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understanding human behavior by placing it within its broader social context.
the group memberships that people have because of their location in history and society.
the application of systematic methods to obtain knowledge and the knowledge obtained by those methods.
the intellectual and academic disciplines designed to comprehend, explain, and predict events in our natural environments.
the intellectual and academic disciplines designed to understand the social world objectively by means of controlled and repeated observations.
a statement that goes beyond the individual case and is applied to a broader group or situation.
credited as the founder of sociology, began to analyze the bases of the social order. Although he stressed that the scientific method should be applied to the study of society, he did not apply it himself.
sometimes called the second founder of sociology, coined the term "survival of the fittest." Spencer thought that helping the poor was wrong, that this merely helped the "less fit" survive.
believed that the roots of human misery lay in class conflict, the exploitation of workers by those who own the means of production. Social change, in the form of the overthrow of the capitalists by the workers (proletariat), was inevitable from Marx's perspective. Although Marx did not consider him-self a sociologist, his ideas have influenced many sociologists, particularly conflict theorists.
Marx's term for the exploited class, the mass of workers who do not own the means of production.
contributed many important concepts to sociology. His comparison of the suicide rates of several counties revealed an underlying social factor: People are more likely to commit suicide if their ties to others in their communities are weak. Durkheim's identification of the key role of social integration in social life remains central to sociology today.
the degree to which members of a group or a society feel united by shared values and other social bonds; also known as social cohesion.
early sociologist who left a profound impression on sociology. He used cross-cultural and historical materials to trace the causes of social change and to determine how social groups affect people's orientations to life.
the view that a sociologist's personal values or biases should not influence social research.
the standards by which people define what is desirable or undesirable, good or bad, beautiful or ugly.
a German word used by Weber that is perhaps best understood as "to have insight into someone's situation".
W.E.B. Du Bois
spent his lifetime studying relations between African Americans and whites. Like many early North Americans sociologists, Du Bois combined the role of academic sociologist with that of social reformer. He was also the editor of Crisis, an influential journal of the time.
recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, worked on behalf of poor immigrants. With Ellen G. Starr, she founded Hull-House, a center to help immigrants in Chicago. She was also a leader in women's rights (women's suffrage), as well as the peace movement of World War I.
C. Wright Mills
controversial figure in sociology because of his analysis of the role of the power elite in U.S. society. Today, his analysis is taken for granted by many sociologists and members of the public.
Basic (or pure) sociology
sociological research for the purpose of making discoveries about life in human groups, not for making changes in those groups.
the use of sociology to solve problems, from the micro level of family relationships to the macro level of global pollution.
a statement about how some parts of the world fit together and how they work; an explanation of how two or more facts are related to one another.
a theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another.
one of the founders of symbolic interactionism, a major theoretical perspective in sociology. He taught at the University of Chicago, where his lectures were popular. Although he wrote little, after his death students compiled his lectures into an influential book, Mind, Self, and Society.
a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society's equilibrium; also known as functionalism and structural functionalism.
spent most of his academic career at Columbia University, was a major proponent of functionalism, one of the main theoretical perspectives in sociology
a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources.
communication without words through gestures, use of space, silence, and so on.
sociology being used for the public good; especially the sociological perspective (of how things are related to one another) guiding politicians and policy makers.
Globalization of capitalism
capitalism (investing to make profits within a rational system) becoming the globe's dominant economic system.
When did sociology first appear as a separate discipline?
Sociology emerges as a separate discipline in the mid-1800s in western Europe, during the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Industrialization affected all aspects of human existence - where people lived, the nature of their work, their relationships, and how they viewed life. Early sociologists who focused on these social changes include Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durheim, Max Weber, Harriet Martineau, and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Should the purpose of social research be only to advance human understanding or also to reform society?
Sociologists agree that research should be objective, that is, that the researcher's values and beliefs should not agree on the uses and purposes of social research. Some say that its purpose should be only to advance understanding of human behavior; others, that its goal should be to reform harmful social arrangements.
How do sociologists use Verstehen and social facts to study human behavior?
According to Weber, to understand why people act as they do, sociologists must try to put themselves in their shoes. He used the German verb Verstehen, "to grasp by insight," to describe this essentially subjective approach. Although not denying the importance of Verstehen, Emile Durkheim emphasized the importance of uncovering social facts, social conditions that influence how people behave. Contemporary sociologists use both approaches to understand human behavior.
When were the first academic departments of sociology established in the United Sates?
