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Sociology. The study of people in groups Groups in the process of self-formation through the actions of individuals through the actions and forces of the groups themselves. The Study of People in Groups. The “Scientific” study of groups and group formation

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  • The study of people in groups

  • Groups inthe process of self-formation

  • through the actions of individuals

  • through the actions and forces of the groups themselves

The study of people in groups
The Study of People in Groups

  • The “Scientific” study of

    • groups and

    • group formation

  • Groups, as collections of people in the process of self-definition

Scientific study of groups
Scientific Study of Groups

  • Involves Methods of Study

  • Involves Theories of Study

Methods of study

  • Observation (obtrusive and unobtrusive)

  • Surveys

  • Experiments

  • Historical Comparison

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison

  • Archival Research

Suspending judgement
Suspending Judgement

  • A key attitude in the study of society is the research approach called cultural relativism

  • This is in contrast to the common approach, which views other cultures and societies from the point of view of one’s own values and beliefs-- otherwise known as ethnocentrism

Theories of study
Theories of Study

  • Functionalism (and variations)

    • structuralism

  • Social Conflict Theory

  • Symbolic Interactionism

  • Gender Theory (Feminist Theory)


  • Social groups and society are viewed like “living organisms”

  • groups and group processes are studied as parts of a functioning whole

  • aspects and behaviors of society may have obvious (manifest) functions or “hidden” (latent) functions

Functionalism durkheim
Functionalism: Durkheim

  • Emile Durkheim: French Sociologist

  • (1858-1917)

  • Considered one of the “fathers of modern sociology”

Social conflict theory
Social Conflict Theory

  • Society is created from the ongoing conflict between key groups

  • According to some theorists, these groups are the main economic “classes” of society

  • these are made up of those who own the main wealth of society, and those who own little but their ability to labor

Social conflict theory marx
Social Conflict Theory:Marx

  • The main theorist representing this approach is Karl Marx (1818-1883)

  • He saw society as being built out of the conflicting interests of the “owner class” and the “working class”

  • In his view, the ensuing struggle between classes would lead to a classless society

Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interactionism

  • “Symbols” are the basis of social life

  • Individuals and societies develop through people’s interaction through symbols

  • Individuals develop a sense of themselves as they learn to use symbols

  • Individuals develop a sense of themselves as they learn to see themselves the way they believe others see them

Symbolic interactionists
Symbolic Interactionists

  • Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929)

  • George Herbert Mead (1863-1947)

  • Erving Goffman

    • “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”

Culture and society
Culture and Society

  • Material and Non-Material Culture

  • Culture as “Webs of Meaning”

  • ...As “Blueprint of/for society”

  • Made up, as well, of norms, values, mores and folkways

  • The culture of a society is passed on from one generation to the next

Culture and society1
Culture and Society

  • The culture of any group is passed on from one generation to the next through ongoing, lifelong processes of socialization

  • A related concept is enculturation

  • Social members may even be resocializedin their lifetime if they do not “conform” to the values, mores, norms etc. of their group


  • Socialization (enculturation) is a life-long process, that begins at birth

  • We are first socialized by those who are closest to us in our early months and years

  • This first development is called primary socialization

  • Later we are socialized through our wider society, and this is called secondary socialization


  • Sociology is the study of groups of people in process of self-definition asgroups

  • A group is a collection of people (but not all collections of people are groups!)

  • Sociology studies, among other things, how individuals impact and shape groups

  • Sociology studies, as well, how groups impact and shape individuals

Groups common terms
Groups: Common Terms

  • aggregate

  • category

  • voluntary and involuntary groups

  • reference groups

  • peer groups

  • primary and secondary groups

Groups more terms
Groups: More Terms

  • status

    • achieved

    • ascribed

  • roles

  • in-group

  • out-group

Formal organizations
Formal Organizations

  • Formal organizations are usually large-scale groups that have a planned focus and a clearly defined structure

  • Such organizations are often referred to as bureaucracies

  • Max Weber studied bureaucracies as ideal organizations of complex, modern society


  • According to Weber, bureaucracies represented the ideal organization of large-scale, modern society

  • ....with such characteristics as the complex division of labor

  • ...with a hierarchical structure of authority

  • ...and a complex system of clear and predictable rules

Social inequality
Social Inequality

  • A persistent character of groups throughout the world is that of stratification

  • Stratification is the unequal division of societies

  • This division can be based on a variety of factors including:


  • Class...

  • Race...

  • Gender...

  • Power...

  • Prestige...

Class marx
Class: Marx

  • According to Marx (and other social conflict theorists) class is the division of societies into several main groups, including:

  • ...those who own the productive wealth of society

  • ...those who own only their labor (the workers)

Class marx1
Class: Marx

  • In this theory, this was the fundamental difference between the classes of industrial society

  • ...and this division would eventually disappear as workers struggled for the power of the owner class

Class weber
Class: Weber

  • According to Weber, the stratification of society was based on a broader range of factors, including

  • ....wealth

  • ....power

  • ....prestige

  • And one could have any one of these to be in a “higher” class..... (examples?)

