Sociology Ch. 1-4 Notes
Sociology Ch. 1-4 Notes Soci 20213
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Date Created: 02/03/16
Sociology Chapters 1-4 Chapter 1: Introduction Sociology: a social science that attempts to discern patterns & make generalizations about human behavior Sociologists analyze how social factors influence our personal lives Sociology is a science: o Science – aims to be objective, value-neutral, based on research o Commonsense – often biased, value-laden, inaccurate Goals of Sociology: Goal #1: Debunk social myths & identify false beliefs Stereotypes: rigid, oversimplified, generalizations about a group Women tend to be less happy in their marriages than men and are more likely than men to see problems in their marriages Women are more likely to initiate divorce Once married, men are more likely than once married women to say that they want to marry again Goal #2: Try to make explicit all implicit rules that govern social behavior Example: norms about eye contact Goal #3: study importance of group membership & people’s “social locations”, how do “social locations” affect people’s life experiences & opportunities Example: race, gender, class, culture, religion & how these things affect the way you experience the world Goal #4: identify social trends & rates Goal #5: study consequences of laws & policies, including their unintended consequences Sociology Compared To Other Subjects: Sociology vs. Anthropology o Studying modern society and cultural aspects vs. studying humankind from its very beginning to today and comparing multiple cultures Sociology vs. Political Science o Has wider scope vs. studying the political activities of humans, both use same methods of observation, interview, surveys, etc. Sociology vs. Psychology o Analyzes group behavior/patterns vs. studies behavior of individuals in society by exploring psychological/mental processes Sociology vs. Economies o Has wider scope & assumes humans are motivated by selfishness, altruism & irrationality vs. studies the economic activities of humans & assumes people are rational utility maximizers Sociological imagination (C. Wright Mills) o Ability to see that individuals’ values, attitudes, & behaviors are shaped by social forces, including culture & history o Personal troubles linked to public issues Major Theoretical Paradigms: Models or frameworks for understanding society (photo metaphor of blind men & elephant) Functionalist Paradigm: Sees society as essentially harmonious (conservative) Believe there is consensus about what norms & values are important Examines how the “parts” of society are functional/dysfunctional View society as whole unit, made up of integrated parts that work together Perspective on family: traditional, mom & dad, nuclear familiy Idea that how things currently are is the right way they should be (nuclear families) Prominent theorist: Emile Durkheim: considered a “father figure” of modern sociology Conflict Paradigm: Examines groups’ struggle for scarce resources Does not believe that people are in a state of consensus Considers how elites use their power to control less powerful groups See the continuous struggle between people, haves & have-nots, powerful & workers Usual Level of Analysis: Macrosociological Prominent theorist: Karl Marx (another “father” figure), C. Wright Mills Perspective on family: gender inequalities & housework Popularity grew in the 60s, still exists today Criticized for oversimplifying class relations & ignoring other conflicts (race, gender, sexuality) Like functionalism, it mostly ignores the micro level Symbolic Interactionism Paradigm: Examines how people use symbols to establish meaning, make sense of the world, and communicate Concerned with face-to-face interaction Considers how people see & evaluate reality Symbols: things to which we attach meaning, define our relationships, tell us how to interact with others Usual level of analysis: Microsociological Prominent theorist: George Herbert Mead (part of early American sociology tradition) Perspective on family: focused on individual things It remains very popular today Microsociology: seeks to understand local interactional contexts, methods are ethnographic, which includes participant observation and detailed interviews Macrosociology: concerned with social dynamics at a higher level of analysis, across society Chapter 2: Methods Simple important concepts: validity, reliability, generalization Quantitative methods: methods that seek to obtain information about the social work in numeric form, experiments & surveys o Pros: broad but shallow investigation, more generalizable, tends to be easier to replicate findings o Cons: difficult to probe answers, oversimplifies complex relationships, difficult to make questions completely inclusive Qualitative methods: methods try to collect information about social world not numeric, observation/ethnography & in-depth interviews o Pros: collects information that cannot easily be measured by numbers, info can be documented to describe mechanisms by which social processes occur o Cons: more open to subjectivity of researcher, can be very time consuming, can be harder to generalize, harder to test cause/effect Objectivity vs. Subjectivity o Objective: you are able to observe without being influenced by your personal standpoint o Subjective: your observations are influenced by your personal standpoint Deductive approach: starts with a theory, then