The earliest departments of sociology were established in the late 1800s at the universities of Kansas, Chicago, and Atlanta. In sociology's early years, the contributions of women and minorities were largely ignored.
What was the position of women and minorities in early sociology?
Sociology developed during a historical period of deep sexism and racism. The few women, such as Harriet Marineau, and minorities, such as W.E.B. Du Bois who received the education necessary to become sociologists felt the sting of discrimination.
What is the difference between basic (or pure) and applied sociology?
Basic (or pure) sociology is sociological research whose purpose is to make discoveries. In contrast, applied sociology is the use of sociology to solve problems.
What is a theory?
A theory is a general statement about how facts are related to one another. A theory provides a conceptual framework for interpreting facts.
What are sociology's major theoretical perspectives?
examine how people use symbols to develop and share their views of the world. Symbolic interactionists usually focus on the micro level - on a small scale, face-to-face interaction.
focus on the macro level - on large scale patterns of society. They stress that a social system is made up of interrelated parts. When working properly, each part fulfills a function that contributes to the system's stability.
focus on large-scale patterns of society. They stress that society is composed of competing groups that struggle for scarce resources.
What trends are likely to have an impact on sociology?
Sociology has gone through three phases: the first was an emphasis on reforming society; the second had its focus on basic sociology; the third, today's phase, is taking us closer to our roots of applying sociology to social change. Public sociology is the most recent example of this change. A second major trend, globalization, is likely to broaden sociological horizons, refocusing research and theory away from its concentrations on U.S. society.
the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that characterize a group and are passed from one generation to the next.
the material objects that distinguish a group of people, such as their art, buildings, weapons, utensils, machines, hairstyles, clothing, and jewelry.
(also called symbolic culture) a group's way of thinking (including beliefs, values, norms, and other assumptions about the world) and doing (its common patterns of behavior; including language and other forms of interaction)
the disorientation that people experience when they come in contact with a fundamentally different culture and can no longer depend on their taken-for-granted assumptions about life.
the use of one's own culture as a yard-stick for judging the ways of other individuals or societies, generally leading to a negative evaluation of their values, norms, and behaviors.
a system of symbols that can be combined in an infinite number of ways and can represent not only objects but also abstract thought.
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf's hypothesis that language creates ways of thinking and perceiving.
the standards by which people define what is desirable or undesirable, good or bad, beautiful or ugly.
either expressions of approval given to people for upholding norms or expressions of disapproval for violating them.
a reward or positive reaction for following norms, ranging from a smile to a material reward.
an expression of disapproval for breaking a norm, ranging from a mild, informal reaction such as a frown to a formal reaction such as a prison sentence or an exclusion.
norms that are strictly enforced because they are thought essential to core values or to the well-being of the group.
the values and related behaviors of a group that distinguish its members from the larger culture; a world within a world.
a group whose values, beliefs, norms, and related behaviors place its members in opposition to the broader culture.
a society made up of many different groups, with contrasting values and orientations to life.
values that contradict one another; to follow the one means to come into conflict with the other.
a framework of thought that views human behavior as the result of natural selection and considers biological factors to be the fundamental cause of human behavior.
in its narrow sense, tools; its broader sense includes the skills or procedures necessary to make and use those tools.
the spread of cultural traits from one group to another; includes both material and nonmaterial cultural traits.
What is Culture?
All human groups possess culture - language, beliefs, values, norms, and material objects that are passed from one generation to the next. Material culture consists of objects (art, buildings, clothing, weapons, tools). Nonmaterial (or symbolic) culture is a group's way of thinking and its patterns of behavior. Ideal culture is a group's ideal values, norms, and goals. Real culture is people's actual behavior, which often falls short of their .
What are cultural relativism and ethnocentrism?
People are ethnocentric; that is, they use their own culture as a yardstick for judging the ways of others. In contrasts, those who embrace cultural relativism try to understand other cultures on those cultures terms.
What are the components of nonmaterial culture?
The central component is symbols, anything to which people attach meaning and that they use to communicate with others. Universally, the symbols of nonmaterial culture are gestures, language, values, norms, sanctions, folkways, and mores.
Why is language so significant to culture?
Language allows human experience to be goal-directed, cooperative, and cumulative. It also lets humans move beyond the present and share a past, future, and other common perspectives. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, language even shapes our thoughts and perceptions.
How do values, norms, sanctions, folkways, and mores reflect culture?
