An Introduction to Sociology Chapter 1

An Introduction to Sociology Chapter 1

An Introduction to Sociology Chapter 1 Sociology: The systematic study of society and social interaction Society: A group of people whose members interact, reside in a definable area, and share a culture. Culture: The groups shared practices, values and beliefs. *Different sociologists might study different aspects of a society and/or culture in different ways to get at what is really going on The way sociologists look at society is what C. Wright Mills call the Sociological Imagination. To do this you need to rid yourself of your biases and pre-conceived ideas Studying Patterns:

How Sociologists View Society Sociologists believe that the decisions that you make do not exist in a vacuum. They are influenced by: Social Patterns- economy, environment, aging, social class etc Societal Pressures- marriage, working, education Cultural Patterns- Race relations, Religion, Gender *Many off these could be a part of other categories depending on the circumstances and perspective. *When sociologists look into individual decision-making they take into account these factors and others such as race, economy gender etc.

The Food Stamp Issue The chart is confusing- not a great representation of the point that they are trying to make. What they are trying to show: receiving food stamps has a strong stigma and the strength of the stigma can keep people who qualify from participating. The strength of this stigma is influenced by the overall economic climate and the social group involved. The pattern of all kinds of contemporary social issues can be studied: Dont ask, dont tell Tea Party Twitter/Snapshot etc on communications

Figuration? Phrase coined by Norbert Elias (German) that means: The process of simultaneously analyzing the behavior of individuals and the society that shapes that behavior figuration. Another way to think about this is that there can be no dance without dancers (individuals) but there can be no dancers without a dance (society). Religion is another practical example in the real world. Individuals have different religious views and these views are often expressed and influenced by the institutions- (churches, society, government, families) from where they live. Individual-Society Connections

See Page 12 and 13 Sociologist Nathan Kierns was interested in the treatment that a lesbian couple that lived in an urban center and moved to a small Midwestern town received. What do you think? When they moved they experienced direct prejudice and discrimination- open comments, job discrimination, housing discrimination When you get lemons They formed a gay-straight alliance to educate and protect the rights of the LBGT individuals Kierns observed that this is an excellent example of how negative social forces can result in a positive response from individuals to bring about social change (Kierns 2011)

Sociology has its roots in ancient philosophy from all over the world- Greek philosophers, Chinese historians, Confucius etc. Two major historical events really forged it as a separate field: 1. The Age of Enlightenment Philosophers in the 18th Centurythinkers such as John Locke, Voltaire, Hobbes etc- developed general principles that they thought could help lead to social reform. 2. The Industrial Revolution (19th Century) This time period saw huge changes in the economy, work roles and social structure. The quick and powerful changes led to much introspection and analysis of society and structure. *The use of science and reason was a challenge to many age old

relationships including racial issues and religion The Father of Sociology Auguste Comte He originally studied to be an engineer and is generally called the father of sociology because he: Wrote a series of books called The Course of Positive Philosophy and A General View of Positivism Believed that using scientific methods could have a positive (positivism) effect on society- this is the modern goal of sociology

Karl Marx Hugely important figure in history and has a major influence on sociology and politics. He was a German philosopher and economist. He along with Friedrich Engels coauthored the Communist Manifesto. Marx rejected Comtes positivism and instead predicted that the inevitable inequalities of capitalism would eventually cause a workers revolt and eventually a state of communism where there is no private ownership of property. He believed that this would be a much fairer system. Others following his belief almost cause the end of the world: Cuba, Vietnam, Korean War, Arms Race, Berlin Wall etc

Creating a Discipline Since the late 1800s to the early 1900s several scholars have refined the role, scope, methodology and purpose of sociology. They often disagreed with each other or saw reality from different perspectives. The overall effect was to enhance and clarify an understanding of society and the human condition. Key Players in Creating a Discipline Herbert Spencer (1873)- Published the 1st book with sociology in the

title- The Study of Sociology. Rejected most of Comte and Marx- felt that govt should allow market forces to control capitalism Emile Durkheim -In 1895 established the 1st department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux in 1895. Two important works that he published are Rules of the Sociological Method and Division of Labour in Society. Most famous finding was that suicide rates had a socio-religious factor- Protestants committed suicide more than Catholics Key Players Continued Max Weber- Established the sociology department at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in 1919. A huge influence in sociology in many different

aspects; Social factors that affect factory workers The controversial relationship of capitalism and Protestantism Researchers have to be aware of biases- Verstehen Antipositivism- Dont try to generalize and predict but to gain an in-depth understanding of social worlds-subjectivity Positivism and Antipositivism are the foundation of the major research fields of Quantitative Sociology- Statistical study of large numbers of participants (surveys, census) for patterns and Qualitative Sociologythrough in-depth interviews, focus groups, books, magazines, journals and popular media Impact of Working Moms

*The typical family doesnt really exist anymore Today about 60% of women work- over 50% of women with children under 1 work. This trend can be sociologically analyzed many ways: The effect on a childs development Economic values of the parents- status Socialization differences in a daycare vs at home Type of daycare and later academic success Has having more working mom shifted more responsibilities to schools ETC

