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Sociology (143)
SOCY 3391 (9)
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SOCY 3391

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I. What Is Sociology? The American Sociological Association (2006) describes “sociology as the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. The ASA contends that “sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.” Sociology is the scientific study of society and human behavior. This means, when sociologists apply their trade, they use a rigorous methodology. The influence of society is the central question asked by sociologists when they attempt to explain human behavior. People are social beings more than they are individuals. Our thinking and motivation are largely shaped by our life experiences as we interact with one another. According to Barkan (1997:4), "society profoundly shapes their behavior and attitudes." We exist within social structure, which refers to patterns of social interaction and social relationships. Social structure, in turn, has great influence on who we are as individuals. It influences our behavior, our attitudes, and our life chances. Social structure is complex and often contradictory. A. Topics of Study Subject areas in Sociology are as varied as society itself. • Sociologists can study very small social relationships involving only a few people (such as the family). They can also explore relationships in much larger social collectivities such as organizations and institutions. • Sociology may be concerned with issues revolving around social class, poverty, gender, race and ethnicity, or religion as well as social mobility and education. Other topics may include culture, socialization, conflict, power, and deviance. • Very large social relationships such as those between nation states are also the domain of sociology as are the characteristics of the economy and political system. In fact, the whole topic of globalization is relevant to sociologists. B. The Relationship between People and Structure Within the vast field of sociology, the common denominator is people. Sociology explores the “forces that influence people and help shape their lives … Society shapes what we do, how we do it, and how we understand what others do“ (Univ. of Limerick 2007). Options in life are determined in the past and are molded by currently existing
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