Chapter 1: The Sociological Perspective What is sociology?
- Sociology is the study of human behavior in society. What do sociologists do?
- Sociologists study people and how society has an effect on their behaviors
Sociology is a scientific way of thinking about society and its influence on human groups.
Sociological Perspective and Sociological Imagination - What is the sociological perspective?
o Ability to see the societal patterns that influence individual and group life.
- In 1959, C.W. Mills coined the term sociological imagination o Sociological imagination is the ability to connect the most basic, intimate aspects of an individual’s life to seemingly impersonal and remote historical factors Sociological Imagination is structured in 2 ways: ∙ Troubles privately felt problems from events
We also discuss several other topics like How does a nerve cell communicate with another nerve cell?
or feelings in one individual’s life
∙ Issues- events that affect large numbers of
people and have their origins in the
institutional arrangements and history of
The Sociological Perspective
- Discovering Unsettling Facts
o Sometimes what we believe to be true is not supported by research We also discuss several other topics like How are wavelength frequency and energy related to each other?
o Debunking refers to looking behind the facades of every day life
- Establishing Critical Distance
o Ability to detach from the situation and to view things critically
The Significance of Diversity
- Diversity refers to the variety of group experiences that result from the different factors that shape how society is organized.
We also discuss several other topics like How does moment-to-moment affect development?
o Diversity shapes the opportunities one has
o Diversity includes the study of different cultures This has become easier with technology
The Development of Sociological Theory
- In the 18th and 19th century, faith in the ability for mankind to solve its problems and survive is known as the Age of Enlightenment or Age of Reason.
- These early contributors set the stage for the birth of sociology
o Auguste Comte- “positivism”
Positivism is the belief that sociology could
discover laws of human social behavior and help
to solve societal problems.
o Harriet Martineau- participant observation
Classical Sociological Theory
- These three classical sociologists set the foundation for our current thinking and understanding of sociology
o Emile Durkheim: 1858-1917
Some of Durkheim’s major work focuses on the forces that hold society together
∙ He called this force social solidarity If you want to learn more check out Why is there no regular army?
He studied suicide and he found that people who did this had lower rates of social solidarity and We also discuss several other topics like What causes world war 2?
If you want to learn more check out What did socrates say about knowledge?
they had no sense of belonging. He called this
Durkheim viewed society as larger than the sum of its parts.
He saw society as an integrated whole with each part contributing to the stability of the system.
∙ This is the central theme of functionalism
∙ Social facts, which are external to the
individual, exercise constraints on individual
∙ Suigeneris: thing in itself
o Karl Marx: 1818-1883
He saw society as systematic and structural and class as a fundamental dimension of society that
shapes social behavior.
∙ Was devoted to explaining how capitalism, an economic system based on pursuing profit,
∙ Classes of capitalism
o Petty Bourgeoisie
o Discarded members of society
o Max Weber (“Vay-ber”): 1864-1920
Multidimensional analysis of society ‘
∙ Believed that sociologists must not protect their political ideas on their students and
should be value-free
o The German word verstehen refers to
understanding social behavior from
the point of view of those engaged in it.
∙ Social Action
o Behavior in which people give meaning
o Theoretical Frameworks
Sociologists use theory to organize their
observations and apply them to broad questions Macrosociology: interested in society as a whole Microsociology: Interested in face to face interaction
The main theoretical frameworks used by most sociologists are:
∙ Functionalism (Macro)
o Focuses on how each of society’s parts,
institutions and systems contribute to
the stability of the whole.
Manifest and latent functions
o Functionalists are concerned with the stability and shaped public values of the culture or the society.
o Inequity is a device by which societies ensure the most important positions are filled by the most qualified person.
o Intended function is going to college o Unintended function of college is
meeting your love in college
∙ Conflict Theory
o It emphasizes the role of coercion and power, a person or group’s ability to exercise influence and control over
others, in producing social order.
o Conflict theory emphasizes strife and revolution as an agent of social change o Society is comprised of groups that compete for social and economic
∙ Symbolic Interactionism
o It studies the ways groups of people, cultures and societies assign different meaning to behavior, events or things.
o These theorists emphasize face-to-face interaction and pay attention to words, gestures and symbols.
o Social order is constantly negotiated and created through the interpretations
people give to their behavior.
∙ Feminist Theory and Post Modernism o Feminist theory studies, analyzes and explains social phenomena from a
o Post modernism looks at means found in the words and images that people use to represent behavior and ideas
Postmodernists thing that images and text reveal the underlying
ways that people thing and act
Culture & the Media
Culture: is a learned set of beliefs, values, norms. And material goods shared by group members
- Culture includes ways of thinking as well as patterns of behavior - Observing culture involves studying what people think, how they interact, and the objects they use.
