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Unit 1: Introduction to Sociology

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1 Unit 1: Introduction to Sociology

2 Chapter 1 : The Study of Sociology
What is Sociology? It is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.

3 Sociological Imagination
The Sociological Imagination is the ability to see the intimate realities of our own lives in the context of common social structures. It is also the ability to see personal troubles as public issues. Examples: people who are alcoholics or addicted to gambling.

4 The Study of Sociology Most of us start the study of society with the study of individuals. We may wonder why Jason keeps getting involved with women who treat him badly, why Mike never learns to quit drinking before he gets sick, why our aunt puts up with our uncle, and why our brothers and sisters always take our stuff.

5 The Study of Sociology Sociologists see the individual situations and realize that they are not isolated. There are thousands, maybe millions of people who get into bad relationships, who are alcoholics, and who take things that are not theirs. But the single action does not concern the Sociologist. Rather it is that SO many people do the same thing. That is what Sociology questions: Why do we do the things we do?

6 The Study of Sociology Sociologists view common human situations as if they were dramas or plays “Boy meets Girl” is one example. Romeo and Juliet, Sonny and Cher, or Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt. It is the same story, but with different characters and in a different time and place. So many of our life situations have already been acted out millions of times before. Sociologists study how these “dramas” play out. To do this, they look at the Role and the Social Structure.

7 Role and Social Structure
Role- expected performance of someone who occupies a specific position. Each position has an established script that suggests appropriate line, gesture, and behavior. Social Structure- the larger structure of the play or drama in which the roles are being acted out. Write two examples of each!

8 Conclusion Studying Sociology should be a liberating experience:
The field enlarges our sympathies and imagination, opens up new perspectives on the sources of our own behavior, and creates an awareness of cultural settings different from our own. Sociological ideas challenge dogma, teach appreciation of cultural variety, and allow us insight into the working of social institutions. The practice of sociology enhances the possibilities of human freedom!

9 Sociological Perspective
I. The Sociological Perspective II. The Origins of Sociology III. Sociological Theory

10 I. The Sociological Perspective
A. Sociology is the scientific study of human social activity. B. The sociological perspective helps us to see general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals. C. It also encourages us to realize that society guides our thoughts and deeds - to see the strange in the familiar. D. Sociology also encourages us to see individuality in social context. 1.For example, Emile Durkheim's research showed that the suicide rate was strongly influenced by the extent to which people were socially integrated with others. Modern scholarship supports this thesis. I.C.1.Social Diversity Box: What's in a Name: Social Forces and Personal Choice. People with "foreign" names frequently change them to sound more English

11 I. The Sociological Perspective (continued)
E. Applied sociology. Sociology is more than just a discipline for enhancing intellectual growth. Sociology provides training for many jobs. F. Sociologists also strive to see issues in global perspective, defined as the study of the larger world and our society's place in it.

12 II. The Origins of Sociology
A. Early social thought consisted mostly of utopian philosophical speculation. Auguste Comte, the father of sociology, in contrast, felt that the field should be “scientific.” This approach has now been termed positivism - a path to understanding based on science. Comte believed that societies progress through three stages. 1. The theological stage, in which thought was guided by religion. 2. The metaphysical stage, a transitional phase. 3. The scientific or positive stage.

13 II. The Origins of Sociology (continued)
B. Scientific sociology developed because of three major social trends in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 1.The growth of a factory-based industrial economy. 2.The emergence of great cities in Europe. 3.Political changes, including a rising concern with individual liberty and rights. The French Revolution embraced these ideas.

14 III. Sociological Theory
A. A theory is a statement of how and why specific facts are related. For example, Durkheim theorized about the relationship between suicide and social integration. B. Theories are based on theoretical paradigms, sets of assumptions that guide thinking and research. There are three major sociological paradigms.

15 Sociological Theory C. The structural-functional paradigm is a framework for building sociological theory based on the assumption that society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote stability. 1. It asserts that society is composed of social structures (relatively stable patterns of social behavior). 2.Each social structure has social functions or consequences for the operation of society as a whole. 3.Important figures in the development of this paradigm include Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Emile Durkheim.

16 III. Sociological Theory (continued)
D. The social-conflict paradigm is a framework for building sociological theory based on the assumption that society is characterized by inequalities and conflicts that generate change. Most sociologists who favor the conflict paradigm attempt not only to understand society but also to reduce social inequality. 1. Key figure in this tradition include Karl Marx.

17 III. Sociological Theory (continued)
E. The symbolic-interaction paradigm is a theoretical framework based on the assumption that society is the product of everyday interactions between individuals. 1. The structural-functional and the social-conflict paradigms share a macro-level orientation, meaning that they focus on broad social structures that characterize society as a whole. In contrast, symbolic-interactions has a micro-level orientation; it focuses on patterns of social interaction in specific settings. 2. Max Weber & Erving Goffman are important theorists in this tradition.

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