ACT Reading : Drawing Inferences from Social Science or History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Drawing Inferences From Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from "The Collapse of Capitalistic Government" in The Theory of Social Revolutions by Brooks Adams (1913 ed.)

About a century ago, after the American and French Revolutions and the Napoleonic wars, the present industrial era opened, and brought with it a new governing class, as every considerable change in human environment must bring with it a governing class to give it expression. Perhaps, for lack of a recognized name, I may describe this class as the industrial capitalistic class, composed in the main of administrators and bankers. As nothing in the universe is stationary, ruling classes have their rise, culmination, and decline, and I conjecture that this class attained to its acme of popularity and power, at least in America, toward the close of the third quarter of the nineteenth century. I draw this inference from the fact that in the next quarter resistance to capitalistic methods began to take shape in such legislation as the Interstate Commerce Law and the Sherman Act, and almost at the opening of the present century a progressively rigorous opposition found for its mouthpiece the President of the Union himself. History may not be a very practical study, but it teaches some useful lessons, one of which is that nothing is accidental, and that if men move in a given direction, they do so in obedience to an impulsion as automatic as is the impulsion of gravitation. Therefore, if Mr. Roosevelt became, what his adversaries are pleased to call, an agitator, his agitation had a cause which is as deserving of study as is the path of a cyclone. This problem has long interested me, and I harbor no doubt not only that the equilibrium of society is very rapidly shifting, but that Mr. Roosevelt has, half-automatically, been stimulated by the instability about him to seek for a new centre of social gravity. In plain English, I infer that he has concluded that industrialism has induced conditions which can no longer be controlled by the old capitalistic methods, and that the country must be brought to a level of administrative efficiency competent to deal with the strains and stresses of the twentieth century, just as, a hundred and twenty-five years ago, the country was brought to an administrative level competent for that age, by the adoption of the Constitution. Acting on these premises, as I conjecture, whether consciously worked out or not, Mr. Roosevelt’s next step was to begin the readjustment; but, I infer, that on attempting any correlated measures of reform, Mr. Roosevelt found progress impossible, because of the obstruction of the courts. Hence his instinct led him to try to overleap that obstruction, and he suggested, without, I suspect, examining the problem very deeply, that the people should assume the right of “recalling” judicial decisions made in causes which involved the nullifying of legislation. What would have happened had Mr. Roosevelt been given the opportunity to thoroughly formulate his ideas, even in the midst of an election, can never be known, for it chanced that he was forced to deal with subjects as vast and complex as ever vexed a statesman or a jurist, under difficulties at least equal to the difficulties of the task itself.

If the modern mind has developed one characteristic more markedly than another, it is an impatience with prolonged demands on its attention, especially if the subject be tedious. No one could imagine that the New York press of to-day would print the disquisitions which Hamilton wrote in 1788 in support of the Constitution, or that, if it did, any one would read them, least of all the lawyers; and yet Mr. Roosevelt’s audience was emotional and discursive even for a modern American audience. Hence, if he attempted to lead at all, he had little choice but to adopt, or at least discuss, every nostrum for reaching an immediate millennium which happened to be uppermost; although, at the same time, he had to defend himself against an attack compared with which any criticism to which Hamilton may have been subjected resembled a caress. The result has been that the Progressive movement, bearing Mr. Roosevelt with it, has degenerated into a disintegrating rather than a constructive energy, which is, I suspect, likely to become a danger to every one interested in the maintenance of order, not to say in the stability of property. Mr. Roosevelt is admittedly a strong and determined man whose instinct is arbitrary, and yet, if my analysis be sound, we see him, at the supreme moment of his life, diverted from his chosen path toward centralization of power, and projected into an environment of, apparently, for the most part, philanthropists and women, who could hardly conceivably form a party fit to aid him in establishing a vigorous, consolidated, administrative system. He must have found the pressure toward disintegration resistless, and if we consider this most significant phenomenon, in connection with an abundance of similar phenomena, in other countries, which indicate social incoherence, we can hardly resist a growing apprehension touching the future. Nor is that apprehension allayed if, to reassure ourselves, we turn to history, for there we find on every side long series of precedents more ominous still.

It can be reasonably inferred from the author's mention of the Constitution that he believes that it is __________.

