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SOC 101 (4)
Chapter 1

Soc 101 Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Soc 101 Chapter 1: What is Sociology? - Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and their intentions - Sociological Perspective refers to the unique way in which sociologists see our world and can dissect the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network. Charles Wright Mills - Suggested that people who do not, or cannot, recognize the social origins and character of their problems may be unable to respond to these problems effectively - The Sociological Imagination - Developing an appreciation of how individual challenges are influences by larger social forces - Failing to appreciate how individual challenges are influenced by larger social forces diminishes a person’s ability to understand and resolve them: personal troubles and social troubles Personal Troubles result from individual challenges, ex: mark on an exam b/c you wrote it thus are responsible for the grade Social issues caused by larger social factors, ex: if an entire class fails an exam b/c it involves a group of people and collective action is required for the group’s concerns to be acknowledged and potentially acted upon - Trick is to understand how these personal troubles may indeed be due to larger social issues - Quality of mind refers to ones ability to look beyond personal circumstances and into social context ex: if no one in the class passed the exam, but no one said anything about it-these people lack quality of mind - To improve quality of mind you must develop a sociological imagination that is: the ability to understand the dynamic relationship b/w individual lives and the larger society. Seeing yourself as the product of your family, income level, race, and gender. Peter Berger - Cheerful robots – people who are unwilling or unable to see the social world as it truly exists - Seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at seemingly unique events (particular) and the recognize the larger (general) features involved example: seeing one homeless person, but realizing there is many more you don’t see - To appreciate an individual circumstance like this and broaden your perspective to the larger social patterns that create and perpetuate people’s living on the streets in a rich country is to employ the sociological imagination - Think about what is familiar and see it as strange - What makes you you? - Agency refers to the idea that each of us has, to some extent, the ability to alter our socially constructed lives - - Structure is the network of relatively stable opportunities and constraints influencing our individual behaviors Engage your Sociological Imagination - Our perception of ourselves and others are the products of many factors, for example: 1. Minority Status o Canadian sociological research suggests that people who are of a visible minority group, who have a physical disability, a mental disability, or who are lesbian or gay or bisexual face various forms of discrimination 2. Gender o Society treats men and woman differently. Canada remains a patriarchy (a system where men control the politics and economic resources of society) o Women earn less than men, 35% less o Students believe they live in an equal society (but obvs not)-example of strange 3. Socioeconomic status (SES) o A combination of variables used to rank people into a hierarchical structure o Ranks people based on income level, level of education achieved, occupation and area of residence o Ascribed status: attributes assigned at birth ex: sex o Achieved status: attributes developed throughout life as a result of effort and skill ex: Oprah Winfrey, grades o Majority of people who are born poor, remain poor 4. Family Structure o Socio-economic status does influence a person’s opportunities o Many families today suggest that loving parents with adequate incomes more often raise productive and well-adjusted children o Number of families below poverty line slowly declining o Single parent families 4 times higher low income than 2 parent families o Female lone parent families have lower incomes than 2 parent families 5. Urban-rural Differences o People who live in small towns are distant from urban dwellers and their rural connections are and important defining feature The Historical Development of Sociology - The scientific Revolution: 1650-1800 - The development of the scientific method during the Enlightenment period facilitated the pace of social change. - Auguste Comte (1798-1857) law of 3 stages 1. Theological- religious outlook, longest period of human thinking -during this stage people would explain what they could see through the actions of spiritual or supernatural beings -concluded w/ the emergence of the Renaissance and later the Englightenment, when science not religion explained the world -ended during the middle ages roughly 1300s 2. Metaphysical- a period of questioning everything and challenging the ways of the church -field of philosophy dedicated to understanding of truth and the relationship b/w mind and matter -characterized by the assumption that people could understand and explain their universe through their own insight and reflection -used art and shit to try to understand the world and find what it means to be a conscious being 3. Positive- believed the world would be interpreted through a scientific lens -society would be guided by the rules of observation, experimentation, and logic Criticism to Compte’s 3 stages: -assumes human thinking is currently as good as it will ever get -final stage being in Compte’s lifetime is self-serving Quantitative vs Qualitative Sociology - Quantitative Sociology: study of behaviours that can be measured (ex: income levels, crime rates over time, divorces) - Tends to be positivist - Measurable behaviors  eq Crime rates over time - Qualitative Sociology: study of non-measurable, subjective behaviours (ex: effects of divorce) - Anti-positivist in nature - Non measurable subjective behaviors  Eg. Experiences of living in poverty The Historical Development of Sociology - The Political Revolution: Renaissance to the Enlightenment- 3 major contributors 1. Machiavelli – human behaviors, suggested human behavior is motivated by self-interest and insatiable desire for material gain -power and nobility were not a birthright, anyone could take power if they had the opportunity 2. Descartes- I think therefore I am -liberating position that confirmed human beings were able to understand their world through rational reflection (allowed emergence of Compte’s positivism) -masters of our own destiny 3. Hobbes-people driven by two primary passions: fear of death and desire for power -our lives our nasty brutish and short
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