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by: imani hicks
imani hicks

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These notes cover lecture one and chapter one from the textbook.
Introduction to Sociology
Jacquelyn Cheun
Class Notes
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by imani hicks on Monday February 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 1301 at University of Texas at Dallas taught by Jacquelyn Cheun in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Sociology at University of Texas at Dallas.


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Date Created: 02/22/16
Ch. #1 & Class Lecture Notes# 1 Ch.1 Sociological approach 1. What are social problems  We consider social problems to be (1) societally induced conditions that cause psychic and material suffering for any segment of the population and (2) acts and conditions that violate the norms and values found in society. The distribution of power in society is the key to understanding these social problems.  Early definition  Assumed that social problems resulted from bad people because they assumed that the basic norms of society are usually held  Deviants  Result of conflict between the culturally prescribed goals of society and the obstacles obtaining them  The role of society in creating and sustaining deviance through labeling people viewed as abnormal  Ex) when you’re sick you go to the doctor and get medicine and a note of verification, the norm is in order to be sick society has deemed a doctor must say you’re sick. 2. Social Problems definition differs by audience and time  How we perceive things depends on our social environment  Cautions  Definitions of social problems provided by those in power, ex) government, educational institutions, stats  Overlooking conditions that are detrimental to a relatively powerful segment of the society  Public opinion diverts attentions away from the social order  Ex) interracial marriage has only been legal for 48 years  There are always outliers in society, those not in the norm 3. Sociological research  How do sociologist gather data about social problems  Survey research  Field research  Experimental research  Secondary data analysis, taking someone else’s data and analyzing it  Does statistics lie?  You want to show people the stats that you want Ex) three graphs show our unemployment rate , you’re going to use that one that appears the lowest  The sociological imagination involves several related components (Eitzen and Smith 2003:8). - The sociological imagination is stimulated by a willingness to view the social world from the perspective of others. - It involves moving away from thinking in terms of the individual and her or his problem and focusing rather on the social, economic, and historical circumstances that produce the problem. Put another way, the sociological imagination is the ability to see the societal patterns that influence individuals, families, groups, and organizations. 4. Norm Violations  Using what were presumed to be universal criteria of normality, sociologists commonly assumed that social problems resulted from “bad” people—maladjusted people who were abnormal because of mental deficiency, mental disorder, lack of education, or incomplete socialization. These social pathologists, because they assumed that the basic norms of society are universally held, viewed social problems as behaviors or social arrangements that disturb the moral order. - For them, the moral order of U.S. society defined such behaviors as alcoholism, suicide, theft, and murder as social problems. But this approach did not take into account the complexity inherent in a diverse society.  Deviant behavior – actions that violate the norms of a social organization - Ex) Murder, murder in war is normal, murder outside of war is deviant - consumer, when the criminal justice system is biased against the poor and people of color, then society is permitting what is called institutionalized - such a condition exists when the society and its formal organizations are not meeting the needs of individuals.  Deviance is not a property inherent in certain forms of behavior it is a property conferred upon these forms by the audience which directly or indirectly witness them  Norms can vary depending on culture, values, religion, etc. 5. Who is at fault  Most recently, some sociologists emphasize the ubjective nature of social problems . They say that what is defined as a social problem differs by audience and by time. - Pollution, for example, has not always been considered a social problem. This perspective also examines how particular phenomena comes to be defined as social problems, focusing on how groups of people actively influence those definitions.  There is an objective reality of social problems: There are conditions in society (such as poverty and institutional racism) that induce material or psychic suffering for certain segments of the population; there are sociocultural phenomena that prevent a significant number of societal participants from developing and using their full potential; there are discrepancies between what a country such as the United States is supposed to stand for (equality of opportunity, justice, democracy) and the actual conditions in which many of its people live; and people are fouling their own nest through pollution and the indiscriminate use of natural resources (Eitzen 1984). This normative approach assumes that some kinds of actions are likely to be judged deleterious in any context.  