GCSE Sociology Revision - Processes & Structures Explained

November 18, 2015

GCSE Sociology: Processes and Structures

What are the Processes and Structures regarding GCSE Sociology?

There are two key tenets to the study of Sociology at GCSE level. These are (1) the understanding of social processes and (2) the understanding of social structures. 


Social Processes

So what are the social processes of today’s world?  They can be categorized in three main areas: families, education and mass media.  When examining families in GCSE exams it is important to look at the diverse definition of families today and sociological approaches to the family and relationships. 


When it comes to education, the role of education in today’s society should be looked at in addition to the differences between formal and informal education and the structures around education.


The role of the mass media in social structures and processes is key to how many different groups of people are placed within society.  The status of people within society is often determined by how society is stratified, e.g. through wealth and income (the most common basis of stratification), social class, gender, ethnic background, political status and religion. 


The stratification of today’s society is based on either an open or a closed system.  An open system is where status is gained through merit and effort, otherwise known as a meritocracy.  A closed system is where status is given to a person rather than achieved, based on, for example, family background.


Inequalities are present across all sectors of society in today’s world and it is important, if asked, to be able to explain the structure of inequality, how it comes about and how and where it exists in society.


Social Structures

There are four categories of social structures: World citizenship, power and involvement, work and crime.


World citizenship encompasses migration and movement and the distribution and structure of our populations and changes that have occurred and are occurring.  The movement and settlement of people is important to note when answering questions on this theme. 


Power and politics is a key part of the study of sociology at GCSE level and this covers decision-making and citizenship, voting patterns, political socialisation and political change.  A good rounded knowledge of the political system will be of use here in tackling questions.


Work is an important sociological structure and the importance and meaning of work is a recurring theme in GCSE Sociology and the approach to study here should include learning about patterns of employment and technological and organisational changes. 


Of course, in any society there will be crime and lack of social control and when looking at crime and society and the big picture, it is important for students to identify and be able to explain the main sociological approaches to criminal and deviant behaviour in today’s society. 


Studying sociology at GCSE level is a very enlightening subject as there will always be examples from your daily life and reading that you can incorporate into your answers.


These examples will be current and relevant, so in addition to your study, be very aware when reading and watching current affairs that you will potentially be able to use quotations and examples from what you are witnessing in today’s news and apply these examples backed up by facts, figures and analysis where possible to your sociology exam answers.

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