CH. 1 What is Sociology?
The Sociological Imagination- C. Wright Mills
-stepping out of your comfort zone. The view that we have is limited so mills wants us to
develop a “sociological imagination”. On the basis that we have to stand outside our daily lives
in order to get a different perspective.
Critiques of Structural Functionalism: too broad, ignores inequalities of social class, race and
gender, focuses on stability at the expense of conflict (wants stability at any cost, despite social
injustices of a given group, ex: immigrants)
-assumes “natural” order (benign)
Father of Structural Functionalism: EMILE DURKHEIM
-Evolving societies; argued that societies are dynamic and are evolving
-change from mechanical solidarity (a sense of belonging based on tradition/value) to organic
solidarity (not based on tradition, in large industrial societies, everybody is doing something
*key to the change is an expanding division of labour
*Durkheim argued that suicide was a personal act, but rates of suicide in a given group were
consistent and relevant to social connectivity/ cohesion
egoistic suicides: suicides that occur because of the lack of such social ties
altruistic suicides: excessively strong social ties that can also lead to higher suicide rates (suicide
anomic suicide: societies with insufficient regulations=a condition that might arise is time of
rapid social change.
anomie: no rules
fatalistic suicide: too many rules
SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM- a micro inspection, interested at looking at the individual
society arises as a “shared reality” : argues that individuals react to symbols (languages)
* a symbol is something that meaningfully represents something else
* -most interaction is symbolic (dependent on language/gestures)
W.I THOMAS: “What we define as real, is real in its consequences”
-a shared reality is constructed by us
-the way we treat the homeless, either help them or avoid them
-perspectives; your understanding of a situation determines how you will act
* “Verstehen” =to understand ( we cannot understand unless we put ourselves in someone else’s
position and ask)
* argued that no single factor determines society of the individual
* social conflict may originate in values, statuses, ideas and NOT in economic interests only. Triangulation: the application of several research methods to the same topic, hoping that the
weaknesses of one method will be balanced by the strength of the other.
Use of Existing Sources:
Secondary Analysis: research techniques that make use of previously collected and publicly
accessible information and date (i.e census)
Content Analysis: systematic coding and objective recording of data, guided by some rationale
(music: code it racism, aggression, violence)
CHAPTER 3: CULTURE
Proxemics: study of culturally specific relations in time and space
-different cultures relate to time/space differently
Cultural element: anything that is 1) is shared in common by the members of some social group
2) is passed to new members, and 3) in some way effects their behavior or their perception of the
world. Three of the most important elements are values, norms, and roles.
Cultural Capital: individuals’ access to and understanding of the dominant culture.
Cultural imperialism: the imposition of one’s nation’s culture on another, not through direct
occupation buy by the indirect effects of media influence.
EDWARS TYLOR Hall: “cultures include: knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, custom, and
any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”
The above mentioned things are all 1) shared by all or almost all members of social group. 2) the
older members of the group try to pass on the younger members. 3) shapes behavior.
The sociology culture: “considers material products, ideas and symbolic means and their relation
to social behavior.”
*Culturally specific relations in time and space:
time: 5 minute rule
space: territoriality, sequential reallocation: filling up empty spaces on the basis of availability-
ex: we would be bothered if a stranger came to sit right beside us on an empty bus
*Class exercise: “a” and “b”- a walks toward b (observed distance that people preferred to stay
Intimate distance: 0-1 feet
Personal distance: 1-4 feet
Social Distance: 4-12 feet
Public Distance: 12+ feet Cultural Universal: customs that are shared across much of the world: ex: every society has
rules limiting sexual behavior though the content and number of these rules vary from society to
*Incest taboo: a norm prohibiting sexual intercourse b/w parents and children and between
sibling-not all societies adhere to the incest taboo!!
Popular culture: those aspects of a culture that is widely distributed and recognized throughout
all social classes in a society. (comic books, and horror films.)
Infantilization: the tendency to systematically associate people from other cultures with
traits we associate with children
Eurocentrism: a bias shaped by the values and experiences of the white, middle class in
Western industrialized societies assuming that these values are shared universally.
-judging cultures based on a western society
Androcentrism: means male-centeredness. It is a bias that involves seeing things in a
males point of view, or in a way that reinforces males privilege in society. One form of
androcentric bias is to develop cultural interpretations that see men as active and women
Orientalism: is a form ethnocentrism identified some time ago by Palestinian-born
Edward Said. For him orientalism meant the sum total of all theories, analyses and
interpretations developed in the nineteenth century by western scholars to understand
“Oriental” societies (mainly Arab and Middle East). Said’s overall point was that