All groups have values, standards by which they define what is desirable or undesirable, and norms, rules or expectations about behavior. Groups use positive sanctions to show approval of those who follow their norms and negative sanctions to show disapproval of those who do not. Norms that are not strictly enforced are called folkways, while mores are norms to which groups demand conformity because they reflect core values.
How do subcultures and countercultures differ?
A subculture is a group whose values and related behaviors distinguish its members from the general culture. A counterculture holds some values that stand in opposition to those of the dominant culture.
What are some core U.S. values?
Although the United States is a pluralistic society, made up of many groups, each with its own set of values, certain values dominate: achievement and success, individualism, hard work, efficiency and practicality, science and technology, material comfort, freedom, democracy, equality, group superiority, education, religiosity, and romantic love. Some values cluster together (value clusters) to form a larger whole. Value contradictions (such as equality, sexism, and racism) indicate areas of tension, which are likely points of social change. Leisure, self-fulfillment, physical fitness, youthfulness, and concern for the environment are emerging core values. Core values do not change without opposition.
Do cultural universals exist?
Cultural universals are values, norms, or other cultural traits that are found in all cultures. Although all human groups have customs concerning cooking, childbirth, funerals, and so on, because these customs differ from one culture to another, there are no cultural universals.
How is technology changing culture?
William Ogburn coined the term cultural lag to describe how a group's nonmaterial culture lags behind its changing technology. With today's technological advances in travel and communications, cultural diffusion is occurring rapidly. This leads to cultural leveling, groups becoming similar as they adopt items from other cultures. Much of the richness of the world's diverse cultures is being lost in the process.
children assumed to have been raised by animals, in the wilderness, isolated from humans.
the process by which people learn the characteristics of their group - the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and actions thought appropriate for them.
the unique human capacity of being able to see ourselves "from the outside"; the views we internalize of how others see us.
Looking glass self
a term coined by Charles Cooley to refer to the process by which our self develops through internalizing others' reactions to us.
Taking the role of the other
putting oneself in someone else's shoes; understanding how someone else feels and thinks and thus anticipating how that person will act.
the norms, values, attitudes, and expectations of people "in general"; the child's ability to take the role of the generalized other is a significant step in the development of a self.
the behaviors and attitudes that a society considers proper for its males and females; masculinity or femininity.
the ways in which society sets children on different paths in life because they are male or female.
forms of communication, such as radio, newspapers, television, and blogs that are directed to mass audiences.
a social condition in which privileges and obligations are given to some but denied to others.
Agents of socialization
individuals or groups that affect our self-concept, attitudes, behaviors, or to their orientations toward life.
the process of learning in advance of an anticipated future role or status.
a place that is almost totally controlled by those who run it, in which people are cut off from the rest of society and the society is mostly cut off from them.
a term coined by Harold Garfinkel to refer to a ritual whose goal is to strip away someone's position (social status); in doing so, a new social and self-identity is stamped on the individual.
a term that refers to a period following high school when young adults have not yet taken on the responsibilities ordinarily associated with adulthood; also called adultolescence.
How much of our human characteristics come from "nature" (heredity) and how much come from "nurture" (the social environment)?
Observations of isolated, institutionalized, and feral children help to answer the nature-nurture question, as do experiments with monkeys that were raised in isolation. Language and intimate social interaction - aspects of "nurture" - are essential to the development of what we consider to be human characteristics.
How do we acquire a self?
Humans are born with the capacity to develop a self, but the self must be socially constructed; that is, its contents depend on social interaction. According to Charles Cooley's concept of the looking-glass self, our self develops as we internalize others' reaction to us. George Mead identified the ability to take the role of the other as essential to the development of the self. Mead concluded that even the mind is a social product.
How do children develop reasoning skills?
Jean Piaget identified four stages that children go through as the develop the ability to reason:
(1) sensorimotor, in which understanding is limited to sensory stimuli such as touch and sight;
(2) preoperational, the ability to use symbols;
(3) concrete operational, in which reasoning ability is more complex but not yet capable of complex abstractions; and
(4) formal operational, or abstract thinking.
How do sociologists evaluate Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality development?
Sigmund Freud viewed personality development as the result of our id (inborn, self-centered desires) clashing with the demands of society. The ego develops to balance the id and the superego, the conscience. Sociologists, in contrast, do not examine inborn or subconscious motivations, but, instead, consider how social factors - social class, gender, religion, education, and so forth - underlie personality.
How do people develop morality?
Children are born without morality. Lawrence Kohlberg identified four stages children go through as they learn morality: amoral, preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. As they make moral decisions, both men and women use personal relationships and abstract principles.
