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Chapters 1-2 Alcocer


-The scientific study of human social life, groups, and societies, giving particular emphasis to analysis of the industrialized world.
-A wide range of studies: from the social connections with one another in interactions, to the investigation of global social processes.

Sociological Imagination

-The application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions.
-Someone using the this must "take himself away" from the familiar routines of daily life and look at them anew.

C. Wright Mills

Invented the phrase known as the "sociological imagination"


Society is shaped by our individual actions, and in return our individual actions are shaped by society.

What 2 historical events were the backdrop for the development of sociology?

The French Revolution of 1789 and the Industrial Revolution in Europe.

Aguste Comte

-"Father of Sociology"
-Coined the term "Sociology"
-Believed that a knowledge of sociology could be provided scientifically
-Said sociology should contribute to the welfare of humanity by using science to understand, predict, and control human behavior.

Emile Durkheim

-Sociology must study "social facts:" aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals, such as the economy or religion
-Analogy of human body: society was made up of interdependent parts that worked to make up a whole
-"organic solidarity"
-"social constraint"
-studied suicide and anomie

Organic solidarity

-Emile Durkheim
-Social unity that results from the various parts of a society functioning as an integrated whole
-Interdependent social parts work together for social harmony

Social Constraints

-Emile Durkheim
-The influence/restrictions on our individual behavior that is presented by society


-Emile Durkeim
-A situation in which social norma lose their hold over an individual's behavior

Karl Marx

-German philosopher; ideas sharply contrasted Durkheim and Comte.
-Materialist conception of history: economic roles have a prime part in determining historical social change--not values, culture, or ideas.
-Conflict between social classes provide motivation for historical development


-Said by Karl Marx to be the reason behind historical development
-An economic system based on the private ownership of wealth, which is invested and reinvested in order to produce profit
-A class system in which conflict between classes is a common occurrence

Max Weber

-Sought to understand social change
-Disagreed with Marx: said ideas, culture, and values did play a part in social change, as well as economic factors
-Said religion in the West influenced the rise of capitalism, not just the economy


-Max Weber
A large organization that is divided into jobs based on specific functions and staffed by officials ranked according to a hierarchy. (industrial firms, government organizations, hospitals, schools)

Harriet Martineau

Argued that one studying sociology must focus on ALL of its aspects: political, religious, social institutions.
-an analysis of a society must include the understanding of women's lives
-analyzed ignored subjects such as marriage, children, domestic and religious life

W.E.B Du Bois

"Double Consciousness:" A way of talking about identity through the lends of the particular experiences of African Americans
-Argued that American society only lets African Americans see themselves only through the eyes of others

Symbolic Interaction Theory

-George Herbert Mead
-Study of language
-The idea that all interactions between individuals involve in exchange of symbols
-Symbolic thought frees us from being limited in our experience to what we actually see, hear, or feel.

Functionalism Theory

-Comte and Durkheim
-social events can best be explained in terms of the functions they perform
-analogy of human body: each part of the body relates and works with another, and contributes to the body as a whole
-Focuses on the function of each aspect in society, and how they relate to eachother: religion, ideas, values, economy, etc
-Order and balance: the normal state of a society
-Moral consensus

Moral Consensus

When most people in a society share the same value
-part of the Functionalist Approach theory

Marxism and Class Conflict Theory

-Theory derived from the writings of Karl Marx:
-Emphasis on class divisions, power, and ideology


-Key element of the Marxism theory
- the ability of individuals or the members of a group to achieve aims or further interests they hold
-a pervasive element in all human relationships


-Key element in the Marxism theory
-Shared ideas or beliefs that serve to justify the interests of dominant groups
-found in all societies in which there are systematic and ingrained inequalities between groups
-Idealogical systems serve to legitimize the power that groups hold

Feminism and Feminist Theory

-One of the most prominent areas of contemporary sociology
-women's lives and experiences are central to the study of sociology
-gender relations and gender inequality are important determinants of social life: both in terms of social interaction and institutions
-focus on institutions such as: family, workplace, educational system
-gender differences are natural, but also socially constructed

Postmodern Theory

-The believe that society is no longer governed by history or progress
-Highly pluralistic and diverse: no "grand-narrative" guiding its development
-The world is dominated by the new media, which "takes us out" of our past.
-French philosopher Jean Buadrillard: said electronic media has destroyed our past and created a chaotic, empty world


The study of human behavior in contexts of face-to-face interactions


The study of large-scale groups, organizations, or social systems


The use of systematic methods of empirical investigation, the analysis of data, and the logical assessment of arguments to develop a body of knowledge about a particular subject matter.

Empirical investigation

Factual inquiry carried our in any area of sociological study

What 4 kinds of questions do sociologists ask?

1. Factual
2. Comparable
3. Developmental
4. Theoretical

Factual questions

Questions that raise issues concerning matters of fact, rather than theoretical or moral issues. Collecting data: "What happened?"

Comparative questions

Relating one social context to another, within one society or between different societies: "Did this happen everywhere?"

Developmental questions

Comparing society's past and present: "Has this happened over time?"

Theoretical questions

Interpreting what the facts mean. Seeking to explain a particular range of observed events. "What underlays this phenomenon?"

The 7 steps of the research process

1. Define the research problem
2. Review the evidence
3. Form a hypothesis
4. Select a research design
5. Carry out the research
6. Interpret results
7. Report the research findings

The 3 main research methods used by sociologists:

1. Ethnography
2. Sampling/Survey
3. Experiments


The firsthand study of people using participant observation or viewing


Rules of conduct that specify appropriate behavior in a given range of social situations.
-Prescribes behavior or forbids it


ideas held by individuals or by groups about what is desirable, good, or bad. Strongly influenced by the culture in which they happen to live.

Material goods

the physical objects that a society creates; these influence the ways in which people live.

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