Sociology 101

sociology
the systematic and scientific study of human society and social behavior, from large-scale institutions and mass culture to small groups and individual interactions (how people and society affect each other)

society
group of people who shape their lives in aggregated and patterned ways that distinguish their group from others

social sciences
disciplines that use the scientific method to examine the social world (as opposed to natural sciences — examine the physical world)

economics, psychology, sociology, geography, communications studies, anthropology, history and political science

sociological perspective
way of looking at the world through a sociological lens (taking the “sociological approach”/”thinking sociologically”)

* can be done through using the beginner’s mind, culture shock, cultural relativism and sociological imagination

beginner’s mind
approaching the world without preconceptions in order to see things in a new way and learn new things (must unlearn what’s already known in order to better understand the world — open and receptive to experience)

culture shock
sense of disorientation that occurs when you enter a radically new social/cultural environment (complete lack of understanding of our surroundings allows us to perceive what’s in front of us)

sociological imagination
quality of the mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our individual circumstances and larger social forces (understand the interplay between the self and the world and the intersection between history and biography)

– C. Wright Mills

microsociology
level of analysis that studies face-to-face and small group interactions in order to understand how they affect the larger patterns and institutions of society (society’s larger structures are shaped through individual interactions)

macrosociology
level of analysis that studies large-scale social structures in order to determine how they affect the lives of groups and individuals (society’s larger structure shapes individual interactions)

spectrum of sociology
(macro) society – culture – social institutions – social inequality – groups – roles – socialization – interaction – self (micro)

theory
abstract proposition that explains the social world and makes predictions about the future (approach/school of thought/paradigm/perspective) — guiding principles/abstract models that attempt to explain or predict the social world

paradigm
set of assumptions/theories/perspectives that make up a way of understanding social reality (broad theoretical model about how things work in the social and natural worlds)

– truth is relative and dependent on the paradigm through which one sees the world

Auguste Comte
first man to provide a program for the scientific study of society and named sociology

– felt that society could and should be studied
– came up with positivism

positivism
theory that sense perceptions are the only valid source of knowledge (looked to identify the laws that describe behavior of a particular reality)

– Auguste Comte

scientific method
procedure for acquiring knowledge that emphasizes collecting concrete data through observation and experiment

Harriet Martineau
woman that was a precursor to natural sociology via her view of the US by its publicly-stated democratic standards rather than an ethnocentric British perspective

– translated Comte’s “Introduction to Positive Philosophy” to english

Herbert Spencer
primary leader in establishing sociology in Britain and US that saw societies as “living organisms” that grow/evolve (and sociology studies them in a world human development)

– came up with social darwinism

social darwinism
the application of the theory of evolution and the notion of “survival of the fittest” to the study of society (societies evolve through time by adapting changing conditions)

– Herbert Spencer

structural functionalism
paradigm that begins with the assumption that society is a unified whole that functions because of the contributions of its separate structures (functionalist theory)

– Emile Durkheim
– includes all social institutions and attempts to provide a universal social theory (way to explain society in one comprehensive model)
– ability to bring order to a disorderly world (only dysfunction can cause social change — provides little insight into social processes because of its static model of society)
– focuses on macro level of sociology (doesn’t concern itself with individuals)
– notions that social inequality exists because they serve a function for society (must be necessary/inevitable)

Emile Durkheim
“central figure” of functionalist theory and felt that social bonds were present in all society types but that each type of society created different bonds — integrated/advanced earlier insights into a comprehensive theory for understanding the nature of society

– believed that individualistic actions had sociological explanations
– came up with structural functionalism (structure and dysfunction), mechanical/organic solidarity, anomie, collective effervescence, collective conscious

mechanical solidarity
describes the types of social bonds present in premodern or agrarian (simple agricultural) societies in which shared traditions/beliefs create a sense of social cohesion

– Emile Durkheim

organic solidarity
describes the types of social bonds present in modern societies based on difference, interdependence and individual rights

– Emile Durkheim

anomie
“normlessness” — describes the alienation/loss of purpose that result from weaker social bonds and an increased pace of change

– Emile Durkheim
– prevented by group membership

solidarity
degree of integration/unity within a particular society and the extent to which individuals feel connected to other members of their group

– Emile Durkheim

sacred
holy/divine/supernatural

– every religion is unified in its definition of this

profane
ordinary/mundane/everyday

– every religion is unified in its definition of this

collective efferescence
intense energy in shared events where people feel “swept up” in something larger than themselves (rituals/ceremonies that bring people together enhance feelings of emotional unity that reaffirm solidarity and social order)

– Emile Durkheim

collective conscious
shared morals/beliefs that are common to a group and which cause social solidarity (must be frequently renewed through the ritual — group “revitalizes” sense of self and unity)

– Emile Durkheim

empirical
based on scientific experiment or observation

2 main principles of functionalism:
– society is conceived as a stable and ordered system composed of structures
– each structure has a function that contributes to the continued stability/equilibrium of the unified whole

structure
social institution that’s relatively stable over time and that meets the needs of society by performing functions necessary to maintain social order/stability

dysfunction
disturbance to or undesirable consequence of some aspect of the social system (if present in a structure then causes a change and new equilibrium — causes other structures to change as well because interconnected)

Talcott Parsons
man that believed that a healthy society must provide a means for people to adapt to their environment and a functional society includes opportunities for success (must have social cohesion)

Robert Merton
man that believed that manifest and latent functions exist for different social structures

manifest function
obvious/intended functions of social structure for the social system

– Robert Merton

latent function
less obvious/possibly unintended functions of social structure

– Robert Merton

conflict theory
paradigm that sees social conflict as the basis of society and social change and emphasizes a materialistic view of society, a critical view of the status quo and a dynamic model of hysterical changes (at the macro level)

– Karl Marx
– conflict/tension are basic facts of social life and people have disagreements over goals/values and struggle over resources/power (dominance/competition/upheaval/social change)
– materialistic view of society and extends it to social inequalities
– wealthy/powerful control major social institutions and reinforced the class structure so that they were organized to represent their interests
helps explain macro and micro social issues/personal interactions and is a stark contrast to structural functionalism (a social arrangement’s existence doesn’t mean it’s beneficial — only represents the interests of those in power)
– ignores part of society that are truly orderly/stable/enduring due to focus on conflict/tension — looks over these portions of social reality

social inequality
unequal distribution of wealth/power/prestige among members of a society

