THE FIRST EXAM IS ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2016
Learning Objectives: These are the main points that we covered in lectures. Anything highlighted is worth studying closer. I will cover these indepth.
1) Identify major social changes since the 1880s studied by sociologists.
2) Explain why sociologists today focus on trends in globalization and consumption. 3) Describe what we mean by the McDonaldization of society.
4) Explain sociology’s approach to studying life, including the sociological imagination and examining the relationship between private troubles and public issues.
5) Differentiate between sociology’s two possible purposes: science and social reform. 6) Evaluate the ways in which sociological knowledge differs from common sense. Chapter 2
1) Define what theories are and explain why they are important in understanding social phenomena.
2) Identify the most important classical sociologists, particularly Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and their major contributions to the field.
3) Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of structural/functional, conflict/critical, and inter/actionist theories.
4) Describe the scientific method.
5) Describe the various methods of sociological research and the types of questions each one can help us answer.
6) Describe how sociologists engage in secondary data analysis.
7) Identify the key issues in social research, including reliability, validity, trust, legality, and objectivity.
1) Define culture.
2) Identify the basic elements of culture, including values and norms.
3) Discuss diversity within cultures, including the concepts of ideal and real culture, subcultures and countercultures, culture wars, and assimilation. If you want to learn more check out Carrying Capacity refers to what?
4) Describe emerging issues in culture, such as global and consumer culture.
∙ Sociology – the systematic study of the ways in which people are affected by and affect the social structures and processes that are associated with the groups, organizations, cultures, societies, and world in which they live.
∙ Society – the complex pattern of social relationships that is bounded in space and persists over time.
∙ Globalization – the increasingly fluid global flows, and the structures that expedite and impede those flows. For example, think about how social media connects the world today.
∙ Consumption – the process by which people obtain and utilize goods and services. ∙ McDonaldization – the process by which the rational principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of society and more societies around the world.
∙ Social imagination – to stand outside yourself in order to look at society as a whole. ∙ Social structures – the enduring and regular social arrangements, such as family and the state.
∙ Social processes – the dynamic and everchanging aspects of the social world. ∙ Theory – a set of related ideas that have applications. We also discuss several other topics like What is sexploitation?
∙ Intersectionality – the intersection of various social statuses and the inequality and oppression associated with each in combination with others.
∙ Mass culture – cultural elements that are administered by large organizations, lack spontaneity, and are phony.
∙ Symbolic interactionism – focuses on the role of symbols and how their meanings are shared and understood by those involved in the interaction.
∙ Culture – the ideas, values, practices, and material objects that allow a group of people, even an entire society, to carry out the collective lives.
∙ Values – the general and abstract standards defining what a group or society as a whole considers good, desirable, right, or important.
∙ Norms – the informal rules that guide what people do and how they live. They tell us what we should and should not do in a given situation.
∙ Laws – norms that have been written down and formally enforced through institutions such as the state.
∙ Sanctions – how norms are reinforced. (Can be positive or negative consequences.) ∙ Folkways – relatively unimportant norms.
∙ Mores – more important norms whose violation is likely to be met with severe negative sanctions.
∙ Material culture – all of the material objects that are reflections or manifestations of a
∙ Symbolic culture – the nonmaterial, intangible aspects of culture.
I would suggest
cards to help
∙ Language – a set of meaningful symbols that enables communication. ∙ Ideal culture – what the norms and values of society lead us to think people should believe and do. If you want to learn more check out What are the specific heat and heat of vaporization of water?
∙ Real culture – what people actually think and do.
∙ Subcultures – groups of people who accept much of the dominant culture but are set apart from it by one or more culturally significant characteristics.
∙ Countercultures – groups that not only differ from the dominant culture but also adhere to norms and values that may be incompatible with those of the dominant culture. ∙ Culture wars – a conflict pitting a subculture or counterculture against the dominant culture, or a conflict between dominant groups within a society.
