Aiou Solved Assignments code 4681 Autumn 2019 asignments 1 and 2 Introduction to Sociology Culture and Society 4681 spring 2019. aiou tutors
AIOU Solved Assignments 1 & 2 Code 4681 Autumn 2019
Course: Introduction to Sociology: Culture and Society (4681)
Level: M. Sc, Sociology
Semester: Spring, 2019
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
Q. 1 What is Sociology? Discuss its scope of studies and development over time.
Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions. Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies. Unifying the study of these diverse subjects of
study is sociology’s purpose of understanding how human action and consciousness both shape and are shaped by surrounding cultural and social structures.
Sociology is an exciting and illuminating field of study that analyzes and explains important matters in our personal lives, our communities, and the world. At the personal level, sociology investigates the social causes and consequences of such things as romantic love, racial and gender identity, family conflict, deviant behavior, aging, and religious faith. At the societal
level, sociology examines and explains matters like crime and law, poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, schools and education, business firms, urban community, and social movements. At the global level, sociology studies such phenomena as population growth and migration, war and peace, and economic development.
Sociologists emphasize the careful gathering and analysis of evidence about social life to develop and enrich our understanding of key social processes. The research methods sociologists use are varied. Sociologists observe the everyday life of groups, conduct large- scale surveys, interpret historical documents, analyze census data, study video-taped
interactions, interview participants of groups, and conduct laboratory experiments. The research methods and theories of sociology yield powerful insights into the social processes
shaping human lives and social problems and prospects in the contemporary world. By better
understanding those social processes, we also come to understand more clearly the forces
shaping the personal experiences and outcomes of our own lives. The ability to see and
understand this connection between broad social forces and personal experiences – what C.
Wright Mills called “the sociological imagination” – is extremely valuable academic
preparation for living effective and rewarding personal and professional lives in a changing
and complex society.
Students who have been well trained in sociology know how to think critically about human
social life, and how to ask important research questions. They know how to design good
social research projects, carefully collect and analyze empirical data, and formulate and
present their research findings. Students trained in sociology also know how to help others
understand the way the social world works and how it might be changed for the better. Most
generally, they have learned how to think, evaluate, and communicate clearly, creatively, and
effectively. These are all abilities of tremendous value in a wide variety of vocational callings
Sociology offers a distinctive and enlightening way of seeing and understanding the social
world in which we live and which shapes our lives. Sociology looks beyond normal, taken-for-
granted views of reality, to provide deeper, more illuminating and challenging understandings
of social life. Through its particular analytical perspective, social theories, and research
methods, sociology is a discipline that expands our awareness and analysis of the human
social relationships, cultures, and institutions that profoundly shape both our lives and human
Scope of Sociology
Scope means the subject matter or the areas of study. Every science has its own field of
inquiry. It becomes difficult to study a science systematically unless its boundary or scope is
determined precisely. Sociology as a social science has its own scope or boundaries. But there
is no one opinion about the scope of Sociology. However, there are two main schools of
thought regarding the scope of Sociology: (1) The Specialist or Formalistic school and (2) the
Synthetic school. There is a good deal of controversy about the scope of Sociology between
the two schools. The supporter of first school believe that Sociology is a specific science and
the scope should be limited whereas others believe that it is a general science and its scope is
(1) Specialistic school:
The supporters of this school of thought are George Simmel, Vierkandt, Max Weber, Vonwise,
and F. Tonnies. The main views of the school regarding the scope of Sociology are –
(i) Sociology is a specific, pure and independent social science.
(ii) Sociology studies the various forms of social relationships.
(iii) Scope of Sociology is very narrow and limited.
(iv) Sociology deals with specific form of human relationship.
(v) Sociology need not study all the events connected with social science.
(vi) Simmel believes that it is a specific social science and it should deal with social
relationships from different angles.
(i) Sociologist alone does not study the forms of social relationships. Other social scientists
also do that.
