AAMC MCAT Outline: Intro to Important Sociology Material

MP 175: AAMC MCAT Outline: Intro to Important Sociology Material

Session 175

Conflict theory, functionalism, symbolic interactionism and more! many sociological terms are not intuitive, so listen closely for how to tell them apart.

Phil from Next Step Test Prep joins us once again as we try to give you great insights and strategies from the AMCAS content outline Category 9A.

At this point, we begin to transition from psychology into more of sociology as talk about society. The terms can get confusing as they don’t mean anything in how humans normally speak. Social constructionism and functionalism are very vague, bland answers.

Also, be sure to check out all of our amazing podcasts on Meded Media as we go through you on your journey towards becoming a physician.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[02:45] Functionalism

Functionalism is the idea that certain things in society have functions. According to a functionalist, some things will make manifest function/s – the big, main reason it exists. There are also latent functions – the smaller things but also provide value to society. 

'A functionalist looks at the functions of things.'Click To Tweet

For instance, what is the function of a fire department? Its main function is to stop fires. But latent functions would be to decrease property taxes in an area because the houses are less likely to burn down. Or it decreases the insurance if you live next to a fire department. It gives people jobs. It’s also their latent function to have people kids can look up to.

[04:19] Conflict Theory

This is championed by Karl Marx, the founder of socialism. Conflict theory is the idea that there is a conflict between classes. There’s an upper class and a lower class and these people are in conflict.

Examples of the upper class are the owners of companies and employers. They want people to do as much work as possible and they’d pay them as little as possible.

For instance, an employer likes his/her employees to work 24 hours a day for free. And this is in direct conflict with what the employees want. On the other hand, the employees want to make $600 an hour watching Netflix.

According to Marx, the idea is that this is not a super balanced conflict. The people with the money tend to have more control. They can also create conflict within the lower classes.

Example: If you went to your boss and working at a factory, you ask him to pay you $50 an hour to do the job. So now, you’re in conflict not just with the boss but with other people in your class.

'The idea here is that the lower class against each other creates this unbalanced conflict where you have some people trying to take advantage of others.'Click To Tweet

[06:00] Socialism

Every time Phil sees the AAMC asks about conflict theory, socialism or something related to socialism has been another answer choice. This is the idea of Marx’s conflict theory as to why he came to the idea of socialism. 

For instance, you give everyone all the same resources. It doesn’t matter if you’re the company owner or the company employee. Everyone is getting the same stuff. The idea here is that people would go into their jobs, not just for the money or the power, but because they would be good at the job and would like it.

There are people out there who would make great teachers but they don’t want to be a teacher because they don’t want less money. They want to have money.

[02:45] Functionalism

Functionalism is the idea that certain things in society have functions. According to a functionalist, some things will make manifest function/s – the big, main reason it exists. There are also latent functions – the smaller things but also provide value to society.

'A functionalist looks at the functions of things.'Click To Tweet

For instance, what is the function of a fire department? Its main function is to stop fires. But latent functions would be to decrease property taxes in an area because the houses are less likely to burn down. Or it decreases the insurance if you live next to a fire department. It gives people jobs. It’s also their latent function to have people kids can look up to.

[04:19] Conflict Theory

This is championed by Karl Marx, the founder of socialism. Conflict theory is the idea that there is a conflict between classes. There’s an upper class and a lower class and these people are in conflict.

Examples of the upper class are the owners of companies and employers. They want people to do as much work as possible and they’d pay them as little as possible.

For instance, an employer likes his/her employees to work 24 hours a day for free. And this is in direct conflict with what the employees want. On the other hand, the employees want to make $600 an hour watching Netflix.

According to Marx, the idea is that this is not a super balanced conflict. The people with the money tend to have more control. They can also create conflict within the lower classes.

Example: If you went to your boss and working at a factory, you ask him to pay you $50 an hour to do the job. So now, you’re in conflict not just with the boss but with other people in your class.

'The idea here is that the lower class against each other creates this unbalanced conflict where you have some people trying to take advantage of others.'Click To Tweet

[06:00] Socialism

Every time Phil sees the AAMC asks about conflict theory, socialism or something related to socialism has been another answer choice. This is the idea of Marx’s conflict theory as to why he came to the idea of socialism. 

