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The Sociological Perspective

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1 The Sociological Perspective
McGraw-Hill © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE The Sociological Perspective
1 part THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE The Sociological Perspective McGraw-Hill © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

1 UNDERSTANDING SOCIOLOGY What is Sociology? What is Sociological Theory? The Development of Sociology Major Theoretical Perspectives Applied and Clinical Sociology Developing the Sociological Imagination Appendix: Careers in Sociology

4 What is Sociology? Sociology
The systematic study of social behavior in human groups. Examines the influence of social relationships on people’s attitudes and behavior. Studies how societies are established and change.

5 What is Sociology? The Sociological Imagination
Definition: An awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society. It is the ability to view our own society as an outsider might, rather than from the perspective of our limited experiences and cultural biases.

6 What is Sociology? Sociology and the Social Sciences
In contrast to other social sciences, sociology emphasizes the influence that groups can have on people’s behavior and attitudes and the ways in which people shape society.

7 What is Sociology? Sociology and Common Sense
Knowledge that relies on “common sense” is not always reliable. Sociologists must test and analyze each piece of information that they use.

8 What is Sociology? Figure 1.1: Race of Victims in Death Penalty Cases
Source: Death Penalty Information Center 2003

9 What is Sociological Theory?
Theory: An attempt to explain events, forces, materials, ideas or behavior in a comprehensive manner. Sociological Theories: Seek to explain problems, actions, or behavior. Effective theories should explain and predict. Sociologists employ theories to examine the relationships between observations or data that may seem completely unrelated.

10 The Development of Sociology
Early Thinkers Auguste Comte 1798–1857 --Coined the term sociology as the science of human behavior Harriet Martineau 1802–1876 --Studied social behavior in England and the United States Herbert Spencer 1820–1903 --Studied “evolutionary” change in society Continued...

11 The Development of Sociology
Early Thinkers Émile Durkheim 1858–1917 --Pioneered work on suicide Max Weber 1864–1920 --Taught the need for “insight” in intellectual work Karl Marx 1818–1883 --Emphasized the importance of the economy and of conflict in society

12 The Development of Sociology
Modern Developments Charles Horton Cooley 1864–1929 --Pioneered work on small groups within society Jane Addams 1860–1935 --Combined sociological study with activism Robert Merton 1910–2003 --Works on deviant behavior and crime

13 The Development of Sociology
Merton’s Micro and Macro Approaches to the Study of Society Macrosociology: Concentrates on large-scale phenomena or entire civilizations. Microsociology: Stresses the study of small groups and often uses experimental study in laboratories.

14 The Development of Sociology
Prominent Contributors to Sociological Thought 1798 1857 Auguste Comte 1802 1876 Harriet Martineau 1820 1903 Herbert Spencer 1818 1883 Karl Marx The “time lines” shown here give an idea of relative chronology. 1858 1917 Émile Durkeim 1860 1935 Jane Addams George Herbert Mead 1863 1931 1864 1920 Max Weber 1864 1929 Charles Horton Cooley 1868 1963 W.E.B. Du Bois 1902 1979 Talcott Parsons 1910 2003 Robert Merton 1916 1962 C. Wright Mills 1922 1982 Erving Goffman Source: Figure 1-2 (p.15) in Richard T. Schaefer and Robert P. Lamm, Sociology: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

15 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Functionalist Perspective Emphasizes the way that parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability. Views society as a vast network of connected parts, each of which helps to maintain the system as a whole. Each part must contribute or it will not be passed on from one generation to the next. Continued...

16 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Functionalist Perspective Manifest Functions of institutions are open, stated, conscious functions. They involve the intended, recognized, consequences of an aspect of society. Latent Functions are unconscious or unintended functions and may reflect hidden purposes of an institution. A dysfunction is an element or a process of society that may actually disrupt a social system or lead to a decrease in stability.

17 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Conflict Perspective Assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between competing groups. Conflict is not necessarily violent. Conflict can be over economics or over competing values. Continued...

18 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Conflict Perspective The Marxist View: Conflict is seen not merely as a class phenomenon but as a part of everyday life in all societies. This view emphasizes social change and redistribution of resources, making conflict theorists more radical than functionalists. Continued...

19 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Conflict Perspective A Racial View: W. E. B DuBois: Encourages sociologists to view society through the eyes of those segments of the population that rarely influence decision making. Sociology, contended DuBois, had to draw on scientific principles to study social problems such as those experienced by Blacks in the United States. Continued...

20 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Interactionist Perspective Generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction in order to understand society as a whole. Interactionism is a sociological framework for viewing human beings as living in a world of meaningful objects. These “objects” may include material things, actions, other people, relationships, and even symbols.

21 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Feminist Perspective Definition: Views inequity in gender as central to all behavior and organization. Unlike conflict theory, with which it is sometimes allied, the feminist perspective often focuses on the micro-level relationships of everyday life, just as interactionists do.

22 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Table 1.1: Comparing Major Theoretical Perspectives Functionalist Conflict Interactionist View of society Stable, well integrated Characterized by tension Active in influencing and and struggle between affecting everyday social groups interaction Level of analysis Macro Macro Micro analysis as a way emphasized of understanding the larger macro phenomena Key concepts Manifest functions Inequality Symbols Latent functions Capitalism Nonverbal communication Dysfunction Stratification Face-to-face interaction View of the People are socialized to People are shaped People manipulate individual perform societal functions by power, coercion, symbols and create their and authority social worlds through interaction Continued…

23 Major Theoretical Perspectives
Table 1.1: Comparing Major Theoretical Perspectives Functionalist Conflict Interactionist View of the Maintained through Maintained through Maintained by shared social order cooperation and force and coercion understanding of consensus everyday behavior View of social Predictable, reinforcing Change takes place all Reflected in people’s change the time and may have social positions and their positive consequences communications with others Example Public punishments Laws reinforce the People respect laws or reinforce the social order positions of those disobey them based on in power their own past experience Proponents Émile Durkheim Karl Marx George Herbert Mead Talcott Parsons W. E. B. Du Bois Charles Horton Cooley Robert Merton Ida Wells-Barnett Erving Goffman

24 Major Theoretical Perspectives
The Sociological Approach Sociologists make use of all four perspectives. Each perspective offers unique insights into the same issue.

25 Applied and Clinical Sociology
Applied Sociology: The use of the discipline of sociology with the specific intent of yielding practical applications for human behavior and organizations. Clinical Sociology: The use of the discipline of sociology with the specific intent of altering social relationships and facilitating change. Basic Sociology: Seeks a more profound knowledge of the fundamental aspects of social phenomena.

26 Developing a Sociological Imagination
Theory in Practice Research in Action The Significance of Social Inequality Speaking Across Race, Gender, and National Boundaries Social Policy Throughout the World

27 Social Inequality Barbara Ehrenreich discusses her book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America (Click inside frame to start video) Video © NBC News Archives.

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