Sociology Ch 1 & 2

is the systematic study of human society
-at the heart of this discipline is a distinctive point of view called the sociological perspective
Sociological perspective
is seeing the general in the particular
-Berger, 1963
-tells us that sociologists look for general patterns in the behavior of particular people
-C. Wright Mills called this point of view the “sociological imagination,” which transforms personal troubles into public issues
-being an outsider or experiencing a social crisis encourages this perspective
Suicide Experiment
Emile Durkenheim
– observed that men, Protestants, wealthy people, and the unmarried had a much higher suicide rate
-also noticed that, women, Catholics, Jews, the poor, and married people had lower suicide rates
-in terms of social integration, categories of people with strong social ties had low suicide rates and more individualistic people had higher suicide rates
Global awareness is an important part of the sociological perspective because:
-where we live shapes the lives we lead
-societies throughout the world are increasingly interconnected
-what happens in the rest of the world affects life in the U.S.
-many social problems that we face in the U.S. are far more serious elsewhere
-thinking globally helps us learn more about ourselves
Global perspective
the study of the larger world and our society’s place in it
High-income countries
are the nations with the highest overall standards of living
Middle-income countries
nations with a standard of living about average for the world as a whole
Low-income countries
nations with a low standard of living in which most people are poor
Advantages of sociological thinking
-sociology is at work guiding many of the laws and policies that shape our lives
-on an individual level, making use of the sociological perspective leads to important personal growth and expanded awareness
-studying sociology is excellent preparation for the world of work
Lenore Weitzman
-discovered that women who leave marriages typically experience a dramatic loss of income
-many states passed laws that have increased women’s claims to marital property and enforced fathers’ obligations to provide support for women raising their children
Using Sociology pays off in four ways
-the sociological perspective helps us assess the truth of “common sense”
-success/failure can be related to envi.
-the sociological perspective helps us see the opportunities and constraints in our lives
-helps us learn about our world so we can pursue our goals
-the sociological perspective empowers us to be active participants in our society
-as we come to see how society affects us, we my decide to support or help change society as it stands
-the sociological perspective helps us in a diverse world
-prompts us to think critically about the relative strengths and weaknesses of all ways of life, including our own
Sociology in the work place
helps people better understand others coming from diverse backgrounds and situations
Society changes: Europe
-a new industrial economy-manufacturing
-growth of cities-enclosure movement (fenced off farmland to create grazing areas for sheep)
-political change-personal liberty and individual rights
Auguste Comte
french social thinker who coined the term “sociology” in 1838 to describe a new way of thinking
Sociology’s 3 stages of historical development
-developed by Comte
1.)Theological Stage-from the beginning of history up to the middle ages of Europe. People took the religious view that society expressed God’s will

2.)Metaphysical stage-brought upon by the Enlightenment and the ideas of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

3.)Scientific Stage-included the work of Copernicus, Galileo, and Issac Newton. Brought about Physics, Chemistry, and Sociology

a scientific approach to knowledge based on “positive” facts as opposed to mere speculation
-Comte’s approach
Origins of historical social changes
-Auguste Comte-named the discipline of sociology in 1838
-early philosophers tried to describe the ideal society but Comte wanted to understand society as it is

-Karl Marx and many later sociologists used sociology to try to make society better

a statement of how and why specific facts are related
Theoretical Approach
a basic image of society that guides thinking and research
3 Major Theoretical Approaches
1.)The Structural-Functional Approach
2.)The Social-Conflict Approach
3.)The Symbolic-Interaction Approach
The Structural-Functional Approach
a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability
-points to social structure
-also looks for each structure’s social functions
Social Structure
any relatively stable pattern of social behavior
Developers of the Structural-Functional Approach
-Auguste Comte-pointed out the need to keep society unified when many traditions were breaking down
-Emile Durkenheim-helped establish sociology in French universities
-Herbert Spencer-compared society to the human body:just as the structural parts of the human body-the skeleton, muscles, and internal organs-each carry out certain functions to help the entire organism to survive, social structures operate together to preserve society

As a result, this approach leads sociologists to identify various structures of society and investigate their functions

Robbert K. Merton
expanded our understanding of social function by pointing out that any social structure probably has many functions
Manifest functions
the recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern
Latent functions
the unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern
Social dysfunction
any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society
Social-Conflict Approach
a framework for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change
Two Important Social-Conflict theories
Gender conflict theory-(feminist theory)-the study of society that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men
-closely linked to Feminism-support of social equality for men and women

