The use of the Bogardus social distance scale in social research
The Bogardus social distance scale could be used by social scientists to understand some important phenomena in life. Babbie (2014) asserts that the scale is used to estimate how people can maintain social contacts with people from different social backgrounds. A well established scale of 1 to 10 is used to show the extent to which people interact. A score of 1 between two social groups shows that there is no social distance between them while a score of 10 implies the longest social distance (Babbie, 2014; Wark & Galliher, 2007). Marriage between people from the same social group would have a score of 1, while the score for interactions of workers in an organization would be about 6. Human interactions form important aspects of human lives. Social science benefits from the application of this scale because scientists could study interactions based on three social distances.
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Understanding affective social distance
First, affective social distance concentrates on affectivity among different social groups. This approach focuses on the sympathy that people from one social group could feel for a different group (Wark & Galliher, 2007). Social scientists can utilize the scale to study how emotions of people affect their intensity interactions with other members in the society. For example, social scientists could be interested in deciphering the impact of emotions on the productivity of a firm that is characterized by workers from diverse social backgrounds (Babbie, 2014). The research findings may have important implications for the organization because the management knows how to manage emotions that result in poor performance outcomes.
Understanding normative social distance
Secondly, normative social distance could be used in social science to understand why people use some norms to avoid members from a different social group (Wark & Galliher, 2007). For example, it would be important to assess the factors that make members of a social group view other people as “outsiders” or “foreigners”. In this approach, the social distance is perceived as the one that was not contributed by subjective structures (Babbie, 2014). The findings from such a study could be used to adopt educational approaches that make people from different social groups change their normative social distance. It is important to implement the changes because unhealthy co-existence occurs when members from diverse groups do not interact freely. For example, it would be important to teach school children to comminicate freely with every school member, regardless of his or her social group.
Understanding interactive social distance
Third, interactive social distance defines the frequency of interactions among different social groups. The idea is that two groups that are characterized by a high level of interaction have a high level of social closeness (Babbie, 2014). This view is similar to the framework applied in the sociological network theory, which is used to assess the strength of social interactions (Babbie, 2014). For example, a scientist would be interested in determining the frequency of conflicts between two social groups that are perceived to be close with regard to social interactions. Findings from such a study would be used to implement interventions to prevent conflicts between the two social groups.
The two questions
The following two questions would support the Bogardus social distance scale:
- What is your social group?
- Explain why are you willing or not to be close to people from different social groups?
Babbie, E. (2014). The Basics of Social Research. (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Web.
Wark, C., & Galliher, J. F. (2007). Emory Bogardus and the origins of the social distance scale. The American Sociologist, 38(4), 383-395. Web.
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