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Chapter 1

Chapter note from Sociology in Our Times 5th Canadian Edition: Chapter 1

15 pages192 viewsWinter 2011

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 103
Professor
Sal Guzzo
Chapter
1

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Chapter 1: The Sociological Perspective
Putting Social Life into Perspective
Sociology: Is the systematic study of human society and social interaction
Systematic study because sociologists apply both theoretical perspectives and
research methods (or orderly approaches) to examinations of social behaviour
Sociologists study group life and how group life is affected by individuals
Why Study Sociology?
Behaviour is largely shaped by the groups to which we belong and the society in
which we live
Society: is a large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory and
is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations
Global interdependence: a relationship in which the lives of all people are closely
intertwined and any one nations problems are part of a larger global problem
Peter Berger, sociological inquiry helps us see that things are not what they seem
Commonsense knowledge: guides ordinary conduct in everyday life
Myth: is a popular but false notion that may be used, either intentionally or
unintentionally, to perpetuate certain beliefs or theories even in the light of
conclusive evidence to the contrary
Sociologists dont listen to myths, use scientific methods to come to conclusions
Look for patterns in individuals, which therefore can be looked at more other
individuals
The Sociological Imagination
Sociological imagination: the ability to see the relationship between individual
experiences and the larger society
Helps us distinguish between personal troubles and social (or public) issues
Personal troubles: private problems of individuals and the networks of people with
whom they associate regularly
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Public issues: are matters beyond an individuals control that we caused by problems
at the societal level
Existing sociological theory and research provide the foundation for sociological
thinking, but must reach beyond past studies that have focused primarily on North
America to develop a more comprehensive global approach
High-income countries: are nations with highly industrialized economies;
technologically advanced industrial, administrative, and service occupations; and
relatively high levels of national and personal income
High quality of life, lower death rate
Middle-income countries: are nations with industrializing economies, particularly
in urban areas, and moderate levels of national and personal income
Low-income countries: are primarily agrarian, with little industrialization and
low levels of national and personal income
Canada relies on other nations, selling and buying goods. Immigrants add to
intellectual capital
Race: is a term used by many people to specify groups of people distinguished by
physical characteristics such as skin colour, but no pure racial types exist and most
sociologists consider the concept of race to be a social construction used to justify
existing social inequalities
Ethnicity: refers to a groups cultural heritage or identify; it is based on factors
such as language or country of origin
Class: is the relative location of a person or group within the larger society; it is
based on wealth, power, prestige, or other valued resources
Sex: refers to the biological and anatomical differences between females and males
Gender: refers to the meanings, beliefs, and practices associated with sex
differences, referred to as femininity and masculinity
The Development of Sociological Thinking
Early thinkers focused their thoughts on what they believed society ought to be like,
rather than describing how society was
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Philosphes: optimistic views, regarded social thinkers regarding progress and equal
opportunity
Industrialization: is the process by which societies are transformed from
dependence on agriculture and handmade products to an emphasis on
manufacturing and relaxed industries
New social class of industrialists emerged, changed from agriculture to
manufacturing
Sacrifice well-defined social relationships to seek employment as factory workers in
the emerging cities, which became the centres of industrial work
Urbanization: is the process by which an increasing proportion of a population lives
in cities rather than in rural areas
Shift from being producers to consumers
New social problems emerge (eg. Inadequate housing, crowding, unsanitary
conditions, poverty)
Early Thinkers: A Concern with Social Order and Stability
Auguste Comte
Coined the term sociology from Latin socius (social, being with others) and the Gree
logos (study of)
Societies contain social statics: forces for social order and stability
Social dynamics: forces for conflict and change
Positivism: a belief that the world can best be understood through scientific inquiry
Bias-free knowledge only available through science rather than religion.
Nature of human thinking and knowledge passed through several stages as societies
evolved from simple to more complex
Law of the Three Stages: the theological, metaphysical, and scientific (or
positivistic) ages
Theological stage: explanations were based on religion and the supernatural
Metaphysical stage: explanations were based on abstract philosophical speculation
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