Karl Marx
man that’s famous for his ideas of communism and Marxism

– created Conflict Theory, alienation, socialism, proletariat, bourgeoisie, ideology, false consciousness, class consciousness, praxis and dialectical model (thesis, antithesis and synthesis)

communism
political system based on collective ownership of the means of production (opposite of capitalism)

– Karl Marx

conflict
generated by the competition between different class groups for scarce resources (“the source for all social change”)

– Karl Marx

capitalism
economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and is characterized by competition, the profit motive and wage labor

– Marx felt it created problems by exacerbating the disparities between the rich and poor through creation of distinct social/economic classes

means of production
anything that can create wealth — money/property/factories/etc. and the infrastructure needed to run them

– most important factor in social life was someone’s relationship to a means of production (worker vs. owner)
– everything valuable in society results from human labor

proletariat
workers — no means of production of their own and are therefore reduced to selling their labor power in order to live

bourgeoisie
owners — modern capatalist class who own the means of prodution and employ wage laborers

alienation
sense of dissatisfaction the modern worker feels as a result of producing goods that are owned/controlled by someone else (despite having asset of human labor)

– Karl Marx
– bourgeoisie have social pivilege/power — able to protect interests, preserve positions and pass on advantages to the next generation (proletariat are so focused on making a living that they’re less likely to protest the conditions of their oppression)

socialism
political system based on state ownership and control of principle elements of the economy in order to reduce levels of social inequality

– Karl Marx
– each person contributes and benefits and their freedom from oppressive conditions allows for the pursuit of higher interests (create a more egalitarian/utopian society)
– can only come about once oppressed sees their oppression and acts out

ideology
system of beliefs/attitudes/values that direct a society and reproduce the status quo of the bourgeoisie

– Karl Marx
– arise from values of the ruling class — beliefs thought to be widely held were a justification that helped rationalize/explain the status quo

false consciousness
denial of the truth of the part of the oppressed when they fail to reorganize the interests of the ruling class in their ideology

– Karl Marx
– most people accept prevailing ideology despite its failure to represent their reality — allows for perpetuation f inequalities inherent to the class structure

class consciousness
recognition of social inequality on the part of the oppressed that leads to revolutionary action (also called revolutionary consciousness)

– Karl Marx
– masses must attain this to change the status quo but can only do so through recognizing how society works and challenging those in power (social change occurs with suitable levels of tension/conflict)

dialectical model
model of historical change where 2 extreme positions come into conflict and create a new 3rd thing between them (moving forward of society)

– Karl Marx
– thesis, antithesis and synthesis

thesis
existing social arrangements in a dialectical model (Karl Marx)

antithesis
opposition to the existing arrangements in a dialectical model (Karl Marx)

synthesis
new social system created out of conflict between the thesis and antithesis (Karl Marx)

critical theory
contemporary form of conflict theory that criticizes many different systems and ideologies of denomination and oppression (also called neo-Marxism)

– sees the importance of mass communication and popular culture in capitalism (idealistic tools)
– criticizes growth of consumerism since it can lead to a decline in personal freedom and decay of democracy

feminist theory
theoretical approach that looks at gender inequities in society in the way that gender structures the social world (gender and power are inextricably intertwined in our society)

queer theory
paradigm that proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs and that no sexual category is fundamentally deviant or normal (definitions are created to change them)

praxis
practical action that is taken on the basis of intellectual/theoretical understanding

– Karl Marx

Max Weber
man interested in the shift from a more traditional society to a modern industrial one

– created rationalization, iron cage, disenchantment and verstehen
– believes that modern industrialized societies are characterized by bureaucracies and that individual behavior is driven by bureaucratic goals (becomes more important motivational factors than traditions/values/emotions)
– looked to see how individual motivation led to certain social actions and how said actions helped society as a whole

rationalization
application of economic logic to human activity and use of formal rules/regulations in order to maximize efficiency without consideration of subjective/individual concerns

– Max Weber

bureaucracy
secondary group designed to perform tasks efficiently and is characterized by:
– specialization: all members are assigned specialized roles/tasks
– technical competence: members are specially trained for their roles
– hierarchy: feature supervision of subordinates by higher-ranking bosses
– written rules/regulations: used to make all operations as predictable as possible
– impersonality: rules come before people (no special treatment to anyone)
-formal written communication: documents (memos/emails) are “heart” of organization and the most effective way to communicate

– operate on rationalization
– problematic but necessary — can benefit from contact with them through playing up the interpersonal interactions within them and employing new management strategies to address alienation/disenchantment

iron cage
pessimistic description of modern life where we’re caught in bureaucratic structures that control our lives via rigid rules/rationalization

– Max Weber

disenchantment
rationaliztion of modern society (contemporary life is full of it because of bureaucracy’s dehumanizing features and its dominance in the social world)

– Max Weber

verstehen
describe’s good social research which tries to understand the meanings that individual social actors attach to various actions/events

– Max Weber

eurocentric
tendency to favor European/Western stories/cultures/values over non-Western socieities

symbolic interactionalism
paradigm that sees interaction and meaning as central to society and assumes that meanings aren’t inherent but created through interaction (interactionist theory)

– George Herbert Mead (named/perpetuated by Harold Blumer)
– allows for the understanding of processes by which social order/change are constructed
– believed that human development and meanings we assign to everyday objects/events are fundamentally social processes — require the interaction of multiple individuals
– language is crucial to development of self and society and is needed for mind (product of social interactions)
– most important human behaviors consist of linguistic “gestures” (words/facial expressions) that help people develop the ability to engage in conversation and construct society/individual selves
– society and the self are created via communicative acts (individual personality and society shape each other)
– society is produced/reproduced via interactions with each other using language and interpretation of it (face-to-face interaction is the building block of society — creates a meaningful social reality)
– social facts exist because they’re created/recreated via interactions
– focuses on how self/society develops via interaction with others but can also explain/analyze a wide variety of specific social issues

– only perspective that assumes an active, expressive model of the human actor and treats the individual and the social at the same level of analysis (focuses on the micro level of society)

George Herbert Mead
major contributor to symbolic interactionalism (creator — named by Blumer)

