<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>A <p> <p> abortion as a social problem</b> <p> Abortion has been legal in the USA and in almost all western European countries since the early 1970s, and in Belgium and Ireland since the early 1990s. Although abortion was legal in the Soviet Union for several years prior to its collapse, abortion politics have subsequently come to the fore in some Eastern European countries (e.g., Poland) as a result of government attempts at scaling-back abortion. Legal access to abortion continues to be highly restricted in Mexico and in several Central and South American countries. Abortion is most intensely debated in the USA, where legal and congressional initiatives to amend the US Supreme Court's recognition (<i>Roe v. Wade</i>, 1973) of a woman's legal right to an abortion continue unabated. Abortion activism is pursued by several religious and secular organizations, and abortion politics dominate presidential and congressional elections and debates over judicial appointments. Grassroots efforts to restrict abortion have met with some success; post-<i>Roe</i> Supreme Court decisions have imposed various restrictions, most notably the imposition of spousal and parental notification requirements. Currently, the issue of late-term abortion is intensely debated (though most abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy). <p> Notwithstanding the intensity of pro-choice and pro-life activism, American public opinion on abortion has remained steadfastly consistent. Since 1975, approximately one-fifth of Americans agree that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, another one-fifth believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, and a broad majority (approx. 60 percent) are of the opinion that abortion should be legal but restricted. Americans are most likely to endorse abortion as an option in cases of rape, and when pregnancy poses a physical threat to the mother or fetus; fewer endorse economic need as a reason justifying abortion. <p> According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (http://www.alanguttmacher.org), abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the USA: 1.29 million abortions were performed in 2002, with almost half of all unintended pregnancies ending in abortion. The abortion rate has declined from its peak of 29 (per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44) in the early 1980s, to 20 currently. There has been an especially noticeable decrease among 15- to 19-year-old girls (from 43.5 in the mid-to-late 1980s to 24.0 currently). By contrast, the overall abortion rate in England and Wales is considerably lower, at 17.0 (for women aged 15–44). <p> Many Americans argue that the number of abortions alone constitutes a social problem; others suggest that the aging and declining prevalence of abortion providers is a social problem in ferment. The majority of obstetricians who perform abortion are age 50 or over, and the proportion of US counties without abortion providers increased from 77 percent in the late 1970s to 86 percent in the late 1990s (Finer & Henshaw 2003: 6). A majority of women who face the dilemma of an unintended pregnancy report using contraception during the month they became pregnant (53 percent), though not always correctly (Finer et al. 2005). Other abortion-inducing circumstances include inadequate finances, relationship problems, concerns over readiness for motherhood, and psychological and physical health problems. Nonetheless, 60 percent of those who get an abortion are already mothers, and 12 percent have previously had an abortion. Across all age groups, the incidence of abortion is greater among women who are single, poor, and non-white (Hispanic, black, or other ethnic minority). Rural women are less likely to have access to abortion providers, and to use abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. <p> Given the socio-demographic trends in abortion usage, pro-choice supporters argue that it is not abortion per se that is a social problem but the social and economic circumstances of many women's lives. In particular, they argue that women's lack of resources, including the absence of health insurance, the lack of access to and effective use of contraception, and the absence of school sexual education programs, contributes to unintended pregnancies. Abortion supporters also point out that restrictions on abortion (e.g., spousal and parental notification), do not recognize the high incidence of spousal and family violence and the well-grounded fears that many women and teenagers may have in disclosing their pregnancies. <p> <p> <b>accommodation</b> <p> Accommodation was one of the four features of Robert Park and Ernest Burgess's model of social interaction. Though the concept illustrated racial and ethnic social changes taking place in the USA and the rest of the world during the last half of the nineteenth century and the first two or three decades of the twentieth, and for this reason lacks a certain relevance today, there are still aspects of the term, as defined by Park and Burgess, which might provide insights into specific patterns of racial and ethnic interaction and aid in our understanding of the dynamics of social change. Utilizing Simmel's model of dominance and its pivotal role in super-ordinate and subordinate relations, Park and Burgess describe accommodation as a procedure which limits conflicts and cements relations, in that groups and individuals recognize dominant individuals and groups as well as their positions within these super- and subordinate relations. On the surface, and in theory, this logic appears to be one of "live and let live," and appears to be grounded in an idea similar to that of social and cultural pluralism. However, the reality is quite different. However, whether referring to majority and minority populations, in population percentages, or populations differing in ethnicity, religion, or culture, accommodation refers to those arrangements, implied or explicit, which regulate the types of exchanges and relations between groups. These arrangements, spoken or unspoken, written or unwritten, determine which rights, privileges, and obligations shall accrue to some groups and be denied to others. Indeed, the history of multicultural and multiethnic nations has been a history of "forced" accommodation, and the USA, Canada, and the nations of Latin America have all forced major segments of their societies to accommodate to majority, sometimes minority, values and standards. Hence, in the USA the accommodation was linguistic, religious, and cultural; in Canada, linguistic and cultural, and in Latin America, indigenous populations were largely oppressed and suppressed by Europeans and mixed populations which largely excluded indigenous populations from the body politic. In the USA, Canada, and throughout Latin America accommodation meant giving in to the dominant groups by following the procedures and guidelines constructed by them. <p> <p> <b>accounts</b> <p> An account, as the term is most commonly used in sociology, refers to statements that explain disruptions in the social and moral order. In this sense, accounts are linguistic devices by which actors attempt to reposition themselves as socially acceptable and morally reputable in the face of imputations of deviance or failure. Although the concept of accounts has roots in C. Wright Mills's 1940 article on "Situated actions and the vocabularies of motives," in Gresham Sykes and David Matza's 1957 article on "Techniques of neutralization," and more generally in the work of Erving Goffman, the term itself was introduced in its distinctive sociological sense by Marvin Scott and Sanford Lyman in their 1968 article, entitled simply "Accounts." <p> Accounts