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Scientific study of human groups and social behavior


-the objective and value-free observation, comparison, and experimentation applied to scientific inquiry
-scientifically-based sociological research that uses scientific tools such as survey, sampling, objective measurement, and cultural and historical analysis to study and understand society

August Comte

Started sociology
Used Positivism
Worked in response to the French Revolution
sociology", "religion of humanity" and "altruism"

Harriet Martineau

Translated August Comte's work
Exposed unfair social practices in the U.S. that led to class distinction
"How to observe manners and morals"

The Industrial Revolution

transformed the way society was. large to small families, farms to factories, die young to die old, etc.

Adam Smith

"Father of modern Economics"
Wrote the Wealth Of nations
associated with "laissez faire" and "division of labour"
People learn human behavior through society
Symbolic Interactionism-the ability to follow societies rules

Karl Marx

Communist, economist
Poor exploited by wealthy elite
Capitalism would come to an end
Wrote the communist manifesto

Herbert Spencer

English philosopher, sociologist
Survival of the fittest in society(Charles Darwin)
Wealthy were the fittest so they prospered-better for society

Emile Durkheim

Talked about social facts and suicide
"collective conscience" "anomie"
said science can't describe individuals only types

Social Facts

every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations
-are social processes rooted in society rather than in the individual

Social Integration

The degree to which people are connected to social groups


is a state of relative normlessness that comes from the disintegration of our routines and regulations ex:moving to a large city

Altruistic suicide

when the needs of the society are greater than the individual.
Ex: soldiers who die for comrades

Egoistic suicide

a loner type of suicide caused by under involvement in groups and society

Anomic suicide

when people are under regulated by familiar norms
Ex: 9-11 terrorist attacks or economic recession that changes norms

Fatilistic suicide

when people are over regulated or over constrained
Ex: prisoners of war, inmates, refugees

Jane Addams

-early female social reformer
-political activist that fought for women's and racial rights/equality
-Hull house in Chicago that helped those in need
-problems caused by imbalance of social classes
-only sociologist and first female to win nobel peace prize
-role model for women

George Herbert Mead

-social psychology and philosophy
-human beings began understanding of social world through "play" and "game" as a child
-human self arises in the process of social interaction, especially by way of linguistic communication (symbolic interaction).

Max Weber

-German sociologist and political economist, who
profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself
-"The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism."
-talked about religion and bureaucracy

Charles Horton Cooley

-sociological perspective of small groups (families, gangs)
-concepts of looking glass self and primary Vs. secondary groups

W.E.B Dubois

-first black sociologist
-civil rights activist, race research
-first black student to graduate Harvard
-said race issue was a problem of ignorance

Talcott Parsons

-Functional Theorist who did extensive work on Systems Theory

Robert K. Merton

-influential sociologist of 20th century
-self fulfilling prophecy
-theories of deviant behavior

Erving Goffman

-"The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life."
-explores the details of individual identity, group relations, the impact of environment, and the movement and interactive meaning of information
-Interaction is viewed as a performance, shaped by environment and audience, constructed to provide others with impressions that are consonant with the desired goals of the actor.
-We act differently in different settings

C. Wright Mills

saw our personal challenged as "troubles" and larger social challenges as "issues"
-"neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both."

sociological imagination

making the connection between personal challenges and larger social issues

false social consciousness

an ignorance of social facts and the larger social picture.

Personal troubles

are private problems experienced within the character of the individual and the range of their immediate relation to others

social issues

are those that lie beyond one's personal control and the range of one's inner life

Personal things that can lead to divorce

teens who marry, marrying in college. marrying while pregnant. poor, high personal debt, falling out of love, not proactively maintaining your marital relationship; marrying someone who has little in common with you; infidelity; remaining mentally "on the marriage market...waiting for someone better to come along;" having parents who are divorced; and neither preparing for, nor managing the stresses that come with, raising children.

Larger social factors that have led to divorce

when soldiers return from wars, bad economic times, more single women, urban areas, western U.S., among poor less educated

The difference between sex and gender

sex is biological gender is cultural. Gender is what culture and society make of the sexed body.

Judith Butler

philosopher that has contributed to feminism, gender theory and queer theory. Believes we perform our masculinity or femininity.


a set of interrelated concepts used to describe, explain, and predict how society and its parts are related to each other

Cummings and Henry Theory

As people get older and death is inevitable they start to withdraw from society, friends and family. Found to be false for old people in general but may be true for other groups.

macro theories

theories which best fit the study of massive numbers of people (typically Conflict and Functional theories)

micro theories

theories which best fit the study of small groups and their members (typically Symbolic Interactionism)