∙ Assimilation – integrating minority groups into the mainstream.
∙ Consumer culture – the fact that consumption is a primary source of meaning in American life.
It’s pretty obvious that society changes as time goes on. The social world is continually changing – this is what sociology studies. Here are specific examples:
∙ Industrial Revolution Don't forget about the age old question of Which is the brightest star?
∙ Postindustrial Age
∙ Information Age
∙ Sharing Economy
More recently, we have changes such as globalization, consumption, and technology.
Globalization (see definition above)
Basically, globalization is the interaction of companies and governments in nations throughout the world. For example, think about how the United Nations (UN) and Google interacts with people all over the world. Another example is people moving from one country to another. These are all examples of globalization. Globalization has positive aspects, such as easier access to goods or information, as well as negative aspects, such as disease and sex trafficking.
Consumption (see definition above)
This is a fairly easy concept to understand. Many people suggest that we live in a society driven by consumption. Not only is consumption important for our economy, it is important to our culture as well. For example, think about the iPhone – everyone scrambles to get the latest
version as soon as it comes out. We as a society are driven by the need to get instant gratification. In other words, when we want something, we want it immediately.
McDonaldization (see definition above)
This theory is made possible by the assembly line. It is efficient and reduces cost and creates standardization among products. McDonaldization has four characteristics:
∙ Efficiency – the use of the quickest and least costly means to whatever end is desired ∙ Calculability – quantity over quality; large food portions and low prices ∙ Predictability – a fastfood chain is nearly identical from one geographic setting to another (even globally) If you want to learn more check out What is personal racism?
∙ Control – technology exerts control over people, processes, and products
Sociological Imagination (see definition above)
A certain degree of imagination is needed to study the social world. This can give the researcher a distinctive sociological way of looking at data, rather than a personal view that reflects the world around them. In other words, sociologists need to be objective and stop thinking about their day to day lives and focus on society as a whole.
Private Troubles and Social Issues
Think about drug addiction or alcoholism. It is seen as a personal problem because it is the individual that struggles with the addiction. However, as it becomes more common in the public and more awareness is brought up, it becomes a public issue.
Within this category lies the Micro/Macro Relationship. For example, think about gangs. They are present locally and cause problems, which is the micro aspect. However, they could also be related to larger cartels and potentially start gang wars, meaning it moves from a small scale to a large scale event, which is the macro aspect. In simple terms, micro is small scale, and macro is large scale.
Additionally, you need to understand the Agency/Structure Relationship. For this one, think about fashion. You independently choose the outfit you wear each day, meaning you have the ability to make a choice, which is the agency aspect. (Agency simply means that you have the power and capacity for creativity.) However, the clothes you choose to wear are influenced by others around you. In other words, we are often peer pressured into buying certain brands without necessarily realizing it, which is the structure aspect.Don't forget about the age old question of What is a beginner's mind in sociology?
Sociology’s Purpose: Science and Social Reform
Auguste Comte coined the term sociology, and also created the field of sociology. Comte wanted to uncover the laws that rules the social world, but also wanted to change the problems his society faced by social reform. He felt that there should be no separation between science and reform. Many sociologists today share his ideas and study social problems and use scientific methods to gather data, while others are interested in social reforms and seldom do scientific research.
Theories (see definition above)
Theories are important in understanding society because they continue to be applicable throughout time. Without theories, we would not be able to make sense of many social phenomena. However, they are not only useful in understand society, but they can also be applied to things such as the economy and religion.
Marx’s theory was capitalism. Capitalism is a system in which people privately own the means of production and other people sell their labor. In this theory, the people who privately own the means of production are called capitalists, and the people who sell their labor are called proletariats. A defining aspect of capitalism is the idea of exploitation. Exploitation is the idea that the people who produce everything only get a small portion of the income from the sales of the products, while the people who own the means of production do little work and keep most of the rewards. Another defining aspect of capitalism is that the workers are alienated. Alienation occurs when what defines people as humans (like the ability to think, be creative, and interact with others, for example) is denied.
