Sexuality Deviance Social Stratification

incest taboo found in every society?

The incest taboo is found in every society, with close relatives generally excluded as possible partners. However, given that there is tremendous variation between cultures about how to define incest, with some cultures permitting sexual relationships between relatives as close as brother and sister. Some suggest that incest taboos are cultural implementations of biological preferences to seek sexual partners that do not share genes because of the potential negative consequences of inbreeding. Another cultural suggestion is that intermarriage between groups promotes alliance-formation that is important for a culture; therefore, one would expect incest taboos to be stronger in societies where between-group alliances are less important.

Explain how the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement.

The gay rights movement is a civil rights movement in many ways. There is strong evidence that homosexuality is not a choice, but an inborn biological trait, so that people may choose to engage in homosexual behavior, but do not choose to be attracted to same-sex partners. As a result, homosexuality is an immutable characteristic over which a person has no control. Discriminating against a person on the basis of an immutable characteristic is widely considered to be a violation of human rights. However, the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement even if one does not consider homosexuality to be biologically determined. Looking specifically at the issue of gay marriage, this relationship becomes clear. If a man wants to marry another adult man, but cannot do so because he is a man, while a similarly situated woman would be permitted to do so, then he is facing discrimination on the basis of sex. Much like African-Americans were permitted to marry non-whites prior to the court decision in Loving v. Virginia, the issue is not that homosexuals are being denied the right to marry, at all, but whether homosexuals have the same marriage rights as all other similarly situated people.

3. What is the difference between sex and gender?

Many people use the terms sex and gender interchangeably, but there are actually differences between the two of them. Sex is considered to be based on biological sex; therefore the terms male and female describe sex. Gender is a broader-ranging concept that encompasses aspects of what is considered masculine and what is considered feminine in a particular society.

4. Why do you think the abortion controversy is often so bitter? Will we ever find a middle ground as a nation?

I think that the abortion controversy is often so bitter because it is, for many people, far more about the ability to control women's reproductive capacity than it is about the sanctity of life. I come to this conclusion because many people who are very vocally pro-life in the abortion context do very little in regards to respecting the sanctity of human life in other contexts, including the death penalty, war, or even the punishment of people who kill lives-in-being. Moreover, there appears to be such a significant amount of illogical thinking in many pro-life organizations that argue against the stated desire to reduce or eliminate abortions. For example, the majority of people who favor outlawing abortion believe that there should be a rape exception, but if a fetus is a human life, that fetus is a human life regardless of the circumstances of conception. Implementing better birth control and sex education would almost certainly reduce the number of abortions requested, and yet that is adamantly opposed by many people who consider themselves pro-life. Instead, the rhetoric, when it is explored, is often revealed to be virulently anti-woman, much like Rush Limbaugh's recent tirade against a student who testified about birth control coverage, suggesting that she had to be a slut to want access to preventative medicine. I think that there is a tremendous amount of power involved in creating and shaping women's reproductive capabilities, and, because of that, I do not feel that there will ever be a middle-ground on abortion, because the issue is not about abortion. Like many pro-choice people, I am personally opposed to abortion and think that the ideal would be to reduce or eliminate the need for any woman to ever seek an abortion, but I find the slippery slope of what it would mean to reduce women to brood mares very alarming. My position is as uncomfortable for those who are staunchly pro-choice and wish to equate fetuses to moles or other unwanted growths as it is to those who are staunchly pro-life and believe that a fetus who is unable to live outside of the womb should have as many rights as the woman forced to carry that fetus to term. However, it is a position that I feel captures the majority of moderate voices about the issue of abortion. I simply do not think the moderate position will ever prevail.

Part 2

1. What is social control? Give at least 4 examples of how social control has affected you today (18-year-old).

Social control theory refers to how social constraints restrain people from engaging in antisocial behavior. These social constraints are generally so imbedded in regular life that one does not even realize how pervasive they are. They involve all levels of antisocial behavior, from criminal behavior to basic social norms. Moreover, for much of the behavior there are no dramatic negative consequences, yet people still refrain from engaging in antisocial behaviors. I went to breakfast this morning at a restaurant. There was a line of people waiting to give their names at the hostess stand, and I stood in line because that was the social norm, which would have been enforced by ugly looks, whispers, and maybe even comments by other people waiting for their turn in the line. I drove to the restaurant, where I stopped at a red light. There was no oncoming traffic in any direction, no other cars, and no red-light camera at the light, but I waited until the light turned green until I went, because I have been conditioned to expect negative social consequences from running a red light. I was in an elevator with a child and a woman who appeared to be her grandmother and I refrained from cursing, though it was not illegal to do so, because the social norm in my cultural group is to refrain from cursing in front of children or elderly people, and the consequences of doing so would be social punishments. Finally, I jaywalked, even though it is a crime. That is probably because there are no real social constraints on jaywalking behavior.

2. Talk about Stanley Milgram's shock experiment; what were the overall conclusions in relation to obedience and social control?

The overall conclusions about Milgram's shock experiment were that much of what people refrain from because of it is considered antisocial is not due to it being inherently negative, but because people have been conditioned to think of it as negative. In the shock experiment, all of the participants indicated a desire to stop in some manner and questioned the experiment. However, about 65% of the subjects administered the final shocks, despite showing obvious discomfort. The result was that it seemed that people were very subject to social control and would engage in behavior that they found uncomfortable if they were told to engage in that behavior. It certainly helps explain phenomena like the Holocaust, which seems unimaginable to people outside of that social scenario.

3. Describe informal and formal social control.

Informal social control is those societal rules that are not explicit, but are considered social norms and customs. Individuals are not specifically punished for violating those norms, but they may be subject to societal punishments such as ridicule, ostracism, or other sanctions. Shame plays a huge role in informal methods of social control. In contrast, formal social control generally involves government or other official organizations, and the imposition of official sanctions including fines, imprisonment, or other deprivation of the rights.

4. What is deviance and who decides what is deviant and what is not? Have you taken part in an act of deviance? How did you know it was deviant?

Deviance is action or behavior that violates social norms. The most powerful people in society help determine which behaviors are deviant, though who is the most powerful varies depending on the theorist. In many ways, the majority of society is who determines whether behavior is deviant or acceptable. I have taken part in an act of deviance; I have texted on my cell phone during a movie. I know it was deviant because the behavior is one that is generally criticized by people who discuss the norms of acceptable behavior; it is prohibited by the movie theater and highly criticized by other theater-goers. However, among my own social group, which is not the group in power, it is an accepted, non-deviant behavior.

5. Talk about the war on drugs; what is deviant, what is not, who decides, and how…