1. On page eight of the textbook it states that the authors of the Dictionary of Sociology (Abercrombie, Hill and Turner) describe culture as “the symbolic and learned, non-biological aspects of human society, including language, custom and convention, by which human behaviour can be distinguished from other primates”. Reflect on how the culture of Islam could be understood when considering the following statement by Ayaan Hirsi Ali from an essay titled Why Islam Needs a Reformation: “As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts. It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists”. Your response must include the analysis of at least three specific examples related to language, custom and convention.
2. Roller derby has frequently been considered an ‘alternative’ sport, but ‘alternative’ to what? What does this description tell us about ideas of ‘society’ and ‘culture’? Using three examples related to roller derby, explore the question ‘what is society?’.
3. Is our contemporary society’s engagement with the Internet a positive thing that simply encourages enhanced understanding, or does it entrench us further into a virtual world where racism can go unchecked and continue to be an ongoing problem in Australia? Compare and contrast the use of this technology in Australia. Your response must use at least two examples from your everyday life and one from the textbook to support your position.
4. In a recent interview on ABC Lateline with Ticky Fullerton, fellow journalist Stan Grant said of Adam Goodes: “This is an extraordinary man but when he hears these boos, like all of us the wound is re-opened because success doesn’t close the wound.” Critically analyse that statement using sociologist Antonio Gramsci’s argument on page 31 of the textbook about culture and politics.
5. In a recent article in The Conversation, Gerry Redmond said: “However, the issue of intergenerational mobility – the extent to which parents’ education, occupation or income determines that of their children after they in turn reach adulthood – is a sensitive subject in Australia, which has historically prided itself on being a classless society”. How does the myth of Australia being a classless society continue to circulate? Through an analysis of education opportunities in Australia, explore how this myth may allow a wealthy and privileged minority of Australians to reinforce ongoing inequality while making their exercise of power all but invisible. Use philosopher Michel Foucault’s theory of power to support your argument.
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