– thought that the self is created via social interaction and the process begins in childhood (around time language is learned) and in several stages

the Chicago school
type of sociology practiced by researchers at the University of Chicago in the ’20s and ’30s that centered on urban sociology and field research methods (Small, Park, Thomas, Cooley, Mead, Bluer, Addams and DuBois)

– focused on micro level of everyday interactions as the building blocks of larger social phenomena through use of surveys and observational data
– strongly influenced by pragmatism

pragmatism
theoretical perspective that assumes organisms make practical adaptations to their environments (humans do so via cognition, interpretation and interaction)

– William James and John Dewey
– seeks the truth of an idea by evaluating its usefulness in everyday life (if it works its true)
– living in the world involves making practical adaptations to everything encountered — if they help make life run smoother ten the ideas behind them must be useful/true

3 basic tenets of symbolic interactionism:
– act towards things on the basis of their meanings
– meanings aren’t inherent but are negotiated through interaction with others (something can mean two different things to two different people)
– meanings can change or be modified via interaction

Erving Goffman
man who felt that the self is “on loan” to us from society and is created through interaction with others (and istherefore ever-changing within various social contexts)

– creator of dramaturgy

dramaturgy
theoretical paradigm that uses the metaphor of the theater to understand how individuals present themselves to others

– Erving Goffman
– social life is analyzed in terms of its similarities to theatrical performance (for impression management)

Harold Garfinkel
man that believed that members of society must acquire the necessary knowledge/ skills to act practically in everyday life

– creator of ethnomethodology
– most skills lie “in the background” and one must assume that others have the same knowledge in order to interact with them

ethnomethodology
study of the “folk methods” and background knowledge that sustains a shared sense of reality in everyday interactions

– Harold Garfinkel
– assumption of knowledge allows us to make meaning out of every event, regardless of their troublesomeness/ambiguity
– shared understanding needs work to maintain, regardless of whether the work is done consciously (can be precarious)

conversation analysis
looks at how we create meaning in naturally occurring conversation (often via taping and examining them)

– best place to look for the social processes of meaning production is in naturally- occurring conversation
– best way to get the meaning san “everyday actor” gives to things others say/do is to look closely at how they respond
– any larger social phenomenon is created step-by-step by interaction

postmodernism
paradigm that suggests that social reality is diverse, pluralistic and constantly in flux

– no “absolutes” — no claims to truth/reason/right/order/stability (everything is relative-fragmented, temporary and contingent)
– certainty is illusory and there are no universal human truths from which we can interpret the meaning of existence
– critical of “grand narratives” (overarching stories/theories that justify dominant beliefs and give a fake sense of order/coherence to the world)
– prefer small-scale stories that describe individual/group practices rather than those who attempt to be universal/global — can be combined in a variety of ways to make different meanings
– allows for the questioning of scientific ideals of clarity/coherence, revealing of inherent shortcomings/weaknesses in arguments and a deeper/more nuanced understanding of social life
– focuses on individuals and small-scale activities in which change happens on a local/limited basis (alternative to culture trends)

modernism
paradigm that places trust in the power of science and technology to create progress, solve problems and improve life

– values scientific knowledge, a linear view of history and belief in the universality of human nature

deconstruction
critical postmodern analysis that involves taking apart or disassembling old ways of thinking (“grand narratives”)

midrange theory
approach that integrates empiricism and grand theory

– Merton
– fears that an uncritical reverence for classical theory and excessive attachment to tradition could impede the flow of new ideas (can hold sociology back as much as they advance it)
– classical theories sought to develop large-scale theories that applied to the most macro level of society — often extremely difficult to test/research practically
– looks to focus on more “theories in middle range” — strike a balance between micro and macro polarities and shift the rights/processes of sociology
– incorporates research questions and empirical data into smaller-scale theories that eventually build into a more comprehensive body of sociological theory
– lie between the minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance during day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that explains the whole social world
– aims to build knowledge cumulatively while offering a way to make sociology more effective scientifically

quantitative research
research that translates the social world into numbers that can be treated mathematically and often tries to find cause-and-effect relationships (find patterns in data via statistical analysis)

qualitative research
research that works with non-numerical data and usually tries to understand how people make sense of their world (find patterns in data via interpretative analysis)

steps of the scientific method:
1. identify the problem or ask a general question and begin to think about a specific research plan designed to answer it
2. do a literature review to become thoroughly familiar with the topic and prevent accidental duplication of work (or find background on which to conduct new research)
3. form a hypothesis and give operational definitions to the variables being studied
4. choose a research design or method
5. collect data
6. analyze data and evaluate accuracy/inaccuracy of hypothesis in predicting the outcome
7. disseminate the findings into the scientific community and among the general public

literature review
thorough search through previously published studies relevant to a particular topic

hypothesis
theoretical statement explaining the relationship between 2+ variables

variable
one of 2+ phenomena that a researcher believes are related and hopes to prove are related through research

operational definition
clear and precise definition of a variable that facilitates its measurement

correlation
relationship between variables in which they change together

causation
relationship between variables in which a change in one directly produces a change in the other

intervening variable
3rd variable that’s sometimes overlooked and explains the relationship between 2 other variables

spurious correlation
apeparance of causation produced by an intervening variable

paradigm shift
a change in basic assumptions of a particular scientific discipline (from the previous model/paradigm) — occur when new data force new ways of looking at the world

ethnography
naturalistic method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities

– also describes the written work from the studies
– write records of observations to describe activities they observe/participate in and understand what they mean to members of the studied group
– must pay attention to how the researcher’s social status shapes the kind of access they have (and therefore knowledge they can obtain)
– usually requires immersion for an extended period of time in order to truly understand members’ meaning

participant observation
methodology whereby the researcher both observes and becomes a member in a social setting

