Archive for March, 2017
It’s a fair bet that most teachers introduce “the Functionalist perspective” at the start of a course by using an organismic / organic analogy and as a way of introducing the perspective there’s nothing particularly wrong with this; on the contrary, it can be a useful way to help students understand the basic principles underpinning this general approach.
However, just because something’s useful at the start of a course doesn’t necessarily mean it retains its usefulness throughout the course, particularly when students are exposed to rather more sophisticated treatments of alternative perspectives – interactionism in particular.
This set of Teaching Notes, therefore, attempts to redress the balance a little by introducing a contemporary Structural Functionalist approach, Luhmann’s System Theory.
The Notes attempt to distil Luhmann’s complex arguments into a relatively simple form that should be comprehensible to A2 students through the use of simple, familiar, examples that can be used to help students grasp the fundamental ideas (such as using something like Facebook or Twitter as a practical example).
The Notes also include an overview of Interactionist Network Theory, both by way of contrast and to reinforce an idea that frequently gets lost through an organismic analogy: the structure of social action.
With the exam season nearly upon us, the thoughts of students and teachers inexorably turn once more to the annual ritual known as revision.
And if you want to try something a bit different – whether you’re a teacher looking to introduce a range of revision topics or a student looking for something visual to break-up the textbook slog – we have a range of on-demand revision films at a very reasonable price to help.
Our On-demand service gives you access to our short, sharp and tightly-focused films specifically designed for A-level Psychology – each with the emphasis on key exam knowledge, interpretation and evaluation.
Our rental service gives you the opportunity to watch:
- When you want – any number of times over a 48-hour period for a single payment.
- Where you want – on your mobile, tablet or desktop.
To get you started, here’s 4 films you can watch for free:
If you want to see more, free previews are available for each of the following:
- Experimental Research Methods: 3 films covering field, natural and laboratory experiments
- Non-Experimental Research Methods: 3 films covering Naturalistic Observation, Self Report Methods and Case Studies
- Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity – reinterpreting Milgram’s classic studies
- Key Issues in Psychological Research: 3 films on Ethics, Ethnocentrism and Social Sensitivity
- Maths in Psychology: 6 films covering the Sign Test, Probability, Spearman’s Rho, Chi Square, Mann Whitney and Wilcoxen.
- Non-Experimental Research Methods: – 4 revision films covering Naturalistic Observation, Self-Report Methods, Cases Studies and Correlations
- Naturalistic Observation
- Lab Experiments
- 3 Types of Experimental Research Design
- Free Will and Determinism
- Situational Psychology
- The Usefulness of Psychology
- Socially Sensitive Research
Although examples of Merton’s “Responses to Strain” are fairly straightforward I always think it helps students if they can visualise the basic idea involved – something this simple image I came across on Twitter (apologies, but I don’t know who created it) does very well, I think.
So, on the basis you can take a good thing and make it even better (probably) by adding a bit of movement I thought it would be helpful to create a PowerPoint Presentation based around the graphic (and also to add some “ends / means” text into the mix; mainly because I can, but also because it’s helpful to associate different forms of response with different combinations of cultural goals and structural conduits).
The PowerPoint has both click-to-advance and auto-advance versions and its main use, as I see it, is as a visual teaching aid when introducing and discussing response to strain. There’s also, if you prefer, a video version of the Presentation.
A relatively easy way for students to get a handle on Left Realism is through three simple visualisations that can then be used to build-up a picture of this general approach to both explaining crime and deviance and suggesting solutions to the problem of crime. These visualisations involve:
A PowerPoint version of the above is also available for download.
We can explore these ideas in more detail in a number of ways.
When thinking about differences and similarities between marriage and cohabitation one thing that tends to get overlooked is that, in terms of people’s reasons for making these commitments, neither is homogeneous; just as there are many and varied reasons for deciding to get married, the same is largely true of decisions about whether to cohabit.
Smart and Stevens’ (2000) explored some of these reasons and identified two broadly different (ideal) types of cohabitative commitment through their interviews with 40 separated parents. This research identified a number of broad reasons for cohabitation:
Although the Hypothetico-deductive model describes an important way of doing research, by way of contrast (since not all sociologists believe the same things or do things in exactly the same way) we can look at an alternative “emergent (exploratory) research” model that can be closely associated with Interpretivist methodology.
