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What is Sociology?

Unit 1

Derek Null

on 31 August 2018

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Transcript of What is Sociology?

What is Sociology?
Sociological Perspective
IV. Global Perspective
A.) Global Perspective
I. Social Sciences
Social Science
- scientific study of human society and social relationships
II. Define Sociology
A.) There are many definitions of Sociology
Sociology is the science of...
Why Might Someone "Choose" To Enroll In A Certain College?
Some might say...
"I want to stay close to home"
"I got a scholarship"
"My girlfriend goes there"
"With a degree from_____, I can get a good job!"
"I didn't get into where I wanted..."
Does society affect personal choice?
Example #2 - Suicide rates
III. Sociological Perspective
A.) Helps us to see the general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals
Can we name a few of the main social sciences?
B.) Examples:
Political Science
What do we know about these social sciences?
Why do we study the social sciences?
Social Phenomena
Social Groups
Social Institutions
Collective Behavior
Social Relationships
Social Life
Man and his human environment
Social action and their inter-relations
Human Society
For the purposes of this class, let's define Sociology as... "the study of human groups and human interactions"
B.) Sociology and psychology are both concerned with human behavior

Define Sociology
C.) A sociologist would argue that we are who we are due to external influences.
Like what? (List a few reasons we discuss)
D.) A psychologist might look more at internal influences.
Like what?

See the general in the particular

Encourages us to realize that
society shapes our lives
despite every individual being different
Sociological Perspective
- a perspective on humans and its connection to society
Sociological Topics
1.) Importance of marriage
2.) Changing roles of men and women
3.) Problem of crime
4.) Effects of aging
5.) Value of a college education
6.) Purposes of family planning
7.) Effects of living in a large city
8.) Value of religion
Directions: Choose five topics from below and write a personal belief statement or opinion about each of the topics you chose...
Social Factors:
Sex (S) Teachers (T)
Parents (P) Socioeconomic Background (SE)
Relatives (R) Physical Environment (E)
Friends (F)
What did we just do...?
When you first listed your ideas, they were based on statements of personal beliefs...
When you added sociological factors (parents, sex, friends, etc.) you were initiating a sociological analysis...
Instead of viewing your opinions on social issues as solely your own devising,
you were recognizing how your attitudes were influenced by the society in which you live!
D.) It's...
seeing the strange in the familiar
In our individualistic society, learning to see how society affects us takes practice...
So let's practice!
Sociologists might consider...
18-30--College is linked to this period of life
College students tend to come from families with above-average incomes
3x as likely to attend college if family makes over $75,000 than if family makes less than $20,000
Here we see age and socioeconomic factors influencing decisions!
Does society affect personal choice?
Example #1 - Number of children women have
What Gives?
Women in poorer countries have
less schooling, fewer economic opportunities,
more likely to r
emain in the home
, and
less likely to use contraception
Why might someone chose to end their own life?
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) did research on this in France.
Men, Protestants, wealthy people, and unmarried
__________ suicide rates
Women, Catholics and Jews, the poor and married
__________ suicide rates
Can you explain why?
Today, Durkheim's analysis still holds true...
Strong social ties = low suicide rates
Individualistic peoples = higher suicide rates
- the study of the larger world and our society's place in it
Why is this important?
B.) There are three different types of nations in this world...
High-income countries

Middle-income countries

Low-income countries
industrialized nations & most people have relatively high incomes (roughly 50 nations)

limited industries & moderate incomes (80)

little industrialization & most people are poor (60)
Global Perspective
C.) Global thinking is important for four reasons:
1.) Where we live shapes the lives we lead
2.) Societies throughout the world are increasingly interconnected
3.) Many social problems that we face in the United States are far more serious elsewhere
4.) Thinking globally helps us learn more about ourselves
How would our lives be different if we lived somewhere else?
V. Origins of Sociology
A.) Three major social changes in 16th, 17th & 18th centuries are important to development of sociology
1.) Rise of factory-based industrial economy

2.) Growth of Cities

3.) Political Change
Brought people out of their homes & weakened traditions that guided community life
As cities grew, social problems like pollution, crime, & homelessness
New impersonal world
Rising concern of individual liberty and rights
French Revolution symbolized dramatic break with political and social tradition
VI. Famous Sociologists
A.) Auguste Comte
Father of Sociology
Coined the term

Main concern: improvement of society

Said social behavior had to be studied scientifically
- a way of understanding based on science
B.) Harriet Martineau
1st women sociologist

Known for translating Comte's writings from French to English

Feminist theorist
Saw link between slavery & oppression of women...
Lack of economic power keeps them depressed
C.) Herbert Spencer
"Second Father of Sociology"
Compared society to human body
Social Darwinism -

evolutionary change leads to progress if people not interfere
opposed social reforms that he believed would hinder the selection process
Provided moral justification for the rich domination and oppression of the poor
D.) Karl Marx
German scholar with concern for poverty and inequality suffered by working class

Bourgeoisie - Upper-middle class with means of producing wealth in industries
Proletariat - work for Bourgeoisie, paid just enough to stay alive
Class Conflict - tensions between Bourgeoisie and Proletariat

Communist society comes out of the class conflict through revolution

Capitalism will self-destruct
E.) Emile Durkheim
Formally established academic discipline of sociology

