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•the scientific study of human society
•what seems natural or normal to a given group of people
•how groups interact with one another
•is distinct from other academic disciplines in its attempt to detect patterns in how different societies handle or respond to similar phenomena

Quote from Pierre Bourdieu

The function of sociology as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

Auguste Comte

•father of positivism or social physics, idea that society can be studied scientifically or logically
•argued for the importance of identifying scientific laws that govern human behavior

Comte's historical Epistemological Stages

1) Theological Stage
2) Metaphysical Stage
3) Scientific Stage

Theological Stage

society is the result of divine will

Metaphysical Stage

human behavior governed by natural, biological instincts

Scientific Stage

develop a social physics to understand human behavior

Harriet Martineau

•first to translate Comte's works to English
•1 of the earliest feminist social scientists
•put together a book, "How to Observe Morals & Manners" (argued in this book that marriage was an institution that favored men)

social institutions

•networks of structures in society that socialize groups of people within them
•a group of social positions, connected by social relations, that perform a social role
•do not have to be established by any particular organization or group and do not necessarily have physical locations
•Ex: legal system, education system, marriage, & government

social identity

how individuals define themselves in relation to groups they are a part of or in relation to groups they choose not to be a part of

Sociological Imagination

•C. Wright Mills
-historical context: connecting biography and history
-make the familiar strange
-question habits or customs that seem "natural"
-using your sociological imagination allows you to recognize how the social world works and why

What is an example of using one's sociological imagination?

being puzzled by how people in another country greet one another and then thinking about how people in your own country greet one another and why they do it the way they do

Questioning the reasons why people choose to attend college and the importance of a college degree is an example of

sociological imagination


one woman w/ multiple husbands


•an educated explanation
•look at all the available information and figure out what happened

Karl Marx

•a unique gentleman w/ a bad and good reputation
•Marxist question: who benefits?
•came up w/ theory of historical materialism, which identifies class conflict as the primary cause of social change
•Conflict drives social change throughout history
-Humans dominate environment
-Humans dominate other humans

Max Weber

•Came up w/ Verstehen: "understanding" in German
•Emphasis on subjectivity became a foundation of interpretive sociology
•put forth the idea that sociologists should examine social behavior from the perspective of those engaging in the behavior

Emile Durkheim

•Considered founding practitioner of positivist sociology
•Considered one of the early functionalists
•developed the division of labor, which helps to determine how social cohesion is (or is not) maintained (people are matched up with jobs they are best suited for)
•Division of labor: different people have different jobs, holds society together
•Major cause of suicide is anomie

The Chicago School of American Sociology emphasized the importance of

the environment in shaping people's behavior and personalities

Which of the following American sociologists applied Durkheim's theory of anomie to explain African American crime rates?

W. E. B. DuBois


•concerned with how society functions; viewed as an organism; each institution is part of a whole and serves a function
•Society is a living organism
•Institutions are like vital organs
•Education: keeps institutions going
•Emphasizes the role of agreement (consensus) in maintaining order
•**** Idea of everything working together

Conflict Theory

• Social inequality results from power struggle b/t groups
•What conflicts would see is dominance of one theory over another
• Marx's theory
• Based on Marx's rhetoric

double consciousness

takes the external opinions of an often racially prejudiced onlooker into consideration

Justin enters a clothing store and a security guard immediately notices him and follows Justin's actions on a security monitor. Justin is aware of the security guard's actions and adjusts his own behavior to avoid potential confrontation with the security guard. This is an example of which sociological concept?

double consciousness

Feminist research

focuses on inequalities based on gender categories and researchers study women's experiences at home and in the workplace

Your friend Allison is concerned with the messages that young girls and boys receive about careers that are suitable for them from their elementary school teachers. Based on Allison's position, it is likely that she is a


Symbolic Interactionism

•Starts at a small interaction & work your way up
•Individuals act based on symbolic meanings attached to people and objects

Examining the interactions between people with a focus on how the people talk, dress, and use body language is an example of which theory?

symbolic interaction

midrange theory

attempts to predict how certain social institutions tend to function

Which of the following is an example of an application of midrange theory?

exploring the role of churches in rural areas

Postmodern theorists argue that

all phenomena have multiple meanings and no one meaning can be more valid than another

Which of the following describes a difference between sociology and psychology?

