Sociology is the systematic study of human action in social context
It is based on the idea that our relations with other people create opportunities for us to think
and act but also set limits on our thought and action
Behaviors of people and how they interact with people, or how they seem themselves
Sociology is an elastic discipline that shares some elements in many other fields such as history,
philosophy, psychology etc
Ontology: what is real?
Epistemology: how do we know what we know?
Thomas Hobbes’s assentation that governments appropriate role lies in preserving peace while
allowing individuals to pursue their self-interests
John Locke’s belief in individual freedom and autonomy
Jean-Jacques analysis of social contract and his belief in individual autonomy
Birth of Sociology
Scientific revolution (16 century) encouraged the use of evidence to substantiate theories-start
of the move to accumulate thte and provide evidence
Democratic revolution (18 century) encouraged the view that human action can change
society-what rights people are entitled to or not, having a say in laws
Industrial revolution (19 century) gave sociologists their subject matter-
Three revolutions together led to knowledge of what it means to have a smooth functioning of
society, groups of people who disagree with each other on how a country or city should be run
Asking a set of Questions
Sociology is run by asking questions
How do you see the world
How do you form your opinions and accumulate information?
What is culture and what role does it play in your life?
How do you become the person you are today?
How do you relate and interact with your family, friends and strangers?
What are the effects of your class position on how you live your life?
What racial or ethnic group do you identify yourself with?
How do you feel your gender shapes who you are?
What impact have changes around the world had on your life?
At the heart of sociology is a special point of view called the socio-logical perspective
Sociological perspective as seeing the general in the particular- this means we identify patterns
in the behavior of particular individuals
Although each individual is unique, sociologists recognize that society acts differently on various
categories of people (children compared to adults, men versus women) We think sociologically when we realize how the general categories into which we happen to fall
shape our particular life experiences
Sociological perspective illustrated through considering causes of suicide which is often
regarded as an antisocial and non-social act
Yet there are hidden social causethof suicide