Sociology Unit 2

Mass media, crime and deviance, power, and inequality


The mass media

 - The term mass media refers to all forms of communication (media) that reach large (mass) audiences.

 - Most people are exposed to mass media for the majority of their waking hours without even realising and their lives become dependant on it.

 - Even people in LEDC's are exposed to it through newspapers and books.

Traditonal media     New media

Newspapers Internet

Books Mobiles

Radio Online newspaper

Magazines E-books

Morse code Wii / Xbox

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The press

 - The press includes newspapers and magazines. 

 - In Britain the press are privately owned and run as profit-making businesses.

 - Newspapers and magazines get their income through advertisements and sales.

 - Broadsheets - Quality papers that traditionally are twice the size of a normal paper. eg, the guardian, times etc.

 - Middle market tabloids - Appeal to a middle range audience. e.g. daily mail.

 - Mass market tabloids/red tops - Mass audience, less news, more images, more gossip. e.g. the sun, mirror, star.

 - Recently, some of the quality newspapers have become more compact to make them easier to read and carry around.

 - Newspapers have gone online because it means people can select the genre they wish to hear about easily and efficiently.

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 - Mass media can be divided into 3 categories: 

Press - Newspapers

Broadcasting - Radio and TV

Electronic media - Internet and phones


 - TV/radio can be publicly/privately funded.

 - Public service broadcasting (PSB) = BBC. People pay for this (license).

 - Because it's free, it needs to be high quality and interest large audiences.

 - Broadcasting has changed from terrestrial to digital/satellite.

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Commercial broadcasting, Digital switchover

 - This includes things such as ITV or Channel 4.

 - It is funded mainly through advertising. The advertisers select channels viewed by audiences appropriate for their products.

 - Companies can also sponsor a program for showing their logo/product between each advert.

 - Soon product placement is likely to be used again.

 - youtube was a breakthrough in the mass media, enabling any person to upload videos for the whole world to see.

 - The digital switch-over is occurring because digital is better quality than terrestrial.

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Radio broadcasting and electronic media

Radio broadcasting

There has been a huge amount of growth in commercial radio stations - national and local - alongside BBC which has now expanded to 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5 live and local stations. 

At first, BBC was the only station allowed to have radio stations - this changed in the 1960's and there is now a move to DAB.

Electronic media

 - Internet has been available since the 1990's.

 - WWW - WorldWideWeb

 - Anyone can post things on the internet.

 - We are now prosumers of the media, not just consumers.

 - First computer was created in 1951.

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Social class and newspapers

 - Clues can be given about social class by the types of newspapers they read. 

 - Traditionally, the working class would read tabloids whilst the middle class would read broadsheets.

 - In today's society however, it is more difficult to determine as everyone has access to all types of newspapers. 

 - However, research shows that higher classes have better literacy skills which enables them to cope with the more complex language used in broadsheets and quality papers.

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Ownership and control of the media

 - Critics fear that the few rich owners of the press may use their power to restrict information or promote certain messages.

 - Pluralist argument - No single group is able to dominate the media as there is a range presented to the public so if the public were against a certain group they could boycott.

 - There is no real link between who owns the media and the content. This means it is the competition which safeguards the media.

 - Pluralists support the view that the media should be free from control and interference of owners and claim that the freedom of the media exists for the following reasons:

 - Owners cannot dictate as they must give us what we want

 - We can set up alternative forms of media if we desire (citizen journalism)

 - We can out forward our views and expect them to be taken into account.

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Ownership and control continued...

 - Digital technology now allows anyone to produce media and has led to an increase in the variety of products available to us. 

 - The internet is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable for everyone which encourages global communication/exchange of ideas.

Conflict argument - Based on the argument that there are conflicting interests between different groups in society where the owners are rich and powerful, imposing what they want on us.

The following points support the views of the conflict argument:

 - Increasing concentration of ownership where smaller companies are being bought by large companies.

 - Multimedia conglomerates such as News Corporation have arisen, merging smaller companies so they can control every stage of the media.

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Ownership and Censorship

 - Mass media often reflects bias in favour of those who own it.

 - Politicians often try and control the media using spin.

