicken Tikka Masala is considered a ‘national dish’, though it is a ‘hybrid’ of British and Bangladeshi food. It can also be seen in the media; for example, the British TV show ‘The Office’ was reproduced in the USA, retaining the spirit of the original but incorporating more US-oriented humour. Source B could also be an example of this, as even though the McDonalds chain in present throughout the world, with the same logo and key items on offer, the actual menu differs in different nations (e.g. in a French McDonalds, wine is served).
The third way is cultural resistance. This is when a nation resists global culture and tries to protect its own heritage. Many sociologists have observed that aspects of identity tend to become more significant to individuals when they are perceived as being threatened. Globalisation could be seen as a threat to national identity and therefore, to some people, it becomes stronger and more important to them. This can have negative consequences and source A could be considered an extreme example of this; some English people have felt their national identity threatened by aspects of globalisation such as multiculturalism and immigration and have responded with a kind of angry, white ‘nationalism’ which is often expressed through racism and violence. Hewitt described this as a ‘white backlash’. Similar feelings of reasserting a national identity have been linked to the British voting to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump with his promises to “make America great again” by building walls and excluding those alleged to have ‘un-American’ values.
Be warned, there's some bad language from the start - but Akala's discussion on racism/xenophobia in Britain, its origins and implications, is brilliant.
Discusses the overlap between race, ethnicity and nationality: Points out that in many societies, the words are used interchangeably.
African-Caribbeans claimed that their skin colour was the biggest influence on their ethnic identity. Southern Asians claimed it was Religion.
What people consider important about their ethnicity changes for different people.
Found that British people do not think ‘white’ is an ethnicity.
Noted that Dove body lotion ranges from ‘normal’ to ‘dark’ skin. White must therefore be seen as the default.
Suggested this attitude is changing and that it is being realised that ethnicity is something everyone has.
Developed the concept of ‘othering’; a subtle form of racism that secures a positive identity for one group by discrediting the identity of another, creating an “us and them” scenario.
Found that white, working class people felt frustration that they “couldn’t” celebrate their white, working class culture.
Found that it was not just young black youths who developed hybrid identities, but also white youths. In particular areas, local youths of all ethnicities develop a shared identity and sense of solidarity/common identity. Back called this “neighbourhood nationalism”.
Francis & Archer
Different cultures value education differently. For example, educational achievement is valued most highly in the UK by British-Chinese families.
Found that families were extremely important in shaping the identities of Muslim girls. They sought independence through education and careers, but felt it important to always maintain family links.
Using at least four studies, outline and evaluate the view that ethnicity is a strong influence on identity in the contemporary UK.
I only had a twenty minute lunch break today, but I thought I'd better use it to try another sample answer...a bit rushed, but hopefully of use of some things to potentially include...
Using the pre-release material and your wider sociological knowledge, explain and evaluate the use of semi-structured interviews in researching motherhood and social class 
The aim of Vincent et al’s longitudinal study was to explore the ways in which mothers of different social class backgrounds experience life. This was a qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews. This suggests that Vincent et al are working from an interpretivist perspective, gaining rich, in-depth and valid data in order to fully understand the lives and experiences of the mothers in the study. The study took place over a five year period, though the pre-release material suggests that several different projects on several different groups was conducted in this time, so this may not have been strictly a longitudinal study (which would usually focus on a single group over a prolonged period).
A semi-structured interview are a cross between structured and unstructured interviews. Like structured interviews, they tend to include lots of closed questions – however, unlike structured interviews, they can also include open questions and the interviewer can change the order of the questions for different interviewees. This means that, like unstructured interviews, they can feel more conversational and can be used to gather qualitative data. Because of the flexibility and conversational nature, semi-structured interviews can be a lot more time consuming and unpredictable than structured interviews.
Vincent et al used two sampling methods: Opportunity sampling and snowball sampling. Opportunity sampling involved Vincent at al directly recruiting participants at relevant venues, while snowball sampling involved these participants finding more participants like themselves. This gave Vincent et al control over the sample size, but both methods are non-random, which reduces their representativeness and makes them open to bias, because Vincent et al were (directly and indirectly) picking the participants that they knew best matched their research. The total sample was 126 mothers (55 working class and 71 middle class). Both of these are small samples considering the target population, although because semi-structured interviews are time consuming (in this study, they last between 1-2 hours) and unpredictable, a smaller sample is beneficial.
The questions were based around the mothers’ work choices and use of childcare. The pre-release material suggests that qualitative data only was gathered. This data is presented in the form of quotes from participants and Vincent et al’s interpretations of the collated findings. Qualitative data focuses on meanings and feelings, expressed usually through words, which is ideally suited to Vincent at al’s research as they wanted to explore the experiences of mothers. Quantitative data (expressed in numerical form) would not be able to offer any depth or meaning to people’s experiences. Qualitative data is high in validity as it offers us the truth of people’s thoughts and feelings, directly from their own mouths. Researchers can build a rapport with participants, enabling them to open up more and enabling the researcher to gain empathy and understanding (verstehen). However, qualitative data is much more difficult to analyse and interpret, and interpretations may be subjective. Methods that gather qualitative data tend to be low in reliability. Semi-structured interviews, for example, are very difficult to reliably compare to one another, as every interview is different and not all interviewees get exactly the same questions, or in the same order. With semi-structured interviews, there is also a risk of researcher imposition, whereby the interviewer influences the respondent’s answers through tone of voice or manner of questioning.
