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The Sociological Perspective

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1 The Sociological Perspective
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

2 The Sociological Perspective
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

3 What Is Sociology? The systematic study of human society . Systematic
Scientific discipline that focuses attention on patterns of behavior. Human society Group behavior is primary focus; how groups influence individuals and vice versa. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

4 What Can I Do with a Sociology Degree?
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

5 The Sociological Perspective: Peter Berger
Things are not what they seem to be… The Sociological Perspective: Peter Berger Seeing the general in the particular. Sociologists identify general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals. Individuals are unique but, society’s social forces shape us into “kinds” of people. Seeing the strange in the familiar. Giving up the idea that human behavior is simply a matter of what people decide to do. Instead sociologists focus on the idea that society shapes our lives. Sociological perspective encourages challenging commonly held beliefs. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

6 Global Map 1-1 (p. 4) Women’s Childbearing in Global Perspective Is childbearing simply a matter of personal choice? A look around the world shows that it is not. In general, women living in poor countries have many more children than women in rich nations. Can you point to some of the reasons for this global disparity? In simple terms, such differences mean that if you had been born into another society (whether you are female or male), your life might be quite different from what it is now. Source: Data from United Nations (2000) and U.S. Census Bureau (2003). Map projection from Peters Atlas of the World (1990).

7 Seeing the Strange in the Familiar: College
Today most feel that anyone can go to college. A look at a classroom shows society’s effects: Age  young Class  families with above average incomes Our Place in History  college wasn’t an option for most a century ago. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

8 Durkheim’s Study of Suicide
Emile Durkheim’s research showed that society affects even our most personal choices. More likely to commit: male Protestants who were wealthy and unmarried Less likely to commit: male Jews and Catholics who were poor and married One of the basic findings: Why? The differences between these groups had to do with “social integration”. Those with strong social ties had less of a chance of commiting suicide. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

9 National Map 1-1 (p. 14) Suicide Rates across the United States This map shows which states have high, average, and low suicide rates. Look for patterns. By and large, high suicide rates occur where people live far apart from one another. More densely populated states have low suicide rates. Do these data support or contradict Durkheim’s theory of suicide? Why? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

10 Social Marginality Being defined by others as an “outsider”.
If you are an “outsider” you are more aware of how society shapes people’s lives. Privileged people often see individuals as being responsible for their own lives…not the role society plays. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

11 C. Wright Mills’ Sociological Imagination
The power of the sociological perspective lies not just in changing individual lives but in transforming society. Society, not people’s personal failings, is the cause of social problems. Sociological imagination is likely to be more widespread in times of social crisis. Sociological imagination/perspective is often used by people with disabilities or racial minorities. The S.I. transforms personal problems into public issues.

12 The Importance of the Global Perspective
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

13 Importance of Global Perspective
Global perspective – the study of the larger world & our society’s place in it. Greater understanding of both a new way of life & your own way of life. Societies throughout the world are increasingly interconnected through technology and economics. Many problems that we face in the United States are more serious elsewhere. Thinking globally is a good way to learn more about ourselves. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

14 DISCUSSION QUESTION Confronting the strange gives us a new sense of the familiar. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz once commented that nothing made him aware of home as much as being in the world’s most remote places. Have you ever had a similar experience? What cultures do you consider “strange”? Why? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

15 Applying the Sociological Perspective
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

16 Benefits of Learning Sociology
Helps us assess the truth of common sense. Helps us assess both opportunities and constraints in our lives. Empowers us to be active participants in our society. Helps us live in a diverse world. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

17 DISCUSSION QUESTION Can anyone in the US really become president?
44/44 – Men 43/44 – White 0/44 – Jewish 1/44 – Catholic 1/44 – Divorced Sociology, Eleventh Edition

18 The Origins of Sociology
Sociology, Eleventh Edition

One of the youngest of academic disciplines (1838), sociology, has it origins in powerful social forces: Social Change Industrialization, urbanization, political revolution, and a new awareness of society. Philosophy (500 BCE) came around long before sociology. Philosophy focused on imagining the ideal society. Sociology focuses on how society actually operates.

20 Comte’s Three Stages of Development
Theological People took a religious view that society expressed God’s will. Metaphysical People saw society as natural, not supernatural. Hobbes – society reflects failings of selfish human nature. Scientific – Comte used scientific method to study society. Positivism – Comte’s approach – way of understanding based on science. Society operates according to its own laws. Today’s sociologists cannot identify “laws of society” that allow us to predict human behavior because human behavior is patterned and spontaneous.

