Introduction to Sociology Chapter 1
The Benefits of Sociology “Using the sociological perspective makes us wiser, more active, and more powerful citizens and professionals.” • We can assess the truth of common sense • We can see the opportunities and constraints in our everyday lives • We can be active participants in our society • We are able to live in a diverse world
Careers in Sociology • Market research • Advertising • Government official • Criminal justice • Pre-law • Becoming a sociology professor
Some key terms… • Social structure – relative stable pattern of social behavior • Social function – the consequences of a social pattern for the operation of society as a whole • Social dysfunction – any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society
Some key terms… • Manifest function – the recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern • Latent function – unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern
Some key terms… • Macro-level orientation – broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole • Micro-level orientation – a close-up focus on social interaction in specific situation
The Sociological Perspective • Seeing the general in the particular – We are individuals, but we also belong to certain categories. People who belong to the same category share similar experiences.
The Sociological Perspective • Seeing the strange in the familiar – We learn to see how society affects us in ways we would never have imagined.
The Sociological Perspective • Seeing society in our everyday choices – Our personal decisions are shaped by society.
The Sociological Perspective • Seeing society in marginality and crisis - When we are marginalized (an outsider) or when society changes quickly (crisis) we are more likely to see how society affects us.
Sociological Theories • A theory is a statement of how and why facts are related. “John moves to NY from Kansas, has gone on five dates, but none of the women like him. Why?”
Sociological Theories • Structural-Functional Approach - approach looking at how large parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. “John is having a hard time because he is not going on dates with women who are most similar to him. Dating and marriage works for society because it allows to people with common interests to work towards common goals. He is from Kansas…the girls are from NY. It is not a good fit.”
Sociological Theories • Social-Conflict Approach – society is a place for conflict, groups of people are in conflict, and society is constantly changing. “John is having a hard time because he is trying to date upper class women from NY. Upper class women look down on middle and lower class men.”
Sociological Theories • Gender-Conflict Approach - looking at conflict and inequality between men and women “On dates, John is too patriarchal. As a man, he is insensitive to women. He is degrading to women, and does not treat them with the respect they deserve.”
Sociological Theories • Race-Conflict Approach - looking at the conflict between racial and ethnic groups “John reveals on his date that he is ½ Native American and talks about his heritage and background. The European American women he dates discriminate against him.”
Sociological Theories • Symbolic-Interaction Approach – society is the product of everyday actions of individuals “During dates, John is just not smooth. He does not possess the verbal skills to flatter and impress women.”
Ways to Do Sociology • After you have decided upon a theoretical approach, you must decide what is your purpose for using this sociological theory. In other words, what research orientation do you want to take? There are three general orientations…
Research Orientation • Positivist Sociology – This is the most common research orientation. We gain knowledge by gathering data systematically. With this way of doing sociology, the researcher is a neutral observer. “To understand John’s tough luck, a positivist sociologist would give surveys to John and all his dates, look at census data for the ratio of men and women…etc.”
Research Orientation • Interpretive Sociology – this orientation focuses on the meanings people place in their actions. For this approach, the researcher is a participant. “To understand John’s plight, the interpretive sociologist may go on a double date with John to understand the interactions between John and his dates. Or, he or she may just enjoy the dating scene in NYC and find out what people want and think.”
Research Orientation • Critical Sociology – focuses on the need for social change. In this way, the sociologist is an activist. “The sociologist may discuss with John his blunders at disrespecting women. Or, the sociologist may want to start some culturally awareness classes so that women will not be prejudiced towards John.”
Research Methods • Once you have decided on a theory, and the way you want to approach the situation, then you have to go about finally conducting your research. How do you do this? • Experiment – Used to investigate cause and effect • Survey – subjects respond to a series of statements or questions on a questionnaire or interview • Participant Observation – Sociologists involve themselves in the day to day activities of people • Existing Sources – Sometimes sociologists use information (data) that has been gathered by others
Back to the Sociological Perspective! • We could be tempted to just say that “women don’t dig John.” • But sociologists would look at this situation from many different angles to understand why he is having such a hard time.
Response Paper Assignment Think of a situation or phenomena from your life that can be understood using a sociological perspective. First describe that situation. Second, describe how a sociologist might conduct a study of your situation through one specific theoretical approach and one specific research orientation. Third, describe a second theoretical approach and research orientation. Fourth, compare and contrast the two potential studies. Which would you use? Which study you think may provide the most understanding and why?