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Chapter 1

SOC101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Scientific Method, Macrosociology, Auguste Comte

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Barry Mc Clinchey

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Chapter 1: Understanding the sociological Imagination
Definition of Sociology
Sociology: the systematic study of social behaviour of individuals and the behaviour
of groups and organizations
Sociological perspective: a view of society based on the dynamic relationships
between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live
Understanding human and group behaviour by focusing on two aspects: 1) people live
in social groups and social organizations or “social structure”. (2) phenomenon of
Culture and social structures explain the repetitive patterns of the behaviour of
Different: personalities, biologies, self-concepts but SAME behaviour in the social
Behave differently at different places because of different norms, rules and cultures
Sociology employs scientific method
Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological Imagination
American sociologist
Suggested that people who do not, or cannot, recognize the social origins and
character of their problems may be unable to respond to them.
Failing to appreciate how individual’s challenges are influenced by larger social
forces diminishes a person's ability to understand and resolve them
Individual and the social are linked and must understand both
Personal troubles: individual challenges, that require individual solutions
Social issues: challenges caused by larger social factors that require collective
Quality of Mind: Mill’s term for the ability to view personal circumstance within a
social context
To improve the quality of mind → Sociological imagination: ability to understand
the dynamic relationship between individual lives and the larger society.
Suggested that people who judge other without understanding all of the issues
involved may lack quality of mind. → Cheerful robots: unable or unwilling to see
the social world as it truly exists.
Peter Berger: Seeing the General in the Particular
Seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at unique events and
recognize it bigger.
Must employ the sociological perspective, to appreciate an individual circumstance
and broaden your perspective to the larger social patterns.
Sociologists need to tune their sociological perspective by thinking about what is
familiar and seeing it as strange
What Makes You, You? Engaging the Sociological Imagination
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Agency: the assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially
constructed lives
Structure: opportunities and constraints that exist within a network of roles,
relationships and patterns that are stable
Classic structure VS agency debate in social theory; whether or not individuals
behave autonomously or are the expressive agents of the social structure
Minority Status
Visible minority groups, physical disability, or a mental disability, lesbian, gay, or
bisexual face various forms of discrimination
Patriarchy: men control the political and economic resources of society.
Socioeconomic Status
SES: combination of variables (education level, income) used to rank people into a
hierarchical structure.
Ascribed structure: advantages and disadvantages at birth.
Achieved status: status a person has been able to gain through personal attributes and
qualities (grades)
Family Structure
Children’s well-being appears to be almost always associated with the household
income of their families
Higher income = better physical, social/emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-
Urban-Rural Differences
Structural differences between small towns and large cities, access to health care,
diversity in entertainment and cultural events
Nature of growing up in each location is more subtle and contextual
The Origins of Sociology
The sophists were the first thinkers to focus their efforts on the human being
Socrates and Plato (student) challenged the virtue of being paid for one's knowledge
and advocated the necessity of deeper reflection on the human social condition
Plato’s the republic: asks what social justice is and what the characteristics of a just
individual are.
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is the first social philosopher working from the sociological
1838: term sociology was coined by Auguste Comte(father of sociology)
Three Revolutions: Scientific
Galileo, Newton and Copernicus began to gain wider acceptance
Auguste Comte believed that techniques used in the hard sciences to explain the
physical world should be applied to the social world.
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