(ii) The distinction between the forms of social relations and their contents is not practicable.
(iii) Thirdly, the formalistic school has narrowed down the scope of Sociology.
(iv) Finally, the conception of pure Sociology is imaginary.
(2) Synthetic school:
The supporters of synthetic school are the sociologists like Ginsberg, Durkheim, Comte,
Sorokin, Spencer, F. Ward, and L.T. Hobhouse.
According to this school-
(i) Sociology is a general and systematic social science.
(ii) Scope of Sociology is very vast.
(iii) Sociology needs help from other social sciences.
(iv) It is a synthesis of social science.
(v) Sociology is closely related with other social sciences.
From the above discussion, we come to know that formalistic school believes in the study of
the parts, which makes up the society and synthetic school advocates the study of the whole
society. However, both the schools complement to each other. They are not opposed to each
other. Thus, Sociology is a general science of society and specialised discipline. Sociology is a
growing science. Therefore, it is neither possible nor desirable to restrict its scope.
AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4681 Autumn 2019
Q. 2 Define Culture. Discuss in detail different Components of Culture with reference to your society.
“A culture is a total way of life. It embraces what people ate and what they wore; the way they
walked and the way they talked; the manner in which they treated death and greeted the
newborn.” ? Walter Rodney,
Scholars also approach culture as a society’s “way of life” (Griswold 2012; Long
1997). Anthropologist E.B. Taylor referred to Culture as “that complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by
a man as a member of society,” a definition which Griswold notes is the “anthropological
definition of culture” (Griswold 2012: 8). From this approach, we can think of cultures in terms
of their individualistic versus collectivistic character. Certain Western societies, like the U.S.,
are characterized by a culture of individualism which emphasizes people’s independence and
autonomy, whereas many Eastern cultures are thought of as collectivistic in that their way of
life emphasizes interdependence and interconnectedness (Markus and Kitayama 1991).
Elements of Culture
Culture is a huge topic of study for sociologists. Culture exists anywhere humans exist, and no
two cultures are exactly the same. We’ve started talking about culture in another lesson and
discussed its combination of elements that, together, form a people’s unique way of life. In
this lesson, we are going to take a closer look at those elements, specifically symbols,
language, values, and norms. These elements look different across cultures, and many change
with time as a society evolves.
The first element that exists in every culture is a variety of symbols. A symbol is anything that
is used to stand for something else. People who share a culture often attach a specific
meaning to an object, gesture, sound, or image. For example, a cross is a significant symbol
to Christians. It is not simply two pieces of wood attached to each other, nor is it just an old
object of torture and execution. To Christians, it represents the basis of their entire religion,
and they have great reverence for the symbol.
We can see more examples of symbols in American culture. Emoticons are combinations of
keyboard characters that many use to represent their feelings online or through texting. The
American flag represents our entire country. A red light at a traffic intersection is used to relay
the message that you need to stop your vehicle.
The second element present in every culture is a language. Language is a system of words
and symbols used to communicate with other people. This includes full languages as we
usually think of them, such as English, Spanish, French, etc. But it also includes body
language, slang, and common phrases that are unique to certain groups of people. For
example, even though English is spoken fluently in both America and Britain, we have slang
and phrases that mean different things. American French fries are British chips, American
cookies are British biscuits, and so on.
Another example of how cultural languages differ beyond vocabulary is the fact that eye
contact represents different meanings in different cultures. In America, eye contact suggests
that you are paying attention and are interested in what a person has to say. In other cultures,
eye contact may be considered rude and to be a challenge of authority.
Another cultural element is a system of values, which are culturally defined standards for
what is good or desirable. Members of the culture use the shared system of values to decide
what is good and what is bad. For example, in America, we are individualistic – we encourage
competition and emphasize personal achievement. A person who accepts a promotion in our
culture is praised for their individual hard work and talent. But our values are in stark contrast
with the collectivistic values of other cultures, where collaboration is encouraged, and a
person’s success is only as good as their contributions to the group. The same person that is
offered a promotion who lives in a collectivistic culture would consult with his family before
accepting to ensure that it would be the most beneficial to the group as a whole.
