Home » SOC 101 Lecture 9: Population

SOC 101 Lecture 9: Population


Welcome to our ninth online lecture in the Fall 2015 Introduction to Sociology course at the University of Maine at Augusta!  This week, I’m asking you to consolidate at the same time we move slightly forward.  Last week’s material on social networks contained a number of new ideas and new measures for you to integrate, and part of the work we’ll do in class this week is to solidify your skill in those network structures with just a little bit of practice.  A second goal for this week is to introduce a new variety of social structure: structures of population.  From the demographic equation to population pyramids to dependency ratios, simply counting how many people there are in a society can tell us a great deal about the strains a society faces in the moment and the future a society can expect.

Practice: Network Structure

Although we spent an entire lecture introducing network concepts last week, the essential aspects are simple enough that they can be summarized very concisely.  The following “cheat sheets” take the basics of network analysis, all the way from the definition of a node to handling two-mode networks, in just two pages.

Networks Cheat Sheet #1: The Basics

Networks Cheat Sheet #2: Networks as Matrices

To give yourself a chance to practice your technique in measuring aspects of social networks, try completing the following self-quiz:

Social Networks self-quiz

To check your work, here is the answer key:

Social Networks self-quiz answer key


The Basics of Population Structure

Let’s move on to another form of social structure: that of population.  The following video reiterates the most central ideas from J.P. Sevilla’s reading this week on population structure and places them in the context.  Why should we care about these social structures?  Watch the video for just a few reasons.

Walkthrough: Creating Population Pyramids from U.S. Census Data Using Google Sheets

One of your upcoming class assignments is to complete a population pyramid describing the town on which you’ve been focusing.  You could compare that to the population pyramid of the United States.  What are the implications of those social structures on the experience of life in the United States and in your town?  You should know what a population pyramid is from this week’s reading, but knowing what something is differs from producing something on your own, and that’s where this week’s assignment comes in.  The technique for creating a population pyramid is not difficult, but it requires detailed attention to sources (the Census Bureau’s American Factfinder website) and the idiosyncrasies of the spreadsheet program that comes with your University of Maine account, Google Sheets.  The following video walks you through the process of creating a well-formed population pyramid from start to finish.  Be sure to watch it before you try your hand at your assignment!


Know These Elements of Population Structure

Remember these elements of population structure from your reading and this lecture:

  • The Demographic Equation
  • The Demographic Transition
  • Population Pyramid
  • Dependency Ratio
  • Population Momentum

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