Sociology Index


Opportunity structure refers to the notion that opportunity, the chance to gain certain rewards or goals, is shaped by the way the society or an institution is organized or structured. The opportunity structure for girls to succeed in mathematics is different because opportunity may be structured by the fact that all of the mathematics teachers are men, all teachers tend to discourage such an endeavor or suggest that girls are not good at this subject. There may be a sexist structure in the school which shapes opportunity. Attitudes that foster stereotypes of gender roles. Opportunity structure can also be a framework of rules people are encouraged to follow in order to achieve what their culture considers to be success.

Political Opportunity Structure - Tarrow. Key components of the political opportunity structure:

Political opportunity structures can constrain or expand the field of collective action in four ways:
A. they expand the group’s own opportunities;
B. they expand opportunities for others;
C. create opportunities for opponents;
D. and create opportunities for elites.

Opportunity Structure Theory

Apart from a privileged minority of the population individuals are constrained in their choice of occupations by social variables that are outside their control e.g. gender, ethnicity and social class.

The opportunity structure model was first proposed by Roberts (1968, p176) as an alternative to theories of career development advanced by Ginzberg and Super. Roberts challenged the relevance of the concept of choice embedded in psychological theories, emphasising the structure of constraints: 'An adequate theory for understanding school-leavers' transition to employment in Britain needs to be based around the concept not of 'occupational choice', but of 'opportunity structure' (Roberts, 1977, p183).

Criminal Careers in Organized Crime and Social Opportunity Structure. Edward R. Kleemans, Christianne J. de Poot.
The findings of quantitative research and qualitative research into the criminal careers of about 1000 offenders who were involved in 80 extensively analysed cases of organized crime. Because social ties play an important role in organized crime, the paper emphasizes that the social opportunity structure, defined as social ties providing access to profitable criminal opportunities, is extremely important for explaining involvement in organized crime. Social opportunity structure may also explain interesting phenomena such as 'late starters', people without any appreciable criminal history, and people in conventional jobs who switch careers.

Upward mobility in organizations: the effects of hierarchy and opportunity structure 
JOSEF BRUDERL, PETER PREISENDORFER and ROLF ZIEGLER. This article investigates hierarchical promotion processes. Following the ‘structural approach’ in social mobility research and aiming at the organizational level, we attempt to make this approach more ‘concrete’ than other studies in this tradition. That is, we analyse the effects of both organizational opportunity structure and hierarchical levels on vertical social mobility.

Between the State and the Market 
Expanding the Concept of Political Opportunity Structure

Mattias Wahlstrom, Abby Peterson, Department of Sociology, University of Goteborg, Sweden.

This article brings together two research traditions: social movement theory and theories of corporate social responsibility. The study is an attempt to widen the perspective on the relationship between a business/business sector and its external stakeholders in order to include social movements. We depart from a three-part model of political opportunity structures, including state, cultural and economic opportunity structures.

The animal rights movement has had considerable success by engaging with a relatively open cultural opportunity structure. However, since the movement is faced with an economic opportunity structure that is not vulnerable to the demands of stakeholders, and where there is great inconsistency between the interests of the industry and the demands of the stakeholders, it is not surprising that the farmers have been non-compliant.

Urban Field Education: An Opportunity Structure for Enhancing Students' Personal and Social Efficacy - Judith Beinstein.
Undergraduates' transitions to adult working roles can befacilitated by off-campus field education programs. An evaluation study of one such program, a work internship program in Philadelphia, indicated that student participants had experienced significant positive changes in feelings of per-sonal and social efficacy.

Urban Black Youths' Educational and Occupational Goals 
The Impact of America's Opportunity Structure 

Elaine M. Walker, Newark Board of Education, Marcia E. Sutherland, State University of New York, Albany. An attitude formation model was developed to test the processes through which economically disadvantaged Black students form their educational and occupational goals. The model assumed that the development of aspirations among urban youths represents an interplay of structural and subjective factors. Finings indicated that Black males held more negative perceptions of the opportunity structure and had lower aspirations than Black females. Indeed, Blacks males' perceptions of the opportunity structure carried the same weight in influencing the type of educational plans that they established for themselves as did how well they performed in school.

Globalization, Environmental Movements, and International Political Opportunity Structures - Hein-Anton Van Der Heijden, University of Amsterdam. Political opportunity structure refers to the specific features of a political system that can explain the different action repertoires, organizational forms and impacts of social movements, and social movement organizations in that specific country. With the globalization of environmental problems and solution strategies, important parts of the environmental movement have also become global. To what extent could the concept of international political opportunity structure (IPOS) be useful for analyzing transnational environmentalism in the 21st century?

Unequal Opportunity Structure and Labour Market Segmentation - Reinhard Kreckel. 
Sociology of social stratification and labour market economics have developed in isolation from one another. The starting point is a critique of the very notion of social stratification. A return to Max Weber's idea of 'class situation as market situation' and to his concept of `social closure' is advocated. On this basis, a conception of structured social inequality in advanced capitalist societies is developed which is open for conceptual innovations to be taken from labour market economics.

On Social Structure and Science - by Robert King Merton. Opportunity Structure (1995) Emergence of the Concept of Opportunity Structure in the Columbia Micro-environment of the 1950s. Building on Robert King Merton's theory of delinquency, this term was developed by Richard A. Cloward and Lloyd B. Ohlin in Delinquency and Opportunity (1960), to further elucidate the pathways to success in American culture. When such pathways are blocked, other opportunity structures may be found, and these could lead to diverse patterns of deviance. In this characterization, a combination of anomie theory and cultural transmission theory, there were three major delinquent opportunity structures: criminal, retreatist, and conflict.

Unequal opportunity structure in Israel's education system
The opportunity structure in Israel's education system is unequal. At the countrywide level there is inequality of opportunity between students in the Jewish sector and their Arab counterparts. This inequality is also manifested at the local level; inequality of opportunities is the rule within the Arab sector itself. Another manifestation of unequal opportunity at the local level is the existence of two main scholastic "majors" or specializations in Arab state schools: one that enrolls a small number of students and leads to a good matriculation certificate. The opportunity structure that the Arab student faces is also unequal.

The Opportunity Structure: Implications for Career Counseling.
Miller, Vaughan Marshall, Journal of Employment Counseling. Abstract: A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. Discusses traditional career counseling methods which are based on the assumption that matching clients' interests, values, abilities, and aptitudes to a suitable occupation will result in opportunities for self-actualization and personal expression. Contends that vocational psychology has focused almost exclusively on individuals to the neglect of social, economic, and political realities, as well as the opportunity structure.