The distribution of power in society is key to understanding these social problems  Individual deviants are a manifestation of society’s failure to meet their needs  Society , not the individual must be reconstructed if social problems are to be solved 6. Sociological Theory  A theory that is a systematic explanation for how and why something occurs in our social world - A sociological theory is a set of ideas that explains a range of human behavior and a variety of social and societal events. - The late Michael Harrington said this regarding the necessity of theory: “The data of society are, for all practical purposes, infinite. You need criteria that will provisionally permit you to bring some order into that chaos of data and to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant factors” (Harrington 1985:1).  Scientific theories guide research - This ideal of value neutrality (to be absolutely free of bias in research) can be attacked from three positions. - The first is that scientists should not be morally indifferent to the implications of their research. - The second argument against the purely neutral position is that such a stance is impossible.  Ex) The social norms of a community influence the behavior of an individual 7. Theoretical Approaches in sociology  The Theoretical Paradigm – a basic image of society that guides theory and research - Overarching group of theories applied in many different circumstances 8. Structural function approach  See society as a system of interrelated parts  Relates society to an organization  Every group, organization, and behavior serves a function for a society or meets a need  Families – ensure care for children  Schools – ensures skills for an occupation  Political system – sets goals for the nation  Religion – gives meaning and purpose for life  Early Theorists ( 1800s)  Society functions smoothly, but when it doesn’t it is because people are weak or bad  Herbert spencer- social Darwinism – little evidence to support  Manifests vs Latent functions  Even Bad things can serve a positive function, Ex) Terrorist attacks  Treats social problems as dysfunctions of society – do not function for the betterment of everyone  Criticism: Pays little attention to social divisions of race, class, gender; defends the status quo  Ex) Deviants ->crime -> Public outrage & Punishments -> 9. Social Conflict Approach  Sees society as divided by inequality and conflict  Blaming - The fundamental issue is whether social problems emanate from the pathologies of individuals ( person- blame ) or from the situations in which deviants are involved ( system-blame ), that is, whether deviants are the problem itself or only victims of it. The answer no doubt lies somewhere between the two extremes, but because the individual- or victim-blamers have held sway, we should examine their reasoning (Ryan 1976). - The person-blame ideology invites not only person-change treatment programs but also programs for person-control. - The system-blamer would argue that this emphasis, too, treats the symptom rather than the disease. - A final consequence of a person-blame interpretation is that it reinforces social myths about the degree of control individuals have over their fate. It provides justification for a form of social Darwinism : that the placement of people in the stratification system is a function of their ability and effort. By this logic, the poor are poor because they are the dregs of society. In short, they deserve their fate, as do the successful in society. Thus, in this viewpoint, little sympathy exists for government programs to increase welfare to the poor.  Society is divided into haves and have nots  Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)class conflict theory, communist manifesto -Analyzed capitalism – economic system where business is privately owned - Blames capitalism for seeking profit for a few, causing social problems - Bourgeoisie – owners of the means of production - Proletariat – industrial workers/lower class - Predicted the rise of the lower class & class revolution  Multicultural theory - Argues that many social problems (i.e. poverty & crime) are the result of racial/ethnic inequality  Dominant idea in sociology  Challenges the ideas of structural functionalists that society is well-integrated  Criticism: Marx was descriptive, not proscriptive; Rejects objectivity for political activism 10. Feminist approach  Similar to social conflict approach  Feminism- political movement that seeks social equality for men and women  Argues that women suffer from social problems more than men because society places men in position of power over women  Women have experienced increased equality yet still earn 77% the salary of men on average, a woman earns about .80 cents for every dollar a man makes  More likely to live in poverty  Critics  What about equality for men, paternity leave  Women take more time off to take of children, men want that too 11. Symbolic interactionalism Approach  Micro approach - Sees society as a product of individuals interacting with one another using symbols which are assigned meaning  Macro approach - Individuals assign value to things or ways of life because those around them do  Learning theory- people learn bad behavior from those around them  Ex) Prostitution  Labeling theory – reality is socially constructed, it depends how people define it  Ex) underage drinking


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