Chapter 1 Introducing Sociology
Chapter Outline • Introduction • The Sociological Perspective • Sociological Theories and Theorists • Conducting Research • The Main Methods of Sociological Research • How Sociology Helps Us Deal with Today’s Challenges
Sociology • The systematic study of human behavior in social context.
Four Sociological Explanations • Functionalism • Conflict Theory • Symbolic Interactionism • Feminism
Functionalism • Social phenomenon persist if they contribute to social stability—and die off if they don’t
Conflict Theory • Highlights the tensions underlying existing social arrangements • Examines the capacity of those tensions to burst into the open and cause social change
Symbolic Interactionism • Examines how various aspects of social life convey meaning and thereby assist or impede communication
Feminism • Focused on gender: one’s sense of being masculine or feminine • Interrogates patriarchy: the system of male domination of women
C. Wright Mills • Wrote that the sociologist’s main task is to identify and explain the connection between people’s personal troubles and the social structures in which they are embedded. • Coined the term “sociological imagination”
Sociological Imagination • The quality of mind that enables one to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures.
Levels of Social Structure • Microstructures are patterns of intimate social relations. • Mesostructures are patterns of organizational social relations • Macrostructures are social relations outside your circle of intimates and acquaintances. • Global structures are international organizations, worldwide travel and communication, and economic relations between countries.
Origins of the Sociological Imagination • The Scientific Revolution suggested that a science of society is possible. • The Democratic Revolution suggested people can intervene to improve society. • The Industrial Revolution presented social thinkers with social problems in need of a solution.
Scientific Revolution • Began in Europe about 1550. • Encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence, not just speculation.
Democratic Revolution • Began about 1750, during which the citizens of the United States, France, and other countries broadened their participation in government. • This revolution suggested that people organize society and that human intervention can therefore resolve social problems.
Industrial Revolution • The rapid economic transformation that began in Britain in the 1780s. • Involved the application of science and technology to industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the formation of a working class. • Created a host of new and serious social problems that attracted the attention of many social thinkers.
Founders of Sociology • Durkheim • Parsons and Merton • Marx • Weber • DuBois • Mead • Martineau and Addams
Durkheim’s Explanation of Suicide • Showed that suicide rates are strongly influenced by social forces. • Argued that suicide rates vary because of differences in the degree of social solidarity in different groups.
Social Solidarity • The degree to which group members share beliefs and values and the intensity and frequency of their interaction.
Altruistic Suicide • Occurs when norms tightly govern behavior, so individual actions are often in the group interest. • Example: When soldiers knowingly give up their lives to protect members of their unit.
Egoistic Suicide • Results from a lack of integration of the individual into society because of weak social ties to others. • Example: The rate of egoistic suicide is likely to be high among people who lack friends and are unmarried.
Anomic Suicide • Occurs when norms governing behavior are vaguely defined. • Example: When people live in a society lacking a widely shared code of morality, the rate of anomic suicide is likely to be high.
Talcott Parsons • Leading proponent of functionalism. • Argued that society is integrated and in equilibrium when: • the family raises new generations • the military defends society • schools teach students the skills and values they need to function as adults • religions create a shared moral code among people
Robert Merton • Leading functionalist in the United States • Proposed that social structures may have different consequences for different groups. • Some of those consequences may be disruptive or dysfunctional. • Some functions are manifest (intended), others are latent (unintended).
Features of Functionalism • Human behavior is governed by social structures. • Theories show how social structures maintain or undermine social stability. • Theories emphasize that social structures are based on shared values. • Suggests that reestablishing equilibrium can best solve most social problems.
Karl Marx • German social thinker who originated conflict theory. • Class conflict, the struggle between classes to resist and overcome the opposition of other classes, lies at the center of his ideas.
Max Weber • Noted the rapid growth of the service sector of the economy, with nonmanual workers and professionals. • Argued that members of these occupational groups stabilize society because they enjoy higher status and income than manual workers in the manufacturing sector.
Features of Conflict Theory • Macro-level structures: class relations or patterns of domination, submission and struggle • Inequality: patterns of inequality produce social stability • Conflict: members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantage over subordinate groups • Lessening privilege: will lower the level of conflict
W.E.B. DuBois • The first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. • A founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the country’s second Department of Sociology, at Atlanta University.
George Herbert Mead • The driving force behind the study of how the individual’s sense of self is formed in the course of interaction with other people. • Mead and his colleagues developed symbolic interactionism.
Features of Symbolic Interactionism • Focus on interpersonal and micro-level communication • Social life is possible only because people attach subjective meaning to things • As active agents people create their social circumstances • Increases our tolerance of people who may be different from us
Harriet Martineau • Often called the first woman sociologist. • Martineau translated Comte into English and wrote one of the first books on research methods. • She undertook critical studies of slavery, factory laws, and gender inequality and was a leading advocate of voting rights and higher education for women and gender equality in the family.
Jane Addams • Jane Addams was cofounder of Hull House, a shelter for the destitute in Chicago’s slums. • She spent a lifetime fighting for social reform and provided a research platform for sociologists from the University of Chicago. • In 1931, Adams received the Nobel Prize.
Features of Feminist Theory • Focuses on patriarchy. • Holds that male domination and female subordination are determined by power and social convention. • Examines the operation of patriarchy in micro- and macro-level settings. • Patterns of gender inequality should be changed for the benefit of all members of society.
Polling Question • Which sociological perspective do you think is generally the strongest in explaining things in our society? • Structural-functional • Conflict • Symbolic interactionist • Feminist
Research • The process of carefully observing reality to assess the validity of a theory.
Ethical Considerations • Researchers must respect their subjects’ rights to: • Safety • Privacy • Confidentiality • Informed consent
Experiment • A carefully controlled artificial situation that allows researchers to isolate hypothesized causes and measure their effects precisely.
Variables • Dependent variable • The presumed effect in a cause-and effect relationship. • Independent variable • The presumed cause in a cause-and effect relationship.
Experimental Groups • Experimental Group • The group in an experiment that is exposed to the independent variable. • Control Group • The group in an experiment that is not exposed to the independent variable.
Reliability vs. Validity • Reliability • The degree to which a measurement procedure yields consistent results • Validity • The degree to which a measure actually measures what it is intended to measure
Surveys • Asks people questions about their knowledge, attitudes, or behavior, either in a face-to-face interview, telephone interview, or paper-and pencil format.
Sample vs. Population • Sample • Part of the population of research interest that is selected for analysis. • Population • The entire group about which the researcher wishes to generalize.
Closed-ended vs. Open-Ended Questions • Close-ended • A type of survey question that provides the respondent with a list of permitted answers. • Open-ended • A type of survey question that allows respondents to answer in their own words
Four Dangers of Survey Questions • Exclusion of part of population from sampling frame • Refusal of some people to participate in the survey • Unwillingness of some respondents to answer questions frankly • Asking confusing, leading or inflammatory questions
Polling Question • If a university asks you to complete an anonymous, written survey asking questions about your sexual attitudes, experiences, and behaviors, how likely is it you will agree to complete the survey? • Very likely • Somewhat likely • Unsure • Somewhat unlikely • Very unlikely