Overall however, semi-structured interviews were an appropriate method for this study. As interpretivists, Vincent et al may not have been overly concerned about reliability or representativeness, as the main goal for an interpretivist is validity – and semi-structured interviews offer high validity. There is never an assurance of perfect validity (as some respondents might lie, or bend the truth – particularly in a study like this, where social desirability means they want to come across as good mothers), but there remains still much richer validity than a quantitative method could ever capture, as numerical data offers no real meanings behind the statistics. Due to the low representativeness, Vincent et al’s study could not really be generalised to the wider target audience, but they have still achieved their aims in gaining insight into the experiences of the women in their study, and have further laid the foundations for a more comprehensive study in class and childcare which they recognise is needed.
Prof. Raewyn Connell discusses her work on masculinities and some of the issues raised by the subject.
This is my first attempt at an answer for this year's 52 Mark Question answer. It's not my best work as it was done very quickly between lessons, so a bit patchy - but hopefully gives some idea of some of the things that can be included in a question on sampling (which, in my opinion, is one of the toughest - and dullest - things you can be asked). Anyway, here it is. Enjoy:
Using the pre-release material and your wider sociological knowledge, explain and evaluate the use of sampling techniques in researching motherhood and social class 
The aim of Vincent et al’s study was to explore the ways in which mothers of different social class backgrounds experience life. This was a qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews. This suggests that Vincent et al are working from an interpretivist perspective, gaining rich, in-depth and valid data in order to fully understand the lives and experiences of the mothers in the study. The study took place over a five year period, though the pre-release material suggests that several different projects on several different groups was conducted in this time, so this may not have been strictly a longitudinal study (which would usually focus on a single group over a prolonged period).
In order to gain a sample for studying, Vincent et al used two sampling methods. The first was opportunity sampling. This involved Vincent et al visiting a range of different settings (e.g. nurseries, playgrounds, libraries) and finding mothers who were happy to take part in the research. Gathering a sample in this way meant that Vincent et al were able to gain the sample size they wanted; they could keep recruiting until they got the number they needed. Visiting different environments across two areas of London may help gain a more representative sample, but volunteer sampling overall is not the best method to ensure representativeness. Firstly, it is a non-random method, which means Vincent et al could have actively singled out or approached the mothers that they felt best matched their research (or what they wanted to find). Secondly, the mothers that agree to take part may not be typical of the research population, or may have their own agenda for taking part which is different to that of the researchers.
The second method was snowball sampling. This involves using one person or small group who fits the criteria for the sample and getting them to recruit others like them for the sample. This is a useful method for researchers, as it is quick and enables them to access groups and individuals they otherwise might struggle to reach. However, it is also non-random and is low in representativeness, because people are recruiting others that they know or who are ‘like them’.
When a sample is not representative, it is not usually possible to make generalisations from the research findings. This means it is not possible, for example, for Vincent et al to claim that what is true of the 55 working-class mothers in their study is true of all working-class mothers. To add to this, 55 is quite a small sample, considering the research population for this was working-class mothers in two big London areas, and a small sample has less chance of being representative.
The total sample was 126 mothers (55 working class and 71 middle class). Both of these are small samples considering the target population, although having smaller samples does have it advantages. The method of study Vincent et al opted for was semi-structured interviews. These can be time-consuming, as they are flexible by nature, so they are more suited to a smaller sample size. They were used to gain qualitative data, with takes more time to interpret and analyse than quantitative (numerical/statistical) data, so again a smaller sample size is beneficial here. Data gained through semi-structured interviews tends to be lower in reliability than that gained through structured interviews, as the flexible nature of the questions means interviews are less likely to be repeatable, but they are higher in validity, as the data is more detailed and the interviewer can built a rapport with the interviewee.
Overall, the use of sampling in Vincent et al’s survey could be argued to be problematic as the methods they used were low in representativeness and therefore mean that it would be difficult for Vincent et al to make generalisations from the results. Non-random sampling methods are open to bias and this, compared with an unrepresentative sample, can result in research that is low in validity, as it does not give an accurate insight in the real lives and experiences of the group being studied. Bias can be addressed through a range of methods, including a pilot study (pre-testing the main study to check for such issues) or respondent validation (getting participants to help review the results, to check the researcher hasn’t imposed their own bias or agenda) but it is not clear whether or not Vincent et al did either of these.
On the other hand, the use of non-random sampling techniques made sense on a practical level, as they ensured the sample was appropriate and they helped gain a sample quickly and efficiently, as no sampling frame would have been available for this group. Additionally, as Vincent et al are interpretivists, they may be less interested in gaining a large or representative sample and more interested in gaining rich, deep insights and understandings into a smaller group using qualitative data – and this is what they achieved.
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