Sociology: scientific study of society and human behaviour, social factors as they influence people,
interactions between people/ groups, social change, social order, social inequality, why people behave
the way they do in a social setting
Macro: focus on social structure: social institutions (family, economy, legal system, culture, norms
beliefs, language, education, class and status systems) organized to satisfy our basic needs. Theories:
functionalism, conflict theory, post-structuralism, critical, feminism.
Micro: small scale patterns, Theories: symbolic interactionism, feminism, post structuralism
Social work is to sociology as clinical psychology is to psychology
A science: tries to predict, understand, control things surrounding us
Is sociology a science: we can describe and explain social behaviour but not always predict or control
with certainty. Take a scientific approach- empirical. Talk of probabilities more than certainties, averages
How are we scientific: questioning what we are told to be true, scepticism, negativistic logic (continually
trying to disprove what we find, continually looking for competing explanations), communalism (publish
findings so others can disprove), systematic approach (using empirical evidence to look for patterns)
C. Wright Mills: Sociological Imagination to find connection between public issues and private
Sociology: born out of industrialization of 18 and 19 centuries, explaining world from religion to science,
concern of shift from farm to city and how it affects people –massive urbanization, losing skills, poverty,
child labour, family system changes: they no longer work all together for survival, civil unrest
Mary Barton: novel written about industrial misery of the middle class of England, written by a sister of
Early sociology: social order and change.
Auguste Compte (1798-1857) coined sociology as a science, concerned with social order and progress,
attempted to have social laws similar to those of any science such as physics, importance of observing
and classifying as behaviour, saw evolutionary progress of society
Karl Marx (1818-1883) “religion is the opium of the masses” middle class man, Ingles paid for Marx to
write, he wrote of socialism, died in poverty. Social change is caused by social unrest by economic
conditions. Predicted that we evolve from agriculture, artisans, capitalism and finally communism.
Relationships between people were relations of inequality and class conflict. Human beings need
meaningful labour in order to feel fully human, to have ideas, act on ideas, produce things otherwise
alienation occurs and we feel detached from society and humanity. Influences sociological theories
about power and social inequality Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) concerned with restoring social order, Jewish and studied to be a rabbi but
was dissatisfied and become agnostic, he wanted to use science to help the world. He had Interest in the
moral guidance to maintain social order. Social facts and characteristics of groups such as religion,
suicide rates, and marriage rate to study society. Division of Labour in Society. Pre-modern society-
mechanical solidarity, people are held together by all doing the same work. Modern society- organic
solidarity, specialists all do different jobs but we are held together by a mutual need of one another.
Anomie- normlessness, feeling detached in an individualistic modern society. Characteristics of those
who committed suicide (religion, marital status and sex) most likely group is protestant unmarried males
as they have the weakest social ties and are weakest integrated into society.
Max Weber (1864-1920) studied economics, history and sociology. Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Capitalism, capitalism wouldn’t have happened without reformation (split of Catholics and Protestants).
Protestant is much more capitalistic and individual based, emphasizing strong work ethic and personal
success and on denying self of frivolity. Freedom in sociological inquiry, being objective when analyzing
theories and results. Verstehen- empathetic understanding in research (placing yourself in another’s
shoes to understand how they understand the world, understanding cultural context of time and place
in which a person lives and the unspoken rules of a culture and the taken for granted assumptions)
-Symbolic interactionism: small scale social interaction, everyday life, how people communicate,
meanings that people attach to their behaviour, interviews, observation, qualitative research.
Understanding others to give meaningful accounts of their behaviour and perspective.
