Midterm I Study Guide
The midterm will utilize short answer and essay questions. Bring a blue or green book.
1. Sociology: study of companions, group life and those aspects of individual life that are
affected by group interaction. Sociology, as science, is rational and theoretical, empirical
(based on observations and measurements of reality, systematic, probabilistic (aim to
generalize), causal (cause and effect)
2. Social Structure: pattern of social relationships that connect people to one another and to
systems. Social structure is an organized social relationships that connect people to one
another and to systems. It gives social life its familiar and predictable shape.
3. Social Fact: external constraints imposed by societal matters. Examples include religion,
gender, economic/social status. Social facts endure over time and shape individual’s
actions. According to Durkheim, it is “any way of acting, whether fixed or not, capable of
exerting over the individual an external constraint which is general over the whole of
society…independent of individual manifestations.” There are consequences involved if
you violate/resist social facts: negative sanctions.
4. Social Institution: “society” is a large complex of human relationships, a system of
interaction. “Social” is concerned with the quality of the interaction, interrelationship,
mutuality. How and why in what circumstances we interact with another.
5. Concepts: building blocks of sociological interpretation; summary of large, similar
observations, capture the essence.
6. Theory: set of statements or propositions that seek to explain or predict a particular aspect
of social life. It is a relationship between concepts based on reasoned thinking.
7. Hypothesis: Researchable position that specifies the relationship between two or more
8. Dependent variable: the outcome the researcher is trying to explain
9. Independent variable: a variable that is impacting another dependent variable
10. Reliability: consistency, results can be replicated
11. Validity: accuracy, measuring what you intend to measure
12. Generalizability: the ability of the results to represent the larger population we study.
13. Social Regulation: control exerted by social groups and societies over individuals
14. Social Integration: Feeling part of a greater whole, sense of belonging. This can provide
protection from suicide.
15. Anomie: one type of suicide that results from lack of regulation and consequent suffering
(opposite of fatalistic suicide).Anomie means normlessness
16. Symbolic Interactionism: the study of face to face interactions, paying particular attention
to how meaning is created—society emerges from the infinite transactions of social
actors; there is no society without social interactions.
17. Looking-Glass: The self is both a subject and an object to itself; the subject acts, and
object is something to reflect upon, to evaluate. We use symbols to share our identities.3
Stages of looking-glass self: we imagine how we appear to another person; we imagine
others’judgment of that appearance; we experience a self feeling based on our
imaginations of others’judgment.
18. Generalized other: an internalized sense of expectations of others in a variety of setting 19. Line: a pattern of verbal and non-verbal acts by which an individual expresses his/her
view of the situation and through this, his/her evaluation of the participants, especially
20. Face: The positive social value that we claim through our performances. It is the dignity
or social worth a person claims, given the part they play in a social interaction.
21. Have, Be In, Maintain Face: when the line presents an image that is internally consistent,
supported by others. We need to maintain face/consistency-we need to avoid certain
22. Wrong Face: when information is shown about social worth that is inconsistent with the
23. Out of face: when participating without having ready a line that participants expect in that
social situation = losing face
24. Face-Work: to prevent interaction from going wrong or gone wrong, need to engage in
face-work. It is a traffic rule of social interaction. The actions people take to make
whatever they are doing consistent with face.
25. Impression Management: We try to control other’s impressions of us and our current
situation. This act is not being phony or deceptive because our actions can be easily
26. Front Stage: any place there is an audience, we work to maintain an appropriate
27. Back Stage: behind the scenes; can prepare for front stage, can contradict or violate front
28. Expressive order: managing social situations so that anything expressed in the interaction
will be consistent with one’s face. We have vested interest in protecting the faces of
others; we are considerate and concerned with faces of others.
29. Avoidance Process: try to avoid face threatening incidents:
1. defensive: stay away from certain topics, situations, change the subject, shown
2. protective: show respect, politeness, be discrete, courteous (pretend nothing
happened)- tacit blindness, non-observation
2. Corrective process: try to repair an interaction once face has been lost.
Questions to consider:
1. WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY? Sociology is all about patterns for behavior and social
explanations of behavior. Sociologists don’t believe that people have free will because the
decisions we make are taken place within social structures. Humans create these
structures and humans can change them. It is the study of companions and the study of
group life and those aspects of individual life that are affected by group interaction. It
studies the hows and whys of individuals and the influence of interaction. It studies
behavior in which people orient their actions towards other people.