On the external side, anthropologists have focused on both artifacts and behaviors.
Herskovits (1948, 17) tells us that, “Culture is the man-made part of the environment,” and
Meade (1953, 23) says culture “is the total shared, learned behavior of a society or a
subgroup.” These dimensions are combined in Malinowski’s (1931, 624) formulation: “Culture
is a well organized unity divided into two fundamental aspects-a body of artifacts and a
system of customs.”
More recently, externally focused definitions of culture have taken a semiotic turn. According
to Geertz (1973, 89), culture is “an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in
symbols.” Culture, on such a view, is like a text-something that needs to be interpreted
through the investigation of symbols. For Geertz, interpretation involves the production of
“thick descriptions,” in which behavioral practices are described in sufficient detail to trace
inferential associations between observed events. It’s not sufficient to refer to an observed
ritual as a “marriage;” one must recognize that nuptial rites have very different sequelae
across social groups, and these must be described. Ideally, the anthropologist can present a
culture from the point of view of its members.
Geertz’s thick descriptions may seem to move from the external focus of earlier approaches
into a more psychological arena, but he does not take interpretation to centrally involve
psychological testing. The term “thick description” is taken over from Ryle (1971), whose
approach to the mind emphasizes behavioral dispositions. An even more radical break from
psychology can be found in an approach called “cultural materialism” (Harris 2001). Cultural
materialists believe that thick description thwarts explanation, because the factors that
determine social practices are largely unknown to practitioners. For Harris, these factors
principally involve material variables, such as the ecological conditions in which a group lives
and the technologies available to it. Cultural variation and change can be best explained by
these factors without describing richly elaborated practices, narratives, or psychological
states. Harris calls the materialistic approach “etic” and contrasts it with the “emic”
approaches, which try to capture a culture from within. This differs from Tylor’s
external/internal distinction because even external cultural items, such as artworks, may be
part of emic analyses on Harris’s model, since they belong to the symbolic environment of
culture rather than, say, the ecological or technological environments-variables that can be
repeated across cultural contexts. Harris aims for generalizations whereas Geertz aims for
(highly particular) interpretations. The debate between semioticians and materialists can be
described as a debate about whether anthropology is best pursued as one of the humanities
or as a science.
Aside from Tylor, the approaches that we have been surveying focus on external variables,
with Harris’s cultural materialism occupying one extreme. But psychological approaches to
culture are also prevalent, and they have gained popularity as cognitive science has taken a
cultural turn. D’Andrade (1995, 143) tells us that, since the 1950s, “Culture is often said to
consist in rules… These rules are said to be implicit because ordinary people can’t tell you
what they are” (D’Andrade himself favors a more encompassing, processual definition, which
includes both external items and the cognitive processes that interact with them). Richerson
and Boyd (2005, 5) define culture as “information capable of affecting individuals’ behavior
that they acquire from other members of their species through teaching, imitation, and other
forms of social transmission.” Sperber (1996, 33) describes culture in terms of “widely
distributed, lasting mental and public representations inhabiting a given social group.”
AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4681
AIOU Solved Assignments 1 Code 4681 Autumn 2019
Q. 3 What is Society? Discuss in details the historical evolution of different types of societies?
A society is a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group
sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political
authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of
relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and
institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its
constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often evinces stratification or
dominance patterns in subgroups.
Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would
not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common)
benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap. A society can also
consist of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values within a dominant,
larger society. This is sometimes referred to as a subculture, a term used extensively within
criminology. More broadly, and especially within structuralist thought, a society may be
illustrated as an economic, social, industrial or cultural infrastructure, made up of, yet distinct
from, a varied collection of individuals. In this regard society can mean the objective
relationships people have with the material world and with other people, rather than “other
people” beyond the individual and their familiar social environment.
