General Sociology
Manatee Community College
Summer, 2008
Instructor: Dr. Gary Voelkl
1
What is Sociology?
Why do people do what they do?
This is the general sociological question.

What are the sources of such realities as domestic
violence, economic inequality, high divorce?
2
The answer is twofold:
1.
2.
Personal factors
Social structural factors
3
How many children do you
intend on having?
1.
Personal factors why people would
chose a certain family size?
2.
Social structural reasons
influencing a certain family size?
4
What are the reasons for poverty?
Personal and Social Structural Factors
Social Structures
Poverty
Biology
Biography
5
How Much Do You Know
About Suicide?

True or False?

In the United States, suicide occurs on the
average of one every 17 minutes.
6
How Much Do You Know
About Suicide?

True.



A suicide occurs on the average of every
17 minutes in the United States.
This differs with respect to the sex,
race/ethnicity, and age of the individual.
Men are four times more likely to kill
themselves than are women.
7
Suicide Rates by Race and Sex

Rates indicate the number of deaths by
suicide for every 100,000 people in each
category for 2001.
8
The “Sociological Imagination”
This is the ability to see the details of our
own lives in the context of larger social
structures, as opposed to merely personal
choices or personal troubles.
9
By using the sociological
imagination …
Sociology helps us get a better understanding
of ourselves and our world by enabling us
to see how behavior is shaped by the
groups to which we belong and the
society in which we live.
10
Chapter 1
The Sociological Perspective
and
Research Methods
11
Putting Social Life Into
Perspective


Sociology is the systematic study of
human society and social interaction.
Sociologists study societies and social
interactions to develop theories about :


How behavior is shaped by group life
How group life is affected by individuals
12
Society


A large social grouping that shares the
same geographical territory and is
subject to the same political authority
and dominant cultural expectations.
We are all affected by global
interdependence, a relationship in
which the lives of all people are
intertwined and any nation’s problems
are part of a larger global problem.
13
Why Study Sociology



Helps us gain a better understanding of
ourselves and our social world.
Helps us see how behavior is shaped by
the groups to which we belong and our
society.
Promotes understanding and tolerance
by helping us look beyond personal
experiences and gain insight into the
larger world order.
14
The Sociological Imagination


The ability to see the relationship
between individual experiences and the
larger society.
Distinguishes between personal troubles
and social issues.
15
Suicide

As a Personal Trouble:


Many people consider suicide to be the
result of personal problems.
As a Public Issue:

Sociologist Emile Durkheim related suicide
to the issue of cohesiveness in society
instead of viewing it as an isolated act that
could be understood by studying individual
personalities or inherited tendencies.
16
Anomie
A condition in which social control
becomes ineffective as a result of the
loss of shared values and a sense of
purpose in society
17
Importance of a Global
Sociological Imagination


The future of our nation is intertwined
with the future of other nations on
economic, political, environmental, and
humanitarian levels.
Understanding diversity and developing
tolerance for people who are different
from us is important for our personal,
social, and economic well-being.
18
Importance of a Global
Sociological Imagination


The future of our nation is intertwined
with the future of other nations on
economic, political, environmental, and
humanitarian levels.
Understanding diversity and developing
tolerance for people who are different
from us is important for our personal,
social, and economic well-being.
19
Race, Ethnicity and Class

Race is a term used to specify groups of
people distinguished by physical
characteristics.



Most sociologists consider race a social
construction used to justify inequalities.
Ethnicity refers to cultural identity and is
based on factors such as language or country
of origin.
Class is based on wealth, power, prestige, or
other valued resources.
20
Sex and Gender


Sex refers to the biological and
anatomical differences between females
and males.
Gender refers to the meanings, beliefs,
and practices associated with sex
differences, referred to as femininity
and masculinity.
21
Industrialization




The process by which societies are
transformed from dependence on agriculture
and handmade products to dependence on
manufacturing industries.
First occurred during the Industrial Revolution
in Britain between 1760 and 1850.
Resulted in massive economic, technological,
and social changes.
People were forced to leave rural
communities to seek employment in the
22
emerging cities.
Urbanization




The process by which an increasing proportion of a
population lives in cities rather than rural areas.
The factory system led to a rapid increase in the
number of cities and the size of populations.
People from diverse backgrounds began working in
the same factory and living in the same
neighborhoods.
This led to the development of new social problems:
inadequate housing, crowding, unsanitary conditions,
poverty, pollution, and crime.
23
August Comte



Considered the “founder of sociology.”
Comte’s philosophy became known as
positivism— a belief that the world can
best be understood through scientific
inquiry.
Comte believed objective, bias-free
knowledge was attainable only through
the use of science rather than religion.
24
Two Dimensions Of Comte’s
Positivism
1.
Methodological

2.
The application of scientific knowledge to
physical and social phenomena.
Social and political

The use of such knowledge to predict the
likely results of different policies so the
best one could be chosen.
25
Harriet Martineau

Believed society would improve when:



women and men were treated equally
enlightened reform occurred
cooperation existed among all social
classes
26
Herbert Spencer


Contributed an evolutionary perspective
on social order and social change.
Social Darwinism

The belief that the human beings best
adapted to their environment survive and
prosper, whereas those poorly adapted die
out.
27
Emile Durkheim


Believed the limits of human potential
are socially based.
One of his most important contributions
was the concept of social facts.