Ex. Cooley: looking-glass self: social self arises from other’s opinions of us, we gauge reactions of others
like a mirror and using it to determine who we are
Mead: self identity is a product of I (self as you see) and Me (self that others see). Labelling theory, self-
fulfilling prophecy: people are what we expect them to be as expectations produce the behaviour
Goffman: presentation of self in everyday life, image management, and life is like a stage
-Functionalism: social order, seeing society as an organism: system of interrelated parts and each with a
function. Society tends to balance and self-maintain. Social relationships exist and continue to exist
because they function. **supported status quo and lacked an explanation of social change, too
conservative, who is this functional for? (creating next generation of work force, mobile workforce of
females at home and male bread winner) circular argument: societies are functional because they exist,
they exist because they are functional
Ex. Compte: society functions as biological organism and concern for social order
Durkheim: found societies where not always functional or self-maintaining
Parsons: 60s-70s Tried to map out society, thought we can understand and predict society with enough
understanding of influences and empirical study Merton: ideas of Manifest functions (intended functions) and latent functions (unintended
-Conflict theory: those that influence our ideology most are at the height of power and their ideology
keeps them in power
Ex. Karl Marx, Neo- Marxism.
-Feminist theories (1970) focus on gender inequality. In past women are studied from point of view of
older white men, so questions of women were unanswered. Knowledge that came out of these early
studies assumed and reinforced gender inequality. Feminists pioneered the idea of empathy of group
being studied and is now used in race and ethnic issues (critical race theory), sexuality issues (Queer
theory, that there is a gender continuum). 3 main types:
-socialist feminists: look at gender inequality as a class inequality that benefits
capitalism and patriarchy
-liberal feminism: need to make equality law
-radical feminism: patriarchy (male power) is abused in society, some tend toward
essentialism (creating female communities, separating from men, idea that women and men are
essentially different, biologically different and won’t ever be equal)
-Post-structural feminism: knowledge is power, the way we use language constructs the
Post structuralism: the way we represent things with language creates how we understand things.
Statements about the world are rarely true or false. “Facts” are given meaning through language and
discourse and that meaning is debatable. Stuart Hall: not that nothing exists out of discourse, but that
nothing meaningful exists, for example the conflict of Palestine, are they freedom fighters or terrorists,
it is a fact that they are fighting but the language we use determines what the fighting means. If we
think they are terrorists and act on it they then become terrorists. The way things are represented
creates reality. Michel Foucalt (theories of social control and power, knowledge is power, in creating
knowledge you can construct the world in which we live by controlling what is seen as true.
Looks for order in the chaos, patterns and regularities between social variables. Variable: something all
members of a group have in common but varies. Patterns among variables to explain cause and effect
relationships. Relationships can be generalized to large groups without a large probability of being
wrong. Qualitative Methods:
Represent the complexity of social life and understand social meanings. Purpose is to increase
understanding with a focus on people and their understanding.
Survey: survey a sample of individuals of a population. Random, where any person of a population has
an equal chance of being chosen to participate, is best. Neutral questions must be asked. Surveys
include structured interviews with a list of responses or self-administered questionnaires. It is important
to build rapport or trust with subject. **answers may not contain opinion of subject
Participant Observation (field work): participating in setting and observes and records what is
happening. Results cannot be generalized to population but may provide insight.
Qualitative interview: a structured conversation, with a list of questions, may stray from list.
Researcher’s personal characteristics may influence finding and rapport.
Secondary Analysis: analysis of previously collected data. Helpful when time or funding is limited. Data
Liberation Initiative provides inexpensive access to Statistics Canada results to university faculty, staff
Documents: using diverse media to study social life such as movies, bank records, police reports, diaries,
Unobtrusive measures: observes people who do not know they are being studied to minimise
Hawthorne effect- the change in behaviour caused by subjects knowing that they are being watched.
1. Select a topic
2. Define the problem (more specific than broad topic)
3. Review literature (previous research or documents on the issue)
4. Formulate a hypothesis or research question on what you expect to find, defining variables and
writing operational definitions
5. Choose a research method: examine the question that is being answered, resources, access to
subjects and researcher’s educational or experience background to determine the best method
6. Collecting Data: validity, reliability, triangulation (using more than one method to research)
7. Analyze results: Qualitative will faithfully produce the world of subjects, quantitative will
8. Sharing results: share with scientific community for dispute or replication
Biased research may include: biased sample, biased questions, biased options, discarding undesirable
Ethics: forbid falsification of results, plagiarism, maltreatment of subjects, or releasing identity of
subjects. Is it allowed to misrepresent oneself in researching? Brajuha: was doing participant observation and refused to give up notes on an illegal fire in the setting
he was observing, he was threatened by both the detectives and the criminals.