Possible Answers:

the administrative equalizer of the eighteenth century

the only factor in the American Revolution

obstructing the court system

an incomprehensible historical document

Correct answer:

the administrative equalizer of the eighteenth century

Explanation:

The author states that Mr. Roosevelt was searching for something that would serve the same purpose that the Constitution did 125 years earlier when it brought the country to a competent "administrative level."

Example Question #1 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from Emancipation of the Working Class by Eugene Debs (1918)

You remember that, at the close of Theodore Roosevelt's second term as President, he went over to Africa to make war on some of his ancestors. You remember that, at the close of his expedition, he visited the capitals of Europe, and that he was wined and dined, dignified and glorified by all the Kaisers and Czars and Emperors of the Old World. He visited Potsdam while the Kaiser was there, and, according to the accounts published in the American newspapers, he and the Kaiser were soon on the most familiar terms. They were hilariously intimate with each other, and slapped each other on the back. After Roosevelt had reviewed the Kaiser's troops, according to the same accounts, he became enthusiastic over the Kaiser's legions and said: "If I had that kind of an army, I could conquer the world." He knew the Kaiser then just as well as he knows him now. He knew that he was the Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin. And yet, he permitted himself to be entertained by that Beast of Berlin; had his feet under the mahogany of the Beast of Berlin; was cheek by jowl with the Beast of Berlin. And, while Roosevelt was being entertained royally by the German Kaiser, that same Kaiser was putting the leaders of the Socialist Party in jail for fighting the Kaiser and the Junkers of Germany. Roosevelt was the guest of honor in the White House of the Kaiser, while the Socialists were in the jails of the Kaiser for fighting the Kaiser. Who then was fighting for democracy? Roosevelt? Roosevelt, who was honored by the Kaiser, or the Socialists who were in jail by order of the Kaiser?  "Birds of a feather flock together."

When the newspapers reported that Kaiser Wilhelm and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt recognized each other at sight, were perfectly intimate with each other at the first touch, they made the admission that is fatal to the claim of Theodore Roosevelt, that he is the friend of the common people and the champion of democracy; they admitted that they were kith and kin; that they were very much alike; that their ideas and ideals were about the same. If Theodore Roosevelt is the great champion of democracy—the arch foe of autocracy—what business had he as the guest of honor of the Prussian Kaiser? And when he met the Kaiser, and did honor to the Kaiser, under the terms imputed to him, wasn't it pretty strong proof that he himself was a Kaiser at heart? Now, after being the guest of Emperor Wilhelm, the Beast of Berlin, he comes back to this country, and wants you to send ten million men over there to kill the Kaiser, to murder his former friend and pal. Rather queer, isn't it? And yet, he is the patriot, and we are the traitors. I challenge you to find a Socialist anywhere on the face of the earth who was ever the guest of the Beast of Berlin, except as an inmate of his prison.

From the whole of this passage it can be inferred that the author __________.

Possible Answers:

feels sympathetic towards Theodore Roosevelt

has never served time in prison

is opposed to the war in Europe

feels distraught by the actions of Theodore Roosevelt

supports the war in Europe 

Correct answer:

is opposed to the war in Europe

Explanation:

You know that the author does not feel sympathetic towards Theodore Roosevelt because he condemns him in pretty conclusive terms. Likewise, he never expresses dismay or surprise at Roosevelt’s actions so you could not reasonably claim he feels distraught. The author discusses how many members of the Socialist movement, of which he is clearly a part, have spent time in jail so it would be foolish to infer he has never spent time in prison. That leaves only whether he supports or opposes the war in Europe. The author says of the passages antagonist, Theodore Roosevelt; “Now, after being the guest of Emperor Wilhelm, the Beast of Berlin, he comes back to this country, and wants you to send ten million men over there to kill the Kaiser, to murder his former friend and pal. Rather queer, isn't it? And yet, he is the patriot, and we are the traitors.” As the man he heavily disparages is in favor of the war it makes sense to infer that the author is opposed to the war. Furthermore, he uses words like “murder” to describe warfare and suggests that Roosevelt is a “traitor” for wanting to send “ten million men” to war.

Example Question #1 : Extrapolating From The Text In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

I proceed to inquire whether the federal government or the state governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States. I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving the proofs for another place. The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.

What can we infer about the author's feelings about the Constitution based on the passage?

Possible Answers:

The author is neutral about the Constitution but feels that its detractors have been overly zealous.

