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University of Waterloo
SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Sociology Lecture 1 INTRODUCTION What is Sociology? Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and their interactions. The sociological perspective is referring to the unique way in which sociologists see our world and can dissect the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live. Charles Wright Mills The sociological imagination - Developing an appreciation of how an individual’s challenges are influenced by a larger social force Personal Troubles result from an individual’s challenges that they shape us Social Issues also shape us and they are caused by larger social factors, they change our social world The ‘trick’ with our sociological imagination is to understand how all of these things actually work and how these personal troubles may be due to larger social issues, how does religion affect us, etc. Quality of mind is referring to how one’s ability to look beyond personal circumstance and into social context Peter Berger Seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at the seemingly unique or ordinary events, and recognizing the larger general features of the actions. Think about what is familiar and see it as strange, so you can analyze them better, ask why, what’s going on. What Makes You, You? Agency is the idea that each of us has, to some extent and the ability to alter our socially constructed lives, taking action to modify the structure around you that are influencing your life. Structure is the network of relatively stable opportunities and constraints influencing our individual behaviors, giving you some guidance and focus, what behaviors are acceptable. Can you see, in your own life thus far that agency and structure have played a role in who you are, and which one is more influential and why? Engaging Your Sociological Imagination Our perception of others and ourselves are the products of many factors such as: - Minority Status, ethnic - Gender, female wanting to be a quarterback - Socioeconomic Status, working class or middle class - Family Structure - Urban-Rural Differences How have factors like these affected the person you are today? Sociology Lecture 1 Qualitative vs. Qualitative Sociology Quantitative Sociology - Tends to be positivist in nature, arguing that if you develop the understanding of a problem in society, you are able to understand variables, and there will be an answer, that there is a truth out there - Measurable Behavior - Example: Crime Rates Over Time Qualitative Sociology - Anti-positivist in nature, believing that society can be understood, and you can’t reduce what people do to numbers - Non-measurable subjective behaviors
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