Monday, June 11, 2012

Contemporary Sociology Essay

Contemporary Sociology Essay

Human life and activity is subjected to a list of classifications which define and explain social and cultural differences between people within a region, a country or even the whole planet. Here I would like to shortly outline some exciting social trends and processes of the contemporary society.

Firstly, I would like to express my curiosity in defining such terms as ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’. The basic knowledge gives a hint that race unifies a large amount of people who have physical similarities, live in a certain region on the planet, and share common values like history, traditions or skills. Ethnical division seems to be rather loose: people form nations within a race and segregate on the principles that have value in their societies – religion and political views, lifestyles, or even consumer products (Macionis, 2009). It is interesting to know that different countries have different classifications for both racial and ethnical systems which vary over time in numbers and names these systems get (Ferrante, 2008, p.234). Still one of the biggest concerns nowadays, according to Macionis (2009), Ferrante (2008, p.235) and Giddens and Griffiths (2006, p.488), is the identity of black people in the countries of North America and Europe. The status of black has been changing over the last half-century, and now the blacks are considered the part of ethnicity in many countries. On the contrary, they are defined as a ‘racial group of Africa’, and this is a vivid distinction between race and ethnicity as classification systems.

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Feminism has also been a favourite topic for discussion in many environments for already one and a half century. According to Macionis (2009), feminists find interconnection between their personal and social life being active members of society. They require equity between genders, sexual autonomy and the freedom of choice. Basically I understand this as a desire for women to distinguish themselves, and nowadays we have lots of examples of successful female individuals all around the world. Anyway, this movement still gained popularity not in many countries – there are nations and probably even races where a female better prefers patriarchy and dominance of a man over her. One of the strongest examples is the order of life in Arabic countries dictated by their religion and traditions.

Health proves its importance for every race and gender. To be healthy means to be a rigorous member of the society. Different classes of people are exposed to different problems with health, which depend on their material situation, social class, cultural preferences, gender, and other factors. Higher social classes consequently feel healthier because their way of life is more qualitative than that of lower classes (Macionis, 2009). This concerns also the statistics of deaths and giving birth (Giddens and Griffiths, 2006, p.274). Basically, the statistics takes account of all reasons: poor diet, bad habits, stress, living in dangerous or polluted zones, education and employment rates, etc. I feel surprised to find such points as infrastructure and social security in the list – it does not seem obvious that a person’s health depends on public transport planning and inadequate social treatment as well.

Aging is an important issue both in sociology and medicine. While the life expectancy has increased by thirty years from the beginning of the 20th century (Macionis, 2009), many scientists worry about the demographic situation in the world. The dependency ratio between the number of children and old people has risen (Macionis, 2009; Giddens and Griffiths, 2006, p.192). This process is called “the graying of the nation” and takes place in the US and other countries of the world. For the older part of the nation this results in changes in human psychics, mental and physical abilities. How can we apply this knowledge? I would say that these data are valuable in marketing and strategic management for the businesses. The products and the amounts of units produced change in order to target the generations with better buying attitude and consumer needs.

Politics from the sociological point of view is based on the concept of power and authority. They are the basis for political systems which are applied in the modern world (Macionis, 2009). Usually the type of the political system witnesses about some cultural and historical peculiarities of a certain nation. I consider the United States to be one of the most outstanding countries from the political point of view. Stability and traditional approach is inherent to politics in US, though, being a country with the highest ethnical diversity, the politics has to touch many issues in social life as well. The diversity of nations suggests on considering the rights and opinions of extremely different social groups. Besides, the status of these groups changes from time to time and this may even require reviewing a list of laws and regulations. Barack Obama is the first black US President, even though only half a century ago the rights of black people were suppressed.

As for me, studying social processes helps to understand the historical and cultural legacy of the nations, make better decisions and forecasts for future, and learn more about the lifestyles of the surrounding people. I view sociology as a powerful tool in predicting of emerging trends and reacting on them on personal and social levels.
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