The author opposes the Constitution because he believes that it will create a federal government that is too weak to govern effectively.

The author likely opposes the Constitution because he believes that it will create too strong of a federal government.

The author is likely a supporter of the Constitution.

The author likely has mixed feelings about the potential of the Constitution to create an effective federal government.

Correct answer:

The author is likely a supporter of the Constitution.

Explanation:

We can infer that the author of this passage supports the Constitution for a number of reasons. On one hand, he refers to "The adversaries of the Constitution" as "These gentleman" in the sentence "These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error." Since the author is not including himself with "these gentlemen," he is not including himself with the Constitutions' adversaries, so he does not oppose it. In saying that they need to be "reminded of their error," he is suggesting that the adversaries of the Constitution are wrong in some respect, providing evidence that he probably supports the constitution and opposes its adversaries. 

Example Question #121 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

Many considerations, besides those suggested on a former occasion, seem to place it beyond doubt that the first and most natural attachment of the people will be to the governments of their respective states. Into the administration of these a greater number of individuals will expect to rise. From the gift of these a greater number of offices and emoluments will flow. By the superintending care of these, all the more domestic and personal interests of the people will be regulated and provided for. With the affairs of these, the people will be more familiarly and minutely conversant. And with the members of these, will a greater proportion of the people have the ties of personal acquaintance and friendship, and of family and party attachments; on the side of these, therefore, the popular bias may well be expected most strongly to incline.

Experience speaks the same language in this case. The federal administration, though hitherto very defective in comparison with what may be hoped under a better system, had, during the war, and particularly whilst the independent fund of paper emissions was in credit, an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever. It was engaged, too, in a course of measures which had for their object the protection of everything that was dear and the acquisition of everything that could be desirable to the people at large. It was, nevertheless, invariably found, after the transient enthusiasm for the early Congresses was over, that the attention and attachment of the people were turned anew to their own particular governments; that the federal council was at no time the idol of popular favor; and that opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens.

The author would most likely agree with which of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

During the previous war, the federal government focused its attention on relatively unimportant things.

Family ties and party affiliations have nothing to do with the relative popularity of federal or state governments.

Fewer people will likely participate in state governments in the author's near future.

It is not surprising that the U.S. federal government's popularity exceeded that of its states' governments after the war.

It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war.

Correct answer:

It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war.

Explanation:

In the second sentence of the second paragraph, the author states, "The federal administration . . . had, during the war, . . . an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever." This directly supports the answer choice "It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war." The other answer choices are all contradicted by information elsewhere in the passage.

Example Question #11 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Social Science / History Passage Content

Adapted from The Crisis by Carrie Chapman Catt (1916)

The war will soon end and the armies will return to their native lands. To many a family, the men will never come back. The husband, who returns to many a wife, will eat no bread the rest of his life save of her earning. What then, will happen after the war? Will the widows left with families to support cheerfully leave their well-paid posts for those commanding lower wages? Not without protest! Will the wives who now must support crippled husbands give up their skilled work and take up the occupations which were open to them before the war? Will they resignedly say: "The woman who has a healthy husband who can earn for her, has a right to tea and raisin cake, but the woman who earns for herself and a husband who has given his all to his country, must be content with tasteless bread?" Not without protest! On the contrary, the economic axiom, denied and evaded for centuries, will be blazoned on every factory, counting house and shop: "Equal pay for equal work"; and common justice will slowly, but surely enforce that law. The European woman has risen. She may not realize it yet, but the woman "doormat" in every land has unconsciously become a "door-jamb." She will have become accustomed to her new dignity by the time the men come home. She will wonder how she ever could have been content lying across the threshold now that she discovers the upright jamb gives so much broader and more normal a vision of things. The men returning may find the new order a bit queer but everything else will be strangely unfamiliar too, and they will soon grow accustomed to all the changes together. The "jamb" will never descend into a "doormat" again.

The male and female anti-suffragists of all lands will puff and blow at the economic change which will come to the women of Europe. They will declare it to be contrary to Nature and to God's plan and that somebody ought to do something about it. Suffragists will accept the change as the inevitable outcome of an unprecedented world's cataclysm over which no human agency had any control and will trust in God to adjust the altered circumstances to the eternal evolution of human society. They will remember that in the long run, all things work together for good, for progress and for human weal.

