Sociology Daily Answer Writing (27-10-2022)


  1. Critically analyze Parsons’ "Pattern variables". Also, discuss how they can be used to analyze social change.         20
  2. Account for identity formation among the LGBTQ community.   10

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Model Solutions

1. Critically analyze Parsons’ "Pattern variables". Also, discuss how they can be used to analyze social change. 20

Model Framework:

  • Pattern variables are a common set of variables by which huge amount of diversity across social system can be analysed
  • Pattern variables act as a response to the dilemma in social actions.


  • There are in all five pattern variables, each side of it represents one polar extreme. These pattern variables are (Explain in brief with Examples)
    • affectivity versus affective neutrality
    • universalism versus particularism
    • ascription versus achievement
    • specificity versus diffuseness
    • self-orientation versus collective orientation
  • According to parson variable should be valid for all types of social actions
  • Pattern variable provide dilemmatic representation of possible social actions in the social system
  • Culture is patterned and institutionalized but culture is not a pattern monolithic way rather it is dualistically pattern. This duality of cultural pattern offers the range of choice of either this or that. This duality confronts the actors as a dilemma which the actor has to do with our culture. He identifies five levels of duality - 5 pattern variables


  • Person is criticized for not taking in account conflict across section that is role conflict in a society, conflict between norms and values
  • C.W. Mills criticizes parson to not take into account the role of power in determining social action
  • Devereaux criticises Parsons list of pattern variable as inadequate as there maybe many multiple types of actions
  • Marxist criticise Parsonian pattern variable for not taking into consideration the role of economic base structure

Theory of social change (Pattern variable used to analyse social change)

  • Traditional → Intermediate → Modern
  • Simply speaking, society evolves from a traditional to modern society via an intermediate stage
  • In a traditional society, pattern variables which have more collective orientation will be predominant. For example, values like affectivity and ascription are given importance in a traditional society
  • Conversely in a modern society, pattern variables which have more self-orientation will be predominant. For example, more importance will be given to achieved status rather than an ascribed status
  • In an intermediate society, however, one can find the presence of both kinds of pattern variables


  • Parsons pattern variable provided an idea on the lines of Ideal types of Weber so as to segregate the possible social actions. These segregated action systems can further be utilised to study social phenomena in depth.

2. Account for identity formation among the LGBTQ community. 10

Model Structure

  • Define LGBTQ
  • Identity formation & GH Mead Linkage

Main Body

  • Development of Self, a social process, broadly within these TWO phases
  • I and Me are processes within these larger processes of the self.
  • LGBTQ Identity formation
    • Human behaviour is reflective (Neither normative nor driven by material considerations)
    • Social process precedes the mind
    • I - says their sex differs to their sex assigned at birth
    • Me - their social self, not let their I dominate
    • In Modern societies - Domination of 'I' component, led to assertion of their identity
    • Also, self cannot exist without social contacts, says Mead.
    • Mechanism for the development of Self-Reflexivity
    • This is key to their identity formation, as they evaluate their own behaviour as outsiders.
    • Some of them develop inferiority, helplessness etc. as they are unjustly judged by society (eg dalit, female, ST, disabled, etc).
  • It's true that generalized others influence; But each self is different from all the others and LGBTQ people develop their own identity.

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