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Understanding Social Life notes weeks 1-4

by: Jenna Janssen

Understanding Social Life notes weeks 1-4 SOCI 1810

Marketplace > University of Denver > Sociology > SOCI 1810 > Understanding Social Life notes weeks 1 4
Jenna Janssen
GPA 3.7

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These are detailed notes for the first 4 weeks of Understanding Social Life.
Understanding Social Life
Katie Dingemann-Cerda
Class Notes
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This 22 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jenna Janssen on Thursday January 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOCI 1810 at University of Denver taught by Katie Dingemann-Cerda in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Understanding Social Life in Sociology at University of Denver.

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Date Created: 01/28/16
UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL LIFE 1/28/16 3:40 PM What is Sociology? • The scientific study of the nature of human society o Culture § Traditions § Norms § Language § Values/ beliefs § Food § Holidays o Society o Interaction o History o Structures o Environment o Inequality § Race § Gender § Socioeconomic § Ability § Sexual orientation Sociology and Its cousins • Sociology sits between the natural sciences and humanities o Disciplinary distinction between the social sciences exist, but there is significant overlap. § Anthropology ú Focuses on particular circumstances, often abroad, usually using qualitative methods. Also focuses on biological evolution and archeology. § Psychology ú Examines human development, attitudes, and behaviors on an individual level. Includes experimental and clinical research. § Economics ú Focuses on economic relations and is an almost entirely quantitative discipline § Political Science ú Focuses on power, politics, and political relations. Uses similar methods as sociology. Key Concepts • Human Society is a group of people who shape their lives in aggregated and patterned ways. • Societies are social constructed. • Social constructions are ideas created by humans through social interaction and given a reality through our understanding of it and our collective actions. o They do not exist in the physical/biological world. There is no genetic basis to a pure social construction. What is Sociology • Societies are constituted by social structures. o The outcome of patterned relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions. o Ordered and persistent relationships among different social positions in a given geographic location. • Social structures are not only produced by society, but they also largely construct society, or shape the way society operates. o Social structures include: § The institutional complex within society ú State, market, mass media, religion, education, health care, family, etc. § The organizational facets of society ú Demographic structure, income structure, urban- rural structure, structure of race/ethnicity, gender structure, etc. Key Concepts • Within any given social structure exists social inequality. o The existence of unequal opportunities and rewards for different social positions or statuses within a group or society. o There is often competition over power and resources among people situated at different positions in a social hierarchy. • Is social change possible in a structured society? o If so, from where does it emerge? § God? (Divine intervention) § Nature? (Climate, weather) § Human creativity? (Technological advancements) § Exploitation? (Revelation of false consciousness) o Are there certain social environments that make it more conducive? § Democratic vs. authoritarian governments Sociologists • —the people who “do” sociology—are primarily interested in: o Social interaction o Social structures o Social inequality o Social solidarity o Social change Types of Sociology • Macrosociology o Looks at social dynamics across whole societies or large-scale institutions and often relies on statistical analysis to do so. • Microsociology o Understands local interactional contexts, focusing on face-to- face encounters and gathering data through participant observations and interviews Sociology is a Science • Sociology aim to move past, or challenge, common sense explanations: o Based on limited, biased, observations. o Form the basis of stereotypes and myths. • This is accomplished through the scientific method. • Sociology employs the scientific method, employing deductive and inductive logic Sociological Imagination 1/28/16 3:40 PM The Sociological Imagination • The Sociological Imagination o The sociological perspective requires us to consider how individuals are embedded in space (social contexts) and time (history). o To develop a sociological imagination, we should work to make the familiar strange. § Try to create a sense of culture shock, or sense of disorientation with your surroundings. § Develop a beginner’s mind. Approach the social world without preoccupations. • History & Biography o Consider your social location. § Historical period, nation, state, city, race/ethnicity, citizenship status, gender, sexuality, class standing, religion, etc. o How has your personal biography been impacted by history and social environment? • Individual Troubles & Social Problems o Consider domestic violence • Individualistic & Sociological Explanations o Why do people commit suicide? Theory 1/28/16 3:40 PM Chapter 1 What is