Rupert Murdoch news corporation  - He is the founder, CEO and chairman of News Corporation - the second largest media conglomerate in the world. In the UK 'newscorp' owns 6 papers, worldwide - over 50 and he is also in charge of 20th century fox, DirecTV, Harper Collins and Myspace. News of the world was shut down in 2011 due to allegations of phone hackings.

Censorship - filtering - film certificates, libel and slander laws, official secrets act.

 - Media see their job as reporting the truth and defending free speech, however they do have some censorship.

 - Google threatened to pull out of China when they requested filtering.

 - Democratic governments allow a lot more freedom to access than dictatorships.

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Censorship continued..

For Against

Prevents libel and slander Public have right to know truth

Prevents incitement to hatred Media should be independent

Some information is confidential Info could be influenced

Some material is harmful (****) Against basic human right

Views on the internet

 - Gives the public more control and freedom to express themselves so there should be minimum censorship.

 - Internet provides opportunities for people to publish opinions which can be harmful, disturbing and show no consideration for others so should be censored.

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Story selection and presentation continued..

The profit motive - Newspapers exist as businesses purely to make a profit, this means the profit motive will influence content. Press gatekeepers will consider stories based on their likelihood to achieve big circulations.

Advertisers - They are an important source of revenue for newspapers. They may have a big influence on content in so far as they could withdraw their business if they disagree with the content.

The state and legal constraints on content

 - The press complaints commission 

 - Ofcom (British office of communication)

Folk devils - Person/group who are represented negatively in the media so their views aren't taken seriously. E.g. Lone mothers are seen as a social issue and so they are presented badly in the media and looked down on by others.

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Newspapers and politics

 - A person who reads one particular newspaper on a frequent basis is likely to be exposed to a slant on current affairs that could encourage them to vote for one political party over another.

 - Readership of popular newspapers has sharply fallen which questions the ability of the press to remain a source of influence on the public.

Spin - Politicians working with journalists to get the best image of themselves. May be in a 'trade-off' relationship with a journalist.

Propaganda - People in power trying to control what we hear, see and read. They use the media to do this. In our democratic society, the media should be free from bias but there are still attempts to influence the public. The media reflects bias on powerful groups.

With the growth of internet and digital media it is harder to censor everything and in a short space of time, any messages can get out into the public sphere (virtual area where the public can communicate) and influence public opinion in the same way as mass media.

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Mass media and socialisation, advertising

 - Mass media is increasingly a more important role of socialisation. This is because it has so many way to get to people.It is virtually impossible to avoid the mass media due to the fact that is surrounds us everywhere in society. People are exposed to it from an increasingly young age now and they can use it to answer questions that their parents won't. This could be bad however for those who are young and vulnerable and could read something misleading but will believe it anyway.


For Against

Increases choice Uses stereotypes

Increases consumption Encourages consumerism/debt

Can be used for public good Encourages a throwaway society

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Technological developments in the last 30 years

In 1980 there were only 3 TV channels, now it's uncountable.

Digital broadcasting enable multi-channel television

Digital TV services offer interactivity where the audience can play along, vote etc.

Communications can come together in convergence e.g. picture sent via mobile

We can access 24 hour news and live TV.

Newspaper readership has dramatically declined from 77% in 1983 to just 50% in 2006.

Sociologists can study what people watch and how frequently they watch it. This is known as content analysis.

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The effect of the media

 - Many sociologists refer to the new media as a social revolution.

 - Debates focus on how far the media influences attitudes and behaviour.

 - People argue about how far violent on-screen content can lead to real life violence.

 - Researchers tend to disagree because there is no proof.

Hypodermic syringe approach - Early theory which believed media had a huge amount of power on it's audience with the audience receiving daily doses of messages form TV and newspapers. It argues that the media has a direct influence.

Bobo doll experiment - Albert Bandura conducted research by creating a film of a woman beating, kicking and abusing an inflatable doll. Children were then shown this film and put into the room with a doll and small hammers. They copied the young woman's behaviour even when provided with a real life clown. From this, Bandura concluded that violent media can leas to imitation or copycat violence.

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Problems with researching violence in the media

 - Everyone has a different idea of violence and how bad something has to be to be considered violent.

 - Participants would have had different experiences up until the moment of research so may react differently as a result of previous emotions.

 - Experiments such as the bobo doll can never isolate other factors and make a direct link and the only thing that can be decided is a common-sense conclusion.