To understand human behavior, we must look at social influences

Discovered that people with fewer social ties are more likely to commit suicide
F.) Max Weber
Religion is the central force in social change

Religion was a major reason for the rise of capitalism

Every society is based on power

Power is the business of government
G.) Jane Addams
Researched the poor and immigrants in Chicago

Founded the Hull House--a Chicago settlement house providing assistance to immigrants

Nobel Peace Price, 1931
H.) W.E.B. DuBois
African-American educator

Interested in race relations between whites and African Americans

Believed sociology was the key to solving society's problems, especially racial inequality

Co-founder of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
VII. Sociological Theory
- statement of how and why specific facts are related
Theoretical approach
- a basic image of society that guides thinking and research
C.) Three major theoretical approaches in sociology;
1.) Structural-Functional Approach
2.) Social-Conflict
3.) Symbolic-Interaction

A.) Defined as:
society is a

complex system whose parts (structures) work together to promote
solidarity and stability
B.) Our lives are guided by
social structures:
patterns of social behavior
Exs. handshakes, religious rituals, family, workplace, classroom, community
C.) Each social structure has
social functions:
of social patterns
Ex. What are the consequences of a handshake?
D.) To sum,
society is a whole unit, made up of interrelated parts that work together for stability.
E.) Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) expands on idea of social functions
He says:
social structures have many functions, some more obvious than others
1.) Structural-Functional Approach
F.) Introduces three concepts;

manifest functions
recognized and intended consequences
of any social pattern
latent functions

unintended consequences
of any social pattern
(usually still a POSITIVE consequence)


unintended consequences that disrupt the operation of society
Can we think of some examples for each concept?
A.) Defined as:
sees society as an arena of inequality that
generates conflict and change
B.) Most sociologists who study this approach try to both understand society AND reduce inequality
Exs. Karl Marx, Harriet Martineau, Jane Addams, W.E.B. DuBois
C.) Investigate how social factors are linked to society's unequal distribution of money, power, education and prestige.
Gender-conflict approach -
a point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men

2.) Social-Conflict Approach
Closely linked to
feminism -
the advocacy of social equality for men and women
Important approach because it makes us aware of the many ways in which our way of life places men in positions of powers over women:
Can we name some ways?
In the home--"head of the household"
In the workplace--income, positions of power
In the mass media--How many female hip hop stars are there?
2.) Social-Conflict Approach
Race-conflict approach -
point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between people of different racial and ethnic categories
White people have numerous social advantages over people of color including, on average, higher incomes, more schooling, and better health and longer life
F.) While the social-conflict approach has gained significant following, it is met with criticisms;
It ignores social unity based on mutual interdependence and shared values
Because the approach pursues political goals, it cannot claim scientific objectivity
G.) Criticisms: Because the S-F Approach
focuses on stability, it ignores inequality and other patterns that create instability.
Too general--It paints society with broad strokes; "Family," "social class," "race"
A.) Defined as:
sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals
acro-level orientation -
a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole
- Social-Conflict & Structural-Functional
C.) Symbolic-interactionism has a
Micro-level orientation -
focuses on social interactions in specific settings
D.) We live in a world of
and attach
to these symbols
Ex. The words on this slide or a wink
3.) Symbolic-Interaction Approach

How does "society" result from the ongoing experiences of tens of millions of people?
One answer;
Society is nothing more than the shared reality that people construct as they interact with another...
We attach meaning to symbols...
Therefore, "reality" is simply how we define our surroundings, our obligations toward others, and even our own identities
E.) Criticisms:
Its' micro-orientation often ignores the influence of larger social structures
By emphasizing what is unique, it overlooks the effects of culture, class, gender, and race.
VIII. Applying the Approaches:
The Sociology of Sports
A.) What are the functions of sports?
A structural-functional approach directs attention to the ways sports help society operate.
Manifest functions?

Latent functions?

Dysfunctional consequences?
means for recreation, exercise, let off steam
building relationships, creating jobs, encourage competition and success
Ex. College recruiting-- can focus on athletics instead academics
VIII. Applying the Approaches:
The Sociology of Sports
VIII. Applying the Approaches:
The Sociology of Sports
A.) What are the conflicts in sports?
A social-conflict analysis points out that sports are closely linked to social inequality
A.) A symbolic-interaction view sees sports less as a system and more as an ongoing process.
Players are spontaneous, unpredictable, and understand the game differently
Some people enjoy competition, others may feel love for the game is more important than winning
Think about the ongoing process of...
Rookie year to a seasoned veteran
Jackie Robinson
IX. Stereotypes & Sociology
Is Sociology Nothing More than Stereotypes?
By yourself, read the Thinking It Through reading on page 24 and answer the three questions at the bottom of the page.
A.) Key Take-Away from reading:
IX. Stereotypes & Sociology
In contrast to stereotypes, sociology involves making Generalizations, but with three important conditions;
Sociologists do not indiscriminately apply any generalization to all individuals
Sociologists are careful that a generalization is related to available facts
Sociologists offer generalizations fair-mindedly, with an interest in getting at the truth
Stereotype -
an exaggerated description applied to every person in some category
Full transcript