Social Inequality and Other High-Yield Sociology

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Session 157

Today, we discuss a high-yield topic in sociology around the topic of inequality. Once again, we’re joined by Clara from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep).

People think there are no high-yield topics on psych/soc because of the huge number of terms that you just have to memorize them. It can be tempting to think that by memorizing hundreds of terms, there’s nothing high yield about it.

To some degree, this is true. But if you really look at certain topics within psychology or sociology, you will see these clusters. 

Specifically for today’s topic, inequality has a lot of terms that you’ll need to know. And they come up over and over. You can be guaranteed you get at 1-2 questions that ask about these sets of terms. 

High-Yield Topic in Sociology: Inequality

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[02:39] Question 11

If spatial inequality exists between two areas of the same city:

(A) one area must be larger in total land acreage than the other.

(B) one area must be significantly more urban than the other.

(C) one area must have a more densely-packed population than the other.

(D) one area must have more accessible resources (such as stores, clean water, and medical facilities) than the other.

Clara’s insights:

The correct answer here is D. This is an obvious question. Be careful not to overthink that you end up making cognitive jumps. Or this is where you will make you talk out of the right answer.

[05:14] Question 15

Which of the following options represent demographic variables that impact lifespan?

  1. Gender
  2. Ethnicity
  3. Diet
  4. Education

(A) II only

(B) I and II only

(C) I, II, and IV only

(D) I, II, III, and IV

Clara’s insights:

The correct answer here is C. Diet does affect lifespan, but it’s not a demographic variable.

Demographic variables are actually taken by the researchers in a census. When a researcher takes a sample of individuals, the variables that are typically used to map that sample and see what the sample consists of are demographic variables.

This can be broad so it’s easier to just remember the few key ones such as age, gender, ethnicity, race, and socio-economic status, and citizenship.

Diet is not a demographic variable because it can just change dramatically and very frequently. It certainly is helpful for a doctor to know but not something we would take on a census.

[10:00] Question 18

With regard to social stratification, a caste system is:

(A) more open than a bureaucracy.

(B) less likely to value achieved status than a class system.

(C) more prone to examples of social mobility than an open system.

(D) less closed than a meritocracy.

Clara’s insights:

The correct answer here is B.  It is much harder to get an achieved status in a caste system than a class system. But you can’t also say that an achieved status doesn’t exist at all.

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A bureaucracy is an organizational framework. Any organization that gets large enough will eventually start to become this bureaucracy. A classic example would be the government. Tons of people work for the government but they can’t get things done.

Any organization that gets large enough will start to do several things. They would have very specific job responsibilities. They fit into all of these characteristics of bureaucracy. Learn what those characteristics are. But this has nothing to do with the class and caste systems.

Meritocracy is almost the opposite of a caste system. It’s a system where the only thing that dictates a person’s social status is what they’ve earned. Essentially, merit is valued.

Open vs closed system is another way to talk about caste and class systems. In an open system, there’s a lot of mobility and it’s easy for people to move around between the classes or levels. Whereas the closed system is much more restrictive. A caste system is a closed system because it’s hard to move around socially.


Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)


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