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Introduction to the Course. Two Major Divisions of Science Natural Sciences Disciplines designed to explain and predict events in our natural environment.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to the Course. Two Major Divisions of Science Natural Sciences Disciplines designed to explain and predict events in our natural environment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to the Course

2 Two Major Divisions of Science Natural Sciences Disciplines designed to explain and predict events in our natural environment (ie. Biology, geology, chemistry, physics) Social Sciences The fields of academic scholarship which explore aspects of human society (through controlled and repeated observations)

3 Which of these two is “Contemporary Social Issues” focused on? Social Sciences Essentially, CSI is a Sociology Course- the study of human societies We will emphasize our, American society, mainly (as most sociologists in America do)

4 Sociology is just ONE of the many social sciences: Anthropology- how do people groups live? How are they organized? How did they evolve and from what? Economics- How are resources organized and gathered? How are they distributed? Political Science- Who has power? Why? How? Psychology- study of the individual- How do they think? Why do they act the way they do? Sociology- How are they organized? Why are groups treated differently? Many of the social sciences overlap

5 When and Why did the Social Sciences begin? It’s important to look at when they DIDN’T. When didn’t people ask questions about the world and their societies? Most of human history Tradition vs. Science For most of human history, tradition ruled. Religion was the mainstay of most people’s lives Original thinking was discouraged- questioning was considered non-conformist (questioning God?) Monarchies governed people (Often with power/prestige tied to God/religion). Ex: Louis XIV of France; Egyptian pharaohs

6 Origins of the social sciences continued… Social Questions (why war exists, why some are rich and some are poor, why some are more powerful) answered by myth, superstition, tradition. Nothing was tested Answers are known, so why search for further explanations. The idea of Heresy/ being a heretic

7 Changes and Challenges As societies became more sophisticated, changes did happen, starting with the Renaissance; Western culture became more open Impact of the printing press People began to question religious institutions and governments Things really started to explode in questioning the social order, and studying how humans and societies worked with the Enlightenment of the 1700s A growing belief in scientific laws, increasing study of government and political science. Examples: John Locke (natural rights); Sir Isaac Newton

8 Birth of Sociology The social sciences didn’t achieve real respectability until the 1800s, the same time that the discipline of sociology was created. Why? Three Main Reasons: Reason #1- Industrial Revolution caused social upheaval; dangerous working conditions; rights of the workers/child laborers; what is fair? Why are things changing? Scientific laws were harnessed to make the new machines. Do any scientific laws apply to society? Are there laws of society? Is there order to society? Should Darwin’s laws apply to society? Social Darwinism

9 Social Sciences gain respectability continued… Reason #2- Political Revolutions (American and French) Got people thinking about their social life. New thinking emerged- people have inalienable rights; representative governments formed Who should rule? Are men equal? Reason #3- Imperialism European colonies stretched from Asia to Africa to North and South America, exposing new cultures, traditions, and ideas. Most were not Christian or white. Why are people different?(and why/how are Europeans superior- survival of the fittest)

10 So why did the social sciences emerge, then? Europe had begun to modernize and expand its viewpoints In the rapidly changing world people needed more answers to new and rising questions. So what are the social sciences? Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, History

11 Anthropology the study of culture; a people’s total way of life. Culture includes a group’s artifacts, structure, ideas and values, forms of communication. Most anthropological work has been done on tribal people. The anthropologist typically lives with the group they are studying Archeology is a sub branch (Indiana Jones, or studies of Egyptian pyramids)

12 Economics the study of production, distribution, and consumption of material goods and services in a society. What is being produced at what rate at what cost? What motivates people to buy one thing over another. Scarcity – limited amount of goods/materials in society or world – how do we use/distribute it Oil, gold, money, jobs, pasture space, land, etc. Without scarcity – no economics necessary (we’d have everything we need!)

13 Political Science politics and forms of government, voting patterns, etc. What is the proper form of government? Why do people vote the way they do? Who will win the election? Machievelli, Locke, Rousseau

14 Psychology Mental processes, what goes on in the mind. Intelligence, emotions, perception, memory, dreams, personality, mental illness, etc. Sigmund Freud B.F. Skinner

15 Sociology Many similarities to the other social sciences… They do many of the same things the other disciplines do. Sociologists focus on industrialized societies, what motivates people, what factors are external to the individual in influencing them.

16 History the study of past events and people Focus on cause and effect and patterns in history Why did things happen? Why do thing happen?

17 So why did we do the “Shipwrecked” Activity? It was a study of both sociology and political science Sociology studies the ways in which societies form culture, norms, etc in order to cooperate for the greater good. This is what we will be studying for the remainder of the semester. Political science, studies the way in which governments are formed and adapt over time based on circumstances of their environment.

18 How was it political science? It deals with matters of legitimacy, power, leadership, and political organization. If our whole class were marooned on an island (me and all of you) how long would a rotating system of governance last? A few weeks? A few months? (How many of you think everyone in this class is qualified to lead the class?) If we selected a leader - who would we select? How many would select me? Why? - because I have some claim to authority and legitimacy (like nobles or people or royal blood claimed in the medieval era - their noble lineage gave them a right to rule). If we were marooned on an island with the governor or the president, how many would follow their orders? What if (name a kid in the class) stood up and said - this system is no good - from now on, I am the leader and my rules will be followed. How many would follow him? What if he killed the first person who stood up to him? What is most important in a leader - legitimate title to that position, or leadership ability? (if in the example above you knew they would make a strong leader would it matter to you that they had bucked the system or the "plan"?)

19 Time permitting after activity: Discuss: who would survive on a desert island? Who would be a leader? What about if your got your arm stuck in a cliff while rock climbing? Would you be able to saw it off? Would anyone want to study a social science? Political Science? Economics? Why? Review: Why did the social sciences emerge?

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