- Some people argue that also, violence can be shown as heroic which encourages violence.

Desensitization - Elizabeth Newson suggested that exposure to violence creates a drip effect so that young people think violence is acceptable, making violent behaviour seem normal.

Dis-inhibition effect - Young people feel violence is acceptable.

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Examples of attempted control

9 o clock watershed

In 2007 the government launched a review on the impact of violent TV on young people.

In 2008 an Ofcom survey suggested that 2/3 of 12-15 year olds behaviour had been effected by violent computer games.

- Some people claim that watching violence or playing violent games can help release it out of their system.

Morgan(1980) along with other feminists have suggested that there is a casual link between *********** and sexual violence.

Dworkin(1990) Suggested that *********** trivialises **** and makes men want to do it.

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Uses and Gratifications approach

This focuses on how the audience uses the media and examines how people's needs are met. It assumes that we engage with the media because we want to get something out of it. The audience uses the media for their own benefit.

The decoding approach

This suggests that the content of a particular TV programme can have several meanings. It argues that the audience are active in the media and interpret its message differently. Therefore, the media is not just sending out one message, but several depending on the audience.

Media messages about gender - By providing messages about the role of women and men, the media contributes to gender socialisation. 

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Gender and the media

 - The media, being an agency of socialisation, creates expectations about femininity.

 - The media plays a key role in reinforcing traditional ideas about women.

 - Young women may be seen as sexual objects being viewed in terms of their physical attributes rather than their intellect. 

- Shows such as sex in the city prove that the media isn't always stereotypical and sexist.

 - Female issues portrayed in the media are usually centred around beauty and slimming.

 - Physical appearance, sex appeal and youth seem to be necessary for women to be successful in TV. 

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Gender and the Media continued...

Wolf(1990) points out that the media presents a particular physical image of normal which is unattainable for most women.

Mulvey(1975) argues that film makers employ a 'male gaze' to provide ****** pleasure for men.

Until recently, men have not been analysed as much in the media as women.

The media now increasingly focuses on male fashion and hygiene.

Some sociologists argue that there is now a female gaze where women see men as objects too.

Men are still stereotypically viewed as business men though and not family men.

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Ethnicity, Sexuality, Social class and Ageism in t

 - Children's programmes are criticised due to the strong gender stereotyping.

 - Children are often targeted by advertisers because of pester power.

 - Teenage media coverage is usually negative with common stereotypes such as yob, vandal etc.

 - There used to be negative stereotypes about old people however now there is a conscious effort by advertisers to change this because of the 'grey pound

 - A theme runs through the media where soaps and comedies are often about working class people. 

 - Ethnic minorities haven't been shown in the media until recently where there has now been a growth of EM presenters and celebs.

 - The media has also caused moral panics about terrorism/immigration. Xenophobia - hostility to strangers.

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Ethnicity, Sexuality, Social class and Ageism in t

 - Content analysis from the 1950-70's showed that black people were either absent or under represented. And when present, they were usually shown in stereotypes such as criminals or athletes.

 - It could be argued that the media are now more respectful in the portrayal of gay and transgender characters.

Transgender - Had operation/gone long way to change

Transsexual - likes to act like other gender (dress up)

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Deviancy Amplification and Moral Panics

 - News values could encourage the media to exaggerate because they are aware that the larger the news value, the larger the circulation, so the larger the profit.

 - When there is a 'folk devil', a moral panic can evolve from this. The media stigmatises these people so everyone is aware of them. This makes the public either disapproving or even afraid of the folk devils.

 - A scapegoat is when someone puts the blame on someone else for something they have done to avoid them becoming folk devils.

 - Deviancy amplification is a huge problem because it creates fear in society that there are more criminals or that they are at a greater risk to us than they actually are.

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Crime, deviance and social construction

Social construction - when society has made something happen, people have made ruled in society if they are 'socially constructed'. They don't exist on their own.

There are 2 main types of social control formal and informal. Formal are like laws where there is a punishment if broken, and informal is like pressure to conform from parents.

Sanctions - Reward or punishment for breaking a norm.

Crime - Breaking rules which have become laws by the government.

Deviance - Behaviour that does not conform to society's norms and values.

Delinquency - Behaviour by young people that is disapproved of. It can involve breaking a law which would also make it criminal.