– full immersion — helps when needing to access groups that are hard to study

rapport
positive relationship that’s often characterized by mutual trust or sympathy (ethnography)

access
process by which an ethnographer gains entry to a field setting

overt
open about sociological intentions in ethnographic research

covert
observe group without telling them that ethnographic research is being conducted

fieldnotes
detailed notes taken by an ethnographer that describes their activities/interactions on a daily basis (becomes basis of ethnographic analysis)

reflexivity
how the activities/identity of the researcher influence what’s going on in the field setting (researcher’s presence may affect interactions/relationships in the group being observed)

grounded theory
inductive method of generating theory from data by creating categories in which to place data and then looking for relationships between them

advantages of ethnography:
– offers means of studying groups that are often overlooked by other methods
– can challenge taken-for-granted notions about groups that we thought we knew
– detailed nature helps reshape stereotypes held on others and which social policy is often based
– much of the pioneering methodological innovation that’s happened recently has stemmed from it

disadvantages of ethnography:
– suffers from lack of replicability (important to test validity of results)
– problem with degree of representativeness — need to show that study of small group can represent parts of society
– possibility of bias — prejudice/favor may come into play along with researchers’ values/opinions (may affect research/analysis)

replicability
research that can be repeated and thus verified by other researchers later

representativeness
degree to which a particular studied group is similar to or represents any part of the larger society

bias
opinion held by a researcher that may affect the research/analysis

interview
face-to-face information seeking conversation that gathers research from research subjects/respondents

– can be combined with other methods
– are always conducted by the researcher
– scope is often smaller because they can usually only be given to a limited number of people
– most are recorded
– questions must be worded to avoid ambiguity/confusion/emotion triggering

respondent
someone from whom a researcher solicits information

target population
entire group about which a researcher would like to be able to generalize

sample
the part of the population that will actually be studied

informed consent
safeguard through which the researcher makes sure that respondents are freely participating and understand the nature of the research

closed ended question
question asked that imposes a limit on the possible responses

open ended question
question asked that allows the answer to take

leading question
question that predisposes a respondent to answer in a certain way (biased)

double-barreled question
question that attempts to get at multiple issues at once and so tend to recieve incomplete or confusing answers

advantages of interviews:
– allow respondents to speak in their own words and reveal their thoughts/feelings/beliefs/internal states that would not necessarily be accessible by any other means
– may help dispel certain preconceptions and discover issues that might have otherwise been overlooked

disadvantages of interviews:
– respondents aren’t always forthcoming/truthful — may be difficult to talk to or may be trying to be too helpful (can’t take responses at face value)
– problem with representativeness — rarely used with large numbers of people due to them being time consuming and small group may not generalize to a larger population

surveys
method based on questionnaires that are administered to a sample of respondents selected from a target population

– tend to be macro and quantitative
– looks at large scale social patterns and employs statistics/other mathematical means of analysis
– most are closed-ended questions or those for which all possible answers are provided (open-ended questions can give more qualitative data)
– questions must be worded to avoid ambiguity/confusion/emotion triggering (especially since interviewer isn’t there to clarify)
– order of questions can affect how respondents answer
– good to have a small group pretest the questions to help eliminate flaws and make sure it’s clear/comprehensible
– using a correct sampling technique allows researchers to survey a smaller number of people and still make accurate inferences about the larger population
– need a sufficiently high response rate to be considered valid

Likert scale
way of organizing categories on a survey question so that the respondent can choose an answer along a continuum

negative question
survey question that asks respondents what they don’t think instead of what they do

representative sample
sample taken so that findings from member of the sample group can be generalized to the whole population

probability sampling
any sampling scheme in which any given unit has the same probability of being chosen

simple random sample
particular type of probability sample in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected

weighting
techniques for manipulating the sampling procedure so that the sample more closely resembles the larger population

response rate
number or percentage of surveys completed by respondents and returned to researchers

advantages of surveys:
– one of the best methods for gathering original data on a population that’s too large to study by other means (can be widely distributed and reach a large number of people) — can then generalize data to be even larger population
– relatively quick economical and can provide a lot of data
– comparatively strong on reliability
– less concern over interviewer/observer bias — respondents may feel comfortable giving candid answers to sensitive questions because they answer them in private and are usually assured the confidentiality of their responses

reliability
consistency of a question/measurement tool and the degree to which the same questions will produce similar answers

confidentiality
assurance that no one other than the researcher will know the respondent’s identity

disadvantages of surveys:
– generally lack qualitative data that may better capture the social reality — don’t allow for a full range of expression by the respondent due to a lack of the ability to qualify their answers
– comparatively weak on validity due to the fact that not all respondents are honest in self-reports
– problems with the sampling process (especially when respondents self-select to participate) make generalizability more difficult
– possible for survey research to be used to support a point of view rather than for pure scientific discovery

validity
accuracy of a question/measurement tool and the degree to which a researcher is measuring what they think they’re measuring

pilot study
small study carried out to test the feasability of a larger one

existing sources
materials that have been produced for some other reason but that can be used as data for social research

– used by almost all sociologists when approaching a research question
– somewhat less involved than collecting original data
– must decide what analytic tools are best suited for the research question after obtaining data

comparative and historical methods
methods that use existing sources to study relationships between elements of society in various regions and time periods (analyze cultural artifacts)

content analysis
method in which researchers identify and study specific variables (such as words) in a text/image/media message

– count the number of times they appear and then analyze them and the relationships between them

advantages of existing sources:
– ability to work with information that one couldn’t obtain on own and pool resources
– ability to learn about many social worlds in different time periods that can’t be physically re-entered
– can use the same data to replicate projects that have been conducted before — good way to test for reliability or see changes across time

disadvantages of existing sources:
– often seek to answer questions that the original author didn’t have in mind (may make it hard to find information or connections)
– content analysis cannot show how messages found in the media are interpreted

experimentation
formal tests of specific variables and effects that are performed in a controlled setting where all aspects of the situation can be controlled (closely resembles the scientific method)

– tends to use quantitative rather than qualitative analysis because the main goal is to isolate a variable and explore the degree to which it affects a social situation

2 basic goals of experimentation:
– strive to develop precise tools with which to record/observe/measure data
– attempt to control for all possible variables except for the one under investigation (draw clearer conclusions as to why variable changes)

control
process of regulating all factors except for the IV

experimental group
part of a test group that receives the experimental treatment

control group
part of a test group that is allowed to continue without intervention so that it can be compared with the experimental group

independent variable
factor that’s predicted to cause change

dependent variable
factor that’s changed (or not) by the IV

advantages of experimentation:
– give sociologists a way to manipulate or control the social environment they seek to understand with minimal outside interference — can select participants with the exact characteristics one wants to explore
– appropriate for researchers developing theories about the way the social world operates — can construct a model of the social situation of interest and watch it progress without the unpredicative intrusions of the real world
– highly-controlled experiments can be repeated (replicability) so that finding scan be tested more than once

disadvantages of experimentation:
– useful in development of a theory and explaining the impact of isolated variables but aren’t very effective at describing more complex processes/interactions (way they’re designed isn’t how the real world works)

value-free sociology
ideal whereby researchers identify facts without allowing their own personal beliefs or biases to interfere