Material and Nonmaterial Culture
- Culture is both material and nonmaterial
o Material Culture consists of objects created in the society o Nonmaterial Culture consists of non-tangible things such as norms, laws, customs, values, beliefs and ideas of a group of people.
Characteristics of Culture
- Five universal aspects of culture that apply to all cultures everywhere o Culture:
Is taken for granted
Varies across time and space
Culture is Shared
- Culture is collectively experienced and agreed upon
o People within a given culture use shared symbols, language patterns, belief systems and ways of thinking.
o This is true even when there is great cultural diversity within the society.
Culture is Learned
- People in any culture learn the ways of their culture
o Learning a culture is often done through socialization
o Culture can also be learned indirectly through observation and imitation
Culture is taken for granted
- People engage unknowingly in hundreds of cultural practices every day; culture makes these practices seem “normal”
o We do what we do without stopping to ask “Why am I doing this?” It is just the way it is done.
Culture is Symbolic
- Symbols are things or behaviors to which people give meaning; the meaning is not inherent in a symbol but its bestowed by the meaning people give it.
Culture Varies Across Time & Place
- Culture develops as humans adapt to the physical and social environment around them.
o Solutions to everyday problems vary in different time periods.
o Culture is a mix of the past the present.
Example: the Nikolas because in Serbia it is Nikola but since it is already screwed up with the k just put an s on
the end to make it American.
Elements of Culture
- Every culture relied on these elements to provide its people with a way to live
- No culture can exist without them.
The Elements of Language
∙ Language: is a set of symbols and rules that, put together in a meaningful way, provide a complex communication system. ∙ The formation of culture among humans is made possible by language ∙ Language is fluid and dynamic and evolves in response to social change
∙ Language shapes culture
o Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
Language determines other aspects of culture because language provides the categories through which social
reality is defined
∙ The idea has met criticism, and contemporary linguists now believe in a two- way causality between language and culture.
o Each shape and influence the other.
Social Inequality in Language
∙ The names of various racial and ethnic groups impose an identity on individuals wihin those groups
∙ Some believe reclaiming offensive terms as positive within their own culture, cohesion and solidarity are created
∙ Reappropriation: a group of people making it okay to use a word only in their group but still offensive outside of that group of people o Ex.) the word queer
The Elements of Norms
∙ Norms: are the specific cultural expectations for how to behave in a given situation
∙ With norms in place, people know how to act, and social interactions are consistent, predictable, and learnable
∙ There are norms governing every situation.
o Implicit or explicit
∙ Folkways are the general standards of behavior adhered to by a group o Wearing underwear
o Brushing your teeth
∙ Mores are strict norms that control moral and ethical behavior o Typically, laws
o Violating or breaking a more can result in formal sanctions or punishments.
Social sanctions are mechanisms of social control that enforce norms
∙ Positive or negative
Taboos are the strictest norms
∙ Ethnomethodological research teaches us that society proceeds on an “as if” basis.
o Exists as one way only because we believe it’s the only way Ex.) Incest
The Elements of Beliefs
∙ Beliefs are shared ideas held collectively by people within a given culture about what is true
∙ Whether a belief stems from religion, myth, folklore, or science, it shapes what people take to be possible and true.
The Elements of Values
∙ Values are shared ideas about what is social desirable and morally correct
o Values determine what is considered right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, good and bad.
∙ As societies develop and become more complex, different cultural traditions appear.
∙ The greater the society’s complexity the greater the internal variations and diversity.
∙ Is the culture of the most powerful group in a society.
∙ Receives the most support from major institutions and that constitutes the major belief system.
∙ Cultures whose values and norms differ to some degree from those of the dominant culture
o Members of subcultures tend to interact frequently with one another and share a common worldview.
∙ Subcultures created as a reaction against values of the dominant culture.
Ethnocentrism & Cultural Relativism
∙ Ethnocentrism is the habit of only seeing things from the point of view of one’s own group.
o Evaluating the customs of other groups according to one’s own cultural standards
∙ Cultural relativism is the idea that something can be understood and judged only in relationship to the cultural context in which it appears. o Simply put, one must learn to view the behavior form the perspective of the social group in which it is practiced.
Mass Media & Pop Culture
∙ The term mass media refers to the channels of communication that are available to wide segments of the population.
o The mass media has extraordinary power to shape culture, including what people and the information available to them. ∙ Mass media is organized via economic interests
o It is owned by a small number of companies that form huge media monopolies
This means that a few very powerful groups. Media
conglomerates, are the major producers and distributors of culture
∙ Popular culture refers to the culture’s beliefs, practices, and objects that are apart of everyday traditions
Functionalism and Culture
∙ Functionalist theorist believe that norms and values create or disrupt social bonds that attach people to society.
