The discipline of sociology
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Lecture 1. the discipline of sociology. The Sociological Imagination. Defined as: “...the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society” (Mills, 1959) Defining “society” social group geographical territory

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The discipline of sociology

Lecture 1

the discipline of sociology


The sociological imagination

The Sociological Imagination

Defined as: “...the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society” (Mills, 1959)

Defining “society”

social group

geographical territory

same political authority and cultural expectations


Importance of global interdependence

Importance of Global Interdependence

Where we live shapes the lives we lead

Societies are increasingly interconnected

Many social problems in Canada are more serious elsewhere

Macionis and Gerber, 2011:8


The discipline of sociology1

The Discipline of Sociology

  • Industrial economy

  • Growth of cities

  • Political change


Early thinkers

Early Thinkers

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

coined the term sociology..and considered the founder

He believed that societies contained:

Social Statics

Social Dynamics

Natural science applied to society

Positivism


Early thinkers1

Early Thinkers

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)

Made Comte’s work more accessible

She was an active sociologist studying social customs and consequences of industrialism and capitalism


Early thinkers2

Early Thinkers

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

Believed that people are a product of the social environment

Society are built of social facts

Anomie - a condition when social control becomes ineffective as a result of the loss of shared values and a sense of purpose in society

Scientific approach to studying social facts


What do these thinkers have in common

What do these thinkers have in common?


Questioning the status quo

Questioning the status quo

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Conflict (especially class conflict) was necessary

  • Bourgeoisie and proletariat

  • Capitalist system made poverty

  • Capitalist class controls and exploits the masses of struggling workers

  • Results in Alienation

  • Marx predicted that the workers would becomes aware of its exploitation and overthrow the capitalists, creating a free and classless society


  • Just one more

    Just one more…

    Max Weber (1864-1920)

    • Value-free sociology conducted in a scientific manner

    • Verstehen – see the world as others see it

    • Bureaucracies and organization


    Development in north america

    Development in North America

    United States

    Canada

    First department

    Canadian Review of Sociology founded in 1965


    Theoretical perspectives

    Theoretical Perspectives

    • Theory

    • Perspective

    • A basic image of society that helps us think about social issues and guide social research


    Contemporary theoretical perspectives

    Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives

    Functionalist (or structural-functionalist)

    Conflict

    Feminist

    Symbolic Interactionist


    Functionalist perspectives

    Functionalist Perspectives

    Assumption that society is a stable, orderly system

    The parts of society work together to promote solidarity and stability

    Everything in a society (institutions, customs, interactions) function to keep the society going


    Types of functions

    Types of functions

    R. K. Merton (1910-2003)

    Attempted to classify functions

    Manifest

    Latent

    Dysfunctions


    Conflict perspectives

    Conflict Perspectives

    Assumption that groups in society are engaged in a continuous power struggle for control of scarce resources

    Social patterns and relations benefit some individuals while hurting others

    Emphasize factors such as social class, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and age

    Conflict can also lead to social change


    Feminist perspectives

    Feminist Perspectives

    Assumption that gender is necessary category to understand and to explain inequalities in the household, paid labour force, politics, law and culture

    There is no single unified approach.

    Focus on patriarchy : a hierarchical system of power in which males possess greater economic and social privilege than females


    Symbolic interactionist perspectives

    Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives

    Assumption that society is a sum of the interactions of individuals and groups

    Focuses on micro-level of analysis

    Symbolic interactionists attempt to examine people’s day-to-day interactions and their behaviour in groups

    This perspective examines:

    Interaction

    Symbol

    Each person has a subjective interpretation of a given situation


    Theory guides our research

    Theory guides our research!

    • Research is the process of systematically collecting information for the purposes of testing an existing theory or generating a new one

    • But not all sociologists collect research in the same manner


    The sociological research process

    The Sociological Research Process

    With quantitative research, the goal is scientific objectivity, and the focus is on data that can be measured numerically


    The sociological research process1

    The Sociological Research Process

    With Qualitative Research, the use of interpretative description (words) rather than statistics (numbers) are used to analyze the underlying meanings and patterns of social relationships


    Research methods

    Research Methods

    Research methods: strategies or techniques for systematically conducting research

    Surveys

    Secondary Analysis of Existing Data

    Field Research

    Experiments


    Surveys

    Surveys

    Survey: a poll in which the researcher gathers facts or attempts to determine the relationship among facts

    Respondents: people who provide data for analysis through interviews or questionnaires


    The discipline of sociology

    Types of Surveys

    • Interview

    • Personal and direct contact

    • Face to face Respondents

    • Problems: Major cost and time

    • Telephone

    • More honest and less threatening

    • Greater control over the data

    • Problems: Some not accessible to researchers

    • Self Administered

    • Questionnaires

    • Simple and inexpensive

    • Respondents are anonymous

    • Problems: low response rates


    Surveys1

    Surveys

    Sampling Considerations:

    Survey research involves some type of sampling

    From a population (those persons we want to find out about)

    Sample

    Representative Sample

    Random Sample


    Secondary analysis

    Secondary Analysis

    Using data that has already been gathered by someone else

    One kind: content analysis: the systematic examination of cultural artifacts or various forms of communication to extract thematic data and draw conclusions about social life


    Field research

    Field Research

    Field research is the study of social life in its natural setting: observing and interviewing people where they live, work and play

    Use of qualitative data

    Varieties of observation:

    Participant observation

    Ethnography


    Experiments

    Experiments

    Defined: a carefully designed situation in which the researcher studies the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behaviour.

    experimental group

    control group


    Experiments1

    Experiments

    Process: After persons are selected with very similar characteristics into these two groups, then:

    Both groups are pre-tested

    Exposed to a stimulus representing the independent variable

    Post-tested: to see if the independent variable had an effect on the dependent variable


    Ethical issues in sociological research

    Ethical Issues in Sociological Research

    Elements of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association:

    Participation must be voluntary

    No harm to research subjects (physically, psychologically, or personally)

    To protect confidentiality and anonymity


    To summarize

    To summarize

    • Sociology involves using different theoretical perspectives to systematically study the social world

    • Different perspectives can be used to interpret the same issues/topics in different ways

    • These different perspectives allow us to deconstruct the “taken-for-granted” ways of thinking


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