Sociology focuses on social structures and group interactions, while psychology focuses on the urges, instincts, and mind of the individual.


•The examination of everyday human social interactions on a small scale
•Local interactional contexts
-Face-to-face encounters
-Data: in-depth interviews, observations

Justin decides to conduct research for a class project by recording and assessing how people choose where to sit on a public bus. Which type of sociology is this?



•Large-scale dynamics
-Whole societies or large parts of them
-Often uses statistical analysis

Research Methods

Standard rules to find a casual relationship b/t social elements

Which of the following describes the deductive approach to research?

A researcher starts with a theory, forms a hypothesis, makes observations, and then analyzes the data to confirm, reject, or refine the original theory.


•Data in numeric form
•Surveys, statistical analysis
•Allows you to reach more people
•Much less work on the front end
•Majority of the research is quantitative

What is an example of a quantitative research method?

conducting a survey of people's reading habits

Survey research

•form of quantitative research with some sort of scale attached to it
-Phone, mail, door-to-door, internet


•Data communicates meaning in text, graphic, or other media form
•Interviews, observations, experiments
•Much more time-consuming, involves more work

inductive approach

starts with empirical observations and then works to form a theory

A researcher observes that most women entering a café choose to sit near other occupied tables, whereas most men choose a table that is further away from other customers. The researcher then theorizes that women like to feel part of a larger group of people, whereas men are more comfortable being alone. This is an example of which kind of research approach?

inductive reasoning

Participant observation

•A research method that seeks to observe social action in progress
•A researcher participates in social action with the group they are studying

Content analysis

•when you look at the content of objects
•examines content rather than the structure of communication
•Performed on media: books, documents, paintings, video

Amber is conducting research on employment discrimination against Hispanics. She searches through newspapers to document instances of discriminatory language toward Hispanics. What type of research is Amber conducting?

content analysis


•ask people questions or what's going on w/ them
•Can be structured or conversational
-Structured: a series of questions


•not all that frequently used in sociology
•Common in social psychology, highly controlled environment
•Attempt to examine the social world and phenomenon in a controlled, discrete way


simultaneous change in two variables

Which of the following is an example of a correlation?

The more education a person has, the higher his or her income will be.


when a change in one factor causes a change in another factor

What three factors are needed to establish causation?

correlation, time order, and a ruling out of alternative explanations

In social research, a hypothesis is defined as

a proposed relationship between two variables

dependent variable

the outcome that a researcher is trying to explain

Hypothesis: Children in families that eat dinner together at least four times per week experience fewer behavior problems in school. In this hypothesis, what is the dependent variable?

how often children misbehave in school

negative relationship b/t an independent variable & a dependent variable means

one variable increases, the other decreases

Which of the following is an example of a negative relationship between an independent and a dependent variable?

The more responsibility an employee has, the less likely he or she is to miss work.

moderating variable

a factor that affects the relationship between the independent and dependent variables


•consistency in measurement
•refers to how likely you are to obtain the same result using the same measure the next time.

A thermometer that consistently gives readings that are five degrees cooler than the actual temperature is _____

reliable but not valid

In an experiment, Duncan Watts created a website for respondents to rate songs. His sample size was 14,341 respondents. If Dr. Watts selected a new sample of 14,341 different respondents and their average ratings of each song were significantly different than the first sample, what problem would Dr. Watts's research suffer from?

low reliability


being aware of the effects that researchers have on the processes and relationships they are studying

Which of the following elements describe feminist approaches to social research?