Weber’s theory was rationalization. Rationalization is the process by which social structures are increasingly characterized by the most direct and efficient means to their ends. He felt that rationalization was an “iron cage” which trapped people in the process of capitalism.
Durkheim’s theory was organic solidarity. Organic solidarity is the idea that the division of labor brings people closer together. In other words, we all need each other economically. This theory was based around social facts, or social structures and cultural norms and values that impose themselves on people. The most important social fact is the collective conscious, or the set of
beliefs shared by people throughout society. He also believed that anomie, the feeling that you do not know what is expected of you or the feeling that you are adrift in society, is the main reason why many people commit suicide.
DuBois’s theory was double consciousness. Double consciousness is the idea that there are two yous – the way you see yourself and the way others see you. This was created primarily for African Americans. DuBois wanted to “lift the veil of race” and allow whites to see African Americans as any other human, as well as show African Americans that they could see themselves in a different way other than the view that whites had imposed on them.
Structural/Functionalism, Conflict/Critical, and Inter/Actionist Theories
Structuralfunctionalism theory focuses on social structures as well as the functions that such structure perform. This idea was influenced by Durkheim’s ideas. Basically, they thought that if certain structures exist and are functional, then they ought to be kept.
Structuralism theory focuses on structures but is not concerned with their functions. Therefore, it is more interested in the social impacts of hidden structures.
Conflict theory focuses on society’s negative aspects. Sociologists interested in this theory were interested in the potential for conflict between those in positions of authority and those who are subordinate. (STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT)
Critical theory focuses on culture, and how it controls society. They were interested in mass culture, which is characterized by falseness and repressiveness.
Inter/Actionist theories focus on the micro level of individuals.
∙ Symbolic interactionism is concerned with the interaction of two or more people through the use of symbols.
∙ Ethnomethodology focuses on what people do rather than what they think. ∙ Exchange theory focuses on social behavior that involves two or more people and a variety of tangible and intangible exchanges.
∙ Rational choice theory focuses on the idea that people are rational and that they have goals and intend to do certain things.
There are 6 steps in the scientific method:
1. Ask a question
2. Perform necessary research
3. For a hypothesis
4. Choose the method you want to use to collect data
5. Collect data
6. Analyze the data gathered
Methods of Sociological Research
Qualitative Research – involves studies done in natural settings that produce descriptive information about the social world
Quantitative Research – involves the analysis of numerical data derived from surveys and experiments to better understand empirical social realities.
Observational Research – involves systematically watching, listening to, and recording what takes place in a natural social setting. These can be participant, in which the researcher actually plays a role in the group or setting being observed, or nonparticipant observational research, in which the sociologist plays little or no role in what is being observed.
Ethnography – involves the creation of a detailed account of what a group of people do and the way they live
Netnography – involves accounts of what transpires online, particularly on social networking sites
Interviews – researchers seek information from participants by asking a series of questions
Surveys – involves the collection of information from a population through the use of interviews and questionnaires
Experiments – involves the manipulation of one or more characteristics to examine the effect of that manipulation
Key Issues in Social Research
Research must be reliable, meaning that a given question must produce the same results if repeated. Similarly, research must be valid, meaning that a given question needs to get an accurate response.
You should be able to trust that the standard of ethics was upheld during research. Ethics is concerned with issues of right and wrong, the choices that people make, and how they justify them. In other words, there should be no physical or psychological harm to the participants, and participants should not have to partake in any illegal acts. However, researchers must also be careful not to get caught up in illegal acts if they are performing participant observational research.
There should be no violation of trust between the researchers and participants in any way. That is, the researcher should not exploit the participants, or develop inappropriate relationships with participants.
Finally, researchers must remain objective in their research. They cannot allow their personal judgements bias their results.