21 Sociology, Eleventh Edition

22 Sociological Theory Sociology, Eleventh Edition

23 Sociological Theory Theory: a statement of how and why facts are related. Explains social behavior to the real world. Theoretical paradigm: a set of fundamental assumptions that guides thinking. Three major approaches: Structural-functional Social-conflict Symbolic-interaction Sociology, Eleventh Edition

24 Structural –Functional Approach
The basics A macro-level orientation, concerned with broad patterns that shape society as a whole. Views society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. This approach points to a society’s social structure and looks for a structure’s social functions. Key elements: Social structure refers to any relatively stable patterns of social behavior found in social institutions. Social function refers to the consequences for the operation of society as a whole.

25 Sociology, Eleventh Edition

26 Structural –Functional Example: Sports
The S-F approach would look at how sports contribute to the operation of society. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

27 Who’s Who in Structural-Functional Approach
Auguste Comte Emile Durkheim Herbert Spencer Robert K. Merton Sociology, Eleventh Edition

28 Auguste Comte Coined the term “sociology”.
Importance of social integration during times of rapid change. Belief: you need to understand society as it really is, not what it wants to be. Positivism – path to understanding the world based on science. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

29 Emile Durkheim Helped establish sociology as a university discipline.
Bonds/functions hold society together (social integration). Sociology, Eleventh Edition

30 Herbert Spencer Compared society to the human body.
Coined phrase “survival of the fittest”. Social Darwinism Most intelligent, ambitious people rise to the top. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

31 Robert K. Merton Manifest functions are recognized and intended consequences. Latent functions are unrecognized and unintended consequences. Social dysfunctions - any social pattern that has negative consequences for the operation of society as a whole. What is functional for one category of people, may not be functional for another. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

32 DISCUSSION QUESTION Let’s examine prostitution by using the structural functional approach. What are the functions of prostitution? What do people get out of it? Who does it benefit? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

33 Social-Conflict Approach
The basics: A macro-oriented paradigm Views society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change. Key elements: Society is structured in ways to benefit a few at the expense of the majority. Factors such as race, sex, class, and age are linked to social inequality. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

34 Who’s Who in Social-Conflict Approach
Karl Marx W.E.B. Du Bois Sociology, Eleventh Edition

35 Karl Marx The importance of social class in inequality and social conflict. We need to study society to bring about change. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

36 W.E.B. Du Bois Founding member of NAACP and received first Harvard doctorate awarded to an African American. Focused on race as the major problem facing the United States in the twentieth century. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

37 Social Conflict Example: Sports
The SC approach would examine the links between sports and social inequality. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

38 Social-Conflict Approach
Gender-Conflict Approach – A point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men. Linked to feminism Harriet Martineau – first woman sociologist Documented the evils of slavery, argued for laws to protect factory workers, and defended unions. Jane Addams Public activist Founded the Hull House – assistance to immigrants. Race-Conflict Approach – A point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between people of different racial and ethnic categories. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

39 DISCUSSION QUESTION Let’s examine prostitution by using the social conflict approach. What social conflicts do you think prostitution causes/reinforces? What categories of people are likely to be prostitutes? Why do people become prostitutes? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

40 Symbolic Interaction Approach
The basics: A micro-level orientation, a close-up focus on social interactions in specific situations. Views society as the product of everyday interactions of individuals. Key elements: Society is nothing more than the shared reality that people construct as they interact with one another. Society is a complex, ever-changing mosaic of subjective meanings. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

41 individuals Sociology, Eleventh Edition

42 Symbolic Interaction Example: Sports
The S-I approach would assess the different meanings and understandings people have of sports. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

43 Who’s Who in Symbolic-Interaction Approach
Max Weber George Herbert Mead Erving Goffman Sociology, Eleventh Edition

44 Max Weber Understanding a setting from the people in it.
Called attention to the meaning people attach to their behavior. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

45 George Herbert Mead Erving Goffman
How we build personalities from social experience. Dramaturgical analysis We are actors on a stage as we play out our roles/lives. Erving Goffman

46 DISCUSSION QUESTION Let’s examine prostitution by using the symbolic interaction approach. Think about the everyday interactions of individuals. How would a prostitute be easy to recognize? How would people respond to passing a prostitute on the street? Would everyone respond the same way? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

47 Social-Exchange Analysis
Social interaction is guided by what each person stands to gain and lose from others. People seek mates who offer at least as much as they offer.

48 Critical Evaluation Structural-Functional Social-Conflict
Too broad, ignores inequalities of social class, race & gender, focuses on stability at the expense of conflict. Social-Conflict Too broad, ignores how shared values and mutual interdependence unify society, pursues political goals. Symbolic-Interaction Ignores how larger social structures, effects of culture, factors such as class, gender & race affect people’s experiences. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

49 Applying Theory (p. 22) Major Theoretical Perspectives
Sociology, Eleventh Edition Pg. 22

50 Stereotypes Stereotype – an exaggerated description applied to every person in some category. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

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