Sociological Theories Essay

Pages: 3 (1025 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

conflict theory (chapter 1); social distance (chapter 1); selective perception (chapter 1); ethnocentrism (chapter 1); selective perception (chapter 1); false premises (chapter 1); cultural pluralism (chapter 1); emotional considerations (chapter 1).

Sociological Theories

The topic to be used in this paper is "social distance" and the theory that is linked to social distance is the "conflict theory."

Social Distance -- Generalizations / Background

In Chapter 1 (p. 24) of the Parrillo text, the author discusses the use of the scientific method to delve into cultural aspects of minority groups. Parrillo notes that because all humans have "values" (which are socially "shared conceptions of what is good, desirable" and what is bad or undesirable), it makes it difficult to be objective when examining a culture that is apart from (and often markedly different from) the one those doing the research are part of (24). For example, people often tend to use what Parrillo calls "selective perception," which is a practice that accepts only that information that conforms to the researcher's values or attitudes (24). In other cases, while studying a minority culture the researcher might base perceptions on "false premises" or "emotional considerations" (24).

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Hence, the paragraph above points to the challenges facing sociologists when studying the cultural aspects of a minority culture. Ethnocentrism is a bias based on a person that lives in a familiar environment and believes that particular environment is superior to any other environment; and part of getting into an objective place for study of another culture (a minority for example) is coming to terms with ethnocentrism and learning to be objective (open minded) (21).

Essay on Sociological Theories Assignment

Discussing the need to study other cultures it is worthy to note that ideally a society like the United States would be a place where cultural pluralism is in evidence; indeed cultural pluralism is a reality in the U.S. because several cultures do exist in "relative harmony" most of the time. But the relative harmony can be disrupted quite easily when a white policeman shoots and kills an African-American youth in the inner city; at that point old prejudices and biases based on race, ethnicity, skin color and cultural values come to the surface and it can be ugly.

Social Distance & the Conflict Theory

Sociologists explain that the social distance idea dates back to quite a few years. Thinking about American minorities, the Latino, for example, has experienced social distance as he moves from the image as an immigrant that came into the U.S. illegally, to a person who is trying to become a U.S. citizen and is holding down a job in the majority culture.

In the case of the Latino immigrant, his social norms are quite different from Caucasians in the majority culture so there is a social distance. On page 3 of Parrillo's book, the arrival of a stranger (in this case, the Latino immigrant) might elicit reactions that include: "strong emotional responses"; "warm hospitality"; "conciliatory or protective ceremonies"; and/or "hostile acts" (3). Aristotle understood in the 4th century before Christ that people like "…those like ourselves…of our own race… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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