How does socialization influence emotions?
Socialization influences not only how we express our emotion but also what emotions we feel. Socialization into emotions is one the means by which society produces conformity.
How does gender socialization affect our sense of self?
Gender socialization - sorting of males and females into different roles - is a primary means of controlling human behavior. Children receive messages about gender even in infancy. A society's ideals of sex-linked behaviors are reinforced by its social institutions.
What are the agents of socialization?
The agents of socialization include the family, neighborhood, religion, day care, school, peer groups, the mass media, and the workplace. Each has its particular influences in socializing us into becoming full-fledged members of society.
What is resocialization?
Resocialization is the process of learning new norms, values, attitudes, and behavior. Most resocialization is voluntary, but some, as with residents of total institutions, is involuntary.
Does socialization end when we enter adulthood?
Socialization occurs throughout the life course. In industrialized societies, the life course can be divided into childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, the middle years, and the older years. The West is adding a new stage, transitional adulthood. Life course pattern vary by geography, history, gender, race - ethnicity, and social class, as well as by individual experiences such as health and age at marriage.
Are We Prisoners of Socialization?
Although socialization is powerful, we are not merely the sum of our socialization experiences. Just as socialization influences human behavior, so humans act on their environment and influence even their self-concept.
analysis of social life that focuses on broad feature of society, such as social class and the relationships of groups to one another; usually used by functionalists and conflict theorists.
analysis of social life that focuses on social interaction; typically used by symbolic interactionists.
the framework (or typical patterns) that surrounds us, consisting of the relationships of people and groups to one another, which gives direction to and sets limits on behavior.
according to Weber, a large group of people who rank close to one another in property power, and prestige; according to Marx, one of two groups: capitalists who own the means of production or workers who sell their labor.
a position an individual either inherits at birth or receives involuntarily later in life.
a position that is earned, accomplished, or involves at least some effort or activity on the individual's part.
ranking high on some dimensions of social class and low on others, also called status discrepancy.
the process by which people learn the characteristics of their group - the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, norms, and actions thought appropriate for them.
people who have something in common and who believe that what they have in common is significant; also called a social group.
Sexual fidelity, providing for your family, keeping a clean house, respect for parents
Religion Basic Needs
Life after death concerns, meaning of suffering and loss, desire to connect with the creator
Priest, minister, rabbi, imam, worshiper, teacher, disciple, missionary, prophet, convert
Reading and adhering to holy texts such as the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran; honoring God
Education Groups or Organizations
School, college, student senate, sports team, PTA, teachers' union
the degree to which members of a group or a society feel united by shared values and other social bonds; also known as social cohesion.
Durkheim's term for the unity (a shared consciousness) that people feel as a result of performing the same or similar tasks.
Durkheim's term for the interdependence that results from the division of labor; people depending on others to fulfill their jobs.
a type of society in which life is intimate; a community in which everyone knows everyone else and people share a sense of togetherness.
a type of society that is dominated by impersonal relationships, individual accomplishments, and self-interests.
an approach, pioneered by Erving Goffman, in which social life is analyzed in terms of drama or the stage; also called dramaturgical analysis.
places where people rest from their performances, discuss their presentations, and plan future performances.
the ways in which someone performs a role within the limits that the role provides; showing a particular "style" or "personality".
conflicts that someone feels between roles because the expectations attached to one role are incompatible with the expectations of another role.
a term used by Goffman to refer to how people use social setting, appearance, and manner to communicate information about the self.
a deeply embedded common understanding of how the world operates and how people ought to act.
classic formulation of the definition of the situation "If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."
Social construction of reality
the use of background assumptions and life experiences to define what is real.
What two levels of analysis do sociologists use?
Sociologists use macrosociological and microsociological levels of analysis. In macrosociology, the focus is placed on large-scale features of social life, while in microsociology, the focus is on social interaction. Funtionalists and conflict theorists tend to use a macrosociological approach, while symbolic interactionists are more likely to use a microsociological approach.
How does social structure influence our behavior?
The term social structure refers to the social envelope that surrounds us and establishes limits of our behavior. Social structure consists of culture, social class, social statuses, roles, groups, and social institutions. Our location in the social structure underlies our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Culture lays the broadest framework, while social class divides people according to income, education, and occupational prestige. Each of us receives ascribed statuses at birth; later we add achieved statuses. Our behaviors and orientations are further influenced by the roles we play, the groups to which we belong, and our experiences with social institutions. These components of society work together to help maintain social order.
What are social institutions?
