Chapter 1 The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods
Have you ever wondered… • About the structure and organization of society? • How all the “pieces” of society fit together? • What makes society “function”? What causes it to be “dysfunctional”? • How people are influenced by factors in their social environment including their family, the media as well as educational, political and economic institutions, etc.?
Sociology Students… • Explore these questions everyday in an attempt to understand “why people do the things they do” within the structure of a particular society from a sociological perspective. • Welcome to an elite group of scholars.
The “So What and Who Cares” Factor • Sociologists study what has happened, what patterns can be observed and what social factors may have contributed to the existing social condition. • The discipline of Sociology also studies who cares and who is affected by the social condition right now.
Election 2008 • What are the issues that you think sociologists would analyze regarding the presidential race of 2008? • How do you think the following issues would be relevant? • Race and Ethnicity • Age • Gender • Social Class
The Sociological Imagination • (1) What is the structure of this particular society as a whole? • (2) Where does this society stand in human history? • (3) What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period? And what varieties are coming to prevail?
Are We A Product of Our Environment • The sociological perspective says that we are a product of the socialization we receive in our culture. • Family is the primary agent of socialization in this life long process.
Chapter Outline • Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives • The Sociological Research Process • Research Methods • Ethical Issues in Sociological Research
Putting Sociological Life into Perspective • Sociology is the systematic study of human society and social interaction. • Sociologists study societies and social interactions to develop theories about: • How behavior is shaped by group life • How group life is affected by individuals
Why Study Sociology? • Helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves and our social world. • Helps us see how behavior is shaped by the groups to which we belong and our society. • Promotes understanding and tolerance by helping us look beyond personal experiences and gain insight into the larger world order.
Society • A large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory, and is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. • We are all affected by global interdependence, a relationship in which the lives of all people are intertwined and any nation’s problems are part of a larger global problem.
How Much Do You Know About Suicide? • True or False? • In the United States, suicide occurs on the average of one every 17 minutes.
How Much Do You Know About Suicide? • True. • A suicide occurs on the average of every 17 minutes in the United States. • This differs with respect to the sex, race/ethnicity, and age of the individual. • Men are four times more likely to kill themselves than are women.
How Much Do You Know About Suicide? • True or False? • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.
How Much Do You Know About Suicide? • True. • Suicide is a leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults. • It is the third leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide.
Suicide • As a Personal Trouble: • Many people consider suicide to be theresult of personal problems. • As a Public Issue: • Sociologist Emile Durkheim related suicide to the issue of cohesiveness in society instead of viewing it as an isolated act that could be understood by studying individual personalities or inherited tendencies.
Importance of a Global Sociological Imagination • The future of our nation is intertwined with the future of other nations on economic, political, environmental, and humanitarian levels. • Understanding diversity and developing tolerance for people who are different from us is important for our personal, social, and economic well-being.
High-Income Countries • These are nations with highly industrialized economies; technologically advanced industrial, administrative, and service occupations; and high levels of national and personal income. • Examples: United States, Canada • They generally have a have a high standard of living and a lower death rate due to advances in nutrition and medical technology.
Middle-Income Countries • Sometimes referred to as developing countries, these are nations with industrializing economies, particularly in urban areas, and moderate levels of national and personal income. • Examples: Nations of Eastern Europe and many Latin American countries, where nations such as Brazil and Mexico are industrializing rapidly.
Low-Income Countries • Low-income countries are primarily agrarian nations with little industrialization and low levels of national and personal income. • Examples: Many of the nations of Africa and Asia, particularly India and the People’s Republic of China.
Race, Ethnicity, and Class • Race is a term used to specify groups of people distinguished by physical characteristics. • Most sociologists consider race a social construction used to justify inequalities. • Ethnicity refers to cultural identity and is based on factors such as language or country of origin. • Class is based on wealth, power, prestige, or other valued resources.
Sex and Gender • Sex refers to the biological and anatomical differences between females and males. • Gender refers to the meanings, beliefs, and practices associated with sex differences, referred to as femininity and masculinity.