The economic change is bound to bring political liberty. From every land, there comes the expressed belief that the war will be followed by a mighty, oncoming wave of democracy for it is now well known that the conflict has been one of governments, of kings and czars, kaisers and emperors — not of peoples. The nations involved have nearly all declared that they are fighting to make an end of wars. New and higher ideals of governments and of the rights of the people under them, have grown enormously during the past two years. Another tide of political liberty, similar to that of 1848, but of a thousand-fold greater momentum, is rising from battlefield and hospital, from camp and munitions factory, from home and church which, great men of many lands, tell us, is destined to sweep over the world. On the continent, the women say, "It is certain that the vote will come to men and women after the war, perhaps not immediately but soon. In Great Britain, which was the storm centre of the suffrage movement for some years before the war, hundreds of bitter, active opponents have confessed their conversion on account of the war services of women. Already, three great provinces of Canada, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, have given universal suffrage to their women in sheer generous appreciation of their war work.

With which of these statements would the author of this passage most likely NOT agree?

Possible Answers:

The death of millions of young European men will help advance the cause of female suffrage.

The outbreak of World War One was the result of narrow-minded Kings and Kaisers.

Women’s suffrage needs to be incited through violent and disobedient action.

Female economic independence has been denied for centuries.

Great Britain has long served as the home of the female suffrage movement.

Correct answer:

Women’s suffrage needs to be incited through violent and disobedient action.

Explanation:

The author of this passage states that “it is now well known that the conflict has been one of governments, of kings and czars, kaisers and emperors — not of peoples.” This means that the author would agree with the answer choice “The outbreak of World War One was the result of narrow-minded Kings and Kaisers.” Likewise the author states that “In Great Britain, which was the storm centre of the suffrage movement for some years before the war;” therefore the author would agree that “Great Britain has long served as the home of the female suffrage movement.” The author’s argument and main point will likely have helped you to eliminate “Female economic independence has been denied for centuries” as an answer choice. Finally, the author states her belief that the death of millions of young European men will naturally create the need for an alteration of the social and economic paradigm between men and women. This leaves only the answer choice “Women’s suffrage needs to be incited through violent and disobedient action” as a statement the author would not agree with. And, if you read the whole passage, there is no mention of using violence to achieve suffrage.

Example Question #111 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Lucretia Mott; and others (1848)

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

Which of these statements would the author of this passage NOT agree with?

Possible Answers:

Women have suffered under the governance of men.

Men and women have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

All men and women are created equal.

It is the right of the people to overthrow despotism.

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Correct answer:

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Explanation:

The author of this passage makes explicit reference to her belief in the equality of men and women so you can rule out several of the possible answer choices that would contradict this belief. Likewise the author mentions that “the patient sufferance of women under this government.” So the author would obviously agree that women have suffered under the governance of men. Finally, the author clearly states that “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it.” The only possible answer choice is that the author would not agree with the statement that “It is prudent to overthrow any dissatisfactory government.” Instead, the author specifically states that it is not prudent to overthrow any and all dissatisfactory governments, only those that have become so unbearable in their abuses.

Example Question #1 : Extrapolating From The Text In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from Emancipation of the Working Class by Eugene Debs (1918)

To speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women and children who toil; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; a duty of love.

 I have just returned from a visit over yonder, where three of our most loyal comrades are paying the penalty for their devotion to the cause of the working class. They have come to realize, as many of us have, that it is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world.

 I realize that, in speaking to you this afternoon, there are certain limitations placed upon the right of free speech. I must be exceedingly careful, prudent, as to what I say, and even more careful and prudent as to how I say it. I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. They may put those boys in jail—and some of the rest of us in jail—but they cannot put the Socialist movement in jail. Those prison bars separate their bodies from ours, but their souls are here this afternoon. They are simply paying the penalty that all men have paid in all the ages of history for standing erect, and for seeking to pave the way to better conditions for mankind. If it had not been for the men and women who, in the past, have had the moral courage to go to jail, we would still be in the jungles.

With which of the following statements would the author of this passage most likely NOT agree?

Possible Answers:

It is dangerous to speak against the wishes of the American government.

The Socialist movement cannot survive if its members keep getting imprisoned.

Moral courage has been crucial to the advancement of mankind.

The right to free speech is being abused in the United States of America.

It is better to be imprisoned than it is to be a coward.

Correct answer:

The Socialist movement cannot survive if its members keep getting imprisoned.