Theory? • A sociological theory is an abstract proposition that attempts to explain in a coherent manner the varieties of social organization and social behaviors. o It seeks to explain the social world and make predictions about the future of social life. • Like society, sociological theories change over time. o It is continually refined as it confronts empirical reality. The Emergence of Sociology • Sociology emerged from four major transformations in Europe and the United States o The Enlightenment (1650-1780) § Enlightenment à The Age of Reason à “a time of illumination” § Scholars, writers, artists, and scientists challenged traditional lines of authority through the promotion of reason, or individual rational thought. § Skepticism and science could move society away from superstition and ignorance and toward more empirically valid “truths.” § Progressive reform, especially in the form of democracy and human rights, could bring about societies that were more tolerant and respectful of human difference. o The Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) § The Industrial Revolution involved a major transition from hand production to machinery and manufacturing. ú Factories and assembly lines emerged. § Almost every facet of social life was altered. o Rapid Urbanization (1790-) § First US Census in 1790: 5% urban. § Largest city: NYC at fewer than 50,000. § Only rose to 11% urban by 1840. o American Pragmatism (1870s-) § Rejection of the notion that the function of thought is to simply describe, or mirror, reality. § Thought should be put to practical use; science is best used as a tool to predict and to solve problems. § Sociology should identify a social problem, strive to explain it, and use those explanations for the public good. § Applied & Public Sociology is rooted in pragmatism. Founders of Sociology • Auguste Compte (1798-1857) o Argued that there should be a kind of “social physics” to understand society. § We can understand society by piecing together distinct parts into an equation o Coined the term “sociology” and helped establish it as an intellectual tradition in France o “Law of Three Stages” § Theological (“The Divine”) § Metaphysical (“energy”) § Positivistic (“science”) • Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) o English journalist and political economist o Studied U.S. society, arguing it was flawed and hypocritical § Existence of slavery § Women and Blacks denied equal rights o Most famous for translating Compte’s work into English • Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) o French sociologist and philosopher o Studied how individuals are constrained by social facts o Founder of positivist sociology § Sociological truths can be uncovered through application of systematic methodologies. o Interested in social solidarity § Mechanical vs. Organic Solidarity ú Mechanical solidarity • Low division of labor • Similar values • Emphasis on collectivism • Strong collective conscience • Repressive Law ú Organic Solidarity • High division of labor • Values vary across cleavages • Emphasis on individualism • Humans bound through webs of interdependence • Restitutive Law § Social Integration & Regulation • Karl Marx (1818-1883) o German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and reformer o Considered a historical materialist § How the mode of production drives society o Interested in capitalism § Wage labor, § Private ownership, § Industrial technology o Class conflict leads to social change § Proletariat ú The poor, the working class § Bourgeoisie ú The rich, the owners o Developed the notion of praxis o Deterministic (“classical Marxist”) approach. o Structuralist (“neo-Marxist” or “critical”) approach. • Max Weber (1864-1920) o German philosopher, political scientist, sociologist o An interpretive sociologist & historicist § Interested in the meanings humans attached to social life and the motivations (values, morals, ideas) guiding behavior § His generalizations we grounded in history, not ideology o Sought value neutrality in his work o Developed method of the ideal type § Types of authority: traditional, legal-rational, charismatic o The “Ghost of Marx” § “The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general.” VS. “The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process.” § Interested in multi-causality § Developed concept of status group § Interested in the role of culture in predicting outcomes o Several factors were associated with the rise of modern society, which he believed was a capitalist society. § Protestantism § Rationality and Formal-Rational Law § Bureaucracy o The rise of modernity brings with it the risk that we will become prisoners of our own societies – via the “iron cage of bureaucracy.” We will become “disenchanted” and desire (though likely won’t be able to achieve) alternate forms of social organization that value relationships over formalism. • Georg Simmel (1858-1918) o French sociologist and philosopher o Interested in individualism, urbanization, networks, solidarity o Interested in “othering” between social groups and individuals embedded in them o Author of The Stranger (1908) § Someone who “comes today and plans to stay” § May be physically present and socially active, but experiences high levels of social distance § Strangers are “in the group, but not of the group.” • W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) o Examined race. § “The problem of the 20 th century is the color line.” o The Veil and Double Consciousness § A