What is sociology?
Sociology is one of the social scienceshistory, anthropology, geography,
economics, psychology, archeology,
political science
 Sociology is the study of cultures, social
structure and their effects and influence
on behavior
 Sociologists look at how jobs, education,
gender, race and age affect ideas and
Culture is the
knowledge, values,
customs, and physical
values shared by a
 What is acceptable in
our culture?
Socialization is the cultural
process of learning to
participate in life
 What characteristics are
influenced by nature
(heredity) or nurture
(contact with others)?
Social Structure
Social Structure defines limits on our
behavior, roles, social status, social
 Location on the social structure
influences attitudes, perceptions and
behavior. People are divided by social class
and social groups.
Sociological Perspectives
Conflict Perspective- emphasis
is on competition, change and
constraint within society
Functional Perspective- looks
at the contribution of each part
of society (family, economy,
religion, etc.)
Symbolic Interaction
Perspective- focuses on the
interaction of people based on
mutually understood symbols
Macro vs. Micro Perspectives
Sociology vs. Common Sense
All questions are true/false
More U.S. students are shot in school today than fifteen years
The earnings of U.S. women have caught up with men.
When faced with natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes,
people panic, and social organization disintegrates
Most rapists are mentally ill.
Most people on welfare are lazy and looking for a handout. They
could work if they wanted to.
Compared with women, men maintain more eye contact in face
to face conversations
Couples that live together before marriage are more satisfied
than couples that do not live together before marriage.
Most husbands that get laid off from work take up the slack and
increase the amount of work they do around the house.
Students in Japan are under such intense pressure to do well in
school their suicide rate is double that of U.S. high school
Origins of Sociology
Sociology grew out of
the social upheaval of
the Industrial
Revolution and
movements of the
1700’s and 1800’s
 Questions of where
we fit in in new society
Auguste Comte 1798-1857
Known as the founder of
 Used the scientific method to
identify what holds society
together (positivism)
 Comte was more of a social
philosopher than a true
 Thought that the study of society
could bring about social reform
Herbert Spencer 1820-1903
Thought society evolved
from lower (barbarian)
to higher (civilized)
Used ideas of Charles
Darwin and thought
that only the fittest
societies survived
(Social Darwinism)
Karl Marx 1818-1893
Believed that the engine of human
history is class conflict and
economics as a force for social
Society was a battle of the have’s
(bourgeoisie) against the have
not’s (proletariat)
Struggle could only end through
revolution when the workers
defeated the capitalists
The result would be a classless
society where people will work
according to their abilities and
receive according to their needs
Emile Durkheim 1858-1917
Studied how social forces effect
Identified social integration,
how people are influenced by
their social group, effected
peoples behavior.
Human behavior can’t be
understood on individualistic
terms, it must always be
examined with the effects of
social forces
Max Weber 1864-1920
Studied religion as a force
for social change
Saw Protestant religions as
a force that gave birth to
capitalism. Money was a
sign of success
Coined the term Protestant
Work Ethic
W.E.B. DuBois 1868-1963
African-American who
studied sociology and
race relations
 Sociology he used was
not theoretical but for
social reform
 Studies led him to write
books on social reform
in America
Perspectives in Sociology
Symbolic Interaction, Functional Analysis, Conflict
Sociological Perspectives
Conflict Perspectiveemphasis is on competition,
change and constraint
within society
Functional Perspectivelooks at the contribution of
each part of society (family,
economy, religion, etc.)
Symbolic Interaction
Perspective- focuses on
the interaction of people
based on mutually
understood symbols
Symbolic Interactionism
Scottish moral,
philosophers of the
1700’s noticed how
individuals evaluate their
own conduct by
comparing themselves
with others.
People use symbols to
develop their views of the
world and to
communicate with each
Symbolic Interactionism
Symbols tell us:
Who we are related to and how to behave
 To tell time and how to coordinate our actions
with other people
 Build buildings, make movies and music
 Without symbols no government, no hospitals,
no religion
Symbolic Interactionism
Symbolic interactionists see the self as a
symbol- it consists of the ideas and
symbols of who we are.
Functional Analysis
The central idea of this
perspective is that society is
made up of interrelated parts
that make up the whole.