In general, this type of model follows the same basic flow identified by Oberg (1999) – albeit with some significant design modifications – in that it involves:
A research issue is identified and a “research question” or “problem” takes shape. This may flow from background reading on the topic or the researcher may want to “come fresh” to the research to avoid being influenced by what others have said or written.
This is a feminist perspective that covers a wide range of different viewpoints, but at its core it refers to two broad ideas:
Firstly, a belief that gender equality – in contemporary Western societies such as Britain and America at least – has been broadly achieved.
Secondly, the claim that the 2nd wave feminism that brought both radical and Marxist feminist to the fore of the women’s movement from the 1960’s onwards has not only outlived its usefulness to women but is actually now responsible for making women frustrated, guilty and unhappy about their family and gender relationships.
As you might expect both of the above are contested claims, both politically and sociologically (McRobbie (2007), for example, suggests the concept of post-feminism refers to “an active process by which feminist gains of the 1970s and 80s come to be undermined”) – but it’s nevertheless worth outlining three of the key ideas of this general approach, something we can do with the help of a simple mnemonic:
We can flesh-out this simple idea in the following way:
Another dimension to Neo-Functionalist thinking about contemporary families is to look more-closely at what happens within family groups and to use these insights to explain how and why families play such pivotal structural roles. Horwitz (2005), for example, has argued Neo-Functionalist perspectives contribute to our understanding of family functions in terms of the family group representing a Micro-Macro Bridge.
In this respect the family is considered an institution that connects the micro world of the individual with the macro world of wider society (the “anonymous social institutions” such as work, government, education and so forth that develop in complex, large-scale, contemporary societies). The linkage between, on the one hand, social structures (the macro world) and on the other social actions (the micro world) is significant because it represents a way for Neo-Functionalism to explain the relationship between the individual and social structure, in terms of, for example, the family’s role in the primary socialisation process.
Day Workshop with renowned sociologist and film-maker, Dr Steve Taylor
Strain, Labelling, Realism etc. are still important because they underpin a lot of research in the contemporary study of Crime and Deviance. But supposing your students could demonstrate this with new concepts & 21st. Century research examples?
This Workshop consolidates the key theories and concepts and then illustrates their application with clear, easy to understand up to date research. For example, students read about moral panics, but how much more impressive could an answer be if they were able to bring in the recent concept of ‘amoral panics’?
- Crime, Deviance, Order and Control: clarifying sociological approaches.
- Globalisation & Crime: filling the gaps by linking to familiar sociological approaches
- Researching Crime: methods clarified, evaluated & illustrated with new ideas & interactive Q & A practice.
- Theory & Method: this challenging topic laid bare, simplified and illustrated.
Free Crime and Deviance films provided!
Additional Sessions on Family, Youth Culture & Research Methods, if required.
What Teachers say
“Delivered with a real affection for the subject with pace and professionalism Partly as a consequence of working with Steve we had an excellent set of results”: Stephen Base Verulam College
“Excellent day. He brings in contemporary evidence and great links to exam skills”: Ann-Marie Taylor Coleg Cambria
“Brilliant exam focused training”: Mandy Gordon, Highfield School
“Our students loved it, Steve got them to think outside the box”: Pauline Kendal, Bedford Sixth Form
What Students Say
‘He was even better than in the videos. Loved it.’
‘Makes the theories come alive by linking them to the studies’.
‘Liked learning about the new studies, especially the gang ones.’
‘I feel so much more confident after Steve’s class.’
‘I could never understand theory and methods and now I do.’
Cost: inclusive & regardless of number of schools attending
Half day: £300
For more information, contact:
As you may have noticed I’m quite attached to the idea of lists, so this second “list post” (did you see what I did there?) should come as no surprise. Nor should it be surprising that the list focuses on functions. Again. I can’t really explain why there’s so many Functionalist lists – perhaps they just really like them?
Anyway, if you’re looking at the concept of culture – what Fisher (1997) calls “shared behaviour…that systematises the way people do things, thus avoiding confusion and allowing cooperation so that groups of people can accomplish what no single individual could do alone” – Mazrui (1996) has identified seven functions culture performs for both societies and individuals.