veil of ignorance and misunderstanding separates whites and Blacks from each other. § Blacks are simultaneously insiders and outsiders in U.S. society. § Blacks are alienated and marginalized by their position; also have a unique insight into society that must be voiced. o Racial stratification and structural explanations for crime rates § Anomie from end of slavery produced higher crime rates o Believed class inequality could promote Black progress. • Jane Addams (1860-1935) o Member of Chicago School o Known for community-based (participatory action) research o Considered a founder of social work in the U.S. § Established the Hull House in Chicago, which provided services to the poor and marginalized, especially women and children. o Interested in gender inequality and women’s rights. § Advocated for women’s right to vote. Modern Sociological Paradigms • Functionalist Theory o Society is like an organism or machine. o Every segment of society fulfills a role and serves a function § Manifest vs. latent functions o When everything fulfills its role, the system is in equilibrium o When one segment doesn’t fulfill its role, the system is dysfunctional • Conflict Theory o Social groups are located in different positions in the stratification order. § Competition and conflict emerge between groups o Classical theorists focus on economic relationships o Contemporary theorists focus on economic and other power relations, such as gender and race. § Interested in issues of intersectionality. • Symbolic Interactionism o Interaction and meaning are central to society. Meanings are not inherent but are created through interaction. § Language, gesture, attire, art, design, etc. o Meanings are modified and filtered through an interpretive process that each individual uses in dealing with outward signs. § People act based on socially constructed and subjectively interpreted definitions of ideas, concepts, values, and expectations. • Postmodernism o Postmodern Theories suggests that social reality is diverse, pluralistic, and constantly in flux. § Grand narratives of history are over. § Shared meanings have eroded. § Social identities are fragmented. § There is no longer a “correct” version of “truth.” § Relativism yields hesitancy to “act” in the face of seemingly objective “facts,” because even they are up for debate. • More Theoretical Perspectives o Standpoint Theory where we exist in the social world affects how we see and understand the world. o Feminist Theory looks at gender inequalities in society and the way that gender structures the social world. o Queer Theory proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs, and that no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normal Watch the scholar denied And write a 1 page reflection for extra credit Methods 1/28/16 3:40 PM Chapter 2 Methods • Research Methods o Standard rules, or systematic ways of doing research, that social scientists follow when trying answer questions about the social world. • Approaches to Research o Deductive Approach § Define Problem § Review Literature § Devise Hypothesis § Collect Data § Analyze Data § Accept, Modify or Refute Hypothesis o Inductive Approach § Create Theory § Analyze Data § Collect Data § Review Literature § Define Problem • Designing a sociological research project o 1. Identify a Research Question § Types of research Questions ú Factual/Descriptive: • What happened? When did it happen? To whom and by whom did it happen? ú Comparative: • Did this happen everywhere? Did group A or B experience something differently in context A or B or? What factors contribute to different outcomes in context A or B? ú Theoretical: • What underlies this phenomenon? What factors caused it to happen? Is X related to Y and, if so, how? ú Social Construction • How and why was this phenomenon constructed in this particular space/place/time? • Which structural factors (social, economic, political, and/or cultural) led to its construction? ú Social Function • What societal functions does this phenomenon serve? And for whom? • Are there “gaps” between the intended function and actual outcome? • Is the law or the way it is implemented “functional” for society? ú Social Stratification • Who does the phenomenon serve and harm? Why? • In what ways does the phenomena contribute to social inequality? • In what ways does the phenomena reduce social inequality? ú Social Meaning and Interpretation • How do individuals or groups experience, define, or make sense of the phenomenon? • How do they navigate around or contest the phenomenon? ú Relationship between different categories • Is there a relationship between age and propensity to experience domestic violence? • Is there a relationship between deportees’ criminal history and their reintegration in their country of citizenship post-removal? • What is the relationship between sexuality and perspectives about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? • What is the relationship between education, occupation, and income? • To what degree does class standing predict opinion on minimum wage law? • Is race, class, gender, political party membership, or religious identity the best predictor of likelihood to vote? § Defining Variables ú Dependent variable: the outcome that a researcher is trying to explain. ú Independent variable: a measured factor that the researcher believes has a causal impact on the dependent variable. ú Intervening variable: a factor that could influence the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. o 