2. According to lecture, what is the key insight of sociology? What is the metaphor of the
forest and the trees? The key insight of sociology is that we cannot understand social life
and social phenomena without understanding the tension between how society shapes us
and how we shape society. There is a dynamic relationship and it challenges the view that
we only act on our needs and wants.Allan Johnson brings up the fact that we are always
participating in something larger than ourselves. We are all individual trees that collectively make up a forest and that forest is defined by how the trees are in relationship
with one another. We must pay attention to the forest as a totality and how the trees are
related to it. Humans are connected to one another - we are the trees that shape the forest
3. How does Durkheim deﬁne a social fact? What are examples of social facts? How do
social facts impact our lives? How does the clip from The Devil Wears Prada help
illustrate social facts? Durkheim says that social facts are things that act, whether or not
fixed, and are capable of exerting an external restraint over the individual. These are
general over the whole society whilst having an existence of their own, independent of
individual manifestations. Social facts can provide an explanation to why we do what we
do. They are laws, monetary systems, education, language, religions, obligations, races,
genders, etc. They are external to individuals and shape their actions and it does not
matter if an individual decides to participate in them because they are always existing.
Social facts are both compelling and coercive; you cannot avoid them and it is difficult to
violate them without consequences. They may not always feel coercive to us but that’s
because they’re embedded in our society and we’ve began to internalize these ideas and
they become our habits and we think of them as preferences. They can only penetrate us
by imposing themselves on us and they assert themselves whenever you try to resist
4. What does Durkheim mean by social currents? How does the Improv Everywhere clip,
“Where’s Rob?” illustrate this? Social currents are emotions, thoughts, ideas, etc, that are
influenced by groups. Gathering and groupthink are a big part of social currents in that
they shape how someone views something based on other peoples’viewing of that same
subject. In the “Where is Rob” experiment, because some people were trying to find Rob,
a social current ran through and influenced the entire group’s behavior to begin taking
part in something that they would not have originally done.
5. What is the sociological imagination according to Mills? What sorts of questions do
sociologists ask? The sociological imagination is when an individual recognizes the
social structures acting on him and has the ability to see connections between the present
personal lives and the social world in which he lives in. This is the task and promise of
sociology. We ask questions like: What is the structure of a society as a whole? Where
does this society stand in human history? What varieties of men and women now prevail
in this society and period?
6. What is the difference between personal troubles and public issues? Personal troubles are
private matters that only apply to the self, while public issues are public matters that
apply to society as a whole. It is possible for a personal trouble to become a public issue,
if more of the same people begin to experience that same trouble.
7. What does Peter Berger argue about statistics and sociology? How does this relate to our
class discussion about recent marriage statistics? Statistics must be interpreted in a
sociological frame.Astatistic doesn’t stand relevant if it is not analyzed and it does not
have any applicable aspect to society and shaping society in a better way by finding out
different patterns and correlations. In marriage statistics, it is shown that only 64% of
people with degrees are married while only 47% of people with only a high school
education are married. In the 1960s, these two were equal. There are four main questions
to be asked here: What are people doing with one another? What are their relationships with one another? How are these relationships organized in institutions? What are the
collective ideas that move men and institutions?
8. What attributes make sociology a science and how do they apply to sociology? Upon
what scientiﬁc principles is sociological research founded? Sociology is rational and
theoretical; it is empirical and based on observations and measurements of reality
(research). It is systematic and probabilistic (aims to generalize) and it is causal. It seeks
to find cause and effect relationships, although correlations tend to be found more than
9. What are the philosophical debates within sociology according to Burawoy? What is
public sociology? Policy sociology? Professional sociology? Michael Burawoy: Should
sociology be completely objective or should there be emotional investment? There are
differing opinions of sociologists. Some believe in professional self-defense: only enter
political arena for our immediate professional interests. Others believe in policy
intervention: getting involved in the political system on the basis of policy interventions
or advancements; affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger; sentAmicus Curiae briefs
to SC. Others believe in public engagement: deciding on a public decision and taking a
stance. There is also a fourth stance which is political venue itself: must adopt stances
ourselves in collective deliberation. Professionalism Sociology: legitimacy, expertise,
distinctive problem definitions, relevant bodies of knowledge, and techniques for
analyzing data and is home to public and policy sociology. Public: engages publics
beyond the academy in conversations about matters of political and moral concerns.
