Chapter 1 Understanding Sociology. Introduction to Sociology Spring 2010

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1 Chapter 1 Understanding Sociology Introduction to Sociology Spring 2010

2 Define sociology as a social science. Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior and human groups. It focuses on social relationships; how those relationships influence people s behavior; and how societies, the sum total of those relationships, develop and change. Sociology is considered a social science, which is quite broad in scope. Sociologists put their imagination to work in a variety of areas, including aging, criminal justice, the family, human ecology, and religion.

3 Describe the differences between sociology and common sense. Sociology focuses on the scientific study of human behavior and is separate from common sense, which tends to be inaccurate and unreliable. For example, for a long time it was considered common sense that the earth was flat.

4 Discuss the development of sociological theory. Within sociology, a theory is a set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behavior. Auguste Comte ( ) coined the term sociology to apply to the science of human behavior. He believed a theoretical science of society and systematic investigations of behavior were needed to improve society.

5 Harriet Martineau ( ) offered insightful observations of the customs and social practices of both Britain and the United States. She emphasized the impact of economy, law, trade, health, and population on social problems. Further, she spoke in favor of women s rights, the emancipation of slaves, and religious tolerance.

6 Herbert Spencer ( ) adapted Charles Darwin s evolutionary view of the survival of the fittest: by arguing that it is natural that some people are rich while others are poor. Spencer s view appealed to those with a vested interest in the status quo, not change.

7 Emile Durkheim ( ) believed behavior must be understood within a larger social context, not just in individualistic terms. His research suggested that, while a solitary act, suicide is related to the extent that individuals are integrated into group life. He concluded that religion reinforces a group s solidarity.

8 He was concerned about the consequences of work, thinking that specialized labor in industrial societies leads to anomie (his term for the loss of direction felt in a society when social control of individual behavior has become ineffective).

9 Max Weber (VAY-ber) ( ) was a German sociologist who suggested students should use verstehen (fair-shtay-en), or understanding. That is, to fully comprehend behavior, we must learn the subjective meanings people attach to their actions how they themselves view and explain their behavior. He also came up with the term ideal type, describing various characteristics of an organizational model of bureaucracy as an ideal type.

10 Karl Marx ( ) saw the factory as the center of conflict between the owners of the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the exploited labor forces (proletariat). He and his colleague Friedrich Engels argued that workers should unite to overthrow capitalist societies.

11 W.E.B. DuBois ( ) was a Black sociologist who believed that knowledge was important to combat prejudice. He believed, also, that Blacks needed full political rights in order to achieve economic and social progress. He helped to found the NAACP.

12 Charles Horton Cooley ( ) used the sociological perspective to look at smaller units, such as face-to-face groups. He is famous for the term looking glass self which indicated that we learn who we are by interacting with others.

13 Jane Addams ( ) was a social reformer who co-founded Chicago s Hull House (community center known as a settlement house). She worked with Ida Wells-Barnett, a black journalist and educator, to prevent segregation in Chicago public schools. She worked to establish a juvenile court system and a women s trade union.

14 Robert Merton ( ) produced the anomie theory of deviance, one of the most frequently cited explanations for deviance. He believed that macrosociology (deals with large scale phenomena) and microsociology (deals with study of small groups) should be brought together in the study of society in sociology.

15 Pierre Bourdieu ( ) stated that capital has many forms, including knowledge, prestige, culture, formal schooling, and social connections, which sustain individuals and families from one generation to the next.

16 Identify the major sociological perspectives. There are 3 major theoretical perspectives: 1. functionalist, 2. conflict (Marxist and Feminist), 3. interactionist.

17 Compare and contrast functionalism, conflict theory, interactionism, and feminism Functionalism stresses the way that societal parts are structured to maintain its stability. Conflict theory assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between competing groups. Both emphasize a macro view of society, in contrast to the interactionist approach (micro).

18 The Marxist conflict theorists expand on Marx s work, studying how society s institutions maintain privileges for the upper classes and keep others down. Feminist conflict theorists view gender as central to all behavior and organization. The interactionist perspective generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction in order to explain society as a whole. However, sociology makes use of all the perspectives; no one approach is considered the correct one. See Table 1-2 (page 16) in the text.

19 Discuss the development of the sociological imagination. C. Wright Mills came up with the term sociological imagination in the 50 s. It is defined as an awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society, both today and in the past. Key is viewing society as an outsider rather than only from the perspective of personal experiences and cultural biases. Example: divorce individuals problem, AND society s problem.

20 Describe the significance of social inequality. Social inequality is defined as a condition in which members of society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, or power. W.E.B. DuBois, Karl Marx, Jane Addams, Ida Wells Barnett, and other sociologists, up to Joe Feagin (2001) have stressed its importance. It is, perhaps, the major theme of analysis in sociology today.

21 Discuss the connections between sociology and social policy throughout the world. We can try to understand current social issues throughout the world. We can evaluate the success of programs and the effect of changes in policy. Problems are global, as global warming. Sociology is pivotal in studying social policy.

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