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the systematic study of human society

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

One of sociology's first pioneers, showed that social forces are at work even in such an intensely personal action as suicide

Seeing Sociologically Marginality and Crisis

A person that doesn't belong to a dominant group--everyday experience

Global Perspective

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

Social Change and Sociology

A New Industrial Economy, The Growth of Cities,Political Change

Science and Sociology

b. Theological stage: when people took the religious view that society expressed God's will
c. Metaphysical stage: which people saw society as a natural rather than supernatural phenomenon
d. Positivism: a scientific approach to knowledge based on "positive" facts as opposed to mere speculation

Auguste Comte

coined the term sociology in 1838


a statement of how and why specific facts are related

Structural-Functional Approach

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

Social Structure

a) Any relatively stable pattern of social behavior
2) Is dysfunctional, but it is a result of a structure that is also functional
3) Laws are formal structures
4) Structure + Function, ultimately the thing to look for

Social Function

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

Manifest Function

The recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern

Latent Function

The unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern

Social Dysfunction

Any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society

The Social Conflict Approach

a. Is a framework for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change
b. Benefits people in position of power
c. Pattern exists as a tool in competition or as the result of an effort to achieve self-interest or establish power
d. Self-interest + Power, ultimately the thing to look for

Macro-level orientation

broad focus on social structures that shape as a whole

Micro-Level orientation

A close-up focus on social interaction in specific situations

Symbolic -interaction approach

1) A framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals
2) People share some common perception of reality and shared value system that they obtain either through agreement, learning or common experience

Positivist sociology

The study of society based on scientific observation of social behavior

Empirical evidence

Information we can verify with our senses


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


Actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure

Interpretive Sociology

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

The importance of Meaning

1 Positivist sociology focuses on action, what we can observe directly
2 Positivist sociology claims that objective reality exists "out there"
3 Positivists sociology tends to favor quantitative data-numerical measurements of outward behavior

Weber's concept of Verstehen

Word means in German "understanding"

Critical sociology

1 The study of society that focuses on the need for social change
2 Is an activist approach that ties knowledge to action and seeks not just to understand the world as it exists by also to improve it

Research Orientations and Theory

1)The positivists orientation is linked to the structural-functional approach
2)The interpretive orientation to the symbolic-interaction approach


Means approaching an issue from a male perspective


Seeing the world from a female's perspective


Is a problem when sociologist gather data only from men but use that information to draw a conclusion about all people

Double Standards

Researchers must be careful not to judge men and women by different standards

Gender Blindness

Failing to consider gender at all

Ten Steps in Sociological Research

What is your topic?
What have others already learned?
What, exactly, are your questions?
What will you need to carry out research?
v. Are there ethical concerns?
vi. What method will you use?
vii. How will you record the data?
viii. What do the data tell you?
ix. What are you conclusions?
x. How can you share what you have learned?

Goals and objectives of sociology

Defining patterns,To create understanding, To empower

Basic types of social patterns

Social interaction,Social structure, Social agreement,

Herbert Spencer

Compared sociology to the human body

social Dysfunction

any social pattern that may disrupt operation of society

macro level orientation

broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole

micro level orientation

close up focus on social interaction in specific situations

Max webber

symbolic interaction approach- based on agreeing on reality and perception


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

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

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