- Status also influences behaviour....different behaviour can be seen as deviant depending on social group. 

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Labelling, Crime experiences.

 - Labelling is how we think of someone in terms of one or a few characteristics we have decided are important.

 - When someone is labelled unfairly they may want to change their behaviour in order to try and shake off this label. 

 - When a label has become so strong and stuck to a person, it becomes their master status.

 - This can sometimes become so strong that a person starts to believe it themselves.

People can experience crime in the following ways:

 - Victim (direct or indirect)

 - Offender

 - Second hand from the mass media

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People at risk, Criminal type

Groups who feel most at risk:

 - Young people

 - Gang members

 - Old people

 - Minority groups

Is there a criminal type?

 - Sociologists are interested in finding out if there is a natural criminal element or if it is created by society.

 - It is common for us to attach labels to criminals to try and explain their behaviour as having certain character traits.

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Psychologists and Sociologists


- Psychologists explain crime by personality traits and mental stability.

Introverts - Quiet, shy, secretive (robber)

Extroverts - Confident, out-going, attention seeking (bomber)

 - If you can convince a judge of a mental illness then your sanction becomes treatment based rather than punishment based.


 - Claim that people are driven by forces beyond their control and that social forces carry more weight than natural behaviour or psychological explanations.

 - Nature vs Nurture - sociologists blame nurture. Inadequate socialisation is what causes deviancy.

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Inadequate socialisation can include: domestic violence, poverty, poor housing, lack of discipline, unstable childhood, etc.

Other agencies of socialisation can also influence criminal behaviour, for example:

Lack of discipline in schools, mass media glamorising drugs, lack of respect and trust in police, peer pressure, mass media causing greed through advertising.

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Social theories

Marxist - sees divisions in society as being based on class, operating in a capitalist system. They believe lower classes who rebel against inequality.

Functionalists - Theory that sees society having lots of different parts that all work together and function as a whole. They believe that a group who disagrees with norms may disrupt society. e.g. ethnic minorities. 

Feminists - Social theory that believes women do not have the same life chances as men. They see men as the root of crime in society.

Consensus - having the same values and norms and acting in a predictable way.

Conflict - Disagreement where people have different norms and values, where some people have power over others.

New right - Believe that traditional roles within society have been undermined by the values of the 1960/70's. They believe the nuclear family is crucial to society. They believe that freedom in society leads to deviance and unruly behaviour.

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Peer groups and subcultures

 - Some peer groups may have norms or behaviour which may encourage delinquent or criminal behaviour. These may take over from the norms and values from primary socialisation.

 - If a peer group has a well-developed set of norms and values which are clearly different from the norms and values of the rest of society, this is then called a subculture.

 - Another explanation for crime is that it happens when people are unable to get the things they feel they are  entitled to so try to get it by force. 

 - It is not living in poor conditions itself that causes crime, but it is being aware that other people are doing better than you. This is called relative deprivation.

Subcultural theory - attempts to explain crime and deviance by highlighting the influence that peers and sub-cultures exert on others in the group. 

Albert Cohen(1955) studied delinquency in w/c boys in America and found that they only acted in a delinquent way as part of a gang, not independently.

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Gangs, Victim survey, Self report study

Gangs don't always have to be negative. A 'gang' refers to a group of people  who share a common interest or are similar in some ways. For example, a group of people working to restore an old community centre could also be called a 'gang'.

Victim survey - when people are asked about their own experiences of crime.

Self report study - When people are questioned about their own criminal behaviour. It can be useful to the researcher because they may pick up on unreported crimes.

Official statistics - These can be good because they can provide a lot of data and is all available to the public. However, not all crime is reported and it requires a lot of different sources.

The dark figure of crime - refers to all crime which is unreported.

Hard data - cannot be changed, e.g. number of murders committed.

Soft data - can be changed or adapted, e.g. number of sexual abuse cases.

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Schools, victim surveys, self report studies

Cohen argued that schools have middle class values and expectations so that w/c people do not have an equal chance of academic success. They end up experiencing frustration and looking for alternate ways to gain status which leads to an anti-school subculture.

