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Another factor affects convergence concerning social structure. Early in their development, countries such as Brazil and Cuba had economies based on cash crops (coffee or sugarcane, for instance) grown on large plantations by unskilled workers. The elite ran the plantations and the government, with little interest in training and educating the populace for other endeavors. This retarded economic growth until the power of the wealthy plantation owners was challenged (Sokoloff and Engerman 2000). Improved economies generally lead to wider social improvement. Society benefits from improved educational systems, allowing people more time to devote to learning and leisure.

Theoretical perspectives on the economy

Now that we’ve developed an understanding of the history and basic components of economies, let’s turn to theory. How might social scientists study these topics? What questions do they ask? What theories do they develop to add to the body of sociological knowledge?

Functionalist perspective

Someone taking a functional perspective will most likely view work and the economy as a well-oiled machine, designed for maximum efficiency. The Davis-Moore thesis, for example, suggests that some social stratification is a social necessity. The need for certain highly skilled positions combined with the relative difficulty of the occupation and the length of time it takes to qualify will result in a higher reward for that job, providing a financial motivation to engage in more education and a more difficult profession (Davis and Moore 1945). This theory can be used to explain the prestige and salaries that go to those with doctorates or medical degrees.

Like any theory, this is subject to criticism. For example, the thesis fails to take into account the many people who spend years on their education only to pursue work at a lower-paying position in a nonprofit organization, or who teach high school after pursuing a PhD. It also fails to acknowledge the effect of life changes and social networks on individual opportunities.

The functionalist perspective would assume that the continued health of the economy is vital to the health of the nation, as it ensures the distribution of goods and services. For example, we need food to travel from farms (high-functioning and efficient agricultural systems) via roads (safe and effective trucking and rail routes) to urban centers (high-density areas where workers can gather). However, sometimes a dysfunction––a function with the potential to disrupt social institutions or organization (Merton 1968)––in the economy occurs, usually because some institutions fail to adapt quickly enough to changing social conditions. This lesson has been driven home recently with the bursting of the housing bubble. Due to irresponsible lending practices and an underregulated financial market, we are currently living with the after-effects of a major dysfunction.

Some of this is cyclical. Markets produce goods as they are supposed to, but eventually the market is saturated and the supply of goods exceeds the demands. Typically the market goes through phases of surplus, or excess, inflation, where the money in your pocket today buys less than it did yesterday, and recession    , which occurs when there are two or more consecutive quarters of economic decline. The functionalist would say to let market forces fluctuate in a cycle through these stages. In reality, to control the risk of an economic depression    (a sustained recession across several economic sectors), the U.S. government will often adjust interest rates to encourage more spending. In short, letting the natural cycle fluctuate is not a gamble most governments are willing to take.

Questions & Answers

there's a picture of a bread being bought and the consumer got sick after eating it. the question was "identify the type of fallacy referred to the article
Jay Reply
what is indifference curve
egbebiyi Reply
what is utility
Labiba Reply
utility is the satisfaction derived from consuming a particular product.
taiwo
utility is the satisfaction a consumer derives from consuming a particular good
Chinenye
you are right
Ishaq
nice one chi
taiwo
you are right
Adebayo
thank you 🙏
Labiba
thanks
Chinenye
hello
Mustapha
you are right
Nak
Demand refers to the various quantities of a commodity a consumer is willing and able to purchase at particular price with a period of time.
Clifford Reply
perfect
Labiba
Demand is refer to as the quantity of goods and services which a consumer is willing and able to buy at a particular point in time and at a given price.
taiwo
What is demand
Magdalene Reply
What is divided
Alfusainey Reply
It help us to no how to do with our money
Alfusainey
Demand curve us a graph showing the relationship between the price and quantity of a commoditiy demand
Alfusainey
Demand schedule is define as a table showing the relationship between prices and the quantity of that commoditiy demanded
Alfusainey
Demand may be defined as a quantity of good or services that consumers are walling and able to buy at a alternative prices
Alfusainey
The law of demand states that all things being equal the higher the price the lower the quantity that will be demanded vice versa
Alfusainey
The law of supply states that all things being equal the higher the price the higher the quantity of a commoditiy that will be supplied vice versa
Alfusainey
yes
Vinsaint
what is money
Siaw Reply
money is defined as the medium of exchange
jackie
money is anything that serves as a medium of exchange,measure of value and standard for deferred payment
Chinenye
money is legal tender that is use for buying good n service
Nak
Money is anything that has general acceptability as a medium of exchanging dabt
Alfusainey
Money is a legally or socially binding conceptual contract of entitlement to wealth, void of intrinsic value, payable for all debts and taxes, regulated in supply.
Nana
money is accepted material for buying and selling and also for payment of dept
Dora
what is economics
reekado Reply
what is the meaning of term depreciation
Niyogushimwa
I don't know tell me pls
Manuel
decrease in the valaue of currency is called depreciation.
Asit
managing the scarce resources is called economics 😉
Asit
definition of economics according to different scholars
Onesmo Reply
Economics is a science that studies human behavior as a relationship between end and scarce means which have alternative uses:by Davern spot
Dora
am I correct?
Dora
Yeah you tried
Donkiss
reason why we study economics
Moruf Reply
what is economics
Tutu Reply
economics is defined as the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Semiat
social science
Maxwell
Economics is a social science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Maxwell
Yh ar right
Alfusainey
what is a gross domestic product
Amogelang Reply
Explain what is a production possibility curve
Sharon Reply
A curve that indicates the various production possibilities of two commodities when resources are fixed...
Geoffrey
what is market?
Jasmin Reply
ware the Byers and seller's that please is called market
suresh
a place where buyers and sellers meet
Tariro
I don't like this market definition.
Jasmin
market is any arrangement whereby buyers and sellers are brought together for the purpose of transacting business. It could be a geographical location or any other means such as internet, mobile phone etc. as long as buyers and sellers are brought together for the purpose of exchange.
Agusimba
A market is a place where buyers and sellers buy and sell goods through bargaining.
Jasmin
yes ,you are correct Agusimba sir.
Jasmin
exception of the low of demond
Rohit Reply
in a comparison of the stages of meiosis to the stage of mitosis, which stages are unique to meiosis and which stages have the same event in botg meiosis and mitosis
Leah Reply
What is society and how society understand
Ashmi Reply
Deceit social imitation bye C.Writ
Ashmi
What is called research problem and how we narrow down a research question and why it is needed
Karamat Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology. OpenStax CNX. Jun 12, 2012 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11407/1.7
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