 Organic Theory- Comte
and Spencer saw society as a
living organism that, in order
to function smoothly all the
parts had to work in
Functional Analysis
Functionalists look at the structure- how the parts fit together to
make the whole
They also investigate the function- what each part does and how it
contributes to society
Sociologist Robert Merton dismissed the organic theory but kept
the essence of functionalism- society as a whole composed of parts
working together
He used the term function to describe the beneficial aspects of
Dysfunctions are consequences that harm society. Functions can
either be manifest or latent
Manifest functions are intended to help the system
Latent functions are unintended consequences of manifest
Latent dysfunctions are consequences that harm the social system
Conflict Theory
Society is composed of
groups in a constant
struggle for resources
Alliance and cooperation
may be seen on the
surface but underneath
there is a struggle for
Conflict Theory
Karl Marx is the founder of the conflict
theory. It was developed as his response
to the transformation of the Industrial
Revolution in Europe.
 He described human history as a
competition between the group that
controls the means of production and
exploitation of those not in control
Conflict Theory
When people control try to enforce
authority those not in control will resist.
The result is a constant struggle over who
has authority
 Lewis Coser looked at people in close
relationships and described how these
relationships divide responsibility and
privileges. When the relationship changes
conflicts will occur
Assignment due the day after
Of the three theoretical perspectives,
which one do you think is the most
effective in studying sociology? Why?
You must answer both parts of the
question to receive full credit.
Basics, Symbolic Culture, Values, Norms,
Mores and Sanctions
What to know
Definitions- culture, material culture,
nonmaterial culture, culture shock,
ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, symbol,
gesture, language, values, norms, folkways,
mores, sanctions, taboos
Concepts- seven basics about all culture, how
does language allow culture to exist, explain
the differences between mores, folkways,
norms, values
Two types of Culture
Material Culture- things that can be
seen or felt. Examples: buildings, art,
machines, hairstyle, clothes
 Non-material culture- a groups way of
thinking, beliefs, values, language, gestures
Culture is neither right or wrong
How culture changes
Two ways:
Internally through invention and
Externally through borrowing
Does culture invent more than it borrows
or does it borrow more than it invents?
Basic Ideas of Culture
All culture is learned- culture is within us. We
take culture for granted, we assume that our
culture is normal behavior
 Culture shock- the disorientation people
experience when they come in contact with a
fundamentally different culture and can no longer
depend on their assumptions about life
 A consequence of the culture within us is
Culture Basics
Nothing natural about material, nonmaterial culture
Culture is the lens which we see the world
Provides the instruction for various situations, basis
for our decision making
Culture provides the moral imperative, the right way
of doing things
Contact challenges our basic assumptions about life
Culture is universal-society cannot exist without
developing shared ways of dealing with the challenges
of life
All people are ethnocentric (positive and negative)
Cultural Relativism
Culture Relativism- to
understand culture on its
own terms. Seeing how
these elements fit
together without judging
them as superior or
inferior to one’s own way
of life
Culture Areas of the U.S.
Ancestry in the U.S.
Decide if the statement is an example of ethnocentrism
or cultural relativism
1. The British drive on the wrong side of the road.
2. The Chinese characters for China mean “center of
the universe”.
3. Frenchmen use forks with their left hands.
4.Americans believe democracy is the only form of
5. In some cultures it is a delicacy to eat dog.
6. Milk is the only drink to serve children.
7. It is rude to haggle over the price of an item.
8. Looking directly at a person means that you respect
that person.
9. It is wrong to show up late for an appointment
10. Women in India wear red on their wedding day.
Symbolic Culture
Symbol- something people attach meaning and that
they use to communicate
Gesture- using the body to communicate with
others, a way to convey a message without words.
Certain gestures accepted in some cultures are
inappropriate or unintelligible in other cultures.
Gestures are learned, highly specific to a culture.
There are some gestures that represent fundamental
emotions- sadness, anger, fear, joy- inborn, do not
vary from culture to culture
Culture is universal but people have different ways of
expressing culture
Symbols that can be put together in
infinite ways for the purpose of
Language allows culture to exist
Language has embedded in it our ways of
looking at the world
Language allows human experience to be
Ideas, knowledge, and attitudes passed
from generation to generation
Modify behavior with what previous
generations have learned.
Communicate events past , present and
Allows culture to develop by freeing
people to move beyond their immediate
Language provides a social or shared past
and future
 Language allows for shared perspectives
talking allows people to reach a shared understanding that
form the basis of social life. When people do not share a
language it invites miscommunication and suspicion
Language allows for complex goal
directed behavior-common language allows people
to set a purpose, place events in sequence, etc
Values and Norms
Culture is learned and universal
Two parts of culture-material and non material
Cultural views can be ethnocentric, culture can
also be viewed through a lens of cultural
 Language and gestures are two symbols of
nonmaterial culture
 Language allows us to share our perceptions,
future and past
 Language shapes our perception of objects and
Values, Norms and Sanctions
All cultures have values, their ideas about what is
valuable in life.