Advantages of victim surveys: - May uncover some of the hidden figure of crime

 - Identifies local figures

Disadvantages of victim surveys: - Victim may not disclose crime due to shame

 - Participants may lie

Advantages of self report studies: - May uncover the dark figure of crime

 - More realistic information for police

Disadvantages of self report studies: - People may lie or exaggerate

- People may worry it won't be kept private

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Young people and the media

 - The media unfairly discriminates against young people by labelling them as deviant or criminal.

Paul Willis(1977) studied school boys at a comprehensive UK school calling them the 'lads'. They apparently made fun of those who worked hard and aspired to manual jobs.

Labelling theory - Becker - Labels turn into stereotypes and are difficult to remove. Labelling theorists would claim that the cause of deviance is not the action itself, but the reaction of others to it.

Self-fulfilling prophecy - You act as your label suggests, making the label seem like it was correct in the first place.

In the past, the decision on whether an offender should go to court was largely based on whether they seemed like a typical delinquent or not.

A 'typical delinquent' was generally someone from a low income, broken home, poor school performance or minority ethnic group.

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Involvement in crime social class, ethnicity, age

 - There is evidence that W/C are over-represented in prison.

 - Media stereotypes of criminals tend to be lower class.

 - Nelken(2007) - found that because white collar and corporate crimes are committed out of sight, this prevents them from being discovered or officially punished. 

 - Tombs(2005) - claims that there is little effort by the government to keep records of corporate crimes such as tax evasion. 

Crime and social class is also linked to where you live. Crimes in urban areas is higher than rural areas and the risk of crime is greater. Inner city crime is seen as a response to social inequality and economic deprivation.

 - Statistics suggest that females are less likely to offend than males. However, recent statistics suggest that the number of female offenders is increasing. This could be linked to the fact that women are becoming more independent.

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Age and ethnicity

 - Official statistics suggest that younger people are more likely to commit crime and engage in criminal activity. 

 - Statistics show that ethnic minorities are over represented in crime figures in proportion to the population.

 - The chances of being a victim of crime is more likely if you're an ethnic minority.

 - The way the media reports on ethnic minority crime encourages the public to believe that ethnic minorities commit more crime than they actually do.

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Types of crimes, ASBO, youth detention centres, co

White collar crimes - Crimes committed by a member of staff in a company. It usually stays within the company as it is not a threat to the public.

Corporate crimes - committed in the interest of the company, often with the companies approval, even though it is wrong. It can be hard to control as it is difficult to tell who was responsible as it could even be global.

Government/state crime - where governments can break their own laws

ASBO - A civil order which is made against a person who has been shown to commit anti-social behaviour.

Youth detention centres - A secure residential facility for young people who are awaiting court hearings or placement in long term care facilities. 

Community service - service performed by a group of people or person for the benefit of the whole community.

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Purpose of prison and Punishment continued..

Electronic tagging - Form of surveillance consisting of a small electronic device attached to a person or vehicle so their whereabouts can be monitored. It is particularly useful for criminals who have recently been released back into society.

Exclusion zones - An area where protesters are legally prohibited from protesting in. Or not drinking alcohol in certain areas.

Parental fines - The government gives a fine to parents as a result of them doing something wrong e.g. taking children out of school for a holiday. 

Purpose of prison:

 - Remove harm from society

 - Society sees justice has been done

 - Acts as a deterrent

 - Rehabilitation - preparing the prisoner to return to society.

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Restorative justice, Crime

Restorative justice is where the victim and offender meet (supervised). The victim has a chance to say how the crime has influenced their life.

 - Since the 1980's, the focus has shifted from offenders to victims. 

Walklate(2007) found that certain people are more likely to become crime victims than others:

Class - Poor, living in rented housing

Age - The young

Gender - Males

Ethnicity - Minority groups

He also found that the impact of crime becomes worse when you have repeat victimization. 

Crime can impact victims in 4 ways: Physical, Financial, Psychological, Social.

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Poverty is said to be when people lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are usual in the society to which they belong.

The poverty line is where household income is below 60% of the UK's household income, before or after the housing costs have been paid.

The main cause of poverty is inadequate income, arising from worklessness, low wages, and the low level of benefits.

Dark tourism - This is where people visit areas where there has been death or devastation e.g. the twin towers.

Social inequality refers to the unequal distribution of:

 - Resources

 - Opportunities

 - Status/Power

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Relative poverty, Life cycle and poverty, Culture

Groups most likely to experience relative poverty include: lone-parents, unemployed, women, pensioners, those who leave school at 16

Life cycle and poverty, most at risk during: Childhood, married with young children, old age.

