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Social Segregation

Free Sociology Essays

Explaining Social Segregation in Mobile County, AL

Mobile County is a highly populated geographic spot that is situated in the coastal area of Alabama State. This county was founded as a colony of such western empires as Spain, France, and Great Britain. Therefore, it is natural to deduce that the local community is characterized with a considerable ethnic and cultural diversity. Moreover, having a connection with the sea implies that Mobile County was and remains to be an important location in terms of geopolitics. In particular, international trading and, respectfully, cultural exchange, are supposed to be well-developed in this place. This insight suggests a sufficient capital inflow, which predefines good economic, social, and cultural evolvement of Mobile County. In addition, the aforementioned geographic peculiarity makes this location to be a lucrative market and desired destination for businesses and non-profit organizations. Therefore, one may rightfully assume that the level of struggle between the classes is rather tangible in this spot. The present paper is aimed to identify and discuss the demographics of the inhabitants of Mobile County with the goal to comprehend the patterns of social segregation and explain the findings applying to social theories.

Purpose of Research

Specifically, the purpose of this study is to analyze the information presented in demographic report and incorporate it with other secondary data derived from recent scholarly resources. Besides, this paper aims to define and briefly discuss the main social theories that strive to explain the emergence and decay of certain developmental patterns in diverse communities. In particular, this study focuses on functionalist perspective, conflict perspective, and symbolic interactionist perspectives.

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Analysis of Social Segregation

Age and Gender Demographics

According to ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates conducted by the US Census Bureau (n. d. c) the average age of the citizens of Mobile Country is about 37 years. As in most other countries, both developed and developing, in overall, females are older than males (38 years versus 35 years respectfully) (US Census Bureau, n. d. c). This insight implies that life expectancy for women is greater than for men. The correlation of males and females indicates that there are more women (52%) than men (48%) (US Census Bureau, n. d. c). Undoubtedly, this disparity is considerable. Hence, an interesting peculiarity is that the amount of men is greater starting from infants till 25-30 years. This fact proves the aforementioned premise about much greater life expectancy for women. In other words, the disparity in age and gender in practice suggests that there are a lot of females who are in their pre-retirement or retired age.

Race

More than a half of citizens (60%) are Caucasians (US Census Bureau, n. d., c). Besides, about 35% are African-Americans and 2% are Asians. The remaining 3% are shared among American-Indian, Asian-Indian, Hispanic, and other nations.

Education, Employment and Income

Despite the fact that, in general, men receive higher incomes, the statistics regarding education suggests that females are better educated (US Census Bureau, n. d. a). This finding implies that the issue of gender-based income disparity does not stem from insufficient education or limited possibilities for getting a degree. What is more, the social tendency of better educated women is in consistency with all age groups except the oldest population (65+). Specifically, this category of the dwellers of Mobile County depicts a greater amount of men with high school degrees (nearly 80%) versus female percentage of around 75% (US Census Bureau, n. d. a). Moreover, even stronger is the difference in Bachelors degrees of higher, –22% of men and 14% of women who are 65+ years old possess higher education degrees.

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Given a considerable disparity that is typical only for older generation, it is possible to suggest that sexual liberalization contributed to change in statistics respectfully educated men and women. In fact the action of this trend was strong enough to affect peoples academic choices to an extent when more females got high education than males. As it can be deduced analyzing the age groups, the change was drastic and rapid. Nevertheless, it did not change the gender-based income disparity.

In terms of employment, about 80% of dwellers belong to working class, 14%–are government workers, and nearly 5 %–are self-employed; moreover, the level of unemployment is 11 % (US Census Bureau, n. d. a). This statistics depicts that the ratio of self-employment is not high. At the same time, the ratio of unemployment is medium. The main industries are educational services, and health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing; the major occupations are in business and management, sales, office positions, science and arts (US Census Bureau, n. d. a). Furthermore, median earnings for male full-time, year-round workers (dollars) is 46$; whereas, similar statistics for females differs significantly, –women earn only 32$ annually (US Census Bureau, n. d. a). This income disparity suggests that men earn for around 25% more than women.

Housing Occupancy

According to Selected Housing Characteristics provides by US Census Bureau (n. d. b) a prevailing number of householders (about 64%) moved into their home-places during the last 15 years. This statistics reflects the premise about considerable capital inflow, which is naturally accompanied by sufficient development of construction industry. In addition, it means that the earnings of the most dwellers are sufficient enough to get purchase a house/apartment or take mortgages. The corresponding statistics reveals that the owners with a mortgage constitute of about 2/3 of the whole owners (US Census Bureau, n. d. b). It means that the local society maintains a latent function of propagating the latter means of purchasing.

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Discussion

According to Symbolic interactionism, every identity or sense of self is shaped by social interaction (Mooney et al., 2007, p. 2). In particular, this social theory suggests that we develop our self-concept by observing how others interact with us a label us (Mooney et al., 2007, p. 2). Symbolic interactionism Perspective educates that by observing how others view us, we see a reflection ourselves that Cooley calls the looking glass-self (Mooney et al., 2007, p. 2). In this way, the Big Other, a social-centered domain of ones mentality ensures the ongoing development of a personality and adjustment of ones identity to the needed social environment with the purpose to increase the chances for survival and success. For example, the decision of enrolling to college is dictated by a persons endeavor to form an identity that is positively appraised by his/her society. At a collective level, the increased amount of college graduates,–the tendency that was detected in the community of Mobile Country, was the result of the about-described process of obtaining and shaping the desired mirror-self.

