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SOC 111 chapter 1 notes

by: Kayla Caves

SOC 111 chapter 1 notes SOC 111

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These notes cover chapter 1 from the book
Introduction to Sociology
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kayla Caves on Thursday July 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 111 at Valparaiso University taught by in Summer 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Sociology at Valparaiso University.


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Date Created: 07/21/16
Chapter 1:  The Sociological Imagination • Sociology is the study of human society. • In the mid­twentieth century, sociologist C. Wright Mills argued  that we need to use our sociological imagination to think critically  about the social world around us. • The sociological imagination is the ability to connect one’s  personal experiences to society at large and greater historical  forces. Using our sociological imagination allows us to “make the  familiar strange” or to question habits or customs that seem  “natural” to us. What Is a Social Institution? • A social institution is a group of social positions, connected by  social relations, that perform a social role. Social institutions, such as the legal system, the labor market, or language itself, have a  great influence on our behavior and are constantly changing. • The interactions and meanings we ascribe to social institutions  shape and change them. • Social identity is how individuals define themselves in  relationship to groups they are a part of (or in relationship to  groups they choose not to be a part of). We all contribute to one  another’s social identity, which can also be thought of as a grand  narrative constructed of many individual stories. The Sociology of Sociology • The French scholar Auguste Comte, founder of what he called  “social physics” or “positivism,” felt that we could better  understand society by determining the logic or scientific laws  governing human behavior. • Harriet Martineau, the first to translate Comte’s written works to  English, was one of the earliest feminist social scientists. • Historical materialism, a theory developed by Karl Marx,  identifies class conflict as the primary cause of social change.  Marx’s writings provided the theoretical basis for Communism. Marx brought the material world back into history. • Max Weber felt that culture and politics as well as economics  were important influences on society, and his emphasis on  subjectivity became a foundation of interpretive sociology.  Weber was suggesting that sociologists approach social behavior from the perspective of those engaging in it. In other words, to truly understand why people act the way they do, a sociologist must understand the meanings people attach to their actions. • Emile Durkheim, considered the founding practitioner of  positivist sociology, developed the theory that the division of  labor in a given society helps to determine how social cohesion is  maintained, or not maintained, in that society. Durkheim argues that one of the main social forces leading to suicide is the sense of normlessness resulting from drastic changes in living conditions or arrangements, which he calls anomie. • Georg Simmel established what is today referred to as formal  sociology, or a sociology of pure numbers. His work was influential in the development of urban sociology and cultural sociology, and his work with small-group interactions served as an intellectual precedent for later sociologists who came to study microinteractions. • The Chicago School focused on empirical research with the  belief that people’s behaviors and personalities are shaped by  their social and physical environments. Humans’ behaviors and personalities are shaped by their social and physical environments, a concept known as social ecology. • Double consciousness, a concept developed by W. E. B.  DuBois, refers to an individual's constant awareness of how  others perceive them and how those perceptions alter their own  behavior. • Modern sociological theories include functionalism, conflict theory, feminist theory, symbolic interactionism, postmodernism, and  midrange theory. • Functionalism: functionalism derived its name from the notion that the best way to analyze society was to identify the roles that different aspects or phenomena play. These functions may be manifest (explicit) or latent (hidden). This lens is really just an extension of a nineteenth-century theory called organicism, the notion that society is like a living organism, each part of which serves an important role in keeping society together. • Conflict theory: conflict theory viewed society from exactly the opposite perspective. Drawing on the ideas of Marx, the theory—as expressed by Ralph Dahrendorf, Lewis Coser, and others—stated that conflict among competing interests is the basic, animating force of any society. Competition, not consensus, is the essential nature, and this conflict at all levels of analysis (from the individual to the family to the tribe to the nation-state), in turn, drives social change. And such social change occurs only through revolution and war, not evolution or baby steps. • Feminist theory: feminist theory shares many ideas with Marxist theory—in particular, the Marxist emphasis on conflict and political reform. Feminism is not one idea but a catchall term for many theories. What they all have in common is an emphasis on women’s experiences and a belief that sociology and society in general subordinate women. Feminist theorists emphasize equality between men and women and want to see women’s lives and experiences represented in sociological studies. • Symbolic interactionism: which eschewed big theories of society (macrosociology) and instead focused on how face-to-face interactions create the social world (microsociology). Exemplified most notably by the work of one of George Herbert Mead’s students, Herbert Blumer, this paradigm operates on the basic premise of a cycle of meaning—namely, the idea that people act in response to the meaning that signs and social signals hold for them (e.g., a red light means stop). By acting on perceptions of the social world in this way and regarding these meanings as sui generis (i.e., appearing to be self- constituting rather than flimsily constructed by ourselves or others), we then collectively make their meaning so. • Postmodernism: can perhaps be summarized succinctly as the notion that these shared meanings have eroded. A red light, for instance, may have multiple meanings to different groups or individuals in society. There is no longer one version of history that is correct. Everything is interpretable within this framework; even “facts” are up for debate • Mindrange theory: attempts to predict how certain social institutions tend to function. For example, a midrange theorist might develop a theory of democracy (under what political or demographic conditions does it arise?), a theory of the household (when do households expand to include extended kin or nonkin, and when do they contract to the nuclear family unit or the individual?), or a theory explaining the relationship between the educational system and the labor market. The key to midrange theory is that it generates falsifiable hypotheses—predictions that can be tested by analyzing the real world. Sociology and Its Cousins Sociology focuses on making comparisons across cases to find  patterns and create hypotheses about how societies work now or  in the past. Sociology looks at how individuals interact with one  another as well as at how groups, small and large, interact with  one another. History and anthropology tend to focus more on  particular circumstances, though in cultural anthropology in  particular, there can be a lot of overlap with sociology.  