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The Sociological Perspective

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1 The Sociological Perspective
Sociology is the scientific study of social structure. Sociologists look for the patterns in social relationships. When you understand that your own behavior is partly determined by the groups you belong to, you are using your sociological imagination. You can benefit from this understanding when you look at how and why you make certain choices. Chapter 3

2 What is gained by using our sociological imagination?
an understanding of the effects of events on our daily lives an improved ability to make decisions, rather than just conform Chapter 4

3 The sociological imagination
questions common interpretations of human social behavior and challenges conventional social wisdom sociological imagination: the ability to see the link between society and self Definitions: sociological imagination conventional social wisdom Chapter 4b

4 The sociological imagination
questions common interpretations of human social behavior and challenges conventional social wisdom conventional social wisdom: ideas people assume are true Definitions: sociological imagination conventional social wisdom Chapter 4c

5 Illiteracy Rates “Nearly all American adults know how to read and write.” The map shows the percentage of Americans over 20 years old who are illiterate. Is conventional social wisdom about illiteracy rates really wise or true? Support your answer. Chapter 4d

6 A perspective is a particular point of view or a particular way of looking at an issue.
Chapter 5

7 Social structure is the patterned interaction of people in social relationships.
Example: Although the personal characteristics of students and teachers vary from school to school, students and teachers relate in similar patterned ways. Chapter 8

8 The Origins of Sociology
Sociology is a young science. It grew out of the writings of European scholars who were interested in bringing back a sense of community to society in the late 1800s. After World War II, America took the lead in developing the field of sociology. The majority of all sociologists are from the United States. Chapter 10

9 Time Line of Early Sociologists
C. Wright Mills publishes Sociological Imagination 1959 Jane Addams awarded Nobel Peace Prize 1931 1904 Max Weber publishes The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism W.E.B. DuBois publishes The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study 1899 1897 Emile Durkheim publishes Suicide Herbert Spencer publishes Social Statics 1850 1848 Karl Marx publishes The Communist Manifesto, promoting a classless society 1838 Auguste Comte’s book, Positive Philosophy, identifies science of sociology 1837 Harriet Martineau publishes Society in America Select a sociologist, by clicking on their name, and view their contributions.. Chapter 11

10 Jane Addams – early American sociologist
1860–1935 social reformer co-founded Hull House in Chicago slums awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 1931 focused on problems caused by imbalance of power among social classes active in women’s suffrage and peace movements Chapter 11a

11 Auguste Comte–early French sociologist
1798–1857 father of sociology first to advocate the scientific study of society positivism– science based on knowledge of which we can be “positive” distinguished between social stability (statics) and social change (dynamics) Chapter 11b

12 W.E.B. DuBois–early American sociologist
1868–1963 African American educator and social activist focused on the question of race inside and outside the United States analyzed social structure of African American communities active in Pan African movement, concerned with rights of all African descendents Chapter 11c

13 Emile Durkheim–early French sociologist
1858–1917 first used statistical methods in study of human groups first to teach university sociology course showed human behavior to be explained by social factors rather than psychological ones Chapter 11d

14 Harriet Martineau–early English sociologist
1802–1876 emphasized sociology as a science translated Comte’s Positive Philosophy introduced feminism into sociology strong and outspoken supporter of both women and slaves Chapter 11e

15 Karl Marx–early German sociologist
1818–1883 guided by principle that social scientists should try to change the world rather than merely study it emphasized the role of class conflict in social change writings were later used as a basis for communism Chapter 11f

16 C. Wright Mills–early American sociologist
1917–1962 called the personal use of sociology “the sociological imagination” first described emergence of strong middle class (White Collar, 1951) published Power Elite, (1956) father of student movement of 1960s Chapter 11g

17 Herbert Spencer–early English sociologist
1820–1903 early proponent of Social Darwinism opposed social reform; it interfered with process of natural selection compared society to human body; composed of parts working together to promote its well-being Chapter 11h

18 Max Weber–early German sociolgist
1864–1920 developed the concept of verstehen– understanding social behavior by putting yourself in the place of others identified rationalization as key to change from preindustrial to industrial society pioneered techniques to prevent personal biases in research Chapter 11i

19 A theoretical perspective is:
a set of assumptions about an area of study, in this case about the workings of society viewed as true by its supporters and it helps them organize their research Chapter 14

20 Theoretical Perspectives: Functionalism
Emphasizes the contributions made by each part of society Society is a relatively integrated whole. Society tends to seek relative stability. Most aspects of a society contribute to the society’s well-being and survival. Society rests on the voluntary participation of its members. FUNCTIONALISM Chapter 13a

21 Theoretic Perspective: Conflict perspective
Emphasizes the role of conflict, competition, change, and constraint within a society Society experiences inconsistency and conflict everywhere. Society is continually subjected to change. Society involves the constraint and coercion of some members by others. CONFLICT PERSPECTIVE Chapter 13b

Theoretical Perspective: Symbolic interactionism Focuses on the interactions among people based on mutually understood symbols. People learn to interpret the meanings of symbols from others. People base their interaction on their interpretations of symbols. Symbols permit people to predict the behavior expected of them. SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM Chapter 13c

23 Which perspective is the best?
There is no “better” theoretical perspective. Each perspective highlights certain areas of social life. The advantages of one perspective are the disadvantages of another. Certain issues and problems are best understood from a particular perspective. Chapter 15

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