Scarce: refused to answer questions about a break in in his department that may violate confidentiality
and served a jail sentence.
Humphreys: researched men getting together for oral sex in restrooms by participating as a watch-
person as well as taking down license plate numbers and doing follow-up research misrepresented as a
Scully and Marolla: studied rapists and found conclusive evidence that rape is due to the individual
learning to view rape as an acceptable measure. They also found that it was now about sexuality but
Culture: language beliefs, values, norms, behaviours passed from one generation to the next. Affects the
way we see the world, has moral guides for right and wrong. The lens through which we perceive the
Cultural beliefs as ideology that serve dominant group (Conflict theory)- ideas and information
controlled by elite, representation distorts reality, those whose interests are neglected suffer from false
Cultural beliefs as discourse (Post-structuralism)- framework of shared cultural understanding,
representation constitutes reality, power to control ideas throughout society in institutions and we all
participate, we go along with it as there are positive and negative results by privileging some and
marginalizing others to create borders
Value Clusters: sets of beliefs that come together ex youth, fitness, beauty, thinness
Value Contradiction: sudden change/ challenge of core values can meet with resistance
Canada 80’s + 90’s –group, welfare state, safety net, capitalism doesn’t work for everyone
2000’s- neoliberal: individuals are responsible for themselves, consumerism
Material Culture: jewellery art buildings
Symbolic Culture: people attach meaning and communicate with.
Ex. Gestures: messages without words, none are universal except those of anger, fear, and sadness
Language: system of symbols that can be strung together in an infinite number of ways. It allows us
to learn from other’s experience, to plan, to have a shared past or future, expand connections beyond
face-to-face groups. Language affects the way we see the world.
Values: ideas of what is desirable in life
Conflicting values: ex. Group superiority, freedom and democracy
Value Cluster: core values- leisure, self-fulfillment, physical fitness, and youth Norms: expectations of behaviour. Folkway is a not strictly enforced norm. Essential norms are
called mores. A taboo is a norm that is very strongly engrained.
Bourdieu 1960’s found that a reason for the poverty cycle is the learning of certain profitable
Sub-Culture: a culture within the culture with a distinctive way of looking at life.
Counter-culture: values oppose those of the main culture, this may contain over conformity to
Ethnocentrism: using one’s own religion as a compass to judge others’.
Cultural Relativism: understanding a culture on its own terms.
-pluralistic and multicultural
-our vast geography may either bring us together or apart
-Lipset: Canada maintained part of British Empire in identity
-Anglophones more elitist, Canadians are deferential to authority, more likely to accept Government
intervention in economy, or accept social status
-define ourselves by what we aren’t: Americans
-Quebec goes from quiet Roman Catholic agricultural community to secular and modern after the Quiet
-because of this shift more accepting of homosexual relations, pre-marital sex
-Quebecers as “hedonist individualist”
-lack unifying ideology
Cultural Universals: no traits found everywhere but essential types of norms
-courtship -funerals -myths
-cooking -games -toilet training
Do animals have culture? Chimps make tools, debate over whether they have language
Technology: affects how we communicate, sets framework for non-material culture. New work
expectations, language, communication not face to face. TV screen time has decreased but over-all is
increased by the internet.
Technological Determinism: idea that technology is the single greatest force affecting our lives.
ADBUSTERS: challenge consumerism, anti-corporate, pro-environment
Cultural lag: material culture changes first and non-material second.