may be classified by what they accomplish, by their functions and consequences, both for individual actors and for the social and moral order. First, accounts may restore breaches in the social order. Second, accounts, even taken narrowly as explanations of disruptions of an ongoing moral order, are deeply implicated in processes of social control. <p> Third, and more generally, accounts are a form of making meaning. Whether, as some suggest, this meaning making emerges from a deep-felt human urge or, as is more demonstrable, from specific social situations that challenge existing understandings, accounts provide interpretations of behavior and its motives. Understood narrowly, accounts are efforts to give socially acceptable meanings to particular and otherwise discredited behaviors. Understood more broadly, as plotted narratives, accounts are efforts to connect a series of events and behaviors into a coherent story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, causally related and with a more or less explicit moral content. Fourth, and more specifically, accounts create identities. Because accounts involve the imputation of motives, and the selective avowal and disavowal of behaviors as motivated, they also involve claims as to what is and is not a part of the self. When offered with deep-felt belief on the part of the speaker, as is often the case in response to illness, divorce, or other disruptions of a previous routine, accounts contribute to the formation of both personal (internally held) and social (publicly enacted) identities. When offered cynically, as self-conscious efforts to manipulate impressions, whether for the enhancement of status or to avoid sanctions, accounts may not contribute to the formation of personal identities but nonetheless still contribute to the formation of social identities. <p> <p> <b>acculturation</b> <p> Acculturation can be defined as the process of bringing previously separated and disconnected cultures into contact with one another. Acculturation is not the absorption of different cultures as a result of a mere physical contact or superficial exposure. The processes of cultural transmission and cultural borrowing are the result of conscious decision-making on the part of an individual or a group that is approaching a culturally distinct group. If no force or coercion is involved, the individual or group must decide whether and to what extent the new culture will be accepted or rejected. E. Franklin Frazier (1957) made the distinction between "material acculturation" and "ideational acculturation." Material acculturation involves the conveying of language and other cultural tools whereas ideational acculturation involves the conveying of morals and norms. Individuals and groups can consciously decide to accept the language and cultural tools of a new culture without accepting and internalizing the morals and norms of the new culture. <p> The process of acculturation is complex and is not a simple matter of the cultural majority forcing its culture upon the cultural minority. Some individuals and groups respond favorably and with relative ease to the possibility of acculturation whereas others respond unfavorably and with unease. How the individual or group perceives the process of acculturation and how the larger society perceives this process are both significant. If the larger society views the possibility of an incoming group's acculturation as favorable and with ease, there will be less hostility and discomfort throughout the process. If the acculturation of an incoming group is viewed unfavorably and with unease by the larger society, there will be greater hostility, discomfort, and the process will require more effort on the part of this incoming group. <p> <p> <b>actor-network theory</b> <p> Actor-network theory originated in the 1980s as a movement within the sociology of science, centered at the Paris School of Mines. Key developers were Bruno Latour, Michel Callon, Antoine Hennion, and John Law. It was sharply critical of earlier historical and sociological analyses of science, which had drawn a clear divide between the "inside" of a science (to be analyzed in terms of its adherence or not to a unitary scientific method) and its "outside" (the field of its application). <p> Actor-network theorists made three key moves. First, they argued for a semiotic network reading of scientific practice. Human and non-human actors (actants) were assumed to be subject to the same analytic categories, just as a ring or a prince could hold the same structural position in a fairy tale. They could be enrolled in a network or not, could hold or not hold certain moral positions, and so forth. This profound ontological position has been the least understood but the most generative aspect of the theory. Second, they argued that in producing their theories, scientists weave together human and non-human actors into relatively stable network nodes, or "black boxes." Thus a given astronomer can tie together her telescope, some distant stars, and a funding agency into an impregnable fortress, and to challenge her results you would need to find your own telescope, stars, and funding sources. Practically, this entailed an agnostic position on the "truth" of science. Indeed, they argued for a principle of symmetry according to which the same set of explanatory factors should be used to account for failed and successful scientific theories. There is no ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. Third, they maintained that in the process of constructing these relatively stable network configurations, scientists produced contingent nature – society divides. Nature and society were not pre-given entities that could be used to explain anything else; they were the outcomes of the <i>work</i> of doing technoscience. Latour called this the "Janus face" of science. As it was being produced it was seen as contingent; once produced it was seen as always and already true. <p> Together, these three moves made the central analytical unit the work of the intermediary. There is no society out there to which scientists respond as they build their theories, nor is there a nature which constrains them to a single telling of their stories. Rather, the technoscientist stands between nature and society, politics and technology. She can act as a spokesperson for her array of actants (things in the world, people in her lab), and if successful can black-box these to create the effect of truth. <p> The theory has given rise to a number of concepts which have proven useful in a wide range of technoscientific analyses. It has remained highly influential as a methodological tool for analyzing truth-making in all its forms. The call to "follow the actors" – to see what they do rather than report on what they say they do – has been liberating for those engaged in studying scientists, who frequently hold their own truth and practice as if above the social and political fray. Their attention to the work of representation on paper led to the ideas of "immutable mobiles" and "centers of calculation," which trace the power of technoscience to its ability to function as a centralizing networked bureaucracy. Indeed, the anthropological eye of actor-networked theorists – looking at work practices and not buying into actors' categories – has led to a rich meeting between the sociology of work, the Chicago School of sociology, and actor-network theory. Latour's later work on the distribution of political and social values between the technical world and the social institution has opened up a powerful discourse about the political and moral force of technology. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology</b> Copyright © 2011 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.