Culture of poverty

 - People living in poverty develop a way of life that accepts their fate, they live for the moment.

 - Children get trapped into a cycle of deprivation.

 - The New Right claims that these attitudes encourage a 'culture of dependency' where people find it easier to live off benefits rather than earn money through work.

Cycle of poverty: Poor housing/diet--->Poor educational outcomes--->Low self esteem--->Unemployment/low salary. 

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The welfare state

The welfare state is a system which takes responsibility for the health and welfare of its citizens and meets their social needs.

It does this by providing services and benefits.

It was established as a safety net to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

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The welfare state continued...

 - It wasn't until the 1940s after the Beveridge report that the welfare state became firmly established. The Beveridge report identified 5 main evils in society:

Disease  Want Ignorance Squalor Idleness

NHS - Provides various health care services such as GP's, hospitals etc.. It is funded by central government from national taxation.

National insurance benefits(NI) - People pay a contribution of their wages and in order to qualify for NI benefits they must have paid sufficient contributions.

Non-contributory benefits - People in financial need who have not paid enough NI contributions to qualify for NI benefits.

Means testing - The amount of benefits you get is dependant on your income/savings.

Victim blaming - Terms such as 'underclass' encourages a practice of blaming victims, making it seem like their fault, even if they cant do anything about it.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of means tested benef


 - Resources not wasted, can target those in need.

 - It does not encourage a culture of depedency.


 - Those who are entitled may not actually claim them because of the hassle.

 - Labels and stigmatises claimants.

 - Discourages people from saving as it's easier to stay on benefits.

The labour party believes the welfare state is crucial as it has done lots to get children out of poverty and get adults into employment.

The conservative party believes although it helps with serious problems, it creates a dependency culture.

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Tackling poverty

Universal benefits - given to everyone regardless of income or savings, e.g. child benefits.

Minimum wage - protects people from earning a wage that is too small to support them.

One of the ways the government has attempted to tackle unemployment is through the new deal. This is where there are welfare schemes which encourage people to move on from benefits. It increases job opportunities for people by job creation and work experience. Improves skill and motivation by education and training initiatives. Greater financial incentive such as Working Tax Credits.

The government has tackled discrimination is through acts such as:

 - Equal pay act 1970 Civil Partnership Act 2004

 - Sex Discrimination Act 1975 Disability Discrimination Act 2005

 - Race Relations Act 1976

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Different explanations of poverty..


Believe poverty is a result of class-based inequalities built into the capitalist system. They argue that it works in favour of the capitalist class because fear of poverty can be used to discipline workers and lower wages. They believe that the only way to remove poverty is to replace capitalism with communal ownership of factories, land, and capital.

New right

They believe that too many benefits and a culture of dependency encourages people to rely on others to provide for them. They emphasise the need for families to support each other and for people to have more of a sense of self-respect and determination to succeed.

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Is Britain Classless?

 - Research shows that m/c children are still more likely to end up in professional/managerial jobs than w/c.

 - Old school tie network - wearing old school tie to job interview so they know where you were educated.

 - Difficult to see what class someone is in based on appearance.

 - Meritocracy - everyone can do equally as well if they try hard.

How is wealth distributed in Britain?

 - passed down generations through inheritence

 - give away wealth to charity

 - built up by saving/acquiring assets

 - Celebrity/sport/lottery 

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Classless society


 - w/c jobs have shrunk so w/c communities are less obvious

 - class identity is blurred as there are many other things which influence status

 - Meritocracy means everyone has an equal chance

 - w/c can't be identified as they know how to imitate the m/c


 - Evidence shows life chances are different depending on class

 - Children from more privileged backgrounds have better outcomes

 - Old school tie network still exists

 - Class can still be identified through speech, habits, taste and traditions

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Inequality, Marxist and Functionalist, Gender

 - Income inequality has got greater over the last 30 years with top company executives getting large bonuses and others getting nothing.

Marxist - see 2 main classes, the bourgeoisie who own the means of production and are the ruling class, and the proletariat who own nothing except their labour.

Functionalists - argue some positions in society are more important than others, people in these positions need good skill and education. Those without potential can undergo training to gain necessary skills. These people require persuasion to undertake the effort.

