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Sociology as a Science

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Carrie Coward Bucher

on 28 September 2016

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Transcript of Sociology as a Science

Sociology as a Science
Why do we tend toward social organization?
We are social creatures
Biological drive to be organized and in community
The nature of that organization is social
Two step process to social organization:
1. habitualization
"All human activity is subject to habitualization" -- Peter Berger
Even the things that seem very personal ...
2. Institutionalization
When actions gain a "firmness in concsciousness"
Behavior develops a "should-ness" to it...
“All human activity is subject to habitualization” – Peter Berger
Habitualization allows us to navigate our social world
Removes the complications of social interaction

As a result of our tendency to habituate ...
Society, through its interactions with one another over history and across time, has created (constructed) our modes of survival.
Family, school, government, race, gender, marriage, food, time, etc
Fundamental to ALL sociological perspectives

Sociological perspectives help us to understand the causes and consequences of our modes of habitualization
Broad lenses through which we can understand the world
Strengths and weaknesses to each
Fundamental to the research we will read
Will guide your research
- questions to ask
-variables to use

How do we explain obesity rates using each perspective?
Review Questions:
Thinking of society as part of a living organism in which each part of the organism contributes to its survival is a reflection of which perspective?
The structural functionalist
The social conflict
The symbolic interactionist

Which sociological perspective would view sports as a form of big business in which profits are more important than the health and safety of athletes?
The structural functionalist
The social conflict
The symbolic interactionist

Which sociological perspective would argue that people interact with one another as objects rather than as people?
The structural functionalist
The social conflict
The symbolic interactionist

So how do you "do" sociology?
Research methods are standard rules that social scientists follow when trying to establish a causal relationship between social elements.

Qualitative methods attempt to collect information about the social world that cannot be readily converted to numeric form.
Quantitative methods seek to obtain information about the social world that is in, or can be converted to, numeric form.
Important note!
Objectivity: value free research; a sociologist’s personal values or biases should not influence social research.
Legislators versus interpreters.

Good research should be valid, reliable, and generalizable:
Validity: does the study measure what it is intended to measure?
Reliability: if you conduct the study again, will you get the same results?
Generalizability: will the findings of this study apply to some other population or group of people?

What Makes “Good” Research?
variable is the outcome that a researcher is trying to explain.
variable is a measured factor that the researcher believes has a causal impact on the dependent variable.

Variables – What Are We Studying?
Sociologists conduct research to try to prove causation.
To prove causation, correlation and time order are established and alternative explanations are ruled out.

Causality vs. Correlation

A hypothesis is a proposed relationship between two variables.

The Hypothesis

participant observation
survey research
comparative research
content analysis
historical methods

Types of Data Collection

Researchers must guard against causing physical, emotional, or psychological harm to their subjects.

Ethics of Social Research
Informed consent and voluntary participation are guidelines researchers use to ensure subjects know they are participating in a study and have voluntarily chosen to participate.

Ethics of Social Research

Review Question:
There are 25,000 homeless children in New York. The Superbowl cost $70 million, enough to house them all for three months. With your neighbor, please explain
society chooses to spend this money the way it did.
Pick a perspective
Develop a hypothesis
Identify independent and dependent variables that would allow you to test your hypothesis.
Chapter 3
Culture and Media

Two satirical ads from Adbusters magazine. How do these ads critique or subvert the tobacco and fashion industries?

How did studying lottery winners help sociologists understand the relationship between wealth and health?

Figure 3.2 Media Effects

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1950s hit television comedy I Love Lucy. Even though their characters were married, they still did not share a bed.

In studying newsrooms, Herbert Gans found that many players influenced news production and analyzed how journalists internalized those unspoken rules.

Kim Novak and James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

A cockfight in Bali, Indonesia. How are roosters central to Bali’s symbolic culture?

Margaret Mead with two Samoan women, 1926.

Toltec columns, Tula, Mexico

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

2. In your opinion, how does the media impact culture?
The media creates culture (we do what we see on TV).
The media simply shows us culture (we don’t mimic TV – TV mimics us).
Both of the above: TV shows us our culture, and then we mimic what we see.
None of the above: the media has no impact on culture.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

5. True or false? The globalization of the media has spread American culture around the world.

Concept Quiz

3. Cultural scripts are _____.
modes of behavior and understanding that are not universal or natural
a type of role-playing that helps people learn about different cultures
a type of study developed by sociologists to catalog cultural differences
patterns of behavior that can be found in almost all cultures

Concept Quiz

2. Ideology can be described as _____.
an aspect of material culture
a system of concepts and relationships that guides an individual or large group
an extreme point of view on a given topic
none of the above

Concept Quiz

Reflection theory states that culture is a projection of social structures and relationships into the public sphere.
A Marxist version of reflection theory argues that cultural objects reflect the material labor and production relationships that went into making them.

