Intro to Sociology, Chapter 1: Perspective, Theory, and Method

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Sociology

The systematic study of human society.

Sociological perspective

Seeing the general in the particular.

Global perspective

The study of the larger world and our society's place in it.

Positivism

A scientific approach to knowledge based on "positive" facts as opposed to mere speculation.

Theory

A statement of how and why specific facts are related.

Theoretical approach

A basic image of society that guides thinking and research.

Structural-functional approach

A framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.

Social structure

Any relatively stable pattern of social behavior.

Social functions

The consequences of a social pattern for the operation of society as a whole.

Manifest functions

The recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern.

Latent functions

The unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern.

Social-conflict approach

A framework for building theory that sees society as an area of inequality that generates conflict and change.

Gender-conflict approach

A point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men.

Feminism

Support of social equality for women and men.

Race-conflict approach

A point of view that focues 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 approach

A framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals.

Science

A logical system that develops knowledge from direct, systematic observation.

Empirical evidence

Information we can verify with our senses.

Concept

A mental construct that represents some aspect of the world in a simplified form.

Variable

A concept whose value changes from case to case.

Measurement

A procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case.

Reliability

Consistency in measurement.

Validity

Actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure.

Correlation

A relationship in which two (or more) variables change together.

Cause and effect

A relationship in which change in one variable causes change in another.

Interpretive sociology

The study of society that focuses on discovering the meanings people attach to their social world.

Critical sociology

The study of society that focuses on the need for social change.

Gender

The personal traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being female or male.

Research method

A systematic plan for doing research.

Experiment

A research method for investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions.

Survey

A research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements 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.

Stereotype

A simplified description applied to every person in some category.

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