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Differential Outcomes and Socialization
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social construction
manifest functions
latent functions

How to Cite

Hendricks, Jerome. 2014. “Differential Outcomes and Socialization”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, August. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Merton (1968) identifies manifest functions as the intended and expected functions of an institution while latent functions are unrecognized and therefore unintended outcomes of social processes. For example, while we all agree one manifest function of higher education is obtaining a degree, a latent function can be the interactions of young people that...

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Subject Area(s):
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

In my experience, this assignment has been most appropriate for Social Inequality courses where various institutions that serve a socialization function and reinforce many of the inequalities embedded in dominant society are discussed (education, work, family, media, and so on). I chose education specifically because of its role as a dominant socializing...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Apply the concepts of manifest and latent functions to a socializing institution students are very familiar with.
  2. Consider how enculturation produces different outcomes and opportunities for individuals from different standpoints.
  3. Reflect on the extent to which differential outcomes can produce barriers to various future opportunities.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students produce a clear, concise, and complete written record of the group discussion on the provided handout.
  2. As a class, each group should offer a brief oral presentation that includes identification of manifest and latent functions as well as a critical assessment of differential outcomes.
  3. Each student will produce a written reflection that draws on course readings and advances the discussion of outcomes to larger issues of social mobility, access to resources, or stratification.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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