Reflection Theory

Values are moral beliefs.
Norms are how values tell us to act.
Socialization is the process by which a person internalizes the values, beliefs, and norms of society and learns to function as a member of that society.

Values and Norms

Cultural scripts are modes of behavior and understanding that are not universal or natural, but that may strongly shape beliefs or concepts held by a society.

As anti-American sentiments increase in the Middle East, new regional brands such as Mecca-Cola are replacing American commercial products like Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

A 2005 billboard from Dove soap’s advertising campaign featuring women who are not professional models.

The photo above, published by the Associated Press, showed a young African American wading through chest-high water toting groceries; the caption proclaimed that the man had just been “looting a grocery store.” The second, which pictured a Caucasian couple doing the same thing stated that the two were photographed “after finding bread and soda at a local grocery store.”

The controversial O.J. Simpson arrest photo. Time magazine was accused of darkening his features for their cover.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet play gay parents Mitchell and Cameron on ABC’s Modern Family.

In 1963, for the first time televisions beamed images such as this photo of police officers attacking a student in Birmingham, Alabama. How did television influence the reaction to events such as the civil rights movement?

Innovations in mass media include the invention of the printing press and movable type in the fifteenth century, the creation of moving pictures at the turn of the twentieth century, and the adoption of the scrolling ticker by today’s 24-hour news channels.

Why might performers like Lil’ Wayne use reflection theory to defend their lyrics? What are some of the limitations to this theory?

4. Examples of media include _____.
television, websites, and radio
books, magazines, and ancient scrolls
records, cave paintings, and streaming video
all of the above

Concept Quiz

culture is everything that is a part of our constructed environment, such as books, fashion, and monuments.
culture encompasses values, beliefs, behaviors, and social norms.

Culture can be loosely defined as a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices.

“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” —ACTRESS MAE WEST

A subculture is a group united by sets of concepts, values, traits, and/or behavioral patterns that distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.


What is culture?
Types of Norms:
Socialization: How you become "human"
Gradually by role-taking, children develop a generalized impression of what people expect of them

Mead called this the generalized other
For Mead and Cooley the self is the product of society
Both Cooley and Mead emphasize the interpretation of symbols in society for the development of the self and identity

With the two parts, we are able to reflect on our own behavior and develop a sense of inner continuity or identity
The self develops in three stages
1. Imitation stage (birth to about 2)
2. Play stage (pre-school) – begin to play roles of others separate from themselves
3. Game stage (school age and above) – we begin to understand that others have expectations and demands, anticipate the roles of others in games, baseball, basketball, etc.

3. Based on our evaluations of other’s reactions, we develop our sense of personal identity
Finally we interpret those judgments for ourselves in order to develop unique personalities
This process is called the looking- glass self

Cooley, a symbolic interactionist argued that the self developed in three main stages:

1. We imagine how we appear to others –

beginning as small children we acquire our sense of self by seeing ourselves reflected in others attitudes and behavior

Cooley’s Theory

In order for a society to function, functionalists argue that people adapt their behavior to the norms and values of the institutions in that society.
Children who participate in organized sports learn how to interact with others in the social world. Having little or no opportunities to play sports can limit a child’s socialization.
If the students in class snicker and whisper while the child gives his report, how might the child interpret these symbols? How might he feel about himself?

Ritual: patterned, repetitive, and symbolic enactment of a cultural belief or value
Rite of Passage: a series of rituals that move individuals from one social state to another

How Institutions Structure the Self

Primary Groups: groups that are small, intimate, and enduring
Secondary Groups: groups that are formal, superficial, and temporary
Reference Groups: groups that you use to evaluate yourself

How Groups Structure the Self:

The self is the part of personal identity that has self-awareness and self-image

I is the active spontaneous part of the self
Me is the objective part which questions how others might interpret our actions

Mead’s Theory

2. We draw general conclusion based on the reactions of others –

e start by imagining the way we appear to others, then we identify with how we imagine others judge that appearance

Maintain Status Quo


Ritual In Medicine:

Post WWII strategy of desire
Get people to consume things that resolve their ugly inner desires and form positive communities
Herbert Marcuse
“The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing the gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one’s own destruction, has become a “biological” need.”

A social network is a set of relations — a set of dyads — held together by ties between individuals.
A tie is a set of stories that explains our relationship to the other members of our network, while a narrative is the sum of the stories contained in a series of ties.

From Groups to Networks

Social Groups

Social capital
The information, knowledge of people or ideas, and connections that help individuals enter preexisting networks or gain power in them.

Simmel emphasized, in particular, the differences between social relations in a dyad (group of two) and a triad (group of three).
Dyad is the most intimate form of social life because the two members are mutually dependent on each other – if one member leaves the group, the group ceases to exist.