Industrialization • The process by which societies are transformed from dependence on agriculture and handmade products to dependence on manufacturing industries. • First occurred during the Industrial Revolution in Britain between 1760 and 1850. • Resulted in massive economic, technological, and social changes. • People were forced to leave rural communities to seek employment in the emerging cities.
Urbanization • The process by which an increasing proportion of a population lives in cities rather than rural areas. • The factory system led to a rapid increase in the number of cities and the size of populations. • People from diverse backgrounds began working in the same factory and living in the same neighborhoods. • This led to the development of new social problems: inadequate housing, crowding, unsanitary conditions, poverty, pollution, and crime.
August Comte • Considered the “founder of sociology.” • Comte’s philosophy became known as positivism— a belief that the world can best be understood through scientific inquiry. • Comte believed objective, bias-free knowledge was attainable only through the use of science rather than religion.
Two Dimensions of Comte’s Positivism • Methodological • The application of scientific knowledge to physical and social phenomena. • Social and political • The use of such knowledge to predict the likely results of different policies so the best one could be chosen.
Harriet Martineau • Believed society would improve when: • women and men were treated equally • enlightened reform occurred • cooperation existed among all social classes
Herbert Spencer • Contributed an evolutionary perspective on social order and social change. • Social Darwinism • The belief that the human beings best adapted to their environment survive and prosper, whereas those poorly adapted die out.
Emile Durkheim • Believed the limits of human potential are socially based. • One of his most important contributions was the concept of social facts. • Social facts are patterned ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that exist outside any one individual but exert social control over each person.
Karl Marx • Viewed history as a clash between conflicting ideas and forces. • Believed class conflict produced social change and a better society. • Combined ideas from philosophy, history, and social science into a new theory.
Max Weber • Believed sociological research should exclude personal values and economic interests. • Provided insights on rationalization, bureaucracy and religion.
Georg Simmel • Theorized about society as a web of patterned interactions among people. • Analyzed how social interactions vary depending on the size of the social group. • Developed formal sociology, an approach that focuses attention on the universal recurring social forms that underlie the varying content of social interaction.
Jane Addams • Founded Hull House, one of the most famous settlement houses, in Chicago. • One of the authors of a methodology text used by sociologists for the next forty years. • Awarded Nobel Prize for assistance to the underprivileged.
W.E.B. Du Bois • One of the first to note the identity conflict of being both Black and American. • Pointed out that people in the U.S. espouse values of democracy, freedom, and equality while they accept racism and group discrimination.
Theoretical Perspectives • Theoretical perspectives are based on ideas about how social life is organized. • The major perspectives in U.S. sociology are: • Functionalist • Conflict • Symbolic Interactionist • Postmodernist
Polling Question • Which sociological perspective do you think explains the concept of inequality in our society the most accurately? • Structural-functionalist • Conflict • Symbolic interactionist • Feminist
The Sociological Research Process Research is the process of systematically collecting information for the purpose of testing an existing theory or generating a new one. The relationship between theory and research has been referred to as a continuous cycle.
Quantitative and Qualitative Research • Quantitative research focuses on data that can be measured numerically. • Example: comparing rates of suicide • Qualitative research focuses on interpretive description rather than statistics to analyze underlying meanings and patterns of social relationships.
Conventional Research Model Select and define the research problem. Review previous research. Formulate the hypothesis. Develop the research design. Collect and analyze the data. Draw conclusions and report the findings.
Qualitative Research Method Researcher begins with a general approach rather than a highly detailed plan. Researcher has to decide when the literature review and theory application should take place.
Qualitative Research Method The study presents a detailed view of the topic. Access to people or other resources that can provide necessary data, is crucial. Appropriate research methods are important for acquiring useful qualitative data.
Research Methods: Survey Research Describes a population without interviewing each individual. Standardized questions force respondents into categories. Relies on self-reported information, and some people may not be truthful.