1) The sociological imagination is the understanding of social change by the ability to
identify the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society. It is
looking at what is going on in the world (macrolevel) and what may be going on within
individuals (microlevel). Introduced by C. Wright Mills, he stated that society is made
up of both personal troubles, which are within an individual, and public issues, which are
forces in society that affect peoples experiences. Based on the sociological imagination,
Emile Durkheim stated that the reasons people committed suicide were issues not
troubles due to a lack of social solidarity.
2) The four most prominent sociologists are Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Karl
Marx and Max Weber. There was an increase in the study of sociology in the early 19 th
century, characterized by urbanization and industrialization. Auguste Comte is
believed to be the founder of sociology. The stated that society was made up of social
statics (forces for law and order) and social dynamics (forces for conflict and control).
Harriet Martineau made his work more available. Emile Durkheim was the founder of
the functionalist theory, and believed that society was made up of social facts:
patterned ways of thinking, acting and feeling that exert social control over people.
Durkheim also stated that when a society loses its values and cohesion, people feel
anomie. Karl Marx, a conflict theorist, believed that society was driven by class
conflicts and power struggle. People were constantly in conflict for the control of
scarce resources, such as money and land. The people, who controlled, the bourgeoisie,
were the upper class, rich, group of people who were always at advantage. The
proletariat were the individuals who had to sell their time for work in order to survive
in society. They worked for the bourgeoisie. Marx believed that once the lower class
was aware of their exploitation and over threw the upper class, that a classless society
would be created. Max Weber, also a conflict theorist, believed that there was meaning
behind peoples actions (mostly economic interest). He stated that the study of society
must be value-free, and keep out the opinions of those studying it. A great deal of
Webers work had to do with the study of bureaucracies; what he believed were the
most efficient formal organizations.
3) Functionalist theory is a focus on the macrolevel. It states that society is made up of
interrelated parts that are all interdependent with each other. If one of these parts
experiences a dysfunction, then there will be societal issues and conflict until society
adapts. Conflict theory is a focus on the macrolevel. It states that society is in constant
conflict over resources, and that those who have an advantage will be the elite, and
those who are disadvantaged will face hardship. Feminist theory is both micro and
macrolevel. It states that society is patriarchal; men experience social and economic
benefit over women. Society needs to become egalitarian in order for social equality to
occur between the sexes. Symbolic interactionist theory is a focus on the microlevel. It
focuses on the interactions that individuals have with each other within society and how
this affects their personal experiences. It is literally symbols (language, gestures, etc.) +
interaction (between two or more people). Postmodern theory is micro and macrolevel.
It believes that all the previously stated theories are outdated due to consumerism,
postindustrialization, and the creation of the global community. 4) There are two types of research: quantitative (number-based), and qualitative (quality
based). The conventional research method is a 7-step process of conducting quantitative
5) Culture is the knowledge, customs, values, and material items that are passed down
from one generation to the next within a society. The four components of culture are
symbols, language, values, and norms. Symbols consist of anything meaningful that can
be used to express ideas. Facial expressions and gestures are common symbols, as well
as the modern-day emoticons. Language is a set of symbols that is used to
communicate. It can be both verbal and non-verbal. Cultures often share a common
language. Values are the shared beliefs of what is good or bad, right or wrong, moral or
unethical within a culture. Norms are established rules within a culture that should not
be broken (prescriptive, proscriptive, formal norms, informal norms, formal/informal
sanctions, taboos, laws, mores, folkways).
6) Ethnocentrism is when one culture judges and analyzes other cultures from their
viewpoint/based on their own culture. Ethnocentrism can be both positive, and
negative. It often leads to feelings of culture superiority. Opposed to ethnocentrism is
cultural relativism, which is the belief that cultures are all right in their own way.
Cultures should not be viewed from external cultures, but from within the culture. It is
important to judge and analyze culture from within the culture itself, from the same
cultural viewpoint. This can also be positive and negative. It is negative because it often
excuses cultural behaviours that violate basic human rights. Another phenomenon
experienced when studying cultures is culture shock, which is when a person
experienced anxiety when exposed to radically different cultures.
7) Things that cause cultural change include innovation, invention, and discovery.
When culture changes, there are three potential reactions; cultural lag, cultural
diffusion, and cultural imperialism. Cultural lag is when the material culture changes at
a more rapid pace than the non-material culture, creating conflict within the culture.
Cultural diffusion is when aspects of one culture leak or blend into another culture,
and often occur because of communication, travel, or war. Cultural imperialism is when
aspects of a culture dominate in cultures worldwide, such as the American fast-food
restaurant McDonalds, which is now found on every populated continent.
8) Functionalist theorists emphasize stability and order. They state that common
language within a culture is essential for its stability. Culture satisfies peoples
integrative, biological, and instrumental needs. Functionalists also believe that culture
consists of both mechanical and organic structures mechanical being a shared culture
and working together, and organic being a shared culture and working
interdependently. Conflict theorists believe that culture creates advantages for certaingroups within the culture, while it may disadvantage other groups in this process. Marx
stated that ideas were cultural creations of those who were powerful, and enforced
ideology on the greater society. Because the elite created the ideology, it benefits only
the elite. The symbolic interactionist theorists view highlights that culture changes and
is maintained due to peoples interactions within the culture. The postmodern
perspective of culture is that culture is created by hyperreality, which is the idea that
simulations of reality are more real than reality itself. The signs and symbols that were
created to represent reality characterize everyday life, and we relate to those signs and
symbols as if they were real. No one can truly know social reality; therefore we must
deconstruct how culture has been analyzed in the past and learn from the
deconstructions. Postmodernists also state that the past perspectives of culture are no
longer valid as Canada is now made up of so many different cultures.
9) Socialization is the lifelong process of social interaction that is necessary for people to
develop a self-concept, as well as the mental, physical, and social skills necessary to
integrate with society. Agents of socialization are the people, groups, and institutions
that we interact with to attain socialization and include family, peer groups, school, and
the mass media. The family is the most important agent of socialization. Functionalists
state the family teaches us culture, norms, values, customs, language, as well as
subcultures that are within the family. Conflict theorists believe that families reinforce
social classes. Peer groups are groups of individuals that we often share similar
characteristics with (usually age), feel a sense of belonging with and inclusion. Schools