•observing female and male behaviors that traditional social scientists have not thought significant
•engaging in research that may bring about policy changes to help improve women's lives

Which of the following data collection methods are commonly used in social research?

audit study, surveys, interviews

panel survey

a survey that tracks the same respondents over time

Which of the following is an example of a panel survey?

a study of 1,000 high school seniors who are then contacted every two years for a ten-year period to participate in a follow-up survey

In social research, the term "protected populations" refers to _____

•segments of the population that a researcher may need special approval to study
•under the age of 18, cannot participate; not old enough to make a decision

Voluntary participation

participant can leave anytime they want in the study

Informed consent

the right of a research subject to know he or she is participating in a study & what the study consist of

In an interview with the author, Mitchell Duneier describes his desire to conduct research that adheres to the ethical guidelines of social research. If Dr. Duneier had interviewed street vendors by secretly recording their interactions, what ethical guideline would he have violated?

informed consent

public sociology

•Social research that tries to engage a nonacademic audience and influence society
•Using sociology to influence social change
•Social research mostly read by sociologists

Comparative research

usually involves studying 2 or more countries or cultures that have a # of things in common but differ in 1 particular dimension that becomes the subject of the study

null hypothesis

the claim that the relationship proposed between two variables does not exist

Participant observation

Impersonal sex in public places


didn't have consent of the participants


•anything that humans create
•a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices
•social categories, ideologies, and symbolic representations that a group of people embrace and identify with


•Believing your own culture is superior
•Viewing all cultures from your own culture's perspective

Culture= Man-Machine

culture as pursuit of perfection

Nonmaterial Culture

intangible stuff: values, beliefs, behaviors, ideology, and social norms

Which of the following is an example of nonmaterial culture?



unspoken rules of social behavior, control our behavior all over the place (everywhere)


moral beliefs


can be described as a system of concepts and relationships that guides an individual or large group


•follow socially-structured patterns
•Reflect cultural trends, fashions
•Sometimes imply race

Material Culture

•things we make as humans
•Everything that is part of our constructed environment


A group distinct from the larger culture, united by shared meaning

Cultural Relativism

•Understanding cultural difference w/out assigning value
•recognizing differences across cultures without judging those differences as positive or negative

What is an ex. of using cultural relativism to think about cultural differences?

You see a news story about a country where people often eat spicy seafood dishes in the morning & then wonder what people there would think of eating chocolate-flavored cereal & milk for breakfast.


•Process of internalizing values, beliefs, & norms
-Learning to function as a member of society

Cultural Scripts

•Behaviors and understandings that are not universal or natural
•are important b/c show how the larger culture reflects the individual

Your friend Jerome argues that culture is an innate biological aspect of human societies. He believes that people are born with certain value systems in place. Having already taken an introductory sociology class, you argue that modes of behavior and understanding are not universal or natural. Your supporting argument is based on the idea of _____.

cultural scripts


can be defined as a group that shares distinct cultural values & behavioral patterns that distinguish it from others within the same culture or society

Some businesses in the United States, especially food-service establishments, will post a sign reading something like, "No shirt, no shoes, no service." This is an example of which of the following?

reinforcement of a cultural norm

Reflection Theory

Culture reflects society's underlying realities and structures

The idea that culture is a projection of social structures and relationships is fundamental to which of the following theories?

Reflection Theory

Reflection Theory: Limitations

•Does not explain why some cultural products
-Remain popular or fade away
-Change meaning over time
•Unidirectional - says culture has no impact on society


•Formats or vehicles that carry, present, or communicate info
•Examples of media: Telegraph, radio, email, tv

What invention can be said to have led to the first truly mass medium?

the printing press

Which of the following media became widely available in American homes in the 20 years following World War II?



•The idea that a dominant group creates a popular consensus with persuasion
•The hegemonic power of advertising
•can be defined as a process in which a dominant group, by virtue of its moral and intellectual leadership in society, secures the voluntary "consent" of the masses

Which political theorist developed the concept of hegemony?

Antonio Gramsci

Textual analysis

if the analysis of content of media in its various forms

For a research project in your introductory sociology course, you decide to compare the coverage of health and beauty topics to that of career and professional topics in women's magazines. You are conducting _____.

textual analysis

Audience studies

explore how people read and interpret information from various media

Herbert Gans researched the various influences and biases that affect the choices made about the content of _____.

print and television news

he television ad campaign for a new car starts playing nationwide. Within weeks, people are bombarding the car maker for information about a song that is featured in the ad and trying to find it online. This is an example of a _______.

short-term, unintended media effect

The use of stereotypes allows people to

ignore complex, underlying issues that are difficult to talk about

In the United States, media ownership is

centralized in the hands of a few big companies

Soft power

the cultural and diplomatic dominance that persuades, rather than forces, others to do one's bidding

