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Sociological Theory

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SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

Sociological Theory: Theoretical Approaches September 19, 2012 What is a Sociological Perspective?  A general way of 'seeing the world'  Always partial (sees functions rather than consequences) o I.e. what are the functions of religion?  Highlights and hides  Definition: o A perspective = a method + a theory + some values o Applied to an object of study (i.e. suicide, families, etc.) Method  How you get 'facts'  Qualitative vs. Quantitative o Quantitative generates statistics o Qualitative generates an understanding without numbers (i.e. through observation, interviews, etc.)  Theory o How you explain/interpret "facts"  Macro vs. Micro  Ex. Macro: how the state relates to the economy  Ex. Micro: how the individual experiences unemployment  Values o Why you explain them this way Theory  A statement of how & why specific facts are related Theoretical approach/Sociological paradigm  A set of fundamental assumptions that guides thinking and research The Sociological 'Big Three' Structural Functionalism  Structure + function  20th century USA, from Durkheim  In terms of approach, it focuses on macro theory (organic model) o i.e. how do societies work? How do institutions function? o Society = an orange  Has many different sections (institutions) and how they function to maintain the society  Quantitative methods (positivism)  Focus on order and harmony o I.e. how does the family maintain order?  Politically conservative (right wing) o This is because it tends to want to reproduce the society the way it is with all of it's different social systems  Structure: stable pattern of social behavior  Function: consequences of the pattern for society as a whole o e.g. religious practices --> social integration  Norms and values shape shared moral codes  Key to achieving social order Society's Needs and Problems  Biological reproduction/sex (upkeep of population)  Material needs (food, shelter, clothing)  Establish and disseminate value system  Coordination of this activity Solved by:  Family (reproduction)  Economic system (material needs)  Religious/educational institutions (value system)  Political order/state (coordination of everything) Robert Merton o Manifest function  Recognized and intended  i.e. university was created for higher education o Latent function  Unrecognized and unintended  i.e. university was not created for social interactions o Function = dysfunc
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