Race-conflict theory-the study of society that focuses on inequality and conflict between people of different racial and ethnic categories

Macro-Level orientation
a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole
Micro-level orientation
a close up focus on social interaction in specific situations
Symbolic-Interaction Theory
a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals
-Max Weber and George Herbert Mead helped develop this
Positivist Sociology
the study of society based on scientific observation of social behavior
Empirical Evidence
information we can verify with our senses
a logical system that develops knowledge from direct, systematic observation
a concept whose value changes from case to case
a mental construct that represents some aspect of this world in a simplified form
Operationalize a Variable
specifying exactly what is to be measured before assigning a value to a variable
consistency to measurement
actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure
a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case
a relationship in which 2 or more variable change together
Cause and Effect
a relationship in which change in one variable (the independent variable) causes change in another (the dependent variable)
Independent Variable
the variable that causes the change
Dependent variable
the variable that changes
Spurious correlation
an apparent but false relationship between 2 or more variables that is caused by some other variable
or personal neutrality in conducting research
3 Research orientations
1.)Positivist Sociology-uses the logic of science
-tries to establish cause and effect
-demands that researchers try to be objective
-is loosely linked to structural-functional theory
2.)Interpretive sociology-focuses on the meanings people attach to behavior
-people construct reality in their everyday lives
-Weber’s Verstehen is learning how people understand their world
-is linked to symbolic-interaction theory
3.)Critical sociology-uses research to bring about social change
-focuses on inequality
-rejects the principle of objectivity, claiming that all research is political
Interpretive Sociology
the study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their world
Critical Sociology
the study of society that focuses on the need for social change
Importance of gender in sociological research
gender can affect sociological research if a researcher fails to avoid problems of androcentricity, overgeneralizing, gender blindness, double standards, or interference
the personal traits that social positions that members of a society attach to being female or male
5 ways in which gender can shape research
-discovered by Margrit Eichler
1.)Androcentricity-approaches an issue from a male perspective
2.)Gynocentricity-approaches an issue from a female perspective
3.)Overgeneralizing-occurs when sociologists gather data only from men but then use that information to draw conclusions about all people
4.)Gender blindness-failing to consider gender at all
5.)Double Standards-judging men and women by different standards
if the subject reacts to the sex of the researcher, therefore, interfering with the research operation
The Importance of Ethics in Sociological Research
-sociologists must ensure that subjects in a research project are not harmed and include in their published results all sources of financial support. Also, researchers must get the informed consent of participants
Institutional Review Board
examines grant applications and ensures that research will not violate ethical standards
Research Method
a systematic plan for doing research
a research method for investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions
a statement of a possible relationship between 2 or more variables
a research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements or questions on a questionnaire or in an interview
Participant Observation
a research method in which investigators systematically observe people while joining them in their routine activities
Usefulness of research methods
-an experiment allows the researcher to study cause and effect between 2 or more variables in a controlled setting
-survey research uses questionnaires or interviews to gather subjects’ responses to a series of questions
-through participant observation, researchers join with people in a social setting for an extended period of time
-researchers use data collected by others from existing sources to save time and money
10 Important steps in carrying out sociological research
1.)What is your topic?
2.)What have others already learned?
3.)What, exactly, are your questions?
4.)What will you need to carry out research?
5.)Are there ethical concerns?
6.)What method will you use?
7.)How will you record the data?
8.)What does the data tell you?
9.)What are your conclusions?
10.)How can you share what you’ve learned?
a simplified description applied to every person in some category
Snowball Sampling
a strategy used by Louis Benjamin, the number of individuals included grows rapidly over time
Philip Zimbardo
known for his “Stanford County Prison” Experiment
-proved that environment can contribute to people’s behaviors
conclusion:prison violence is rooted in character of jails
Joseph “Piko” Ewoodzie
studied homeless in Jackson, Mississippi as an participant observer
E. Digby Baltzell
known for using pre-existing resources in his study, “Puritan Boston and Quaker Philedelphia”
-drew inspiration from Max Weber, who believed that a region’s record of achievement is influenced by its major religious beliefs
-his study uses scientific logic and interpretive orientation
*Know these facts*
-Asian Americans earn more than 70,000/yr
-the U.S. is the most multicultural nation of all
is the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together form a people’s way of life
Nonmaterial Culture
is the ideas created by members of a society
Material Culture
is the physical things created by members of a society
Culture Shock
personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life
-We experience this when we enter an unfamiliar culture and are not able to “read” meaning in our new surroundings. We create this for others when we act in ways they do not understand
*Fact to remember*
only humans rely on culture rather than instinct to create a way of life and ensure our survival
Development of culture as a human strategy for survival
Culture is a way of life
-Culture is shared by members of a society
-Culture shapes how we act, think, and feel
Culture is a human trait
-Although several species display a limited capacity for culture, only human beings rely on culture for survival
Culture is a product of evolution
-As the human brain evolved, culture replaced biological instincts as our species’ primary strategy for survival
is anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture
a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another
Cultural Transmission
the process by which one generation passes culture to the next
Sapir-Whorf Thesis
the idea that people see and understood the world through the cultural lens of language
culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, beautiful, and that also serve as broad guidelines for social living
specific ideas that people hold to be true
rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its memebers
norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance
norms for routine or casual interaction
Social Control
attempts by society to regulate people’s thoughts and behaviors
Common Elements of Culture
Culture relies on symbols in the form of words, gestures, and actions to express meaning
-the fact that different meanings can come to be associated with the same symbol shows the human capacity to create and manipulate symbols (ex. a wink)
-Societies create new symbols all the time (ex. new computer technology has sparked the creation of new cyber-symbols)