For instance, you give everyone all the same resources. It doesn’t matter if you’re the company owner or the company employee. Everyone is getting the same stuff. The idea here is that people would go into their jobs, not just for the money or the power, but because they would be good at the job and would like it.

There are people out there who would make great teachers but they don’t want to be a teacher because they want to have more money. If the teachers and the CEOs were to make the same amount of money, then the people who’d be really good and like to teach are going to go into teaching.

[07:33] Strategies on the MCAT

It’s important to pull apart the conflict theory and socialism. If you’re going to have a question about one of them, the other one’s going to be the wrong answer choice. Students know they both came from Karl Marx and one thing led to another so it’s a bit confusing.

'Conflict theory is the idea of the fight between the classes. Socialism is the solution to that according to Karl Marx.'Click To Tweet

[08:00] Symbolic Interactionism

This is the idea of how people interact. There are certain ways you can do something and it means something to some people.

For example, shaking someone’s hand may mean something else in a different culture. And somewhere else, it’s a compliment.

'As a society, we start to develop these ways to interact with each other symbolically.'Click To Tweet

On the MCAT, any question Phil has seen for symbolic interactionism, you have to be really careful when looking for an interaction.

You cannot have symbolic interactionism if you don’t have two parties. This is the easiest way to separate symbolic interactionism from everything else. The other ones don’t really require two parties specifically interacting versus symbolic interactionism does.

[09:26] Social Constructionism

This is talking about social constructs when we, as a society, give something valued. We decide it has value. For example, if all of a sudden your $20 bill doesn’t have any value, then it doesn’t have any value.

On the MCAT, they’re going to talk about something more confusing to see if students really understand this. 

'Social constructs do not have to be physical objects. They could be an idea.'Click To Tweet

Social constructs are not only limited to physical things but also to an idea. It could be in the form of honor, bravery, or chivalry. For example, if you’re on a deserted island, bravery doesn’t help you. Another example is honor. Having honor is something we agree that it’s good to some point. If you’re on a deserted island, honor doesn’t help you either.

Education is not a social construct because there is inherent value in knowing things. Or if whether a certain area makes you better, that’s a social construct.

Society has decided something is valuable. 

[11:55] Exchange-Rational Choice

This is the idea that we view social interactions as exchanges. Whenever I do something for you, I expect something in return. This is something that has some dark sides.

For example, a guy buys dinner for a girl and maybe expects something in return. There is some social exchange going on at least from the guy’s point of view.

Another example is if you take out your neighbor’s trash and they take out your trash too. Here’s the tricky part. Not everyone is going to have the same thought process. Your neighbor might not see that as equal at all. The viewpoints can differ so you have to be careful with this. 

'The overall idea of exchange-rational choice is looking at society and assuming social interactions are some form of an exchange.'Click To Tweet

[13:35] Final Thoughts

This is a play on vocab. All of the above terms are piles of random words that are given meaning. That’s why it’s important to go through this outline. 

'Unless you've looked at and thought about these things, you're not going to be able to puzzle this out.'Click To Tweet

[14:30] Next Step Test Prep

Hang out with Phil longer by getting their MCAT course. Check out my full review of their class at MCATCourseReview.com

Links:

Meded Media

Next Step Test Prep

AMCAS content outline Category 9A

Listen to Other Shows

Leave us a Review and Rating!

Just like Yelp reviews or IMDB ratings help you choose your next restaurant or movie, leaving a 5 star rating and/or a written review is very valuable to The MCAT Podcast. It allows us to be able to share our information with more people than ever before.

I am so incredibly thankful to those who have recently gone into our listing in iTunes to provide a five start rating and a written review of The MCAT Podcast.

Subscribe and Download

iOS/Mac/Windows – You can subscribe to the show in iTunes. Or you could manually add the RSS feed to your aggregator.

Android/Mac/Windows – You can download DoubleTwist and use that to manage all of our past and future episodes

Please help us spread the word!

If you like the show, will you please take a moment to leave a comment on iTunes? This really helps us get the word out!

paperbackfront_245x245

DOWNLOAD FREE - Crush the MCAT with our MCAT Secrets eBook