Social Groups
group decisions that are made without objective thought
People conform to what they believe is the consensus of the rest of the group.
more likely if the following conditions exist
Group cohesiveness
External threat
Strong leadership


Shortcomings of groupthink
Illusion of invulnerability
Collective rationalization
Belief in inherent morality
Stereotyped views of out-groups
Direct pressure on dissenters
Illusion of unanimity
Self-appointed mind guards

What is the strength of weak ties?
Lost Children of Rockdale County SNA

Social Conflict
“the rich get rich, the poor get prison”
The average prison term for savings and loan offenders 1988-1992 was
36 months
; the average sentence for burglary is
56 months
, and 38 months for motor vehicle theft
The average loss in an savings and loan case is
. The average loss per property offense (in 1995) was
In 2000, the total cost of white collar crime was
. The total amount stolen in all property crimes reported in 2000?
$16 billion
. Yet, corporate executives rarely end up in jail
Reiman and Leighton (2013)

Why do people commit crimes?
In an unequal society the strain between socially approved goals and the individual’s ability to meet those goals leads to deviance.

STRUCTURAL STRAIN THEORY (structural functionalism)


The label may become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Primary --> Secondary

May internalize the label and be ostracized from society

behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of society
We are all deviant from time to time as we violate common social norms in certain situations
Not only criminal violations
Norms of interaction, dress, or behavior
Exam Review
How would a conflict theorist explain the educational system in the United States differently from how a functionalist might see it?
Distinguish between correlation and causation. Give an example.
Explain why validity, reliability, and generalizability are all important in social science research.
What does Cooley mean by his looking glass self theory? how does this explain the development of the self?
Describe the Asch experiements conducted on group conformity. How do they relate to the film "The Engineering of Social Control"?
So how do you "do" sociology?
Research methods are standard rules that social scientists follow when trying to establish a causal relationship between social elements.

Qualitative methods attempt to collect information about the social world that cannot be readily converted to numeric form.
Quantitative methods seek to obtain information about the social world that is in, or can be converted to, numeric form.
Question: Which Urinal do you use?
[] 0 0 0
door 1 2 3

But, what if ....
[] 0 0 (I)
door 1 2 occupied
But What if .....
[] (I) 0 (I)
door occupied 2 occupied

What to do with this information?
Mills in 1959: “In what period have so many men been so totally exposed at so fast a pace to such earthquakes of change? The very shaping of history now outpaces the ability of men to orient themselves in accordance to cherished values”

social services--in rehabilitation, case management, group work with youth or the elderly, recreation, or administration
community work--in fund-raising for social service organizations, nonprofits, child-care or community development agencies, or environmental groups
corrections--in local or federal policing, probation, parole, or other criminal justice work
business--in advertising, marketing and consumer research, insurance, real estate, personnel work, training, or sales
college settings--in admissions, alumni relations, or placement offices
health services--in family planning, substance abuse, rehabilitation counseling, health planning, hospital admissions, and insurance companies
publishing, journalism, and public relations--in writing, research, and editing
government services--in federal, state, and local government jobs in such areas as transportation, housing, agriculture, and labor
teaching--in elementary and secondary schools, in conjunction with appropriate teacher certification.

Macro Theories: View individuals as largely shaped by institutions
NOTE: All theories believe in social construction ...
A perspective that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability
Basic Tenets:
1. Society is a stable, ordered system of interrelated parts, or structures
2. Each structure has a function that contributes to the continued stability or equilibrium of the whole

Structural Functionalism:
A structure is defined as a social institution, like the family, the educational system, politics or the economy.
Help people adapt to the environment
realize social goals
create social cohesion
and maintain cultural patterns (pass down values and norms).

Manifest Functions: the intended consequence
Latent Functions: unintended positive or neutral outcomes
Dysfunctions: unintended, negative outcomes
EX: Imagine the gov’t paid $10,000 dollars for every married person to have a baby

A perspective that sees society as an arena of power struggles
1. A materialist view of society (ideas flow from material relations)
2. a critical stances towards existing social arrangements
3. a dynamic model of historical change in which the transformation of society is inevitable

Social Conflict
Base creates and maintains superstructure

Superstructure legitimates and maintains base

MEans and Modes of Production
Family, School, media, etc.
Society is created through the everyday interactions of individuals
1. we act toward things on the basis of their symbolic meanings
2. These meanings are not inherent; rather, they are negotiated through interaction with others
3. Meanings can change or be modified through interaction

Symbolic Interactionism
Micro Theories: Individuals shape their environments through repeated, habitualized behaviors.
Cultural scripts are a tool-kit
We use our habitus (tastes, preferences and skills) as a series of different tools to use in a variety of social circumstances.