Which of the following is an example of soft power?

the enduring worldwide popularity of Michael Jordan


Belief that happiness and fulfillment can be achieved through material possessions

Limits of Socialization

•Cannot explain everything about development and personality
•Both biology and social interactions make us who we are

The nature versus nurture debate examines the importance of _____ in shaping human behavior.

biology, on the one hand, and social interaction, on the other

Charles Horton Cooley

The "self" emerges from our ability to imagine how others see us

In social development theory, the "self" can be defined as _____

the individual identity of a person as perceived by that same person


•Childhood development of social self
•Infants start out knowing "I"
-Through interaction they learn "me" and the "other"
•First step: "generalized other"
-Internalized sense of total expectations of others in a variety of settings

According to George Herbert Mead's stages of development, children learn to recognize an "other" through _____.


Which of the following is an example of recognizing the "generalized other"?

A child is taught to hold the door for her parents or siblings when they are carrying something into the house. While at the mall she holds the door for a stranger who is carrying several bags.

Feral children

•Raised in isolation, confinement, or by animals
•~100 known cases
•Rarely able to function normally in society

Agents of Socialization

•Total Institutions

Total Institutions

an institution in which one is totally immersed and that controls all the basics of day-to-day life

Which of the following is an example of a total institution?


peer pressure

the pressure of conformity

Which of the following scenarios involves the use of peer pressure?

A member of a college football team is ostracized by his teammates when he refuses to get a tattoo of the team mascot.


the process by which one's sense of social values, beliefs, and norms are reengineered, often deliberately through an intense social process that may take place in a total institution

Resocialization would be most likely to occur in which of the following situations?

A man makes a career change from being an accountant with a large auditing company to being a graphic designer in a small ad agency.

Who developed role theory as a way to examine social relations?

Robert Merton


a recognizable social position (give us roles)

ascribed status

a status into which one is born

achieved status

earned or imposed by others ex: murderers

Master Status

Stands out or overrides all others


Behavior expected from a particular status

Gender Roles

Norms associated w/ male or female status

Role conflict

the tension caused by competing demands b/t two or more roles pertaining to different statuses

A college student who works part time and cares for her grandmother must take off work one day to drive her grandmother to a doctor's appointment. She turns in a class project late because she has to make up the time at work. This is an ex. of _____.

role conflict

The interview with CJ Pascoe highlights the peer pressure that males can face in school to conform to certain ideals of masculinity. If a high school football player were to face pressure from peers to live up to the woman-chasing "stud athlete" role, while also attempting to be a model "pure" Christian to his church peers, what sociological problem would this student be facing?

role conflict

Gender theorists

believe that deliberate socialization steers boys and girls to different roles

Your introductory sociology professor argues that people and institutions interact differently with boys and girls and thus socialize them into different roles. Which of the following answers best describes your professor's perspective?

gender theorist

The Social Constructing of Reality

•Ideas and objects gain their meaning through social interaction
•Individuals can share common norms, beliefs, and values

Social Construction of Food

Not all food is "food"

Symbolic Interaction

•Micro-level Theory
•Humans react based on shared symbolic meanings
-Produced by social interactions
-Filtered through individual interpretation

Which of the following theories argues that people's choices about how to act are based on shared meanings, orientations, and assumptions?

symbolic interactionism

Dramaturgy (Goffman)

-"Impression management": we are trying to control what people think of us

According to dramaturgical theory, the primary goal of every social interaction is _____.

to make a good impression


•front stage-public (out in the open)
-Ex: church,
•back stage-private (how we separate our work face from personal face)
-esteem in which an individual is held by others

A classmate has been talking for weeks about trying out for the school dance team. The day after the tryouts, you ask her how it went and she answers that she didn't go because she was sick. In reality, however, she did try out but wasn't selected. The way your classmate handled the situation is an example of what?

saving face

Civic inattention

refraining from directly interacting with someone until an opening signal is given

What is is an ex. of a given off gesture?

glancing at your watch while someone talks to you


an approach to studying human interaction that focuses on how we make sense of our world, how we convey this understanding to others, and how we produce a mutually shared social order

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