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Soci 101, Week 1 Notes

by: Madison Pamfilis

Soci 101, Week 1 Notes Sociology 101

Marketplace > Towson University > Sociology > Sociology 101 > Soci 101 Week 1 Notes
Madison Pamfilis
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These notes cover Chapter 1 in the textbook, as well as the information covered in lecture on Tuesday.
Intro to Sociology
William Tsitsos
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Madison Pamfilis on Tuesday February 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 101 at Towson University taught by William Tsitsos in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 289 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at Towson University.


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Date Created: 02/02/16
Maddie Pamfilis Soci 101-12 Prof. Tsitsos Sociology Notes 1 Textbook: 1.1 : What is Sociology?  Sociology: systematic study of society and social interactions (socius= companion, logos= the study of)  Society: a group of people in which members interact, reside in a discernable area, and share a culture  Pioneer sociologist= C. Wright Mills  Sociological imagination: how individuals understand their own and others' pasts in relation to history and social structure  Cultural patterns and social forces pressure individuals to make one choice versus another, therefore sociologists believe that personal choice is non- existent, and is rather a matter of your environment  Figuration: the process of simultaneously analyzing the behavior of individuals and the society that shapes them 1.2: The History of Sociology  During the Age of Enlightenment (18th century), philosophers developed general principles that could be used to explain social life  Industrial Revolution (19th century)- changed society greatly, due to increased mobility, new employment, urbanization, etc. (caused the development of Capitalism in many nations)  The father of sociology: Auguste Comte (reinvented the term sociology, which was actually coined by Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes in 1780) o Comte believed that society could be studied by using the same methods which were used to study the natural sciences o Believed in the potential of social to work towards the betterment of society by discovering the laws that governed society o Positivism: the scientific study of social patterns (so named by Comte)  Karl Marx: German philosopher and economist, coauthored the Communist Manifesto o Rejected Comte's positivism, instead he believed that societies grew and changed as a result of the struggle of the social classes over production (industrial revolution created a wage gap between those who worked in and those who owned the factories) o Predicted that the inequalities of capitalism would become extreme, leading to the collapse of capitalism in favor of communism o Communism: economic system under which there is no private or corporate ownership, everything is owned communally and distributed as needed o Marx had the idea that Idea that social conflict leads to change, which is still a major theory in modern society  Herbert Spencer: rejected much of Comte and Marx's philosophies, favoring a form of government in which market forces were allowed to control capitalism  Emile Durkheim (1858-1917): helped to establish sociology as a formal academic discipline o People rise to their proper level in society based on their merit o Believed that by studying "social facts", you could know if a society was "healthy" (stable), or "pathological" (undergoing the breakdown of social norms)  Max Weber: prominent German sociologist, made major contribution to the methodology of sociological research (he believe that it was difficult, if not impossible, to use standard scientific methods in order to understand the behavior of groups, as they function differently than the natural sciences do)  Verstehen (German word): meaning "to understand deeply", or attempting to understand the social view of an insider in the culture being studied  Antipositivism: proposed by Weber and other sociologists; the idea that sociologists should strive for subjectivity as they worked to represent social processes, cultural norms, and societal values (rather than objectivity as seen in studying the natural sciences) in order to gain an in-depth understanding of what was being studied  Quantitative sociology: using statistical methods (such as surveys) to analyze data and uncover patterns of human behavior  Qualitative sociology: attempting to understand patterns in human behavior by conducting interviews, focus groups, and analyzing different sources 1.3: Theoretical Perspectives  Theory: a way to explain different aspects of social interactions and to create hypotheses about society that were able to be tested  Social solidarity: the social ties that bind a group together (ex: kinship, shared location, religion), an idea proposed by Durkheim  Grand theories (macro-level): an idea that attempts to explain a large-scale relationship, and to answer fundamental questions about societies (such as why they form and why they change over time)  Micro-level theories: involved in very specific relationships between individuals or small groups; dependent on their context and are more concrete than macro-level theories (more scientifically testable)  Paradigm: a philosophical and theoretic framework used within a discipline in order to form theories, generalizations, and experiments used to support them  3 most important sociological paradigms: structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism o Structural functionalism: how each part of society functions together to contribute to the whole (macro or micro level)  Functionalism (structural functional theory): states that society is a structure with interrelated parts designed to meet the biological and social needs of individuals who make up the society; oldest of the main theories of sociology  Dynamic equilibrium: how all of the parts