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Terms in this set (29)
• The study of human behavior in society.
• A scientific way to think about society and its influence on humans.
• Includes the study of social behavior and social change.
The Sociological Perspective
• Ability to see societal patterns that influence life.
• C. Wright Mills wrote about sociological perspective in The Sociological Imagination.
• Sociology can reveal how society shapes our lives.
private problems in an individual's life.
affect large numbers of people
shape the context within which troubles arise.
• Studying the patterns and processes that shape behavior.
• Questioning actions and ideas that are usually taken for granted.
• Acting as "an outsider within."
Sociology and the Enlightenment
• Faith in the ability of human reason to solve society's problems.
• Belief that natural laws and processes in society are used for the general good.
society could be studied using the natural sciences.
human reason can direct social change for the betterment of society.
a set of assumptions and propositions used for explanation, prediction, and understanding
shape the direction of sociological research and analysis
Macro level theories
focus on society
Micro level theories
focus on individual/interactions
Emile Durkheim- 'father' of functionalism
o Society is likened to a human body.
~The body has organs with specific function and they all work together in balance to maintain the whole.
~Society has institutions like the family, politics, and religion and they all work together in balance to meet societal needs.
o Rapid change threatens social order because it disrupts the balance of society.
o During this state of normlessness or anomie, society was particularly prone to social problems.
o Functionalists use a macro perspective, focusing on how society creates and maintains social order
-Conflict theorists consider how society is held together by power and coercion for the benefit of those in power.
-Biggest social problem from this perspective is the system itself and the inequality it creates.
-Focuses on how we create and maintain our social reality through language, words and symbols.
-George Herbert Mead - society is the organized and patterned interactions among individuals.
-The "self" is a mental and social process, the reflective ability to see others in relation to
ourselves and vice versa.
-Herbert Blumer - coined the term "symbolic
-Emphasized how the existence of mind and self emerges from interaction and the use of symbols.
-Feminist theory defines gender (and sometimes race or social class) as a source of social inequality, group conflict, and social problems.
-Patriarchal society (one in which men dominate women and justify their domination through devaluation) is the basis of social problems.
-Sociologists in this perspective may adopt a conflict, functionalist or interactionist perspective, but their focus remains on how men and women are situated in society, not just differently, but also unequally.
• Viewed society as an entity larger than the sum of its parts.
• Conceptualized social facts as social patterns external to individuals.
• Discovered the social basis of human behavior.
• Work was devoted to explaining how capitalism shaped society.
• Profit is produced through the exploitation of the working class.
• Considered the economic organization of society the most important influence on what humans think and how they behave.
• Theorized that society had three dimensions: political, economic, and cultural.
• Believed that to understand social behavior one had to understand the meaning that a behavior had for social actors.
Sociology in America
• American sociologists believed sociology could help solve social problems.
• The Chicago School - concerned with the relationship of individual to society and society as a human laboratory.
Sociological Theory: View of Society
Functionalism: Objective; stable; cohesive
Conflict Theory: Objective; hierarchical; fragmented
Symbolic Interaction: Subjective; perceived in the minds of people
Sociological Theory: Individual and Society
Functionalism: Individuals occupy fixed social roles
Conflict Theory: Individuals subordinated to society
Symbolic Interaction: Individual and society are interdependent
Sociological Theory: View of Inequality
Functionalism: Inevitable; functional for society
Conflict Theory: Result of struggle over scarce resources
Symbolic Interaction: Inequality demonstrated through meaning of status symbols
Sociological Theory: Basis of Social Order
Functionalism: Consensus on common values
Conflict Theory: Power; coercion
Symbolic Interaction: Collective meaning systems; society created through social interaction
Sociological Theory: Source of Social Change
Functionalism: Disorganization and adjustment to achieve equilibrium
Conflict Theory: Struggle; competition
Symbolic Interaction: Ever-changing web of relationships and meaning of things
Doing Sociological Research
• Sociological research is a tool sociologists use to answer questions.
• The method of research used depends on the kind of question you ask.
• Develop a research question.
• Create a research design.
• Gather data.
• Analyze data.
• Reach conclusions and report results.
• Does not use statistical methods.
• More interpretive, shows more nuance.
• Uses statistical methods.
• Provides data to calculate averages and percents.
Tools of Sociological Research
• Questionnaires, Interviews
• Participant Observation
• Controlled Experiments
• Content Analysis
• Historical Research
• Evaluation Research
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