Social institutions are the standard ways that a society develops to meet its basic needs. As summarized in Figure 4.2, industrial and postindustrial societies have ten social institutions - the family, religion, education, economy, medicine, politics, law, science, the military, and the mass media. From the functionalist perspective, social institutions meet universal group needs, or functional requisites. Conflict theorists stress how society's elites use social institutions to maintain their privileged positions.
What holds society together?
According to Emile Durkheim, in agricultural societies people are united by mechanical solidarity (having similar views and feelings). With industrialization comes organic solidarity (people depend on one another to do their more specialized jobs). Ferdinand Tonnies pointed out that the informal means of control in Gemeinschaft (small, intimate) societies are replaced by formal mechanisms in Gesellschaft (larger, more impersonal) societies.
What is the focus of symbolic interactionism?
In contrast to functionalists and conflict theorists, who as macrosociologists focus on the "big picture," symbolic interactionists tend to be microsociologists who focus on face-to-face social interaction. Symbolic interactionists analyze how people define their worlds, and how their definitions in turn, influence their behavior.
How do stereotypes affect social interaction?
Stereotypes are assumptions of what people are like, our perceptions of their visible characteristics. Our ideas about those characteristics guide our behavior toward them. Our behavior, in turn, may influence them to behave in ways that reinforce our stereotypes.
Do all human groups share a similar sense of personal space?
In examining how people use physical space, symbolic interactionists stress that we surround ourselves with a "personal bubble" that we carefully protect. People from different cultures use "personal bubbles" of varying sizes, so the answer to the question is no. Americans typically use four different "distance zones": intimate, personal, social, and public.
What is dramaturgy?
Erving Goffman developed dramaturgy (or dramaturgical analysis), in which everyday life is analyzed in terms of the stage. At the core of this analysis is impression management, our attempts to control the impressions we make on others. For this, we use the sign-vehicles of setting, appearance, and manner. Our performances often call for teamwork and face-saving behavior.
What is the social construction of reality?
The phrase the social construction of reality refers to how we construct our views of the world, which, in turn, underlie our actions. Ethnomethodology is the study of how people make sense of everyday life. Ethnomethodologists try to uncover background assumptions, our basic ideas about the way life is.
Why are both levels of analysis necessary?
Because each focuses on different aspects of the human experience, both microsociology and macrosociology are necessary for us to understand social life.
a statement of how variables are expected to be related to one another, often according to redetections from a theory.
a factor thought to be significant for human behavior, which can vary (or change) from one case to another.
Research method (or research design)
one of seven procedures that sociologists use to collect data: surveys, participant observation, case studies, secondary analysis, documents, experiments, and unobtrusive measures.
a sample in which everyone in the target population has the same chance of being included in the study.
people who respond to a survey, either in interviews or by self-administered questionnaires.
questions that are followed by a list of possible answers to be selected by the respondents.
Participant observation (or fieldwork)
research in which the researcher participates in a research setting while observing what is happening in that setting.
the extent to which the findings from one group (or sample) can be generalized or applied to other groups (or populations).
in its narrow sense, written sources that provide data; in its extended sense, archival material of any sort, including photographs, movies, CDs, DVDs, an so on.
the use of control and experimental groups and dependent and independent variables to test causation.
the group of subjects in an experiment who are exposed to the independent variable.
a factor that causes a change in another variable, called the dependent variable.
What Is a Valid Sociological Topic?
Any human behavior is a valid sociological topic, even disreputable behavior. Spouse abuse is an example. Sociological research based on the sociologist's interests, access to subjects, appropriate methods, and ethical considerations.
Why isn't common sense adequate?
Common sense doesn't provide reliable information. When subjected to scientific research, Commonsense ideas are found to be limited or false.
What are the eight basic steps of sociological research?
(1) Selecting a topic,
(2) Defining the problem,
(3) Reviewing the literature,
(4) Formulating a hypothesis,
(5) Choosing a research method,
(6) Collecting the data,
(7) Analyzing the results, and
(8) Sharing the results.
How do sociologists gather data?
To collect data, sociologists use seven research methods (or research designs): surveys, participant observation (fieldwork), case studies, secondary analysis, documents, experiments and unobtrusive measures.
How do sociologists choose a research method?
Sociologists choose their research method based on questions to be answered, their access to potential subjects, the resources available, their training, and ethical considerations.
Why is the sociological research often controversial?
Some people get upset because sociologists do research on disreputable or illegal activities or on personal or intimate areas of life. Other people get upset when research findings go against their interests or biases.
