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Sociology Fundamentals:

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Allison Stewart

on 31 August 2017

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Transcript of Sociology Fundamentals:

What is sociology?
From Latin
which means 'companion'.
From Greek
which means 'study of'.

"The systematic study of human

"The study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society." (Oxford-American College Dictionary).

"Sociology is the study of social life and behavior, especially in relation to social systems, how they work, how they change, the consequences they produce, and their complex relation to people's lives." (Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology)

The sociological perspective:
"seeing the general in the particular." (Berger, P., 1963)

"...seeing general patterns of society in the lives of particular people." (Macionis, J., 2014)

Understanding human behavior by placing it within its broader social context. Some essential questions:
How do groups influence people (emotionally, in terms of beliefs, behavior/actions and cognition)?
How are human lives influenced by social location?
How does society shape the decisions people make and the actions that people take?
How does society actually operate?

Example: the family
Cross cultural comparison of the composition of the
social institution
of family
reveals a broad array of related cultural beliefs, norms, socialization patterns, rituals, customs, behaviors, etc.

These highly influential aspects of culture are evidenced in behavioral patterns such as: spouse selection, marital ceremonies, fertility, gender roles, and child-rearing practices along with many other aspects of family structure.

Cross cultural comparison is an important method of study and research investigation in sociology. Family is viewed using comparative methods across social contexts, such as within high, middle and low income nations respectively or within the same society over time, using a socio-historical approach.

For example: a sociologist might ask:
How has the institution of family changed since 1900 or since 1945?
What are the outcomes associated with this change for individuals and the larger society?
Are families still functioning the way they have in the past to fulfill their functions?
How are families structured across the world based on fertility patterns or religious differences?
How have gender roles and household responsibilities shifted in response to economic and cultural changes?
When/why did sociology emerge as a discipline or field of study?
originated and established during
the "industrial revolution"
(within eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.)
advances in scientific knowledge made increasing
possible and changed the scale of production to larger scale industry.
decreasing traditional explanations for human existence and corresponding ways of life (philosophical, theological, cultural shifts.)
increasing emphasis on the implementation of democracy (political change) individual rights and the pursuit of personal happiness.
social implications of
- more people living in closer proximity within increasingly urbanized areas produced cultural conflict, health problems, family stress and organizational challenges.
need increasingly grew for more systematic observation, description, analysis and knowledge application in relation to changing social arrangements and behavioral patterns along with transformation in the structures of society since the pace of change has continued and intensified. (digitization, globalization, economic changes, etc.)

Method and overarching goal of sociology as a discipline of study:
apply techniques of systematic, scientific observation and analysis to the study of society, patterns of human behavior and interaction.

Primary objective:
to develop reliable information regarding the actual operation of societies. The methods employed need to move beyond philosophizing as to how society ought to be to more scientific investigation and analysis that yields useful descriptive and inferential information.

Three major sociological theoretical frameworks (paradigms: major approaches to generation of theory and to conducting research)
1. structural-functionalist
(a.k.a functionalism or order theory):
macro level theory conceptualizing the various parts of society as working together in complex ways to create a
social structure
that is relatively stable and largely functional.

2. social-conflict
(a.k.a. conflict or critical theory):
macro level theory conceptualizing various inequalities and significant differences between groups in society that generate conflict and change.

3. symbolic interactionist:
micro level theory and concepts focused on the situational level of human behavior, which views societies as products of social interaction involving symbolic communications and the establishment of shared meaning.

The study of sociology can help us in developing a global perspective or view:
Sociology involves the study of culture and social structure on a global scale using comparative research.

We are shaped by the society/culture in which we live. There is immense variation in human behavior and cultural expression when examined through a global lens and in socio-historical view.

For example, the differences in level of national development and individual quality of life across high, middle and low income countries.

A global perspective is increasingly valuable and relevant in the following ways :

Technology has increased connection and interaction between nations and their citizens.
Through available technologies, communication is nearly instantaneous and transportation across national boundaries is more efficient.
Increased cultural diffusion (goods, services, ideas, beliefs, norms, etc.)
Increased immigration and travel leads to intensified interaction between ethnically and racially diverse individuals, which provides opportunities for understanding, cooperation and conflict.
There is more international trade. We live and work in a more globalized economy. Knowledge of other cultures can contribute to success in business.
Shared social problems and issues vary greatly in their severity across the world but they often impact us directly or indirectly.
A global perspective is an important aspect of an individual's social location, especially in high income nations where opportunities to learn and to use available technologies are manifold for most citizens.
A global view can also provide a source of comparative insight to self and inform the relationship between self and society.

Sociology 101:
Overview and fundamental concepts:
Society: people who interact in a defined geographic area and share a culture. For example, the United States as a whole can be viewed generally as a society, but the U.S. also contains many varied societies within its national borders.
Social location: the group memberships that people have because of their particular location in history and society.
Auguste Comte helped to make a name for sociology in 1838. His approach was called
which he envisioned as a method of inquiry into the behaviors observed within societies that would be capable of going beyond speculation and idealization. He also characterized large scale shifts in philosophy, science and social thought that promoted this approach to studying human relations .

social institution:
a societal subsystem that is organized to meet human needs. Social institutions involve patterned human behavior and interaction persisting over time and comprising part of the
social structure, which provides societies with order and stability.
The needs met by social institutions are common to all, or many, individuals within societies (small and large scale interactions are involved.)
Social structure involves a variety of forms emanating from ordered social relationships within a system and/or society. It is a common source of analysis for sociologists.
These subsystems organizing social life vary by societal complexity, cultural characteristics as well as across history.
Social institutions in the United States, which is a higher income, technologically advanced society, include interrelated systems of: religion, education, economy, the political/governmental, communication/the mass media, the institution of family and criminal justice. These institutions have functions, interactions and outcomes that overlap affecting all individuals directly or indirectly.
Example of concepts associated with the major theoretical system of structural-functionalism:
social structure -
any relatively stable pattern of behavior.
social functions
- consequences of a social pattern for the operation of society as a whole.
look at all aspects of the social structure and characterize them as:
social structure/behavioral pattern stable and/or productive - order promoting
social structure/behavior pattern disruptive to societal operation and/or unproductive
manifest or latent?

A manifest function is expected and known
A latent function unexpected and largely unrecognized.

In viewing the surrounding collection of images, consider that each helps to represents an aspect of globalization and to highlight the relevance of a global perspective.
This image helps to depict differences between traditional and modern ways of living along with associated beliefs. Conflict may emerge in relation as these differences come into contact and as social change occurs.
These images depict the importance of the role of technological and economic development, which facilitates social change through near instantaneous, communication, rapid transportation and more efficient transfer of goods and services as resources are continually exchanged across the globe.
These images represent that people from an array of cultural backgrounds can more easily exchange ideas and cooperate. However, globalization also increase opportunities for conflict so governments must contend with new challenges and threats.
This image provides an example of cultural diffusion as social boundaries are generally more permeable than they were in the past. It also depicts a snapshot of cultural differences. Males and females are served through separate windows. Some of the men are not dressed traditionally, while all of the women wear burkas and hijabs.
This image can be seen as a general representation of globalization and intensified forms of human interaction across the globe.
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