2. Review the Literature § Prior work may offer general descriptions, raise some key questions, discuss the strengths and limitations of measures that have already been tried, and suggest profitable lines of further research. § Two Strategies: ú Topic Searching: Search out relevant literature using bibliographic databases, search engines, and library indexes. ú Tracing References: build on the literature you already have, using reference lists and citations in relevant works. § Critical reading! ú Read titles and abstracts ú Describe inclusion and exclusion criteria ú Read selected literature in depth ú Produce an annotated bibliography ú Identify gaps or limitations in previous research. ú Determine how your research makes a contribution § Application ú Find an abstract of peer-reviewed journal articles based on original research related to the research question. • What is the research question? • What kind of research was conducted? • What were the main findings? • How does it relate to the research topic & question? • What contribution would your research make? o 3. Form a hypothesis § What does the literature, preliminary research, or your own experience suggest about your research question? § A hypothesis is a testable statement. § It usually links two or more variables together in a relationship. ú Usually framed like ‘the more X the more Y.’ ú Study time increases exam score. § Characteristics of a Hypothesis ú Consistent with previous research ú Clearly and concisely stated ú Testable ú Relevant variables are included ú Relationships between variables are clear o 4. Research design § Types of methods ú Quantitative • Information from the social world that can be converted into numeric form. • Surveys, experiments, content analysis, and secondary statistics ú Qualitative • Information that cannot or should not be converted into numeric form. • Seeks deeper meanings behind social phenomena • Observations, interviews, focus groups, and archives § Sampling ú Sampling Strategies • Random • Representative • Purposive • Snowball • Convenience ú Determining Factors • Type of research question • Sampling frame • Access to population • Funding • Time constraints o 5 & 6. Data collection & Analysis § How will you collect and make sense of your data? § What issues should you look out for? § Collect and Analyze Data ú Access the data, administer the surveys, and input the data into SPSS, STATA, and Excel. ú For qualitative research, ask the questions, take the detailed field notes, and enter data into files, Nvivo, Atlas.ti. ú Examine data as appropriate. • Statistics • Qualitative or quantitative coding • Comparative analyses • Network analysis § Causation vs. Correlation ú Causation is the idea that a change in one factor results in a corresponding change in another. ú To prove causation: • Must have correlation (A and B change together) • Time order must be correct (A happened before B) • Alternative explanations must be ruled out § What makes “good” research? ú “Good” research should be: • Valid: does the study measure what it is intended to measure? • Reliable: if you conduct the study again, will you get the same results? • Generalizable: will the findings of this study apply to some other population or group of people? • Authentic: The findings and conclusions correspond with what we know; novel findings are explained and supported with strong empirical evidence. § Ethics of Social Research ú Researchers must meet codified standards, which are set by professional associations, academic institutions, or research centers, when conducting studies. ú Standard Ethical Rules: • Do no harm • Informed consent • Voluntary participation • Protection of vulnerable populations § Ethics of Social Research ú Institutional Review Board (IRB) • Review IRB application materials • (#2010-7695) ú American Sociological Association (ASA) • Review Code of Ethics • § The Milgram Experiment ú Does the Milgram Experiment meet ethical guidelines? ú What principals does it violate? ú Do the benefits of the study outweigh the costs? o 7. Disseminate Findings § To whom will you report your findings? § In what venue? ú Write up and present your results! ú Sociology Journals ú Annual Conference for the American Sociological Association in Chicago 2015 Culture and Socialization 1/28/16 3:40 PM Chapters 3 & 4 The Self • The self is our experience of a distinct, real, personal identity that is separate and different from all other people. • It doesn’t exist without society. • It is an internalization of society’s expectations. • It is created and modified through interaction over the life course as our social contexts change. Statuses and Roles • A status is a position in society that comes with a set of expectations. o An ascribed status is one we are born with that is unlikely to change. § Gender, race, family origins, and ethnic backgrounds o An achieved status is one we have earned through individual effort or that is imposed by others. § Occupation, level of education o A master status is a status that seems to override all others and affects all other statuses that one possesses. § Race or ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, economic standing, religion or spirituality, and education. Others include raising children, employment status; and disability or mental illness. • Roles are the behaviors expected from a particular status. o Role conflict occurs when the roles associated with one status clash with the roles associated with a