Conflict theory

claims that society is in a state of perpetual conflict and competition for limited resources.
-Started by Marx and then by Weber
-assumes that those who "have" perpetually try to increase their wealth at the expense and suffering of those who "have-not." It is a power struggle which is most often won by the wealthy elite and lost by the common person of common means. Those who "have" are those who possess power
Ex: The rich and poor neighborhoods right next to eachother
Characteristics:• Inequality lies at the core of society which leads to conflict
• Resources are limited
• Power is not evenly distributed
• Competition is inevitable (winners & losers)
• Negotiations based on influence, threats, promises, and consensus
• Threats and coercion
• Any resource can be used as tool of power or exploitation
• War is natural
• Haves and have nots
• Privileges are protected by haves
• Order is challenged by have nots


the ability to get what one wants even in the presence of opposition


is institutionalized, legitimate power


making something (for example a concept, a social role, particular values and norms, or modes of behavior) become embedded within an organization, social system, or society as an established custom or norm within that system .


wealthy elite are the royal, political, and corporate leaders. The "have" of conflict theory


common working class, lower class, and poor members of society. The "have not" of conflict theory

The Functionalist Theory

claims that society is in a state of balance and kept that way through the function of society's component parts
Ex: Homeless people after a tragedy are helped by Habitat for Humanity to try and reach equilibrium
Characteristics:• Uses biological model (society is like a living organism)
• Society has interrelated parts
• What are functions or dysfunctions of parts
• Society finds balance and is stable
• Equilibrium
• Society adjusts to maintain balance
• How are parts integrated
• Manifest functions
• Latent functions and dysfunctions


are breakdowns or disruptions in society and its parts that threaten social stability

Manifest functions

are the apparent and intended functions of institutions in society
Ex: government restoring the stock market through regulations

Latent functions

the less apparent, unintended, and often unrecognized functions in social institutions and processes
Ex: U.S. military bases providing jobs, taxes, tourism, and retail= economic boom


the state of balance maintained by social processes that help society adjust and compensate for forces that might tilt it onto a path of destruction.

Symbolic Interactionism

claims that society is composed of ever-present interactions among individuals who share symbols and their meanings
Ex: you understand your professor's expectations and how to step up to them.
Ex: understanding the way someone else sees a social symbol and reaching a common ground
Characteristics: • Society is an ongoing process of many social interactions
• Interactions based on symbolic context in which they occur
• Subjective perceptions are critical to how symbols are interpreted
• Communications
• Meanings
• Roles
• Self
• Reality shaping in self and with others
• Social construction of reality
• Thomas Theorem
• Definition of situation

Thomas Theorem

"Definition of the situation" if people perceive or define something as being real, then it becomes real in its
Ex: a government official believes he can get away with any behavior, so they take bribes
Ex: Rosa parks was just trying to get to work and her feet were tired. This simple symbol was a catalyst for a civil rights movement.


the set of practices that define a scientific discipline at a particular period of time. (Thomas Kuhn)
-what is to be observed and scrutinized
-kind of questions asked and probed for answers in relation to the subject
-how the questions are structured
-how the results of investigation should be interpreted

social statics

why societies remain the same

social dynamics

why societies change


the ability to study and observe without distortion or bias, especially personal bias


people who use their agency to make choices based on their varied motivations


means we are able to perceive it through one of the five senses of sight, taste, touch, hearing, or smell

Descriptive studies

answer the questions of who, what, where, and when
Example: characteristics of a happy marriage

Casual studies

are undertaken to determine how one variable affects another, how and why
Ex: how does presence of characteristics influence happiness and a happy marriage


the group you are interested in researching


subset of the population

probability samples

each member of the population has a known chance of being selected

non probability

members are selected from the population in some nonrandom manner

random sampling

each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected

convenience sampling

is used when you don't have a list of everyone in your population so you choose participants because they are convenient to you.

quantitative data

data that is, or can be converted to, numbers

qualitative data

data that can't be converted to numbers; data that is about the quality of something


the study must actually test what you intended to test


the ability to repeat findings of a research study


research instruments designed to obtain information from individuals who belong to a larger group, organization, or society


surveys which collect opinions

cross sectional and longitudinal

surveys administered once, surveys administered two or more times

response rate

the percentage of people who complete your survey


results from the sample can be assumed to apply to the population as though the population itself had been studied

valid survey questions

questions that are accurate and measure what they claim they'll measure

reliable questions

questions that are relatively free from bias errors which might taint the findings

open ended questions

questions designed to get respondents to answer in their own words Example: How would you feel about a CSUN lacrosse team?

closed ended questions

questions designed to get respondents to choose from a list of responses you provide to them
Ex: Are you married? (Yes or No)

LIkert scale questions

statements which respondents are asked to agree or disagree with
Ex: "How much do you agree that the president is doing a good job of running the country?" Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree

demographic questions

questions which provide the basic categorical information about respondents such as age, sex, race, educational level, marital status, etc

Nominal level data

data with no standard numerical values
Ex: What is your favorite type of pet? __Reptile __Canine __Feline __Bird __Other

Ordinal level data

categories with an order to them
Ex: what class level are you? - Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or senior

Interval Level data

categories with an order, but we add standard numerical values with regular intervals
Ex: measuring height with 8 inches in between each one (5 foot 3, 5 foot 11)

Ratio level data

adds a real zero starting point for the numerical values
Ex: The US overall has more females than males (97.1 males per 100 females).

variables and attributes

sex is the variable, male and female are attributes or choices.