– challenged by some who feel taht social research and action (actively solving social problems) must be linked

basic research
search for knowledge without any agenda or desire to use it to effect change

applied research
research designed to gather knowledge that can be used to create some form of change

objectivity
impartiality — the ability to allow the facts to speak for themselves

– may not be possible because it may not be possible to discover facts without involving self in them
– must be able to recognize that what presently passes for fact may some day be challenged
– subjective nature of human beings may prevent “absolute truth” but may be preferable when studying humans (experience in world/reality is personal and idiosyncratic)

sociologists must think about:
– values
– objectivity
– reactivity

reactivity
tendency of people or events to react to the process of being studied

– researcher presence may have noticeable or unnoticeable effect
– subjects are active/intelligent participants that may be able to sense what the researchers are trying to understand or prove and respond to even the unspoken goals of the research in order to give the researchers what they want

Hawthorne Effect
specific example of reactivity in which the desired effect is the result of the research itself (not the IV)

deception
extent to which the participants in a research project are unaware of the project or its goals

code of ethics
ethical guidelines for researchers to consult as they design a project in order to encourage protection of the research subjects

– made by each academic discipline
– provide principles to guide decision-making of researchers (aren’t strict rules to abide by) — just want to protect subjects from harm as much as possible
– subjects are entitled to “rights of biological anonymity” (must be guaranteed that no one can deduce ho they are from the research findings)

institutional review board (IRB)
group of scholars within a university who regularly meet to review and approve research proposals of their colleagues and make recommendations for how to protect human subjects

– has ability to stop a project form going forward or revoke funding if they have reservations concerning the safety of the subjects (or if they’re being put i undue risk)
– usually composed of scholars of natural/physical sciences — controversy over whether they can effectively judge social science

cuture
the entire way of life of a group of people (including material and symbolic elements) that act as a lens through which one views the world and is passed from one generation to the next

– encompasses all of civilization and touches on almost every aspect of social life
– forms basic beliefs/assumptions about the world and the way things work (and what to do/how to do it)
– defines moral parameters of right/wrong and good/bad
– human equivalent of instinct — accounts for our great success (totally dependent on it to deal with demands of life in society)
– is learned (not innate) slowly and incrementally (usually unaware of it)
– “lens” of culture can either uncover or obscure things (can’t often see own culture due to familiarity)
– often many subgroups within a larger culture that each has a unique makeup
– characterized by points of tension and division when diverse (isn’t always uniform agreement about which values/norms should be upheld)
– usually changes slowly and incrementally but it can happen in rapid/dramatic ways (usually seen as progress from outmoded ways to innovative practices)

ethnocentricism
principle of using one’s own culture as a means/standard by which to evaluate another group/individual — leads to the view that cultures other than one’s own are abnormal or inferior

– need to temporarily “suspend” it to have a clear sociological view of society

cultural relativism
principle of understanding other cultures on their own terms rather than judging or evaluating according to one’s on culture (see them as different, not right/wrong)

– allows you to discover new viewpoints or interpretations of reality and place different values/beliefs/norms/practices within their own cultural context

material culture
objects associated with a culture group — any physical object to which we give a social meaning (anything people create/use/appreciate)

symbolic culture
ideas associated with aculture group taht include ways of thinking (beliefs/values/assumptions) and behaving (norms/interactions/communications)

– rules, customs, social system, values, norms etc.
– allows for communication via signs/gestures/language and forms the basis of social interaction

sign
symbol that stands for or conveys information/idea

– numbers, letters, symbols (men/women bathroom, etc.)
– can be universal or particular to a given culture

gesture
way in which people use their bodies to communicate without words (actions with symbolic meanings — body language/nonverbal communication)

– can be subtle or obvious
– most gestures (other than those that represent basic emotions) must be learned and aren’t universal to all cultures

language
system of communication using vocal sounds/gestures/written symbols that’s the basis of symbolic culture and the primary means through which we communicate with one another and perpetuate our culture

– distinguishes humans from other species (human universal)
– present in all societies (despite variations)
– helps conceive the past, plan the future, categorize things and share perspectives on reality
– significant role in how people construct a sense of reality and categorize things around them

Sapir-Worf hypothesis
idea that language structures thought and that ways of looking (perceptions) at the world are embedded in language (principle of linguistic relativity)

value
idea about what’s worthwhile/desirable/contemptible and right/wrong in a particular group — articulates the essence of everything that a cultural group cherishes/honors

– can change over time and new ones can be created

norm
rule/guideline regarding what kinds of behavior are acceptable/appropriate within a culture that develop directly out of its value system (formal or informal)

– usually only recognize their existence when they’re broken
– can be formal (officially codified) or informal (implicit/unspoken — part of assumptions about life and embedded in consciousness)
– specific to culture, time period and situation and can have different “levels” of seriousness between cultures
– socialization helps with internalization (makes outside sanctions unneeded to “do the right thing”)
– unaware of the extent to which our conscience keeps us from violating them
– social control often looks like self control

law
common type of formally defined norm providing an explicit statement about what’s permissible/illegal in a given society

folkway
loosely enforced norm involving common customs/practices/procedures that ensure smooth social interaction and acceptance (ordinary conventions of everyday life)

– those that don’t conform are seen as peculiar/eccentric but not dangerous

more
norm that carries great moral significance, is closely related to the core values of a culture group and often involves severe repercussions for violators (expected to conform to them)

– some are formalized so there’s public condemnation and strict laws against them

taboo
norm ingrained so deeply that even thinking about violating it evokes strong feelings of disgust/horror/revulsion

sanction
positive/negative reaction to the way that people follow/disobey norms (reward for conformity and punishment for violation)

– positive = approval (smile/praise/award)
– negative = disapproval (frown/harsh word/punishment)
– when a norm is violated there’s usually one given that’ll serve as a deterrent for the behavior

social control
formal and informal mechanisms used to elicit conformity to values and norms and therefore increase social cohesion

– each type of authority has a certain amount of power that it can use to get others to follow their rules

multiculturalism
policy that values diverse racial/ethnic/national/linguistic backgrounds and so encourages the retention of cultural differences within society rather than assimilation

dominant culture
values/norms/practices of a group within society that is most powerful (wealth/prestige/status/influence/etc.)