What is the relationship between gender and research?
There are two aspects. First, findings based on samples of men do not necessarily apply to women and findings based on samples of women do not necessarily apply to men. Second, in some kinds of research, such as studying abused spouses, rape victims, and rapists, the gender of the researcher could affect findings.
How important are ethics in sociological research?
Ethics are of fundamental concern to sociologists, who are committed to openness, honesty, truth, and protecting their subjects from harm. The Brujaha research on restaurant workers and the Humphreys research on "tearooms" were cited to illustrate ethical issues that concern sociologists.
What is the relationship between theory and research?
Theory and research depend on one another. Theory generates questions that need to be answered by research, and sociologists use theory to interpret the data they gather. Research, in turn, helps to generate theory: Findings that don't match what is expected can indicate a need to modify theory.
people who have something in common and who believe that what they have in common is significant; also called a social group.
the healing specialists of a tribe who attempts to control the spirits thought to cause a disease or injury; commonly called a witch doctor.
the first social revolution, based on the domestication of plants and animals, which led to pastoral and horticultural societies.
the second social revolution, based on the invention of the plow, which led to agricultural societies.
the third social revolution, occurring when machines powered by fuels replaced most animal and human power.
Postindustrial (information) society
a society based on information, services, and high technology, rather than on raw materials and manufacturing.
a society whose economy increasingly centers on the application of genetics to produce medicine, food, and materials.
individuals who temporarily share the same physical space but who do not see themselves as belonging together.
a group characterized by intimate, long-term, face-to-face associations and cooperation.
compared with a primary group, a larger, relatively temporary, more anonymous, formal, and impersonal group based on some interest or activity.
individuals who regularly interact with one another on the internet and who think of themselves as belonging together.
the ways in which individuals affect groups and the ways in which groups influence individuals.
an individual who tries to keep the group moving toward its goals; also known as a task-oriented leader.
an individual who increases harmony and minimizes conflict in a group; also known as a socioemotional leader.
a narrowing of thought by a group of people, leading to the perception that there is only one correct answer, in which to even suggest alternatives becomes a sign of disloyalty.
What is a group?
Sociologists use many definitions of groups, but, in general, groups consist of people who interact with one another and think of themselves as belonging together. Societies are the largest and most complex group that sociologists study.
How is technology linked to the change from one type of society to another?
On their way to postindustrial society, humans passed through four types of societies. Each emerged from a social revolution that was linked to new technology. The domestication revolution, which brought the pasturing of animals and the cultivation of plants, transformed hunting and gathering societies into pastoral and horticultural societies. Then the invention of the plow ushered in the agricultural society, while the Industrial Revolution, brought about by machines that were powered by fuels, led to industrial society. The computer chip ushered in a new type of society called postindustrial (or information) society. Another new type of society, the biotech society, may be emerging.
How is social inequality linked to the transformation of societies?
Social equality was greatest in hunting and gathering societies, but as societies changed social inequality grew. The root of the transition to social inequality was the accumulation of a food surplus, made possible through the domestication revolution. This surplus stimulated the division of labor, trade, the accumulation of material goods, the subordination of females by males, the emergence of leaders, and the development of the state.
How do sociologists classify groups?
Sociologists divide groups into primary groups, secondary groups, in-groups, out-groups, reference groups, and networks. The cooperative, intimate, long-term, face-to-face relationships provided by primary groups are fundamental to our sense of self. Secondary groups are larger, relatively temporary, and more anonymous, formal, and impersonal that primary groups. In-groups provide members with a strong sense of identity and belonging. Out-groups also foster identity by showing in-group members what they are not. Reference groups are groups whose standards we refer to as we evaluate ourselves. Social networks consist of social ties that link people together. Developments in communications technology have given birth to a new type of group, the electronic community.
How does a group's size affect its dynamics?
The term group dynamics refers to how individuals affect groups and how groups influence individuals. In a small group, everyone can interact directly with everyone else. As a group grows larger, its intensity decreases but its stability increases. A dyad, consisting of two people, is the most unstable of human groups, but it provides the most intense intimate relationships. The addition of a third person, forming a triad, fundamentally alters relationships. Triads are unstable, as coalitions (the alignment of some members of a group against others) tend to form.
What characterizes a leader?
A leader is someone who influences others. Instrumental leaders try to keep a group moving toward its goals, even though this causes friction and they lose popularity. Expressive leaders focus on creating harmony and raising group morale. Both types are essential to the functioning of groups.
