Introduction to Sociology

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Information about Introduction to Sociology

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: mdeane001



Bits and pieces have been collected over the years - and continually updated in this Introductory powerpoint for Sociology

Marty W. Deane – Instructor SOCL 100 - 503 W 6:00-8:50

What Is Sociology? .The systematic study of human society and social behavior • Systematic  Scientific discipline that focuses attention on patterns of behavior • Human society  Group behavior is primary focus; how groups influence individuals and vice versa • At the “heart of sociology”  The sociological perspective which offers a unique view of society

During class, carefully observe the interaction and behavior of the instructor and the other students. What patterns do you see in who speaks? What about how people use space? What categories of people are taking the class in the first place… Think: race, social class, and gender, age.

•What was the reason for such a massacre? (how could society have contributed?) •When did it become a societal issue versus a personal issue? (Sociological V. Psychological) •What was the response to the shootings? •Could Columbine/Va Tech/etc. have had an effect?

To Understand Sociology: TWO things you must develop: Sociological Perspective Sociological Imagination

Keep in mind, that the perspective you take influences what you see One perspective emphasizes certain aspects of an event Another perspective accepts different aspects of the same event Same event – seen in different ways.

What do you see?


Can you see both parallel and the slope?

Benefits of the Sociological Perspective 1. Helps us assess the truth of common sense 2. Helps us assess both opportunities and constraints in our lives 3. Empowers us to be active participants in our society 4. Helps us live in a diverse world

Importance of Global Perspective (as a sociological perspective ) Where we live makes a great difference in shaping our lives Societies throughout the world are increasingly interconnected through technology and economics Many problems that we faced in the United States are more serious elsewhere Thinking globally is a good way to learn more about ourselves

The Sociological Perspective: Peter Berger (1963) Seeing the general in the particular Sociologists identify general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals Individuals are unique but, society’s social forces shape us into “kinds” of people (e.g. Women, Catholics, Hispanics) Seeing the strange in the familiar Giving up the idea that human behavior is simply a matter of what individuals decide to do (e.g. who is more likely to divorce?) Understanding that society shapes our lives

Sociological Perspective People are influenced by their society An individual’s identity is socially bestowed (who we are – and how people treat us are usually consequences of our social location in society) Our personalities are shaped by the way we are accepted, rejected, and defined by other people. (e.g. are we worthy – depends on the values of the groups in which we are

•Perspective: What the “Blurred Lines” being described in the song? This was a #1 Song…. Controversial? Why? •Sociology is about Asking the right questions •Seeing a different perspective – what if we flip the script?

Applying the Sociological Perspective Periods of crisis or social change prompt people to think sociologically: (e.g. Great Depression: Something is wrong with me, I can’t find a job! (personal) Thinking sociologically : The economy has collapsed there are few jobs to be found – t isn’t just me I

Sociological Imagination • C. Wright Mills 1959

Age 28 - 1944

Mills traveled via motorcycle back and forth to Columbia University

C. Wright Mills’ Sociological Imagination The power of the sociological perspective lies not just in changing individual lives but in transforming society Society, (not personal failings) is a root cause of social problems The sociological imagination transforms personal problems into public issues

Mills: Sociological Imagination ….enables us to grasp the connection between history and biography Turns personal problems into public issues The Society in which we grow up, and our particular location in that society, lie at the center of what we do and what we think. To understand others issues – think of the social forces that are affecting their lives.

Mills Basic Assumptions Human beings cannot be understood apart from the social and historical structures in which they are formed and in which they interact The sociological imagination is simply a “quality of mind” that allows us to grasp “history” and biography” and the relations between the two within society.

Major Sociological Theories

All the Discussion about Perspective – Leads to “The Big Three” Structural-Functional - Macro Social Conflict - Macro Symbolic Interactionism - Micro

Sociological Theory Theory: a statement of how and why facts are related Explains social behavior to the real world Theoretical paradigm: a set of fundamental assumptions that guides theory

THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY One of the youngest of academic disciplines, sociology has it origins in powerful social forces: Social Change Industrialization, urbanization, political revolution, and a new awareness of society Science 3-Stages: Theological, Metaphysical & Scientific Positivism – a way of understanding based on science Gender & Race These important contributions have been pushed to the margins of society

Durkheim’s Study of Suicide Emile Durkheim’s research showed that society affects even our most personal choices. More likely to commit suicide : Male Protestants who were wealthy and unmarried Less likely to commit: Male Jews and Catholics who were poor and married One of the basic findings: Why? The differences between these groups had to do with “social integration” Those with strong social ties had less of a chance of COMMITING suicide

History and Biography • Jimmie Hendrix 1970 • Jim Morrison 1971 • Janis Joplin - 1970

Teenage Wasteland • 1967-1994

Structural –Functional Paradigm The Basics A macro-level orientation, concerned with broad patterns that shape society as a whole Views society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability Key Eelements: Social structure refers to any relatively stable patterns of social behavior found in social institutions Social function refers to the consequences for the operation of society as a whole

Who’s Who in Structural-Functional Paradigm Auguste Comte Importance of social integration during times of rapid change Emile Durkheim Helped establish sociology as a university discipline/Major study of suicide Herbert Spencer Compared society to the human body,

Social-Conflict Paradigm The Basics: A macro-oriented paradigm Views society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change Key elements: Society is structured in ways to benefit a few at the expense of the majority Factors such as race, sex, class, and age are linked to social inequality Dominant group vs. Minority group relations Incompatible interests and major differences

Who’s Who in Social-Conflict Paradigm Karl Marx Society is a complex system characterized by inequality and conflict that generate social change W.E.B. DuBois Race as the major problem facing the United States in the twentieth century

Who’s Who in Social-Conflict Paradigm Jane Adams Although trained at the University of Chicago – was not considered a serious Sociologist because she was female Harriet Martineau First female Sociologist and fought for changes in educational policy – so women could have choices other than home

Symbolic Interaction Paradigm The Basics: A micro-level orientation, a close-up focus on social interactions in specific situations Views society as the product of everyday interactions of individuals Key Elements: Society is nothing more than the shared reality that people construct as they interact with one another Society is a complex, ever-changing mosaic of subjective meanings

Who’s Who in Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm Max Weber Understanding a setting from the people in it George Herbert Mead How we build personalities from social experience Erving Goffman Dramaturgical analysis George Homans & Peter Blau Social-exchange analysis

Critical Evaluation Structural-Functional Too broad, ignores inequalities of social class, race & gender, focuses on stability at the expense of conflict Social-Conflict Too broad, ignores how shared values and mutual interdependence unify society, pursues political goals Symbolic-Interaction Ignores larger social structures, effects of culture, factors such as class, gender & race

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