1. Briefly discuss the determinants of the status you possess
My personality, the house I live in, my job, the way I conduct myself, the way I dress
2. Prepare a list of different types of social groups in the Sri Lankan society
Sociologists have identified 4 different types of social groups. They are:
- Primary Groups – The Sociologist Charles Coday defined this as a group formed on the face to face relations of its members with a view to build the structure in respect of their individuality. The objectives of a primary group are personal in nature. When the members of the group are taken separately, they have different personal objectives. Interactions between two members also take place not on the same objective. Therefore such social relations are informal. Very often these relations may be subjective. Most of them have face to face relationships, since these relations are not based on accepted or standard manner, communication or the exchange of ideas is limited.
- Secondary Groups – Secondary Groups have common objectives. These are properly organized institutions. Sometimes they achieve even personal objectives through the common objectives and actions. The members of a Trade Union get their salaries increased by the trade union, is an example. The roles and statuses of the members in secondary groups are formal in nature. Everyone possesses a definite role. There is a bureaucratic system. There may be a definite hierarchy and a system of laws and regulations. The members come together for specific purpose only. Therefore, the communication is limited. There is a possibility of assigning the roles and statutes to the others if the originally nominated person is not present. These secondary groups may operate with a primary group, and in turn, primary groups can operate with a secondary group.
- Reference Groups – The model group which is taken as an example in order to appreciate the pattern of behavior of an individual or one’s group is known as a reference group. Example: “he behaves like a fellow from Colombo 7” said by a middle class man. Although the individual does not really belong to the group, he feels that he is a member of the particular group.
- Conflict Groups – A group becomes a conflict group when it deviates from the accepted norms and patterns of behavior of the society.
Example: Criminals, cult members, etc. The conflict group struggles for the existence of its culture while remaining in the society. In some situations several conflict groups may get together resulting from such struggles.
In some societies, groups are centered around the family, kinship, neighborhood or religious institutions, e.g.: temple or church. In our society in addition to family, kinship groups, friendship groups, religious groups, other social groups such as political groups, labor organizations, etc. could be seen. Social groups can be defined a collection of few or more persons who have certain standards of behavior and enjoy common interests collectively by interacting with each other for a considerable period of time.
3. Compare the role of traditional and modern agents of socialization that can be found in the Sri Lankan society.
Agents of socialization are categorized into two as primary and secondary. Primary socialization is the basic step of familiarizing a child to the society. Here the family is a crucial agent. Secondary socialization is the familiarization of an organized place or institution. It is more systematic than that of the primary socialization. The school is the best example of an agent of secondary socialization. Among the agents of socialization are family, school, peer groups, mass media, higher education institutions, work places, religion and politics.
The old communication used to familiarize an individual to the society or to make the individual to the society or to make the individual compatible with the culture are known as traditional communication. Here the folklore, folk tale, folk songs, folk dramas etc., are important communication methods. Every society has its own stories particularly for children which have come down the ages through oral transmission. Heroic biographies, religious stories (Eg: Buddhist Jathaka stories), instructive stories (e.g.: creations by Aesop) may influence socialization and formation of personality not only among children but also among the adult. With the technological development, these traditional methods are vanishing from most of the societies. Instead, modern communication methods are emerging in the place of traditional communication methods. Picture stories are also capable of influencing socialization. Some children and even youth have a tendency to imitate the heroic characters shown in these picture stories.
New communication methods which came into being as a result of new inventions and with the development of technology are known as methods of modern communication. These methods can be divided into two categories as print media and electronic media. Newspapers, magazines, printed books etc., belong to the print media. Radio, television, films, computers, etc., belong to the category of electronic media. All these media are capable of influencing the thoughts, ideas and activities of individuals. All these media have a tendency to show the diversity of interactions among individuals, different patterns of values in different cultures and the manner in which individuals play their roles. By radio broadcasting programs the audience is socialized through enjoyment and education. Cassettes also affect the socialization and personality of an individual. Since television and cinema are audiovisual media, they are capable of developing a closer relationship with the spectators.
It has been revealed by surveys that different types of films and dramas telecast on the television may strongly influence the socialization and the formation of personality, particularly among children. The influence of horror films and soap operas is marked in this regard, Because of these films and dramas there may be adverse effects on the progressive skills of the children in respect of playing their roles. They take place because of children’s natural tendency towards imitation. Surveys revealed that horrific children’s films have resulted in the increase of crimes in the country. Another bad effect is television addiction.
4. What are essential features of a social movement?
Social change often breeds social movements and movements in turn breed additional change. Accordingly we can define a social movement as “an organized group effort to generate socio-culture change”, e.g.: the birth of Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in 1958 in Sri Lanka. We could also define a social movement as ” a mechanism by which people work together to promote or suppress particular social changes”, e.g.: the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. The members of the group are highly motivated towards making changes in society. All social movements arise with some kind of dissatisfied feeling towards the existing social order. The success of a social movement relies on effective leadership. Powerful leadership creates shared visions of what people are working for and mobilizes the necessary resources to achieve collective goals. The leaders of a social movement redefine a condition as unfair, recognize the root of the problems and suggest methods to settle the problem in order to further these objectives. Various propaganda methods such as rallies, conferences, pamphlets, processions, etc. are utilized. Dawson and Getty have identified the life cycle of a social movement in four stages. They are as follows:
- Initially there exists some sort of social unrest and the leader of social movement acts as an ‘agitator’ who causes anxiety.
- The subsequent stage of the social movement requires a prophet to propagate the news and to stimulate the followers’ inspiration.
- At the thirds stage, the social movement is formally organized and coordinated by an ‘administrator’.
- During the final stage the social movement takes a bureaucratic phase and a ‘statesman’ assists in achieving the goals of the social movement under political realities.
A social movement needs a large number of dedicated members (followers). Resources not only consist of money and the commitment of members but also of other organizations that might join or help the social movement. Therefore, organization plays a crucial role in any social movement.
According to the resource mobilization concept, the obtainable resources for social movements consist of:
a) Masses pledged to achieve the goals of a social movement and their degree of dedication.
b) The ‘verbal and non-verbal communication’ abilities of the leadership and the membership.
c) The organizational skills of the leadership, and
d) The financial and legal capabilities of the members.
If the benefits are liable to be greater than the cost, many individuals will join social movements. Four structural features that would encourage individual participation in social movements are:
- a prior contact with a member of the movement
- membership in other organizations
- a prior history of social activism
- availability (absence of social constraints such as full time work, marriage and family responsibilities). The ideology of a social movement plays a vital role in the recruitment process.
There are four types of social movements:
- Utilitarian or interest based movements –
This type of movement depends more on rational choice than on ideology. However ideology too is an important feature, e.g.: the labor movement and the civil rights movement. Religious movement and the animal rights movement could be identified as ‘moralist social movement’.
- Revolutionary Social Movements –
These movements are displeased over society and they want to change it completely in China and Cuba. These movements could be violent or non-violent (like the Gandhi movement in India)
- Reformist Social Movements –
This type of movements basically accepts the state of affairs but seeks specific changes, e.g.: the anti-nuclear movement and the Gay Rights Movement.
- Regressive Social Movements –
These movements are those that attempt to move the society back to at an earlier time’, e.g.: the Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East, The Extremist Hindu factions in India, etc.
Coday, Charles, Sociologist
Dawson, C.A. and Getty W.A., An Introduction to Sociology (1929)
Department of Social Studies, Open University of Sri Lanka: Publication on Introduction to Sociology