[SO 101] - Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (43 pages long!)

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7 Feb 2017
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Quinnipiac University
SO 101
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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Chapter 1: Discover Sociology
Sociology is scientific, meaning that it is a way of learning about the world that combines
logically constructed theory and systematic observation
Common question asked, among others similar to questioning society: Why does racial
segregation exist? Why does it persist even after civil rights laws were enacted?
Goal of sociological study: to base answers to questions like this one above on a careful
examination of roots of things like poverty, segregation, wage gap, etc.
o Conducted through research methods like surveys, interviews, observations,
research that yields data
Sociology: scientific study of human social relationships, groups, and societies
o Purpose: understand and generate new knowledge about human behavior, social
relations, and social institutions
Social embeddedness: the idea that economic, political, and other forms of human
behavior are fundamentally shaped by social relations
The Sociological Imagination
Sociological imagination: the ability to grasp the relationship between individual lives
and the larger social forces that shape them
o Example when we cannot get a job, we see it as a personal trouble and not a
public issue. The sociological imagination makes the connection and steps away
from single life experiences to see how powerful social forces are.
It is easy to fault the poor for their poverty and assume that they only need to get their
shit together, but we neglect to realize the powerful role of social forces like
discrimination, jobs are employing those with less education, etc.
o Sociological imagination asks us to seek the correlation between private troubles
(such as poverty) and public troubles (such as lack of access to good schooling)
Agency: the ability of individuals and groups to exercise free will and to make small
scale or large scale social changes
Structure: patterned social arrangements that have effects on agency, enabling or
constricting social actions (or behavior)
o Class structure: composed of social groups holding varying amounts of
resources such as money, political voice, and social status
o Normative structure: analyzes patterns of social norms regarding appropriate
gender behaviors in different cultural contexts
Why do sociologists take a strong interest in the relationship between structure and
agency?
o On one hand, we all have the ability to make our own individual choices
o On the other hand, there are things out of our control that can impose obstacles on
us or afford us opportunities
o We can make choices, but they can be enabled or constrained by structure
o Ex. women and legal constraints
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Critical thinking: the ability to evaluate claims about truth by using reason and evidence;
recognizes poor arguments, rejects statements not supported by evidence, questions
assumptions
o Requires us to be open-minded but does not mean we must accept all arguments
as equally valid
o Six simple rules of thinking critically:
1) Be willing to ask any question, no matter how difficult
2) Think logically and be clear
3) Back up arguments with evidence
4) Think about assumptions and biases, including one’s own, that underlie
all studies
5) Avoid anecdotal evidence
6) Be willing to admit when you are wrong or uncertain about results
The Development of Sociological Thinking
Four interrelated historical developments giving birth to the modern world:
o Scientific revolution
Began in Europe in the 16th century
Offered scholars a more advanced understanding of physical world
Success of natural science contributed to the belief that science could be
applied to human interaction as well
August Comte coined the term sociology to characterize what he believed
would be a new “social physics”
o Enlightenment
French philosophers in the 18th century
Voltaire, Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau
Promised that humankind could attain lofty heights by applying scientific
understanding to human affairs
Ideals such as equality, liberty, and fundamental human rights found a
home in emerging social sciences
Durkheim first modern sociologist that argued social understanding
would create a more egalitarian, peaceful society, where individuals are
free to realize their full potential
o Industrialization
Began in England in the mid-to-late 18th century
Traditional agricultural economies and small-scale production of
handicrafts in the home gave way to more efficient, profit-driven
manufacturing in factories
Small towns were transformed into bustling cities, showcasing extremes of
wealth and poverty, and opportunity and struggle
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