Social facts are patterned ways of acting,
thinking, and feeling that exist outside any
one individual but exert social control over
each person.
28
Karl Marx



Viewed history as a clash between
conflicting ideas and forces.
Believed class conflict produced social
change and a better society.
Combined ideas from philosophy,
history, and social science into a new
theory.
29
Max Weber


Believed sociological research should
exclude personal values and economic
interests.
Provided insights on rationalization,
bureaucracy and religion.
30
Georg Simmel



Theorized about society as a web of
patterned interactions among people.
Analyzed how social interactions vary
depending on the size of the social group.
Developed formal sociology, an approach that
focuses attention on the universal recurring
social forms that underlie the varying content
of social interaction.
31
Jane Adams



Founded Hull House, one of the most
famous settlement houses, in Chicago.
One of the authors of a methodology
text used by sociologists for the next
forty years.
Awarded Nobel Prize for assistance to
the underprivileged.
32
W. E. B. Du Bois


One of the first to note the identity
conflict of being both a black and an
American.
Pointed out that people in the U.S.
espouse values of democracy, freedom,
and equality while they accept racism
and group discrimination.
33
Theoretical Perspectives


Theoretical perspectives are based on
ideas about how social life is organized.
The major perspectives in U.S.
sociology are:




Functionalist
Conflict
symbolic interactionist
postmodernist perspectives
34
Major Theoretical Perspectives
Theory
View of Society
Functionalist
Composed of interrelated parts
that work together to maintain
stability.
Conflict
Society is characterized by social
inequality; social life is a struggle
for scarce resources.
35
Major Theoretical Perspectives
Theory
View of Society
Symbolic
Interactionist
Behavior is learned in interaction
with other people.
Postmodernist
Postindustrialization, consumerism,
and global communications bring
into question assumptions about
social life and the nature of reality.
36
Order Theory or
“Structural Functionalism”




The central concern for Order Theory: What holds society together?
The focus is on order and stability in society. From the Order Theory
perspective, what holds society together is consensus.
For society to survive, each of its parts must work in harmony with the
others. Each part functions to maintain an orderly system, preserving
social order for the smooth running of society.
An orderly, smooth running social order is beneficial to everyone.
37
Assumptions of Conflict
Theory


Competition. Competition over
resources is characteristic of all human
relationships.
Structured Inequality. Those who
benefit strive to maintain their advantage.
38
Conflict Analysis
Two basic questions:
 Who benefits from structural inequality?
 How do they maintain their advantage?
39
Example of Application of the Conflict
Perspective: Ideologies
Ideologies are norms and values that rationalize
existing social arrangements



Equal opportunity (America)
A low caste is punishment for poor
performance in a previous life (Hindu)
“A woman’s place is in the home”
40
Example of Application of
Symbolic Interaction
An Elevator Ride
41
The Sociological Research
Process

Research is the process of
systematically collecting information for
the purpose of testing an existing
theory or generating a new one.
42
Quantitative and Qualitative
Research

Quantitative research focuses on data
that can be measured numerically.


Example: Concern for the environment
Qualitative research focuses on interpretive
description rather than statistics to analyze
underlying meanings and patterns of social
relationships.
43
Hypothesis: The higher the social class, the greater
concern people will have for the environment.
Recycle Cans Low
and Bottles? Income
Medium
Income
High
Income
Always or
Often
55%
62%
75%
Sometimes
or Never
45%
38%
25%
Total
Percent
100%
100%
100%
Total
Number
445
545
360
Data was obtained from telephone interviews.
44
Can you answer the following
questions?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
For the hypothesis, what is the independent
variable?
For the hypothesis, what is the dependent
variable?
What is the operational definition of the
independent variable?
What is the operational definition of the
dependent variable?
How large is our sample?
45
Can you answer these
questions?
Is the hypothesis supported?
How might the following possibly
compromise the validity of this study?
1.
2.


3.
Operational definitions
Social desirability bias
What other concerns might you have with
the results of this study?
46
Research Methods:
Survey Research



Describes a population without
interviewing each individual.
Standardized questions force
respondents into categories.
Relies on self-reported information, and
some people may not be truthful.
47
Qualitative Research Method
1.
2.
Researcher begins with a general
approach rather than a highly detailed
plan.
Researcher has to decide when the
literature review and theory application
should take place.
48
Qualitative Research Method
3.
4.
5.
The study presents a detailed view of
the topic.
Access to people or other resources
that can provide necessary data is
crucial.
Appropriate research method(s) are
important for acquiring useful
qualitative data.
49
Qualitative Research Methods:
Field Research




Study of social life in its natural setting.
Observing and interviewing people
where they live, work, and play.
Generates observations that are best
described verbally rather than
numerically.
Example: Tally’s Corner (participant
observation)
50
Research Methods:
Analysis of Existing Data

Materials studied may include:



books, diaries, poems, and graffiti
movies, television shows, advertisements,
greeting cards
music, art, and even garbage
51
Research Methods:
Experiments




Study the impact of certain variables on
subjects’ attitudes or behavior.
Designed to create “real-life” situations.
Used to demonstrate a cause-and-effect
relationship between variables.
Example: Milgram Study
52
ASA Code of Ethics
1.
2.
Disclose research findings in full and
include all possible interpretations of
the data.
Safeguard the participants’ right to
privacy and dignity while protecting
them from harm.
53
ASA Code of Ethics
3.
4.
Protect confidential information
provided by participants.
Acknowledge research collaboration
and disclose all financial support.
54
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General Sociology - State College of Florida, Manatee