– others are seen as “alternative”/minority

hegemony
describes the cultural aspects of social control whereby the ideas of the dominant social group are accepted by all of society — others are relegated to “second class” status

subculture
group within society that’s differentiated by its distinctive values/norms/lifestyle (nondominant)

– exists harmoniously within the larger mainstream culture (races/interests/etc.)
– can be based on anything that draws people together (similarities)

counterculture
group within society that openly rejects and/or actively opposes society’s values/norms

– can be mild or extreme (activist group vs. militia)

culture war
clash with mainstream society over the values/norms that should be upheld

– often waged over values/moralities and solutions to social problesm

ideal culture
norms/values/patterns of behavior that members of a society believe should be observed in principle

can lead to growth/change within a larger society:
– multiculturalism
– countercultures
– culture wars
– technology
– cultural diffusion
– cultural leveling
– cultural imperialism

real culture
norms/values/patterns of behavior that actually exist within a society (may or may not correspond to its ideals)

technology
material artifacts and the knowledge/techniques needed to use them (most changes in material culture surround this)

– often provides basis/structure through which culture is disseminated to members of a social group
– provides constant contact and access to resources/entertainment can distort sense of time/space and identity/reality

technological determinism
notion that development in technology provide the primary driving force behind social change (how one thinks/feels/acts is determined by technology)

cultural diffusion
dissemination of beliefs/practices from one group to another (may lead to appropriation of one culture due to exposure to another)

– usually occurs in direction of more developed to less developed countries
– can be one or two-sided

cultural leveling
process by which cultures that were once unique/distinct become increasingly similar

– Western culture is dominant force
– can be one or two-sided

cultural imperialism
imposition of one cultures’ beliefs/practices on another via mass media and consumer products rather than by military force

culture according to structural functionalism:
values/norms are widely shared/agreed upon and contribute to social stability via reinforcing common binds and constraining individual behavior

culture according to conflict theory:
values/norms are part of the dominant culture and tend to represent/protect the interests of the most powerful groups in society

culture according to symbolic interactionalism:
values/norms are social constructions that are created/maintained/changed via outgoing social interaction

nature vs. nurture
ongoing discussion of the respective roles of genetics and socialization in determining individual behaviors and traits

– “nature” — behavioral traits are explained genetically (sociobiologists, natural scientists and some psychologists)
– “nurture” — behavioral traits/human nature is learned and shaped via social interaction (sociologists and social scientists)
– heredity gives “basic potential” but social environment determines whether this potential is realized or if new ones are developed

socialization
process of learning and internalizing values, beliefs and norms of one’s social group by which we become a functioning member of society

– works on an individual and social level — learn society’s way of life and make it one’s own
– infants at birth show almost no learned behaviors that characterize humans — have innate capacities that can only develop fully via contact with others
– lifelong process that continues to shape someone over time
– a sense of one’s self is the most fundamental human experience (core of humaneness = consciousness)

two-fold process of socialization:
– process by which society, culture or group teaches individuals to become functioning members
– process by which individuals learn and internalize values/norms of the group

2 main goals of socialization:
– teaches members skills necessary to satisfy basic human needs and defend themselves from danger (ensuring continued existence of society)
– teaches individuals the norms/values/beliefs associated with the culture and provide ways to ensure that they adhere to the shared way of life

feral child
child that’s had little human contact and may have lived in the wild at a young age

self
individual’s consciousness — reflexive experience of personal identity separate and distinct from others

– ability to think of oneself as more than one being and see oneself from vantage point of an observer
– thoughts and feelings emanate from and to oneself
– created and modified via social interactions over lifetime

psychoanalytic theory
childhood and sexual development are crucial influences on one’s identity

– Freud
– contains 3 different systems of mind and the psychosexual stages of development

id
basic inborn drives that are the source of instinctive psychic energy (biological drives)

– main goal is to achieve pleasure and avoid pain in all cases (selfish/unrealistic)

ego
realistic aspect of mind that balances the other two

– operates on the basis of reason and “deals” with real world
– mediates/integrates demands of other two systems

superego
internalized demands of society

– composed of conscience (keeps one from engaging in socially undesirable behavior) and ego-ideal (upholds vision of who you believe you should “ideally” be)
– develops via parental guidance (reward/punishment)
– inhibits primitive urges and “encourages” realistic aspect to find morally acceptable forms of behavior

psychosexual stages of development
4 distinct stages of development of the self between birth and adulthood, with each associated with a different erogenous zone

– first 3 stages: 1-5 years of age and set the stage for the rest of the adult life
– 4th stage: ~12 years of age but few are successful in fully completing final transition into maturity
– transitions between all stages may not be fully completed — causes one to become stuck/”fixated” at one stage which can manifest as personality traits in adulthood

looking-glass self
notion that the self develops via one’s perception of others’ evaluations and appraisals of them

– Charles Cooley
– humans act like “mirrors” to one another and reflect back to one-another an image of each other
– no sense of self without society (need “other” to provide mirror)

3 steps of looking-glass self:
1. imagine how we look to others (physically and social presentation)
2. imagine other people’s judgement of us (try to picture their reactions and interpret their possible feelings)
3. experience some kind of feeling about oneself based on one’s perception of other people’s judgments (respond to judgments we believe others made about us — don’t actually know if they are the ones that were made)

Mead’s stages of self creation:
– preparatory stage
– play stage
– game stage

preparatory stage
stage in Mead’s belief of self-creation

children imitate/mimic those around them without fully understanding the behaviors’ meaning due to a lack of a completely developed sense of self (0-3 years)

play stage
stage in Mead’s belief of self-creation

children start to pretend to play the role of the particular/significant other and gains new perspectives in addition to their own (serves the purpose of anticipatory socialization for real-life roles in the future)

particular/significant other
perspectives/expectations of a particular role that a child learns and internalizes (“mommy,” “doctor,” etc.)

game stage
stage in Mead’s belief of self-creation

children play organized games and take on the perspective of the generalized other — begin to understand the set of standards common to a social group and to see themselves from others’ viewpoints