Culture is also used to shape our collective identity:
mainstream culture
Americans particularly like to think of themselves as cultural omnivores -- we signal status through variety, not elitism: Conspicuous consumption
"Society establishes the means of categorizing persons and the complement of attributes felt to be ordinary and natural for members of each of these categories. [...] When a stranger comes into our presence, then, first appearances are likely to enable us to anticipate his category and attributes, his "social identity" [...] We lean on these anticipations that we have, transforming them into normative expectations, into righteously presented demands."
--Goffman, Stigma
Erving goffman brings these ideas together to reflect a socially constructed self that is acting out its part:

Front and back stage
Face saving
civil inattention
"Society establishes the means of
categorizing persons
and the complement of attributes felt to be
and natural for members of each of these categories. [...] When a stranger comes into our presence, then, first appearances are likely to enable us to anticipate his category and attributes, his "social identity" [...] We lean on these anticipations that we have, transforming them
into normative expectations, into righteously presented demands."
Goffman highlighted the importance of stigma within social groups.
Groups have social norms, these norms are policed by groups offering affirmations (positive and negative sanctions) of group membership ....
Groups can be
violations of these norms are deviant ...
May be:
statistically deviant
socially deviant
may be reflecting different social expectations
What kinds of things can you think of that are harmless but deviant?
in a grocery store?
in a restaurant?
in a park?
Using impression management at work:
Demographic similarity – shared characteristics such as race, gender or age
Supervisor-focused management – techniques that involve flattering your boss and agreeing with his or her opinion or avoiding disagreement
Self-focused management – techniques that include acting modest about your accomplishments, boasting occasionally about your successes

Deviance is socially constructed ... no such thing as a natural deviance.
But a culture of fear can bring about conformity ...
Can you think of a modern example?
Becker 1963
"...social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction creates deviance, and by applying those roles to particular people and labeling them as outsiders. From this point of view,
deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by other of rules and sanctions to an 'offender.
' The deviant is one to whom that label has been successfully applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label it as such."
Labeling Theory of Deviance (symbolic interactionist)
Deviance is a process by which behavior is defined as deviant ... these definitions are linked to
time, space, and power.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Labeling theory recognizes that:
1. what kinds of deviant behavior gets punished, and how strong the punishment, is linked in part to who the perpetrator is
2. What counts as a punishable crimes is in large part shaped by the overall distribution of power
For example, who is a terrorist?
The US legitimates Israeli control of Palestinian land because they are our ally ...
Or, what if Cliven was a black muslim?
Ascribed and Achieved status
We can criminalize in a way that maintains power:
Perpetuate stereotypes
separate those who are convicted of crimes
variations of arrest and punishment are disconnected from actual crimes and more connected to power structures

For Example:

But african americans are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession
Discussion Questions:
1. which theory best explains the criminal actions of these girls?
2. Using your sociological imagination, how do we explain these outcomes as the intersection of biography and history?
3. what structural changes could be made to adjust these outcomes?
4. what motivations do we have for not making those changes?
Coetzee (2014)
Reference groups impact on well being in apartheid south Africa
race decreases in importance as it decreases in structural importance....
Using groupthink to explain the iranian hostage crisis:

"State Department officials, who were aware of the extent of the crisis and vocal about its implications, were not included in the decision-making process, and
the organizational capacities and political strength of the Ayatollah's supporters were underestimated. Many of the "old hands" in the White House, moreover, were conditioned to expect Soviet involvement in the anti-
Shah violence, although there was little or no evidence of such."

Culture as Power
The Culture Industry
Corporations encourage the passive consumption of their media
Films, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part. ... The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so thoroughly re-ified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now persists only as an utterly abstract notion: personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions. The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them. -- Adorno and Horkheimer, 1944
There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him. ... Not only are the hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types, but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. -- Adorno and Horkheimer, 1944
Why should we care?
The classifications we are offered are:
We already talked about culture as a tool - kit:
Conspicuous Consumption
Cultural Reproduction:
Social structures can be reinforced through symbolic boundaries, the leveraging of the habitus and the strength of your ties.
Social scientists call the variable that is hypothesized to cause or influence another variable a (an):
A. independent variable.
B. dependent variable.
C. spurious variable.
D. operational variable.

Which sociological perspective would be most likely to argue that the existence of big-city political machines suggests that these political organizations satisfy certain basic social needs?
A. functionalist perspective
B. conflict perspective
C. interactionist perspective
D. global perspective

Socialization allows society to reproduce itself so that the next generation holds similar values and beliefs as the one before it. A conflict theorist would say that socialization:
A. allows the individual to develop his or her sense of self
B. allows social interactions to be smooth and efficient
C. allows those in power to maintain their power
D. allows the United States to remain democratic

Any violation of a widely held norm is called:
a. crime
b. deviance
c. degeneracy
d. counternormative
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