Psychology and biology examine things on more of a micro  level than sociology does, and economics is an entirely  quantitative discipline. Political science focuses on one aspect of social relations—power. These distinctions are important, but it’s  also important to keep in mind that a lot of overlap exists between the work done in different academic disciplines.  Divisions within Sociology • Interpretive sociology focuses on the meanings people attach to social phenomena, prioritizing specific situations over a search for social facts that transcend time and place. • Positivist sociology, also called the “normal science” model of  sociology, attempts to reveal the social facts that affect social life  by developing and testing hypotheses based on theories about  how the social world works. • Microsociology seeks to understand local interactional contexts,  focusing on face­to­face encounters and gathering data through  participant observations and in­depth interviews. • Macrosociology generally looks at social dynamics across whole societies or large parts of them and often relies on statistical  analysis to do so. Chapter 2:  Introduction • Causality is the idea that a change in one factor results in a corresponding change in another factor. • Research methods are standard rules that social scientists follow when trying to establish a causal relationship between social elements. • Quantitative methods seek to obtain information about the social world that is in, or can be converted to, numeric form. • Qualitative methods attempt to collect information about the social world that cannot be readily converted to numeric form. Research 101: The Basics • Sociological research generally begins with a question that asks what causes a certain social phenomenon to occur. • Using a deductive approach to research, we start with a theory, develop a hypothesis, make empirical observations, and then analyze the data collected through observation to confirm, reject, or modify the original theory. • Using an inductive approach to research, we start with empirical observation and then work to form a theory. • Correlation exists when we simply observe change in two things simultaneously • causation exists when we can prove that a change in one factor causes the change in the other factocausality—that change in one factor causes a change in another. It’s much easier to say two things are correlated, which just means that we observe change in both. • Sociologists conduct research to try to prove causation. In order to prove causation, researchers need to establish correlation and time order and rule out alternative explanations. • A dependent variable is the outcome that a researcher is trying to explain • An independent variable is a measured factor that the researcher believes has a causal impact on the dependent variable. • In social research, a hypothesis is a proposed relationship between two variables. For all hypotheses, both a null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis exist. • Operationalization is the process by which a researcher specifies the terms and methods he or she will use in a particular study. • Moderating variables are factors that affect the relationship between the independent and dependent variables • mediating variables are factors that are positioned between the independent and dependent variables but do not affect the relationship between them. • Measures used to evaluate variables in a hypothesis must be valid and reliable and the outcomes of a particular research study must be generalizable to a larger population. • Researchers must be aware of the effects they have on the people, relationships, and processes they are studying. • Validity:means that it measures what you intend it to. So if you step on a scale and it measures your height, it’s not valid. Likewise, if I ask you how happy you are with your life in general, and you tell me how happy you are with school in particular, at this exact moment my question isn’t a valid measure of your life satisfaction. • Reliability: refers to how likely you are to obtain the same result using the same measure the next time. A scale that’s off by ten pounds might not be totally valid— it will not give me my actual weight—but the scale is reliable if every time I step on it, it reads exactly ten pounds less than my true weight. • Generalizability: s the extent to which we can claim that our findings inform us about a group larger than the one we studied. • Reflexivity: which means analyzing and critically considering the white coat effects you may be inspiring with your research process. • Population: could be the entire U.S. population, gay fathers, public schools in the rural South, science textbooks, gangs, Fortune 500 companies, or middle-class, Caucasian, single mothers. Most of the time it’s too time consuming and expensive to collect information about the entire population you want to study • Sample: then, is the subset of the population from which you are actually collecting data. (If you do collect information on the entire population, it’s called a census.) • Case study: often used in qualitative research, is an indepth look at a specific phenomenon in a particular social setting. • Interviews: common form of gathering qualitative data. • Surveys: are an ordered series of questions intended to elicit information from respondents, and they can be powerful methods of data collection. Surveys may be done anonymously and distributed widely, so you can reach a much larger sample than if you relied solely on interviews. • Historical methods: do is collect data from written reports, newspaper articles, journals, transcripts, television programs, diaries, artwork, and other artifacts that date back to the period they want to study. • Comparative Research: is a methodology by which a researcher compares two or more entities with the intent of learning more about the factors that differ between them. • Content analysis: is a systematic analysis of the content in written or recorded material. • Manifest content: refers to what we can observe; Morning’s study included overt discussions and definitions of race and images of different races. • Latent content: refers to what is implied but not stated outright; Morning looked for sections of the texts where race was directly implied, even if the word race wasn’t used. • Feminist methodology treats women’s experiences as legitimate empirical and theoretical resources, promotes social science that may bring about policy change to help women, and is as conscious of the role of the researcher as that of the subjects being studied. • Participant observation, interviews, survey research, historical methods, comparative research, experimentation, and content analysis are all types of data collection used in social research. Ethics of Social Research • Researchers must meet codified standards, which are often set by professional associations, academic institutions, or research centers, when conducting studies. • Researchers must guard against causing physical, emotional, or psychological harm to their subjects. By adhering to informed consent and voluntary participation guidelines, researchers can make sure their subjects know they are participating in a study and have voluntarily chosen to participate. Public sociology refers to the practice of using sociological research, teaching, and service to reach a wider (not solely academic) audience and to influence society.


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