– allows one to see self as object and gradually learn to internalize the generalized other’s expectations for themselves and evaluate their own behavior (beginning of understanding the attitudes/expectations of society)

generalized other
perspectives/expectations of a network of others or society itself that a child learns and takes into account when shaping their behavior

dual nature of the self
belief that we experience the self as both subject and object

– “I” = subject — spontaneous/active/creative/somewhat less socialized part
– “me” = object — norm-abiding/conforming/more socialized/reliant on others
– inseparable and united to form a single sense of self

Thomas Theorem
classic formulation of the way individuals define situations whereby the situations defined as “real” are real in their consequences (each defined situation becomes reality)

definition of the situation
an agreement with others about “what is going on” in a given circumstance — allows for the coordination of actions with those of others and realize goals

expressions of behavior
small actions (bodily) that serve as an interactional tool to help project our definition of the situation to others

expressions given
expressions that are intentional and usually verbal (most of speech)

expressions given off
observable expressions that can either be intended or unintended and are usually non-verbal

impression management
effort to control the impressions we make on others so that they form a desired view of us and the situation (use of self-presentation and performance tactics)

– present different selves in different situations and the response of others to them shape/mold definitions of the situation and self
– do/say what we think is necessary to communicate who we are and what we think and refrain from saying/doing things that might damage the impression we want others to have of us

front
setting/scene of performances that help establish the definition of the situation (dramaturgy)

personal front
expressive equipment consciously/unconsciously used when presenting oneself to others (appearance/manner) to help establish the definition of the situation (dramaturgy)

region
context/setting in which the performance takes place — social setting (dramaturgy)

backstage
places in which one rehearses/prepares for performances — back regions (dramaturgy)

frontstage
region in which one delivers public performances (dramaturgy)

social construction
process by which a concept/practice is created and maintained by participants who collectively agree its exists (self is one)

– make claims about oneself in interactions that can be either accepted or contradicted by others (make things easier/harder for self-image)

cooling the mark out
behaviors done by someone that help someone else save face/avoid embarassment (civility/tact)

– helps support the selves that others project and prevent them from realizing they did something embarrassing

autoethnography
ethnographic description that focuses on the feelings and reactions of the ethnographer

agents of socialization
social groups, institutions and individuals (especially family, school, peers and mass media) that provide structured situations in which socialization takes place

– not all aspects of their socialization are deliberate — some are quite unintentional

family
agent of socialization that is the single-most significant and longest lasting influence on socialization due to it being the original group to which one belongs

– early emotional/social bonds are created, language is learned and norms/values of society have beginning of internalization
– source of the majority of primary socialization (teaches someone to become mature/responsible member of society)
– powerful impact due to little/no outside contact in childhood and therefore no basis for comparison
– location geographically and socially affect members
– differs between different groups of it due to each having its own set of values/beliefs and having the ability to change over time

school
agent of socialization that can be the first significant experience away from home, decreasing dependency on the family and providing a “bridge” to other social groups

– socialization received from teachers/staff/students occurs simultaneously and overlaps with what’s earned in the family

hidden curriculum
values/behaviors that students indirectly learn over the course of schooling because of the structure of the education system and learning methods used

peers
agent of socialization that is composed of groups of people of similar age and social characteristics that become increasingly important over time (often more so than family)

– have the most intense and immediate effect on socialization
– membership provides one with a way of exercising independence from and reacting aginst adult control
– young people often form peer-subcultures that are mostly centered on their own interests and have distinct values/norms related to interests
– can provide both important/enjoyable social bonds and a source of pain/self doubt/ridicule/rejection

mass media
agent of socialization that has unknown pervasiveness and is relatively new but is established as something from which people internalize geliefs, values and norms

– influence will continue to increase with increase of technology

secondary socialization
socialization that occurs after adulthood (able to conduct oneself in society) due to the constant presentation of new roles/situations that must be learned and adjusted to

resocialization
process of replacing previously learned norms/values with new ones as part of a transition in life

total institution
institution in which individuals are cut-off from the rest of society so that their lives can be controlled/regulated for the purpose of systematically stripping away previous roles/identities and therefore create new ones (resocialization)

status
position in a social hierarchy that carries a particular set of expectations and influence how others observe/respond to you

– can be formal or informal
– can have multiple statuses at once in multiple hierarchies
– have the potential to change over lifetime
– provide patterns used by others to interact with us and guidelines for own behavior

ascribed status
an inborn status that’s usually difficult or impossible to change (gender, race, etc.)

embodied status
status generated by physical characteristics (beauty, disability, etc.)

achieved status
status earned via individual effort or imposed by others (skill, mental illness, criminal record, occupation, etc.)

master status
status that’s always relevant and affects all other possessed statuses

– carry expectations that may blind others to other facets of one’s personality

stereotyping
judging based on preconceived generalizations about groups/categories of people (problematic but inevitable)

role
set of behaviors expected of someone because of their status that help shape actions in ways that may define us to ourselves and others

– provide patterns used by others to interact with us and guidelines for own behavior

role conflict
experienced when we occupy 2+ roles with contradictory expectations

role strain
tension experienced when there are contradictory expectations within one role

role exit
process of leaving a role that we no longer occupy

emotions
the only aspect about humans that aren’t dictated by society or explained by sociological concepts/theories (though social patterns are still seen in their responses)

role-taking emotion
emotion that requires us to assume the perspective of another person/group and respond from their point of view (sympathy, embarrassment, shame, etc.)

feeling rules
socially-constructed norms regarding the expression and display of emotion

– expectations about the acceptable/desirable feelings in a given situation
– may be unspoken/unagreed with but still influencing and pressuring

emotionwork (emotional labor)
process of evoking/suppressing/managing feelings to create a publicly observable display of emotion

copresence
face-to-face interaction or being in the presence of others

saturated self
postmodern idea that the self is now developed by multiple influences chosen from a wide range of media sources — “borrow” pieces of identity form the sources available)

agency
ability of the individual to act freely/independently (we shape society and how it influences us as much as it does us)

group
a collection of people who share some attribute, identify with one another and interact with each other (fan club, team, etc.)

