Presentation on theme: "Montclair State University 10/12/2015. Sociological Inquiry Families do not exist or evolve in isolation Rather, they react to and have an influence on."— Presentation transcript:
Sociological Inquiry Families do not exist or evolve in isolation Rather, they react to and have an influence on the social world around them The sociological perspective on families emphasizes the rules, roles, and relationships that are created an maintained by the larger society How do sociologists examine family life? Theoretical perspectives Methods of social analysis Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families
The Sociological Approach Sociology focuses on the family from the outside in rather than the inside out Sociology looks “behind the scenes” to explain patterns of behavior Sociology looks for general processes that produce an individual experience For example how does the U.S. society influence the job we choose or the type of family in which we live? 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families
Thinking Like a Sociologist 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families
The Sociological Approach Levels of Analysis The macro level comprises: Society – a population of people that is organized in a cooperative manner to carry out the major functions of life Culture – All modes of thought, behavior, and production that are communicated to members of a society through all forms of communication How would you describe the culture of the U.S.? 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families
The Sociological Approach Levels of Analysis The macro level comprises: Analysis at the macro level focuses on large- scale social institutions social structures comparisons between entire societies How does one society differ from another? 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families
For example: How are families different in Japan compared to the U.S. ?? The divorce rate in the U.S. is 50% The rate in Japan is 27% 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families The Sociological Approach – The Macro Level
The micro level includes interactions among individuals, small groups, and families The micro level focuses on our individual actions, thoughts, and choices Think of this as the smaller picture 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families The Sociological Approach – The Micro Level
The Sociological Approach 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families Macro Level Micro Level
Social institutions A social institution is a major sphere of social life with rules and roles that define a social unit of importance to society A social institution is a visible structure that people can recognize and understand Families are a social institution 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families The Sociological Approach – The Macro Level
Family sociologists examine how these social institutions interact and how they influence behaviors, attitudes, and opportunities in families 10/12/2015 Sociological & Policy Perspectives on Families Economy Families Government Education Religion Healthcare
10/12/2015 Social Science Research How do we know what we know? Most of us understand the world around us through our personal experience -- the people and situations we have been in or have seen This personal experience leads to your conclusions about the world While there is nothing wrong with these ways of knowing -- social scientists are skeptical about relying ONLY on these sources because: An individual’s experience of those around them is not representative of the broader society
10/12/2015 Social Science Research How do we know what we know? Social scientists use a systematic and more scientific mode of investigation Social scientists rely on: Observations of the social world based on representative samples Example: If we wanted to study why people in the U.S. get married, we should not just survey college students We avoid the error of overgeneralization: i.e. using what we know about a small group of people to conclude something about all people
10/12/2015 Sociological Theories Social science theories explain or help us make sense of patterns in social life Theories shape and direct research – they point us in a direction That direction influences what we look for, what we find, and how we explain it
10/12/2015 Sociological Theories Theories about families and relationships are made up a set of statements that explain why certain relationships occur For example: The age at first marriage has increased because more women are graduating from college and starting careers before marrying
10/12/2015 Macrolevel theories Macrolevel theories focus on: a whole society or a large part of it the BIG PICTURE Example: How has the decline in real male wages influenced husbands’ and wives’ involvement in the paid labor force Research might examine cost of living and employment rates by gender and compare data from 1960 to 2000
10/12/2015 Sociological Theories Theories used to explain relationships at a more personal level are micro level theories Examples: A researcher wants to know how often husbands and wives argue on a weekly basis They might observe a husbands and wife in their home – or tape their conversations over the week
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Structural Functionalism Operates at the macro level Structural functionalists view society as a social system with interacting parts The functionalist perspective views society as a vast organism whose parts are interdependent or interrelated Think about how social institutions interact: families and the economic system
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Structural Functionalism Operates at the macro level Structural-Functionalists focus on how social institutions like families meet the basic needs or functions of a society. The family as a social institution is analyzed from two perspectives: 1) How does the family contribute to the maintenance of the larger social system ? 2) And, in what ways does society and other social institutions (like education or economic system) affect families?
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Exchange Theory Operates at the micro level Similar to economic theories that view humans as rational beings who make decisions about the exchange of goods and services In doing so, they weigh the costs and benefits of exchanges Emphasis is on efficiency
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Exchange Theory Operates at the micro level In relationships, for example, people have some resource that is valued by the other person This is when exchange can take place In relationships -- what do women hold of value? How about men?
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Gender (Feminist) Theory Operates at both macro and micro level Central concept is gender—the social and cultural characteristics that distinguish women and men in society.
10/12/2015 Major Sociological Theories Gender (Feminist) Theory Oriented toward power in relationships. Feminist theory argues that differences between men and women are socially constructed to maintain power of men over women. Emphasizes culture, rather than biology.
Summary Sociologists seek to understand how macro-level forces, norms and social institutions influence interaction, choices, and behavior at the micro-level For example, how has the downturn in the economy influenced the choices you and your family have made W use theories to point us in a direction to study families These theories shape what we study and how we explain our findings Theories can focus on the macro-level (the big picture) or the micro level (the smaller picture). 10/12/2015