Different types of societies:
Although humans have established many types of societies throughout history, sociologists
and anthropologists (experts who study early and tribal cultures) usually refer to six basic
types of societies, each defined by its level of technology.
Hunting And Gathering Societies
The members of hunting and gathering societies primarily survive by hunting animals,
fishing, and gathering plants. The vast majority of these societies existed in the past, with only
a few (perhaps a million people total) living today on the verge of extinction.
To survive, early human societies completely depended upon their immediate environment.
When the animals left the area, the plants died, or the rivers dried up, the society had to
relocate to an area where resources were plentiful. Consequently, hunting and gathering
societies, which were typically small, were quite mobile. In some cases, where resources in a
locale were extraordinarily plentiful, small villages might form. But most hunting and
gathering societies were nomadic, moving constantly in search of food and water.
Members of pastoral societies, which first emerged 12,000 years ago, pasture animals for
food and transportation. Pastoral societies still exist today, primarily in the desert lands of
North Africa where horticulture and manufacturing are not possible.
Domesticating animals allows for a more manageable food supply than do hunting and
gathering. Hence, pastoral societies are able to produce a surplus of goods, which makes
storing food for future use a possibility. With storage comes the desire to develop
settlements that permit the society to remain in a single place for longer periods of time. And
with stability comes the trade of surplus goods between neighboring pastoral communities.
Unlike pastoral societies that rely on domesticating animals, horticultural societies rely on
cultivating fruits, vegetables, and plants. These societies first appeared in different parts of the
planet about the same time as pastoral societies. Like hunting and gathering societies,
horticultural societies had to be mobile. Depletion of the land’s resources or dwindling water
supplies, for example, forced the people to leave. Horticultural societies occasionally
produced a surplus, which permitted storage as well as the emergence of other professions
not related to the survival of the society.
Agricultural societies use technological advances to cultivate crops (especially grains like
wheat, rice, corn, and barley) over a large area. Sociologists use the phrase Agricultural
Revolution to refer to the technological changes that occurred as long as 8,500 years ago
that led to cultivating crops and raising farm animals. Increases in food supplies then led to
larger populations than in earlier communities. This meant a greater surplus, which resulted in
towns that became centers of trade supporting various rulers, educators, craftspeople,
merchants, and religious leaders who did not have to worry about locating nourishment.
From the 9th to 15th centuries, feudalism was a form of society based on ownership of land.
Unlike today’s farmers, vassals under feudalism were bound to cultivating their lord’s land. In
exchange for military protection, the lords exploited the peasants into providing food, crops,
crafts, homage, and other services to the owner of the land. The caste system of feudalism
was often multigenerational; the families of peasants may have cultivated their lord’s land for
Industrial societies are based on using machines (particularly fuel-driven ones) to produce
goods. Sociologists refer to the period during the 18th century when the production of goods
in mechanized factories began as the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution
appeared first in Britain, and then quickly spread to the rest of the world.
As productivity increased, means of transportation improved to better facilitate the transfer of
products from place to place. Great wealth was attained by the few who owned factories, and
the “masses” found jobs working in the factories.
Sociologists note that with the advent of the computer microchip, the world is witnessing a
technological revolution. This revolution is creating a postindustrial society based on
information, knowledge, and the selling of services. That is, rather than being driven by the
factory production of goods, society is being shaped by the human mind, aided by computer
technology. Although factories will always exist, the key to wealth and power seems to lie in
the ability to generate, store, manipulate, and sell information.
AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4681
AIOU Solved Assignments Autumn 2019 Code 4681
Q.4 Write notes on following:
Elements of Social Structure
Some of the important elements of social structure are discussed as under:
At the top level are the societal values. These are the most general or abstract normative
conceptions of what the ideal society itself would be like. Individuals or groups are found to
be emotionally committed to values. These values help to integrate personality or a system of
(2) Groups and Institutions:
Social structure can be viewed in terms of inter relationships of the component parts. Social
structure includes social groups and institutions. These are called the major groups and
institutions. Four of these – the family, economic institutions, political institutions and
religious institutions – centre upon getting food and other items of wealth, procreation,
worship and ruling. The community, the total organized life of a locality, is the most inclusive
spontaneous grouping in the social structure. There are also the enduring phenomena of
social classes, the ethnic or racial in group and the temporary grouping of crowd. These are
more or less spontaneous configurations responsive to various interests that develop within
In the larger societies of modern time, human beings deliberately establish certain
organizations for the pursuit of their specific ends or purposes. These organizations, very
often called associations, are group manifestations of life and common interests. To quote
Maclver and Page, “The associations constitute the most conspicuous part of the social
structure and they gain in coherence, definite number and efficacy as the conditions of the
society grow more complex”.
There are specialized collectivities such as families, firms, schools, political parties etc.
(Differentiated institutional patterns almost directly imply the existence of collective and role
units whose activities have different kinds of functional significance).
Finally, within all such collectivities one can distinguish types of roles. “Concretely these are
the relevant performances of their individual occupants. Functionally, they are contributions
to collective goal attainment”. Role occupants are expected to fulfill their obligations to other
people (who are also role occupants). For example, in family the husband has obligations
towards his wife. According to Nodal, the elements of social structure are roles.
According to H.M. Johnson, sub-groups and roles are governed by social norms. Social norms
are of two types: (i) obligatory or relational and (ii) permissive or regulative. Some norms
specify positive obligations. But they are not commonly applied to all the roles and sub-
groups. For example, the positive obligations of a family are not the same as those of
business firm. Some other norms specify the limit of permissible action. A role occupant of a
sub-group in this case ‘must’ do certain things, ‘may’ do certain things and ‘must not do sill
others. They are called regulative norms. They do not differentiate between roles and sub-
groups. For example in our society, regardless of one’s role, one must not seek to influence
others by threat of violence or by violence itself. The components of social structure are
human beings, the structure being an arrangement of persons in relationship institutionally
defined and regulated.
AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4681
Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the nonlinguistic transmission of information through
visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic (physical) channels.
It includes the use of visual cues such as body language (kinesics), distance (proxemics) and
physical environments/appearance, of voice (paralanguage) and of touch (haptics). It can also
include the use of time (chronemics) and eye contact and the actions of looking while talking
and listening, frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate
Just as speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality,
rate, pitch, loudness, and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm,
intonation, and stress, so written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style,
spatial arrangement of words, or the physical layout of a page. However, much of the study of
nonverbal communication has focused on interaction between individuals, where it can be
classified into three principal areas: environmental conditions where communication takes
place, physical characteristics of the communicators, and behaviors of communicators during
Nonverbal communication involves the conscious and unconscious processes of encoding
and decoding. Encoding is the act of generating information such as facial expressions,
gestures, and postures. Encoding information utilizes signals which we may think to be
universal. Decoding is the interpretation of information from received sensations given by the
encoder. Decoding information utilizes knowledge one may have of certain received
sensations. For example, refer to the picture provided above. The encode holds up two fingers
and the decoder may know from previous experience that this means two.
The Nonverbal encoding sequence includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, tone of
voice, tactile stimulation such as touch, and body movements, like when someone moves
closer to communicate or steps away due to spatial boundaries. The Decoding processes
involves the use of received sensations combined with previous experience with
understanding the meaning of communications with others.
Culture plays an important role in nonverbal communication, and it is one aspect that helps
to influence how learning activities are organized. In many Indigenous American
Communities, for example, there is often an emphasis on nonverbal communication, which
acts as a valued means by which children learn. In this sense, learning is not dependent on
verbal communication; rather, it is nonverbal communication which serves as a primary means
of not only organizing interpersonal interactions, but also conveying cultural values, and
children learn how to participate in this system from a young age.
Autumn 2019 aiou solved assignments code 4681