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Lesson 1: SOCIOLOGY What is Sociology? Lesson 1: SOCIOLOGY What is Sociology?

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1 Lesson 1: SOCIOLOGY What is Sociology? Lesson 1: SOCIOLOGY What is Sociology?

2 Sociology The study of society (or the study of social interaction). Is the simplicity of this definition misleading? Why? Sociology accounts for all the social sciences. Which are what? Can psychology be a social science? How? Why?

3 Consider: Society is like a body- one big thing made up of many parts. Your body is made of may different systems (nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system) that are made up of organs (brains, lungs, stomach), and the organs are made up of billions of cells of all different types. You are all your cells, but your cells arent you. Emile Durkheim (a man) (one of the founders of sociology) American Society

4 Why study sociology? Who studies sociology? Why?

5 Compte- Positivism Auguste Compte is considered to have coined the term sociology. He believed in the idea of POSITIVISM: the idea that methods of natural sciences could be productively used to study the social world. A belief in humans ability to figure things out and improve their circumstances. A sociologist is understood as one professionally concerned with edifying activities on behalf of individuals and the community at large.

6 Goal : At the end of this class, students should be able to: -identify different social trends/realities in a more comprehensive manner than they can currently (depth of knowledge). -find the strengths and weaknesses in man made systems/customs -study and consider alternative systems and compare with our current systems/customs -create a more independent and critical understanding of their social reality -continue their path as lifelong learners with a few more tools up their sleeves -change the world around you for the better

7 Culture v. Systems Culture: shared understandings; ideas, norms, and values that may vary widely across a society. Systems (structures): the fundamental organization of society into its institutions, groups, statuses, and roles. There are many competing theories about the causes of poverty in the United States with mountains of empirical evidence to justify support for each. The debate among theorists and policymakers is primarily divided between advocates who support cultural/behavioral arguments and those who support structural/economic arguments. This debate tends to manifest itself across political party lines with republicans supporting the cultural/behavioral thesis and democrats looking more to structural causes. - Gregory Jordan- The Causes of Poverty Cultural vs. Structural: Can There Be a Synthesis? We will primarily focus on systems.

8 Human Systems Humans make systems (many times as an extension of a custom): laws (justice system/jail/prison), government (political system), capitalism and socialism (finance/regulations/taxes), marriage (political, social system) We need to consider how to continue to improve those systems: Example: Voting Rights Consider: If we were creating the system from scratch, would this be the system?

9 important sociological values - scientific integrity: your attempts to understand must be grounded in facts - use evidence, statistics, research, studies - try to eliminate bias - seek what is REAL and not what you want (do not allow your preconceived ideas, wants, or desires to distort your beliefs)

10 Beware of Facades Sometimes information can mislead us because we dont have enough information Real data from a Chicago School District test study: Student 1: Grade reading level What happened? 5th Grade: 3 6th Grade: 6.5 7th Grade: 5.1

11 More data Student Student Student

12 Last Pieces of Info Schools receive funding from state and local governments based off of test scores. In order to motivate teachers, some districts have introduced additional pay, retainment, or merit pay based primarily off of test scores. What explains the discrepancy in the students scores?

13 Another reasoning for understanding To empower ourselves! Those in power often design our systems: politicians, bankers, teachers, electricians, real estate agents. The general public often creates incentive systems to try to control those in powers behavior, but without understanding the system, there are loopholes. Consider Freakonomics- the hidden side of everything- and real estate agents

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