Policy: solutions to specific problems defined by clients. Critical: conscience of
10. How does Berger (“Sociology as a Form of Consciousness”) deﬁne “society”? How do
sociologists understand the word “social”? Society is a large complex of human
relationships and basically a system of interaction. We use the world social to describe
the quality of interaction, interrelationship, and mutuality of society. We are
interdependent on one another and we affect one another.
11. According to Berger, what makes sociology unique? What sets it apart from other
disciplines? What does Berger mean by “looking beyond”? Sociologists look at social
interaction in all aspects of human life. Other disciplines look at the official while
sociologists look at the unofficial. Sociology sees through social events or processes; it
looks through them and sees behind-the-scenes. Sociologists question social realities.
They must look past the official and public life and look at the informal and see the
internal of that life. Therefore, social problems are understood differently.
12. How does Berger explain a sociological approach to social problems? What sets it apart
from how we typically think of social problems? What does it mean to say that social
problems are socially constructed? Social problems are socially constructed and it is not a
problem until defined as a problem. Conditions, processes, and events that are identified
as negative by either significant people or a significant number of people are social
problems. The sociological problem is always the understanding that social interaction; it
is not what goes wrong in the viewpoint of the authorities, but how the system works in
the first place. They examine the definitions of situations, people, or behaviors as social
problems. The social problem is the subheading, and the sociological problem is the
understanding of what causes that social problem. 13. What are the four dimensions of the sociological consciousness according to Berger?
Give examples for each. Apply these dimensions to “Becoming a Marihuana User.” The
first dimension is debunking. Debunking looks past the surface-level explanation of
things and aims to find different explanations. For example, Durkheim debunked that
suicide is solely personal, and actually involves social forces which influence suicide.
The second is unrespectability. Sociologists are not interested in the officialAmerica, but
rather the unofficialAmerica. The “margins of society” are located in the less appealing
places, like the slums, ghettos, etc. Pornography is not respectable, however it is
important. Then comes relativizing which is the ability to imagine other places, times,
and people other than one’s self. Everything is relative, in terms of how people do things.
Identities are dynamic, fluid and ever-changing, and we are always impacted by different
social facts.And then is cosmopolitan, which means you are being open to all the
possibilities of human existence. You don’t stay in your own little bubble; you think
about other things and explore new horizons and new worlds of human meanings.
“Becoming a Marihuana User”: debunking (looking past the official views of drug use;
unrespectability (examines drug use not from the perspective of law enforcement but
from the perspective of the user; relativizing (sees identities and behaviors as fluid);
cosmopolitan (provides a sophisticated analysis that demonstrates an open view of the
14. In “Becoming a Marihuana User”, Becker argues against using “predispositional”
theories to understand drug use. To what is he referring? What does he propose instead?
Becker argues against psychological theories that say that drug use depends on the type
of person you are; he says that the presence of any given kind of behavior is the
consequence of a social influence. It is a profoundly social experience.
15. What are the steps to becoming a marihuana user? Explain each. How does Becker’s
deﬁnition of “getting high” differ from the more “ofﬁcial” deﬁnition? Chapter One: If the
user can’t smoke it right and doesn’t get high, then he will not continue to do it for
pleasure. No user continued with the drug when he didn’t know how to smoke it; it was
perceived as pointless. Chapter Two: High consists of two symptoms - the presence of the
effects and the recognition of the effects. The symptoms are extreme hunger, laughter,
happiness, time slows. Chapter Three:Another step for being a user is to continue using;
enjoy it. If the effects are unpleasant, the user will stop. What is unpleasant at first can
eventually become pleasant and desirable, with reassurance. The liking of the drug is a
learned taste, much like anything else. Chapter Four: Find pleasure in Marijuana. Smoke
it in a way that produces real effects and recognize the effects and connect them to drug
use and enjoy the sensations perceived.
16. How does Becker’s study demonstrate the importance of social interactions? Becker
shows that without the influence of social interactions, the initial steps of how to become
a marihuana user won’t be as appealing because the effects of the drug won’t make the
person happy. If it is a loner thing to do, then the user will not feel the positive effects of
the drug and therefore stop using it as a result.