 - Gender is socially constructed from sex, and it is socialisation that leads to a gender identity. 

 - Social roles - Acting according to gender identity

Equality - legislation

Equal pay act 1970 Sex Discrimination Act 1975

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Gender and Inequality

Sexism - treating males/females with discrimination because of gender

Male gaze - men view women as sexual objects (now a female gaze also)

Women = Men

 - Girls do better than boys at school

 - Rise of the ladette culture

 - Women choose to be lone parents (independence)

Women don't = Men

 - Male gaze

 - Glass ceiling

 - Patriarchy still exists

 - Recession affects women more

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Age and inequality

Chronological age - How long you've been living.

Biological age - Physical characteristics associated with your age.

 - There are social expectations about acting your age.

 - Sociologists argue that age is socially constructed as it's treated differently in different cultures e.g. asian people value old age whereas in britain we see old people as a burden.

Youth - Transition between childhood and adulthood, often judged negatively by the media and society. Teenagers have their own sub-culture and language.

Young-old - newly retired, have money, physically independent.

Old-old - depend on state pension, need social housing and assistance. 

Western culture has a fear of old age and there is a media effort to look younger.

Ageism - Discrimination on grounds of age

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Ethnicity and Inequality continued..

Government policies to ensure social equality:

- Race relations Act 1976 - Outlawed direct/indirect discrimination

 - Equality and Human Rights Commission

- Crimes which are racially motivated are treated more harshly

Institutional racism - Indirect within an organisation.

Evidence of ethnic inequality

- minority ethnic are more likely to be unemployed

- access to social housing shows minority ethnic have lower standards

- minority ethnic school children do less well at school

- higher rates of blacks in prison in proportion to their population

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Ways to stratify people

Class - social class is a way to stratify people into different positions which carry with them different levels of power, respect and status.

Weber - weber built on the ideas of Marx by arguing that a class is a group of people who have similar access to life chances. He split social classes into 4 different types:

Property owners, Shopkeepers, Professionals, Working class.

Weber  pointed out that sometimes wealth and status are not linked, e.g. a nun may not be wealthy but is highly respected, whereas a lottery winner may be wealthy but lack status.

 - Until 1998 we used the Registrar General's social class scale which was based on manual and non-manual occupations. The problems with this system are: it didn't take into account people in the wealthy upper classes without jobs, even when a women went out to work, class still depended on the main wage earner, people sharing the same job titles don't have the same lifestyles.

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New way to stratify people

The NS-SEC (National Statistics Socio-economic Classification) has replaced the RGS as it groups together categories of jobs that have similar:

 - Pay and benefits

 - Employment status

 - Levels of authority and control

 - Includes special categories for groups such as students who don't fit into the          categories.

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Social mobility

Social mobility is where social classes can move so that it is easier to move from w/c to m/c or the other way round. There are 2 types of social mobility:

Inter-generational - Over generations of a family

Intra-generational - Over one persons lifetime

The extend of social mobility can be described in 3 ways: 

Long range (bottom to top or vice versa), Short range (a small jump between different jobs), Self recruitment (children stay in the same class as parents).

Barriers to social mobility include: lack of education, income, skills, culture, unemployment and a lower social class.

Social mobility is seen as proof that status is based on achievement rather than ascribed. And that individuals are rewarded on effort and personal qualities rather than inherited wealth.

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Social mobility continued..

Routes to social mobility include:

Educational achievements, marriage, windfalls, changes in the occupational structure.

 - Mobility research has indicated that a working class child's chances of getting a professional or managerial job are a quarter of those of a middle class child.

Scott (2005) - found that education does not appear to matter very much when it comes to determining occupational success and improvements in income.

Despite social changes, it is argued that class remains a central concept in sociology because it continues to impact on people's lives. 

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Democracy, views on power

A democracy is a government by the people where the power has been fairly elected so that power is based on consent and legal rational authority rather than coercion. 

A dictatorship is where power has been taken without consent and usually by force. Decisions are regardless of whether the population agrees or not.

Pluralist view on who holds power

A range of competing groups and interests exist in society and political power is shared between these, No single group dominates decision making or always gets its own way. The state regulates and manages the different interests fairly so that it represents and listens to the needs of all its citizens.


argues that those in positions of power within the state such as top judges come from a richer more privileged background so power is not shared equally. Not everyone has an equal chance of having their wishes listened to.