Poverty among the stratified
Poverty Among the Stratified

  • Poverty is a persistent feature of stratification throughout the world

  • While many would argue about its very definition

  • And many would argue about its real cause(s)

Relative and absolute poverty
Relative and Absolute Poverty

  • Much of poverty in the world is what could be termed “relative poverty”....

  • While much of the world lives in “absolute poverty...

  • ...the latter being a state in which one’s very survival is threatened by the lack of resources (eg. food, clothing, medical care etc.)

Causes of poverty
Causes of Poverty

  • Why does poverty persist in the world?

  • Functionalist view....

  • Social-conflict theory...

  • Social-interactionist theory...

  • Gender/Feminist theory...

Other divisions race and ethnicity
Other Divisions: Race and Ethnicity

  • Race and ethnicity are also dividing factors in our society (and our wider world)

  • Race is the social definition of people based one biological characteristics

  • Ethnicity is the social definition of people based on cultural ties (like language, dress, customs, beliefs, etc.)

Race key terms
Race: Key Terms

  • Prejudice

  • Discrimination

  • Racism

  • Social definition of Race

  • Institutional Racism

  • Minority Status

Race more key terms
Race: More Key Terms

  • Genocide (“ethnic cleansing”)

  • Expulsion

  • Segregation (apartheid)

  • Assimilation

  • Amalgamation

  • Cultural pluralism

Other divisions gender
Other Divisions: Gender

  • Sex: biological characteristics

    • xy/xx, hormones, primary and secondary sex characteristics

  • Gender: the social definition of groups based on biological characteristics....

  • (sound familiar? see the variation of this theme under “race”)

Gender nature vs nurture
Gender: Nature vs. Nurture

  • How much of what we are as “masculine” and “feminine” is

  • .....learned through socialization...

  • .....or “built-in” to us through our genes, hormones and brain-structure?

Gender biological destiny
Gender: biological destiny?

  • How much of the stratification of our society along gendered lines is “natural”--based on our biological make-up....

  • ....and how much is the result of social definition of opportunities etc. based on biological makeup....?

Gender biological destiny1
Gender: biological destiny?

  • the “glass ceiling”...

  • female job-ghettos

  • the “feminization of poverty”

  • Are these “natural divisions” of the world?

Social institutions
Social Institutions

  • Society is in process of self-definition...

  • As social practices of groups become familiar, accepted and expected they become what sociology calls institutions

  • This refers to organized practices and relationships of society, rather than to physical places...

Social institutions include
Social Institutions Include...


  • ...religion

  • ...economics and politics


Family the way we never were
Family: The way we never were...

  • The sociological study of family:

  • historical comparison...

    • Kodachrome...”the good-old days”...

  • cross-cultural comparison...

    • “family values” around the world...

  • family today: the “ideal” vs. “the real”

Religion primitive science
Religion= Primitive Science?

  • The “enlightened view” of “religion”...

    • “science” replacing “religion”

    • the emergence of “rational” explanation of the world

  • Classifying the world’s cultures : from “savagery” to “civilization”?

  • Sociologists get involved.....

    • Durkheim et. al

Religion vs science
Religion vs. Science?

  • Is there necessarily any conflict between religion and science?

  • examples of conflict in history....

    • the earth is the center of the universe

    • there is no such thing as a vacuum

    • “God” created “man” on the 7th day... not through “evolution”....

Religion vs science1
Religion vs. Science?

  • Why did such scientific assertions challenge religion?

  • Do they necessarily undermine, or contradict religious beliefs and tradtitions?

  • Today, does the sociological study of religion necessarily mean the rejection of religion?

Sociology and religion which theory would say
Sociology and Religion:Which theory would say...

  • “Religion dulls people to the reality of class conflict...”

  • “Religion should be studied for the things it does for the cohesion of society...”

  • “Religion should also be studied for its gendered character in history and contemporary society...”

Deviance and social control
Deviance and Social Control

  • Remember... “Sociology is the study of.....”

  • Groups in “self-definition” set boundaries...

    • who belongs

    • who does not

  • This is done by the way people talk, dress, behave etc.

Deviance and social control1
Deviance and Social Control

  • “Deviance” is relative to values of the wider society.... How is this so?

    • or.... if a “deviant” fell in the woods, and nobody was around to hear this....

  • “Deviant” behavior and beliefs often find their way, eventually, into “mainstream” society:

    • or... underwear as outerwear....

Deviance and social control2
Deviance and Social Control

  • “Deviant behavior” today may also have been accepted social practice in the past...

  • spare the rod and avoid the DCYF

  • no smoking! you @#@!@!##@

  • opium under the Pastor’s porch...

Which theory would
Which theory would....

  • ...See “deviance” as the definition of the powerful in a society?

  • ...See “deviance” as learned through processes of seeing oneself in relation to others and their expectations?

  • ...See “deviance” as having some “positive” functions in society, as well as being a sign of the malfunction or dysfunction of society?

A rap on deviance
A Rap on Deviance

  • The “latent” and “manifest” functions of “parental advisory”stickers

  • But isn’t Rap just “missing a C”?

  • Rap... In context of history....

  • A conflict of power in history and contemporary society?