Cultural diffusion: contact with other groups spreads culture Cultural levelling: when all cultures become the same due to globalization
19 and 20 centuries embraced biological determinism (the way we act reflects our genetic
“Sociobiologists” say that human social behaviour can be explained by evolutionary heritage.
It is found that our behaviour is influenced both by society and biology. Genetic traits can be
activated by certain cultural context or human experience. For ex. Feral children- lose the ability
of language as the biological makeup sets a time limit on this ability.
Self: the picture we have of how others see us
Socialization: the process that we learn the ways of society
1800’s Cooley: Looking Glass self we see ourselves through the way others react to us
Mead: children learn by playing and taking the roles of others. Younger children can play
significant others (mother, father, sister) older children can play generalized others (perceive
how people think of us) 3 stages to play:
1. Imitation/ preparatory: mimicking others (<3)
2. Play stage: taking roles of specific people (3-5/6)
3. Game stage: organized play or team games
Mackie uses this to explain how we learn gender roles
Feminist sociologists explore Philippe Bourdieu who says most socialization is unconscious
Habitus: embracing a set of skills and looking at the world that reflects the hierarchal social
structures they inhabit
Freud develops Id (self-gratifying), ego (control between both elements) and superego
(conscience that reflects societies norms), by nature society must repress our impulses
Socialization lead to smoking as it was glamorized in the media, resocialization is occurring as
more places put bans on smoking
Goffman has dramaturgical analysis (social life is a drama on stage), we learn “scripts” (of
gender, employment etc.), we rehearse backstage (for job interviews, studying etc.) and
frontstage we perform our roles (workplace home etc.)
Gender roles are perpetuated by family (how they share roles) and the media in television
where only attractive people and strong men are shown and video games where the muscled
men and over-sexualized women show an unrealistic image
Traditional male role creates a crisis as the male role is unclear but emphasizes strength,
aggression, competitiveness, emotional control, and leads to sad lost and angry boys and
young men. These traits also put them at a disadvantage for social skills
Socialization is also leading to problems of self-esteem relating to weight as they are
unrealistic images causing socially legitimate ways of losing weight (dieting, pills, exercise) and
socially unaccepted ways (fasting, skipping meals, anorexia, bulimia)
We learn to fit into social groups: primary groups such as close friends and family, and
secondary groups that are more formal and impersonal such as the workplace. In groups are strangers) or ethnocentrism. Also there are reference groups that we use as standards to
evaluate ourselves. Groupthink: theory that we will follow the group even if we disagree.
Thomas Theorem: if people define situations as real, the consequences will be real
Agents of socialization: Family
Day Care: becoming new norm that children spend much time in care of
family members or established day-care centers
School: manifest functions (intended purpose), latent functions
(unintended consequences), teaches students to be polite well-dressed and on time, also lessons in
gender or racial inequality as minorities are seldom found in the history books. Schools also further
the poverty cycle as expensive schools provide better preparation for universities. Universities also
teach lessons with corporate sponsorship. Anticipatory socialization (learning to play a role before
we enter it)
Peer groups: bully, provide social support to create self-esteem and
sense of community
Sports: physical skills, values, self-esteem, also demonstrates class
differences, and gender roles as sports are geared towards males and promotes aggressive
Workplace: socializes as adults, employment becomes part of yourself. Learning
to fit in brings exclusion and inequality for some.
Resocialization: drug rehab, psychotherapy
Total institutions such as prison, concentration camps, boot camps or religious cults cut off
members from the rest of society and instil new values and behaviours. The study of these
provides insight into the power of socialization. Begins with degradation: removing
elements of the former self usually in an embarrassing semi-public way. The institutions
control every aspect of the lives of residents such as eating, sleeping, showering, even
information flow to control their view of the world.
Socialization contains a series of socially constructed stages that are different everywhere
and for everyone (individuation)but have similar steps:
Childhood: Europeans believed children to be miniature adults. There also used to be a
norm of beatings. Current children are allowed to go to school and it has caused them to
be seen as tender and in need of protection.
Adolescence: did not exist until the in