A2 General Studies: Studying Society

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  • Created by: BeccaS
  • Created on: 03-06-13 16:09

Studying Society

Exam Themes:

  • How is the UK changing?
  • Why do societies change over time?
  • Is society increasingly secular and has the significance of religion changed?
  • What is multiculturalism?
  • Is equality natural, or do we have to take specific actions to achieve it?
  • Discrimination between individuals in society
  • What makes us what we are - nature or nurture?
  • How do social scientists conduct research?
  • Are the research findings of social scientists as reliable as those of natural scientists?

Culture and Socialisation

The Changing UK

Fifty or sixty years ago, wages were lower and people did their best to avoid debt, wealth was less evenly divided, more people went to church, fewer women went to work, most children left school at 15, youth culture was in its infancy, more people identified themselves as working or middle class, social deference was common, discrimination was a daily occurence, fewer ethnic minorities lived within the UK, people generally died much younger, the welfare state was just emerging,few people owned cars, telephones or tvs and over three quarters of the population voted in elections - mainly for either Labour or Conservative.

The pressures for change

  • Increased wealth, education and opportunity have made people more ambitious for themselves and for their families
  • Traditional values, such as going to church and social deference have become challenged
  • Easier communication has widened people's horizons and expectations
  • Having a job for life is a rare occurence
  • Traditional belief of marriage as a life-long commitment has been changed
  • Discrimination has been increasingly challenged by a more tolerant society
  • People are aware of national and global influences
  • Commuting to work has become increasingly common

The changing culture

The culture of the UK is increasingly paradoxical:

  • Being richer has made us more materialistic, yet we give more money to charities and the country is widely involved in humanitarian activity throughout the world
  • In spite of the wealth, more people are willing to take on debts
  • Church attendance is down, yet there is growing observance of other beliefs
  • Interest in elections is down, but more people are joining pressure group campaigns than ever before
  • We value new technologies and scientific advances, yet are increasingly sceptical about science in relation to food or health
  • We increasingly act as individuals with the right to make our own choices, and expect others to do the same


Culture is the values and beliefs of a society, whereas socialisation is the process by which people learn those values and beliefs during their lifetime experiences.

Social deference is the practice of looking up to those who hold positions of authority and privilege, such as the Queen.

Ideologies, Equality and Discrimination

Equality as a right

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts human rights to which people in every country are entitled, as human beings. In Europe this is augmented by the Convention on Human Rights agreed by the Council of Europe in 1951 and backed up by the adjudications of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ever


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