Dependent variable

change in response to the influence of independent variables; they depend upon the independent variables
Ex: happiness in a marriage

Independent variables

are variables that when manipulated will stimulate a change upon the dependent variables
Ex: possession of characteristics of a happy marriage


the arithmetic score of all the numbers divided by the total number of students


the exact mid-point value in the ordered list of scores


the number which occurs most often

extreme values or outliers

the especially low or high number in the series
Ex: in 4, 5, 5, 8, it would be 8


are standards of what is right and wrong

Unobtrusive research

market research to field research

Field research

(i hope i got this right) Drug use
Observer- you are observing a drug deal
Observer as participant- you are buying drugs from the dealer
Participant as observer- you are the dealer dealing the drugs
Participant- you are doing the drugs

Quantitative methods

-empirical data from large groups
-data by closed ended surveys and questionnaires
-consistent statistics in colossal numbers

Qualitative methods

-collects data directly from participants, random and non random sampling
-in depth interviews and open ended surveys
-profound insight and comprehension- analytical results


-shared values, norms, symbols, language, objects, and way of life that is passed on from one generation to the next
-Your operating system
-"the good, bad and ugly"
-what we learn from our parents, family, friends, peers, and schools. It is shared rather than biologically determined


the tendency to judge others based on our own experiences and cultural standards

culture shock

the disoriented feeling which occurs in the context of being in a new culture

cultural relativism

the tendency to look for the cultural context in which differences in cultures occur. Respect and appreciate cultures if only from spectators point of view.


a broad generalization about individuals based solely on group affiliation


defined standards of what is good, bad, desirable, or undesirable for ourselves and others.


-shared expectations or rules of behavior
-what are normal in a given social circumstance
Ex: Nude beaches in France is a norm. Nude student at CSUN is not.


a traditional or customary norm governing everyday social behaviours but lack moral overtones.
Ex: how we eat, greetings, clothing, rules of politeness


deeply held, informal norms that are strictly enforced by a moral code.
Ex: a strongly held belief against sexual exploitation of women and children; respect for religious edifices; abstaining from using street drugs


are codified norms or written and recorded norms from which the behavior of society's members can be judged

prescriptive laws

laws that state what must be done
Ex: to set up a business and not get into trouble with the IRS

proscriptive laws

laws that state what is prohibited
Ex:murder, rape, steal

negative sanction

a punishment or negative reaction toward breaking codified norms (laws).
Ex: Jail, fines, penalties


a complex set of symbols which allow us to communicate verbally, nonverbally, and in written form.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

claims that when we learn a language, we also learn a framework for understanding and interpreting our social reality and environment.

mainstream culture

the culture shared by the dominant groups, coinciding with the culture shared in the main social institutions (government, education, religion, family, technology, media, and the economy)

sub culture

one in which groups which have different folkways, morés, and norms exist within but are not completely a part of the larger society
Ex: the Amish

counter culture

occurs when a group's values, norms, and beliefs are in conflict or opposition to those of the larger society and mainstream culture.
Ex: charles manson cult

cultural diffusion

when certain aspects of one culture are spread to another culture
Ex: salsa becoming popular in the U.S. from Spanish nations
Ex: clothing, music, cars. movies

cultural leveling

the process in which cultures of the world become similar
Ex: currently don't have a mainstream culture but oil could be one

Melting Pot Theory

an ideology which suggested that all the diverse people coming to the US as immigrants would blend biologically and culturally in order to form a new unique breed of "Americans." does NOT happen BS


the process by which immigrant people adjust and adapt their way of life to the host culture.


the process by which people from different cultures are acculturated and ultimately absorbed into the mainstream culture

forced assimilation

where those in power in the mainstream refuse to allow immigrants to maintain their various cultures

permissible assimilation

permits newcomers to adapt to the mainstream culture naturally.


the tendency for adult immigrants to be rendered powerless in comparison to native-born adults because they live as half citizens not fully capable of realizing the individual opportunities often found available to average native-born adults

cultural universals

certain aspects of cultures which are found among peoples of all cultures throughout the world
Ex:biological: breathing, eating, sleeping, drinking, having sex, and remaining safe
social: coming of age ceremonies, marriage, education


claims that human behavior is the result of natural selection

cultural lag

the process whereby one part of culture changes faster than another part to which it is related.

uncontacted tribe

a native tribe, typically a small group of people, living in a remote and isolated place, who have not yet had contact with members of a technologically advanced society.


a reaction to a behavior (positive, negative, formal, informal (gossip)


a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs

real norms

factual, how society really defines normal

ideal norms

what everyone would like the norms to be. The fantasy of normal.


a strong social prohibition (or ban) relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and forbidden based on moral judgment and religious beliefs


is close and often long-term interaction between different biological species

status in society

our relative social position within a group

role in society

the part our society expects us to play in a given status

cultural isolation

A subculture's relative lack of participation in, or communication with, the larger cultural system -- can be internally or externally imposed.
Ex: A group in High School sitting by themselves at lunch away from the main parts of school.

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