2 The Sociological Perspective Sociology is the systematic study of human societyIt helps us see the general in the particularEncourages us to realize how society guides our thoughts and deedsHelps us to see individuality in social contextEx: Emile Durkheim’s research – suicide rate is influenced by how connected people are to others
3 Benefits of the Sociological Perspective Helps us assess both opportunities and constraints in our livesEmpowers us to be active participants in societyHelps us assess the truth of “common sense”Helps us live in a diverse world
4 Importance of a Global Perspective See issues in a global perspective – the study of the larger world and our society’s place in it.Three types of nations in the world:High Income – highly industrializedMiddle Income – limited industrializationLow Income – little industrialization
5 Origins of Sociology 3 major changes in 17th and 18th centuries Rise of factory-based industrial economyEmergence of great cities in EuropePolitical changesAuguste Comte – major goal was to understand society as it actually operates, favored positivism or scientific approach3 stages of historical development: theological =>metaphysical => scientific
6 Sociological TheoryA theory is a statement of how and why specific facts are related.Goal is to explain social behavior in the real world.Theories are based on theoretical paradigms, sets of assumptions that guide thinking and research.
7 Structural-Functional Paradigm Sees society as a complex system whose parts work together.Asserts that our lives are guided by social structures.Each social structure has social functions.The influence of this paradigm has declined in recent decades - it focuses on stability, thereby ignoring inequalities of social class, race, and gender
8 Social-Conflict Paradigm Sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change.Key figures – Karl Marx and E. B. DuBoisThis paradigm has developed rapidly in recent years.Limitations:Ignores social unityLike structural-functional paradigm, it envisions society in terms of broad abstractions.
9 The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm Sees society as the everyday interactions of individuals.Micro-level orientation, may ignore larger societal influencesFocuses on patterns of social interaction in specific settings
10 Basics of Sociological Investigation Starts with 2 simple requirements:Use the sociological perspectiveBe curious and ask questionsScience – a logical system that bases knowledge on direction, systematic observationScientific sociology – the study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior.
11 Science: Basic Elements and Limitations A concept = a mental construct that represents some part of the world in a simplified form.A variable= a concept whose value changes from case to caseMeasurement = a procedure for determining the variableAlmost any variable can be measured in more than one way
12 Useful MeasurementsTo be useful, the measurements must be reliable and validReliable = consistency in measurementThe procedure must yield the same result if repeated.Validity = precision in measuring exactly what one intends to measure.Valid measurements hit the bull’s-eye of the target.
13 Relationships Among Variables Scientific ideal is cause and effect = change in one variable causes change in another.The variable that causes the change is the independent variable.The variable that changes is the dependent variable.Correlation = a relationship by which 2 variables change together.A spurious correlation is a false relationship between 2 or more variables caused by yet another variable.
14 The Ideal of Objectivity Science demands that researchers strive for objectivity = a state of personal neutralityResearchers carefully hold to scientific procedures while reining in their own attitudes and beliefs.It is an ideal rather than a reality.
15 A Second Framework: Interpretive Sociology Max Weber argued that the proper focus in sociology was interpretive.Interpretive Sociology = the study of society that focuses on the meanings that people attach to their social world.It is better suited to research in a natural setting.
16 A Third Framework: Critical Sociology Karl Marx rejected the idea that society exists as a natural system with a fixed order.Critical sociology = the study of society that focuses on the need for social change.The point is not merely to study the world as it is, but to change it.
17 Gender and Research The five ways that gender can shape research AndrocentricityOvergeneralizationGender blindnessDouble standardsInterferenceThere is nothing wrong with focusing research on only one sex or the other.All sociologists should be mindful of gender in their research.
18 Methods of Sociology Research The Experiment = investigates cause and effect under highly controlled conditionsThe experiment is used to test a hypothesis – an unverified statement of a relationship between variables.A survey = subjects respond to a series of questions in an interviewMost widely used of all research methodsThey yield descriptive findings.
19 The Methods of Sociological Research II The Investigation = takes place in the field, where people carry on in their everyday livesParticipant observation = investigators systematically observe people while joining their routine activities.Not all research requires investigators to collect their own data.Secondary analysis = a researcher uses data gathered by others.Most widely used statistics are gathered by govt. agencies.
20 10 Steps to Sociological Investigation What is your topic?What have others already learned?What, exactly, are your questions?What will you need to carry out your research?Are there ethical concerns?
21 Sociological Investigation Continued… 6. What methods will you use? 7. How will you record the data? 8. What does the data tell you? 9. What are your conclusions? 10. How can you share what you have learned?