Sociology Matters. The Sociological View. What is Sociology? The Sociological Imagination

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1 1-2 Richard T. Schaefer Sociology Matters Fifth Edition Chapter One: The Sociological View McGraw-Hill/Irwin The Sociological View 1-3 What is Sociology? 1-4 What is Sociology? What Is Sociological Theory? The Development of Sociology Major Theoretical Perspectives What Is the Scientific Method? Major Research Designs Ethics of Research Applied and Clinical Sociology Sociology: scientific study of social behavior in human groups Focus on: How relationships influence people s attitudes and behavior How societies develop and change The Sociological Imagination C. Wright Mills describes sociological imagination as An awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society A key element is ability to view one s society as an outsider would, rather than only from the perspective of personal experience 1-5 The Sociological Imagination Looks beyond a limited understanding of human behavior View the world and its people in a new way See through a broader lens 1-6 1

2 Sociology and the Social Sciences 1-7 Sociology and the Social Sciences 1-8 Science: body of knowledge obtained by methods based on systematic observation Study influence society has on people s attitudes and behavior Natural science: study of physical features of nature and the ways they interact and change Social science: study of various aspects of human society Seek to understand ways in which people interact and shape society Examine social relationships with others scientifically Sociology and Common Sense 1-9 What Is Sociological Theory? 1-10 Sociologists do not accept something as fact because everyone knows it Each piece of information must be tested, recorded, and analyzed Women tend to be chatty Military marriages more likely to end in separation or divorce Theory Set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behavior Effective theories have explanatory and predictive power Helps to see relationships among seemingly isolated phenomena Helps to understand how one type of change in the environment leads to other changes The Development of Sociology Philosophers/religious authorities of ancient and medieval societies made observations of human behavior European theorists in 19 th century made pioneering contributions to development of science of human behavior Auguste Comte Systematic investigation of behavior were needed to improve society Coined term sociology Harriet Martineau ( ) Studied social practices in Britain and U.S. Emphasized impact of economy, law, trade, health, and population on social problems 2

3 Herbert Spencer Studied evolutionary change in society Émile Durkheim ( ) Behavior must be understood within larger social context Concluded that religion reinforces a group s solidarity Max Weber ( ) To comprehend behavior, must learn subjective meaning people attach to actions Employ Verstehen (understanding; insight) Ideal type: construct for evaluating specific cases Karl Marx ( ) Society divided between two classes that clash in pursuit of their own interests Worked with Engels Emphasized group identifications and associations that influence one s place in society Working class needed to overthrow existing class system W.E.B. Dubois ( ) Conducted research that he hoped would assist in the struggle for a racially egalitarian society Believed that knowledge was essential in combating prejudice and achieving tolerance and justice Double Consciousness Division of an individual s identity into two or more social realities Modern Developments 1-17 Modern Developments 1-18 Charles Horton Cooley ( ) Used sociological perspective to examine faceto-face groups such as families, gangs, and friendship Jane Addams ( ) Combined intellectual inquiry, social service work, and political activism Cofounded Hull House Robert Merton ( ) Combined theory and research Developed explanations of deviant behavior Macrosociology Large-scale phenomena or entire civilizations Microsociology Small groups, often through experimental means 3

4 Modern Developments Major Theoretical Perspectives Pierre Bourdieu ( ) Capital in its many forms sustains individuals and families from one generation to the next Material goods Accumulation of knowledge Prestige Culture Formal schooling Functionalist perspective Conflict perspective Interactionist perspective Functionalist Perspective 1-21 Functionalist Perspective 1-22 Emphasizes the way parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability Talcott Parsons ( ) Viewed society as vast network of connected parts, each of which helps maintain the system as a whole Gulf oil spill Functionalists would stress society s supportive function Dysfunctions: element or process of society that may disrupt a social system or its stability Manifest functions: institutions are open, stated, conscious functions that involve intended, recognized, consequences of an aspect of society Latent functions: unconscious or unintended functions that may reflect hidden purposes of an institution Functionalist Perspective 1-23 Conflict Perspective 1-24 Dysfunctions: element or process of society that may disrupt a social system or its stability Manifest functions: institutions are open, stated, conscious functions that involve intended, recognized, consequences of an aspect of society Latent functions: unconscious or unintended functions that may reflect hidden purposes of an institution Assumes social behavior is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between competing groups Gulf oil spill Emphasize the coercion and exploitation that underlies relations between the oil industry and Gulf Coast communities 4

