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Chapter 1 notes

by: Kirsten Swikert

Chapter 1 notes Sociology 100

Kirsten Swikert
GPA 3.2
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These are just the notes from class including examples, I will upload a study guide for exams that will include notes from the book
Introductory Sociology
Dr. James Kanan
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kirsten Swikert on Friday February 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 100 at Western Kentucky University taught by Dr. James Kanan in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 47 views. For similar materials see Introductory Sociology in Sociology at Western Kentucky University.


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Date Created: 02/12/16
What is Sociology? • The systematic study of human societies o We study the social context in which we live because we are social beings more so than we are individuals • Developing a sociological perspective o Recognize that our daily lives reflect a complex interconnection of social forces and personal characteristics Sociological Imagination • The ability to think systematically about how things we experience as personal problems are really social issues • Think about how war, unemployment, and obesity are all personal problems and social issues o Ideal unemployment rate in the US is 3.5%-4% • The hallmark of the sociological imagination is being able to ask hard questions and not settle for easy answers Trying to Understand the World Around Us • How do we know what we know and how do we make sense of it all? • Answers arrived at through facts and theory o Facts: scientific explanations that have been tested and confirmed, many times they don’t need to be tested anymore o Theory: explanation about relationships between individuals and society, supported by evidence • Paradigms: scientific and/or philosophical frameworks or models for explaining social phenomena The Functionalist Paradigm • Society as a whole unite made up of interrelated parts that work together o Social order is maintained through consensus and shared values o We are all in this together, like one big unit made up of systems § Education system, economic system, etc. • To understand society, we need to examine the structure and function of each part o Think about prostitution, it has a function in society, but why do we need it/what does it do for society? • Types of functions o Manifest: intended functions that contribute to society § WKU example: to educate o Latent: unintended functions contributing to society § WKU example: making connections with other people o Dysfunctions: unintended negative consequences § WKU example: addiction or debt • Key Question: What is the benefit or function for society? The Conflict Paradigm • Society is best characterized as being composed of groups that are in conflict with each other over scarce resources • Conflict between groups and individuals primarily shapes society o Social order is maintained through economic interests and the exercise of power by some groups o Social Class: an important group in that competition • Example of a conflict paradigm is: Gay Marriage Important People to Know • August Comte o First one to think about society from a scientific standpoint; pioneer of sociology o First attempt to create a “science of society” called positivism o His goal was to learn how society works (functions) so we can figure out how to make it better (social engineering) • Herbert Spencer o Proposed functional theory of evolution of societies o Influenced by Charles Darwin § Spencer was the first to suggest/coin the term “survival of the fittest”, not Darwin o Thought society was like a living organism, evolving from simple forms (barbarian) to higher, more complex forms (civilized) o Social change (evolution) occurs through Social Darwinism • Emile Durkheim: most influential o Identified the role of social forces and group influence or membership o Social facts: characteristics of groups beyond summary of individuals § Example: H O2is H+H+O when broken down; separate each element is a gas, but when combined at room temperature they form a liquid o Social order is maintained through consensus and solidarity (belonging together) o Social integration vs. anomie (feeling like you don’t belong § Example: suicide in the US • Karl Marx o Economic determinism: all aspects of society reflect the economic system o Importance of social class: bourgeoisie (owners) and proletariat (workers) § It’s all about who controls production o Class consciousness and class conflict § One’s relationship to the means of production • Max Weber o Debated Marx on singular role of economics in determining what society looks like o Power is not always linked to economics o Rise of rational society § A transition from traditional to rational Symbolic Interactionism • Society is composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their attitudes and beliefs, and communicate • Social order grows out of how we define symbols, ourselves, relationships with others, events, etc. • Important social concept is social construction of reality o Reality varies depending on social context: not everyone will experience the same reality § It’s all about perspective o The definition of the situation § W.I. Thomas Theorem: “if (men) define situations as real, then they are real in their consequence • Ex: white police shooting black men- different situations: white men are afraid and will see what their fear tells them to see • Ex: watching a scary movie then as you try to sleep hearing a creak and thinking someone’s in the house Producing Knowledge • 3 basic questions o How do we know what we know? § Use of social science methodologies: use methods to answer questions § Science of the obvious vs myth busters: we move slower to leave when someone wants our parking spot o Why does it matter? § Research informs us and protects us o What next? § Research frequently points to policy implications Basic Stages of Sociological Research • Identifying what it is we want to ask or study and how to address that o This is one of the hardest parts of research • Figure out the best methods of tools to address the question • Collect and analyze data in search for answers The Research Question • Can be studied given the limits of time and resources feasible question • Leads to think more specifically about a topic • Helps to turn ideas about a topic into a working hypothesis • Hypothesis: the tentative prediction we have about what we are going to discover before we begin the research • General research guidelines o Social research should generally be systematic (large groups), not an anecdotal (individualized) o Research should produce evidence that is empirical (measurable) o Conclusions/interpretations are generally best understood in terms of probabilities • How do we know what we know? o 2 basic categories of research methods 1. quantitative: a Number (quaNtitative) • surveys: good for getting information on a large number of people; limited in what it can ask or understand • experiments: use of experimental group and control group, good for cause and effect, hard to imitate natural settings • secondary analysis: use of data that has already been collected (government collects a lot that we have access to) 2. qualitative: used when numbers won’t suffice • interview: in depth information, hard to generalize; takes time, less participants • participant observation: researchers become a member of the group being studied • unobtrusive (nonparticipant) observation: researcher studies without making others aware Ethical Standards for Sociological Research • expectations o use of latest professional and scientific standards o avoidance of conflicts of interest o well documented research planning, implementation, and dissemination o informed consent and confidentiality and protection of research subjects


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