What are three leadership styles?
Authoritarian leaders give orders, democratic leaders try to lead by consensus, and laissez-faire leaders are highly permissive. An authoritarian style appears to be more effective in emergency situations, a democratic style works best for most situations, and a laissez-faire style is usually ineffective.
How do groups encourage conformity?
The Asch experiment was cited to illustrate the power of peer pressure, the Milgram experiment to illustrate the influence of authority. Both experiments demonstrate how easily we can succumb to groupthink, a kind of collective tunnel vision. Preventing groupthink requires free circulation of diverse and opposing ideas.
a society in which the past is thought to be the best guide for the present; characterizes tribal, peasant, and feudal societies.
Rationalization of society
a wide spread acceptance of rationality and social organizations that are built largely around this idea.
an economic system characterized by the private ownership of the means of production, the pursuit of profit, and market competition.
a formal organization with a hierarchy of authority and a clear division of labor; emphasis on impersonality of positions and written rules, communications, and records.
McDonaldization of society
the process by which ordinary aspects of life are rationalized and efficiency comes to rule them, including such things as food preparation.
Marx's term for workers' lack of connection to the product of their labor; caused by their being assigned repetitive tasks on a small part of a product, which leads to a sense of powerlessness and normlessness.
a tongue-in-cheek observation that the members of an organization are promoted for their accomplishments until they reach their level of incompetence; there they cease to be promoted, remaining at the level at which they can no longer do good work.
an organization replacing old goals with new ones; also known as goal replacement.
a group made up of people who voluntarily organize on the basis of some mutual interest; also known as voluntary memberships and voluntary organizations.
Iron law of oligarchy
Robert Michels' term for the tendency of formal organizations to be dominated by a small, self-perpetuating elite.
Humanizing a work setting
organizing a workplace in such a way that it develops rather than impedes human potential.
How did the rationalization of society come about?
The term rationalization of society refers to a transformation in people's thinking and behaviors - one that shifts the focus from following time-honored ways to being efficient in producing results. Max Weber, who developed this term, traced this change to Protestant theology, which he said brought about capitalism. Karl Marx attributed rationalization to capitalism itself.
What are formal organizations?
Formal organizations are secondary groups designed to achieve specific objectives. Their dominant form is the bureaucracy, which Weber said consists of a hierarchy, division of labor, written rules and communications, and impersonality and replace-ability of positions - characteristics that make bureaucracies efficient and enduring.
What dysfunctions are associated with bureaucracies?
The dysfunctions of bureaucracies include alienation, red tape, lack of communication between units, goal displacement, and incompetence (as seen in the Peter principle). In Weber's view, the impersonality of bureaucracies tends to produce alienation among workers - the feeling that no one cares about them and that they do not really fit in. Marx's view of alienation is somewhat different - workers do not identify with the product of their labor because they participate in only a small part of the production process.
What are the functions of voluntary associations?
Voluntary associations are groups made up of volunteers who organize on the basis of common interests. These associations promote mutual interests, provide a sense of identity and purpose, help to govern and maintain order, mediate between the government and the individual, give training in organizational skills, help provide access to political power, and pave the way for social change.
What is "the iron law of oligarchy"?
Sociologists Robert Michels noted that formal organizations have a tendency to become controlled by an inner circle that limits leaderships to its own members. The dominance of a formal organization by an elite that keeps itself in power is called the iron law of oligarchy.
How does the corporate culture affect worker?
Within corporate culture are values and stereotypes that are not readily visible. Often, self-fulfilling stereotypes are at work: People who match a corporation's hidden values tend to be put on career tracks that enhance their chance of success, while those who do not match those values are set on a course that minimizes their performance.
What does it mean to humanize the work setting?
Humanizing a work setting means to organize it in a way that it develops rather than impedes human potential. Among the attempts to make bureaucracies more humane are work teams and corporate day care. Employee stock ownership plans give workers a greater stake in the outcomes of their work organizations, but they do not prevent worker-management conflict. Conflict theorists see attempt to humanize work as a way of manipulating workers.
What is the maximum security society?
It is the use of computers and surveillance devices to monitor people, especially in the workplace. This technology is being extended to monitoring our everyday lives.
How do bureaucracies fit into the global competition?
Of the corporations now in global competition, only the most efficient will survive. That a corporation knows how to apply lessons in efficiency to others does not mean that it knows how to apply them to itself.
a group's usual and customary social arrangements, on which its members depend and on which they base their lives.
an expression of disapproval for breaking a norm, ranging from a mild, informal reaction such as a frown to a formal reaction such as a prison sentence or an execution.
a reward or positive reaction for following norms, ranging from a smile to a material award.
the view that a personality disturbance of some sort causes and individual to violate social norms.
