Presentation on theme: "10/11/2015 Sociological Theory Family Sociology Montclair State University."— Presentation transcript:
10/11/2015 Sociological Theory Family Sociology Montclair State University
Sociological Inquiry Individuals or families do not exist in isolation Rather, they react to and influence changes in the social world around them In this class, we will focus on how families are influenced by the larger social structure Social structure: is a stable framework of social relationships that guides our interaction with others
10/11/2015 The Sociological Approach Macro Level Micro Level
10/11/2015 The Sociological Approach – The Macro Level Family sociologists examine how these social institutions interact and how they influence behaviors, attitudes, and opportunities in families Economy Families GovernmentEducation Religion Healthcare
10/11/2015 The Sociological Approach – The Macro Level Example: A macrolevel analysis of a woman who feels the tension of balancing work and family would focus on this as a social problem Solutions might be implementing a family leave policy at the federal level or corporate level
10/11/2015 The Sociological Approach – The Micro Level Micro level deals with issues of social life at the level of individuals or small groups At the micro level we focus on patterned behaviors of people that are due to the social conditions in which we find ourselves We act differently in different settings and places Micro level analysis focuses on personal choices
10/11/2015 The Sociological Approach – The Micro Level Example: A microlevel analysis of a woman who feels the tension of balancing work and family would focus on this as a personal problem Solutions might be focus on her personal choices -- she should find a way to improve her time management skills
10/11/2015 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 our 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
10/11/2015 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
10/11/2015 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
10/11/2015 Sociological Theories Theories about families and relationships are made up a set of statements that explain why certain relationships occur
10/11/2015 M acrolevel theories Macrolevel theories focus on: a whole society or a large part of it the BIG PICTURE Examples: Are marriages less stable in the U.S. compared to Japan? Compare U.S. divorce rates to Japanese divorce rates
10/11/2015 M acrolevel theories Macrolevel theories focus on: a whole society or a large part of it the BIG PICTURE Examples: 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 1968 to 2008
10/11/2015 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
10/11/2015 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
10/11/2015 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?
10/11/2015 Major Sociological Theories Conflict Theory (based on Marxist Theory) Operates at the macro level Focuses on inequality, power, and social change Basic form of interaction is competition not cooperation Individuals and groups compete for advantage
10/11/2015 Major Sociological Theories Conflict theorists might ask: How do some family members come to dominate others? Under which circumstances can the oppressed reduce or eliminate their disadvantages?
10/11/2015 Major Sociological Theories Conflict Theory (based on Marxist Theory) Operates at the macro level Inequality generates conflict – may lead to revolution by the proletariat or “have-nots” This inequality affects the lives of many people while benefits the powerful few Emphasis is on the economic system Within marriages men may have more power than women because they earn more on average
10/11/2015 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
10/11/2015 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?
10/11/2015 Major Sociological Theories Gender Theory Operates at both macro and micro level Central concept is gender—the social and cultural characteristics that distinguish women and men in society. 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.
10/11/2015 Summary Families are one social institution among many Families are influenced by and influence the larger society Family theories guide research on families These theories may operate at the: macro level (big picture level) or micro level (more personal individual level)