Exam Review ch1-4 Excellent concise exam review for chapters 1-4

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16 Oct 2011
Chapter 1: Understanding Sociological Imagination
·The Sociological Perspective
oSociology is the systematic study of human groups and their interactions
oThe sociological perspective is:
The unique way in which sociologists see our world and can dissect the dynamic relationships between
individuals and the larger social network in which we all live
A view of society based on the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in
which we all live
Social location: where people are located in a particular society
·Charles Wright Mills and the sociological imagination
oC. W. Mills suggested that people who do not, or cannot, recognize the social origins and character of their problems
may be unable to respond to these problems effectively
Failing to appreciate how individual challenges are influenced by larger social forces diminishes a person’s
ability to understand and resolve them
oPersonal troubles are individual challenges that require individual solutions
oSocial issues are challenges caused by larger social factors that require collective solutions
These involve a group of people, and collective action is required for the group’s concerns to be
acknowledged and potentially acted upon
oMany personal troubles never become social issues because people rarely equate what is happening to them with the
larger social worlds in which they exist
oQuality of mind is Mills’ term for the ability to view personal circumstance within a social context. It has nothing to
do with the person’s intelligence or level of education
o“much private uneasiness goes unformulated; much public malaise and many decisions of enormous structural
relevance never become public issues”
oThe Sociological Imagination is Mills’ term for the ability to perceive how dynamic social forces influence
individual lives
It involves stepping outside of your own condition and looking at yourself from a new perspective – seeing
yourself as the product of your family, income level, race and gender.
oPeople who judge others without understanding all of the issues involved may lack quality of mind, and thus view
the world in black-and-white terms. However, when people understand themselves and others through the
sociological imagination, they appreciate that very few things are black and white.
·Peter Berger defines the sociological perspective as the ability to view the world from two distinct yet complementary
perspectives: seeing the GENERAL IN THE PARTICULAR and seeing the STRANGE IN THE FAMILIAR
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oSeeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and understand
the larger (or general) features involved
The ability to move from the particular to the general and back again is one of the hallmarks of the
sociological perspective
oSociologists also need to look at familiar events and see them as strange, which develops and shows evidence of the
sociological perspective, having quality of mind, and beginning to develop the sociological imagination
oSociology is less about remembering details and specifics than about seeing the social world from a unique position
– one that allows us to understand social context and to appreciate the position of others
·What makes you, you? Engaging the sociological imagination
oAgency: the assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially constructed lives
oWhile we are all individuals, we are also the culmination of many social forces
oFive factors who make us the persons we are
Minority status
·People who are members of visible minority groups, face various forms of discrimination
·Being a healthy, heterosexual Caucasian, people experience more advantages than if they are part
of any of the minorities
·Society treats men and women differently. Men have more advantages
oWomen usually earn less than men
Socio-economic status
·SES is a term used to describe a combination of variables to position or score people on criteria
such as income level, level of education achieved, occupation, and area of residence.
·Ascribed status is a term used to describe a person who has been assigned an advantage or a
disadvantage simply through birth
·Achieved status is a term meaning that the current status of a person is one that has been achieved
through personal attributes or qualities
Family structure
·Regardless of a child’s age, higher income tends to be related to better physical, social/emotional,
cognitive, and behavioural well-being
·Family structure does influence a child’s development to the extent that female-lone parents tend
to have lower incomes than two-parent structures
Urban-Rural differences
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·People who live in small towns report that they are different from urban dwellers and that their
rural connections are an important defining feature
·While structural differences between small towns and cities exist, it is possible that where you are
born and grow up influences how you view the world.
·The sociological perspective includes being able to understand our own biases and investigate the
social world by seeing the general, the particular, the strange and the familiar.
·The origins of sociology
oGreek Sophists (first paid teachers, who were the first to focus their efforts on the human being, in contrast to the
earlier tradition that concentrated on understanding the physical world
oSocrates and Plato challenged the virtue of being paid for one’s knowledge and advocated the necessity of deeper
reflection on the human social condition
oPlato write on The Republic: “our aim in founding the State is not the disproportionate happiness of any class, but
the greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which is ordered with a view to the good of the whole
we should be most likely to find justice”
oMarcus Aurelius, Al Farabi, Saint Thomas Aquinas, William Shakespeare, and John Locke all explored the role of
the individual in society
oIbn Khaldun is recognized to be the first social philosopher working from the sociological perspective, it was not
until 1838 that the term Sociology was coined by Comte, who, because of this, is now referred to as the father of
·Three Revolutions: The Rise of Sociology
·Three revolutionary events inspired the rise of sociology: the scientific revolution, the political revolution, and the Industrial
·The Scientific Revolution 1650-1800
oThe development of the Scientific Method (thanks to Galileo, Newton, and Copernicus) during the Enlightenment
period (circa 1650 – 1800) that followed facilitated the pace of social change
oAuguste Comte (1798-1857) considered himself a scientist and considered that the techniques used in the hard
sciences (physics, chemistry) to explain the physical world should be applied to the social world as well.
oComte’s Law of Three Stages
First stage, the Theological Stage. Longest period of human thinking. Characterized by a religious outlook
that explains the world and human society as an expression of God’s will znd views science as a means to
discover God’s intentions. People would explain what they could see through the actions of spiritual or
supernatural beings. The theological stage ended with the emergence of the Renaissance and later the
Enlightenment, when science, not religion, was used to explain the world. This is the Metaphysical Stage
The Metaphysical stage (beyond physics) is a field of philosophy dedicated to an understanding of truth
and the relationship between mind and matter. It was a period during which people started to question
everything and challenge the power of the church. It is characterized the assumption that people could
understand their universe through their own insight and reflection. To explore what it meant to be a
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