17. Apply Berger’s four dimension of the sociological consciousness to Simmel’s The
Stranger. Simmel debunks the idea that the stranger is a wander and outsider; rather he
says that the stranger comes today and stays tomorrow. Simmel shows unrespectability
by trying to ask questions about who the stranger is, what his job is, and what his role in
society is. Simmel understands relativization because he knows that the stranger can come from different origins and that the stranger can be perceived in a different way by
different people. The stranger is not an objective person, rather a subjective person.
Finally, Simmel is cosmopolitan because he looks at the stranger in an open way and
wants to explore how the stranger functions in a society, rather than deny the existence of
a stranger. " When your discipline obligates you to alternate from one perspective or
view to another (relativizing motif), it becomes far easier to unmask the propaganda and
prejudices—the meaning systems—that humans use to conduct their affairs (debunking
motif). The relativizing and debunking motifs both require an observer to adopt the
perspective or view of the outsider or stranger, which is really what unrespectability is all
about. In order to maintain a relativistic, unrespectable, and debunking view of the world,
it will help to be aware of, and open to, the wide range of human experiences in other
lands and at other times, which is cosmopolitanism. In sum, sociologists are inclined to
maintain a skeptical gaze so that they can go beyond surface appearances to expose latent
structures and to explain puzzling events (Portes 2000)."
1. What are the two primary characteristics of sociological research according to lecture?
Sociological research is both empirical and probabilistic.
2. What is the quantitative method of conducting sociological research? We must get data in
numerical form and conduct statistical analyses.
3. What is the qualitative method of conducting sociological research? These are detailed,
rich descriptions of the social world that give meaning to society and allow us to
understand the mechanisms by which social processes occur.
4. What is survey research? Why is probability sampling used according to lecture and
Schuman? Survey research is quantitative is basically a question that someone poses with
either a given amount of possible answers or leaves it open to interpretation. Surveys aim
to collect data in vast numbers so that they can generalize the mindset of the population.
Probability sampling is both objective and unbiased and sees to use the data of a group to
make judgements about the entire population.
5. What are the potential pitfalls or downsides to survey research according to Schuman?
What are the advantages? Surveys may have a limited amount of choices that leads the
person to pick the one that he/she may not be thinking of. Surveys are also affected
greatly by the way they are worded and can often generate different results based on the
wording of a question. Surveys are, however, the least biased, besides experiments, and
allow for a quick collection of data that is both objective and cheap. They also allow for
comparative data to be used in evaluating results. They capture the trends in both norms
6. What is ﬁeldwork or ethnography? What are the different types of ﬁeldwork?
Ethnography is defined as observing social activities as an outsider, observing while
participating in activities, and conducting intensive interviews. It draws on the language
and perspective of everyday members of society and is written like investigative
journalism. Fieldwork is qualitative and observes social activities in action.
7. What are the different steps involved in conducting ﬁeldwork according toAdler and
Adler? What are the potential pitfalls of this method? What are the advantages? There are
three steps in conducting fieldwork: data gathering, data analysis, and data publication.
Data gathering involves a lot of time so it depends on both the quality and the depth of
work that the ethnographer puts into the research. Ethnographers should get as near to the people they are studying as possible. Good ethnography needs to be systematic, rigorous,
and scientific. An array of methodological tactics may help to generate the multiple
perspectives required. Ethnographers can combine direct observation, participation,
interviewing, and casual conversation. Next is data analysis, which is where
ethnographers observe the specifics about their data. Good ethnography generates,
modifies, extends, or challenges existing understandings of social life. Data presentation
is the publication of the data. Ethnography can be socially influential, especially if
conducted in a correct manner. However it can raise ethical concerns because the
ethnographers can become really close to their subjects. On the other hand though, it
provides detailed analyses of observable phenomena that can allow many correlations to
be discovered amongst two or more variables.
8. What is qualitative interviewing according to lecture and Weiss? What are the potential
pitfalls or downsides? How do you avoid bias? What are the advantages? Qualitative
interviews are conversations held with another person that record no numerical statistics;
rather they record words that come directly from the person being interviewed. They ask
in detail what happened in terms of what was done and what was felt. The problem with
these is that the interviewer only knows as much as the interviewee tells him - it involves
a great deal