hypothesis, observations and an analysis to either confirm, reject, or modify the theory (more scientific) Inductive approach: starts with observations then works to form a theory Casualty: the change in one factor that causes a change in another Reflexivity: analyzing & critically considering our own role in, and effect on, our research Surveys: ordered series of questions to receive information from respondents Content analysis: systematic analysis of content (rather than structure of a communication like a speech or film) Experimental methods: seek to alter a specific social landscape for a sample of individuals then track results in comparison to a control group Chapter 3: Culture & Media Culture: sum of the social categories & concepts we recognize in addition to our beliefs, behaviors & practices (basically, everything but nature) Culture shock: disorientation people experience when they come in contact with a fundamentally different culture, they can no longer rely on taken-for- granted assumptions about life Ethnocentrism: belief that one’s culture or group is superior to others, the tendency to view all other cultures from the perspective of one’s own Cultural relativism: the idea that other people and their ways of doing things can be understood only in terms of their own cultural context, emphasis is on not passing judgment or assigning value Material culture: everything that is part of our constructed, physical environment, including technology Nonmaterial culture: o Values: moral beliefs, general/abstract ideas about what is good & desirable in a society o Ideas/beliefs: people’s views on what is real or what is factual o Ideology: system of ideas about human life or culture (like a worldview) o Symbol: anything that represents something else to more than one person (ex. Confederate flag) o Language: organized set of symbols used to communicate (spoken, written, or gestures), there is no correct accent o Ex: Cultural scripts: rules that tell us what our behavior should look like, models of behavior/understanding that aren’t universal or natural (ex. shape our notions of gender) Subculture: distinct cultural values & behavioral patterns of a particular group in society Norms: values put into play Socialization: our internalization of society’s values, beliefs & norms Reflection theory: culture is a projection of social structures & relationships into the public space Media: any formats or vehicles that carry, present or communicate information Hegemony: historical process where a dominant group exercises moral & intellectual leadership throughout society by winning voluntary consent of masses Consumerism: belief that happiness & fulfillment can be achieved through acquiring material possessions Culture jamming: turning media against themselves Chapter 4: Media People create media The media shapes the culture in which people live The media reflects culture Individuals/groups use media to shape, redefine & change culture Hegemony: when a dominant group uses its power to get others (the masses) to go along with them by making it seem like the status quo is best or “natural” o Ex. What shows are aired? What shoes are cancelled? What news stories are given attention? 6 major companies own more than 90% of the media (Disney, CBS, Time Warner etc.) Children are currently some of the main targets of advertising. Some researchers argue many children now tie their self worth to material goods Why do we behave a certain way? o Nature o Nurture o Agency Socialization: (nurture) learning how to become a functioning member of society, internalize the values, beliefs, and norms of a society (ex. gender socialization) Who socializes us? o Media o Family o Peers o Schools o Religion Resocialization: learning new attitudes or norms required for a new social role o Total institutions control all the basics of day-to-day life (sleep, eat, play study), could be boarding school, prison, military Symbolic interaction: we interact with others using words & behaviors that have symbolic meanings o The “self” emerges from social interactions… we interact with others and perceive how others view us through these interactions o Begins in childhood o We see ourselves in relationship to others Dramaturgical theory: social life as a performance depending on setting (class vs. parties), created by Erving Goffman (not on test) Status Set: all the statuses you have at any given time o Examples: wife, teacher, mother, researcher, sister o Within each status there are multiple additional roles (as teacher, roles are teacher role & colleague role) Role strain: single status, different roles Role conflict: different statuses, different roles, tension from competing demands and expectations Beyonce is a singer, performer, mother, wife, black woman etc. Gender roles: behavioral norms assumed to accompany someone’s status as male or female Ascribed Status: you are born into status Achieved Status: you earn your status Beginning of Ch. 6 (also on test) Social Groups: o Clusters of people with whom we interact in our daily lives o 2 or more people who identify with one another o Groups contain people with shared experiences, loyalties & interests o Not every collection of individuals forms a group o The right circumstances can turn a crowd of people into a group How does group size affect how we behave? Examples: Dyad/triad Dyad: a group of two Triad: a group of three
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