5 Conflict Perspective Conflict Perspective The Marxist view Conflict is not merely as a class phenomenon but as a part of everyday life in all societies Conflict theorists are more radical and activist than functionalists The Feminist View View inequity in gender as central to all behavior and organization Often allied with conflict theory Also focuses on micro-level relationships Interactionist Perspective Table 1-1: Comparing Major Theoretical Perspectives Generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction to explain society as a whole George Herbert Mead ( ) Gulf oil spill How it shaped personal relations and day-to-day social behavior Nonverbal communication: can include many gestures, facial expressions, and postures The Sociological Approach 1-29 What Is the Scientific Method? 1-30 Gain broadest understanding of society by drawing on all major perspectives, noting where they overlap or diverge Each perspective offers unique insights into the same issue A researcher s work always guided by his or her theoretical viewpoint Systematic, organized series of steps that ensures maximum objectivity and consistency in researching a problem 5

6 Scientific Method Defining the Problem Operational definition: explanation of an abstract concept that is specific enough to allow researcher to assess the concept Reviewing the Literature Refines problem under study Scientific Method Formulating the Hypothesis Hypothesis: speculative statement about relationship between two or more factors known as variables Variable: measurable trait or characteristic subject to change under different conditions Independent variable: variable hypothesized to cause or influence another Dependent variable: action depends on influence of independent variable Scientific Method 1-33 Figure 1-1: The Scientific Method 1-34 Formulating the Hypothesis Causal logic: involves relationships between a condition or variable and a particular consequence, with one event leading to the other Correlation: exists when change in one variable coincides with change in another Correlation does not necessarily indicate causation Collecting and Analyzing Data Selecting the Sample Sample: selection from larger population that is statistically typical of that population Random sample: when every member of a population has same chance of being selected Collecting and Analyzing Data Ensuring Validity and Reliability Validity: degree to which measure reflects the phenomenon being studied Reliability: extent to which measure provides consistent results 6

7 Developing the Conclusion 1-37 Figure 1-2: Impact of a College Education on Income 1-38 Supporting the Hypothesis Sociological studies do not always generate data that support original hypothesis Controlling for Other Factors Control variable: factor held constant to test the relative impact of the independent variable Major Research Designs Research design: detailed plan or method for obtaining data scientifically Surveys Observation Experiments Existing sources 1-39 Surveys Study that provides sociologists with information about how people act or think Interview: researcher obtains information through face-to-face or telephone questioning 1-40 Questionnaire: researcher uses printed or written form to obtain information from respondent Surveys Quantitative research: collects and reports data primarily in numerical form Qualitative research: relies on what is seen in field and naturalistic settings; often focuses on small groups and communities 1-41 Observation Collecting information through direct participation and/or by closely watching a group or community Observation: sociologist joins group to get accurate sense of how it operates Ethnography: efforts to describe entire social setting through extended systematic observation

8 Experiments Artificially created situation that allows researcher to manipulate variables Experimental group: exposed to independent variable Control group: not exposed to independent variable Hawthorne effect: unintended influence of observers or experiments on subjects Use of Existing Sources Secondary analysis: research techniques that make use of previously collected and publicly accessible information and data Content analysis: systematic coding and objective recording of data, guided by some rationale Table 1-2: Existing Sources Used in Sociological Research 1-45 Table 1-3: Major Research Designs 1-46 Ethics of Research Code of Ethics (ASA, 1997) 1. Maintain objectivity and integrity in research 2. Respect subject s right to privacy and dignity 3. Protect subjects from personal harm 4. Preserve confidentiality 5. Seek informed consent 6. Acknowledge collaboration and assistance 7. Disclose all sources of financial support 1-47 Applied and Clinical Sociology Applied sociology Use of sociology with intent of yielding practical applications for human behavior and organizations Example: Community Health Assets and Needs Assessment (CHANA)» Studies four low-income immigrant communities on the South Side of Chicago

9 Applied and Clinical Sociology 1-49 Clinical sociology: dedicated to altering social relationships (as in family therapy) or to restructuring social institutions (as in the reorganization of a medical center) Basic sociology: (pure sociology) seeks profound knowledge of fundamental aspects of social phenomena 9

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