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Large Sociological Perspectives

Structural functionalism
Conflict Theory
Symbolic Interactionism

Contemporary Theories

Critical Theory
Feminist Theory

Structural Functionalism

Society is like a system with different parts that do different things; All parts of a society must function together for the society to work

Conflict Theory

Groups conflict over access to scarce resources; group conflict is constant in society

Symbolic Interactionism

Society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another

Emile Durkheim

Developed Structural Functionalism
Saw the Industrialism Revolution as positive
Society is held together by the need for each other

Karl Marx

Developed Conflict Theory
Saw the Industrialism Revolution as negative
Dehumanizing and oppressive system

Max Weber

Developed Symbolic Interactionism
"Owners of companies don't know how to make their own product"

Critical Theory

Developed out of Conflict Theory's criticism
Critical of power relationships embedded in all systems of society
Mass culture is oppressive

Feminist Theory

Developed out of Conflict Theory's views on power
How masculinity & femininity are maintained, enacted, changed in society


Developed out of Symbolic Interactionism's ideas of socially constructed reality
Distrustful of claims of "objectiviy"
Pessimistic w/out coherent theories


Not having rules, structures, norms

Macro-level theories

Work better with quantitative research methods; Structural Functionalism & Conflict Theory

Micro-level theories

Work better with qualitative research methods; Symbolic Interactionism

Quantitative Research Methods

Surveys, censuses
Large Samples
Broad amounts of info
Generalizable to all populations

Qualitative Research Methods

Lengthy observations
Few assumptions/hypotheses
"Rich" data
Small sample sizes
Few numbers
Not generalizable to large populations


Ability for someone else to replicate your experiment and produce similar results


Experiment is testing what it is intended to

Principles of Research Ethics

Protect participants:
Voluntary Participation
Informed Consent
Anonymity and Confidentiality
Honest Reporting


Little norms
Easily broken
Sanctions are small


Larger norms
Connected to moral values
Sanctions are larger


Really big norms
Not supposed to think of doing it
Connected to strong moral values
Sanctions are extreme


Any norm written down
Sanctions are imposed by governing body


Evaluating things in a different culture using your own cultural values
"Our way is the right way"

Cultural Relativism

Evaluating things in a different culture using their own values

Sapir-Whorf hypotheses

Our language shapes our experience of the world

Cultural Universals

Patterns that occur in all known societies


A position in society that someone fills

Ascribed Status

Statuses assigned to us that we can't control

Achieved Status

Statuses that we choose to attain through our efforts

Master Status

Status that becomes primary in our lives or minds


Sets of expectations assigned to a status

Role Performance

Our actual behavior in a role

Role Conflict

The expectations from two different statuses collide or compete


The process of becoming a part of your social world, people acquire knowledge, language, values and behavior

Looking Glass Self

Charles Horton Cooley
We imagine what other people think of us

Self Awareness

Self Concept
Self Image

Impression Management

Erving Goffman
We constantly work to influence how others see us


Two or more people who are bound together in relatively stable patterns of social integration and who share a feeling of unity


Two people linked together in a relatively stable set of expectations

Expressive Ties

Emotional links
Powerful relationships

Instrumental Ties

Goal oriented ties
Relationships end after goal has been achieved

Primary Group

Small group
Informal,intimate interaction
Expressive ties dominate

Secondary Group

Groups come together for a specific purpose
Formal, goal-oriented interaction
Instrumental ties dominate


Group that you belong to
"us" or "we"
Provides social identity


Group you don't belong to
"they" or "them"
May want to join, may not

Social Loafing

People in groups work less hard than they would if they were working alone

Social Dilemmas

Group members are faced with either maximizing their own gain or maximizing the gain of the group

Reference Group

Used in social comparisons


Group decision-making process that prioritizes group cohesion over rational thinking

Self Concept

Relatively stable idea of "who we really are"

Self Image

More temporary idea of ourselves in a given context

Self Esteem

The evaluation we make of ourselves

Self Efficacy

The belief that one can overcome obstacles and achieve goals

Reflected Appraisals

Messages we get from observing how others interact with us, based on body language, speech, facial expressions, etc.

Social Comparisons

Comparison based on reference groups, groups that we see as relevant references

Social Identity

Identity we create based on group memberships

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