Demographic Structure of Society

  • Demographic Structure of Society – Age
  • Sociology looks at different age cohorts (groups), specifically at age groups/generations, because they all live through the same events in certain time.
    • Baby boomers is large population in US, now up to 60s. Grew up in post-WWII periods, leaving work force.
    • Silent generation, older than baby boomers born during Great Depression
    • GI generation – oldest people alive today.
  • Because of new advancements people live longer, estimated by 2025 that 1/4th of population will be >65, right now only 13.5%. 65 is when people retire.
  • Can look at dependency ratio, an age-based measurement takes people <14 and >65 who are not in the labour force, and compares that to # of people who are.
    • Higher the ratio, more dependent people there are.
  • Although living longer means can contribute longer to workforce. But as we become older our body breaks down.
    • Older people are 5x more likely to use health services, but age affects what kind of healthcare they can get – discrimination.
    • Need for society to readjust expectations of old age
    • Can still contribute to social, economical well-being of society.
  • Life Course Theory – aging is a social, psychological, and biological process that begins from time you born till time you die.
  • Age-based expectations no longer apply as they used to as people live longer
  • Age Stratification Theory – suggests age is way of regulating behavior of a generation
  • Activity Theory – looks at how older generation looks at themselves. Certain activities or jobs lost, those social interactions need to be replaced so elderly can be engaged.
  • Disengagement Theory – older adults and society separate, assumes they become more self-absorbed as they age. But considers elderly people still involved in society as not adjusting well, which is debatable.
  • Continuity Theory – people try to maintain same basic structure throughout their lives. As they age make decisions to adapt to external changes and internal changes of aging.
  • Although need more healthcare professionals and other services to support them, we have a great social/cultural/economic resource is available to us.

 

  • Demographic Structure of Society – Race and Ethnicity
  • Race – a socially defined category based on physical differences between groups of people. Racial formation theory looks at social/economic/political forces that result in racially constructed identities.
    • Sometimes differences are real, but sometimes only defined by history.
    • In the US, race is defined by skin color but hair color is irrelevant. Latin America can be broken down to 5-6 races in SA.
  • Ethnicity is also socially defined, but these groups are defined by shared language, religion, nationality, history, of some other cultural factor. Less statistically defined than racial groups and can change over time.
    • A minority can be absorbed into majority after a few generations. A minority is a group that makes up less than half the total population and is treated differently due to some characteristic.
  • Racial differences can cause drastic events such as:
    • Genocide or population transfer (forcefully moved)
    • Intercolonialism (minorities segregated and exploited)
    • Assimilation – person’s culture comes to resemble that of another group
  • Many differences in healthcare, education, wealth, morality rate, etc.
  • Interesting discrimination is present in criminal justice system. More incarceration of minorities.
  • Pluralism encourages racial and ethnic variation.
  • Dominant groups have racialized minority groups – ascribes some racial identity to members of racial group they didn’t identify for themselves.
  • Demographic Structure of Society – Immigration
  • Immigrants face severe challenges when arriving to a new country. People want to help them but are wary of their different cultures.
  • # of immigrants can put pressure on welfare capabilities of a country, as they tend to move to industrialized nations like NA, Middle East, and Europe/Asia.
    • Can be functional by alleviating labour shortages and reducing population dam in heavily populated origin countries.
    • However, can be exploited by countries unconcerned about global inequalities from profit seeking.
  • Immigration itself can cause problems
    • If too much immigration, area can’t handle demand for social services
    • Too many skilled people may leave their home country.
    • Fear/dislike of immigrants a different race than host country.
    • People immigrate because of war, famine, or can’t make a living in home country. Better jobs and education.
    • Transnational corporations take advantage of cheap labour to bring costs down.
  • Every country has own policies, but often biased depending on where applicant is from.
    • In 1986 US passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, forbade hiring of illegal immigrants. But extended amnesty and legal status to illegal immigrants already there.
    • Some policies encourage families of immigrants to move, to keep money in local economy instead of sending them money.
    • European Union, residents in EU can live and work anywhere in EU.
    • Since 9/11 immigration more difficult, increased security checks.
  • Demographic Structure of Society – Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
  • Media often portrays gender as binary – female vs. male.
  • However, there’s 5 considerations: biological, identity (gender they identify as), expression (gender they express), attraction (gender they’re romantically attracted to), and fornication (gender they’re sexually attracted to)
    • Biological – XX or XY, but some intersex people have 1 or 3+, so express different sex characteristics. Some intersex characteristics are born with both male and female characteristics due to hormones.
    • Gender – a social construction, two factors – identity and expression. Many possible combinations, ex. someone biological male and identify as male (cis-gender), or identify as female (trans-gender). Cis-gender male can express a socially male or female appearance. Some people are gender queer (not male or female), and can present as gender queer or identify as male/female.
    • Sexual Orientation – not dependent on sex/gender of a person. You can be attracted to any gender but only have sex with females, or any combination. You can be attracted to no gender. Stereotype norm is straight.
      • Is there a “gay gene”? No answer. Even if there is, does that make their love any less real?
      • If it is genetic, discrimination is as wrong as it is in race. If it isn’t and is a choice, still equally bad because race itself is a social construction.
      • Restrictions on rights of homosexuals – ex. marry or visit partner in hospital.
  • Many differences between men and women, discrimination, pay, expected roles. Men more likely to get heart disease while women more likely to have psychological illness.
    • Societal expectations affect what problems will be reported.
  • Gender schema theory – cognitions that constitute the male identity.
  • Gender script – organized information regarding order of actions appropriate to familiar situation.
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