– norms of each we’re a part of put certain limits on individual actions — needed because they prevent us from wanting many unattainable things and going through boundless means to get them
– the larger the group the more it will be based on rules/regulations (smaller groups are more likely to be based on personal ties)

crowd
temporary gathering of people in a public place where members may interact but don’t identify with each other and will not remain in contact (sightseers at a tourist attraction, etc.)

aggregate
collection of people who share a physical location but don’t have lasting social relations (crowds, audiences, etc.)

category
people who share 1+ attributes but who lack a sense of common identity (18 year olds, those who own a Porsche, etc.)

primary group
group of people who are most important to our sense of self (family/friends)

– members’ relationships are typically characterized by face-to-face interaction, high levels of cooperation and intense feelings of belonging
– have most profound effect and provide the most emotional satisfaction (via interaction)
– responsible for most of socialization (remain central to identity throughout life)
– measure who we are/how we’ve changed by how we interact with it

secondary group
larger and less intimate than primary (work, school, etc.)

– members’ relationships are usually organized around a specific goal and are often temporary (doesn’t have same potential for emotional satisfaction)
– members can be almost completely anonymous (can include a large amount of people from around the world)
– can form a primary group tie from a relationship with one — sometimes a direct outgrowth of an attempt to counteract the depersonalization of them

consequential stranger
person we don’t think matters in terms of our happiness/well-being but actually play an important role

– not total strangers but are usually acquaintances that have become familiar/essential parts of our everyday lives
– serve as “social anchors”

social netowrk
web of direct and indirect ties connecting an individual to other people who may affect them

social tie
connection between individuals that can be direct or indirect

virtual community
social group whose interactions are mediated through information technologies

group dynamics
patterns of interaction between groups and individuals

dyad
2 person social group that’s usually intense but fundamentally unstable (if one person leaves the group ends)

triad
3 person social group that’s slightly more stable because conflicts between 2 members can be mediated by the 3rd

in-group
group that one identifies with and feels loyalty toward

– distinctness from or hostility towards other groups may be felt (especially if differences are strongly defined — causes loyalty and cohesion to strengthen)
– membership may be a source of prejudice/discrimination due to differences attributed to an out-group becoming exaggerated/fabricated

out-group
any group an individual feels opposition/rivalry/hostility towards

reference group
group that provides a standard of comparison against which we evaluate ourselves (may want to “live up o” their standards or aspire to belong)

group cohesion
sense of solidarity/loyalty that individuals feel towards a group to which they belong (force that binds group together)

– life of a group depends on a minimum level of this — if members lose their sense of commitment the group will gradually disintegrate
– tends to heavily rely on interpersonal factors, (shared values/demographic traits) an attraction to the group as a whole and the members’ abilities to cooperate in achieving goals

groupthink
tendency in very cohesive groups to enforce a high degree of conformity among members

– creates a demand for unanimous agreement and punishes those who seem to undermine the consensus
– helps maintain solidarity but can “short circuit” the decision-making process and let the desire for unanimity prevail over critical reasoning
– groups may begin to feel invulnerable/morally superior and members who would otherwise wish to dissent may cave to peer pressure

social influence/peer pressure
influence of one’s fellow group members on individual attitudes/behaviors

– almost all members of society are suseptible to social pressure (real or imagined) to conform
– conform because we want to gain acceptance/approval (positive sanction) and avoid rejection/disapproval (negative sanctions)

prescriptions
behaviors “approved” by a particular social group

proscriptions
behaviors a particular social group wants its members to avoid

compliance
mildest type of conformity (due to peer pressure/social influence) that is undertaken to gain rewards or avoid punishments

* individual doesn’t change ideas/beliefs

identification
“middle” type of conformity (due to peer pressure/social influence) that is caused by a desire to establish or maintain a relationship with a person/group

* individual conforms to the group’s wishes and follows their behaviors

internalization
strongest type of conformity (due to peer pressure/social influence) in which the individual adopts the beliefs or actions of a group and make them their own

* individual believes in what they’re doing

Asch Experiment
– showed effects of peer pressure/social influence
– one subject, 7-8 actors and asked about which bar was highest (all actors answered wrong and then subject had to give answer)

Milgram Experiment
– showed effects of authority and the lengths people would go to follow orders
– shocking someone when they got an answer wrong in increasing dosages

Stanford Prison Experiment
– showed the effects of authoritative positions on individuals
– split students into 2 groups (guards and prisoners) and had them act out the roles
– showed that situational dynamics (not personal attributes) can determine behavior

group productivity
– actual will never equal potential because there will always be “losses” in the team process
– 2 major sources of inefficiency that get worse as size of group increases: organization (delegating tasks/coordinating activities) and social loafing

social loafing
phenomenon that as more individuals are added to a task each individual contributes a little less

– harder to discern individual effort — if it’s impossible for any individual to be singled out for credit/blame then motivation usually suffers
– solutions: reorganizing individual effort and finding ways to make a task more interesting/personally rewarding

social identity theory
theory of group formation/maintenance that stresses the need of individual membership to feel a sense of belonging

– most efficient teams are characterized by a great social identity among members — increases motivation and places needs of the group over purely personal concerns

power
ability to control the actions of others (requirement of leadership)

coercive power
power that’s backed by the threat of force

influential power
power that’s supported by persuasion

authority
legitimate right to wield power

– most formal organizations have institutionalized power in this way (officially recognized)
– different types aren’t mutually exclusive (can coexist in one leader)

traditional authority
authority based on custom/birthright/divine right

– personal qualities don’t matter
– can’t be replaced by legal proceedings

legal-rational authority
authority based in laws/rules/procedures

– not based on heredity/personality of any individual leader

charismatic authority
authority based in the perception of remarkable personal qualities in a leader

– needs rules or traditions

instrumental leadership
leadership that’s task/goal-oriented (doesn’t “care” about the individual)

expressive leadership
leadership concerned with maintaining emotional/relational harmony within the group

McDonaldization
describes the spread of bureaucratic rationalization and the accompanying increase in efficiency and dehumanization

– George Ritzer

groups according to structural functionalism:
life in groups helps regulate/give meaning to individual experience and contributes to social cohesion and stability

groups according to conflict theory:
group membership is often the basis for the distribution of rewards/privileges/opportunities in society — any individual may be treated preferentially/prejudicially based on their group membership

groups according to symbolic interactionalism:
group norms/values/dynamics are generated situationally in interaction with other members