 Values tell us what is good, bad, beautiful, ugly
 Norms describe expectations, rules of behavior
that develop out of values
 Sanctions refer to reactions people receive
from following or breaking the norms
Positive Sanction- approval for following norms
Negative Sanction- disapproval for breaking the norm
Moral Holidays- specified time when people can break the
cultural norms- Mardi Gras for example
Folkways and Mores
Norms that are not strictly enforced are
called folkways
 Norms that we think of as essential to
our core values are called mores
 A norm that is so strongly ingrained in
our culture to break it is greeted with
revulsion is called a taboo
American Values
The U.S. is made
up of many
different groupswe are a pluralistic
 Numerous
religious, ethnic
and specific
interest groups
make up our
American Values
Salad Bowl Theoryimmigrants keep their own
basic beliefs and ways of
life while adapting to the
general characteristics of
the culture
Melting Pot Theoryimmigrants groups blend
into the culture adding
items to the culture but
not keeping strong ties to
their cultural ties and
American Values
Sociologist Robin Williams (1965) identified fifteen traits of American
Achievement and Success
Activity and Work
Efficiency and Partiality
Science and Technology
Material Comfort
Racism and Group Superiority
Romantic Love
Value Clusters, Contradictions and Social Change
Values are not
independent units,
some cluster together
to form part of a
larger whole.
Some values contradict
each other.Value
contradictions can be
powerful forces for
social change.
Emerging Values
Leisure- reflected in a huge recreation industry
Self-fulfillment- the “self help” movement
Physical Fitness- organic foods, obsessive
concern weight and diet
Youthfulness- attributed to the baby boomers.
Reflected in increase of plastic surgery
Concern for the environment -despite a
history of exploitation of the environment, today
Americans have a concern and commitment for
the environment.
Why are cultures so different?
Read the essay “One Hundred Percent
 Why are cultures so different? Consider
in your answer geography, isolation,
human imagination and inventiveness and
Ethnocentrism- the belief that one culture is superior to
another know this definition
Values, Cultural Change and
Globalization of Culture
Concepts and Definitions
Culture war, cultural lag, cultural diffusion,
cultural leveling, ideal vs. real culture
Provide an example of a culture war.
Provide an example of cultural lag.
How does technology change culture?
Is cultural leveling and the loss of cultural diversity a
good or bad thing?
Culture Wars
Cultural change is met with strong resistance. People
hold their core values dear and see the changes as a
threat to their way of life. This creates what is known as
a “culture war”
Ideal vs. Real
What we see as ideal sometimes is in
conflict with reality.
 Norms, values and goals that a group
considers worth aspiring to is “ideal
 What we actually do is known as “real
Technology in the Global World
Language, gestures, values,
norms and folkways are all
parts of nonmaterial culture.
 Culture also has a material
side- its things, houses, clothes
toys and technology
 Central to a groups culture is
technology or tools.
Technology can also include
the skills and procedures used
to make these tools
To a sociologist technology sets the
framework for a groups nonmaterial
 Technology has a significant impact on
human life. If a groups technology changes
it changes the way people think and relate
to each other
 Technology can be an invisible factor in
cultural change
Cultural Lag and Cultural Change
Cultural Lag occurs when
not all parts of culture
change at the same pace.
 A groups material
culture usually changes
first , with the nonmaterial culture playing
Cultural Diffusion and Cultural Leveling
For most of human history people lived in relative
isolation. Cultures developed unique
characteristics that responded to the situations
they faced.
 These characteristics changed little over time
 Cultures have usually had at least some contact
with other groups. During these contacts people
learn from each other and adopt parts of each
others way of life. This process is known as
cultural diffusion.
 Cultural diffusion is the spread of cultural
characteristics from one group to another
Cultural Diffusion and Cultural Leveling
Changes in communication, travel have sped up
the process of cultural diffusion.
Much of the world, for better or worse has
adopted Western culture in place of their own
Travel and communication unite us in a way that
there is almost no part of the world not effected
by this.
The result of these new technologies is a process
called cultural leveling
Cultural leveling is the process by which cultures
become similar to one another.
World within a world
Subculture- the values and other related
behaviors, for example language, that distinguish
its members from the larger culture.
 Many subcultures exist within a culture. Their
experiences have led them to have a distinctive
way of looking at life or some part of it
 Ethnic, religious and occupational groups form
many different subcultures within our own
Values and norms of most subcultures blend with
 In a counterculture values and norms place these
groups at odds with general society
 Members of a mainstream culture will often isolate,
attack or ridicule the counterculture

Sociology - LISA Academy