Study Questions: Chapter 15
1. What are the five interpretations of social change? Briefly describe each.
Answer: Modernism holds that change equals progress, that what is modern or new will automatically be better than the older thing it replaces.
Conservatism sees social change as potentially more destructive than constructive, especially in emotionally charged areas of life such as family, gender roles, sexuality, and the environment.
Postmodernism challenges the notion that anyone can, with any authority, talk of “progress” or “decline” across all society. Instead, a sociologist with a postmodernist perspective on social change might ask, Progress for which group(s)? or Decline for which group(s)?
Evolution refers to adapting well to particular circumstances.
Fashion refers to change solely for its own sake. (pp. 404–415)
2. What is relative deprivation? What are some of the weaknesses in relative deprivation theory?
Answer: Relative deprivation is a sense of having less or enjoying fewer benefits than another group. Relative deprivation refers to negative feelings experienced when individuals compare themselves with others.
One weakness in the theory of relative deprivation lies in the issue of how to distinguish, in practice, between absolute deprivation (however that is established) and relative deprivation. (pp. 417, 420)
3. According to Arthur Kroker, what are the three defining characteristics of the virtual class that allow it to be classified as a class?
Answer: First, the virtual class is responsible for the loss of jobs by those who do not belong to the class.
Second, the Internet, once democratic and freely accessible, became restricted by the authoritarian “digital superhighway” ever more controlled by the “privileged corporate codes.”
Third, the virtual class restricts the freedom of creativity, promoting instead “the value of pattern-maintenance (of its own choosing).” (pp. 414–415)
4. What is the difference between particular protectionism and universal protectionism?
Answer: There are fundamentally two kinds of opposition to globalization: particularist and universalist. Particularist protectionist opponents of globalization focus on the socioeconomic, political, and cultural problems caused in their home territory by increasing processes of globalization. Universalist protectionists promote the interests of the poor and marginalized groups worldwide. (p. 413)
5. According to Sale, what four things could bring about the collapse of the American empire?
Answer: Sale points to four things that could help to bring about the collapse of the American empire, like all empires, in his thinking:
- environmental degradation
- economic meltdown (through excessive resource exploitation)
- military overstretch
- domestic dissent and upheaval. (p. 411)