Have at least two posts to receive 30 points for this discussion. One of the posts has to answer the question; the second should be a comment about one of the posts made by one of your classmates. Make sure that your second post is respectful and thoughtful. All posts have to be turned in on time to receive full credit.
Read Chapter 5.
Chapter 5 is about social groups and about how we behave in groups, given our statuses and the meanings we attach to things or events.
Answer the questions below:
1) Watch the video about the social construction of reality (see link below, you can research this topic too). Then, provide an example of a social construct and briefly explain what makes it so (a social construction, that is). If you are the first one to answer this question, you can use the examples mentioned in the video, but please don’t use the examples that other classmates have already used. There are enough examples for all of us.
Now, state the Thomas theorem (it’s in your book) and answer the following question: How does the Thomas theorem apply to a reality that is socially constructed? (Or what does the Thomas theorem say about a reality that is socially constructed? You can use your example to illustrate your point).
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2) Chapter 5: Watch the videos below and answer the following questions: a) What did each experiment try to measure? (There is a right answer); b) Do you think that researchers would get the same results if they did these experiments today?
The Asch Experiment
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The Milgram Experiment
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The Stanford Prison Experiment
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Respond to the post below
2. The Thomas Theorem states that something is socially real if it has consequences, regardless of if it is physically real. Occupations exist only because they are agreed to exist. That holding the status of an occupation includes the required roles involved with that occupation is true only because the society that status exists in agrees these roles should be assigned to people holding these statuses. The compensation given to people who hold these statuses for performing these roles is also determined by the consensus of the society these roles are performed in; for example, programming was an underpaid career before the demand for software increased. The fact that occupations do not exist in any physical sense yet are still integral to the operations of society demonstrates the Thomas Theorem. Occupations do not exist physically and are not a natural law, yet their consequences are impactful enough for them to be classified as socially real.
3. The Asch experiment was designed to measure the subjects’ susceptibility to peer pressure. The experiment involved showing a test subject four lines, one separate from the other three, and asking the subject which line the separate line is the same length as. Unknown to the subject, their peers in the experiment were not test subjects but were instead other experimenters. The variable changed in the experiments were the responses of the experimenters who posed as subjects; at first, they gave the correct answer and later they intentionally gave the wrong answer. Only 25% of the subjects would consistently give the correct answer after the experimenters’ answer changed. Later attempts to perform the Asch experiment resulted in less subjects giving the wrong answer in compliance with the experimenters. This shows that the experiment’s outcomes may have been a product of the increased focus on conformity in the culture of the 1950s, rather than an innate human quality.
4. The Milgram experiment was designed to test the subject’s compliance with authority. An excuse commonly given by the defendants during the Nuremberg Trials was that they were only following the orders of their superiors. In response to the then recent trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, Stanly Milgram developed an experiment to test if the subjects would suspend their moral concerns at the request of an authority figure. For the experiment the subject would be charged with asking questions and, when the person they were asking questions to gave an incorrect answer, they were to give an electric shock. The intensity of this shock would increase for each wrong answer, eventually it would reach a lethal level. What the subject did not know is that the pleas of the person receiving the shock were pre-recorded, no pain nor physical injury was being inflicted as a result of their actions. The test subjects fully believed that they were administering potentially dangerous shocks to the responder. At around 135 volts most subjects would face the experimenter and ask to either check on the learner or to discontinue the experiment, after a succession of orders from the experimenter most continued. Only 35% of the subjects quit before reaching the maximum voltage allowed by the machine. The goal of this experiment was to test how effectively socialized the subjects had been to follow the orders of an authority, despite their best judgement. If performed today the experiment would likely see a smaller share of the subjects comply with the experimenter’s orders up to the maximum amount of volts. Compliance with authority is less stressed as a value in the modern era than it was in the 40s and 50s, the era when Milgram’s test subjects were raised.
5. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment was designed to test the extent that the situation a person finds themselves in effects their actions as opposed to their individual characteristics. In this experiment 24 undergraduate students were assigned either the role of a prisoner or of a prison guard based on a coin toss. The prisoners were subject to mock arrests, trials, and imprisonment in a school basement remodeled to look like a jail. The prison guards were allowed to do as they pleased to the prisoners, short of causing them physical harm. The experiment was canceled after six days because of the guards increasingly aberrant behavior towards the prisoners. All of the test subjects were deemed healthy and stable psychologically. What the change in behavior of the guards’ shows is that the status a person is given often overrides their own personal outlooks in determining their actions. If this experiment was performed today, it would likely not have the same outcome. People in the modern world are less concerned with compliance to the roles ascribed to them based on their status; as such, the subjects assigned the role of guard would be less likely today to engage in the aberrant behavior as the subjects of the original 1971 study.