The social sciences sociology
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The Social Sciences: Sociology. What is Sociology?. Systematic study of groups and societies How does our society affect our behavior? Sociological Perspective: Stresses the social contexts in which we live What we do and how we think are the result of exposure to human groups.

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What is Sociology?

  • Systematic study of groups and societies

  • How does our society affect our behavior?

  • Sociological Perspective:

    • Stresses the social contexts in which we live

    • What we do and how we think are the result of exposure to human groups



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Founders of Sociology

  • Auguste Comte

  • Positivism:

    • Knowledge = empirical observations

  • Father of sociology

    • Apply science to studydevelopment of societies


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Founders of Sociology

  • Herbert Spencer

  • Social Darwinism:

    • Societies evolve fromlower to higher forms

    • ‘Survival of the fittest’


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Founders of Sociology

  • Karl Marx

  • Class Conflict

    • Bourgeoisie vs proletariat


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Founders of Sociology

  • Emile Durkheim

  • Social integration

    • Degree to which peopleare tied to their social group

  • Behavior cannot be understood in individualterms; we must also examine social forces that affect people


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Founders of Sociology

  • Max Weber

  • Religion is the force ofsocial change

    • Protestant ethic: Frugalliving and investing to make money


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Theoretical Perspectives

  • Theory:

    • Organizes empirical observations (explains)

    • Acts as a guide for future observations (predicts)

  • Three major theories in sociology

    • Symbolic interactionism

    • Functional analysis

    • Conflict theory


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Symbolic Interactionism

  • Symbol: Something to which we attach meaning

    • Example: We define ourselves and our relationships according to symbols

  • Society is composed of symbols

  • Analyze how behaviors depend on the symbols we use to define ourselves and others


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Symbolic Interactionism

  • How would symbolic interactionism explain high divorce rate in the U.S.?

    • Marriage used to be seen as a lifelong commitment

    • Divorce was viewed as immoral, a flagrant disregard for public opinion, and abandonment of adult responsibilities


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Emotional satisfaction

‘True love’ ideal

Meaning of children

Meaning of parenthood

Marital roles

Perception of alternatives

Meaning of divorce

Changes in the law

Symbolic Interactionism


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Functional Analysis

  • Society is a whole unit, made up of parts that work together (like a living organism)

    • Whenever we examine a part of a society, we need to look for ways it functions (helps) and dysfunctions (harms) in relation to the larger society


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Functional Analysis

  • How would functional analysis explain high divorce rate in the U.S.?

    • Industrialization and urbanization undermined traditional functions of the family, leading to high divorce rate


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Functional Analysis

  • Basic functions of the family:

    • Economic production

    • Socialization of children

    • Care of sick and elderly

    • Recreation

    • Reproduction


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Conflict Theory

  • Society is composed of groups that engage in competition for scarce resources

  • Karl Marx’s observations of class struggle

  • Authority: Power that people consider legitimate


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Conflict Theory

  • How would conflict theory explain high divorce rate in the U.S.?

    • Marriage reflects basic inequalities between men and women

    • Higher divorce rate is a sign that women are making headway in their struggle with men


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Functions of Sociologyaka What’s in it for me?

  • General enlightenment

  • Challenge of public perceptions


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Functions of Sociologyaka What’s in it for me?

  • General enlightenment

  • Challenge of public perceptions

  • Identify social problems and design solutions


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Functions of Sociologyaka What’s in it for me?

  • General enlightenment

  • Challenge of public perceptions

  • Identify social problems and designing solutions

  • Sociological imagination or sociological perspective


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