of society work together as a whole, like a complex machine, in order to produce a stable state  Social facts: the laws, morals, values, religious beliefs, customs, fashions, rituals, and all of the cultural rules that govern social life  Function: any recurrent activity as the part is plays in the social life as a whole, and thereby, the contribution it makes to structural continuity  Manifest functions: the consequences of a social process that are sought or anticipated  Latent functions: unsought consequences of a social process  Dysfunctions: social processes that have undesirable consequences for the operation of society o Conflict theory: how inequalities contribute to social differences and perpetuate differences in power (macro level)  Looks at society as a competition for limited social, political, and material resources (ex: political power, leisure time, money, housing)  The "winners" (those with more resources) use said resources to maintain their positions of power in society, and to suppress the advancement of their competition  Karl Marx is most closely identified with this theory, as he focused of the economic conflict between the social classes (oppressor vs. oppressed)  Weber argued that there was more than one source of conflict in society: economics, politics, and social status being three examples; and that as long as the systems remained separate, the system as a whole would not be threatened  Conflict changes the parties involved: increased internal solidarity, power is centralized, dissent is reduced, and acceptance and tolerance of outsiders decreases  Criticism: tends to focus on conflict instead of recognizing stability within a group o Symbolic interactionism: one-on-one interactions and communications (micro level), examines the relationship of individuals within their society  Centered on the notion that communication is how people make sense of their social worlds  This view depicts people as actively shaping their world, rather than being acted upon by their environment (micro-level perspective)  George Herbert Mead is considered one of the founders of symbolic interactionism  Basic premises: 1. Humans act towards things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things 2. The meaning of such things is derived from the social interaction that one has with others and the society 3. These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretive process used by the person in dealing with the things that he/she encounters  Looks for patterns of interaction between individuals, as well as forms of communication (signs and symbols)  Dramaturgical analysis: the idea that people's lives can be understood as similar to performers in action on a theater stage  More likely to use qualitative research methods (ex: interviews/observation)  Criticism: difficult to remain objective while researching in this manner as there is a narrow focus on symbolism 1.4: Why Study Sociology?  Used to research and learn to improve society (ex: Brown vs. the Board of Education/desegregation)  A sociologist is one who seeks to find an understanding of society in a disciplined manner  Sociology teaches people to recognize the ways in which they fit into the world, as well as the ways that other people perceive them  Increases people's willingness to look at the world through other people's perspectives, and to really try to understand cultures in which they are outsiders (increases diversity/integration in the world)  Can give those who study it many "transferrable skills" that are applicable to the workplace, and so would make a candidate more qualified for a position in the workplace Lecture: Tuesday (2/2/2016)  Functionalism: one of the main "macro" perspectives in sociology o Functionalists argue that all social institutions serve the function of maintaining the health of the "social organism"  Social institutions: "stable set of roles, statuses, groups, and organizations… that provide a foundation for behavior in some major area of social life" (Newman) o Ex: education, family, politics, religion, healthcare, the economy o Anthropology vs. sociology: sociology is concerned with social institutions, whereas anthropology is concerned with groups that were not complex enough to form institutions o Ex: crime? "without crime there can be no society" (Durkheim)  Serves a function within society  Solidifies community of non-criminals by a moral code  Manifest vs. latent functions o Manifest functions: the intended, obvious, consequences of activities designed to help some part of the social system o Latent functions: unintended, unrecognized, consequences of activities that help some part of the social system o Ex: manifest and latent functions of educational institutions (MF= pursuing education, obtaining diploma; LF= developing friendships, independent thinking)  Emile Durkheim: French sociologist o Functionalist, studied many social institutions (crime, religion, etc.) o The main way which social institutions serve the health of the social organism is by creating and reinforcing "social solidarity" within a society o Social solidarity: community/unity o Durkheim on religion: definition= belief and practice oriented to the sacred, around which a community forms (social solidarity component) o Sacred (versus profane) objects or places:  Rules around use, associated with "extraordinary" times of life, awe-inspiring, symbolic, no instrumental use (meaning their use has nothing to do with their sacredness)  Ex: religious texts, diploma, crucifix, flag, wedding ring, trophies, art/museums/statues, national parks, national anthem o Profane: mundane, no rules around use, ordinary times of life, have instrumental use o Collective effervescence (CE): the experiences of "group excitement" when an individual forgets self and becomes immersed in group affiliation (social, NOT individual); CE is associated with sacred places/objects o Ritual: a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order


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