Amel Belmahdi SOC103H1 Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Lecture 1 – Defining Sociology and Social Institutions
− Institution → Stable and shared pattern of behaviour based on ~stable values. We learn to
behave in simliar ways to one another.
− Meet's the needs of peoples (ex. For order, support, and meaning).
− Helps us understand what's good and what's bad, etc.
− We behave in ways that relate to what we believe in, producing a stable social order.
− Two main questions: (1) Social inequality (why huge imbalance between state and equality). (2)
How is it that social order is preserved well over long periods of time and different kinds of
societies produce different kinds of social orders.
No Institutions Exist without Social Interaction:
− Social institutions are stable patterns of behaviour created and maintained through scoial
− Interaction →A socially recognized pattern of interrelated acts (ex. conversations, dating
Social Institutions are Social Structures:
− All social sturctures: control us, change us (as people move from one location to another, they
change their behaviour in keeping with the social expectations of that venue), and both resist
and produce social change.
− Social structures resist efforts of change, but they end up changing anyways.
− Sociology is the study of social structures.
Defining the Topic of Sociology:
− Sociology (dictionary) → The study of the development, structure, and functioning of human
− Auguste Comte defined it as →Adivision of science concerned with human beings.
− Most sociologists say (best one) → Sociology is the study of predictable and recurring relations
among human beings, and the social institutions and societies people create through such
− Two social crises were especially important for the early development of sociology:
1. The Industrial Revolution thrust people into new kinds of economic relationships.
2. The French Revolution thrust people into new kinds of political relationships.
− These convinced people that new social and political arrangements were needed. Diverse Viewpoints:
− Sociology today incorporates “multiple narratives and perspectives” → sometimes really
− Given the different points of view, present-day sociology is also concerned with how we know
what we know.
− Ex. how we view and judge different images and theories of reality.
− Social position shapes social perception (where you're born, etc).
ThreeAims of Sociology:
1. To find and explain patterns in people's social relations (how did they arise and how do they fit
with other patterns of relations).
2. To question “common sense” and the received wisdom about the way society works.
3. To solve social problems and find better ways of living together.
An example: Growing Up Too Soon? Parentification Among Immigrant and NativeAdolescents
− The problem: Parentification →Adolescents' adoption of adult family roles by providing
instrumental or emotional support for their parents (forcing a child to act like an adult and have
a parental role).
− Often causes long-term problems of depression, anxiety, and faulty relationships (ruins ability
to form relationships later on in life – emotional harm).
− Assumed to be more common in immigrant families, due to the adolescent-parent acculturation
− Immigrant adolescents acculturate faster and outperform their parents socio-culturally
(ex. learn language faster).
− The sample: 197 German native adolescents and 185 immigrant adolescents and their mothers
(random selection – no bias).
− Each received some money.
− Questionnaires were completed separately and anonymously.
− Immigrants are more parentified than Native-born children.
− More emotional parentification (refers to requirements/requests that the parent places on the
child which are more emotionally – ex. restoring peace in the family).
Marital Dissatisfaction of Mothers has NO Effect on Immigrant Parentification:
− In immigrant families, divorce does not have effect on parentification. Language Brokering and anAcculturation Gap Predicted Both Kinds of Parentification:
− Kids did learn language faster and needed to help parents with this.
Instrumental Parentification Led to Self-efficacy in Both Adolescent Groups:
− Kids being asked to agree/disagree with statements.
High Levels of Emotional Parentification Led to Exhaustion in the Immigrant Group:
− Kids who were asked to keep peace in the family, etc. were more exhausted than the immigrant
− People who are emotionally parentified are tired.
In the Native Group, No Connection:
− No relation between parentification and exhaustion.
− Shows that family migration changes families (puts pressure) and they have to adapt to new
pressures (which may result in parentification). The instrumental parentification is an assest
(not a tradegy) and it can be empowering. But emotional parentification tends to be the bigger
problem (kids being called upon to be the best friends of their moms and dads doesn't work for
kids that are 6-8, etc).
What do we LearnAbout Sociology from this Study?
− Sociology is: a worldwide activity, it's oriented to studying and solving people's problems, it's
timely (concerned with issues of the day), it's rooted (in a history of research and solid
findings), it's theoretical (concerned with testing hypotheses), it's empirical (uses data and
standard measures to test hypotheses), it's incremental (each study contributes to the body of
knowledge), it's open-ended (each study leaves unanswered questions), it's connected to other
disciplines (psychology, anthropology, geography, etc).
Approaches to Sociological Thinking:
− Three main schools of thought: Structural funcationlism, conflict theory, and symbolic
interactism. Two others (minor): Feminist theory, post-modern theory.
− Functional theory → Views society as interrelated parts (ex. Like a cell, or a body (arms, le