Explanation:

The author discusses the imprisonment of members of the Socialist movement throughout the passage, but never expresses a belief that the movement cannot survive if its members keep getting imprisoned. Rather, the author seems to encourage members to be imprisoned if it means aiding the advancement of the Socialist movement. Evidence for this can be found throughout, but one such example is “They are simply paying the penalty that all men have paid in all the ages of history for standing erect, and for seeking to pave the way to better conditions for mankind. If it had not been for the men and women who, in the past, have had the moral courage to go to jail, we would still be in the jungles.”

Example Question #1 : Extrapolating From The Text In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Fundamental Principle of a Republic by Anna Howard Shaw (1915)

Never in the history of the world did it dawn upon the human mind as it dawned upon your ancestors, what it would mean for men to be free. They got the vision of a government in which the people would be the supreme power, and so inspired by this vision men wrote such documents as were went from the Massachusetts legislature, from the New York legislature and from the Pennsylvania group over to the Parliament of Great Britain, which rang with the profoundest measures of freedom and justice. They did not equivocate in a single word when they wrote the Declaration of Independence; no one can dream that these men had not got the most sublime ideal of democracy which had ever dawned upon the souls of men. But as soon as the war was over and our government was formed, instead of asking the question, who shall be the governing force in this great new Republic, they began to eliminate instead of include the men who should be the great governing forces, and they said, who shall have the voice in this great new Republic, and you would have supposed that such men as fought the Revolutionary War would have been able to answer that every man who has fought, everyone who has given up all he has and all he has been able to accumulate shall be free; but it never entered their minds.

These excellent ancestors of yours had not been away from the old world long enough to realize that man is of more value than his purse, so they said every man who has an estate in the government shall have a voice; and they said what shall that estate be? And they answered that a man who had property valued at two hundred and fifty dollars will be able to cast a vote, and so they sang "The land of the free and the home of the brave." And they wrote into their Constitution, "All males who pay taxes on $250 shall cast a vote," and they called themselves a Republic, and we call ourselves a Republic, and they were not quite so much of a Republic that we should be called a Republic yet. Now what did we do? Before the word "male" in the local compacts, they wrote the word "Church-members"; and they wrote in the word "taxpayer." Then there arose a great Democrat, Thomas Jefferson, who looked down into the day when you and I are living and saw that the rapidly accumulated wealth in the hands of a few men would endanger the liberties of the people, and he knew what you and I know, that no power under heaven or among men is known in a Republic by which men can defend their liberties except by the power of the ballot, and so the Democratic party took another step in the evolution of the Republic out of a monarchy and they rubbed out the word "taxpayer" and wrote in the word "white", and then the Democrats thought the millennium had come, and they sang " The land of the free and the home of the brave" as lustily as the Republicans had sung it before them and spoke of the divine right of motherhood with the same thrill in their voices and at the same time they were selling mother's babies by the pound on the auction block-and mothers apart from their babies. Another arose who said a man is not a good citizen because he is white, he is a good citizen because he is a man, and the Republican party took out that progressive evolutionary eraser and rubbed out the word "white" from before the word "male' and could not think of another word to put in there- they were all in, black and white, rich and poor, wise and otherwise, drunk and sober; not a man left out to be put in, and so the Republicans could not write anything before the word "male", and they had to let the little word, "male" stay alone by itself.

From the whole of this passage, it can be inferred that the author __________.

Possible Answers:

is arguing in favor of women’s suffrage

is a staunch Democrat

is not a native-born American

holds strong religious opinions

believes in the sanctity of the American Republic

Correct answer:

is arguing in favor of women’s suffrage

Explanation:

This question requires you to understand the purpose of the whole passage. As the author follows the development of political participation in the United States it becomes clear in the conclusion that she is moving towards advocating in favor of expanding suffrage to include women in the process. This is a somewhat difficult question because the author does not explicitly mention women or women’s suffrage; instead you are required to think critically. “Another arose who said a man is not a good citizen because he is white, he is a good citizen because he is a man, and the Republican party took out that progressive evolutionary eraser and rubbed out the word "white" from before the word "male' and could not think of another word to put in there- they were all in . . . had to let the little word, "male" stay alone by itself.” Here the author advocates for the extension of suffrage to women by implicitly criticizing the inclusion of only men.