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How is an MP elected, why abstain?

A person joins a political party. They are chosen as the candidate for that party in a constituency and they start to campaign by talking to as many people as possible and handing out manifestos. Their name is on the ballot slip when it is time for the general election and if they get the most votes they get to take a seat in the house of commons.

Reasons why a citizen may abstain (not vote)

Not interested in politics

Think all political parties are the same

Not trust politicians or the political system

Do not believe their vote will make a difference

Think their party is 'safe' and will win anyway

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Referendum, MP, pressure groups, methods to campai

A referendum is one vote outside of election time on a particular issue where the outcome does not have to be acted on. It can be done at local or national level.

How representative is an MP of ordinary citizens?

Not representative because:

 - More likely to have gone to uni

 - More likely to be male, white and older

 - Less likely to be working class

A pressure group doesn't seek election as they are only after solving one issue. They can operate locally, nationally or globally. 

Methods that can be used to campaign: petitions, lobbying, media, boycott, protest marches, publicity stunts.

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General elections

 - Held every 5 years or less. Everyone over 18 has the right to vote (universal suffrage)

 - People vote using a secret ballot in the constituency in which they live. 

 - Our current voting system is first past the post which means that a candidate in a constituency needs only one more vote than an opponent to win.

 - This is good as it means that constituencies get the MP they want, however it doesn't work in favour of smaller parties whose support is spread over the country as it means they may not win any seats. Also, an MP could be elected even if more than half of the constituents didn't vote for them.

 - Some critics argue that proportional representation would be a fairer system as it involves a party winning seats according to the total number of votes throughout the UK rather than an individual constituency.

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Political parties, Political participation, turnou

 - A political party is an organisation that wants to form a government and have a range of policies on issues such as education, welfare and crime control.

Political participation is explained as the ways that people participated in elections such as voting, standing for election or being involved with a political party. People can be politically active by:

Voting, following election campaigns, standing for elections, joining a political party.

How has political participation changed?

Decline of votes and membership of political parties.

These changes have occurred because people no longer want to be involved as they see politicians as untrustworthy and they don't think their views are influential enough.

Turnout - refers to the proportion of eligible voters who actually vote in an election.

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Class, Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion, Region an

Until the 1970's social class was seen as the most important influence of voting behaviour. Working class would tend to vote labour as they supported manual labour, whereas middle class would vote conservative  as white collar jobs were supported by them.

Traditionally, young people have been more likely to vote labour and older people more likely to vote conservative. Also, women are more likely to vote labour than men.

Labour has gained the strongest support from british asian and black communities which can be explained by the fact that most ethnic minorities are in lower paid jobs

Religion can also influence voting behaviour as a policy could put off voters from a particular religion, e.g. Muslim voters did not like the labour party's decision to support USA invading Iraq.

Conservatives are traditionally more popular in the South of England and Labour the North. This is connected to the types of jobs available.

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Pressure groups

Different types of pressure groups:

Protective groups - try to defend or protect their members' common interests such as trade unions or the British Medical Association which represents doctors.

Promotional groups - try to promote a cause or campaign on a specific issue such as Amnesty International or Greenpeace.

Insider groups - operate inside government networks and are consulted by government departments when policy proposals are being discussed. These groups are in a strong position to influence government policy.

Outsider groups - not consulted by the government and have no links to civil servants or politicians, Often because they are campaigning on issues that are not popular with the government, challenging policies or their campaign methods are disapproved of (e.g. Fathers for justice).

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Pressure groups and political parties

Pressure groups are growing whilst political parties struggle to gain members, showing that citizens may be rejecting political parties as a way to make change and joining pressure groups instead.

Insider pressure groups have to campaign vigorously to get their opinions heard and raise their profile. 

Pluralist view on pressure groups - pressure groups are crucial as they reflect the range of views in society and help us ensure they are represented. Pressure groups also help politicians and the government to keep in touch with the opinions of grass roots(ordinary people).

Conflict view on pressure groups - some groups are more powerful than others so can dominate decision making. It is argued that insider pressure groups are far more likely to be successful than outsider as they have direct links to the government.

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This website is good but where would I find the past papers



this is actually sooo useful :D

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