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WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY? (FIRST UNIT) Sociology is the systematic study of human action in social context. Our relations with those around us create opportunities to think and act. But, limits us from our thoughts and actions. Ontology-what is real? Epistemology- how do we know what we know? Birth of Sociology Scientific Revolution (16th century) - theories needed to be substantiated by evidence Democratic Revolution (18th century) - human action can change society Industrial Revolution (19th century) - give the sociologist their subject matter Sociological Perspective Seeing the general in the particular. Sociologists identify general patterns in the behaviour of particular individuals. General categories which we happen to fall into shape our particular life experiences. Acknowledges that each individual is unique, society acts differently on various categories of people (children vs. adults, men versus women etc.) Example through considering causes of Suicide: -often regarded as antisocial and non-social act -hidden social causes of suicide Emile Durkheim's Contribution (functionalist): end of 19th century demonstrated suicide rates were strongly influenced by social forces. Examined association between rates of suicide and rates of psychological disorder for different groups Durkheim argued suicide rates varied as result of differences in degree of social solidarity in different categories of the population. Social solidarity refers to: -the degree to which group members share beliefs and values; and the intensity and frequency of their interaction Mechanical vs Organic forms of social solidarity The sociological perspective stresses the social contexts in which people live and how these contexts influence their lives. At the core of this perspective is the sociological imagination, a term coined by C. Wright Mills (1959). The sociological imagination is a sociological vision—a way of looking at the world that allows links between the apparently private problems of the individual and important social issues. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both. At the centre of the sociological perspective is the question of how people are influenced by their society—the group of people with whom they share a culture and territory. To find out why people do what they do, sociologists look at social location, or where people are located in a particular society. Sociologists consider occupation, income, education, gender, age, ethnicity, family, mass media and others Why Sociology? Must learn to be a critical thinker who can deal with ambiguity Both a researcher who is skilled enough to choose wisely among many research designs and methods Become a theoretician capable of devising convincing explanations for research outcomes Compass: Did you know that? Lenses: Had you thought it like this? Snowflake: We are unique. Inquiry Uses causal and probabilistic reasoning, tradition and authority provide us with starting points but should not be the end. Errors in Inquiry -Inaccurate Observations, Overgeneralization, Selective Observation, Illogical Reasoning Characteristics of a critical thinker -independence of mind (able to think for oneself) -intellectual curiosity (disposition to wonder about the world) and courage (willingness to evaluate all ideas, beliefs, viewpoints etc. and reflexive disposition (aware you are not perfect) -intellectual humility (awareness of one's knowledge) -intellectual empathy (conscious need to put oneself in others shoes to understand) SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH is undertaken by describing, understanding and improving the social world we live in. Data (empirical facts) Theory (tentative explanation of observed regularity) CONFLICT THEORY AND KARL MARX -class conflict was central to his theory (struggle between classes to resist and overcome oppression) -he beleived workers would, become aware of the exploitation (develop class consciousness) -or form a trade union and labour party, which would end private ownership of property (bring out communist society) CONFLICT THEORY AND MAX WEBER -noticed growth of the service sector of economy (manual workers and professionals) and showed that class conflict is not the only driving force of history. argued politics and religion as important sources of historical change. AFFINITY (Affinity in terms of sociology, refers to "kinship of spirit", interest and other interpersonal commonalities.) VS DOGMATISIM (the tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others) DIALECTS OF SOCIAL REASEARCH Idiographic explaining one case in great detail Nomothetic explaining a set of cases using a handful of factors Inductive Thinking moves from particular observations to the general Deductive Thinking moves from the general to a specific MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE Two events are mutually exclusive if they cannot occur at the same time. CULTURE Culture refers to the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that are passed from person to person and from one generation to the next in a human group or society While a society is made up of people, a culture is made up of ideas, behaviors, and material possessions Material culture refers to the physical creations that members of a society make, use, and share. Everything from zippers to our homes and satellites in space Nonmaterial culture consists of the abstract human creations of society that influence people’s behavior. Language, beliefs, values, rules of behaviors, family patterns, and political systems Language Language provides the categories through which social reality is understood Does not simply describe reality, but also influences our perception of reality. Lawyers, politicians, marketers = all involve in shaping reality to fit their needs Components of culture, symbols, language, values and norms. Ethnocentrism: Tendency for person to judge other cultures exclusively by standards of their own culture Danger: hierarchy of cultures, prejudice & discrimination Cultural Relativism: Judging cultural practices and beliefs exclusively in the cultural context in which they appear Globalization: The process by which formerly separate economies, states, and cultures are tied together and people become aware of their growing interdependence One of most important roots of globalization is expansion of international trade and investment Cultural homogenizatiis an aspect of cultural globalization, listed as one of its main characteristics, and refers to the reduction in cultural diversity through the popularization and diffusion of a wide array of cultural symbols — not only physical objects but customs, ideas and values. Dominant Culture is the culture of the most powerful group in society. It is the cultural form that receives most support from major institutions and constitutes the major belief system Popular Culture comprises the beliefs, practices, and objects mass- produced and mass distributed, such as popular music and films, mass- marketed books and magazines, large-circulation newspaper and increasingly the Internet (71h of media per week) Consumerism: Tendency to define ourselves in terms of goods we purchase (e.g., we are what we wear, drive, etc.) Two Faces of Culture Culture as constraining influence which limits certain amount of our choices Culture as enabling influence which increases our choices Culture Change • Cultures change in response to changed conditions in the society • Culture changes through cul
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