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General Sociology. Manatee Community College Summer, 2008 Instructor: Dr. Gary Voelkl. What is Sociology? . Why do people do what they do? This is the general sociological question. What are the sources of such realities as domestic violence, economic inequality, high divorce?.

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general sociology

General Sociology

Manatee Community College

Summer, 2008

Instructor: Dr. Gary Voelkl

what is sociology

What is Sociology?

Why do people do what they do?

This is the general sociological question.

What are the sources of such realities as domestic violence, economic inequality, high divorce?

the answer is twofold
The answer is twofold:
  • Personal factors
  • Social structural factors
how many children do you intend on having

How many children do you intend on having?

Personal factors why people would chose a certain family size?

Social structural reasons influencing a certain family size?


What are the reasons for poverty?

Personal and Social Structural Factors

Social Structures




how much do you know about suicide
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 suicide7
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.
suicide rates by race and sex
Suicide Rates by Race and Sex
  • Rates indicate the number of deaths by suicide for every 100,000 people in each category for 2001.
the sociological imagination

The “Sociological Imagination”

This is the ability to see the details of our own lives in the context of larger social structures, as opposed to merely personal choices or personal troubles.

by using the sociological imagination

By using the sociological imagination …

Sociology helps us get a better understanding of ourselves and our world by enabling us to see how behavior is shaped by the groups to which we belong and the society in which we live.

chapter 1

Chapter 1

The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods

putting social life into perspective
Putting Social 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
  • 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.
why study sociology
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.
the sociological imagination15
The Sociological Imagination
  • The ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society.
  • Distinguishes between personal troubles and social issues.
  • 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.

A condition in which social control becomes ineffective as a result of the loss of shared values and a sense of purpose in society

importance of a global sociological imagination
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.
importance of a global sociological imagination19
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.
race ethnicity and class
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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
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
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
Harriet Martineau
  • Believed society would improve when:
    • women and men were treated equally
    • enlightened reform occurred
    • cooperation existed among all social classes
herbert spencer
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
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
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
Max Weber
  • Believed sociological research should exclude personal values and economic interests.
  • Provided insights on rationalization, bureaucracy and religion.
georg simmel
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 adams
Jane Adams
  • 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
W. E. B. Du Bois
  • One of the first to note the identity conflict of being both a black and an 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
  • 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 perspectives
order theory or structural functionalism
Order Theory or “Structural Functionalism”
  • The central concern for Order Theory: What holds society together?
  • The focus is on order and stability in society. From the Order Theory perspective, what holds society together is consensus.
  • For society to survive, each of its parts must work in harmony with the others. Each part functions to maintain an orderly system, preserving social order for the smooth running of society.
  • An orderly, smooth running social order is beneficial to everyone.
assumptions of conflict theory
Assumptions of Conflict Theory
  • Competition. Competition over resources is characteristic of all human relationships.
  • Structured Inequality. Those who benefit strive to maintain their advantage.
conflict analysis
Conflict Analysis

Two basic questions:

  • Who benefits from structural inequality?
  • How do they maintain their advantage?
example of application of the conflict perspective ideologies
Example of Application of the Conflict Perspective: Ideologies

Ideologies are norms and values that rationalize existing social arrangements

  • Equal opportunity (America)
  • A low caste is punishment for poor performance in a previous life (Hindu)
  • “A woman’s place is in the home”
the sociological research process
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.
quantitative and qualitative research
Quantitative and Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative research focuses on data that can be measured numerically.
    • Example: Concern for the environment
    • Qualitative research focuses on interpretive description rather than statistics to analyze underlying meanings and patterns of social relationships.

Hypothesis: The higher the social class, the greater

concern people will have for the environment.

Data was obtained from telephone interviews.

can you answer the following questions
Can you answer the following questions?
  • For the hypothesis, what is the independent variable?
  • For the hypothesis, what is the dependent variable?
  • What is the operational definition of the independent variable?
  • What is the operational definition of the dependent variable?
  • How large is our sample?
can you answer these questions
Can you answer these questions?
  • Is the hypothesis supported?
  • How might the following possibly compromise the validity of this study?
    • Operational definitions
    • Social desirability bias
  • What other concerns might you have with the results of this study?
research methods survey research
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.
qualitative research method
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 method49
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 method(s) are important for acquiring useful qualitative data.
qualitative research methods field research
Qualitative Research Methods: Field Research
  • Study of social life in its natural setting.
  • Observing and interviewing people where they live, work, and play.
  • Generates observations that are best described verbally rather than numerically.
  • Example: Tally’s Corner (participant observation)
research methods analysis of existing data
Research Methods: Analysis of Existing Data
  • Materials studied may include:
    • books, diaries, poems, and graffiti
    • movies, television shows, advertisements, greeting cards
    • music, art, and even garbage
research methods experiments
Research Methods: Experiments
  • Study the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behavior.
  • Designed to create “real-life” situations.
  • Used to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between variables.
  • Example: Milgram Study
asa code of ethics
ASA Code of Ethics
  • Disclose research findings in full and include all possible interpretations of the data.
  • Safeguard the participants’ right to privacy and dignity while protecting them from harm.
asa code of ethics54
ASA Code of Ethics
  • Protect confidential information provided by participants.
  • Acknowledge research collaboration and disclose all financial support.