Language is the symbolic system by which people in a culture communicate with one another
-people use language-both spoken and written-to transmit culture from one generation to another
-because every culture is different, each language has words or expressions not found in any other language

Values are abstract standards of what ought to be
-can sometimes be in conflict with one another
-lower-income countries have cultures that value survival whereas higher-income countries have cultures that value individualism and self-expression

*Language facts to remember*
-Chinese is the native tongue of 1/5th of the world’s people, almost all of whom live in Asia
-English is the native tongue or official language in several world regions (5% of people in the world speak it)-preferred 2nd language
-Spanish is the 2nd most spoken language
10 Values that are widespread in the U.S
-identified by sociologist Robin Williams Jr.
1.)Equal Opportunity
3.)Material Comfort
8.)Democracy/free enterprise

As it is acknowledged, Equal Opportunity clashes with Racism/Superiority

knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings
Hunting and Gathering
the use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation for food
the use of hand tools to raise crops
the domestication of animals
larger-scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources
the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery
the production of information using computer technology
Understanding technological development in terms of stages of sociocultural evolution:
-horiculture and pasturalism
-postindustrial into technology
High Culture
cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite
Popular Culture
cultural patterns that are widespread among a society’s population
cultural patterns that set apart some segment of a society’s population (ex. jocks and hip hop fans)
cultural patterns that strongly oppose those widely accepted within a society
a perspective reorganizing the cultural diversity of the U.S. and promoting equal standing for all cultural traditions
the dominance of European (especially English) cultural patterns
emphasizing and promoting African cultural patterns
Cultural integration
the close relationships among various elements of a cultural system
Cultural lag
the fact that some cultural elements change more quickly than others, disrupting a cultural system
the practice of judging a culture by the standards of one’s one culture
Cultural relativism
the practice of judging a culture by its o
Dimensions of cultural difference and cultural change
We live in a culturally diverse society
-this diversity is due to our country’s history of immigration
-diversity reflects regional difference and also difference in social class that set off high culture (available only to elites) from popular culture (available to average people)

Subculture is based on difference in interests and life experiences

Multiculturalism is an effort to enhance appreciation of cultural diversity
-this developed in reaction to the “melting pot” ideas, which was thought to result in minorities losing their identity as they adopted mainstream cultural patterns

Counterculture is strongly at odds with conventional ways of life

Cultural change results from:
Cultural universals
traits that are part of every known culture
a theoretical approach that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture
Structural-functional theory
views culture as a relatively stable system built on core values. All cultural patterns play some part in the ongoing operation of society
Social-Conflict Theory
sees culture as a dynamic arena of inequality and conflict. Cultural patterns benefit some categories of people more than others
Feminist Theory
highlights how culture is “gendered,” dividing activities between the sexes in ways that give men greater power and privileges than women
*Remember this*
Culture can limit the choices we make
As cultural creatures, we have the capacity to shape and reshape our world to meet our needs and pursue our dreams
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