wk 4 sociology matters soc 262

Review the Sociology Matters prompt at the end of Ch. 8.

Write a minimum 700-word response to one or more of the bullets at the end of Chapter 8.

Here are the bullets at the end of Ch 8

Sociology Matters

Sociology matters because it explains the purposes and functions of our most basic social institutions.

• Do you see the institutions of the family and religion differently now that you have read this chapter? Did anything you learned surprise you?

• The family and religion are two social institutions whose authority has declined over the last century. Why do you think they have lost some of their importance? Do you think our society is weaker or stronger as a result?

Sociology matters because it helps us to look at familiar social institutions from new and different perspectives.

• Which of the four major perspectives on the family strikes you as the most meaningful? Why?

• Which of the four major perspectives would be most helpful to you in studying religion?



The social institutions of the family and religion are cultural universals, found in various forms in all human cultures. Functionalists stress the essential tasks social institutions perform, but conflict theorists charge that social institutions strengthen the powerful at the expense of the powerless. This chapter examined kinship and the family around the world; four sociological perspectives on the family; the family and human sexuality; the social functions of religion; and three components of religion.

1. To survive, a society must perform five essential functions: it must replace its personnel, teach new recruits, produce and distribute goods and services, preserve order, and provide people with a sense of purpose. Social institutions perform these essential functions.

2. The extended family, common in the past, offers certain advantages over today’s nuclear family. Some sociologists think that in the United States, the egalitarian family has become the norm, replacing the older patriarchal family.

3. All cultures determine kinship in one of three ways: by descent from both parents, a method called bilateral descent; by descent from the father only, called patrilineal descent; or by descent from the mother only, called matrilineal descent.

4. Stratification exists by sexual as well as by gender identity. Not only gays but also transgender people suffer from stigma.

5. William F. Ogburn outlined six basic functions of the family: reproduction, protection, socialization, regulation of sexual behavior, companionship, and the provision of social status.

6. Conflict theorists charge that male dominance of the family contributes to social injustice and denies women opportunities that are extended to men. Like feminists, they see the family’s role in socializing children as the primary source of sexism.

7. Émile Durkheim stressed the social impact of religion in attempting to understand individual religious behavior within the context of the larger society.

8. Religion helps to integrate a diverse society and provides social support in time of need. It can serve as a source of social change and a means of social control.

9. Max Weber saw a connection between religion and capitalism, which he termed the Protestant ethic. Karl Marx charged that religion reinforces capitalist oppression.

10. Religious behavior is expressed through religious belief, ritual, and experience. These three components of religion help to define the sacred and differentiate it from the profane.