Chapter 1: How Sociologists View Social Problems

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Sociological Imagination
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a framework of thought that looks at the broad social context that shapes people’s experiences; this perspective helps people transcend personal experiences and emotions in order to see the larger picture that affects their situation; also Sociological Perspective
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Personal Trouble
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an individual’s own experience of a social problem
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Sociological Perspective
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another term for Sociological Imagination
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Social Location
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an individual’s position within society or its groups
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Social Problem
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some aspect of society (an Objective Condition) that large numbers of people are concerned about and would like changed (Subjective Concern)
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Objective Conditions
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a condition of society that can be measured; one of the two essential characteristics of a social problem
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Subjective Concern
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the concern or distress that people feel about some aspect of society; one of the two essential characteristics of a social problem
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Value
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a belief about whether something is good or bad, desirable or undesirable
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Power
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the capacity to get your way even in the face of opposition
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Sociology
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the systematic and objective study of the groups that make up society; includes the relationships of those groups to one another and interaction within the groups
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Common Sense
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the ideas common to a society or to some group within a society that people use to make sense out of their experiences
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Research Method
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way of doing research; also Research Design
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Research Design
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the methods that sociologists use to study social life; for social problems, these are: Case Studies, Experiments, Field Studies, and Surveys; also Research Method
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Case Study
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a type of Research Design that focuses on a single case; the case or subject of the study can be an individual, an event, or an organization, such as a church, hospital, or abortion clinic
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Survey
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research using questionnaires or interviews that focuses on a Sample of people from a target Population; the sample is intended to represent the larger group from which it is selected
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Sample
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a relatively small number of people who are intended to represent the larger group from which they are selected
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Population
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in research, refers to the group that one wishes to study
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Generalize
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to apply the findings learned in one setting, group, or Sample to other settings or groups
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Random Sample
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a sample that gives everyone in the group being studied an equal chance of being included in the research
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Experiment
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a Research Design that divides a group into an Experimental Group (those who are exposed to some experience) and a Control Group (those who are not exposed to the experience); measurements are taken before and after to determine the effects of the experience
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Experimental Group
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the group in an experiment that is exposed to an experience (or independent variable
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Control Group
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the group in an experiment that is not exposed to an experience (or independent variable)
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Field Study
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a method of gathering information through direct observation of some setting; also Field Work or Participant Observation
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Participant Observation
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a method of gathering information through direct observation of some setting; also Field Study or Field Work
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Interview
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a method of gathering information in which the researcher asks questions; interviews may be Structured or Unstructured
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Structured Interview
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Interviews that use close-ended questions; the researcher asks preset questions
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Unstructured Interview
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Interviews that use open-ended questions; people talk about their experiences, with the researcher making certain that specific areas are covered
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Questionnaire
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written questions used to gather information in research
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Documents
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written records; in its extended sense, refers to moving images, such as videos and movies
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Observation
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a means of gathering information whereby the researcher directly observes what is occurring in a setting; may be Overt or Covert
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Overt Observation
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Observation in which participants know they are being studied
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Covert Observation
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Observation in which participants do not know they are being studied

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