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Society: the Basics Chapter 1.

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1 Society: the Basics Chapter 1

2 The Sociological Perspective
Sociology is the systematic study of human society It helps us see the general in the particular Encourages us to realize how society guides our thoughts and deeds Helps us to see individuality in social context Ex: Emile Durkheim’s research – suicide rate is influenced by how connected people are to others

3 Benefits of the Sociological Perspective
Helps us assess both opportunities and constraints in our lives Empowers us to be active participants in society Helps us assess the truth of “common sense” Helps us live in a diverse world

4 Importance of a Global Perspective
See issues in a global perspective – the study of the larger world and our society’s place in it. Three types of nations in the world: High Income – highly industrialized Middle Income – limited industrialization Low Income – little industrialization

5 Origins of Sociology 3 major changes in 17th and 18th centuries
Rise of factory-based industrial economy Emergence of great cities in Europe Political changes Auguste Comte – major goal was to understand society as it actually operates, favored positivism or scientific approach 3 stages of historical development: theological => metaphysical => scientific

6 Sociological Theory A theory is a statement of how and why specific facts are related. Goal is to explain social behavior in the real world. Theories are based on theoretical paradigms, sets of assumptions that guide thinking and research.

7 Structural-Functional Paradigm
Sees society as a complex system whose parts work together. Asserts that our lives are guided by social structures. Each social structure has social functions. The influence of this paradigm has declined in recent decades - it focuses on stability, thereby ignoring inequalities of social class, race, and gender

8 Social-Conflict Paradigm
Sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change. Key figures – Karl Marx and E. B. DuBois This paradigm has developed rapidly in recent years. Limitations: Ignores social unity Like structural-functional paradigm, it envisions society in terms of broad abstractions.

9 The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm
Sees society as the everyday interactions of individuals. Micro-level orientation, may ignore larger societal influences Focuses on patterns of social interaction in specific settings

10 Basics of Sociological Investigation
Starts with 2 simple requirements: Use the sociological perspective Be curious and ask questions Science – a logical system that bases knowledge on direction, systematic observation Scientific sociology – the study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior.

11 Science: Basic Elements and Limitations
A concept = a mental construct that represents some part of the world in a simplified form. A variable= a concept whose value changes from case to case Measurement = a procedure for determining the variable Almost any variable can be measured in more than one way

12 Useful Measurements To be useful, the measurements must be reliable and valid Reliable = consistency in measurement The procedure must yield the same result if repeated. Validity = precision in measuring exactly what one intends to measure. Valid measurements hit the bull’s-eye of the target.

13 Relationships Among Variables
Scientific ideal is cause and effect = change in one variable causes change in another. The variable that causes the change is the independent variable. The variable that changes is the dependent variable. Correlation = a relationship by which 2 variables change together. A spurious correlation is a false relationship between 2 or more variables caused by yet another variable.

14 The Ideal of Objectivity
Science demands that researchers strive for objectivity = a state of personal neutrality Researchers carefully hold to scientific procedures while reining in their own attitudes and beliefs. It is an ideal rather than a reality.

15 A Second Framework: Interpretive Sociology
Max Weber argued that the proper focus in sociology was interpretive. Interpretive Sociology = the study of society that focuses on the meanings that people attach to their social world. It is better suited to research in a natural setting.

16 A Third Framework: Critical Sociology
Karl Marx rejected the idea that society exists as a natural system with a fixed order. Critical sociology = the study of society that focuses on the need for social change. The point is not merely to study the world as it is, but to change it.

17 Gender and Research The five ways that gender can shape research
Androcentricity Overgeneralization Gender blindness Double standards Interference There is nothing wrong with focusing research on only one sex or the other. All sociologists should be mindful of gender in their research.

18 Methods of Sociology Research
The Experiment = investigates cause and effect under highly controlled conditions The experiment is used to test a hypothesis – an unverified statement of a relationship between variables. A survey = subjects respond to a series of questions in an interview Most widely used of all research methods They yield descriptive findings.

19 The Methods of Sociological Research II
The Investigation = takes place in the field, where people carry on in their everyday lives Participant observation = investigators systematically observe people while joining their routine activities. Not all research requires investigators to collect their own data. Secondary analysis = a researcher uses data gathered by others. Most widely used statistics are gathered by govt. agencies.

20 10 Steps to Sociological Investigation
What is your topic? What have others already learned? What, exactly, are your questions? What will you need to carry out your research? Are there ethical concerns?

21 Sociological Investigation Continued…
6. What methods will you use? 7. How will you record the data? 8. What does the data tell you? 9. What are your conclusions? 10. How can you share what you have learned?

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