At the same time, this social trend can be explained with the help of functionalist perspective. To begin with, it is appropriate to refer to scientific definition of the reviewed social theories. Specifically, the functionalist perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of society by focusing on how each part influences and is influenced by other parts (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2007, p. 1). For instance, when in peoples minds having a degree was positively related to improvements of life-quality and enhanced perspectives of self-realization, the intention to receive at least college degree became a part of their culture. This social representation functioned to increase the value of education. As a result, more educational establishments have appeared. This peculiarity contributed to the growth of domestic economy. In addition, in geopolitical terms Mobile County increased its desirability for foreign individuals coming either from other American States or from abroad. Given this example, one may draw a conclusion that consciously or not, society functions to shape its cultural attitudes and social representations, which inevitably stipulates the resonating changes in the future course. Moreover, the above-described rationale depicts the connection between symbolic and functionalist perspectives.

Scholars suggest that development of individual and collective identities is strongly connected to communication (Sammut, Andreouli, Gaskell, & Valsiner, 2015). What is more, it is presumed that obtaining the mirror self is impossible without communication. In this regard, the formation of certain national awareness is not possible without social interactions. Social representations constitute social patterns, set and, simultaneously, reflect the course of social development and defines the newly emerging social trends. Moreover, it is appropriate to stress that social representations exists in schemas that facilitate the interpreting of the notions that define certain nation.

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To create the authentic patterns of social representations, people maintain the latent functions that are consequences that are unintended and often hidden (Mooney et al., 2007, p. 1). For example, one may distinguish such approaches as anchoring, objectification, propaganda, and diffusion (Sammut et al., 2015). To be more precise, anchoring is a process of classification by which the new and unfamiliar is placed within a familiar frame of reference (Sammut et al., 2015, p. 9). Linking this theoretic insight to the obtained data, it is possible to suggest that the growing phenomenon of separation as a marital status is presently the subject of anchoring. Consider the rationale, these separated couples are a relatively new phenomenon; the increased liberalization of personal/intimate relations that took place during the last decades stipulated the increase of people who maintain that status. In Mobile County the amount of separated couples is rather high (United States Census Bureau, n. d. b).

Given the above-mentioned rationale, one may rightfully presume that the process of sexual liberalization that reached global magnitude encouraged the dwellers of Mobile County to develop the new marital and, respectfully, social status, –separated. Initially, developing this status was alien for the existing institute of marriage. Therefore, the society of this geographic spot applied to anchoring recognizing separation as a stand-alone marital status. Furthermore, an objectification is a phenomenon that implies externalization by which the meaning of an object or event is projected in the world through images or propositions (Sammut et al., 2015, p. 9). These means of social representation can be comprehended while applying to the history of Mobile County.

In particular, the image of the determined and even aggressive conquers who came to the new land with the purpose of enrichment and building a better life within the centuries manifested itself in a strong masculine culture. This social particularity manifests itself through the strong disparity in income between men and women. In addition, despite the fact that labor discrimination on the basis of gender is forbidden by law and strongly reproached by society, the inequality in income that was identified above, correlates with the disparity of working opportunities.

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Moreover, propagation is another means of forming national and self-awareness of citizens. Consider the definition, propagation is a communicative exercise founded on belief that is dictated by a central authority (Sammut et al., 2015, p. 9). For example, propagation of taking mortgages is benevolent for the state because it ensures greater money currency, which is positively connected to economic growth. Therefore, at a political level this approach is promoted to an extent when it becomes a part of social representation of the self. In many cases, it is necessary to avoid mass resistance and anticipate plausible conflicts. To succeed with this goal, diffusion of notions is utilized as an effective remedy to shape cultural and social accentuations. Scholars state that diffusion is the least circumscribed communicative genre and it allows for a diversity of opinions based on skepticism and the questioning of consensus (Sammut et al., 2015, p. 9). Undoubtedly, diffusion is useful for latent functionalism.

Conclusion

All three theories are relevant for the process of social representations and, thus, they are workable and true in terms of explaining the formation of social interactions within and between different groups that belong to the same community. In this regard, at the individual level the formation of the mirror self is everlasting. This internal process requires a constant shaping done in accordance with the tendencies and phenomena that emerge in ones collective. This process is interdependent with the process of the formation of national/community awareness because the means of social representations such as anchoring, objectification, propagation, and diffusion serve to apply to the Big Other of every individual with the purpose to impact and alter the entire community. Considering the findings, it is natural to conclude that symbolic interactionist perspective is the most useful and relevant in explaining the social segregation and interactions that occur in Mobile County. At the same time, it is necessary to stress that the other two reviewed theories, conflict perspective and functionalist perspectives, are important since they help to observe a complete picture of the formation of the social patterns that predefine internal and external relations with other cities/states and define the future course of development. Specifically, applying to conflict theory one may comprehend the demographic patterns that indicate income disparity, gap in education as it was identified and discussed in this paper. Besides, functionalist perspective can be utilized to identify the prime causes of certain cultural attitudes, for example, such as cultural sensitivity, or masculine culture of Mobile County.

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