different status. o Role strain occurs when roles associated with a single status clash. o Either of these may lead to role exit. Socialization • Socialization is the process by which individuals internalize the values, beliefs, and norms (non-material culture) of a given society and learn to function as a member of that society. • Socialization begins very early – perhaps even before birth! Theories of Socialization • Charles Horton Cooley: o “The looking glass self” o Theorized that the “self” emerges from our ability to assume the point of view of others and imagine how those others see us. o We use others as a “mirror,” trying to replicate actions that receive positive responses in the social world. • George Herbert Mead: o The social self is created through social interaction starting in childhood, as kids start to learn language. o Infants know only the “I,” but eventually through social interaction – especially through imitation, play, and games – they learn about “me,” by recognizing the “other.” o Individuals develop a concept of the “generalized other,” which allows them to apply norms and behaviors learned in specific situations to new situations. Phases of the Self: The ‘I’ and the ‘me’ • “I” (the self in action) o Self in process, in the moment o The impulsive, spontaneous, and indeterminate part of self o Non-reflective o Part of the self that produces individuality • “Me” (the self as an object in the world) o The structured and determinate part of the self o A product of interaction and conscious reflection o We know the “I” only through the “me” o Society’s expectations internalized • From “Me” to “Generalized Other” o Mead’s Three Stages § Play ú 1 significant other at a time § Game ú Several significant others § Generalized Other ú A whole community of attitudes Theories of Socialization • Erik Erikson: o Demonstrated that socialization lasts throughout the lifespan, not just childhood. o Psychosocial development evolves through eight stages. Each stage involves a specific conflict that a person must resolve in order to move on to the next stag Goffman and Dramaturgy • Goffman was less concerned about where the self comes from and more with what we do with once we have it. • His approach, dramaturgy, compares social interaction to the theater, where individuals take on roles and act them out to present a favorable impression to their “audience.” • Goffman sees social life as a sort of game, where we work to control the impressions others have of us, a process he called impression management. • Where we attempt to manage the impressions others have of us, like our own little internal P.R. agents. Agents of Socialization • What are the key agents (institutions, networks, technologies, cultural artifacts, etc.) socializing us at different life stages? o Family § The family is the single most significant agent of socialization in all societies and teaches us the basic values and norms that shape our identity. o Schools § Schools provide education and socialize us through a hidden curriculum (a set of behavioral traits such as punctuality, neatness, discipline, hard work, competition, and obedience) that teaches behaviors that will be important later in life. o Peers § Peers provide very different social skills and often become more immediately significant than the family, especially as children move through adolescence. § Peer group socialization has been increasing because young people are attending school for longer periods of time. o Mass Media § The mass media has become an important agent of socialization, often overriding the family and other institutions in instilling values and norms. § The American mass media plays a major role in teaching Americans to buy and consume goods and other values. Socialization never ends • Resocialization is the process of replacing previously learned norms and values with new ones as a part of a transition in life. o Learn how to be a husband/wife, employee, etc. • Resocialization o A dramatic form of resocialization takes place in a total institution. o An institution in which individuals are cut off from the rest of society so that their lives can be controlled and regulated for the purpose of systematically stripping away previous roles and identities to create new ones. Conclusion • Our selves – including statuses and roles – are structured by societal interactions. • Our selves are also in flux. • Re-socialization (for better or worse) depends on access to different agents of socialization (“opportunities”) over the life course and in different contexts. Group Presentations: • Schor, “Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child” o Kids are buying= companies are advertising o Influence market § Kids are directly influencing what parents buy o “Guilt money” § “Less time with kids, more stuff for kids” o Companied are designing advertising towards kids, kids are desiring designer and luxury products o Once kids like a brand, they will stay with it and ask for it by name o Television varies by race, income, and parental education § Whites: averages 2 hours and 47 minutes daily § Hispanics: average 3 hours and 50 minutes daily § Blacks: Average 4 hours and 40 minutes daily o Children’s diets are suffering o Children are suffering from emotional and mental health problems. § Only 59% of parents reported that their relationships with their school-age children were “extremely or very close.” • Albas & Albas, “Acers and Bombers”


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