Conflict and Culture
∙ Conflict theorists see contemporary culture as produced within institutions that based on inequality and capitalist principles. Symbolic Interaction and Culture
∙ Symbolic interactionists are concerned with the meaning that people give to behavior and how social interaction produces and changes culture and cultural behavior
∙ Symbolic interaction also emphasizes that culture, like all other forms of social behavior, is socially constructed
o Ex.) GM used to be a symbol of a good job if you worked for them, a bachelors degree does not match up to what it meant 15 years ago
What is society?
∙ Human society is a system of social interaction that includes both culture and social organization
∙ It involves social interaction
o Behavior between two or more people that is given meaning to them
∙ According to sociologist Emile Durkheim, society is sui generis o Greater than the sum of its parts
Macro and Micro
∙ Conflict and functionalism is macro
∙ Symbolic interaction and micro
∙ Social institution is an established and organized system of social behavior with a recognized purpose.
∙ Industrial societies have nine major institutions:
3.)Work and the economy
4.) Political institution (or state)
6.) Health care
7.) Mass media
8.) Organized sports
Functions of Social Institutions
1.) Socialization of new members
2.) Product and distribution of goods and services
3.)Replacement of society’s members
4.) Maintenance of stability and existence
5.) Providing members, a sense of purpose
Conflict: Social Institutions
∙ Conflict theory notes that social institutions do not meet the needs of all people equally
∙ Conflict theorists see disharmony and he subordination of groups of individuals as inherent within social institutions.
∙ Social structures are the organized pattern of social relationships and social institutions that together compose society.
What holds Society Together?
∙ Collective consciousness—body of beliefs common to a community of society that give people a sense of belonging
∙ Two types of societies based on the type of social solidarity they exhibit
o Mechanical solidarity
Exists in societies in which its members play similar roles within the society, share the same values, and hold the
same things sacred.
∙ Consensus of norms and values
∙ Strong informal pressure to conform
o Organic solidarity
Exists in societies in which people have many different
roles and roles are highly differentiated
∙ Characterized by:
o Variety of roles
o Division of labor
∙ Gemeinschaft= community
∙ Held together by similarity and unity
∙ Characterized by:
o Moderate division of labor
o Strong personal ties
o Strong family relationships
o Sense of personal loyalty
o Small simple social institutions
∙ Gesellschaft= society
∙ Held together by their differences
∙ Characterized by:
o Less prominence of personal ties
o Somewhat diminished role of the nuclear family
o Lessen sense of loyalty to the society
Types of Societies
1.) Forging societies (hunting and gathering)
2.) Pastoral societies
3.) Horticultural societies
5.) Industrial societies
Industrial societies use machines and other advanced
technologies to produce and distribute goods and services.
∙ High division of labor
∙ Gender inequality
6.) Postindustrial societies
Depend economically on the production and distribution of services, information and knowledge.
These societies are information-based, and technology plays an important role in the social organization.
Definition of Social Groups
∙ To sociologists, a group is a collection of individuals who: 1.)Interact and communicate with each other
2.) Share goals and norms
3.) Have a subjective awareness of themselves as a distinct social unit ∙ Not all collections of people are groups
o There are also categories
∙ Status is an established position in a social structure that carries with it a degree of prestige
∙ A status is a rank in society
∙ Status set—complete set of statuses occupied by a person at a given time
o Master status
∙ Sociologists differentiate between ascribed (given at birth) and achieved (the result of individual effort)
∙ Gender is an achieved status!!!
∙ Sex is your ascribed status!!!
∙ Role is the behavior others expect from a person associated with a particular status
∙ Role expectation is behaving as others expect someone in that position to behave.
∙ Role sets are all the roles occupied by the person at a given time. ∙ Role conflict is when two or more roles impose conflicting demands and expectations
∙ Role strain is when conflicting expectations within the same role are imposed simultaneously.
∙ Status= Occupied
∙ Role= play
Verbal/ Non-verbal Communication
o The tone of our voice, pauses, emphasis on certain words
o Tactile communication
o Proxemic communication
- “personal bubble”
∙ Human relationships are patterned by social forces and are predictable o 75% of our time is spent with other people
∙ Attraction can be scientifically predicted by:
o Exposure effect
o Perceived physical attractiveness
∙ Our perception of what is real is determined by the subjective meaning that we attribute to an experience.
∙ There is no objective “reality” in itself
∙ Things do not have their own intrinsic meaning; it is subjectively imposed on them.
∙ We will see this principle in the next slide.
∙ Example: the colors and what they mean around the world o Red: sexy
o Blue: cold
o Black: evil
o White: surrender or purity