Edwin Sutherland's term to indicate that people who associate with some groups learn an "excess of definitions" of deviance, increasing the likelihood that they will become deviant.
the idea that two control systems - inner controls and outer controls - work against our tendencies to deviate.
a term coined by Harold Garfinkel to refer to a ritual whose goal is to reshape someones's self by stripping away that individual's self-identity and stamping a new identity in its place.
the view that the label people are given affect their own and others' perceptions of them, thus channeling their behavior into either deviance or conformity.
Techniques of neutralization
way of thinking or rationalizing that help people deflect (or neutralize) society's norms.
the objectives held out as legitimate or desirable for the members of a society to achieve.
Robert Merton's term for the strain engendered when a society socializes large numbers of people to desire a cultural goal (such as success), but withholds from some of the approved means of reaching that goal; one adaptation to the strain is crime, the choice of an innovative means (one outside approved system) to attain the cultural goals.
Illegitimate opportunity structure
opportunities for crimes that are woven into the texture of life.
Edwin Sutherland's term for crimes committed by people of respectable and high social status in the course of their occupations; for example, bribery of public officials, securities violations, embezzlement, false advertising, and price fixing.
Criminal justice system
the system of police, courts, and prisons set up to deal with people who are accused of having committed a crime.
a crime that is punished more severely because it is motivated by hatred (dislike, hostility, animosity) of someone's race -ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.
the practice of the police, in the normal course of their duties, to either arrest or ticket someone for an offense or to overlook the matter.
Medicalization of deviance
to make deviance a medical matter, a symptom of some underlying illness that needs to be treated by physicians.
What is Deviance?
Deviance (the violation of norms) is relative. What people consider deviant varies from one culture to another and from group to group within the same society. As symbolic interactionists stress, it is not the act, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant. All groups develop systems of social control to punish deviants - those who violate their norms.
How do sociological and individualistic explanations of deviance differ?
To explain why people deviate, sociobiologists and psychologists look for reasons within the individual, such as genetic predispositions or personality disorders. Sociologists, in contrast, look for explanations outside the individual, in social experiences.
How do symbolic interactionists explain deviance?
Symbolic interactionists have developed several theories to explain deviance such as crime (the violation of norms that are written into law). According to differential association theory, people learn to deviate by associating with others. According to control theory, each of us is propelled toward deviance, but most of us conform because of an effective system of inner and outer controls. People who have less effective controls deviate. Labelling theory focuses on how labels (names, reputations) help to funnel people into or divert them away from deviance. People who commit deviant acts often use techniques of neutralization to deflect social norms.
How do functionalists explain deviance?
Functionalists point out that deviance, including criminal acts, is functional for society. Functions include affirming norms and promoting social unity and social change. According to strain theory, societies socialize their members into desiring cultural goals. Many people are unable to achieve these goals in socially acceptable ways - that is, by institutionalized means. Deviants, then, are people who either give up on the goals or use disapproved means to attain them. Merton identified five types of responses to cultural goals and institutionalized means: conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Illegitimate opportunity theory stresses that some people have easier access to illegal means of achieving goals.
How do conflict theorists explain deviance?
Conflict theorists take the position that the group in power imposes its definitions of deviance on other groups. From this perspective, the law is an instrument of oppression used by the powerful to maintain their position of privilege. The ruling class uses the criminal justice system to punish the crimes of the poor while diverting its own criminal activities away from the punitive system.
What are common reactions to deviance in the United States?
In following a "get-tough" policy, the United States has imprisoned millions of people. African Americans and Latinos make up a disproportionate percentage of U.S. prisoners. The death penalty shows biases by geography, social class, gender, and race-ethnicity. In line with conflict theory, as groups gain political power, their views are reflected in the criminal code. Hate crime legislation was considered in this context.
Are official statistics on crime reliable?
The conclusion of both symbolic interactionists (that the police operate with a large measure of discretion) and conflict theorists (that a power elite controls the legal system) indicate that we must be cautious when using crime statistics.
What is the medicalization of deviance?
The medical profession has attempted to medicalize many forms of deviance, claiming that they represent mental illness. Thomas Szasz disagrees, asserting that they are problem behaviors, not mental illnesses. The situation of homeless people indicates that problems in living can lead to bizarre behavior and thinking.
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