Example Question #41 : Drawing Inferences From Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from Emancipation of the Working Class by Eugene Debs (1918)

Our plutocracy, our Junkers, would have us believe that all the Junkers are confined to Germany. It is precisely because we refuse to believe this that they brand us as disloyal. They want our eyes focused on the Junkers in Berlin so that we will not see those within our own borders. I hate, I loathe, I despise Junkers and junkerdom. I have no earthly use for the Junkers of Germany, and not one particle more use for the Junkers in the United States. They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter.

To whom do the Wall Street Junkers in our country marry their daughters? After they have wrung their countless millions from your sweat, your agony and your life's blood, in a time of war as in a time of peace, they invest these untold millions in the purchase of titles of broken-down aristocrats, such as princes, dukes, counts and other parasites and no-accounts. Would they be satisfied to wed their daughters to honest workingmen? To real democrats? Oh, no! They scour the markets of Europe for vampires who are titled and nothing else. And they swap their millions for the titles, so that matrimony with them becomes literally a matter of money.

These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to Junker rule in the United Sates. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people.

Which of the following statements would the author of this passage most likely NOT agree with?

Possible Answers:

Patriotism is often used as a tool of subjugation by the ruling classes.

American society is free of the abuses apparent in German society.

Communism is a better economic system than Capitalism.

Wall Street bankers abuse the working classes to make their money.

The common man is subject to manipulation from the ruling classes.

Correct answer:

American society is free of the abuses apparent in German society.

Explanation:

The author of this passage would agree with all of those statements except that American society is free of the abuses found in German society. That the author would disagree with this statement is found in the opening sentences, where the author states “Our plutocracy, our Junkers, would have us believe that all the Junkers are confined to Germany. It is precisely because we refuse to believe this that they brand us as disloyal. They want our eyes focused on the Junkers in Berlin so that we will not see those within our own borders.” Here the author specifically identifies how the wealthy ruling classes are trying to deceive the American people into believing the economic injustices found in Germany are not found in America. It is clear from the author’s implication that he feels America society is subject to the same abuses found in German society.  

Example Question #12 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Social Science / History Passage Content

"Goffman's Theory of Institutions" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociological inquiry often investigates members of society considered to be on its outer edges. These individuals often live in precarious and vulnerable situations. Traditionally, sociologists have studied these groups to gain insight into the lives of people who are forgotten victims of the blind eye of society. In 1961, Erving Goffman published the book Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. This book outlined the theory of a total institution as seen in prisons and asylums. Goffman’s interests and theory helped to reveal the inner mechanics of asylums and the process of institutionalization that takes place within a total institution.

According to Goffman’s observations and subsequent theories, a total institution seeks to erode the relationships of an individual with the outside world and consume their personal identities and daily activities. The end goal of a total institution is to break down and deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual’s life by conducting all of these aspects of life in the same location under the same authority. In these institutions, Goffman stated that there is an intentional divide between a large, managed group and a supervisor, which often results in feelings of submissiveness and reluctance to leave the institutionalized setting on the part of the “inmates.” This suggests that these restrictive environments lead to the institutionalization of an individual into the group and away from his or her previous, independent life. In these structures, an individual’s admission procedures shape and engineer the new member in what may be described as a process of programming. This programming of an individual is characterized by a “leaving off” of one’s identity and a “taking on” of one supplied by the establishment. Members of these establishments are alienated from their previous lives and encircled by the ideals and principals of the new institution. A prolonged exposure to similar institutions results in a phenomenon known as "disculturation," which is an un-training that renders an individual temporarily incapable of managing certain features of daily life outside the structures of the institutions.

Sociologists often study groups forgotten or ignored by society. Goffman’s work illuminated issues with vulnerable populations at asylums and other institutions. Ethnographic field studies have continued this tradition and in doing so have theorized the causes of many of society’s ills. Goffman’s work is just one example of sociology’s ability to delve into an understudied region of society, propose explanations of issues, and theorize possible avenues of reform.

Ethnographic researchers often study which of the following populations?

Possible Answers:

Populations on the edge of society

Gang members

Ethnographic researchers most often study a population that is not listed as one of the other answer choices.

The mentally ill

Prison populations

Correct answer:

Populations on the edge of society

Explanation:

Ethnographic researchers often observe populations that society has ignored. All of the other choices are examples of groups on the outer rim of society; however, ethnographic research is not limited to one of these groups.

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