Theoretical Perspectives Sociologists study: Social events Interactions Patterns They then develop theories to explain 1. why these occur and 2. what can result from them Theory- a way to explain different aspects of social interactions and to create testable propositions about society Durkheim Theories Social Solidarity- Social ties that bind a group together- kinship,

shared location, religion. Related to the suicide study Grand Theories (AKA) Macro-Level Theories- These are to answer large-scale (fundamental) questions like why societies form. These are more philosophical than practical- very hard to study. Micro-Level Theories- Deal with very specific relationships. Ex- Why do middle-class girls text instead of making phone calls. Then a hypothesis is developed such as texting is silent. If enough supportive data is found a hypothesis might become a theory Paradigms: The Broad, Prominent Theories

Paradigms- Philosophical and theoretical frameworks to come up with theories, generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them. The Big Three: 1. Structural Functionalism 2. Conflict Theory 3. Symbolic Interactionism Functionalism Functionalism- (AKA) Structural Functional Theory. Sees society as an interrelated structure to meet the needs of the individuals that make

up the society. Herbert Spencer (1898) founded it and compared it to the human body. All the different parts work together to keep the entire body (society) functioning. Durkheim- Like Spencer, felt functionalism evolved over time as societies became more complex. Durkheim felt that societies were now interrelated but separate parts that supported each other, He said that in a healthy society this is called Dynamic Equilibrium. Social Facts and Functions Social Facts- Durkheim felt that sociologists needed to look beyond the individual to laws, morals, values, religious etc that govern social

life. He felt that these served one or more function in society. Laws are a good example- punishment, protection, rehabilitation. Function- a recurrent activity that has a role in maintaining social continuity Manifest Function- The intended consequences of a social process. College is meant to be a place where you learn. Latent Function- Unsought consequences of a social process. Meeting someone you want to marry at college. Dysfunction- Social processes that have undesirable consequences for society. Dropping out of school, not finding a job etc. Criticisms of Social

Functionalism Doesnt explain rapid social change like the 60s Not a good Macro-Level Theory *Now considered more useful in Mid-Range analysis Global Culture The interesting possibility that the world via the internet etc is becoming more of a global culture. The world is much smaller with communication and travel creating a common culture and bring people and ideas closer together. Government finds it harder to isolate whats happening inside a country from thee outside world.

A lot of research on the effects of outsourcing impacts or creates social inequalities Conflict Theory Conflict Theory- A Macro-Level theory that looks at society as a competition for scarce resources. Areas of Competition Social, Political, Money, Entertainment, Religious, Leisure time, Housing and entertainment- about anything of importance *Some individuals and organizations are winners and strive to maintain their power, resources and influence over competitors*

Karl Marx and Others Karl Marx believed that the economic conflict of the different classes would eventually lead to revolution. He saw world history in terms of the struggle between social classes and capitalism was the last and worst example. Others put their own spin on his theories: Max Weber- Agreed with Marx on the inequities of capitalism BUT didnt have to lead to revolution. He felt that if the people felt the leader was legitimately in power, they would accept their lot. Georg Simmel- Had a lot of complex thoughts but felt that conflict could help a society and release tension and pave the way for the future. Janet Saltzman Chafetz- Saw the conflict in terms of gender. She felt that 2 factors

played a role. 1 was the coercive power by men and two was the was the voluntary choices people made by gender roles and tradition. She felt that by improving womens education and job opportunities women could improve their position in society Symbolic Interactionism This theory is a micro-level theory based on how individuals or small groups interpret the world. George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer Identified three basic premises: 1. Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things. 2. The meanings of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the

social interaction that one has with others and the society. 3. These meanings are handled in, and modified through an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters. Symbolic Interactionism Kind of Explained Food can be a symbol in how it is used- holidays, religious celebration (the body of Christ) or what you choose to eat. We have many diets going on in our society and people in social situations will quickly interact with people who share their diet. If your diet also has a moral component- Vegan- what you eat is a powerful symbol about what you

stand for and how you might act.- scripts Dramaturgical Analysis (Theatre) is a analogy (Erving Goffman) for SI. He felt that we often play our cultural scripts and we have to improvise our role as we gather meaning from our interactions Sociology in the WorkplaceSkills an understanding of social systems and large bureaucracies, the ability to devise and carry out research projects to assess whether a program or policy is working, the ability to collect, read, and analyze statistical information from polls or surveys, the ability to recognize important differences in peoples social, cultural, and

economic backgrounds, skills in preparing reports and communicating complex ideas, the capacity for critical thinking about social issues and problems that confront modern society. (Department of Sociology, University of Alabama) Sociology in the Workplace- Jobs Sociology prepares people for a wide variety of careers. People who graduate from college with a degree in sociology are hired by government agencies and corporations in fields such as social services, counseling (e.g., family planning, career, substance abuse), community planning, health services, marketing, market research, and human resources. Even a small amount of training in sociology can be an asset

in careers like sales, public relations, journalism, teaching, law, and criminal justice. Or like my brother in-law, he is a production VP of an aeronautics company

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